WELCOME TO MY FIRST MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG FOR 2019! First of all I would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who has joined my brand new "Mystery" knitting adventure. We had an amazing response to this year’s Club and extended the number of members from six-hundred to seven-hundred due to an overwhelming demand. This is so encouraging after eleven years of Mystery Blanket Clubs, and goes to prove how many of you still love a “Mystery”!
This is where you will need to come every month to read my monthly newsletter and find out all the latest updates about the Club, including tips and advice on the squares you are knitting and lots more useful information which will help you through the project. So it would be a good idea to make this your regular port of call each month before you make a start on your squares.
It has become a Mystery Blanket blog tradition to begin each month’s blog with a photo and few words about my son Seth, who is now the grand age of four! He came into this world at the beginning of the 2015 Mystery Blanket, and due to public demand has enjoyed a regular slot on my blog ever since. So here goes with the first photo of the year...and here we see little Seth with a brand new little friend that hopped into his life on Christmas Day! They have been inseparable ever since and love to play together. Maybe Kermit’s other puppet friends will join him in our house soon?…I hear that Miss Piggy has already packed her bags and is ready to go!...
THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB IS A GLOBAL PROJECT and every year we have knitters sign up from all over the world. This year we have members from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, Israel, Norway, France, Netherlands, Switzerland, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Belgium, Italy, Denmark, Finland, Ireland and the UK. Isn’t it exciting to think that there are members all over the world knitting up the same design as you!?!
15th FEBRUARY IS THE OFFICIAL START DATE OF THE 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB and on this day the first mail-out for the blanket has been emailed to all the members at 12:15am. As in previous years we are continuing to use three post offices and three postal teams to send out the huge amount of yarn parcels in two instalments - parcel one now and then a second parcel to arrive on or just after the 1st May. This is a huge task which involves weeks of preparation and planning, and we do our very best to try and get the parcels to you at the same time. However, this is a very difficult task with so many postal services being involved around the world. So if you have not received your parcel yet, it will be with you very soon. We kindly ask UK members to wait for at least a week after the 15th February before you contact us about your parcel, and for overseas members, we would ask that you give your parcels at least two weeks to arrive. We have a tracking number/barcode reference for all the members who opted for Tracked & Signed Delivery or Special Delivery, so if you would like us to email it to you please let us know. And if any of you have any worries about your parcel then you can contact Sue at: firstname.lastname@example.org and she will do her best to help you.
PLEASE CAN YOU NOTIFY US IMMEDIATELY IF ANY PART OF YOUR POSTAL ADDRESS IS INCORRECT. We have done our very best to ensure that the addresses are correct, but occasionally human error intervenes and there are errors. Any discrepancies can affect the speed at which your parcel is delivered to you, or at worst it may not arrive at all. So please let us know and we will update our files: email@example.com
MEMBERS THAT HAVE PAID FOR PRINTED PATTERNS will receive them in a separate card-backed envelope in ten separate monthly instalments. In the printed brochure (and in the emailed file too), there are additional pages for making your own notes - a useful place to record anything you need to remember as you knit up your blanket squares.
All members, including the printed pattern members, will be emailed the remaining patterns on the 1st of each month from March - November. So please keep your eyes on your inbox and if nothing turns up, please remember to check your Spam folder before talking to us as often this is where they end up.
EACH MONTH, IN ADDITION TO YOUR EMAILED PATTERNS, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DOWNLOAD THE FILE FROM YOUR ACCOUNT ON MY WEBSITE. The file will be available to download sometime after 6pm on the date of its launch. This is a quick guide to how you can do this:
- Log into the website with your username and password: https://debbieabrahams.com/account/login
- Under "MYSTERY CLUB DOWNLOADS" click "View all downloads"
- Your latest available mail-outs will be visible here in PDF format to download
YOU HAVE ALL BEEN GIVEN A UNIQUE MEMBERSHIP NUMBER FOR THE 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB, so please quote it in any correspondence to us. We can locate your details such as postal address and email much more quickly if we have your number, and this means that your query will be dealt with more efficiently. Your membership number was included in the confirmation email we sent to you when you signed up, and it is also written after your name on the address label of your parcels and printed patterns.
IF WE HAVE IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO PASS ONTO YOU, such as a pattern addendum, then we will send all the members an emailed newsletter. So it is really important that you check your emails (and your Spam folder in particular) regularly for any updates from us.
YOU HAVE A COLOUR CODER IN YOUR FIRST PARCEL – and I would advise that you set this up before you start knitting as it will help you to identify all the different shades. It’s a good idea to tie a small amount of each yarn onto the card and write the name and/or shade number next to it. There are a few shades in the collection that are very similar to each other, so please pay extra attention to these when you use them. These are Alabaster (197), Pumice (888), Drought (876), Cream (230) and Dawn (672). There are two shades of white in your kit as well which are called Simply White (201) and White (612) so please check these two yarns very carefully when you are instructed to use them. It is essential that you use the correct colour when instructed otherwise you could run out of yarn.
TWO OF THE COLOURS IN THE BLANKET ARE USED DOUBLE STRANDED - this means that you hold two strands together and knit them as one yarn. They are Blue Silver (which is Blue Haze shade 106 and Silver shade 301 used together), and White Silver (which is White shade 612 and Silver shade 301 used together). It is much easier to work with these yarns if you wind each of them onto a separate yarn bobbin rather than wind the two yarns together into one ball.
THE ANCHOR METALLIC YARN ADDS A LOVELY SPARKLE TO THE PROJECT, but you may find that it tends to spiral round on itself. And because it is so silky in texture it tends to fall very easily off the cardboard spool it is wound onto. So I would advise that you either wind it onto a yarn bobbin (as you can see in the photo above) or, if you prefer to work from the spool rather than a bobbin, a simple solution to stop it from slipping and spiralling is to put a nylon stocking – like a ‘pop sock’ – onto the spool and you should find that this holds it together. The last thing you want is tangled yarns when you are knitting your squares!
PLEASE NOTE THAT THE COLOURS IN THE MAIL-OUTS MIGHT NOT BE COMPLETELY ACCURATE TO THE COLOUR OF THE ACTUAL YARNS – both in the printed paperwork and in the digital files – so please be aware of this when working each square. We have done our best to make sure that the colours are as accurate as possible, however some discrepancies might occur. So it is always best to read the name of the colours to use in the pattern instructions, rather than going by the photographs of the knitting and the graphics in the mail-outs.
THE SECTION IN THE MAIL OUT CALLED “WORKING THE MYSTERY BLANKET” has some important information about the project which I recommend you read before starting to knit your blanket. Here you will find information on tension, the size of your squares, how to knit the squares in vertical strips (highly recommended!) and how to block and press your knitting. On pages 14-16 of the February mail-out there is some further information on knitting techniques including fairisle, knitting with beads (hooking-in and slip-stitch techniques), embroidery on knitted fabric and an abbreviations list.
AS IN PREVIOUS MYSTERY BLANKETS YOU WILL BE GIVEN OPTIONS ON SOME OF THE SQUARES. So when there is a square that involves the fairisle technique you can opt to knit an alternative square that replaces them with a textured, beaded or striped stitch pattern which is easier to knit. Each pattern clearly tells you when there is an option and you can also see this on the piecing diagrams. Throughout the project you can stick completely to either Option One (Pink-headed pages) or Option Two (Blue-headed pages), or, if preferred, you can choose to mix your options. Patterns that do not have an option are Purple-headed. Mixing options gives the project increased flexibility and means that although you are all working on the same blanket design you can make yours look different, if you choose. However, to keep the design balanced, you should take care to note when I advise you to choose a particular option and follow my instructions. Just in case you are not sure, Option One is the more tricky option to knit and Option Two is the easier one.
THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET is always kept a secret until you guess what it is yourself. But as well as clues in the monthly squares, I also give you extra help with your guesses each month by giving you a clue in a "letter" quiz. Here is the first clue for the title of this year’s Mystery Blanket. In each blog I will give you another letter to help you guess the title of the Mystery Blanket. This month the letter I am giving you is “E”:
_ _ _ _ E _ / _ _ _ _ E _ _ _ _ _
Please send your guesses to Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org. There are no prizes for the correct answer – it is simply a a bit of fun each month until you guess it!
THESE ARE THE THREE SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH:
Square 1, Option One: Let It Snow! – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads (there is an alternative option for this square):
Square 1, Option Two: In The Bleak Midwinter – striped pattern with hooked-in beads (there is an alternative option for this square):
Square 2: Glisten – striped pattern with slip-stitch beads (same for both options):
Square 3: Sleigh Rides and Snowballs – lace stitch and bobble pattern (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 give you a pre-warning of what to look out for in each square.
In the following notes below I am going to give you a few extra tips about some of the squares, which should help you a bit more with your knitting...
SQUARE 1, OPTION ONE: LET IT SNOW!: this is a fairisle pattern using four colours, but only two colours are used in each row. The beads are hooked in using either a crochet hook or floss (see advice on page 15). In case you can’t see the colour of the stitch behind the bead symbol on the chart, I have listed them in the Pattern notes and tips on page 6.
When you come to a bead symbol on the chart, hook the stitch onto the crochet hook/floss and replace it on the left needle ready to knit. When you do this it actually sits on the stitch below the stitch showing the bead symbol. For example, on row 9 / stitch 9 the bead will actually sit on stitch 9 of row 8 which is Terrain. In this example, after hooking-in the bead you then knit this stitch using Pumice yarn.
SQUARE 1, OPTION TWO: IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER: this is a striped pattern but it does have some rows that are very basic fairisle in which you knit stitches in alternate colours. On these rows if you pick up one yarn from under and one yarn from over then this will stop them from tangling around one another as you work across the row. Also, if you keep the stitches spread to the correct width on the needle as you knit them this should keep the knitting neat and even and stop it from puckering.
At the end of some of the rows you are instructed to transfer the stitches onto the other needle so that you can pick up the correct yarn for the next row. However, if preferred you could use a circular needle to knit this square and then simply push the stitches to the other end of the needle rather than transferring them.
SQUARE 2, GLISTEN: this square uses Silver shade 301 and White shade 612 held together as one yarn, and is striped in a repeat pattern with Dawn yarn. It is essentially a slip-stitch pattern where the White Silver yarn is held at intervals at the front of the work to create decorative strands. It is important that on row 3 (and subsequent repeats of this row) the stitches are spread to the correct width and not bunched together to avoid puckering.
On row 5 (and subsequent repeats of this row) the White Silver strands are lifted up and taken to the back of the work as you knit the stitch. This might look complicated but it is actually very easy to do: slide your needle underneath the strand as if to knit, knit the stitch, and then as you slip the stitch off the needle, slip the strand to the back of the work. You will see that the strand is then divided into two equal shorter lengths. Give it a go and see just how easy it is!
SQUARE 3, SLEIGH RIDES AND SNOWBALLS: this square also uses Silver yarn but this time is it double stranded with Blue Haze to create Blue Silver yarn. Here you have a choice to work from either worded instructions or a chart – or indeed both, if preferred! If you are new to reading lace stitches from a chart then this is a great introduction to it as you have the worded instructions to guide you if you get stuck.
Please note that the photo of the square does not match the positioning of the bobbles and lace stitches that are on the chart. This is because I made a last minute change to them after the photography had been done. So please use the photo as reference only and use the chart and worded instructions to work from (which is correct to what you are knitting).
IF YOU HAVE A QUERY ABOUT YOUR MYSTERY BLANKET THEN YOU MIGHT WANT TO JOIN THE DEBBIE ABRAHAMS MYSTERY BLANKET THREAD ON RAVELRY, where you will find a bunch of very helpful and informative members who will be only too pleased to talk to you about your project. It is a great way to get help and answers to your knitting queries. And if you are not already a Ravelry member, then it is very easy (and free) to join. Just follow the instructions on their website: http://www.ravelry.com
…AND IF YOU WANT EVEN MORE HELP WITH YOUR BLANKET… then why not join me at one of my Mystery Blanket Club knitting workshops 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. Workshops are a great way to meet other members of the Club and improve 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. Please contact the individual shops for details about how to book your place:
- Friday 22nd February: Black Sheep Wools, The Warehouse Studios, Glaziers Lane, Warrington WA3 4AQ, website: https:// www.blacksheepwools.com
- Saturday 23rd February: Black Sheep Wools, The Warehouse Studios, Glaziers Lane, Warrington WA3 4AQ, website: https:// www.blacksheepwools.com THIS WORKSHOP IS SOLD OUT
- Sunday 7th April: The Knitting Corner, No 5 Mitchells Shopping, Weeford Road, Sutton Coldfield B75 6NA, tel: 0121 792 0774
- Saturday 22nd June: Yarn Loft, 118 Hucknall Road, Nottingham NG5 1AD, website: www.yarnloft.co.uk
- Sunday 15th September: I Love Ewe, 4 Stamford Walk, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 2JE, website: www.i-love-ewe.com
Above: ladies enjoying their workshop time at Hell bay in the Isles of Scilly.
You can find more workshops and events in addition to these Mystery Blanket workshops on the Events calendar on my website: https://debbieabrahams.com/pages/events
I AM THRILLED TO BE VISITING THE WATERMILL IN POSARA IN ITALY THIS MAY TO RUN A VERY EXCITING KNITTING HOLIDAY IN A VERY BEAUTIFUL PLACE! After selling out the event very quickly last year we have since had four cancellations, which means the bookings have re-opened. So if you want to join me on this fabulous knitting adventure, you can sign up today!
I am going to design a special project for the holiday in which 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. What better way to spend your time than knitting in the Italian sunshine with like-minded people whilst indulging in fine food and wine!?!
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 the hosts Lois and Bill will do the rest!
You can enquire about availability and/or to reserve your place by visiting The Watermill website: www.watermill.net.
This link will take you to the Debbie Abrahams knitting holiday page: https://watermill.net/knitting-holidays/knitting-holidays-tutor-debbie-abrahams19.php
And this link will take you straight to the booking enquiry page: https://watermill.net/mill-forms/form-knitting-holiday-enquiry19.php
I do hope you decide to join me on this wonderful knitting holiday – it would be fabulous to see you there!
IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SEEING WHAT THE MEMBERS DID LAST YEAR WITH THE 2018 MYSTERY BLANKET (AND MANY OTHER DEBBIE ABRAHAMS PROJECTS), then you might want to check out the Member's Gallery blog which went live on my website recently: https://debbieabrahams.com/blogs/news/members-gallery
Above: Lucille Tut and her fabulous 2018 Mystery Blanket!
On there you will see several examples of the Casa Batlló blanket which was the design for my 2018 Mystery Blanket Club. Thank you to everyone who took part in the project and sent me their photos and stories. It was wonderful to see all the blankets knitted so beautifully, and all of the other lovely Debbie Abrahams inspired projects too!
Above: Janet Holdsworth's beautiful cushion inspired by 'Rainbow Drops'.
I love to see and hear how you are getting on with your Mystery Blanket knitting so please feel free to send me any news or photos that you would like to share and I will include them in my monthly blog. It's always lovely to hear from the members, and it makes the blog so much more interesting and colourful to read!
WE ARE ONLY A COUPLE OF WEEKS AWAY FROM THE LAUNCH OF THE 2019 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB, which opens its doors for signing up from March to June. This brand new "Mystery" club begins mid-June and continues for five months until mid-October and is run in the same way as the Mystery Blanket Club with monthly patterns and a yarn kit. It will be a completely different design to the Mystery Blanket, and the good news for 2019 Mystery Blanket members is that everyone who signs up to it gets a 10% discount on their membership. We have a strict limit this year of only 250 memberships, so if you want to join this Club you will have to be quick to ensure you get a place. In next month's blog I will give you more information about the design and the yarns, and then maybe you will decide to join me on another one of my knitting adventures this year?!?
I ALSO HAVE SOME VERY EXCITING NEWS ABOUT A BRAND NEW KNITTING CLUB THAT I AM LAUNCHING LATER ON THIS YEAR... “THE BABY BLANKET CLUB” is a brand new “Mystery” Club from the Debbie Abrahams Ltd Studio and is a fabulous way to learn new knitting techniques within a beautiful blanket for the new little boy or girl in your life! Interested? Then come back to the blog next month and I will tell you more…
AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE FIRST 2019 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 ONE (FEBRUARY): this month’s winner is member 474, Wendy Katz from Buffalo Grove, Illinois in the USA. Well done Wendy! Please choose a prize from the following selection:
- A signed 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 (size 8/0 or 6/0) from the selection on http://www.debbieabrahamsbeads.co.uk
- A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club: 2019 Mystery Cushion Club; 2019 Baby Blanket Club; 2020 Mystery Blanket Club.