WELCOME TO THE SEVENTH INSTALMENT OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB! And as we approach the last few months of the 2017 design, the excitement of seeing the completed blanket is coming ever closer! With more pieces of the "Mystery" being revealed this month (and three whole strips completed!), you will have a good idea now of what the blanket is going to look like - although there are still some new squares to come, plus that all important centre square! Has anybody had a guess at what it might be?!?...
However, before we get stuck into taking a look at this month's news, just a quick word about little Seth who recently enjoyed a lovely sunny day out at the village fete in Gosfield in Essex with his nan and grandad. There were lots of stalls and games, including ferret racing, welly throwing, crockery smashing and hook-the-duck, and Seth had a fabulous time, cooling himself down with plenty of cold drinks and ice-creams. It was a perfect summer's day out in the country!
MY NEW WEBSITE LAUNCHED SUCCESSFULLY AT THE BEGINNING OF JULY, and thank you to those of you who sent us your comments and feedback - it is always very welcome and a great help to the web team. We are very pleased with the website and so far It seems to be performing very well. And apart from a few hiccups with re-registering previously signed-up knitters, the online shop is running nice and smoothly, with many of you already getting on board for next year's Mystery Blanket. There was a bit of a panic when we first launched as the previous Mystery blogs could not be accessed. However, I am glad to say that this has now been resolved, and all previous blogs for both the Cushion and the Blanket can now be viewed on the Blog page of the website: https://debbieabrahams.com/blogs/news. The only thing missing from these archived blogs is the photos, however, as soon as I have a quiet moment I will get as many of them as I can uploaded to the relevant pages so that you can see the images as well as the written text. I am not sure quite when that "quiet" moment will be, but I am hoping it won't be too far in the future!!!
APPLICATIONS FOR MY 2018 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB OPENED ON 10TH JULY, and we have already sold over one-third of the memberships. So a VERY big thank you if you have already bought your membership. And although there are still memberships available, I am limiting next year's Club to 600 members - which is over 100 less than last year. So if you want to be part of it, I would advise you not to delay securing your place - when the Club sells out and there are no more memberships left, it will close.
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: 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
AND I HAVE SOME MORE EXCITING NEWS ABOUT THE 2018 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB!… in addition to the Inspired Minds workshops that I am running with my good friend Jane Crowfoot, I am also planning a second very special Mystery Blanket workshop holiday to Hell Bay in the Scilly Isles! This event was a huge success last year and it sold out within hours of it going live in my web-shop. So if you are interested in coming with me next October (2018) to this glorious and amazing island, keep an eye on your inbox as it will be on sale in my online shop within the next couple of months. I am very excited about it and hope that some of you will join me!
SO NOW FOR THE GUESSING OF JULY’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. However, nobody guessed the July squares correctly, so for all of you who gave it a go, here are the answers:
Square 5, Options One and Two: Untitled – House of Aphrodite (2011)
Square 6: Country Stripe – In The Country (2008)
Square 13 Option One: Nordic Stars – Nordic Adventure (2013)
Square 13, Option Two: Frosty #1– Nordic Adventure (2013)
Square 20: Untitled – Beneath The Sea (2010)
Square 29, Option One: Starlight #2 – Perugian Perspectives (2015)
Square 29, Option Two: Untitled – Perugian Perspectives (2015)
Just as a reminder, we accept all correct answers which are emailed to us anytime up until the next blog is written with the previous month’s answers, and then all of them are put in a hat and a winner picked out. That way everyone has a fair chance of winning.
THESE ARE THE SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH (AUGUST):
Square 7: Untitled – textured stitches and beads (same for both options)
Square 14: Untitled – striped cable with knots (same for both options)
Square 21 Option One: Starlight #3 – striped pattern with slipped stitches (same for both options)geometric intarsia motifs with swiss-darned detail, beads and cables
Square 21, Option Two: Untitled – striped and beaded cables with lace stitches
Square 39, Option One: Untitled – beaded star motifs and textured stitches
Square 39, Option Two: Untitled – beaded star motifs and textured stitches with a button
Square 40: Petit Fleur – lace pattern with beads and bobbles (same for both options)
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.
SQUARE 7 IS THE FINAL CORNERPIECE OF THE BLANKET, and it's a reflection of Square 43, using the same colour yarn and beads. Several of you queried the positioning of the swiss-darning on it's sister square, number 49. However, although it may not look correct on the chart, it is and will work fine if you follow it very carefully. The confusion comes from the fact that beads knitted in using the slip-stitch technique sit one row lower down than where they have been knitted in, so although on the chart the swiss-darned stitches look as if they are next to the beads, they are actually slightly above them.
YOU KNITTED SQUARE 36 IN THE FIRST SET OF PATTERNS, AND IT IS THE SAME AS SQUARE 14. Just remember that the slipped stitches will draw in the fabric, so you will need to ease it out to size when blocking and pressing it. There is a note about this in the Pattern notes and tips on page 7.
IT IS IMPORTANT THAT YOU KNIT THE SAME OPTION FOR SQUARE 21 THAT YOU CHOSE FOR SQUARE 29, as this will keep the top and bottom of the blanket symmetrical. If you look at the Piecing Diagram you can pretty much guess what is going to happen with Squares 28 and 35...Square 21 is similar to Square 29, Option One, but watch out for those cables - they twist the other way!
THERE ARE TWO OPTIONS FOR SQUARE 39 – EVEN THOUGH AT FIRST GLANCE THEY LOOK IDENTICAL. You've had this square before, it's a repeat of Square 11. And when this square was sent to you before, several of you queried why there are are two options. Usually when I give two options it is because the first option is more tricky to knit, most probably because it involves some colour knitting. However, this time there is a different reason for having the two options, and it is because of the decorative button. For this pattern I advise you to knit the same Option as Square 11 so that the distribution of buttons in the design is balanced.
IF YOU ARE UP TO DATE WITH YOUR MONTHLY SQUARES THEN AT THE END OF THIS INSTALMENT YOU WILL HAVE THREE COMPLETED STRIPS - so this means that you can get ahead and sew them together - hurray! I would advise that you do this to minimize the amount of finishing off you will have to do at the end of the knitting. I always use Mattress stitch to sew my strips together, so if you haven't tried it before, it would be worth giving it a go. You can use it for sewing together both vertical and horizontal seams. So if you have knitted your squares individually and need to sew them together first before sewing together the strips, here are a few tips on both types of seam:
You work with the right-side of the work facing towards you, so at all times you can see how the seam is progressing. And if you do happen to go wrong, it is very easy to undo. First of all you need to look very closely at your knitting and identify the edge stitch. In stocking stitch this is an open “V”. Then you need to find the bar between the edge stitch and the next stitch in – there is one for each row (stitch). It is these bars, between the edge stitch and the next stitch in, that you need to insert your needle under to sew up. These bars exist in every piece of knitting, even in textured knitting. So you need to get yourself familiar with them and where they are as they are essential if you want to use Mattress stitch. Once you have identified these bars, you can start sewing up as follows using a blunt-ended needle:
- Vertical (to sew together your strips): before you start sewing the strips together, it will really help you if you create a 49 x 49 square grid and write onto it the nunber of rows in each square that you have knitted so far. Then you will be able to work out where you need to ease in rows if one square has more rows in it than another. I found this a massive help when I sewed together my strips. This is how Mattress stitch works vertically: with right sides facing and with two strips sitting next to each other, take the needle from the back to the front of the work under two bars at a time, inserting the needle under the bar between the edge stitch and the next stitch in. To keep the edges level at the bottom, begin by taking the needle under the first bar of the first square (the one on the left), then take the needle under the first bar and the next one up (two bars) of the second square (the one on the right). After this take the needle under two bars on each side, zig-zagging back and forth between the two strips, and making sure that your needle always goes back into the same gap between the bars each time you take it under the bars.
- Horizontal (if you have not worked in strips and need to sew the squares together): with right sides facing, lay the squares flat with square one at the bottom and square two above square one (and so on throughout the strip). Beginning at the right-hand side of the work, take the needle from back to front of work through half a stitch of square one, inserting the needle just below the cast-off edge. Then take the needle under one whole stitch of square two, inserting the needle just above the cast-on edge. After this continue to take the needle under one whole stitch on each square. This means that on square one the needle is always coming up through the middle of stitches and on square two the needle is coming up between the stitches.
Happy sewing up!!!
ANO NOW FOR SOME NEWS FROM THE MEMBERS...MARY FUNK-BUTTERWORTH HAS BEEN BACK IN TOUCH FROM HER EXOTIC HOLIDAYS, and has sent some wonderful snaps of her Mystery Blanket squares on tour in Borneo! This is what Mary had to say:
"Knitting from my balcony!..."
"I have almost finished my June flower square whilst strolling in the Gaya Street market in Kota Kinabalu, Borneo. They sell all kinds of strange colourful exotic fruits - amongst them durians, mangosteen and dragon fruits. I think the colours of the June squares go beautifully with these fruits."
"This is my daugher, Alex. She is 17, she loves knitting too. She is creating a cardigan from my scrap yarns at the moment. She loves my leftover blanket yarns."
Thank you Mary for all your lovely photographs. It is great to see the Mystery Blanket squares in such exotic surroundings! And your gorgeous daugther Alex is doing a grand job of showing off your lovely knitting! Well done to both of you!
MEGAN HATFIELD CONTACTED ME ABOUT THE AMAZING BLANKET SHE HAS KNITTED, using squares from my Mystery projects and Blankets & Throws books. And as you can see, she has created a masterpiece which she is thrilled with! This is what she had to say about her blanket knitting adventure:
"I knitted the 2012 cushion and the 2013 blanket. My daughter loved the blanket and requested something similar. She helped me choose colours and the patterns from your blanket books and the two projects I've completed, and I took inspiration from your blanket layout. Thanks so much for your fab patterns, they're easy to follow and as they are all similar sizes they didn't need much modification which took away one possible complication!
What an amazing piece of knitting, using my favourite kind of colour palette - so bright and colourful! The combination of different squares is really great, with a strong symmetry to the layout of the patterns which works really well. Thanks for sending me this photo Megan, it's lovely to see my knitted squares used so creatively!
GILL IZZARD FROM MILTON KEYNES WAS THRILLED WITH HER WILD ROSE SQUARE, and wanted to share this photo with the members to prove that intarsia can be conquered!
Gill says: "I absolutely love Square 19 and feel it is my best intarsia yet. Practice makes perfect! I struggled with it when we were at Waddenhoe knitting the beautiful bag. But I must say that this has given me a lot of confidence."
So if any of you are struggling with your intarsia, take inspiration from Gill. She is indeed quite right when she says "practice makes perfect" - so don't give up and keep practising. And well done to Gill - you must be thrilled with your lovely square!
THE THEME FOR THIS YEARS’ MYSTERY BLANKET HAS ALMOST BEEN REVEALED, WITH JUST A FEW LETTERS MISSING FROM THE TITLE. But if you are still trying to guess what it is, here is another letter to help you. The letter I am giving you this month is “V”:
_ _ T _ O S P _ C T I V _
Please send your guesses to Sue at email@example.com. There are no prizes for the correct answer – it is simply a bit of fun each month. But next month I am going to reveal the theme, so this is your last chance before the "Mystery" is solved!
A SMALL GROUP GATHERED AT YARN LAST MONTH TO ENJOY A COUPLE OF HOURS OF MYSTERY BLANKET CHAT AND KNITTING, and I was very happy to be able to join Liz Jenks, Mary Leeson, Jane Muggleton, Judy Khlare-Parker (who joined us right at the end of the meeting!) and Sarah, the owner of Yarn. Jane is new to the Mystery Blanket this year, and also very new to knitting as a craft, so she has been thrilled with the all the techniques she has learnt from the Mystery Blanket so far. When I first met Jane at these meetings she was very unconfident about her knitting skills and was finding some of the more complicated squares very challenging. However, undeterred she carried on, bravely opting for Option One, despite her limited knitting knowledge. And now, several months later, just look at what she has achieved!
Above: Jane and Mary discuss knitting techniques at the meeting at Yarn in July.
This has been an incredible journey for Jane, and proves that if you are determined enough then you really can do anything you put your mind to. Jane has turned from novice knitter to pro in under six months, and is now confident to take on whatever else is coming in those final batches of blanket squares. Well done Jane - you're a real inspiration!!!
If you’d like to come to the next MBC meeting at Yarn, then why not pop down to Yarn on Wednesday 6th September (no meeting in August), when Sarah will open the doors from 4pm – 6pm. Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING...THE SEVENTH 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB PRIZE DRAW!!! Each month a member is picked at random to win a Debbie Abrahams prize.
PRIZE DRAW SEVEN (AUGUST): this month’s winner is member 494, Billie Dyer from Glouster, Ohio, USA. Well done Billie! 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 Billie directly to discuss her choice.
Don't forget to come back and see me here again next month when I will be revealing the theme of this year's Mystery Blanket and giving you an insight into how I create my blanket designs. I will also have a report on the special tenth anniversary workshop break at Rookery Hall in Cheshire, and the Inspired Minds retreat at Wadenhoe in Northamptonshire. It's going to be a hectic month! So until then, keep busy and I wish you many hours of very happy knitting! Debbie x