WELCOME TO THE MARCH MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG! And I would like to begin this month by saying a big thank you to everyone who has taken the time to contact us with their enthusiastic and positive comments about the project. The first set of squares seem to have gone down very well, and so many of you have told me how very excited you are about the blanket. So hopefully this month’s squares will continue to keep you on that same happy level, with four more squares of the “Mystery” unveiled…
But before we get going with all the latest Mystery Blanket news, I thought you might like to see what little Seth has been up to since you saw him a couple of weeks ago. During half-term he was treated to an ice-cream sundae and a hot chocolate at The Pudding Pantry in Sherwood, (which is dangerously close to my house!) Seth had been very good at nursery so I decided that he deserved a little something for his glowing report. Keep it up Seth and we might just head back there for some more!
SO, WHAT DO YOU NEED TO KNOW THIS MONTH?...
…FIRSTLY, THERE IS NO YARN PARCEL THIS MONTH. The second and final parcels of yarn and beads will be posted in April to arrive at their destinations from the beginning of May. (So no jumping on your postie this month if he walks straight past your house!)
THE MARCH PATTERNS HAVE BEEN EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON THE 1ST MARCH, so please keep your eye on your inbox. And if nothing turns up, please let us know as soon as possible so that we can check your details in our database: email@example.com.
IF YOU ARE PRINTING YOUR OWN PATTERNS, then you might want to select individual pages and miss out some of the blank “My Notes”. You should be able to do this quite easily by selecting the pages you want to print in your Print Range.
AND PLEASE NOTE THAT IF YOU PAID FOR SPECIAL DELIVERY/TRACKED & SIGNED DELIVERY, it is only the two yarn parcels and NOT the printed patterns which are posted using these special services.
1ST MARCH 2019 IS THE LAUNCH DATE OF THE BRAND NEW MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB, so if you fancy another Debbie Abrahams knitting adventure why not pop across to our online shop to purchase your membership (memberships go on sale from 4pm on the 1st March).
Above: the 2018 Mystery Cushion: 'Eastern Promise'.
Below: the 2017 Mystery Cushion: 'Metropolis'.
This project is shorter than the Mystery Blanket, beginning mid-June and running for five months until mid-October. Each member receives a knitting kit with all the materials to make the cushion-cover, including Rowan Glace Cotton yarn and a selection of sparkling Debbie Abrahams Beads. Plus the kit will include a unique Debbie Abrahams 'Mystery Club' woven project bag to keep all your Mystery Blanket essentials clean and safe. There's good news too for all 2019 Mystery Blanket members as everyone who signs up to the Mystery Cushion Club gets a 10% discount on their membership. A unique code for this to be used at checkout will be emailed to all the Mystery Blanket members just before the launch. There are just two-hundred and fifty memberships up for grabs, so don’t delay if you want to join me!
THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET is gradually being revealed with an extra letter added to the puzzle below each month. However, it seems that I didn’t make the title challenging enough this year as absolutely loads of you have already guessed it correctly. In fact, so many you have got it right that we are going to publish the names in a separate blog which will go live in a few days’ time - once Sue has had time to compile the list!
But for those of you are still guessing (and there are some of you still out there!), Siobhan Donnelly from Wicklow in Ireland has sent in this fabulous photo which might help you with your guess. Doesn’t she look amazing!!!
And to assist you further, here is another letter as well. This month the letter I am giving you is “O”:
_ _ _ _ E _ / _ O _ _ E _ _ _ _ _
Please send your guesses to Sue at firstname.lastname@example.org. From now on we are only going to publish in future blogs the first ten correct guesses we get, so be quick to give your answer if you want to make it onto that list!
THESE ARE THE FOUR SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH:
Square 4, Option One: O Tannenbaum! – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads (there is an alternative option for this square):
Square 4, Option Two: See, Amid the Winter’s Snow – striped reverse stocking stitch pattern with slip-stitch beads (there is an alternative option for this square):
Square 5: Snow and Ice – textured pattern with multi-coloured slip-stitch beads (same for both options):
Square 36: More Sleigh Rides and Snowballs – lace stitch and bobble pattern (same for both options):
Square 43, Option One: Let It Snow! (reprise) – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads (there is an alternative option for this square):
Square 43, Option Two: In The Bleak Midwinter – striped pattern with hooked-in beads (there is an alternative option for this square):
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, warning you what to look out for and giving you some useful information about how to knit the 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 4, OPTION ONE: O TANNENBAUM!: 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 21). 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 7 / stitch 2 the bead will actually sit on stitch 2 of row 6 which is Drought. After hooking-in the bead you then knit this stitch using Iceberg yarn.
Watch out for chart rows 8, 23 and 38 where there is a change to the second colour (the fir tree) for a single row.
SQUARE 4, OPTION TWO: SEE, AMID THE WINTER’S SNOW: this is a striped pattern in reverse stocking stitch (purl on right side rows and knit on wrong side rows) with rows of beads and garter stitch at regular intervals in between. There are frequent changes of colour so it is best to try and carry what you can up the side of the work to avoid multiple ends. I have suggested that if possible you carry up Simply White, Drought and Iceberg yarns, but cut off Watery yarn.
There is a constant change of needle size throughout the square which will help maintain a neat and even tension. This change of needle size is due to the rows of garter stitch (knit two row) which require a smaller size needle than reverse stocking stitch to maintain tension.
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 or double-pointed needles to knit this square and then simply push the stitches to the other end of the needle rather than transferring them.
SQUARE 5, SNOW AND ICE: if you need practise to get to grips with slip-stitch beading, then this is the square for you! It’s a very sparkly design which has three colours of beads and textured stitches in diagonal stripes. And because there are so many beads in it I have suggested that you thread the beads onto the yarn in two batches, beginning with ‘Set A’ on page 11. It might be a good idea to ask a friend or relative to read the order of beading to you so that you can concentrate on getting them onto the yarn in the right order - if you get them in the wrong order then the beads will not sit in the right place on the knitting.
There are more rows in this square than in some of the others in the blanket - this is because of the heavy beading which condenses down the row tension. But don’t worry, it will block and press to the correct measurements. You just need to consider this when you sew together the blanket later on as you may need to ease in those extra rows.
SQUARE 36, MORE SLEIGH RIDES AND SNOWBALLS: this square is very similar to Square 3 from Mail Out 2, but the diagonal lines of bobbles and lace stitches are going in the opposite direction. And this time the image is correct to the knitting, so you can use the chart, worded instructions and the photo to help you through it.
SQUARE 43, OPTION ONE: LET IT SNOW! (REPRISE): this is the same fairisle pattern as Square 1 from Mail Out 1, but in a different colourway. Maritime and Pumice are replaced by Cement and Alabaster, but Simply White and Terrain are kept the same.
If you knitted Option One for Square 1, you do NOT need to knit Option One for this square – you make the decision!
SQUARE 43, OPTION TWO: IN THE BLEAK MIDWINTER: this is the same striped pattern as Square 1 from Mail Out 1.
If you knitted Option Two for Square 1, you do NOT need to knit Option Two for this square – you make the decision!
SO WHAT’S THE BEST CAST-ON METHOD TO USE FOR YOUR BLANKET SQUARES? I always use a thumb method (which is the same as Long Tail, Continental, German, to name but a few). Basically it uses one needle and your thumb and or fingers. I use this method because it gives a more elastic edge to knitting than a two needle method. And that will come in very handy when you pick up stitches along the bottom edge of the some of the squares to knit the edging. But that is the only reason I use it, so if it is not for you it really does not matter. At the end of the day, all of the edges will be hidden in seams when you complete your blanket, so the cast-on edges will not be seen.
IT IS REALLY IMPORTANT THAT YOUR MYSTERY BLANKET SQUARES ARE BLOCKED AND PRESSED as this will not only improve the look and the feel of the knitting, but it is one way to make sure that all your squares are the same size. You can do this very simply without the need for an iron. I pin out (block) each square with the wrong side facing upwards, making sure with a tape measure that it is pinned to the correct dimensions. In your Welcome Letter last month I recommended a blocking board –“ June Tailor Inc. Quilter’s Cut ‘n Press” – and this is perfect for the blanket squares as it has measurements in inches marked around all four edges on a grid, (I have the 10 inch board). Alternatively you could make a template drawn out to the size you are blocking your squares to and use this to ensure they are all the same size. Once pinned out I spray the knitting with cold water making sure that it is damp all over, then I leave it to dry. When the pins are taken out the knitting is perfectly set and ready for the next square to be knitted onto it. It is quick and easy to do, so if you haven’t blocked and pressed before, I would suggest you give it a try.
You can choose to block each square as you go along, or, if you are knitting in strips you can block each strip when it is completed. I prefer to block and press each square as I go along, but this decision is entirely up to you.
I HAVE BEEN ASKED BY SEVERAL MEMBERS THE REASON WHY YOU ARE NOT ADVISED TO SIMPLY “KNIT-ON” THE NEXT SQUARE IN A STRIP, so this is my answer. Basically, when you pick up the stitches across the cast-off edge of one square to knit-on the next square, you create a seam at this point in the knitting. And a seam gives any knitted (or woven) article strength. And because your completed knitted blanket will be quite heavy, these seams are really important as they will help the squares – and the blanket – keep its shape. I have given some tips below on picking up stitches, however, if you do not fancy doing this, there is nothing stopping you from knitting each square individually and sewing them together instead. The picking up method just eliminates a huge amount of sewing up – which I know some of you are not too keen on!
SO HERE ARE SOME TIPS ON PICKING UP STITCHES…there are several ways that you can pick up stitches, however, I always prefer to pick up through the middle of stitches rather than through the cast-off edge as this gives a cleaner look to the front-side of the work. This is what I would suggest you do if you are picking up the stitches to knit-on the next square:
Along a horizontal edge (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. 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 are instructed to pick up an extra stitch then do this by putting your needle into the gap between the stitches rather than through the middle of a stitch. And if you are instructed to miss a stitch then simply skip past a stitch and onto the next one.
TO GET MORE HELP AND ADVICE ABOUT YOUR MYSTERY BLANKET… you might want to book onto one of these workshops that I am running at knitting shops in the West Midlands, the East Midlands and in Lincolnshire. Please contact the individual shops for details about how to book your place:
- 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: knitters enjoy their workshop time in France.
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
YARN IN NOTTINGHAM START THEIR MONTHLY MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB MEETINGS THIS MONTH, so if you fancy a couple of hours of Mystery Blanket knit and chat in Sarah’s very lovely and welcoming shop, why not join myself and other members at the first meeting of the year on Wednesday 6th March?!? We have been in touch with members in the local area who have agreed to be emailed on a monthly basis by Sarah at Yarn with news of the next meetings. However, if you have not been contacted and would like to receive these emails, please email Sarah direct using the address below. Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: email@example.com
IT WAS AN ABSOLUTE PLEASURE TO RETURN TO BLACK SHEEP WOOLS IN CULCHETH, WARRINGTON, UK, IN FEBRUARY TO RUN A COUPLE OF MYSTERY BLANKET WORKSHOPS. Both days sold out which meant I was joined by twenty knitters for two very busy and enjoyable workshops.
Unfortunately I forgot to take photos of the group on the first day – much to my annoyance when I realised at the end of the day! – so, I am only able to publish the names and photos of the ladies who joined me on the second day.
Above: my Saturday knitters at Black Sheep Wools.
The workshop was open to all knitters – not just Mystery Blanket Club members – and we had a great mix of the two! The Mystery Blanket Club members who came along on Saturday were Danielle Auerbach-Byrne, Lisa Holding, Kathryn Smith, Gail Coles, Nancy Barker and Linda Heald. Non-members who came to the workshop were Rosie Dutton, Catherine De Haas, Debbie Tomkins and Jackie Lind.
I designed a ‘Let It Snow Mitt’ pattern especially for the workshop using the snowflake pattern from the blanket, but recoloured it in shades of purple and grey.
There was a lot to do with a beaded cast-on, twisted rib, slip-stitch and hooked-in beading and fairisle all included in the project. But the ladies coped very well and did some lovely knitting, all leaving the workshop very excitedly with the project to finish off at home (although Rosie did manage to get one whole mitt knitted – just one more to go Rosie to complete your pair!!!).
Above: from left to right, Debbie, Rosie and Lisa concentrate on getting their first mitt underway.
Below: from left to right, Jackie, Nancy, Danielle and Gail get stuck into the project and exchange ideas.
We had such a lovely day spent discussing and practising various knitting techniques, as well as having a good bit of banter too! A workshop is such a good way to get help and advice with knitting techniques, but it also enables me to get out and meet some of my lovely members (as well as the other ladies too!). My next Mystery Blanket Club workshop is at The Knitting Corner in the West Midlands on April 7th, maybe I will see you there!?!...
I HAVE HAD A FEW MEMBERS SEND ME PHOTOS OF THEIR PROJECTS, and they have kindly given me their permission to share them with you. So here goes!...
First up is Sue Bartlett from Cheshire, UK, whose lovely Quiver table-runner was featured in the Member’s Blog in January. Her photo back then showed her project in progress, but since then she has finished it – and what a great job she has made of it!
This is what her husband, Peter, had to say about Sue’s lovely creation: “Hope you are having fun dispatching all the parcels around the world. It’s incredible how the Mystery Blanket has grown to become a global event, many congratulations! This is the completed runner, which Sue is enormously pleased with. I am too! It blends nicely with the rest of the decor.”
Quiver is in the Kaleidoscope book which I wrote with my good friend Jane Crowfoot, and Sue has recoloured it to match her own furnishings. I think that the colours she has chosen are gorgeous and they all work so well together. So well done Sue, I am sure it will be much admired!
Samantha Terry from London, UK, was thrilled to join this year’s Mystery Blanket Club after having embarked on her first Mystery” knitting adventure in 2017 with the Mystery Cushion Club. And as you can see she has made an excellent start to the blanket squares.
Samantha says: “As you can see I have started and am really enjoying the yarn. I have gone with Option Two. How lovely to have a choice. I also love mixing the silver yarn in, what an excellent idea, the colours look so beautiful together. I am so pleased you encouraged me to join.”
I am so glad that you decided to join too Samantha, and I hope that you continue to enjoy knitting up the squares each month!
Karen Keatinge from Angels Camp, California, USA, was over the moon to have completed both her 2018 Mystery Cushion and Mystery Cushion projects!
It is so good to see them both finished – and just in time too, because Karen has also joined the 2019 Mystery Blanket Club! It’s going to be another very busy year for you again Karen!
AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE SECOND 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 TWO (MARCH): this month’s winner is member 608, Karen Ellmers from Portland, Oregon in the USA. Well done Karen! 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.
What a busy month and lots to report to you! So much in fact that I was unable to fit into this blog the news I promised last month about my new Mystery Club adventure, the 'Mystery Baby Blanket Club'! So I am going to save that exciting bit of news for next month instead. Thank you for all your lovely comments, photos and stories which we are always happy to receive. I hope you have a fabulous time knitting up your March squares and in the meantime, if you have any more stories or photos you would like to share with us, don’t forget to send them into me at, firstname.lastname@example.org and they could be included in the next blog. Until then, happy knitting everyone! Debbie x