Help please

Hi there, I have just bought a secondhand Brother KH881 knitting machine with ribber (I’ve used a Passap many moons ago) and am trying to convert a hand-knit pattern for a beret for a toy. The hand-knitting pattern is: Cast on 54 sts, knit 6 rows in k1 p1 rib. Next row: K3 inc in next stitch, then k2 inc in next stitch across the row to the end. Then knit around 16 rows, then decrease the top by k5 k2tog across the row, purl one row, then K4 k2tog across the row, purl one row etc. etc. until about 8 sts left. I have tried doing the rib on the machine, taking off with waste yarn, and putting back with the increasings which took ages, but then, when I tried the top bit it was just so so fiddly I gave up. Can someone help me with how to make this beret please ? I make little toys from socks, called SOCKIES and one of my best sellers is the camouflage army ones, but it is very time consuming knitting all the hats, but so far, the machine I bought hasn’t helped me, so getting a bit upset about it all ! Thanks, Julie

September 2021 update

Dear Readers

This month I’m acutely aware that my letter to you each month is turning into an obituary column. However, I can’t ignore the fact that one of our greatest fibre artists and machine knitters, certainly in my lifetime, has died and I can find almost no record of her passing. My friend Susan Guagliumi gave me the sad news that Susanna Lewis has died. It seems Susanna had surgery for an aneurism that was apparently successful, but heart complications followed and she died on 15th July. Susanna was born on 1st November 1938, lived and worked in New York, but she was an extremely private person so that’s one possible reason why I can find no obituary elsewhere.

I met Susanna at a Metropolitan Show in Bournemouth, back in 1986. Machine knitting was on the crest of a wave and I’d just started to publish and edit MKM. Susanna was a guest speaker and in the UK to promote her new and now legendary book. It was published by Lark Books, together with co-author Julia Weissman. She signed my copy of ‘A Machine Knitters Guide To Creating Fabrics’ and I’ve lasting memories of a softly spoken, but amazingly talented fibre artist. It had taken over five years to develop and write this important book and I don’t know of a knitted fabric that’s not included.

Susanna’s work is displayed in many museums and galleries in America and she was one of that country’s first generation of machine knitters. Already well-known in 1971, she wanted to settle into one technique to create fabric and bought her first knitting machine. She spent four years learning to knit, because she went through the machine manual very methodically. She often said that almost everything she knew and taught was in the owner’s manual. At the end of four years, she could make a domestic knitting machine do anything she wanted.

By 1993, Metropolitan had a new home with Carol and Mark Hocknell and I took over publishing To & Fro, with masses of help and support from Hazel Ratcliffe as Editor. Susanna guarded her copyright fiercely, but most graciously gave To & Fro an exclusive two-part article to publish on Split Mitres, incorporating techniques she’d included in her book. In the world of domestic machine knitting, she was way ahead of her time and the work she created is simply without equal. Susanna and Julia included the following dedication at the start of their book and it’s written for all of us.

“For all knitters and fiberists of the past and present, whose love for their craft has inspired the continual evolution of skills and techniques, and whose use of the craft helps us see beauty and meaning in the continual evolution of life. They provide the heritage and legacy for the knitters and fiberists of the future, so that they too may experience the thrill and joy of discovery, understanding and creation; in turn to promote communication and understanding in oneself, and between people and cultures worldwide.”

“My self-concept is as an artist,” she said, “and I use the knitting machine as a tool in creating art.” May your work live on Susanna, to bring joy and inspiration to future machine knitters all over the world. Thank you for your immense legacy and we’ll always remember you.


November 2021

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 7th October

On sale Thursday 14th October

Ask your newsagent to reserve a copy or order a subscription NOW

October 2021 (Issue 285) with Designer Special features from Susan Guagliumi and Bill King

Our full-colour October 2021 issue is now on sale. It has a super-quick top on the cover, with elongated striping in a single cake of yarn, so there are no yarn changes or ends to sew in. We’ve our usual mix of designs and we always tell you how to knit all our patterns on standard gauge machines. This month, Designer Special first shines the spotlight on Susan Guagliumi with Part 1 of her exclusive new Bubbles design and technique on a 4-page pull-out. Bill King then gives us the ultimate stash buster, to potentially use up 100 cone ends with a variation on his very popular Spider’s Web design. We’ve another quick and easy top for Passap machines and the second part of three articles on converting Passap patterns for Japanese machines. Iris Rowe knits an elephant for the Toy Box and we’ve six assorted patterns to knit hats for the homeless. Sally-Ann Carroll guides us towards this season’s hit list of clothes for the cooler months and Bill King thrills us with racked and ruched 3-D fabrics. There’s always help and advice in Dear Anne plus news, reviews and club details for ideas and inspiration.

Virtual Crochet-A-Long

Knitcraft launches an autumn Crochet-A-Long event

This autumn, Knitcraft has collaborated with @zeensandroger to bring us a virtual Crochet-A-Long (CAL). It will help crafters try out new stitches and explore new colour combinations.

The CAL will launch on Friday 17th September and will run for 8 weeks. Each week at 10.00 am Knitcraft will release a new section of the pattern, along with videos from @zeensandroger talking us through each stitch and sharing some crochet tips.

The blanket is great for beginners who want to build on their skills, or more advanced crocheters who love exploring new stitches and colour combinations.

If you’d like to take part, a bundle is available now that includes the yarn needed to make the blanket. If you’d like to get involved in crochet or lots of other crafts, there are masses more projects available online if you visit the Ideas Hub at

Shetland Wool Week

Shetland Wool Week virtual event tickets are now on sale
Take a Shetland crofter’s tour, join in with live Q&As, brush up on your Fair Isle knitting, learn how to use a makkin belt, take a look at natural dyeing, refine your lace, tips on ‘dressing and blocking’, how to ‘knit your own detective’ and so much more. Expect lots of familiar hand knitting names, such as Janette Budge, Hazel Tindall, Chris Dyer, Ella Gordon, Donna Smith, Deborah Gray, Helen Robertson and plenty of new faces, too. You’ll find full details at

September 2021 (Issue 284) with an Alison Dupernex Designer Special

Our full-colour September 2021 issue has a raglan top on the cover, that’s also the perfect shape to wear under a jacket. We’ve our usual mix of designs and we always tell you how to knit all our patterns on standard gauge machines. This month, Designer Special shines the spotlight on Alison Dupernex and her plated gilet design, using two complimentary yarns from your stash. We include a 4-page feature on plating, showing you how to knit reversible fabric on Brother, Silver Reed and LK-150 machines. We’ve another quick and easy top for Passap machines and the first part of three articles on converting Passap patterns for Japanese machines. Iris Rowe knits a zebra for the Toy Box and we’ve lots of ideas and punchcards for incorporating large patterns into a design. Susan Guagliumi has free downloads for everything you need for machine knitting and, by special request, we’ve the much-requested fingerless glove pattern. Sally-Ann Carroll‘s latest line up, once again, has stripes very much in the limelight and Bill King mixes a few techniques to create amazing racked Jacquard fabrics. There’s always help and advice in Dear Anne plus news, reviews and club details for ideas and inspiration.

August 2021 update

Dear Readers

This month, many of us around the world have had to endure temperatures we never imagined were possible, so you may think the heat has gone to my head when you see a pattern for fingerless gloves in Stash Box. In the UK, at least, the heatwave has subsided but winter in the southern hemisphere starts on 1st June and ends on the 31st August. It’s perhaps why the pattern on Page 37 has been the most requested in a long time and, before too long, we’ll also need it in the UK. The feature on Page 52 has also been a ‘hot’ topic of conversation amongst knitters using Japanese machines, who feel totally confused by our Passap Special articles. I’ve often included the quick table of lock conversions, but it’s time to explore the workings of Passap and Japanese machines more deeply. As you’ll see, it’s the first of three parts and the other two will follow on.

Plating is another mystery topic for many machine knitters and I giggled as I remembered Joan Lafferty arguing the toss about the spelling. Whether your manual calls it, ‘plating’ or ‘plaiting’, it’s all the same thing! We’ve an in-depth look at the technique for Brother and Silver Reed machines including the LK-150, together with the chance to try it out by knitting an easy gilet design from Alison Dupernex.

Many of you will know that I’ve been very close friends with Hilary at Busy Bee for most of the time she ran the business with her mum, Barbara. We’ve seen our children grow up together, but life has dealt Hilary and her family more than its fair share of knocks. Hilary lost her mum in April 2011, then decided to close Busy Bee Basics and retire in July 2017. Now, just a few years later, Hilary’s husband David has sadly died. In the heady days of machine knitting, David kept the home fires burning whilst Hilary and her mum travelled up and down the country from one show to another. He looked after their daughter Laura and saw her blossom into a wife and mother. We included photos of Laura and Liam’s wedding in our January 2019 magazine and they’ve been the happiest of families, especially since welcoming baby James into their lives. Hilary had Laura by her side at the hospital, as David slipped away peacefully. Their few short years of retirement together had been very happy and to lose him so soon has been a tragedy. Hilary, Laura and David’s remaining family and many friends are devastated and Hilary must now face the future on her own. There will be some consolation in sharing fond and loving memories with Laura, Liam and James as he grows up, of a loving husband, wonderful dad and grandad. Rest in peace David and we send our sincere condolences to Hilary, her family and all their friends at this very sad time.


October 2021

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 2nd September

On sale Thursday 9th September

Ask your newsagent to reserve a copy or order a subscription now

Location, location

Dear Anne

After getting back into knitting over lockdown, I’ve just upgraded and bought a ‘new to me’ electronic machine. I’ve never used one before, so reading the instruction manual has been an essential part of my learning curve. One instruction tells me to: “Knit another row when the sound ‘pee’ is emitted”, so my husband suggested I should move my machine a bit closer to the loo! Best wishes, Davina in Brighton

Pillow talk

Dear Anne

Old pillowcases are my favourite machine knitting accessory. I keep a grubby one as a ribber cover and a clean one to hold all my knitted garment pieces until I’m ready to put them together. Happy knitting, Sheila

Take note

Dear Anne

As the price of greetings cards seems to be going up and up, why not substitute with something practical that’s not necessarily for a knitting friend. I buy notebooks and often stick colourful things on the cover. A small book with colourful pictures of food is excellent to use for shopping lists and there will be a million times when a notebook will be essential for a machine knitter. Best wishes, Lynda