Important announcement for Make it & Knit & Stitch It 2018 visitors

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The Organising Team has announced that Make It and Knit & Stitch It will not now take place in Farnborough in 2018. Unfortunately the new venue will not be ready to host the 2018 show. With the already over-packed craft exhibition calendar, there’s no suitable alternative date for the show. They apologise to all their loyal visitors, will be back with a flourish on 22nd and 23rd February 2019 and thank all their exhibitors and visitors for their continued support.

Time for tea

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The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show has teamed up with the Betty Blythe Vintage Tea Room in West London’s Brook Green to hold The Knitted Tea Room competition. From cream scones with jam to champagne flutes, teapots and cucumber sandwiches, the show’s organisers are looking for a sumptuous spread of life-size knitted and crocheted tea room items.  Entrants can design their own tea room pieces or use a pattern and a tea cosy pattern by Monica Russel of The Knit Knacks is available to download from The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show competition page.

Entries will be displayed throughout the show and competition judges will be looking for innovative and beautifully made pieces.  Judging takes place on Thursday 1st March and luxury prizes from the Betty Blythe Vintage Tea Room will be awarded to three talented winning stitchers.  First prize is a Victorian-themed afternoon tea for eight, second prize is a Vintage Afternoon tea for six and third prize is a Cream tea for four.

All entries should be registered on the Spring show’s competition page, with up to five items eligible per entrant.  Items should be submitted before 23rd February to The Knitted Tea Room Competition, twistedthread, 58 White Lion St, London N1 9PP, or brought along to the show on Thursday 1st March. The Spring Show takes place from 1st to 4th March 2018 at Olympia London.  Spring Show highlights include over 200 workshops and free demonstrations hosted by expert tutors, galleries by leading textile artists, graduates and groups, drop-in knitting and crochet clinics and a unique craft shopping experience with 150 specialist retailers under one roof. Tickets are £13.50 in advance (concessions £12.50, children aged 5-18 £6.00) plus a booking fee of £1.50 payable per order.

A wide selection of options is available from or by calling 0844 581 1319 (+44 0121 796 6165 from outside the UK).

Sock it to me

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Here’s a pattern for short 4-ply socks and they’re easy to knit on any standard or fine gauge machine with a ribber. If you don’t have a ribber, work ribs in mock rib.

MEASUREMENTS To fit shoe sizes 6 [7, 8, 9, 10, 11].

TENSION 32 sts and 44 rows to 10 cm, 4 in over stocking stitch with tension dial around 6 on standard gauge and 8 on fine gauge machines.

NOTES When shaping in HP, always take yarn round first inside N in HP to prevent a hole forming.

RIGHT SOCK With carriage at right and using MY, cast on 70 sts at centre of machine in 1×1 rib. K 5 tubular rows. Carriage is at right. Set machine for 1×1 rib knitting. Set RC at 000. Using MT-5/MT-5, K 11 rows. Transfer sts for st st. Set RC at 000. Using MT, K 3 rows. K 1 row extra for Left Sock. Shape sides by dec 1 st at each end on next and every foll 15th row until 60 sts rem. RC shows 64 (65 on Left Sock). Shape heel * Push 30 Ns at opposite end to carriage to HP. Cont on rem sts. K 2 rows. Push 1 N at opposite end to carriage to HP on next 14 rows. Push 1 inside N at opposite end to carriage from HP to UWP on next 14 rows. Push rem Ns from HP to UWP, K 1 row *. K 80 [82, 84, 88, 92, 96] rows. Shape toe Work as for heel from * to *. Using WY, K a few rows and release from machine.

LEFT SOCK Work as for Right Sock, reversing shaping by noting alteration in number of rows worked.

MAKING UP Press, then join side seams and graft sts tog under foot.


Keep knitting our way

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Love your lace Here’s a tip about re-programming your punchcard machine if you’ve made a mistake when knitting a lace pattern. It’s always best to undo the whole block repeat of lace just knitted. This may mean putting several stitches that are on one needle back to their original place. Turn the punchcard back to where the last black curved arrow is on the card. It’s at this point you’d have worked, for example, ‘K 2 rows’ or similar. Look at the arrows on the left hand side of the card. By the black arrow is the red arrow, pointing to the right. Don’t lock the card, but carry on ‘lacing’ and you will be on the right row. The only time you do lock the card, when re-programming in lace, would be if the arrow was pointing to the right and the lace carriage was on the left. You’d next work one pass with the lace carriage and then release the card.

Sausage roll Have you any idea what’s a ‘knitted sausage’? For the life of me, I’ve never heard of it, but I’ve been told it really is something well-seasoned knitters know about and use. I’m not in the first flush of youth, but obviously need to keep going a bit longer before I’ve got enough seasoning! Can you help, please?

A ‘sausage’ is what some knitters used to call a cast-on strip and newbies will have no idea what we’re talking about. Instead of using waste yarn that we usually throw away, the ‘sausage’ or ‘cast-on strip’ not only saves yarn, but also gives even weighting to the work. It can be any width you like and there are many versions, but this one used to be popular. Most knitters made one long enough to use over about 100 stitches and a second that’s long enough to use when all needles are in work across the full width of the bed.

To knit it Over about 20 needles at the extreme left of the needlebed, cast on and make a bias strip in a brightly coloured 4-ply yarn. The colour isn’t really important but as it’s going to have a lot of handling, use a good quality yarn. Make the bias strip the length you wish and cast off. Steam press the strip well. Buy some curtain weighting in medium thickness and sew this weighting onto the edge where you did the decreasing. We use this edge because the side with increasing will have little holes all the way along it.

To use it Bring up required number of needles. Using a treble transfer tool, put the ends of the prongs through the little holes along the top edge onto the needles. The strip now hangs down very evenly all along. Using a nylon cord or similar, about Tension 6, knit one row. Continue now as you wish, either casting on again or going straight into knitting. On completion, pull one end of the cord gently, then go to the other end and pull it right out. The strip drops away, ready for use next time.

Warm as toast Here’s an easy hot water bottle cover to knit. Choose a Fair Isle pattern to make it cosier and it gives us the chance to use up scraps of waste yarn. Any yarn can be used but 4-ply is ideal. You can vary the number of rows and stitches but basically, cast on around 75 sts and K 10 rows plain. Change to Fair Isle for about 115 rows. K 5 rows plain. Cast off centre 12 sts with some scrap yarn and then cast them on again. This makes a hole for the bottle’s tail. Now knit the other half in reverse. For the tabs, measure 2½ inches in from each end, pick up 12 stitches and work 30 rows. Sew up the cover and, for extra strength, work a row of double crochet around the top edge and tabs. Sew snap fasteners on the tabs and front to finish it off.

Heat treatment Don’t we all have to unpick a piece of knitting? Wind the unravelled kinky yarn round a large heatproof jar and not too tight, just comfortable. It’s best to wind it as you go, so you don’t end up with a heap of kinks. Fill the jar with nearly boiling water and leave it to cool. By the time the water is cool, the yarn will be straight. If you don’t have a jar, someone I know uses a hot water bottle but I’ve never tried it. If you did this, I guess you might have to fill the bottle first and take care wrapping it round the hottie. You can then use a wool winder to wind the yarn back into a neat ball, ready to use again. I’ve done it for years and it may well have been a ‘Joan Lafferty special’! Keep knitting our way,

Waste not, want not Inspired by some of the articles I’ve read recently, I tried my hand at felting. Once I’d got the hang of it, I got completely carried away and then ran out of ideas what to do with all the felt. Not for long! I traced round an inner sole that I have in my trainers and now I’ve lovely warm, comfortable insoles. My husband’s a keen gardener, so he threw the cut-off bits on his compost heap.


A bright, new year ahead

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Dear readers

A bright new year is on the horizon. Our 32nd birthday issue is coming up in April and we’ve diaries waiting to be filled. So let’s look forward to the Spring and make a date to get together in Bournemouth on Saturday 3rd March or Nottingham on Sunday 8th April. The shows will have a slightly different look from now on and the letter I’ve received from Carol Hocknell will explain why. Carol writes: “Dear Anne, the decision has finally been made. We have held the last Dream Week and we are not going to do any further shows. It was not an easy decision to make but if I want to continue with the Shop, Mail Order and Courses this is our way forward. It was following Bournemouth that I was taken ill, so that settled it. As you would expect there has been much discussion and I am not yet ready for retirement, much as everyone thinks I should be! So that is my news for now and I hope all is well with you. Best wishes, Carol”.

I think everyone in the machine knitting world was worried as the news of Carol’s illness gradually spread. Since then there’s been much speculation, so it’s really good to hear direct from Carol that Metropolitan will continue. Of course we’ll miss them at the shows, but that’s a small price to pay for this long-established company to carry on serving us. Over the years, Carol and her team have put a huge amount of effort into flying the flag for machine knitting, so we must all try to support Metropolitan whenever we can.

We’ve always enjoyed putting together the Bournemouth fashion show and this year Marianne Henio is working with both the Carbery and Ringwood clubs to add a touch of her personal flair and pizzazz. It will be the first time Marianne has come to Bournemouth and she’s now working closely with Andrea at Andee Knits, so they’ll have lots of new things to show us. Marianne has been as a visitor to our Nottingham show but this time she’ll bring a selection of her fabulous designs and chat to you all. Now that her series on knitting for our shape and style has come to an end, she’s taking us on an exciting journey to look at the relationship between colour, birth signs and knitting.

With much ahead of us, all that remains is to wish you a very happy Christmas and a New Year which is filled with good health and contentment throughout 2018. Until next time, my compliments of the season to you all.


February 2018

Subscription copies sent out Thursday 4th January

On sale Thursday 11th January

Ask your newsagent to reserve a copy now

Knit away the New Year blues

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Kick away the New Year blues and help unwanted cats and kittens by making cosy blankets and fun mouse toys for the UK’s largest cat charity. Creative cat lovers can follow a suggested pattern or come up with their own designs to create blankets and toys which will make life a little more comfortable for cats in the charity’s care. With the long, dark and chilly nights well and truly upon us, there’s never been a better time to start stockpiling some homemade donations for unwanted cats and kittens. All the blankets and mice received are sent to centres and volunteer-run branches across the UK, where they provide that extra bit of comfort for cats as they wait to find new homes. Donations of knitted blankets or mice can be dropped into any of its branches, shops or adoption centres across the UK. Cats Protection is the UK’s largest cat charity, helping 190,000 cats a year through a national network of over 250 volunteer-run branches and 34 centres. Come up with your own designs or follow a pattern for the popular Captain Cat-Battler knitted mouse originally designed by Lauren O’Farrell (

Cats Protection advises that when knitting a toy or blanket, it’s best to avoid the use of stretchy yarns or small plastic items, such as those that can be used for mouse eyes, to reduce the risk of injury to cats and kittens. Loose weave blanket patterns involving the use of large needles are best avoided too. The charity also suggests that cat owners regularly inspect cat toys for signs of wear or damage, not to leave cats unattended with knitted toys and not to use knitted toys or blankets with cats that have wool-chewing habits. More information about Cats Protection can be found at

Spring Knitting & Stitching Show at Olympia London

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Are you making a New Year’s resolution to start an exciting textile craft project, learn a new skill or buy your very first sewing machine? Then The Spring Knitting & Stitching Show is the place to start and tickets are on sale now.  The Spring show opens its doors to thousands of crafters at Olympia London from 1st to 4th March 2018. From embroidery to dressmaking, needle felting to crochet, there are over 200 workshops and free demonstrations hosted by expert tutors, covering every textile craft imaginable. Whether you’re a complete beginner, an expert seamstress or somewhere in between, there’s something for everyone and with nine workshop classrooms, it’s the biggest Spring show programme ever.  Workshops are bookable in advance on the show website from mid-December.  Prices start at £15 for one hour, including all materials needed. Places sell out quickly so early booking is recommended. You’ll find plenty of opportunity to indulge in a little retail therapy with more than 150 specialist retailers under one roof.  From yarn and fabric, buttons and beads to the latest sewing machines and gadgets, you won’t go home empty-handed. Galleries by leading textile artists, graduates and groups are sure to inspire, with exhibitions by Kate Whitehead (Not From The Stork), Anne Kelly (Folk Tales), Dionne Swift and her students from around the world (Collective Stitches), City Lit (Making), The Quilters Guild (Commemorating World War 1) and SAQA (Concrete & Grassland). Contemporary cross stitch kingpin, Mr X Stitch (Jamie Chalmers) will be hosting The Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch, featuring new work by artists pushing the boundaries of the genre, plus cross stitch and canvas work from the Royal School of Needlework archives. Tickets cost £13.50 in advance (concessions £12.50, children aged 5-18 £6.00).  A wide selection of options is available from or by calling 0844 581 1319 or +44 0121 796 6165 from outside the UK.

The Woven Skirt

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Marianne Henio’s Woven Skirt is a great addition to your wardrobe and you can match it with existing jackets to create some snazzy suits! Why not jazz up your office wear! It’s knitted on a standard gauge punchcard machine and the yarn used is a 4-ply Bramwell Artistic Crepe with a mix of bouclé yarns to create the woven effect. You can use quite thick yarns for the weaving, even though it’s a standard gauge machine. The skirt is knitted sideways and this stops it from curling, as the outer edges don’t curl in knit-weave. The curl is actually sewn into the side seams, so the whole skirt lies flat. Prefect! This could be a great little project to use up some yarns in your stash, so why not mix some acrylics and fancy yarns and see what amazing fabric you can make. All those mixtures of colours mean the skirt will go with everything and it’s really fun to do, If you’d like to add The Woven Skirt to your wardrobe, click here!

Don’t miss out!

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The Makery Advent Calendar treat for Day 2 is 50% off all workshops in Bath and London for 24 hours! This was such a popular offer when they ran it in the summer, so don’t miss out if you’re not on Facebook or Instagram. Just add code Advent50 at the checkout. The offer ends at midday on Sunday 3rd December. Remember, too, the Bath Christmas Market and folk are loving the Personalised Christmas Baubles!