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Mystery Blanket Club 2018: post 9, October

WELCOME TO THE NINTH MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB BLOG FOR 2018! – WHICH MEANS WE ARE JUST ONE MORE INSTALMENT AWAY FROM THE END OF THIS YEAR’S MYSTERY BLANKET. This month you have six squares to knit up which will complete six strips of the blanket. So if you want to make a start on the finishing, you could do that this month and get ahead before the final squares and edging instructions next month. In this month’s patterns I have included a handy stitch and row reference chart for Option One and Option Two which will help you plan out where you need to ease in any rows. I am going to talk more about this later on in the blog. But before I tell you more about this and all of this month’s other Mystery Blanket news, I have an update on little Seth who has been on his summer holidays since he last saw you…

…we spent a lovely week in sunny Majorca, where Seth made full use of all the hotel’s facilities, spending much of his time playing in the swimming pool and relaxing on his sunbed. Here he is tucking into an ice lolly and enjoying the sunshine. He took on the disguise of Batman for the week and made it his mission every day to recruit as many new members to his Super Heroes team as possible – making lots of new friends in the process! It was a lovely week and we all enjoyed our time away together. But like all good holidays it was over too soon…

So now on with this month’s news, beginning with …

THE OPTIONAL PRINTED PATTERNS, WHICH HAVE BEEN SENT TO THE MEMBERS WHO PAID FOR THEM, with the overseas posted on the 26th September and the UK posted on the 28th September. The overseas patterns that are travelling a long distance may well arrive a few days after the 1st October as they were posted a little later than usual. However, the emailed patterns were sent to all the members on the 1st October so you should all have that file in your inbox ready to download and have a browse through.

Oh! - and don’t forget that if you paid for your membership in the online shop on my website, you can also download all of the pattern files for this year’s Mystery Blanket through your Debbie Abrahams account. Unfortunately they are not accessible to anyone who paid outside of the online shop.

THERE ARE STILL MEMBERSHIPS AVAILABLE TO BUY FOR THE 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB, so if you have not got round to signing up to it yet, there is still time. 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 too, plus of course a good sprinkling of Debbie Abrahams beads!

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 sell out the Club will be closed. So don’t delay if you want to part of my brand new knitting adventure next year!

THESE ARE THE SIX SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH…three of which have a second option for you to choose from:

Square 18, Option One: Salon (part 4) – intarsia motif with textured stitches, eyelets, chain stitch and swiss-darning

Square 18, Option Two: Salon (part 4) – striped pattern with cables

Square 19: Salon (part 2) – lace pattern with hooked-in beads (same for both options)

Square 20: Mask (part 1)  – three-colour stripe pattern with textured stitches, hooked-in beads, swiss-darning and chain stitch details (same for both options)

Square 21, Option One: Curves #3 – intarsia motif with textured stitches and hooked-in beads

Square 21, Option Two: Slant #7 – four-colour striped pattern with textured diagonal stripes

Square 34: Mask #2 (part 1)  – four-colour stripe pattern with textured stitches, hooked-in beads, swiss-darning and chain stitch details (same for both options)

Square 35, Option One: Star #3 – intarsia motif with textured stitches

Square 35, Option Two: Slant #8 – four-colour striped pattern with textured diagonal stripes

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, Squares 18, 21 and 35, Option One, state that they are intarsia motifs, so this is the technique that you should use to knit these squares.

FOR THE THREE SQUARES THAT HAVE A SECOND OPTION, there is an instruction on the pattern pages about choosing the same option that you chose for previously knitted squares in the blanket. So for Square 18 you should knit the same option that you chose for Square 32; for Square 21 you should knit the same option that you chose for Square 14; and for Square 35 you should knit the same option that you chose for Square 42. This will keep the design harmonious and balanced.

SQUARE 18: SALON (part 4), Option One: this is the sister square to 32 from Mail Out 7, and is a mirror-image of the motif. However, there is a slight change to the embroidery. If you look closely at the Jaffa and Sienna chain stitch you will see that it is in a different place to where it is in Square 32. So make sure that you use the correct colour yarn in the right place so that it matches the chart for this square.

SQUARE 18: SALON (part 4), Option Two: this is almost the same as its sister square 32, but the colours of the stripes have been reversed so that it begins with Heather and ends with Teak. Also, the cables are reversed so that they begin with c6f and end with c6b. Remember also to take note of the small circular symbols which mean that you knit these stitches through the back of the loop on both right side and wrong side rows to create a neater and tighter edge to the cables.

SQUARE 19: SALON (part 2): this is the same square that you knitted last month for Square 17, and it is the fourth and last time that you will knit it in this blanket.

SQUARE 20: MASK (part 1): this square completes the third Mask in this design when it is sewn into place next to Square 13. And to match Square 13, it is the same three-colour stripe using Oyster, Marble and Stone. Remember to keep an eye on the colour you pick up at the beginning of each new row – it is always the colour that is waiting for you there and not the colour you have just knitted with!

SQUARE 21: CURVES #3, Option One: this is similar to Square 29 from Mail Out 5, but the Teak section has been moved to the opposite side of the motif. When it is sewn into the blanket you will see that it creates the same tessellated pattern as squares 29 and 36.

SQUARE 21: SLANT #7, Option Two: this is the easier alternative to Option One and is a basic striped pattern with textured stitches. It’s very similar to Square 29 from Mail Out 5, but Sienna has been replaced with Teak, and the stripes have been reversed so that they begin with Sunshine and end with Teak.

SQUARE 34: MASK #2 (part 1): this square completes the fourth and final Mask in this design when it is sewn into place next to Square 41. And to match Square 41, it is the same four-colour stripe using Lilac, Pale Blue, Marble and Spring Green. I have written the colours to be used on each row up each side of the chart which should help you keep the rotation of the stripe pattern repeat correct.

SQUARE 35: STAR #3, Option One: this is similar to Square 15 from Mail Out 3, but watch out for the addition of Sky to the yarn colours. Marble, Sky and Pale Blue are all very close in shade on the chart, so I have written these colour names onto the chart to ensure that you use them in the right place. When it is sewn into the blanket you will see that it creates the same tessellated pattern as squares 8 and 15.

SQUARE 35: SLANT #8, Option Two: this is the last square in the “Slant” series and it is almost the same as Square 15 from Mail Out 3, but the stripes have been reversed so that they begin with Sunshine and end with Jade.

TO HELP YOU PLAN OUT YOUR SEWING UP AND PICKING UP STITCHES, I HAVE CREATED TWO GRIDS - ONE FOR OPTION ONE AND ONE FOR OPTION TWO - which are on page 5 of the Mail Out. They tell you the number of stitches and rows for each square so that when you join together the seven knitted strips (and later on pick up stitches along the edge for the edging), you can see where you need to ease in or out. I will include it in the final mail-out as well with the final four squares included. But I thought some of you might find it useful now if you want to get ahead and make a start on sewing up.

I also have some extra advice about sewing together the squares that have different numbers of rows in them. For example, Square 1 has 55 rows and Square 8 has 54 rows. So when you sew these two squares together you need to ease one row to make them fit together perfectly. You can ease using Mattress stitch by taking the needle under one bar instead of two on Square 8. I would advise that you do this in the middle of the seam. If with other squares there are more rows to ease in then you can repeat this as many times as required along the edge that needs to be eased in, dividing the number of easings as equally as possible along the seam. It is easy to do and you won’t be able to see the easing on the seams – it’s invisible and actually quite brilliant! So give it a go!

JANE MCKEAG FROM LAS VEGAS, USA, WAS THRILLED TO HAVE COMPLETED HER 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET! And even happier about it was her granddaughter Kate, who was given the Mystery Blanket for her 10th birthday. You can see her here proudly holding up her beautiful new blanket:

Says Jane: “Kate said that it was something she would keep forever! It will be a hard act to follow for her little brother who turns 10 in 2020. As always, I am having fun with this year’s!”

Thank you for the lovely photo Jane. I am sure that Kate will treasure her Mystery Blanket forever. What a lovely and very generous present from her grandmother! And I am sure that your grandson is just as keen to get his hands on one of your Mystery Blankets – but which one will it be?!?...

GILL IZZARD FROM STONY STRATFORD IN THE UK WAS ALSO VERY PLEASED TO HAVE FINISHED HER 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET! I first met Gill at one of our Inspired Minds workshops a few years ago, and since then she has taken part in my Mystery projects. This is what Gill had to say about her most recent “Mystery” achievement:

“I have just completed my 2017 blanket and am thrilled with it. It took me a long time as I put my house on the market and have now moved to Stony Stratford so the blanket had to be put aside whilst I cleared out my old house and settled in here.”

I am so glad that you found time to get your Mystery Blanket completed Gill. And now you can sit back and enjoy all your hard work. I am sure that it looks fabulous in your new house!

I VISITED THE KNITTING CORNER IN LICHFIELD, STAFFORDSHIRE LAST MONTH FOR A MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB WORKSHOP, and I was joined by a very enthusiastic group of ladies, many of whom have been (very!) long-term Mystery Blanket and Cushion members. The shop had been taken over in recent months by new owner Amy, and she gave me a lovely warm welcome. The ladies worked on a small purse project that was inspired by this year’s Mystery Blanket design, and although most of them knew the techniques well, (including Japanese short-row shaping and beading), they really enjoyed showing me just how well they had mastered the techniques in the blanket.

Above, left to right: Joanna, Dinah, Madge, Katie, Sue, Josie and Jules get stuck into the project.

Below, left to right: Madge, Katie, Joanne, Josie, Joyce, Jules and Sue.

Sue brought along her completed 2017 Mystery Blanket, which she was absolutely thrilled with! And I am not surprised as she had knitted it beautifully. I was especially impressed with her intarsia squares – a technique that I had taught Sue many years ago when she came to some of my intarsia workshops at the shop. I remember how challenged she was by this technique back then, but I could see in this blanket a vast improvement in her skills. The squares were knitted so professionally, with every stitch perfect – well done Sue!

Above: Sue (on the left) with her beautiful 2017 Mystery Blanket.

Dinah was encouraged by her knitting friends at the workshop to show me her current Mystery Blanket squares, which she had also knitted to perfection! Dinah has been a very long term members of my Mystery Clubs and was going to stop her membership at number 10. But she joined again this year, and I see that she has also signed up to 2019 Mystery Blanket Club, so it looks like her Mystery Blanket adventures might go on for some time yet!

Below, Dinah shows me her lovely knitted squares from the 2018 Mystery Blanket:

Above, left to right: Joanna, Dinah (with her Mystery Blanket squares), and Madge.

We enjoyed a fabulous lunch at the local country cafe, after which, (as predicted!), the pace slowed down somewhat, and some browsing and yarn buying was also done. But by the end of the day everyone had made fabulous progress with the project, with just a bit of homework for all the ladies to do.

I really enjoyed my day out at The Knitting Corner and plan to return there again next year for another workshop, dates to be confirmed…see you there?!?

(A big thank you to Claire Bolton for all the photos of the workshop at The Knitting Corner, as a certain someone forgot their camera!)

I ALSO VISITED BARNHAM BROOM LAST MONTH TO RUN A MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB WORKSHOP FOR THE NORFOLK KNITTING GROUP RUN BY JEAN GOSLING, and I had a really lovely day with knitting friends, both old and new. Some of the ladies were Mystery Blanket Club members, but there were also lots of non-members too who were curious to learn about the Club and to learn some new knitting techniques.

Above, left to right: Caroline, Angela, Gail, Sally, Sandy, Jenny, Tracy, Molly, Averil and Beryl are all absorbed in the project.

Below, left to right: Lucy, Caroline, Angela, Gail, Sally and Sandy.

They all embraced the project wholeheartedly, and despite a shaky start for some of them (who were completely new to Japanese short-row shaping and beading), by lunchtime they were working very well through the project and quickly getting to grips with the techniques.

Left to right: Tracy, Molly, Averil, Beryl, Helen, Pat and Wendy get to grips with the techniques.

Halfway through the day we enjoyed a fabulous buffet-style lunch. Everyone had brought along something for the table and we enjoyed a very welcome break from our knitting before getting back to work on the purse project again.

Below, left to right: all is going well for Tracy, Molly and Averil!

Below, left to right: Angela and Gail progress well with the project.

Helen brought along with her some amazing fairisle garments that she had designed herself and knitted up. We were all in awe of her beautiful work and the wonderful colourways and patterns she had created. She said that she did it purely for pleasure rather than commercial purposes, with many of the garments being given away as gifts to friends and family. It made me want to go home and get my fairisle knitting out – she was so inspiring! These are some of her fabulous designs:

It really was a lovely day out and it was great to see knitters taking on the challenges of new techniques so enthusiastically. And although nobody completed the project on the day (not that I expected them to!), they all went home very pleased with what they had achieved. A big thank you to Jean for organising the workshop again this year, and, all being good I will return to see the group for another workshop next year!

YARN IN NOTTINGHAM HELD A MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB MEETING IN SEPTEMBER, after having a break from them in August. And fortunately I was able to pop down to the shop for an hour to join the ladies in Sarah’s lovely shop. I was joined that afternoon by Joan Bray, Liz Jenks, Mary Leeson, Catherine Pope, Kerry Bloodworth, Anne Sampson and Audrey Russell-Smith. 

Above, left to right: Audrey and Anne enjoy their knitting at the Mystery Club meeting.

Below, left to right: Anne and Catherine are both doing well with their Mystery Blanket squares this month!

We had a lovely time as usual, but the afternoon seemed to go very fast! Just as I had finished showing Kerry how to sew up using Mattress Stitch I realised it was time to run for the tram to get myself home in time to pick up Seth from nursery – which I made with minutes to spare, phew!

Kerry was thrilled to learn the technique of Mattress stitch for sewing together her blanket squares.

If you would like to join us at the next meeting then why not come along to Yarn on Wednesday 10th October from 4:00 – 6:00pm. I plan to be there again and it would be lovely to see you. Both Mystery Blanket and Cushion members are welcome – as well as anyone else who might want to join us! Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk

I AM RUNNING ONE MORE WORKSHOP THIS YEAR IN THE UK:

If you want to find out more information about this workshop or make a booking then please contact Yarn Loft directly:

  • Saturday 1st December, Festive Project (half-day): Yarn Loft, 118 Hucknall Rd, Nottingham NG5 1AD, tel: 07825 702433, website: www.yarnloft.co.uk (contact Doreen)

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE NINTH 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 NINE (OCTOBER): this month’s winner is member 270, Susan Bailey from Berkhamsted, UK! Well done Susan! 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)

JUST IN CASE YOU WERE A WINNER THIS YEAR BUT HAVE NOT CLAIMED YOUR PRIZE, here is the list of all the winners from months 1-9. If your name is on the list and you haven’t claimed your prize then email Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com and she will get it sorted for you:

  • February:  Caroline Rawlings (member 107)
  • March: Jane Davidge (member 393)
  • April: Jacqueline Stack (member 262)
  • May: Linda Huddleston (member 192)
  • June: Catherine Semple (member 375)
  • July: Fiona Graham (member 286)
  • August: Noelle Moore (member 464)
  • September: Joyce Low (member 350)
  • October: Susan Bailey (member 270)

So ! – we are nearly there at the end of another Mystery Blanket adventure, with just four more squares and the edging to come next month. And if you have kept up with each month’s knitting and the sewing up too, then you will have a very good idea of what the completed blanket is going to look like. But what about that centre square?!? It’s the last piece of the puzzle and will be revealed in Mail Out 10, along with a very pretty edging to finish off the project. I am getting my things packed and ready for the knitting holiday to Hell Bay later on this month. So if you are joining me there, safe travels to you and I will see you soon. But if you are not then hopefully you will join me back here next month for my final post. Until then, take care and happy knitting this month, Debbie x


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