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Mystery Blanket Club 2019: post 5, June

WELCOME TO THE JUNE MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG! I am a little late in writing to you this month as I have just returned from a wonderful week knitting at The Watermill in Italy. I was accompanied on the trip by ten knitters – seven of whom were Mystery Blanket Club members - and Steve and Seth.

And as you can see, Steve and Seth both had a lovely time away, exploring the streets of Lucca on a day out (left image) as well as taking out time to relax surrounded by the most breath taking scenery (right image). Seth flung himself wholeheartedly into the Italian way of life, dining most days on pasta and ‘gelato’ (his favourite!) and learning some Italian words along the way too!

I will tell you more about this trip later on…

THE JUNE PATTERNS WERE EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON THE 1st JUNE. And the printed patterns were posted to the members who opted for them last week. So if they haven’t arrived with you yet, they should be with you very soon.

THE FIRST MYSTERY BABY BLANKET CLUB LAUNCHED JUST OVER A WEEK AGO, and we have already sold over two-hundred places which we are extremely happy about! The deadline for signing up is 31st July, so there is still time to join if you not already done so by visiting the online shop on our website: https://debbieabrahams.com/products/mystery-baby-blanket-club-2019

We are offering 10% off the cost of the knitting kit if you sign up as a member. Plus you will receive a unique Mystery Baby Blanket Club woven bag and a woven sew-on label. 

There is a choice of two colourways to choose from...

...bright colourway 'Contemporary'...

...or cool, calm 'Classic'.

After the signing-up period has closed the Mystery Baby Blanket will become available to buy at full price from our online shop from 1st September 2020.

Are you going to take the plunge and join me again on another brand new Mystery knitting adventure?...I do hope so!

I AM THRILLED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE WINNER OF THE MYSTERY BABY BLANKET CLUB SURVEY IS…DIANE NIKRO from Sydney, Australia. Well done Diane! You have won a free membership to the Club. So welcome on board!

THE 2019 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB has now sold out, so thank you to everyone who signed up to it! There are two-hundred and fifty members in the Club this year, and my postal team are busy getting all the parcels ready to take to the post office ahead of the launch on 15th June. This is when the first set of patterns will be emailed, and hopefully by then the majority of the members will have their knitting kit. There will be a separate blog for the Mystery Cushion Club, so if you are a member, please remember to check it for all the latest news.

We have a waiting list for the Mystery Cushion Club, so if you didn’t manage to sign up to it but wish you had, please contact Sue by email and she will add you to the list: sue@debbieabrahams.com. And if a membership becomes available she will let you know.

SOME FABULOUS NEW SPARKLY KITS HAVE BEEN LAUNCHED BY BEADYKNITS! – the fourth collection in Jenny’s small accessory range of “learn how to…” projects. This time she has combined together beads and sequins to create two very colourful cosmetic bag designs.

Jenny says: "I have designed a set of two cosmetic bags. Each design has a reverse colourway option. The kit contains both colourways in the chosen design, so for example, if you purchase 'Ocean', you will also receive 'Breeze’. Please note that lining and zip are not included for the second kit.”

 

If you are interested please email Jenny at Jenny@beadyknits.com to leave your request. 

The kit contains the following materials packaged in a pretty organza bag:

  • Full colour pattern instructions for either Ocean or Tropicana
  • Rico Cotton Essentials Yarns (3 x 50g balls)
  • Debbie Abrahams size 6 glass beads (enough for both colourways)
  • Sequins (enough for both colourways)
  • 8" zip
  • Luxurious fabric lining
  • Sweet treat

What a fabulous treat for either yourself or a gift for a knitting friend! It’s the perfect project to learn how to knit with sequins and beads, and at the end of it you will have a super little sparkly bag for your glamorous nights out!

THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET is yet to be revealed - unless of course you have already guessed it - or opened your little blue envelope. But if you are still guessing, here is another letter in the puzzle to help you:

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

_  _  N  T  E  _  /  _  ONDE  _  _  _  N  _

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 11: Frozen – striped textured pattern using three colours (same for both options):

Square 12: The Holly and the Cable – stocking stitch and moss stitch cable pattern (same for both options):

Square 24: Icicles – moss stitch and beaded cable with reverse swiss darning (same for both options):

Square 45: Snow and Ice– textured pattern with slip-stitch beads (same for both options):

Square 46, Option One: O Tannenbaum! –fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads (there is an alternative option for this square):

Square 46, 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):

And here’s some tips on this month’s squares…

SQUARE 11, FROZEN: this is the same as Square 23 from Mail Out 3. Make sure that you separate the stitches created by ‘make a star’ as you knit the stitches on all right side rows. They tend to stick together in bunches of three, especially in the White Silver yarn. I counted my stitches on every right side row to ensure I had the correct amount.

SQUARE 12, THE HOLLY AND THE CABLE: this is a new square in the blanket, and before you say anything, yes it is supposed to be called The Holly and the Cable! The cables are eight stitches wide and they switch between moss stitch and plain stocking stitch. You have the option to follow either the chart or worded instructions – or both if you prefer.  Just make sure that you read the cable twists very carefully as they swap between ‘back’ (twist to the right) and ‘front’ (twist to the left).

SQUARE 24, ICICLES: this is another new square in the blanket, and one with a difference as the embroidery (swiss darning) is done with the wrong side of the work facing. But don’t worry - it’s a fairly simple pattern to knit with mini three stitch cables embedded with beads set between moss stitch panels. The embroidery is added after it has been knitted. You are embroidering four vertical lines on stitches 9, 17, 25 and 33, and it’s on every other stitch, working from the bottom edge up to the cast-off edge.

SQUARE 45, SNOW AND ICE: this is the same as Square 5 from Mail Out 2. Make sure that you follow the bead threading instructions very carefully. It might be a good idea to ask someone to read out the threading instructions to you so that you can focus on the task in hand!

SQUARE 46, OPTION ONE: O TANNENBAUM!: this is the same as Square 4 from Mail Out 2 and Square 22 from Mail Out 3. You are advised to knit this option if you knitted Option 1 for Square 4.

SQUARE 46, OPTION TWO: SEE AMID THE WINTER’S SNOW: this is same as Square 4 from Mail Out 4 and Square 22 from Mail Out 3. You are advised to knit this option if you knitted Option 2 for Square 4.

THE KNITTING HOLIDAY AT THE WATERMILL IN POSARA, ITALY, WAS A FABULOUS EXPERIENCE! I spent seven glorious days with ten ladies, Steve, Seth, and one non-knitting husband being extremely well fed and watered and accommodated. The Watermill is set in a remote area of Tuscany in Italy and offers a truly relaxing break away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

Lois and Bill Breckon are fabulous hosts and looked after us wonderfully well in every way, with high class accommodation, fine dining, and a full and interesting itinerary which included several excursions to local places.

I designed a special project for the week for the ladies to work on. The ‘Tuscan Runner’ combines intarsia with beading and embroidery and is knitted in Rowan Glace Cotton:

There were a lot of Mystery Blanket Club members in the group so some of them decided to use their time away to catch up with their squares.

On the first full day at The Watermill we set up camp in the sitting-room, where I was able to introduce the project to the group and get them all started on their knitting. Penny and Judy had travelled all the way from Australia and were keen to learn as much as they could. So they both knitted the Tuscan Runner and got to grips with their intarsia and beading, which was a steep learning curve as there were fifteen bobbins of yarn on the intarsia section!

After that every day there was the opportunity to mix knitting time with exploring the local towns and villages including lunch out on Monday at a fabulous little restaurant where we enjoyed a three course feast...

...there was a trip to the Medieval walled town of Fivizzano for market day on Tuesday where we were treated to paninis, coffee and gelato...

...a full day out to either Lucca or Cinque Terre on Wednesday...

...a quiet and relaxing few hours and a gourmet lunch at the Convento dei Carmine, a privately owned ex-monastery with beautiful gardens and a courtyard – perfect for knitting!

And then we had more knitting time at the hill-top village of Monte de Bianchi, a stunning rural location with breathtaking views of the surrounding hills, and a delicious lunch at the onsite restaurant Il Vecchio Tino:

The ladies did some amazing work and were proud to show off their Tuscan Runners at the end of the week...

We had a fabulous week of knitting, eating, drinking, shopping and sightseeing – what more could you possibly want out of a holiday!?! And the good news is that I will be returning to The Watermill to lead another knitting holiday in 2021 (dates to be confirmed). So if you like the sound of it, why not pencil it into your diary and join me in a couple of years’ time. I know that you will have the most amazing knitting holiday!

UNFORTUNATELY I COULD NOT ATTEND THE MEETING AT YARN IN NOTTINGHAM LAST MONTH, and it was even more unfortunate as Sarah has now closed the shop after creating and running a hugely successful business for fifteen years. So we are all very sorry to say goodbye to Yarn, which has been a lifeline for many people’s knitting needs and habits in the East Midlands. However, the good news is that there will still be monthly meetings for this year’s Mystery Clubs which will continue to be organised by Sarah at a location in Beeston.

The next meeting is on Wednesday 12th June from 4:00 – 6:00pm, and I will be joining the group. Please contact Sarah for details of where we are meeting, and hopefully I will see you there! Email: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk

TO GET MORE HELP AND ADVICE ABOUT YOUR MYSTERY BLANKET you might want to book onto one of these last two remaining Mystery Blanket workshops that I am running this year in the UK. Please contact the individual shops for details about how to book your place:

  • 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

JUNE MCBAIN FROM EDINBURGH ALWAYS AS A NEW PROJECT ON THE GO, and while she was at The Watermill with me in Posara she showed me a fabulous baby jacket that she had knitted  using oddments from her Mystery projects:

This is June’s ‘Surprise Baby Jacket’ which is a design by Elizabeth Zimmerman. The ‘surprise’ is that you don’t know exactly how it is going to look in terms of the colour striping until it is completed. June must have been thrilled with the way her jacket turned out. I think it’s a brilliant way to use up odds and ends  and it might give you an idea about what you can use your leftover blanket yarns for! Thanks June!

NOW, IF YOU ARE BEHIND WITH YOUR MYSTERY BLANKET, WORRY NOT AS THERE IS A SPECIAL THREAD FOR RAVELLERS! It’s a virtual forum called The Tortoise Club where you can ‘meet’ and share your thoughts with other knitters who are in the same situation as you. Viv Fox from Northampton told me all about it:

“The 'Club' is just a fun thread for Ravellers to chat about any unfinished Mystery Blanket which they have buried somewhere!

If there was a serious thought behind this, it was to remind ourselves that most of us chose to knit the blankets for pleasure. I wanted to counteract some of the more stressed posts which appear on Ravelry:  "oh dear! I am so behind."  " I haven't even finished last month's squares."  " I am guilty of startitis!"  " must finish this jumper first." etc.

For most of us, we no longer knit out of economic necessity, but as a source of joy in the creative process and delight in the colours and textures. Ravelry is great for sharing our enthusiasms and experiences and we need to remember this and not let our passion for knitting become a source of anxiety or a sense of failure.”

Thanks for sharing that with us Viv. I am sure that some of the members will be joining that Club and taking on board all your good advice.

Always remember that wherever you are on your Mystery Blanket adventure, it’s a fun experience and there is no prize for who finishes it first. Enjoy every stitch and have a memorable journey!

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE FIFTH 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 FIVE (JUNE): this month’s winner is member 692, Beth Pintea from Erie, Pennsylvania in the USA. Well done Beth!

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 Baby Blanket Club; 2020 Mystery Blanket Club.
Thank you for taking the time to read my blog this month, and I hope that you enjoy knitting up the June squares. We are now halfway through the project, so the blanket is really starting to take shape! You can probably anticipate what some of the remaining squares are going to be – although there are still some surprises in store… Don’t forget to keep in touch and send us your knitting stories and photos as these are always a joy to read and share with the other members. Until next month, take care and happy knitting, Debbie x

3 comments

  • Thanks for the great tip about the knitting needles Cynthia! I am sure that the other members will find this very useful! Debbie x

    Debbie Stowe
  • This is my first mystery blanket and I’m really enjoying it! However I’ve only just finished the squares for May having to knit jumpers and cardies for grandchildren inbetween.
    I thought I’d pass on something which may be useful. When I’m knitting smaller things I use shorter double pointed needles with an elastic ban wound around one end. I started doing this knitting small mice from Alan Dart patterns as it is easier then using long needles. I’m doing this knitting the squares so when it comes to having to transfer the cast on stitches to start knitting at the other end, eg in Frozen, I just move the elastic band to the other end – so easy!
    So now to get on with the June squares!

    Cynthia Blackhurst
  • Beautiful photos of Italy! Lucky knitters.
    Thanks for the notes about ‘being behind’.
    Agree, it should be about pleasure of knitting not meeting deadlines.

    Enjoying my squares!
    :) Judy

    Judy Dixon

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