Mystery Blanket Club 2019: post 3, April

WELCOME TO THE APRIL MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG! And with the sun shining brightly here in Nottingham, it feels as if Spring is finally in the air. It’s been a very busy month with lots of designing going on in the studio. Plus I’ve just come back from France after spending a week with a lovely group of ladies knitting, wining and dining – more of which I will tell you about later on…

But before I make a start on the Mystery Blanket news, here’s a little update on Seth who was thrilled to bits to be treated to an afternoon at the cinema to see Lego Movie 2. And he was so taken with the movie that he decided to make good use of his Christmas money and rushed straight off to the toy shop to purchase a Lego kit. So you can guess what we all spent the rest of the afternoon doing!?!

AND SO, THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB NEWS THIS MONTH…starting with THE 2019 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB which got off to a terrific start when we opened up applications at the beginning of March. We are thrilled to have sold over three-quarters of the memberships within the first month, which means that there are only 60 places left before it sells out. So if you have not joined yet there is still time to sign up.

Above: detail of the 2017 Mystery Cushion, 'Metropolis'.

The Mystery Cushion is a shorter project 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. I did not mention anything about the colour palette in my previous blog, so here’s a little insight into what I have in store for you…included in the palette are biscuit and terracotta combined with deep blackcurrant and shots of aqua. There are several other colours in the palette too, however I am keeping them a secret until the Club begins. But I can tell you one other thing - this cushion is a bit of a bead fest with seven colours of sparkling beads in the design. So if you fancy something sparkly in beautiful colours (I would call it a ‘restful’ palette), which has lots of interesting stitch textures to explore, then this could be the perfect summer project for you!

2019 Mystery Blanket members get a 10% discount on their membership. A unique code for this was emailed to all the Mystery Blanket members just before the launch. But if you need a reminder of what it is, just contact Sue: sue@debbieabrahams.com

I hope you decide to join me!

A BRAND NEW AND VERY EXCITING CONCEPT FROM THE DEBBE ABRAHAMS STUDIO IS LAUNCHING IN SEPTEMBER! THE “MYSTERY BABY BLANKET CLUB” is a project that I have been eager to get off the ground for some time, and finally I am thrilled to announce that it is on its way! It will run in a similar way to the Mystery Blanket and Cushion Clubs with a knitting kit being sent out to the members, and patterns emailed in monthly instalments. The Club will be launched as “members-only” with a limited number of places, and each participant will receive a unique Mystery Baby Blanket Club woven bag plus a discount on the cost of the kit.

After twelve months the kit will be available to purchase at full price in the online shop on our website.

The project combines together lots of different stitch structures and includes some colourwork too. It is aimed at knitters who have some basic knitting skills but want to improve on what they already know and learn some new techniques along the way. There will be one design which is unisex, with a choice of two colourways – go for bright colourful ‘Contemporary’ or cooler calmer ‘Classic’. And there will also be the opportunity to personalise your blanket to make it unique to the little person you are knitting it for.

The yarn I have selected for the blanket is a beautiful soft baby yarn from the Rowan collection called Baby Cashsoft Merino. It’s a lightweight double-knitting yarn made from a gorgeous blend of soft, cosy fibres including wool, cashmere and acrylic and it’s machine-washable. The size of the completed blanket is approximately 65cm x 90cm (25½ in x 35½ in) made up from a total of thirty-five squares.

Within the next week we are going to send out a short survey to all our Club members about the Baby Blanket Mystery Club. Everyone who registers their interest will be entered into a prize draw with a chance of winning a free Mystery Baby Blanket Club membership (winner to be announced on 1st May 2019).

FOR NEW KNITTERS WHO WANT TO KNIT A BABY BLANKET, but don’t want to throw themselves straight into the Mystery Baby Blanket Club, I am also launching ‘My First Baby Blanket’ kit which focuses on basic stitch structures for beginners, including cable, lace and simple stripe patterns. It is an easy-to-knit small blanket project which provides a great introduction to the craft of knitting. The design is not a mystery so you will be able to see pictures of it before you place your order. The kit will be available to buy in my online shop from September.

THE APRIL PATTERNS HAVE BEEN EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON THE 1ST APRIL, so please keep an eye on your inbox. The printed patterns have been posted to the members who opted for them, with the overseas posted on the 25th March followed by the UK posted on the 29th March. So if they haven’t arrived with you yet, they should be with you very soon.

THE SECOND AND FINAL MYSTERY BLANKET PARCELS WHICH WILL COMPLETE YOUR KITS are now being prepared, so watch out for your postman at the beginning of May - you have my permission to jump on him!!! We are planning to post World 2 (and Canada) week commencing the 15th April, World 2 and Europe from the 22nd April and then the UK parcels from the 29th April.

THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET has already been guessed by a great number of you and I recently published a list of correct guessers on my blog. However, there are still some of you who have not yet guessed what the title is, so to help you out this month I have two fabulous pictures sent in by members Cheryl Hilner and Nancy Brooks both from Canada (thank you ladies!), plus an extra letter in the puzzle below.

Above: Nancy's garden in Ottawa, Canada, under four feet of snow!

Below: Cheryl's garden in Alberta, Canada, also under snow!

This month the letter I am giving you is “D”:

_  _  _  _  E  _  /  _  O  _  D  E  _  _  _  _  _

Please send your guesses to Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.comto – there’s no prize for getting it right, it’s just a bit of fun!

THESE ARE THE FIVE SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:

Square 15, Winter Solstice – cable, lace and bobble pattern (same for both options):

 

Square 22, Option One: O Tannenbaum! – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads (there is an alternative option for this square):

Square 22, 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 23: Frozen – striped textured pattern using three colours (same for both options):

Square 37, Option One: Deck the Halls  – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads (there is an alternative option for this square):

Square 37, Option Two: A Hazy Shade of Winter – striped moss stitch pattern (there is an alternative option for this square):

Square 44: Still Glistening – striped pattern with slip-stitch beads (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 will help you with, pre-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 15, WINTER SOLSTICE: this is a brand new square that combines cables with a pretty lace stitch and bobbles. It has been written in two formats so you can choose to from work from either worded instructions (on page 6, which is unnumbered), or a chart (on page 7). Please be aware that the bobbles are knitted differently to those in Sleigh Rides and Snowballs, so make sure you read the Abbreviations page before you knit them. Both the bobbles and cables are knitted on right-side and wrong-side rows - just in case you think this is a pattern error! You will find the instructions for how to knit the cables also on the Abbreviations page.

SQUARE 22, OPTION ONE: O TANNENBAUM!: this is exactly the same as Square 4, Option One from Mail Out 2, except it is at the bottom of the blanket so there are no picking-up instructions.

I have been asked to show the back of the square, so here goes!

SQUARE 22, OPTION TWO: SEE, AMID THE WINTER’S SNOW: this is exactly the same as Square 4, Option Two from Mail Out 2, except it is at the bottom of the blanket so there are no picking-up instructions. Also, please note that the row of beads on Row 59 is not visible on the photograph, so you do need all 68 beads that you are instructed to thread on although you can only see 51 beads on the image.

SQUARE 23, FROZEN: this stitch looks more complicated than what it is – it’s a simple 4-row stitch pattern repeat which is striped in three colours. So once you have joined in all three yarns, carry them up the side of the work if you can to avoid multiple loose ends. Remember that White shade 612 and Silver shade 301 are knitted together as one yarn throughout, as instructed on page 12. Making a star on all the wrong-side rows is very easy to do and the instructions for this are in the Pattern notes and tips on page 12. Perhaps give it a quick practice first using some waste yarn if you are not sure. And just one last point, due to the structure of this pattern you will need to use one metric size larger to knit this square (4.00mm is the suggested size to use) as both the stitch and row tensions are different to the standard tension of the blanket (which is 24 stitches and 32 rows to 10cm).

SQUARE 37, OPTION ONE: DECK THE HALLS: this jolly square with love-heart and bell shaped motifs uses the fairisle technique and has hooked-in beads on three rows. The beads look as though they may have been misplaced on the chart, however, I can confirm that they are positioned correctly - you will see this as you knit it. The colour of some of the stitches on Rows 15 and 30 are difficult to see as they are partially covered by beads, so make sure you read the note about this in the Pattern notes and tips on page 14.Watch out for the ‘knots’ on Chart rows 3, 18 and 33, which are on both right-side and wrong-side rows. They are knitted in a similar way to the bobbles, but there are not so many rows involved which makes them smaller in size. Instructions for how to knit the knots on the Abbreviations page.

SQUARE 37, OPTION TWO: A HAZY SHADE OF WINTER: this square is knitted completely in moss stitch (which is a repeat of K1, [P1, K1] on every row), and creates a dense, firm fabric. It is knitted using much smaller needles than the main suggested size of 3.75mm, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on your tension to make sure your square is knitting up to the correct measurements, and alter your needle size if necessary. Moss stitch condenses down row tension and expands stitch tension so this is why you need to use smaller needles. Also, watch out for White shade 612 used from row 57 onwards, it is used doubled, so that’s two strands of White yarn held together (without any Silver this time!)

SQUARE 44, STILL GLISTENING: this is similar to Square 2 from Mail Out 1 but it uses Pewter beads instead of Aqua beads, so make sure that you thread on the correct colour!

I HAVE HAD A FEW MEMBERS CONTACT ME ABOUT KNOTS IN THE YARN - and in particular the Lavender yarn. And unfortunately it has happened when knitting Square 5 which is the one with lots and lots of pre-threaded beads. As you can imagine, coming across a knot when you have threaded on all those beads is very frustrating. So what do you do if this happens to you? The best advice I can give is that before you thread on the beads, rewind the ball of yarn to see whether there are any knots in it. It might take you a few minutes to do, but it could save you a lot of very valuable knitting time in the long run.

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

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

THE MARCH MYSTERY BLANKET MEETING AT YARN IN NOTTINGHAM WAS WELL ATTENDED, and I was delighted to be able to join the group for a couple of hours of knit and chat. I was really pleased to see how well everyone had got on with the squares so far, and the enthusiasm for the project was wonderful!

As you can see, Kerry (above) had prepared herself well for the project by making her colour coder card with the yarns tied on and colour references written beside each one – an invaluable tool while knitting the blanket and something I would advise every member to do – especially as some of the colours are very close in shade.

And Mary (above right) had a great idea about how to keep yarns without ball-bands identified. It’s a really simple but brilliant solution. Simply pop your ball of yarn with the loose ball-band into a clear plastic bag which can be sealed, and then not only will you be able to identify which colour it is, but it will also keep your yarn nice and clean. What a great idea Mary and one which I am sure will catch on!

Above, left to right: Brenda, Joan, Catherine, Mary and Michelle enjoying their Mystery Blanket banter!

The next meeting at Yarn is on Wednesday 10th April from 4-6pm. So if you are able to spare a couple of hours for some friendly banter and knitting, do come and join us. Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk

I hope to see you there!

I HAVE JUST RETURNED FROM A WONDERFUL WEEK OF KNITTING IN FRANCE, where I was joined by a very enthusiastic bunch of knitters – many of whom were Mystery Blanket Club members – at Sue Culligan’s beautiful gite in Bercloux in the Charente department. It’s a place that I have been to many times over the years, but it’s still one that I very much look forward to going back to as it’s not just about a week away knitting – it’s the shopping, fabulous home-cooked food and unlimited drink as well as the knitting that entices me and all the other ladies back there.

So, who was on the trip? I was joined by 2019 Mystery Blanket members Andrea Gostick, Kate Nowak, Clare Bright, Felicity Miller, Katherine Saunders and Amanda Golland, and also by previous members Wendy Atkinson and Annabelle Tame, and my sister Jenny (who runs Beady Knits). Sue also came along with little Seth who spent the week immersing himself in all things ‘French’, and managed to learn a few French words too!

I designed an Easter themed project for the ladies to knit up, a wall-hanging knitted in pretty Spring colours with lots of beads for extra colour and sparkle. I used Rowan Glace Cotton for it – one of my favourites in the Rowan collection – and it was lined on the back too. Not only did the ladies embrace it wholeheartedly, but some of them got very creative and made it into a super little bag, complete with lining and a zip fastening. Take a look at what they knitted, I think they are all great works of art!

Above, left to right, top first: wall-hangings by Wendy, Clare, Jenny and Andrea.

Below, left to right, top first: bags by Felicity, Amanda, Kate and Katherine.

Below: the vibrantly striped backs of the bags.

We had a truly fabulous week which included shopping trips to the charming little town of St Jean D’Angely, the fabulous Saintes (with one of my favourite shops, Maison du Monde), and the very pretty town of Cognac (below):

Annabelle, who lives in France, brought along her collection of beautiful handmade felt rabbits to show us. Each one of them was stunning, dressed in knitted and woven mini garments and accessories - all made by Annabelle.

Sue Culligan spoilt us every day with her amazing French cuisine, providing us each morning with a fresh continental breakfast, a healthy lunch of homemade savoury treats, and a fabulous three-course meal every evening (followed by a much anticipated story on three of the evenings by the gold award-winning Wendy Atkinson!). And the best thing of all was that the holiday was spent with the most wonderful group of ladies who made my work that week a complete pleasure – so thank you to you all, it was a fabulous week!

If you are interested in booking onto one of Sue Culligan's knitting holidays then you can find out more about her fabulous knitting and crochet holidays on her website: https://www.knittingholidaysinfrance.com/

AND NOW FOR A COUPLE OF STORIES FROM THE MEMBERS, who have given me permission to share their experiences with us, starting with DEBORAH WALTON from Newcastle-upon Tyne, UK. Deborah has been very busy not only knitting up her Mystery projects, but has also found the time to do something with her leftover yarns. Look at this fabulous sweater she has made using the leftover Glace yarn from the 2018 Mystery Blanket (plus a few extra balls that she bought):

The design is from Rowan Magazine 55 but Deborah changed the colours according to what she had.

This what Deborah had to say about her sweater: "Just thought I would show you what I have made with the yarn left over from the blanket, plus a little more. It's a Rowan pattern with a little modification. I'm really pleased with it! I shan't be fading into the background but my grandchildren are used to their whacky granny! Thank you to you and all your team for many happy hours of knitting. And I am really loving this year's blanket." 

I think that all of the colours all work beautifully together and the resulting garment is fabulous. Well done Deborah, it’s good to see all those oddments put to such good use!

LESLEY PINELLI HAS KNITTED SEVERAL MYSTERY BLANKETS, and although she’s taken a break from the Club this year she is still knitting up lots of other projects, including this lovely colourful blanket.

It’s a design called ‘Katrina’ which I did a very long time ago for Let’s Knit magazine. It was intended as a picnic blanket to be used ‘al fresco’. So the motifs of suns combined with all those bright stripes were a reflection of how I was feeling at that time, which was very happy as Summer was on its way!

What a gorgeous re-colour of my blanket which I hope has brought Lesley a lot of happiness too!

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE THIRD 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 (APRIL): this month’s winner is member 650, Sue Couanis from Osborne Park in Western Australia. Well done Sue! 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
  • A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club: 2019 Mystery Cushion Club; 2019 Mystery Baby Blanket Club; 2020 Mystery Blanket Club.

Thank for taking the time to read my March blog and I hope you found it helpful. I have a very busy few months ahead of me in the studio so I’m off now to make a start now on some very exciting new samples! I hope you enjoy this month’s squares, and if the good weather holds maybe you will get the chance to take advantage of the sunshine and do a bit of knitting outside? With the clocks going forward here in the UK we have an extra hour of daylight –so you know what that means!?! – more knitting time!!! Until my next blog in May, I wish you all a happy and peaceful Easter and see you in four weeks time, Debbie x


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