SO IT IS WITH MUCH EXCITEMENT THAT I WELCOME YOU ALL TO THE FINAL MONTH OF THIS YEAR’S MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB! And after nine months of working hard on your squares you now have the complete set of patterns, including that all important centre square, plus of course the edging. So this means that for those of you who have kept up month by month, you will soon have your very own tenth anniversary Mystery Blanket! And what a journey it has been – at times challenging, but hopefully enjoyable too. Thank you to everyone that sent in their Mystery Blanket knitting stories and photos, all of which were a joy to read. And there were some very helpful tips sent in too, with one more piece of advice about lining your blanket featuring in this month’s blog…
(Above: Seth with Ali and the Flower Pot men!!!)
So for the last time this year, before I crack on with all the Mystery Blanket news, here is an update on little Seth, who has just come back from a very enjoyable week in France, where I was holding a Festive Bunting workshop with Knitting Holidays In France. We had a marvellous week, joined by ten ladies in total, including Mystery Blanket Club members Pat White, Katherine Saunders and Elisabeth Price. I will tell you more about this workshop holiday later on in the blog, but ahead of that, here is a picture of Seth with his new found friend, Ali! The weather was lovely and warm all week, so Seth and Ali decided to go for a walk and found these very amusing Flower Pot men in a children’s garden. They had a fun time on the walk and came back very excited about what they had seen!
AND SO…ON WITH THIS MONTH’S NEWS ON THE FINAL INSTALMENT! The last set of patterns were emailed to you at 12:15am on the 1st November, so the file should be sitting in your inbox – if you have not already seen it. It is a large file, twenty-two pages from cover to cover and it includes a gallery of images, so be prepared as it may take a bit of time to download. The printed patterns for overseas and UK members were posted within the last couple of days, so hopefully you will all receive them very soon. (I usually post the overseas patterns earlier than the UK ones, however, I could not do that this time as I was in France). In this month’s blog I have included advice on picking up stitches to help you with the edging. And if you need advice on sewing up then please follow this link to my October blog: https://debbieabrahams.com/blogs/news/mystery-blanket-2017-october-post-9
PLEASE NOTE THAT THERE ARE NO PHOTOS OF THE COMPLETED OPTION TWO BLANKET IN THE NOVEMBER MAIL-OUT. However, I will be including some photos of it in my January blog, which will also feature a Member’s Gallery.
SINCE ROWAN’S RECENT MBC18 EMAIL PROMOTION (WHICH YOU MAY HAVE RECEIVED), THE SIGN-UPS FOR NEXT YEAR’S CLUB HAVE GONE BANANAS! We had an overwhelming response to it which means that there are now under fifty memberships left – and they are still continuing to sell every day. So if this is something that you have been meaning to do, but have not yet got round to it, there is still time to sign up and be part of the 2018 Mystery Blanket Club. You just need to visit my online shop, choose your package and make your payment to secure your place.
For next year’s blanket I have developed my own range of shades of Rowan Glace Cotton, which means each member will receive a pack of exclusive colours. It has been a fascinating process to go through, and I am so excited about having my own unique colours for next year’s design. There are a total of nineteen shades in the colour palette, with seventeen of them being brand new shades that I have developed and two from the existing range.
If you want to find out more about next year’s Mystery Blanket, you can visit the FAQ page on my website where you will find lots more information: http://www.debbieabrahams.com/mystery-clubs/mystery-blanket/
When you sign up to the 2018 Mystery Blanket Club and make your payment you will be sent a confirmation email within seven days which will give you your membership number and ask you to confirm your address and email details. If you do not receive this email, please let us know and we will resend it to you: firstname.lastname@example.org
AS I MENTIONED EARLIER ON, I RAN A FESTIVE BUNTING WORKSHOP IN FRANCE LAST WEEK, and as there were some Mystery Blanket members in attendance, I thought you might like to see what we got up to! We were staying at La Nourgerie in Bercloux which is owned by Sue Culligan of Knitting Holidays in France. And while Sue kept us fed and watered with her marvellous cuisine, we knitted my brand new Ultimate Festive Bunting, (which is available to purchase as a kit in my web-shop and will be part of a special Festive Knits 20% discount promotion later on this month):
La Nougerie is a lovely place to stay, and with seven bedrooms upstairs and a large sitting-room downstairs, there was plenty of room for us to spread out and indulge ourselves in our favourite craft!
(Above: Annabel works from her tablet while Linda (just behind her) cracks on with learning new techniques).
(Above: Rose (in the foreground), hard at work with Linda and Annabel in the background).
There were also ample opportunities to shop – (a knitting holiday wouldn’t be the same without it!!!) – and one of our destinations was Maisons du Monde in Saintes. Carol Meldrum – who had overlapped with our group at the beginning of the week – had heightened our excitement by telling us that Maisons du Monde had their Christmas shop open, so no matter what, we had to pay it a visit:
(Above: the fabulous Christmas window display in Maisons du Monde, Saintes).
(Below: enjoying a drink after a long hard shop...from left to right: Culli, Katherine, Jenny and Sue).
Seth had a wonderful time and really enjoyed being part of the group – although he chose not to knit, preferring to play with all his toys instead. And the ladies all took their turns to spend time with him too, reading him stories, going out for walks and playing games. Here he is with Elisabeth, completely absorbed by something very educational on the i-pad, which kept him quiet for a good few hours!...
The week was very enjoyable and although no bunting was completed by the end of the week, all of the ladies were well on their way with it, determined to get it completed before the start of the festive season – which I am sure they will all do! So a big thanks goes out to Katherine, Elisabeth, Pat, Ali, Jenny, Annabel, Linda, Rose, Jan and Ruth who were the most wonderful students, and to Sue and Culli for their fabulous hospitality (especially Sue’s amazing meals!).
If you fancy visiting La Nougerie for one of the many workshops and retreats that Sue is running in 2018, then you can read all about her wonderful venue on the Knitting Holidays in France website: http://www.knittingholidaysinfrance.com/. And although I won’t be running a workshop there next year, I am planning to go back in 2019, so I might see you then!
SO NOW FOR THE GUESSING OF OCTOBER’S FIVE SQUARES. This is the monthly bit of fun where I invite you to guess from which Mystery Blanket each of the squares were inspired by. The winner for the October squares is Denise Tokarz from Atlanta, Georgia, USA. So very well done to Denise who can choose any of the Debbie Abrahams products listed at the foot of this blog. Just let me know your decision and your prize will be on its way to you!
Here are the answers for the October patterns:
Square 32: Oslo – Nordic Adventure (2013)
Square 33, Option One: Sheep – In The County (2008)
Square 33, Option Two: Petunia #1 – Back To The Country (2014)
Square 34: Lattice A French Romance (2016)
Square 35, Option One: Starlight #4 – Perugian Perspectives (2015)
Square 35, Option Two: Untitled – Arabian Nights (2008)
Square 42: Untitled – Arabian Nights (2008)
We accept all correct answers which are emailed to us anytime up until the next blog is written, and then all of them are put in a hat and a winner picked out. That way everyone has a fair chance of winning. The winner of the November “Guess the Squares” competition will be announced in my December blog. There are four squares plus an edging to guess…
THESE ARE THE SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT IN THE FINAL MONTH (NOVEMBER):
Square 25, Option One: Untitled – ten years celebration motif using the intarsia and fairisle techniques, beads and swiss-darning
Square 25, Option Two: Untitled – ten years celebration motif using beads and swiss-darning
Square 26: Untitled – beaded cables with lace stitches (same for both options)
Square 27: First Love Affair – lace pattern with beads and swiss-darning (same for both options)
Square 28, Option One: Triangles #4 – geometric intarsia motifs with textured stitches, swiss-darned details and a button
Square 28, Option Two: Untitled – striped cable pattern with beads
And the Edging – garter stitch border with coloured flags
Advice on How to use this document, Working the Mystery Blanket, Knitting techniques, Knitting with beads and Embroidery on knitting fabric are NOT included in this mail out.
SO HERE IT IS, THE MUCH ANTICIPATED CENTRE SQUARE, NUMBER 25! And in the end, it seemed only right to choose a square that embraced the celebratory theme of this year’s Mystery Blanket. So after much debate I went for one which had a bit of everything, plus “fireworks” too! I don’t usually combine intarsia and fairisle in one square, but for Option One I decided to go for it this time. So you need to take extra special care when you knit chart rows 19-33. Some of you may opt to knit in the number “10” in the centre of this square, but I chose to swiss-darn it onto the knitting afterwards. The only issue you may have with this square is the Blue/Amethyst beads, which, depending on whether you mixed your options, you may not have enough of the Blue beads to complete it – in which case you should use Amethyst beads instead. There is a note about this in the Pattern notes and tips on page 6. I do hope that you like my choice for the centre square, however, as I said in last month’s blog, I am very interested to see whether any of the members decide to choose their own design for this square. And if you do, don’t forget to send me your photos which I will include in a special Member’s Gallery blog in January: email@example.com
SQUARE 26, UNTITLED, IS ALMOST THE SAME AS ITS SISTER SQUARE, NUMBER 24. However, there is a slight difference on Pattern rows 5 and 11, where “c3f” and “c3b” are swapped round…
…WHEREAS SQUARE 27 IS IDENTICAL TO ITS SISTER SQUARE, NUMBER 23 – so there are no differences between them!
SQUARE 28, TRIANGLES #4, OPTION ONE, IS A REFLECTION OF SQUARE 22 – in that the colours of the triangular motifs are swapped round, as is the swiss-darning inside the motifs. There is a note on this pattern that advises you to knit the same option that you chose for Square 22, which will keep the design balanced.
AND FINALLY, SQUARE 28, UNTITLED, OPTION TWO, IS ALMOST THE SAME AS ITS SISTER SQUARE, NUMBER 22, but the “c3f” and “c3b” cables on Pattern rows 3, 7 and 11 have been swapped round.
THERE IS ONE PATTERN FOR THE EDGING THIS YEAR, however, I have given you a choice as to which colours you could use for the garter stitch edging and the knitted flags. I used Flower and Pier, and Seville and Pier for my garter stitch edges, but you could any of the colours, as long as you have enough of them left over (two rows of garter stitch (2 knit rows) uses approximately 2-3g of yarn). There is a choice of three colours for each of the seventeen flags, which I have grouped together so that a balance of blues/greens, purples/pinks, greens/limes and oranges/pinks is maintained throughout the whole blanket edging. However, if preferred you can make your own choices from all of the colours in the kit - although your choices will depend on the amounts of yarn you have left over - each flag uses approximately 2g.
AND NOW FOR SOME TIPS ON PICKING UP STITCHES (for the edging)…which some of you may feel a bit daunted by, but in fact it is very simple. I have included a Stitching Diagram on page 5 which shows the number of stitches and rows in each square. And this, together with the instructions for the edging on pages 17 and 18 where I have given you the amount of stitches to pick up along the edge of each square, (the left-hand and right-hand edges and the top and the bottom edges), should help you with this task.
There are several ways that you can pick up stitches. However, along a cast-off or cast-on edge I prefer to pick up through the middle of stitches (rather than through the cast-on or cast-off edges). And along a selvedge (side) edge I prefer to pick up in the gaps between the bars that exist between the edge stitch and the next stitch in from the edge:
- Along a vertical (side) edge: the basic rule to follow here is to pick up 3 out of 4 stitches. I have already told you in the pattern instructions how many stitches you need to pick up, so you must achieve this number. So, with the right-side of the work facing, take the needle through the first gap between the bars (in the same place between the stitches that you inserted your needle for Mattress stitch, ie, between the edge stitch and the next stitch in). Loop the yarn around the needle and pull the new stitch through. Repeat this for the second and third gaps between the bars, then skip over the fourth gap. Continue to pick up in this way, remembering to check the number of stitches as you go and adjust the picking up if necessary to get the correct amount picked up along the edge of each square.
- Along a horizontal edge (cast-on/cast-off edge): with the right-side of the work facing, take the needle through the middle of the stitch just below the cast-off edge/above the cast-on edge. Loop the yarn around the needle and pull the new stitch through. Repeat this all the way along the edge, making sure that you pick up the correct number of stitches along the edge of each square. If you have to pick up fewer stitches than you have cast on or cast off, you will need to skip over this number of stitches to achieve the correct amount. Or alternatively, if you have to pick up more stitches than you have cast on or cast off, you will need to pick up the extra stitches by putting your needle between some of the stitches to achieve the correct amount.
Give it a go and see how you get on!
I HAVE BEEN ASKED MANY TIMES HOW TO LINE THE BACK OF A BLANKET, but not being a sewer I am afraid to say that my answer to that question has been a bit vague – until now! Dinah from Walsall in the West Midlands has lined all of her Mystery Blankets, and she was more than happy to pass on her expertise to the members. So here is Dinah’s guide to lining a Mystery Blanket…
- Choose the colour best suited to the squares and to your taste.
- Choose a fabric - I prefer a heavy silk but a medium-weight cotton would also work well. You will need a piece of fabric which measures slightly larger than your finished blanket, so add on 2 inches or more to the measurements of your finished blanket so that you have ample to play with.
- Lay the fabric on the floor.
- Lay your blanket on top of the fabric and cut the fabric to the edge of your blanket + 1cm all the way round.
- Iron fabric at this stage if it is creased.
- With the right-side of your fabric uppermost, lay it over your blanket then turn the hem in up to edge of the squares. Fold neatly at corners to align with the mitred knitted ones.
- Sew the lining to the first or second row of the blanket edging using small stitches. This gives
a line to follow all the way around.
- DO NOT IRON - just hover over with steam if you wish as any pressure will show up the lines and ridges where the blanket joins the fabric.
- As a final finish, if desired, sew five or six small buttons onto the fabric by using the
blanket joins as a securing point. Position them as in the photo. This will keep the fabric firmer.
- Finally, sew the Mystery Blanket label across one corner to complete the lining of your Mystery Blanket.
(Above: Dinah's blanket with the lining sewn into place).
(Above: a close-up of the corner with the label sewn into place).
Thank you so much Dinah for your wonderful photos and advice about lining the blanket. I am sure that many of the members will find this very useful as it is one of the most frequently asked questions we get – especially at this final stage of the project. You never know, I might even be tempted to get my sewing kit out!
CATHERINE POPE FROM NOTTINGHAM GOT HERSELF INTO A BIT OF A PICKLE WHEN SHE REALISED THAT SHE HAD KNITTED TOO MANY BEADS INTO HER “OSLO” SQUARE. However, I was able to help her out with this and she managed to successfully take Oslo out of the strip she had completed, reknit it, and then she added it back in. So in case you find yourself in a similar situation and are wondering how she did this, here is the advice I gave her:
With a sharp pointed pair of scissors, cut very carefully through the cast-off edge of the square you wish to remove. This means that you will very probably lose the last two-three rows of this square, but that does not matter as you can reknit them. As you undo the cast-off edge, the stitches from the pick-up for the square above will become "raw", so you need to catch them onto a knitting needle. You can then undo the square you are removing completely and release it from the strip. When you have reknitted the square, do not cast off the stitches, leave them on the needle and then you can join it to the square above by doing a three-needle cast off. If you are not sure how to do this you will demos of it on the internet.
Catherine followed this advice and look how beautiful her Oslo square looks, re-joined to the square above it so perfectly that you would never know that it had ever been removed! And if Catherine makes that same mistake again she will know what to do next time – and so will you!
SUE SIMMS FROM KENILWORTH IN WARWICKSHIRE HAD A MARVELLOUS TIP FOR CARRYING YARNS UP THE SIDE OF THE WORK. And she was more than happy to share her technique with the members. So this is what she had to say:
“I'm just working on Square 32 from this month's blanket pattern. I'm really enjoying it because it's so pretty. I thought I'd pass on a tip for carrying yarns up the side of work which I learnt on a recent fairisle course. When you get to the last stitch of a row knit it with both colours then, on the next row knit through both loops of the first stitch with only the correct colour - very neat!”
Thank you for your great tip Sue! I am sure that it will make carrying those yarns up the side edges so much easier for many of the members. And I think I will give it a go too, it sounds like an easy and very effective way to keep those edges neat and tidy!
GAIL COLES FROM HIGH WYCOMBE IN BUCKINGHAMSHIRE HAS HAD A LOT OF FUN WITH HER BLANKET SQUARES, AND HAS EVEN DESIGNED SOME OF HER OWN! She sent me these lovely photos and her story about what she has been up to…
“I thought you might like to see what I've done with your lovely design. I'm still going to use the Sheep, most likely as my centre square, but I shall knit the Sheep separately until the middle square has been revealed! I hope you aren't offended that I have jiggled about with your design, I really appreciate all the effort and hard work that goes into each square! The square has not been blocked at the moment as I am waiting until the whole strip has been knitted. I remain, as always, in awe of your beautiful designs.”
(Above: Gail's ideas for the picture squares).
(Below: Gail's beautiful chaffinch square).
I love what you have done Gail and appreciate you sharing this with the members. And now that the centre square has been revealed we are all waiting to see what you have decided to do with the Sheep! Perhaps you will send in some photos of your completed Mystery Blanket for the Member Gallery (which goes live in January)? It would be lovely to see what you have done!
THE FINAL “MYSTERY” MEETING AT YARN TOOK PLACE ON WEDNESDAY 1ST NOVEMBER, and I was joined by a lovely group of ladies who brought their blanket squares with them to knit while we chatted, drank tea and coffee and ate chocolate! At the meeting were Mary Leeson, Helen Jones, Catherine Pope, Jane Muggleton, Anne Sampson, Kath Owen, Joan Bray and Liz Jenks. I brought along my completed Mystery Cushion and Blanket so that the ladies could see the finished results. Jane showed us her knitted strips that she had sewn together and was very pleased with – they looked fabulous! And Catherine showed us the Oslo square she had taken out of the strip, reknitted then successfully added back into the strip – it looked amazing!
(Above: from left ot right, Jane, Catherine, Anne and Kath discuss their squares and knitting techniques).
(Below: from left to right, Mary, Jane, Catherine and Anne get more of their squares knitted up at the Mystery Blanket meeting).
I want to send a huge thanks to Sarah who has organised and run all of the Mystery Blanket meetings at Yarn this year. She is planning to run the monthly meetings again in 2018, so if you are interested in joining us at her lovely shop, these are her contact details: Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
IT IS ALWAYS A REAL TREAT FOR ME TO SEE THE MEMBER’S MYSTERY BLANKETS COMPLETED, so if you would like to send me a photo and a few words about your 2017 Mystery Blanket, I will include it in a special Members Gallery on my blog in January. Please send your photos and stories directly to me at email@example.com and then don’t forget to come back here in January to my blog to see all of your wonderful creations!
AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING...THE TENTH AND FINAL 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB PRIZE DRAW!!! Each month a member is picked at random to win a Debbie Abrahams prize.
PRIZE DRAW NINE (NOVEMBER): the last winner for this year is member 495, Shelley Hecht from Knoxville, Tennessee, USA. Well done Shelley! Please choose a prize from the following selection:
• a 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
• 4 packs of Debbie Abrahams Beads from the selection on http://www.debbieabrahamsbeads.co.uk
• a £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club (Cushion or Blanket)
I will contact Shelley directly to discuss her choice.
AND JUST IN CASE YOU WERE A WINNER BUT HAVE NOT CLAIMED YOUR PRIZE, here is the list of all the winners from months 1-10. If your name is on the list and you haven’t claimed your prize then email Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will get it sorted for you:
February: Linda Schaefer (member 546)
March: Cherry Wilcock (member 118)
April: Merridee Dobbeck (member 512)
May: Mary Shepherd (member 80)
June:) Judy Shoulders (member 178
July: Alison Platt (member 58)
August: Billie Dyer (member 494)
September: Sanna RauhamÃki (member 465)
October: Margie Coleman (member 30)
November: Shelley Hecht (member 495)
So here we are at the end of my special tenth anniversary Mystery Blanket, and I hope that you’ve enjoyed the journey as much as I have. It’s been an absolute joy to have you on board this year, and if you’ve signed up to the 2018 Mystery Blanket Club then our journey will begin all over again in a few months’ time. Thank you to everyone who has sent in their knitting stories and photos, and it has been great to meet some of you at the events and workshops I have held over the past year. Until next time, take care and keep knitting! Debbie x