Mystery Blanket Club 2018: post 4, May

HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE FOURTH INSTALMENT OF MY MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG! It’s been a busy month here in the Debbie Abrahams Studio and time seems to have flown by very fast since my last post in April. At the beginning of the month I tutored my first workshop of the year at Jane Crowfoot’s lovely studio in Barnet, the launch of the 2018 Mystery Cushion Club sign-ups got underway, and of course there was the Easter break – which for one little person proved to be a very enjoyable time! If you remember back to the last blog, I left you wondering whether or not the Easter Bunny was going to pay a visit to Seth. And as you can see, he did indeed and was incredibly generous too! What a lucky little boy he was!

SO, WHAT NEWS HAVE I GOT FOR YOU THIS MONTH?...I have reports on two workshops - a Mystery Blanket workshop at Jane’s (which I mentioned above), and our first Inspired Minds event of this year in Chester. I also have lots of lovely Mystery Blanket member stories and photos to share with you, a look at who joined me at the April MBC meeting at Yarn in Nottingham, plus more news about the brand new collection of knitting kits from Beadyknits.

BUT FIRST, WE HAVE BEEN COMPLETELY OVERWHELMED BY THE RESPONSE TO THE LAUNCH OF THE 2018 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB – which opened its doors for signing up on the 29th March. Historically the Mystery Cushion Club has always been much smaller than the Mystery Blanket Club. However, within five days of it launching it we had already sold all two-hundred memberships - which is an all-time record for any of our Mystery Club sales! Fortunately after a few frantic phone calls I was able to organise more yarn, beads and pom-pom makers to increase the memberships. So now we are at three-hundred and ninety memberships sold with just the final ten places available, giving a total of four-hundred members.  And because the yarn I am using is limited edition and in short supply - six colours from the Kaffe Fasset’s HandKnit Cotton collection - once these last ten memberships have sold the Club will close.

So if you have been thinking about signing up to the 2018 Mystery Cushion Club but have not done so yet, I would suggest that you visit the online shop on this website as soon as you can to purchase your membership.  If you want to find out more information about the Mystery Cushion Club, you will find a list of helpful FAQS on my website: https://debbieabrahams.com/pages/faq. And don’t forget that 2018 Mystery Blanket Club members receive a 10% discount on the cost of their membership. All you have to do is use this discount code at checkout and it will be applied to your order in the final stage of your payment: MCC183003

SO ONTO NEWS ABOUT THE BRAND NEW COLLECTION OF SMALL ACCESSORY KITS FROM THE BEADY KNITS STUDIO! Jenny has designed a range of beautiful little lavender bags in three gorgeous colourways, Provence, Tulip and Thistle:

Jenny’s kits are perfect for beginners as they dip into techniques such as beading, intarsia and fairisle, offering a gentle introduction within a small achievable project. They would make the perfect gift for a special friend or relative, or perhaps you could treat yourself to an exciting new project to knit up alongside your blanket squares?!? An emailed newsletter has been sent out with more information about the kits and how you can make your purchase, but if you did not receive it then you can email Jenny at stills@talk21.com for more information.

THE FINAL YARN PARCELS FOR THIS YEAR HAVE ALL BEEN POSTED, so if you have not received your parcel yet, it is on its way to you. We do our very best to try and ensure that they are received around about the same time, however, with so many countries involved – and some members in faraway remote places! – we are unable to guarantee an exact delivery date for them. So we appreciate your patience, and fingers crossed you will all have your parcels very soon. (I think I said in the last blog that I was going to email the members with the posting dates for the parcels, but unfortunately I forgot to do this, so apologies for that). Please note that this is the last parcel you will receive for this year’s Mystery Blanket and no further materials will be sent out. The only thing that you will continue to receive from now on until November are the monthly patterns.

YOU WILL FIND IN YOUR YARN PARCEL A SMALL ENVELOPE WITH YOUR WOVEN LABEL INSIDE IT. We put each label inside a sealed envelope so that you can decide whether or not you want to reveal the theme – that is, if you haven’t already guessed it. I thought that it was too early on in the project to reveal the theme as I usually do this after the fifth instalment, so now you can keep the excitement of the mystery going for a bit longer!

ALL OF THE PRINTED PATTERNS FOR MAY HAVE BEEN POSTED, so they should be with you soon. Hopefully you are finding the new brochure format easy to read and to work from. And if you haven’t opted for printed patterns then the emailed files should be easy to print off. The emailed file was sent to all the members on 1st May, so if you did not receive it please let us know and we will do our best to help: sue@debbieabrahams.com. Last month I gave you some tips about how to set up your inbox to receive our emails successfully, so here is a reminder in case you need that advice again:

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

I WAS THRILLED TO BE BACK TEACHING AT JANE CROWFOOT’S LOVELY STUDIO IN BARNET AT THE BEGINNING OF APRIL, and there I was joined by a lovely group of nine very enthusiastic ladies. Most of them were Mystery Blanket members, however, the workshop invited non-members to join us aswell. So from this year’s Club we had Mary Schwarz, Diana King, Miranda Shelley, Kate Gill, Mary Leeson, Joan Fawcett and Tracey Clift, and we also had ex-MBC members Andrea Gostick and Gill Nicklin join us as well.

The project was inspired by this year’s Mystery Blanket. It was a small purse which combined together the techniques of Japanese short-row shaping, knitting with beads (slip stitch and hooked-in methods), and chain stitch, all in a green and pink colourway. Here is Andrea proudly showing off her completed purse. I had a button fastening on my purse, however, Andrea went a step better and sewed in a zip – which I think finishes it off beautifully! (Any tips Andrea?!?)

If you haven’t been to Jane’s studio before then it is well worth a visit. She hosts Open Days throughout the year which are advertised on her website: https://janiecrow.co.uk/presta/

Her lovely shop is packed full of knitting and crochet goodies, with yarns, books, kits and accessories tempting you at every turn. I always find something to buy there and this time was no exception! I invested in three hanks of beautiful Treskelion yarn came with a free pattern for one of Jane’s gorgeous crochet scarfs, so how could I resist?!? (And no, I have not suddenly learnt how to crochet overnight! I am passing this one onto a good friend of mine who can crochet!)

We had a lovely day, a great lunch and Jane looked after us very well all day with hot drinks and biscuits. But as always it was over all too soon!!! I do hope that I get the chance to visit Jane’s studio again for another workshop next year – and another shopping spree!

WE HAVE JUST GOT BACK FROM A LOVELY TRIP TO CHESTER FOR OUR FIRST INSPIRED MINDS WEEKEND WORKSHOP THIS YEAR! We were joined by thirty-two knitters and crocheters, including many Mystery Blanket members – from Clubs past and present! Jane and I provided a project for the ladies to knit or crochet which we had designed especially for our workshops this year. It was inspired by a current Spring/Summer trend which focussed on pastel ice-cream shades, glitter, sparkle and frills – a real challenge for both of us as we tend to go for brighter more vibrant colour palettes. And I don’t think that I have ever knitted a frill into an accessory before, but it was really good fun to do!

This is my design called “Sorbet”. It combines a beaded lace pattern with a knitted frill, sequins and fairisle:

The ladies threw themselves wholeheartedly into the project and seemed to enjoy the challenges of the different stitches and techniques.

Below: Lesley, Claire and Joanna get to grips with the project.

Above: Karen, Cathy and Ruth focus on knitting up the Sorbet purse...

Below:...as do Felicity, Kate and Katherine...

Above: ...and Sandra, Jackie and Elizabeth too!

If you are interested in finding out more about our Inspired Minds events then you can sign up to our news alerts on our website: www.inspiredminds-uk.com

Our events are very popular and do usually sell out very quickly, so by signing up to our newsletters you can be the first to know where we will be and when with our workshops and retreats. I look forward to seeing some of you there!

SO, IT’S NOW TIME TO TAKE ANOTHER GUESS AT THE THEME OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET – that is, unless you have already guessed it?!?  We had three correct answers sent in this month from Caroline Dean, Nancy Martin and Clare Bright, so very well done to you! But perhaps another letter in my monthly quiz will help the rest of you who are still guessing. This month the letter I am giving you is “C”:

C   _ S  _  /  _  _  T  _  _  O

Please send your guesses to Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com. 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 no second options:

Square 9: Mask #2 (part 1) – four-colour stripe pattern with textured stitches, hooked-in beads, swiss-darning and chain stitch details

Square 23: Waves  – striped cable pattern with gradually decreasing textured stitches

Square 43: Trencadis #2 – textured pattern with hooked-in beads and chain stitch details

Square 44: Ocean Blues #2 – multi-coloured wave pattern using Japanese short-row shaping

Square 45: Pillars #3 – three-colour stripe cable pattern

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 23, Waves, states that it is a cable pattern with gradually decreasing textured stitches, so beware that the chart is not symmetrical and that the amount of stitches between the cables vary.

SQUARE 9, MASK #2 (part 1): this is the second “Mask” square you have been given, so as you look at the piecing diagram and at sister square 37 you might be able to work out what is going to happen here in the overall design? Any guesses?!? However, unlike Square 37, this is a four-colour stripe (not three-colour), so watch out for that fourth colour coming into the pattern. There is advice given in the Pattern notes and tips on page 6 to guide you when and how to join in Marble and Spring Green yarns. This technique will reduce the amount of loose ends you have for these colours. And on the chart the colour for each row has been listed which should help you knit the colour stripe pattern without any errors. Also note that the beads this time are Mink instead of Sienna.

SQUARE 23, WAVES: watch out for the gradually decreasing number of textured stitches between the cables as they reduce from right to left across the square. As soon as you have completed the first few rows, the pattern for the cables and textured stitches will be set so you should find it plain sailing after this. And the cables are pretty straightforward too – just a basic cable to the back across 6 stitches on every eighth row on right-side rows only. There are three shades of green in this square, so just be careful that you use the correct green on the right rows: 30-37 are Jade, 38-45 are Emerald, and 46-52 are Lime. And one last thing to note, you begin the square with two rows using Heather before you start working from the chart. So this means that there are a total of seven rows using Heather, eight rows each using Candy, Lilac, Sky, Jade and Emerald, finishing with seven rows using Lime.

SQUARE 43, TRENCADIS #2: in Mail Out 1 back in February Trencadis was one of the first squares you knitted, and this month you have its sister square to knit up. In terms of pattern it is a mirror-image of Square 1, but the colours of beads and embroidery have been changed to a pink and red colourway. This one has a lot of work in it so you will need to set aside plenty of time where you can concentrate on the chart and the beading, then complete it by adding on the chain stitch embroidery. It doesn’t matter whether the embroidery is exactly the same as Square 1 – in fact, it would fit in much better with the theme if there were a few slight discrepancies! So don’t get too caught up in this and just try to follow as best you can the shape of the textured stitches for each area of embroidery.

SQUARE 44, OCEAN BLUES #2: this is an exact repeat of Square 6 from Mail Out 2. So it’s time to get those stitch markers out and go on another Japanese short-row shaping adventure!

SQUARE 45, PILLARS #3: this is a similar cable pattern to Square 3 from Mail Out 1, but it uses Oyster, Lilac and Marble yarns instead of Oyster, Stone and Marble. And note that all of the cables are crossed to the front rather than to the back. If you need to make any notes to help you with the colour stripe then there is a handy “My Notes” page opposite this pattern page.

THIS MONTH I HAVE HAD SOME LOVELY STORIES AND PHOTOS SENT IN FROM MYSTERY BLANKET MEMBERS, including these amazing projects from Aileen Lyon who lives in Nottingham. You might remember Aileen from my previous blog - she was the lady who tried to send me some photos but they never arrived in my inbox. Well, fortunately her perseverance paid off and after several attempts she did manage to successfully send the photos to me, so here they are!

Aileen made all of these beautiful things from the leftover yarns from her 2016 Mystery Blanket, “A French Romance”. What a fabulous use of all that yarn, and how superbly they have been knitted!

Maybe if you have leftover bits and pieces from your projects you might take inspiration from what Aileen has done and put them to similar good use?!? Thank you so much for sharing these with us Aileen, and for letting us see all the lovely things you have created.

KAYE BRIDGEWATER FROM SURREY, UK, MET UP WITH HER MYSTERY BLANKET FRIENDS, and sent me this lovely photo of their gathering in April. This is what Kaye had to say:

“Last Thursday on the 19th April - the hottest day of the year so far - a small group of us met to compare notes about this year's Mystery Blanket. We spent a very pleasant couple of hours getting to know each other, seeing all of the previous blankets that Marilyn had completed (so impressive! ), and sharing all things knitting. One of the group, Marian, is soon to move to the Bordeaux region in France and is contemplating hosting knitting retreats there from Summer 2019 - definitely one to look out for! The picture shows Marian Camilleri, Sophie Fergusson, Marilyn Leach and myself, Kaye Bridgewater.”

How lovely that you all were able to meet up and share your Mystery Blanket experiences! And on the hottest day of the year too – let’s hope that the sun returns soon here in the UK so that we can all get outdoors with our Mystery Blanket squares!

JUNE HARDIMAN FROM HEMEL HEMPSTEAD IN HERTFORDSHIRE, UK, HAS BEEN VERY BUSY KNITTING UP DEBBIE ABRAHAMS BLANKETS. And not only has she joined several of my Mystery Blanket Clubs, but she has also found time to knit up some of the blankets from my books too! Here is one of her Mystery Blanket achievements – Retrospective (MBC 2017). And she also sent in a photo of her Four Seasons blanket from my More Blankets & Throws To Knit book. I must say what a tremendous job she has made of it – I knitted the sample blanket for the book and I remember how much of a challenge it was with all those intarsia squares.

Above: June's splendid 2017 Mystery Blanket, "Retrospective".

Below: And her beautifully knitted Four Seasons.

June says: “I thought you might like to see some of my finished blankets - one of my Mystery Blankets and the Four Seasons from one of your books.  I am torn between The Circus and Beside the Seaside for my next project. Thank you for all your lovely designs!”

CAROLINE EVANS FROM LEWISHAM IN LONDON, UK, HAS ALSO BEEN VERY BUSY WITH HER BLANKET KNITTING…like June, she has also knitted several of my Mystery Club projects – both the Blankets and the Cushions – but she has also somehow found time to knit up a blanket from my More Blankets & Throws To Knit book as well. Here is her gorgeous Afternoon Tea blanket, knitted up in her own colourway of soft green, red and cream:

Caroline says:  I showed this to you when it was nearly finished, but I have finally got round to doing the final strip and finishing it off properly, so here are the pictures. I am in finishing off mode at the moment so I might have a go at finishing the 2014 Mystery Cushion next!”

I really love this colourway, it reminds me of strawberries and cream! I originally knitted it in a pink, lilac and cream colourway, so it is really lovely to see it knitted up in totally different colours. And knowing how efficient and quick you are with your knitting Caroline, I am sure that you will have that 2014 Mystery Cushion also completed before not too long!

KATIE THOMPSON FROM LICHFIELD IN STAFFORDSHIRE, UK, JOINED ME IN CHESTER FOR THE INSPIRED MINDS WORKSHOP LAST MONTH, and she brought along her Nordic Mitts – a project which was inspired by the Nordic Adventure Mystery Blanket and designed for my special ten year anniversary workshops that I ran last year. Katie used up bits and pieces that she had left over from other projects and luckily the colours all worked really well together!

I love the combination of grey and blue shades, it looks very icy and reminds me of the wonderful knitting cruise around the fjords of Norway which I did with Arena a few years ago, and was the inspiration my Nordic Adventure blanket. Katie tells me that she’s had orders for them – and I am not surprised at all, they really are lovely!

KATIE ALSO HAD A NEAT LITTLE TECHNIQUE FOR SEWING TOGETHER HER MYSTERY BLANKET STRIPS. She uses these Orchid clips to hold the strips together as she sews.

She purchased them from a garden centre and she says they are great because not only do they make the task easier, but they are very inexpensive to buy. What a great little tip – especially for those of you who find this part of the process a bit tricky. This is sure to make it easier – and much more enjoyable too!

YARN IN NOTTINGHAM HELD THEIR MONTHLY MYSTERY BLANKET MEETING ON THE 11TH APRIL, and it was lovely to be able to join the ladies and catch up with how they were all getting on with their blanket squares. I was joined by Liz Jenks, Mary Leeson, Catherine Pope, Joan Bray, Aileen Lyon, and Kerry Bloodworth, and of course Sarah who owns Yarn. Seth also came along to the meeting and kept everyone entertained with his new friends, Woody and Buzz Lightyear! Here you can see little Seth, Woody and Buzz with Sarah and Kerry.

Above: Mary, Aileen and Catherine enjoying their blanket squares and the knitting banter!

The next meeting at Yarn is on Wednesday 2nd May from 4:00 – 6:00pm. So if you can pop along to Sarah’s lovely shop for a couple of hours, it would be really lovely to see you there. Sarah always provides a hot drink and a biscuit too! Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk

AND DON’T FORGET THAT I AM TUTORING SEVERAL WORKSHOPS THIS YEAR WITH A VERY SPECIAL MYSTERY BLANKET PROJECT, so not only will you have the opportunity to get all the help you need with your Mystery Blanket squares, but you will also get the chance to meet other Mystery Blanket members too! These are the dates that have been scheduled between now and the end of the year. Please contact the individual shops for more details about the workshop and guidance on how to book your place:

  • 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 Village Hall, Norwich Road Rd, email: j.gosling4dt@btinternet.com (contact Jean Gosling)

YOU MAY ALSO BE INTERESTED TO KNOW THAT I WILL BE VISITING THE WATERMILL IN POSARA, ITALY FROM 25TH MAY – 1ST JUNE 2019 FOR A KNITTING WORKSHOP HOSTED BY LOIS AND BILL BRECON! I am extremely excited about this fabulous opportunity and am already planning the project which I will design especially for the workshop participants. You will have the opportunity to try out several different knitting techniques including intarsia, knitting with beads, surface embroidery and textured stitches. A kit will be provided for each student which will contain Rowan yarns and Debbie Abrahams beads.

Everything is included in the cost of your holiday at The Watermill: tuition, accommodation (including all linen and towels), pre-dinner aperitifs, all meals and wines (including outings to charming local restaurants) and all local transportation (including transfers to Pisa airport and an excursion by train to Lucca or the Cinque Terre). You just need to get yourself to Pisa, Italy, and Lois and Bill do the rest!

And the even better news is that if you book before 1 September 2018 you can enjoy this amazing 2019 knitting holiday at 2018 prices. You can enquire about availability and/or to reserve your place by visiting www.watermill.net and look for the 2019 courses preview. I hope you decide to join me on this wonderful knitting holiday – it would be fabulous to see you there!

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE FOURTH 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 FOUR (MAY): this month’s winner is member 192, Linda Huddleston from Heights, Appleby-In-Westmorland, UK! Well done Linda! 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
  • A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club (2018 Mystery Cushion or 2019 Mystery Blanket)

I hope that you have enjoyed reading this month’s blog and have found the information helpful for your May squares. I will be very busy in the design studio for the next few weeks working on all sorts of exciting projects, including some brand new kits which I will tell you more about next month. And you might also want to know that very soon I will have more stock of my exclusive Glace Cotton colours which will be available to purchase in my online shop. So there’s plenty to look forward to in the next few weeks, including of course all of the excitement of the forthcoming 2018 Mystery Cushion Club which begins in June – the countdown has begun! So until next month, do keep all of your lovely stories and photos coming in and I look forward to seeing you back here on the 1st June for all the latest Mystery Blanket news, Debbie x


1 comment

  • Oh! I’m so happy to see the Bunny was so good to Seth!
    I’m still making slow progress on my Mystery Blanket with life work constantly in the way, but it is such a treat when I do sit down with my colorful yarn and fascinating squares! Truly lovely designs that are delightful to knit!

    Lindsey-Brooke Hessa

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