Mystery Blanket Club 2018: post 10, November - the final instalment!

HELLO AND A WARM WELCOME TO MY TENTH AND FINAL MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG FOR 2018! So here we are at the end of another Mystery Blanket adventure, with the last few squares and edging finally revealed. It’s been a colourful and fun journey, packed with plenty of knitting challenges, and hopefully you have enjoyed the project and will soon be able to sit back and admire all your hard work. Thank you to everyone that sent in their Mystery Blanket knitting stories and photos, all of which were a joy to read. And it was lovely to meet some of you too at the workshops and knitting retreats that I ran this year. In this month’s blog there is plenty to catch up on including tips on the final squares, the edging instructions (for which there are two options), and some exciting news about some gorgeous new festive kits from the BeadyKnits Studio! However, before I go any further, let’s have a last look at little Seth to see what he has been getting up to recently…

Seth has just returned from a fabulous 10-day knitting holiday to the Isles of Scilly where he was joined by fifty knitters at the Hell Bay Hotel on the beautiful island of Bryher. And while the knitters worked hard on their projects, Seth was out and about enjoying himself with trips to many places the glorious Gardens of Tresco and the beach, which is where he is in this photo. We all had an amazing time –and very lovely weather too! However, I will save all these stories for a future blog about our knitting holiday to Hell Bay which will go live within the next couple of weeks.

Now back to business and on with this month’s news, beginning with …

THE OPTIONAL PRINTED PATTERNS WHICH ARE SENT TO THE MEMBERS WHO PAID FOR THEM, are on their way. Usually we aim to get the overseas posted a week ahead of the UK. However, because I was away in the Scillies until the end of last week, we posted all of the patterns in one go on the 30th October. So this means that those members who live a long long way from the UK may have to wait a few more days for them to arrive. However, if you want to get yourself prepared for those final squares then you could make a start as the emailed file should now be sitting in your inbox.The November file is large - thirty-two pages from cover to cover and it includes a gallery of images of the Option One design, so be prepared as it may take a bit of time to download.

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.

(Below: the completed 2018 Mystery Blanket: Option One)

FOLLOWING A RECENT PROMOTION BY ROWAN YARNS FOR THE 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB, there are now only fifty memberships available before the Club sells out. So if you have not signed up yet, it’s not too late – although we do expect it to sell out very soon (and ahead of the 31st December deadline). Next year’s design is a feast of fairisle patterns combined with lots of lovely stitch textures, stripes and beads, all in a soft, gentle colour palette – with some shots of bright shades, and of course a good sprinkling of Debbie Abrahams beads!

(Above: the 2013 "Nordic Adventure" Mystery Blanket which focused on Scandanavian fairisle patterns)

You can purchase your membership very easily in the online shop on my website to secure your place in the Club next year: https://debbieabrahams.com/products/mystery-blanket-club-2019

As with all my previous “mystery” clubs, memberships are limited and when they all sell out the Club will be closed. So don’t delay if you want to part of my brand new knitting adventure next year!

NEW KIT ALERT! A BRAND NEW COLLECTION OF CHRISTMAS SCENTED BAG KITS ARE READY TO ORDER NOW! The BeadyKnits Studio has been hard at work creating some gorgeous new festive kits, and this time Jenny has opted for one of my favourite yarns, Rowan Glace Cotton. She has designed three different little bags to knit up, with each one having a second colour option. So not only do you get a fabulous little kit, but there’s enough materials in each kit to knit up two bags! These are the designs that are available:

(Above: Snowflake)

(Below: Reindeer)

(Below: Christmas Tree)

This is what Jenny has to say about her new knitting venture:

“Why not kick off your Christmas shopping early with this perfect small project to knit up over the holiday season, or ideal to give to a friend or loved one as a unique festive gift. Knitted in beautiful Rowan Cotton Glace they are easy to knit up and will add a touch of festive cheer to your home.

If you have already placed your order, then thank you for your purchase. Your kit is currently being assembled, ready to ship.

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my customers a very Happy Christmas!

Please contact me on jenny@beadyknits.com for further information.”

What a splendid way to start your Christmas shopping!

THESE ARE THE FOUR SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT IN THIS FINAL MONTH…one of which has a second option for you to choose from:

Square 25, Option One: Salon (part 5) – intarsia motif with hooked-in beads, textured stitches, chain stitch and swiss-darning

Square 25, Option Two: Salon (part 5) – beaded and chain stitch circular shapes with eyelets

Square 26: Salon (part 6) – multi-coloure wave pattern using Japanese short-row shaping with beads and chain stitch details (same for both options)

Square 27: More Waves  – striped pattern with cables (same for both options)

Square 28: Flora #3  – floral motif using hooked-in beads with chain stitch, swiss-darning and a bobble (same for both options)

On each pattern page there is a list of Pattern notes and tips that are worth reading before you start to knit each square. These bits of advice will help you to plan how to knit each square up, and pre-warn you about what to look out for. Also, there are indications in the description of each square (under the title) of what the square entails. For example, Square 25, Option One, states that this is an intarsia motif, so this is the technique that you should use to knit this square.

SQUARE 25 IS THE ONLY SQUARE THIS MONTH WITH A SECOND OPTION, and this time the choice is totally down to you. It does not matter which option you choose to knit as it does not have to match any of the other choices you have made in the blanket.

THE MUCH ANTICIPATED CENTRE SQUARE 25: SALON (part 5), Option One: this is the square that many of you have been patiently waiting for, and I wonder how many of you got it right? There were many suggestions made to me as to what it might be, and some were rather interesting, including a suspicion that it might be the huge mosaic lizard outside Guell Park. However, remember that this design took its inspiration from just one of Gaudi’s masterpieces, and that was Casa Batlló. So I decided that I wanted the whole centre section to focus on the Salon, which is one of my favourite rooms in this house. So the centre square is an interpretation of the glass lozenge shaped panel that you can see in the photo below on the bottom left and the bottom right (with the large indigo motif in the middle):

Rays of light emanate from a centre shape, which I thought was the perfect choice for the centre square. There’s a lot to do in this one, including intarsia and hooked-in beads, and then chain stitch and swiss-darning are embroidered on after the square has been knitted. Note that the Teak outline around the Azure motif is not included on the chart as this would have covered up the edge of the shape. So you will have to use the photo to guide you. And if you want to play about with the colours of the embroidery then feel free to use your own choice of colours and make your centre square even more unique!

SQUARE 25: SALON (part 5), Option Two: I incorporated eyelets into this square to give the idea of light shining through the panels of glass, and added in hooked-in beads and chain stitch. It’s a nice easy one to knit up and then all the hard work is done later on with the embroidery.

So all you need to do is make your choice between Option One and Option Two. Now, that’s got some of you thinking…which one will YOU go for?!?...

SQUARE 26: SALON (part 6): this is similar to Square 24 from Mail Out 6, but some of the colours have been changed. This is the last time you will use Japanese short-row shaping in the blanket, so as well as being very good at this technique now, I hope that you enjoy knitting it up too!

SQUARE 27: MORE WAVES: this is the sister square to number 24 from Mail Out 4, but the colours have been swapped around so that it begins with Emerald and ends with Heather. Also note that the direction of all the cables have changed with the stitches being held to the front, which means that they twist to the left instead of to the right.

SQUARE 28: FLORA #3: this is the final square of strip number 4 and indeed of the Mystery Blanket! It is similar to Square 22 from Mail Out 3 but the motif has been reflected, the Rich Red embroidery has been swapped to Jaffa, the bobble in the centre has been swapped from Jaffa to Rich Red, and the beads have been swapped around as well. Take care to read the symbols correctly for the Red beads and the bobble as they are very similar. The bobble in the centre is a red circle with a white cross in it, and the bead symbol is a plain red circle.

THERE IS A CHOICE OF TWO PATTERNS FOR THE EDGING THIS YEAR – both are striped but one is a Feather & Fan pattern and the other is a basic Garter stitch stripe.

(Above: Option One edging)

(Below: Option Two edging)

Instructions for the edging begin on page 18 of the mail out, and start with advice about joining your squares (or strips) together. You are advised to knit the left and right-hand side edgings first ahead of joining all the strips together. This is because it will be easier to manage the weight of the blanket while you are picking up and knitting these stitches.

Therefore, I would suggest that you knit the edgings in the following order: right-hand side and left-hand side of the blanket first, and then the top and bottom. Note that on page 18, Option One begins with the instructions for the bottom edge of the blanket (this was due to space issues with the layout of the pages). You will find the instructions for the right-hand side edging on page 19, which I would suggest you knit first.

It is recommended that you use two sets of circular needles to knit Option One. There is a change in needle size for the Garter stitch stripes which require a smaller needle than the Feather & Fan pattern. You might be able to get away with one longer circular needle in each size to knit these rows rather than two, but I think it’s easier to use two circulars – it’s like knitting with two very long straight needles, which feels better to me.

For Option Two it is recommended that you use two circular needles in one size only (there is no change to a larger or smaller needle for this option). But again, if you can get hold of one longer circular needle then you could get away with using just the one to pick up and knit each edge.

For both options, make sure that you cast off the stitches to complete the edgings neatly and evenly as these are finished edges. And if you think that your cast-off row is a bit too tight, then you could consider using a larger needle for this instead.

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 Stitch and Row Reference 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 18 and 19 (Option One) and 20 and 21 (Option Two) -  where I have given you the amount of stitches to pick up along the edge of each square - 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! With a bit of time and patience you will soon be on your way to completing the finishing touches to your Mystery Blanket!

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. However, last year Dinah Dancer from Walsall in the West Midlands very kindly sent me instructions on how she lines her Mystery Blankets, and she was more than happy to pass on her expertise to the members. So here is a repeat of Dinah’s guide to how to line 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!

    ON THE SAME TOPIC OF LINING YOUR BLANKET, ANNE-SOFIE FROM OSLO IN NORWAY SHARED WITH ME PHOTOS OF TWO OF HER BEAUTIFULLY LINED MYSTERY BLANKETS – one is the “Retrospective” design from last year, and the other is the 2015 Mystery Blanket design, “Perugian Perspectives”:

     

    (Above: "Retrospective")

    (Below: "Perugian Perspectives")

    I think it’s really lovely the way she has sewn the two layers of fabric together at certain points across the back of blankets. And her choice of colour fabrics are great too. They look wonderful Anne-Sofie!

    Maybe both Dinah and Anne-Sofie will encourage some of you to line your Mystery Blankets too!

    TALKING OF ANNE-SOFIE, THIS IS A PHOTO OF HER HUSBAND KJELL WEARING A BEAUITFUL HAND-KNITTED WAISTCOAT – which has been made from leftover yarns from her 2014 “Back To The Country” Mystery Blanket. Isn’t it splendid!!!

    I had the great honour of meeting Kjell on the knitting holiday to Hell Bay last month, which both he and Anne-Sofie booked onto. I always wonder what happens to the leftover yarns after a Mystery Blanket has been completed, and this is indeed a very good use! And if you are puzzling over what you could do with your leftover yarns from this year’s Mystery Blanket, then you will find a pattern for a small purse called “Ocean Waves” attached to your emailed November mail out. It was the Mystery Blanket workshop pattern for this year and I thought that those of you who were not able to come to my workshops might want to knit this little design up. You could even change the colours round, depending on what you have left over. I am sure that most of you will have enough yarn to knit up several if desired as it uses very small amounts of each colour. Happy knitting!

    YARN IN NOTTINGHAM ARE HOLDING THEIR LAST MYSTERY CLUB MEETING THIS YEAR ON WEDNESDAY 14TH NOVEMBER, and Sarah warmly welcomes both Mystery Blanket and Mystery Cushion members to come along. I will be there too and look forward to seeing those that can join us for a couple of hours of knitting and chat. There’ll be hot drinks to keep you going and I will bring some sweet treats for everyone to enjoy to celebrate the end of the Mystery Clubs for this year. The meeting is from 4:00pm – 6:00pm and you will find Yarn at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk.

    THIS IS THE LAST WORKSHOP THAT I AM RUNNING THIS YEAR IN THE UK: Saturday 1st December, Festive Project (half-day):

    at Yarn Loft, 118 Hucknall Rd, Nottingham NG5 1AD, tel: 07825 702433, website: www.yarnloft.co.uk (contact Doreen)

    We are busy planning workshop dates for 2019 and will send out information about where I am and when, first thing in the New Year. To receive this information you will have to make sure that you are subscribed to the News Alerts (for which there is a link on the Debbie Abrahams website Home page). The list will also include the dates of our Inspired Minds workshops, which are run in partnership with the lovely Jane Crowfoot. So keep your eyes on your inbox if you want to come to a Debbie Abrahams workshop next year!

    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 2018 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 debbie@debbieabrahams.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 2018 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 TEN (NOVEMBER): this month’s winner is member 472, Mary Ann Prater from South Carolina, USA! Well done Mary Ann! Please choose a prize from the following selection:

    • A Debbie Abrahams book: Blankets and Throws to Knit/ 25 Beaded Knits/Kaleidoscope
    • A Debbie Abrahams dvd: More Blankets/A Professional Finish
    • A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club (2019 Mystery Cushion or 2019 Mystery Blanket)

    So this it is Mystery Blanket Club members! – another blanket completed, and then it’s onwards and upwards with the brand new 2019 Mystery Blanket Club in a few months’ time. It’s been an absolute pleasure to hear from everyone that has contacted me this year with their Mystery Blanket news, stories and photos, and I was so pleased to be able to meet many of you at my workshops too. Thank you for being such fabulous members, for embracing the Mystery Blanket so enthusiastically, and for all your continued support. See you back here again next year?!? – I do hope so! Until then, take care and happy knitting, Debbie x


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