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Mystery Blanket Club 2017: post 8, September

WELCOME TO THE EIGHTH MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG FOR 2017, which means after this month there are just two more instalments to go! Can you believe that another Mystery Blanket is almost completed – I certainly can’t!!! Since the last blog we have been keeping ourselves very busy with all sorts of things, including a Mystery Blanket Club workshop at Rookery Hall, an Inspired Minds workshop retreat at Wadenhoe House, plus lots of work on the colour palette and samples for the 2018 Mystery Blanket design. And it looks as though you have all been very busy too, with many of the members sending me photos and stories about your own knitting activities. So there’s plenty to read and catch up with this month, including our monthly look at little Seth and what he has been up to…

So here he is, sitting very proudly with his first ever tray of home-baked cakes – doesn’t he look pleased with himself! He made them one afternoon with his nanny, and spent an even happier evening eating them. With the new “Bake off” starting soon on tv, perhaps he might be a future candidate!?! He certainly enjoyed making them, and has plans for many more delicious culinary creations …we will keep you posted…

SO FIRST OF ALL, JUST A REMINDER TO EVERYONE THAT MEMBERSHIPS FOR MY 2018 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB ARE STILL UP FOR GRABS IN MY ONLINE SHOP. And as we have now sold over half of the memberships, it might be a good idea to sign up now if you have not done so already. The signing up deadline is 31st December, however, if the memberships sell out before then the Club will be closed, ready for the launch in February. I have loved creating my own colour palette of shades in Glace Cotton and have submitted my yarn order to Rowan. It has been a very interesting and exciting exercise! The subject matter that I am using for the 2018 blanket has always been a massive inspiration to me and my work, so I am very excited at last to be using it in one of my Mystery Blanket designs. There is such a wealth of patterns to choose from that I could see this evolving into further projects far beyond the Mystery Blanket…maybe a range of cushions or bags? We will see…but there’s the Mystery Blanket to deal with first!

If you want to find out more about next year’s 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: sue@debbieabrahams.com

THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB WORKSHOP AT ROOKERY HALL IN CHESHIRE WAS A FABULOUS FEW DAYS AWAY, made even more enjoyable by the company of the amazing MBC members who joined me there!

Above, from left to right: Amanda Golland, Katherine Saunders, Andrea Gostick, Barbara Macmillan, Janet Holdsworth, Felicity Miller, Carole Satchwell, Carol Barclay, me and Seth, Annabel Casey, Angie Heini, June McBain, Sandie Ennis, Jill Thaddeus, Pat Blain, Carol Glasstone, Susan Hanley and Tania Ashton-Jones.

Rookery Hall is situated in the Cheshire countryside, just a few miles from the old market town of Nantwich. It is a beautiful old country house, built in 1816, but enhanced in more recent times with a new wing, a health club and a spa. It made a fabulous venue for our Mystery Blanket retreat, with a dedicated workshop room that was ours for the duration of our stay, an exceptional spa – which many of the ladies tried out – plus plenty of food and drink to see us through the three days.

The event not only gave the ladies the opportunity to meet each other, but I was hand to give any help and advice that was needed with the squares, giving demonstrations throughout the workshops on all sorts of things including intarsia, fairisle, knots, mitred edges, chain stitch, swiss-darning and sewing in ends.

Above: the ladies hard at work on their Mystery projects!

Below: Tania and Sandie concentrate on getting their blanket squares knitted up.

It was great for me to see everyone’s blanket squares and the progress that was being made with them. And it was lovely for the ladies to meet each other, some of them forming new friendships with plans to meet up after their stay at Rookery Hall.

The ladies were each given a kit for a Nordic Purse, which combined together various different techniques used in the Mystery Blanket. Most of them chose to knit it up during the workshops, but some of the ladies were more keen to catch up with their blanket squares!

Above: Janet starts to sew together her blanket strips.

I was also more than happy for the ladies to work on any other projects they had brought with them. Here is Katherine’s “Sugar Rush” Mystery Cushion. She was determined to get the front panel blocks completed while she was at Rookery Hall, and even brought her blocking board with her so that she could press them and then sew them together – well done Katherine!

Above: Katherine knits up her "Sugar Rush" Mystery Cushion.

The event was very enjoyable and from the comments we got afterwards, it means we will very probably be heading back there again one day. So a big thanks to all the ladies who made it so much fun, it was a great way to spend a few days away!

ONE DAY AFTER THE ROOKERY HALL EVENT WE HEADED OFF TO WADENHOE HOUSE IN NORTHAMPTONSHIRE FOR AN INSPIRED MINDS EVENT WITH THE VERY LOVELY JANE CROWFOOT.  It was the third Inspired Minds event for us this year and it was just as much fun as all the others, with another fabulous group of ladies joining us for our three day event. We repeated the same workshop project – which was to knit or crochet a mandala - that we did at Rudding Park and in Bournemouth earlier on this year. And we were overwhelmed again by all the amazing colourways that the ladies came up with. It really was a great way to test out colour combinations, each one being very personal to the creator.

Above: a selection of the mandalas, showing off some of the amazing variations that the ladies created during the weekend at Wadenhoe.

Below: Annabel Casey's knitted mandala, displaying a very confident use of colour.

But not everyone chose to work on a mandala, and we were very happy for the ladies to work on whatever other projects they had brought with them for the weekend. Molly Harris from Norfolk decided that the retreat at Wadenhoe was the perfect place to crack on with her amazing tiger rug. It was an incredibly heavy piece of knitting, but Molly worked hard on it all weekend, eager to get as much of it done as she could. Don’t forget to send us a photo of the completed rug Molly – I think we are all as eager as you to see it finished!

We are running one more Inspired Minds event this year in Bournemouth in November and I am looking forward to seeing some of you there. We are currently confirming four dates for next year, including at least one new very exciting venue. So if you want to be sent all the latest news and dates for our Inspired Minds events, all you need to do is to register yourself on our Inspired Minds website: www.inspiredminds-uk.com, and sit back and wait for our emailed newsletters to arrive. But just one word of warning, they do sell out very quickly, so be sure to keep an eye on your inbox!

SO NOW FOR THE GUESSING OF AUGUST’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. We did get a few correct answers this month, but the winner who was picked out of the hat was Kathryn Fowler from Aberdeen, UK. So very well done to you Kathryn! For your prize you 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 August patterns:

Square 7: Untitled – Arabian Nights (2009)

Square 14: Untitled – A Celebration of Sport (2012)

Square 21, Option One: Starlight #3 – Perugian Perspectives (2015)

Square 21, Option Two: Untitled– Arabian Nights (2009)

Square 39, Option One: Untitled  – A Celebration of Sport (2012)

Square 39, Option Two: Untitled – A Celebration of Sport (2012)

Square 40: Petit Fleur – A French Romance (2016)

Just as a reminder, 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.

THESE ARE THE SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH (SEPTEMBER):

Square 23: First Love Affair – lace pattern with beads and swiss-darning (same for both options)

Square 24: Untitled – beaded cables with lace stitches (same for both options)

Square 30, Option One: Untitled – textured pattern with cables, beads and a button detail

Square 30, Option Two: Untitled – textured pattern with cables, beads and a button detail

Square 31, Option One: Untitled – butterfly motif using the intarsia technique, chain stitch, swiss-darning and beads

Square 31, Option Two: Petunia #2 – stocking stitch, moss stitch and garter stitch stripe pattern

Square 41, Option One: Nordic Folk – motifs using the fairisle technique with beads

Square 41, Option Two: Frosty #2 – slip-stitch mock fairisle

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 23, “FIRST LOVE AFFAIR”, HAS LACE STITCHES THAT ARE KNITTED ON WRONG SIDE ROWS, so please be aware that the symbols on the chart are read from left to right (instead of right to left). I have made a note about this in the Pattern notes and tips on page 5, but this is just a friendly reminder.

SQUARE 24, “UNTITLED”, COMBINES CABLES WITH BEADS AND LACE, and you will see on Rows 1, 5 and 9 the abbreviation “wyaf”. This abbreviation caused a lot of confusion when it was used in some of the previous squares as I forgot (sorry!) to include it in the Abbreviations list. However, it has now been added to the list so hopefully everyone will be able to follow the instruction without any further problems. It means “with yarn at front”, which means that you keep the yarn at the front of the work (towards you) as you follow the next instruction in the pattern. This will create a yarn over, which is an increase of one stitch.

SQUARE 30, “UNTITLED”, IS THE SAME AS SQUARE 20, AND HAS TWO OPTIONS, which, as I noted before, has nothing to do with the complexity of the design – it is to do with the colours that are used in the square. So it is important to take heed of the note on page 8 about knitting the same option as Square 20 as this will keep the colour balance correct  in the overall blanket.

SQUARES 31 AND 41 ALSO HAVE TWO OPTIONS, and it is important that you knit the same options that you knitted for squares 19 and 9, respectively, as this will keep the overall design balanced. This is also noted on pattern pages, numbers 12 and 14, and 15 and 17.

EACH YEAR THERE IS ALWAYS A LOT OF EXCITEMENT GENERATED BY THE CENTRE SQUARE AS THE MEMBERS TRY AND GUESS WHAT IT MIGHT BE…and as we approach the final few months of the project, that revelation is not too far away!  It’s always a tradition to include the centre square – Square 25 – in the final mail out, so this year it will be in your November pattern file. It has been very interesting to hear some of your ideas about what that square might be, and this has led me to a new idea which we have never tried before in the Mystery Blanket, which is to give you the option to design your own centre square. I will provide a pattern for Square 25, but if there is another square from a previous Mystery blanket that you would prefer to use instead, then go ahead and knit it, using whatever yarns/beads you have left over in the kit. It would be really interesting to see which square you choose and how you re-colour the design. So if you decide to take up the “Square 25”challenge, don’t forget to send me a photo of your completed centre square and I will include it in a special Member’s Gallery blog in January. It’s just a bit of fun and there’s no pressure to take part. It’s just one way of personalising your 2017 Mystery Blanket!

AND NOW FOR THE THEME OF THIS YEARS’ MYSTERY BLANKET. I did say in last month’s blog that I would reveal the theme in this month’s blog. However, there are so many member’s stories and photos to report this month that I have decided to save the revelation until the October/November blog, along with an article about the process I go through to create a Mystery Blanket design. So if you can hold on for one or two more months, and are still trying to guess the theme, here is one more letter to help you (with only one more letter left to complete the title):

_  E  T  _  O S  P  E  C  T  I  V  E

Please send your guesses to Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.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!

ANNABEL CASEY FROM WINDSOR SENT ME THIS LOVELY REPORT AND PHOTO OF A MYSTERY BLANKET MEETING THAT TOOK PLACE IN AUGUST AT DENMAN COLLEGE. This is what she had to report...

“Sixteen members of ‘Blanketeers Beyond the Blanket’ got together at the end of August for the second year running at Denman College near Oxford - Denman is the WI College set in lovely grounds. We should have been seventeen but Elizabeth Holland was sadly unable to come at the last minute. Two days of knitting and crochet, laughter, friendship and good food and a little retail therapy with an outing to Purlescence near Newbury on Saturday morning. A yarn and books Swap Shop proved very popular with the remaining items being donated to the Denman Craft shop to help with their fundraising. Grateful thanks to Denman for accommodating us again for a fab and memorable weekend!”

A big thank you to Annabel for her fabulous photo and Mystery Blanket story. It is really lovely to hear about members meeting up, and it shows that the Mystery Blanket is not just about knitting up a project - for many people it’s also a way to meet new people and create long lasting friendships - which is what our next member’s story is also about…

DOROTHY SINGER FROM CAMBRIDGE SENT US NEWS AND A PHOTO OF HER MYSTERY BLANKET MEETING, which took place on one very pleasant afternoon in August. This is what Dorothy had to say:

“After discovering that there are a few knitters in and around Cambridge knitting this year’s DA blanket, we thought we would try to get together. We had a lovely afternoon sharing our blanket experiences, differing techniques and the subtle changes we were making to individualise our blankets (some of them not planned). We took a couple of photos and wanted to share them with you. “

Above, from left to right: Veronica, Jackie, Pippa, Dorothy, Susan and Dee.

“It was such a good experience that we are hoping to meet up again soon. A big shout out to Pippa for opening up her house to us and supplying copious amount of tea and biscuits!”

This is another lovely story about how friendships have been made through the Mystery Blanket, so thank you to Dorothy for sharing it with us. And if the ladies in Cambridge do decide to have another meeting we would love to hear about it, so don’t forget to send us all your news and photos!

JO CROWTHER FROM TEWKESBURY IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE SENT IN A TIP ABOUT BLOCKING, which may just help you if you are struggling to get those knitted edges nice and flat:

“I have discovered a trick that might help other knitters. I use household pegs to flatten out the edges of the squares before you block them. I get all the corners of each column and pegs all the corners and sides. This makes the blocking stage easier. Please share if you think it might help others.”

Thanks for your great tip Jo! I am sure that some of the members will find it very helpful when they come to block and press their squares and strips.

JANET HOLDSWORTH FROM LONDON CAME TO THE WORKSHOP RETREAT AT ROOKERY HALL, and after seeking some advice from me about adding buttons to “Lattice”, she sent me this photo of her completed square:

She has personalised it with her own choice of buttons, which she has used in place of the swiss-darning. The buttons have a special significance to Janet as they date back to someone in her grandparent’s generation in the 1920’s/1930’s. What a wonderful way to make her Mystery Blanket unique and even more special!

JANIS SMITH FROM THE SHETLANDS SENT IN NEWS AND A PHOTO OF A SHOW IN WHICH THREE “MYSTERY” PROJECTS WERE EXHIBITED.

Says Janis: “You would have been very proud on Saturday - we had our biennial Women's Institute Show, and in the section for Display Only we proudly exhibited three of your works of art – the 2015 and 2016 Mystery Blanket (2016 belonging to Mrs Black) and the 2016 Mystery Cushion. They did cause such a stir and interest!”

Thank you for letting us know about your wonderful exhibits at the WI show. I am not surprised to hear that they caused such a stir, they really are works of art! And who knows - they might just encourage other knitters in the Shetlands to take up the Mystery Blanket Club challenge too!

CHRISTINE TAYLOR FROM BUCKINGHAMSHIRE WAS VERY PLEASED TO HAVE COMPLETED HER 2016 MYSTERY BLANKET, and she sent in this photo of her beautiful creation:

It is always very satisfying to see a completed project, so thank you to Christine for sending in her photo. She told us that she thoroughly enjoyed knitting it up and loves the design – which is great to hear!

I HAVE SOME EXCITING NEWS FOR ALL YOU BEADY KNITS FANS! Jenny is launching a brand new colourway in her popular Coin Purse kit range. Her new design “Sportalicious” will be available to purchase very soon. We will be sending out a newsletter within the next week which will give you more details about how you can buy this kit. But in the meantime, here is a sneak preview of Sportalicious, ahead of its launch. I love those bright colours, (and what wonderful nail varnish too Jenny!)…

DON’T FORGET THAT THE NEXT MBC MEETING AT YARN AT BEESTON IN NOTTINGHAM IS ON WEDNESDAY 6TH SEPTEMBER. So if you’d like to join in the fun, why not pop down to Yarn where Sarah will be opening the doors to her lovely shop from 4pm – 6pm. Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk.

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING...THE EIGHTH 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB PRIZE DRAW!!! Each month a member is picked at random to win a Debbie Abrahams prize.

PRIZE DRAW EIGHT (SEPTEMBER): this month’s winner is member 465, Sanna RauhamÃki  from Jyvaskyla in Finland. Well done Sanna! 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 Sanna directly to discuss her choice.

It’s been a very busy month with lots to report, and next month will be no different with the long-awaited revelation of the Mystery Blanket theme, plus all the other Mystery Blanket Club news. It is always a joy to hear from you, so please continue to send me any photos or stories you have and I will include them in the next blog. In the meantime, stay well and happy, and if you crack on with those Mystery Blanket squares this month, it won’t be long before your blanket will be finished – hurray! Best wishes to you all, Debbie x


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