WELCOME TO THE THIRD INSTALMENT OF MY MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG! And Spring is definitely in the air here in Nottingham with warmer temperatures, new blooms in the garden and increased daylight hours, which can only mean one thing – more knitting time! So it is with a cheerful smile that I begin this month’s blog with an update on little Seth, who is very excited about the prospect of a visit from the Easter bunny this weekend. He has been on his best behaviour and is expecting the bunny to be super generous in return, so I will let you know next month whether his good behaviour paid off!
THE NUMBER OF SQUARES TO KNIT EACH MONTH IS GRADUALLY RISING, AND THIS MONTH THERE ARE FIVE SQUARES TO KNIT. Hopefully the gentle easing in to the project has been a help to those of you who have joined the Mystery Blanket for the first time this year. But now we are into the third month there will be five or six squares in each mail out from now on to knit up. In each set of patterns I try to give you a variety of different techniques to immerse yourself in, so this month you have intarsia, stripes, hooked-in beads, chain stitch, swiss-darning and textured stitches to keep you busy, with a second option on two of the patterns. And if any of that sounds a little bit daunting to you, then worry not as help is on hand later on in this blog with advice given on each square to help you through your knitting this month…
I AM THRILLED TO ANNOUNCE THAT MEMBERSHIPS FOR THE 2018 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB ARE NOW ON SALE IN MY ONLINE SHOP! And it’s even better news for 2018 Mystery Blanket Club members as you get a 10% discount on the cost of your membership!
The response so far has been terrific! Applications launched on Thursday 29th April at 10:00am and within five hours over half of the memberships had sold. So if you are interested in joining and have not signed up yet, you might just want to pop across to my online shop after reading my blog to purchase your membership...
For this year’s project I am returning to one of my all-time favourite Rowan yarns, and one which I have not used for many years in my blanket and cushion designs, Handknit Cotton. The very first garment that I knitted was in Rowan Handknit Cotton in a shade called “Flame”, a bright fiery orange - which funnily enough I have used in this year’s Mystery Cushion design! I don’t like to give too much away about my Mystery projects, however, I can tell potential members that the colour palette is very bright and colourful and includes six mouth-watering shades from Kaffe Fasset’s limited edition collection of Handknit Cotton colours. Plus there are eight different colours of beads from the Debbie Abrahams Beads collection and a Clover Pom-Pom Maker included in the knitting kit as well - giving you a real treat of a project to indulge yourself in this summer.
As with all my Mystery Clubs, memberships are limited and this year there are only two-hundred places in total available in the Mystery Cushion Club. Plus the selling time is much shorter than the Mystery Blanket with the project beginning in just eleven weeks’ time! So don’t delay in signing up and secure your place today to ensure that you are part of this unique Debbie Abrahams knitting club. You can find more information about the Mystery Cushion Club on my website under FAQs (https://debbieabrahams.com/pages/faq), and then it’s a simple click over to the shop to purchase your membership. I hope you decide to join me!
SO NEXT, JUST A GENTLE REMINDER THAT THERE IS NO YARN PARCEL THIS MONTH - the final parcel of materials will be posted to all the members from the middle of this month onwards to arrive around the beginning of May. As always we send the World parcels at least two weeks ahead of the UK parcels with Europe slotted in between, with the hope that they will all arrive at their destinations around the same time. To clarify this we will send everyone a quick email in a couple of weeks’ time with a list of the posting dates – just so that you can be ready for your postman!
ALL OF THE PRINTED PATTERNS HAVE BEEN POSTED, so I am hoping that they will be with you in time for the Easter weekend, a few days ahead of the 1st of the month. We have also sent out the emailed patterns a few days early so that you can make the most of your time if you are at home or planning to take your squares away with you. So it’s happy Easter and it’s very happy knitting!
WE GOT SEVERAL EMAILS LAST MONTH FROM MEMBERS WHO DID NOT RECEIVE THEIR MONTHLY EMAILED PATTERNS, despite their emails being correct in our database. So if you were one of these members my next bit of advice might just help you. These are some trouble-shooting steps that you can take to make sure that you are set up correctly to receive our Mailchimp newsletters:
- add our “From” email address to your email contact list or address book
- check any spam filter settings to be sure that your content isn't being flagged
- find the email in your spam folder (if this is the case), and mark it as “Not Spam” or “Not Junk”. This will help register that our content is safe for receiving into your inbox
If you do not receive the April patterns from us then please try some or all of these checks. And if you need further help then please contact Sue at: email@example.com and we will investigate further.
UNFORTUNATELY THERE WERE A FEW ERRORS REPORTED IN THE MARCH MAIL OUT, which have now all been reported to you. But if you did not receive our notification about them by email then they are listed in a previous blog post (https://debbieabrahams.com/blogs/news/march-mail-out-2-pattern-addendum-alert-3). Usually if there is a minor error in the patterns then I do not send out replacement printed patterns. However, because there were a few errors this time I have had the March brochure reprinted, and it has been posted together with the April brochure to all the members who opted for Printed Patterns. If you opted for emailed patterns only then it should be possible to select specific pages in the Mail Out to reprint (if you so wish), in “Print Ranges” or “Printer Properties”.
SUE BARTLETT FROM CHESHIRE WAS THRILLED TO LET ME KNOW THAT SHE COMPLETED HER MARCH SQUARES WITHIN DAYS OF THE PATTERNS BEING RELEASED, and not only that but she was very pleased with how organised she was with her intarsia for Square 4. As you can see from the picture she sent in, she used yarn bobbins to keep her yarns tidy at the back of the work. This is something I always do too – it would be a knitting nightmare for me if I didn’t!
Sue also took me up on my advice to invest in a blocking board, which makes the blocking and pressing process so much easier. As you can see, the grid lines are an excellent guide for pinning out your square to an exact shape. And the measurements up each side of the board ensure that you block your squares to the same size. You can purchase this amazing blocking board online from many websites, including Amazon. Search for “June Tailor Quilter's Cut-n-Press” board – it’s one of my best and most used knitting investments!
So, you might wonder, what does Mr Bartlett get up to while his wife Sue is knitting up her blanket squares? Well, he is just as “crafty” as Sue and indulges in both knitting and crochet. And here is his latest crochet project, a beautiful blanket which he “finished last week during the ‘beastly’ weather!!”
What a beautiful blanket and such gorgeous colours! Peter is very talented (as is Sue who can also knit and crochet), and together they make the perfect “crafty” couple! What a wonderful way to spend their time together!
CHRIS TAYLOR FROM BUCKINGHAM HAS ALSO BEEN BACK IN TOUCH TO SAY THAT SHE HAS ANOTHER MYSTERY BLANKET TO ADD TO HER COMPLETED PROJECTS! And what a superb job she has made of her 2017 Mystery Blanket. Chris chose to mix Option One and Option Two in her blanket, which has resulted in her own very unique design.
This is what Chris had to say about her 2017 Mystery Blanket knitting experience:
“I just wanted to say how much I enjoyed the Mystery Blanket and I love the colours. I chose Option Two but Option One fairisle squares and finished it a couple of weeks ago. I pushed myself to get it sewn together and the flags seemed never ending (and then all the ends to sew in)! Thank you for your hard work designing everything so beautifully!”
Thanks Chris! Now it's onwards and upwards with your 2018 Mystery Blanket, which I am sure you will have finished and ready to add to your collection of completed Debbie Abrahams blankets before the year is out!
SO, THE GUESS FOR THE THEME OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET GOES ON! And as we start the third month of squares, many of you have already sent in correct guesses. But we only had one correct guess sent into us last month, and that was Evelyn Deasy. So for some of you it still remains a “mystery”. And for those of you who are still guessing, here is another letter to help you on your way. This month the letter I am giving you is “O”:
_ _ S _ / _ _ T _ _ O
Please send your guesses to Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are no prizes for the correct answer – it is simply a tradition with the Mystery Blanket and hopefully a bit of fun for you all too!
THESE ARE THE FIVE SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH…with two of the squares having a second option:
Square 15, Option One: Star #2 – intarsia motif with textured stitches
Square 15, Option Two: Slant #2 – three-colour striped pattern with textured diagonal stripes
Square 22: Flora #2 – floral motif using hooked-in beads with chain stitch, swiss-darning and a bobble (same for both options)
Square 36, Option One: Curves – intarsia motif with textured stitches and hooked-in beads
Square 36, Option Two: Slant #3 – three-colour striped pattern with textured diagonal stripes
Square 37: Mask (part 1) – three-colour striped pattern with textured stitches, hooked-in beads, swiss-darning and chain stitch details (same for both options)
Square 38: Ripple – striped pattern with textured stitches and hooked-in beads (same for both options)
Don’t forget that 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 36, Option One states that it is an “intarsia motif”, so this technique must be used to knit this square.
SQUARE 15, Option One, STAR #2: this square is very similar to Square 8, Option One from Mail Out 2, however there are some colour changes: Jade replaces Lime, and there is an additional colour in it – Marble. And as Marble is very close in shade to Pale Blue and might therefore be hard to see on your computer screen or your printed pattern, I have specified in the Pattern notes and tips that it is the coloured section which begins on chart row 37, stitch 1. As noted on the left-hand side of page 6, it is important that you select this option if you knitted Option One for Square 8 as this will maintain the balance of colour, pattern and symmetry in the overall design.
SQUARE 15, Option Two, SLANT #2: this square is very similar to Square 8, Option Two, but Marble has been added to the colour palette. And as with Option One, because Marble is very close in shade to Pale Blue I have specified in the Pattern notes and tips on page 8 on which rows of the chart it is used: use Marble on chart rows 16-20 and 36-40, and Pale Blue on chart rows 6-10, 26-30 and 46-50. Also, note that the textured diagonal stripes point in the opposite direction to Square 8 and the stitch textures are also reversed round, in other words, you knit where you previously purled, and you purl where you previously knitted. But if you just follow the key for the chart this won’t be a problem! And it’s a nice and easy square to knit up if you don’t fancy taking on intarsia!
SQUARE 22, FLORA #2: there are three types of embroidery used in this square, all of which are done after the square has been knitted. So all you will be doing as you knit it is to hook-in beads, knit the textured stitch outlines for the petals and a contrast colour bobble in the middle of the square. Here’s a bit of advice for the contrast coloured bobble. When you have completed it and worked a few more rows, pull firmly on both loose ends of Jaffa to tighten the bobble, then after knotting them securely together snip off the excess yarn. Alternatively, after tightening the bobble you could sew in the loose ends to hide them completely. After you have knitted the square it is then brought magically to life when you add the embroidery. For the three chain stitch petals, follow the textured outlines as closely as possible to achieve three smooth petal shapes. And then the fourth petal is completed by running Jaffa yarn through the bumps of the purl stitches to create an outline. I want to call this Running stitch, but technically speaking it isn’t actually Running stitch, except for the curved shape of the petal at the bottom (on chart row 4), where I took the yarn in and out across the stitches rather than under the bumps. But if you use both the photo and chart for this square as guides, you should find it quite easy to do.
SQUARE 36, Option One, CURVES: this is the second square this month that uses the intarsia technique, so for those of you who are getting to grips with it, this is another chance to give it some practice. However, if you don’t fancy the intarsia then you can go for option two instead…
SQUARE 36, Option Two, SLANT #3: this pattern is similar to Square 15, Option Two from this mail out, but it uses different colours. And just in case you are wondering, you don’t have to knit this option if you knitted Option Two for squares 8 and 15. If you want a bit of variation in your blanket you can mix up your stripes and intarsia squares and work the opposite option to what you chose for squares 8 and 15. The choice is entirely up to you!
SQUARE 37, MASK (part 1): the three-colour stripe pattern in this square is a continuous rolling repeat of Marble, Stone and Oyster, as in Square 3 from Mail Out 1. So once you have joined in all three yarns, remember not to cut them off but carry them up the side of the work all the way to the top. After knitting the square you will need to add the swiss-darning and chain stitch embroidery, both using Heather yarn. To help you locate the row on which to begin the swiss-darning, I have included a note in the Pattern notes and tips on page 16: it begins on Chart row 19, which is the sixth row of Marble up from the bottom of the chart. It is best to try and embroider the swirl from the bottom to the top, so I have suggested that it is advisable to begin on stitch 36, ending on Chart Row 34, stitch 39. And you may be wondering why this is “part 1”, and where is “part 2”? However, as this is a “mystery” blanket, you will only find this out later on in the project. Any guesses to what it might be?!?
SQUARE 38, RIPPLE: this is a fairly straightforward square to knit up, however, the hooked-in beads mean that it is time consuming – or at least it was for me! So set yourself aside a few quiet hours where you can concentrate on the stripes, textured stitches and beads and then you should sail through it. The beads sit right on top of the textured ripples, so you might find that they are quite snug on the stitches that you hook them onto. But on the next row after each bead you should find that they sit very neatly in place. Watch out as well as the beads are not always in a continuous line following each ripple, and they change sometimes from Lime to Emerald to Lipstick, so follow the chart very carefully. Now you know why I said you need a good few quiet hours!!!
SO WHAT HAPPENS IF YOU NEED TO EASE IN OR OUT A STITCH WHEN YOU PICK UP TO BEGIN THE NEXT SQUARE IN A STRIP? It’s a good question, and as I get asked it on a regular basis I thought that it might be helpful to include it in this month’s blog. So here goes! An example of this is between squares 37 and 38 in this month’s patterns. Square 37 has 41 stitches and Square 38 has 40 stitches, which means that I need to pick up one less stitch. So this is what I did…I picked up 20 stitches by putting my needle through the middle of each stitch, (just below the cast-off edge). Then I skipped over stitch 21, before continuing to pick up through every stitch from 22-41, resulting in 40 stitches picked up along a cast-off edge of 41 stitches – bingo! However, let’s say that the number of stitches was reversed, in other words you were picking up 41 stitches along a cast-off edge of 40 stitches, then I would pick up as follows: pick up stitches 1-20, then to get an extra stitch put my needle between stitches 20 and 21 to pick up, then pick up stitches 21-40, and that way I pick up 41 sts along a cast-off edge of 40 sts – double bingo! It really is quite easy to do, so there’s no need to panic anymore if there is a change in the number of stitches from square to square - simply apply this advice to each situation and you should be fine. And if you aren’t, then you know where I am (email@example.com)...
YARN IN NOTTINGHAM ARE NOW IN FULL SWING WITH THEIR MONTHLY MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB MEETINGS, and I was thrilled to be able to join the ladies at the meeting in March for a nice cup of tea and some Mystery blanket banter. I was joined by Liz Jenks, Mary Leeson, Nancy Forster, Catherine Pope, Joan Bray, Kath Owen, Aileen Lyon, and Kerry Bloodworth. The ladies seemed to be getting on very well with their squares and there weren’t too many queries to sort out –they were all very competent knitters. So we talked about the Mystery Blanket but about lots of other things too, including Aileen’s wonderful collection of knitted toys and accessories which she made from left over Mystery Blanket yarn. However, technology failed us that day so unfortunately I have no photos to show you of her lovely creations. But hopefully we will sort out the technology at the next meeting in April so that I can show you what she has done in the next blog.
Here are some of the ladies at the meeting, from left to right: Mary Leeson, Catherine Pope, Joan Bray, Kath Owen and Aileen Lyon (trying to email her photos to me!!!)
Above (from left to right): Nancy Forster, Mary Leeson, Catherine Pope and Joan Bray.
Below (from the back to the front): Kath Owen, Aileen Lyon (who's just given up trying to email me her photos!!!), and Kerry Bloodworth.
So if you fancy joining me for a couple of hours of Mystery Blanket knit and chat in Sarah’s very lovely and welcoming shop, why not come along to the next meeting at Yarn on Wednesday 11th April? Or perhaps you can join us when we meet on Wednesday 2nd May, both meetings from 4:00 – 6:00pm. I really hope to see some of you there. It’s a lovely couple of hours and Sarah always provides a hot drink and a biscuit too! Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
…AND IF YOU WANT EVEN MORE HELP WITH YOUR BLANKET… then I have booked several Mystery Blanket workshops around the UK this year. Not only will you have the opportunity to get all the help you need with your Mystery Blanket squares, but each participant will also be given a small accessory kit inspired by the techniques in the blanket to knit up during the workshop (or to take home). Workshops are a great way to meet other members of the Club and improve your existing skills, as well as learning some new techniques. So I really hope to see some of you at my Mystery Blanket events this year for a really fun and enjoyable day out! These are the dates that have been scheduled (new date in pink). Please contact the individual shops for details about how to book your place:
- Sunday 8th April: Janie Crow, Hadley House, 17 Park Road, Barnet, Herts EN5 5RY, website: https://janiecrow.co.uk/presta/
- Sunday 24th June: I Love Ewe, 4 Stamford Walk, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 2JE, tel: 01780 763838, website: http://www.i-love-ewe.com (contact Rachel Parry)
- Saturday 21st July: Yarn Loft, 118 Hucknall Rd, Nottingham NG5 1AD, tel: 07825 702433, website: www.yarnloft.co.uk (contact Doreen)
- Saturday 1st September: The Knitting Corner, Curborough Hall Farm, Lichfield WS13 8ES, tel: 01543 415837 (contact Doreen Humphries)
- Saturday 8th September: The Kast Off Group, Barnham Broom Golf & Country Club, Honingham Rd, Barnham Broom, Norwich NR9 4DD, email: email@example.com (contact Jean Gosling)
JUST BEFORE I GO, I HAVE SOME EXCITING NEWS…COMING YOUR WAY SOON IS A BRAND NEW COLLECTION OF SMALL ACCESSORY KITS FROM THE BEADY KNITS STUDIO! Jenny has been busy designing a range of beautiful little lavender bags in three gorgeous colourways, giving you the opportunity to indulge yourself this summer in another exciting new knitting project! Jenny’s kits are perfect for beginners as they dip into techniques such as beading, intarsia and fairisle with the emphasis on simple construction within a small design area. And not only are they great little starter kits, but they would also make a lovely gift for that special knitting friend who deserves a treat! So watch out for an email soon with more information about these cute little Beady Knit bags, and join in the fun this summer!
AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE THIRD 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 THREE (APRIL): this month’s winner is member 262, Jacqueline Stack from Horsforth in Leeds, UK! Well done Jacqueline! 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
- Four packs of Debbie Abrahams Beads from the selection on http://www.debbieabrahamsbeads.co.uk
- A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club (2018 Mystery Cushion or 2019 Mystery Blanket)
It’s all busy busy busy here in the Debbie Abrahams design studio, so it’s a good job that Easter is just around the corner with the promise of a chocolate or two for everyone in our household! I do hope that you all have a fabulous holiday – whatever you are doing - and that you continue to enjoy knitting up your blanket squares this month. And if you have an interesting story to tell or some photos to share, please don’t forget to send them into us as we love to hear from you. So until then, put away the snow shoes and sledges and bring out the deckchairs and sunglasses – or am I speaking too soon?!? I hope not! See you back here next month for more Mystery Blanket news, Debbie x