WELCOME TO THE NINTH INSTALMENT OF THE 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB BLOG – which means that we are a step away from completing the blanket! This month you have five squares to knit up which will complete six strips of the blanket. So if you want to make a start on the finishing, you can get ahead before the final squares and edging instructions next month. In this month’s blog there are the usual tips and advice to help you with your squares, a report on a Mystery Blanket workshop at I Love Ewe in Stamford, and what you’ve all been waiting for…the reveal of the Mystery Blanket theme including an insight into the inspiration for my design.
First of all I want to share this picture with you of Seth’s first day at school, looking ultra cool (and very grown up!) in his school uniform. He is now five weeks into the term and enjoying every minute of it. Time has certainly flown by since that very first photo of him in my blog way back in December 2014…I can hardly believe it’s the same person. Where has all that time gone?!?...
THE OCTOBER PATTERNS WERE EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON THE 1ST OCTOBER, and the printed patterns were posted a week or so ahead of that with the overseas posted on the 23rd September and the UK on the 27th September. So if you have not received your printed patterns yet, they should be with you very soon.
THE 2020 MYSTERY BLANKET IS STILL OPEN FOR SIGNING UP IF YOU FANCY TAKING ON A BRAND NEW CHALLENGE NEXT YEAR! I have been very busy over the past few weeks finalising the patterns and yarn order for the blanket, and I must say that I am very excited about what I have in store for you! The design focuses on lots of lovely textured stitches and stripe patterns in a soft palette of over twenty shades of some of Rowan’s best-loved yarns including Felted Tweed, Softyak and Baby Silk Merino DK. It’s a tantalising journey of an exploration of colour and yarn fibres, with a broad palette ranging from soft sandy neutrals and tweedy greys to brilliant shades of turquoise and green.
Below: a glimpse of some of the colours in the 2020 Mystery Blanket - but that's only half of the palette, the rest will remain a 'mystery' until February...
If this sounds like an interesting project to indulge yourself in next year then you can sign up to the Club in our online shop. It’s quick and easy to do and payment can be taken by Paypal or debit/credit card. There is a signing up deadline of 31st December and limited memberships for the Club. So make sure you don’t miss out and book your place today on my new knitting adventure for 2020!
You can sign up right now by purchasing your membership in the online shop on my website: https://debbieabrahams.com/collections/mystery-knitting-clubs/products/mystery-blanket-club-2020
If you want to find out more about next years Mystery Blanket, it would be a good idea to visit the FAQ page on my website where you will find lots more information under ‘Mystery Club FAQS’: https://debbieabrahams.com/pages/faq
THERE ARE FIVE SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:
Square 17, Option One: Rockin’ Around – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads and swiss darning:
Square 17, Option Two: Silent Night (reprise) – striped pattern with hooked-in beads:
Square 18, Ice Cubes 2: beaded cables with reverse swiss darning (same for both options):
Square 19, Option One: Prancer – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads and swiss darning:
Square 19, Option Two: Silent Night – striped pattern with hooked-in beads:
Square 20: Winter Rose – striped lace pattern with hooked-in beads (same for both options):
Square 21: Another Winter Solstice –cable, lace and bobble pattern (same for both options):
Here are some tips on this month’s squares to help you with your knitting this month…
SQUARE 17, OPTION ONE, ROCKIN’ AROUND: this is the same as Square 33 from Mail Out 8.
You are instructed to cast on (or pick up the stitches) using Iris yarn and then to swiss darn the stitches using Steppe on chart rows 1 and 2. However, I know that several of you chose to knit these stitches in, as well as the other stitches in Steppe on chart rows 16-17 and 31-32. This is absolutely fine and a good alternative to swiss darning if this is a technique you would rather avoid!
To keep the design balanced you are advised to choose this option if you knitted Option One for Square 33.
SQUARE 17, OPTION TWO, SILENT NIGHT (REPRISE): this is the same as Square 33 from Mail Out 8.
You were advised before to consider using a circular needle or double-pointed needles to knit this square to save transferring the stitches across from one needle to the other. So this same advice applies again and may save you some valuable knitting time!
To keep the design balanced you are advised to choose this option if you knitted Option Two for Square 33.
SQUARE 18, ICE CUBES 2: this is very similar to Square 32 from Mail Out 7. The only difference between them is that the cables twist to the left rather than to the right (so that’s c6f instead of c6b).
All of the stitches in the cables on both right and wrong side rows are knitted through the back of the loops. This twists the stitches making them tighter and neater. This is indicated in the worded instructions but not on the chart, so take care to remember to do this if you choose to work from the chart only. It might even be worth writing a note about this on the My Notes page opposite the chart to remind you.
SQUARE 19, OPTION ONE, PRANCER: it’s time for a bit of revision as this is exactly the same as Square 31 from Mail Out 7.
You are instructed to swiss darn the speckles on the reindeers on chart rows 7, 8, 22, 23, 37 and 38. However, you might prefer to knit these in which is absolutely fine if this is easier for you to do.
To keep the design balanced you are advised to choose this option if you knitted Option One for Square 31.
SQUARE 19, OPTION TWO, SILENT NIGHT: this is the same as Square 31 from Mail Out 7, so it’s a nice easy knit with no surprises!
To keep the design balanced you are advised to choose this option if you knitted Option Two for Square 31.
SQUARE 20, WINTER ROSE: you’ve knitted this one before, it’s the same as Square 30 from Mail Out 6. It’s very similar to Winter Thistle which is the square that I received numerous emails about when Rows 3 and 7 (and their subsequent repeats) caused some of you a problem. So I will explain again how they work. When you bring the yarn forward (yf) you must keep it held at the front as you sl 1 knitwise, hook bead onto next stitch and K2togtbl. Do not take the yarn to the back until it naturally falls there after K2togtbl. When you hook in the bead you must place the stitch back onto the left-hand needle and then knit it together through the back of the loop with the next stitch behind it on the needle (K2togtbl).
Another tip is to count the number of stitches as you work all wrong side rows. If you do this then you will notice straight away whether you have made an error on a right side row. And if you have made an error, you only need to go back one row to put it right.
SQUARE 21, ANOTHER WINTER SOLSTICE: this is a repeat of Square 29 from Mail Out 6, with all the cables twisting to the left (c7f). It’s similar to Winter Solstice, Squares 15 and 35, but these cables twist the other way – so watch out!
IF YOU DECIDE TO MAKE A START ON SEWING YOUR STRIPS TOGETHER I WOULD ADVISE THAT YOU USE THE CHARTS FOR STITCH AND ROW REFERENCE TO HELP YOU. On this chart you can clearly see the stitches and rows for each square. When you sew your strips together you are looking at the number of rows in each square as you are creating vertical seams.
So what happens when two squares need to be sewn together but they have a different numbers of rows in them? For example, Square 11 has 51 rows and Square 18 has 54 rows. The answer is very simple and easy to do. In this example there are three more rows in Square 18 than there are in Square 11. So you would need to ease in three rows of Square 18 into Square 11. You can ease using Mattress stitch by taking the needle under one bar instead of two. So in this example you would need to ease in three stitches by taking the needle under one bar along the edge of Square 11, three times, spacing them evenly between the first and last row of the square. And if with other squares there are a different number of stitches to be eased in then you can repeat this as many times as required along the edge that needs to be eased in, dividing the number of easings as equally as possible along the seam. It is easy to do and you won’t be able to see the easing on the seams – it’s invisible and actually quite brilliant! So give it a go!
SO IT’S TIME TO REVEAL THE TITLE OF THIS YEAR’S MYSTERY BLANKET! And although we have had an avalanche of correct guesses for the title, there might be some of you out there who are still not quite sure what it is. So here goes. The title is:
W I N T E R / W O N D E R L A N D
This year’s Mystery Blanket has been a very personal journey for me, influenced by childhood memories and moments of magical nostalgia. I have always loved the season of Winter, and growing up as I did in a small village in rural Essex where the winters were lengthy and harsh, I couldn’t wait until that first fall of snow came, transforming the fields once full of golden wheat into vast playgrounds of snow.
The village was close to a beautiful lake and nature reserve and on weekends my parents would regularly take me and my two sisters out for a brisk, refreshing walk, exploring the many pathways that criss-crossed between the fields and the houses. With clear blue skies overhead and the snowy pathways glistening with sparkles of silver, this was indeed an idyllic time for a young girl like me.
My parents are both painters – my mum a water-colourist and my dad and oil painter. So whilst out on our country walks they would take a camera with them to record the scenery. And then back at home the best shots would then be turned into drawings and paintings.
Below: a view across the fields to St Catherine's Church in Gosfield.
Over the years my dad has created the most beautiful paintings of landscapes, many of them focusing on our village. And it is from his winterscapes that I took my colour inspiration for the Mystery Blanket this year. He has a great eye for colour and in his paintings he recreates what he sees around him using a broad palette of tonal shades, which range in his winter paintings from soft greys to brilliant lilacs and purples, capturing the spirit of the season perfectly.
Above: soft shades of purples, blues and greys in the painting of the fields close to our house is interpreted in 'A Hazy Shade of Winter'.
Below: the stippled effect in the foreground of the painting is translated into knitting in 'Frozen'.
With my dad’s paintings providing me with a colour palette for the design, I focused on several other sources of wintry inspiration for the patterns and motifs including snow, frost and ice, snowballs, fir trees, icicles, snowflakes and reindeer. Some of these influences are interpreted through textured stitch patterns and stripes, while others are incorporated into fairisle designs, most of which use traditional Scandinavian knitting patterns as a base.
Below: shades of purple and icy blue in this painting inspire the colours and patterns in 'Rockin' Around'.
I chose to name the fairisle squares after seasonal songs and carols, which I always love to hear at this time of year. Whether they are popular songs or traditional ones, they always fill me with an immense sense of comfort and lift my spirit, whatever sort of day I might have had.
Above: a watercolour painting of the view of Gosfield Hall across the snowy fields.
I hope that you have enjoyed sharing this nostalgic journey with me to a magical Winter Wonderland. For me it’s been a great adventure which has both challenged and inspired me from start to finish. And maybe it has brought back some fond memories for you too of those glorious cold, snowy winter days.
SALLY-ANN BURNETT FROM HORNCHURCH IN ESSEX, UK, WAS THRILLED TO HAVE COMPLETED HER 2018 MYSTERY BLANKET RECENTLY. I first met Sally-Ann several years ago at a workshop in Sussex at Kangaroo, and since then she has been hooked on the Mystery Blankets! This is what Sally-Ann had to say about her most recent ‘Mystery’ achievement:
“I wanted to let you know that at long last I finished my 2018 Mystery Blanket. I love the end result and my sister cried tears of joy when I gave it to her yesterday. Thank you in particular for your help with adjusting the colour of the centre surround squares.”
What a splendid job you have made of the blanket, and it’s no wonder that your sister got very emotional when she saw it. This blanket had an incredible amount of work in it and you have knitted it perfectly!
KIRSTY ANYWYL-HUGHES FROM WORCESTER IN THE UK WAS JUST AS THRILLED TO HAVE COMPLETED HER 2018 MYSTERY BLANKET RECENTLY ASWELL. And similar to Sally-Ann, I met Kirsty several years ago at a workshop, this time in Edinburgh. Kirsty also gave her Mystery Blanket away as a gift and she wanted to share her story with us.
Kirsty says: “I know you like to hear stories about your Mystery Blankets. So I thought you might like to know that at the a few weeks ago I gave my 2018 blanket to my stepdaughter and her soon to be husband as we gathered to celebrate their wedding.
Little did I know that ever since she had known me and seen my knitting she had always wished that one day she would own one of my blankets. I will never forget the look on her face and the tears in her eyes as she unwrapped our gift and realised what it was - she loved it!
I had decided early on that I would be giving it to them as they had recently visited Barcelona and I managed to keep it a complete secret from them.
Thank you once again for enabling me to give such a special gift.”
I think that a hand-crafted gift is the best thing that you can give to someone, and I am sure that the newlywed couple will treasure their blanket forever. What a lovely story Kirsty, and thanks for sharing it with us.
LAST MONTH I VISITED THE LOVELY KNITTING SHOP ‘I LOVE EWE’ IN STAMFORD TO RUN A MYSTERY BLANKET WORKSHOP. This beautiful shop run by Rachel Parry is tucked away just off the main street that runs through the town, and is always an absolute pleasure to visit. The shelves are stacked to the ceiling with yarn, and there’s plenty of other fabulous knitting and crochet accessories and gadgets to browse through and buy. It’s the perfect place to run a workshop!
The workshop focused on my Let It Snow Mitts which were created from yarns and beads from this year’s Mystery Blanket. I offered the ladies a choice of two colourways – purple or green – and it wasn’t too long after choosing their kit that they all got stuck into their knitting.
Below: the ladies make a start on their project, with Rachel at the top end of the table keeping everyone going with hot drinks and chocolates.
The mitts focus on the fairisle technique, but the project also includes a beaded cast-on, a twisted rib and slip-stitch and hooked-in beading. So there was plenty to keep the ladies busy.
As usual we got most of the hard work done in the morning before we put down our knitting needles and stopped for a delicious lunch. Not only were we spoilt with a huge selection of sandwiches but there was cake too, cut into large slices that we all thought we’d never be able to eat – but surprise, surprise, we did!
Above: lots of progress was made before lunch, with the ladies concentrating on the fairisle technique.
It was a most enjoyable day, spent with a lovely group of ladies. Everyone worked really hard and I was really impressed by how far everyone got with the project. And although the ladies went away with only a part knitted mitt and not a completed pair, the workshop had taught them all the techniques they needed to complete them, just in time for the Autumn season.
Next year I hope to go back to Rachel’s shop for another workshop (subject and date to be confirmed). So I hope to see some of you there!
MYSTERY CLUB MEETINGS ARE STILL TAKING PLACE ONCE A MONTH IN BEESTON NOTTINGHAM. The last meeting was held on 11th September at Sarah Doherty’s house in Beeston (Sarah used to own the knitting shop ‘Yarn’ in Beeston). You can see my write up about the meeting in my Mystery Cushion September blog: https://debbieabrahams.com/blogs/news/mystery-cushion-club-2019-post-4-september
Above: the ladies at the September meeting at Sarah's house.
The next meeting is on Wednesday 9th October from 4:00 – 6:00pm and I will be joining the group for some more knit and chart. If you are interested in joining us, please contact Sarah for more information and hopefully I will see you there! Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE NINTH 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB PRIZE DRAW!!! Each month a member is picked at random to win a Debbie Abrahams prize. So it is worth reading right the way to the end of each blog to see if you are that lucky member!
PRIZE DRAW NINE (OCTOBER): this month’s winner is member 408, Marcy Handler from Newburgh, New York, USA. Well done Marcy!
Please choose a prize from the following selection:
- A signed Debbie Abrahams book: Blankets and Throws to Knit/More Blankets and Throws To Knit/25 Beaded Knits/Kaleidoscope
- A Debbie Abrahams dvd: More Blankets/A Professional Finish
- Four packs of Debbie Abrahams Beads (size 8/0 or 6/0) from the selection on http://www.debbieabrahamsbeads.co.uk
- A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club: 2020 Mystery Cushion Club; 2020 Mystery Blanket Club
So, here we are, almost at the end of our 2019 Mystery Blanket adventure with just four squares to go to complete the design. And if you've kept up with the project you will soon have your very own cosy, warm blanket to snuggle down under! But what about that centre square? Any ideas?!? Come back here next month and all will be revealed! In the meantime, have a fabulous October and keep those knitting needles going! Debbie x