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Mystery Blanket Club 2020: post 3, April

WELCOME TO THE APRIL MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG. And I would like to begin by saying a big thank you to all the messages of support we have had from our members during the past couple of weeks. In this time of global uncertainty, it is uplifting and inspiring to hear about all your lovely knitting projects and see all the marvellous things you’ve been creating. Our wonderful crafts are what are keeping a lot of us going at the moment. And I have been told by so many of you that your unfinished Mystery projects are now being picked up and finished - which not only takes the focus away from what is going on around us, but it also generates an enormous sense of achievement and well-being.

The good news is that the whole team at Debbie Abrahams Ltd are continuing to operate as normal at the moment from their various locations around the UK. And I can reassure you that we are all following the government guidelines for health and safety, with gloves worn to pack orders, minimum contact with delivery drivers and reduced visits to the post office.

We are working flat out with Rowan in an attempt to bring forward all our yarn deliveries for the Mystery Clubs, and are now completely focused on getting the parcels out to you as soon as we can – that’s both Mystery Blanket and Mystery Cushion.  So as soon as we know our posting dates, we will let you know.

I have also been working on various new projects to keep you all busy and creative with your time. And with several launch dates spread across the next month, there’s plenty to look forward to from the Debbie Abrahams Studio. You’ll find more information about all these exciting new things further on in this blog…

THE APRIL PATTERNS HAVE BEEN EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON THE 1ST APRIL, so please keep an eye on your inbox.  And remember that our email may be lurking in your Spam folder…

The printed patterns were posted to the overseas members on the 16th March followed by the UK on the 23rd March, so if you have not already received them, they should be with you soon. However, in the current situation we are in, you may find that they take longer than usual to arrive, especially to overseas destinations. So we ask you to bear with us during this time.

With many of you working in isolation at home at the moment, it is absolutely essential that you let us know immediately if you need to change the address for your future mailings from us – both your email address and your postal address. Please inform Sue as soon as you can and we will amend your details: sue@debbieabrahams.com

THE SECOND AND FINAL MYSTERY BLANKET PARCELS TO COMPLETE YOUR KIT are being assembled as soon as we receive the yarn from Rowan - this has just started to be delivered to us in batches. Then we will let you know as soon as we are ready to send the parcels to you, which we anticipate will begin sometime next week. We are keeping an eye on the global postal services and will contact anyone if restrictions change prior to sending your parcel to you.

THERE HAS BEEN SOME CONCERN OVER THE AMOUNT OF BABY SILK MERINO, PEBBLE, SHADE 690, with some of you worried that you might run out before being able to completing this month’s squares. There is only one square in the April instalment which uses Pebble, it’s Square 9 and it should use under 3g. Both of our test knitters had enough, so hopefully you will too. And the good news is that you will be getting another ball of Pebble in your second parcel, you will have plenty.

WE ARE ABSOLUTELY DELIGHTED AT THE RESPONSE WE GOT TO OUR 2020 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB, and as of today we have under thirty memberships left. This is really quite incredible since we only began signing up members at the end of February. So thank to you everyone who has already bought their membership.

We are offering an instalment plan for these remaining memberships to help spread the cost. So if you are interested in this, please contact Sue for more details: sue@debbieabrahams.com.

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, and patterns are emailed monthly – just like the Mystery Blanket Club.

Above: a previous Mystery Cushion, 'Geo Jungle'.

There is a dedicated monthly blog for the Club which gives lots of advice about the project as you knit along. And the even better news for 2019 and 2020 Mystery Blanket members is that everyone who signs up to the Mystery Cushion Club gets a 10% discount on their membership. All Mystery Blanket members were emailed the discount code, but if you have mislaid this email from us, simply contact Sue and she will give it to you.  

Here’s a glimpse of what I have in store for this year’s Mystery Cushion design…

It’s knitted in Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino – although it is NOT a baby themed project. The colour palette returns to my favoured vibrant and bright shades from the Rowan range, including fuchsia pink, vivid orange, deep jade and lime, with charcoal and cream details and a glimmer of neon. And it has, of course, plenty of sparkling beads, some beautiful rhinestone studs to add a touch more glamour, and two skeins of Anchor Stranded Cotton for additional embellishment and embroidery. A mixture of techniques are involved including textured stitches, stripes, beaded patterns and some colour work. So it’s the perfect small project to brush up on your old skills and perhaps learn some new ones too!

Below: a previous Mystery Cushion design, 'Metropolis'.

You can sign up now in our online shop. Or contact Sue if you want to know more about our instalment plan.

I hope you decide to join me on this brand new journey. It will be a lot of fun and a new knitting adventure to look forward to!

FROM 6TH APRIL THE MYSTERY BABY BLANKET, ‘LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK’, WILL BE AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE AS A KIT. This Club finished in March, and, unlike our other two Mystery Clubs, we decided to make this one available to buy in our online shop. At the moment we only have the Classic colourway (see below) in stock, but we plan to have the Contemporary colourway available at the end of April.

This 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. And there is also the opportunity to personalise your blanket to make it unique to the little person you are knitting it for.

The kit includes sixteen balls of Rowan’s beautifully soft baby yarn, 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.

We are offering an instalment plan for these remaining memberships to help spread the cost. So if you are interested in this, please contact Sue for more details: sue@debbieabrahams.com.

Since the last instalment for this Club was sent out in March, many of the Mystery Baby Blanket Club members have completed their blankets. And here are some of them! Thank you to everyone for sending in all their gorgeous photos – both of the blankets and babies!

FIRST OF ALL, HERE IS BEAUTIFUL LITTLE ELISE WITH HER BABY BLANKET, knitted by over-the-moon new grandma, Tracy Harris from Norfolk!

Tracy says: “On a really happy note I just wanted to let you know that your timing with the baby blanket couldn’t have been any better. Our first granddaughter Elise was born on the 9th March and I was embroidering the date and her name on the blanket that very evening. Thank you for the joy your patterns bring!”

The personalisation is perfect Tracy and finishes off the blanket beautifully. The proud parents must be thrilled to bits with this unique blanket for their new arrival!

SALLY REED FROM LONDON, UK, WAS DELIGHTED WITH HER BABY BLANKET – AS WAS BABY ISA!

 

Sally says: “I have just finished the Mystery Baby Blanket, and it looks fab! And my great niece Isabel (Isa for short) loves it too! I have to say I wasn’t 100% convinced about all the colours in the palette, but I think that now it is finished, it looks fab! And I actually really enjoyed the ‘easier’ knitting! I am very bad and I never do a test swatch before I start to knit (and have become unstuck on projects more than once!).  So my squares all came out larger than the pattern suggested.  However, it all fits together and I had plenty of wool to finish.  

In fact, I made up a baby jumper for Isa out of the left overs.  This was an Elizabeth Zimmerman Surprise Baby Jumper which was great as you could just keep changing colours – it’s amazing how it all comes together. I think that one of your other Mystery Blanket ladies has also done this in a previous year, as I am sure I got the idea from one of your blogs!!! I really enjoyed the blanket!  Thank you for hours of fun!!! “

You are actually right about that Elizabeth Zimmerman pattern. It was knitted up by June McBain and featured in my blog a year or so ago. So I am sure that June will be very pleased to see that someone else has enjoyed knitting it up too!

JACKIE CLAPHAM FROM SWINFORD IN LEICESTERSHIRE, UK, WAS ALSO THRILLED TO HAVE COMPLETED HER BABY BLANKET, well ahead of the arrival of her new grandchild…

 

Jackie says: “I finished my baby blanket last night. My new grandchild is due late August so it has all worked out very well. I am thrilled with it, as is my daughter and her hubby. I am just waiting for initials and a date further down the line. I’m hoping it will become a family heirloom in the future but time will tell on that one. Thank heavens for knitting, especially at the moment. Please keep putting these gorgeous designs out there.”

SANDRA COUPER FROM HELSTON IN CORNWALL, UK, COMPLETED HER BABY BLANKET TOO, and really enjoyed the whole process!

Sandra says: “All finished. A lovely project. And now getting on with this year’s Mystery Blanket!”

Thanks to Sandra and everyone who sent in photos of their gorgeous 'Love You To The Moon And Back' baby blankets. It really is uplifting to see all your wonderful work and hear all your positive comments.

HERE’S WHAT ELSE WE HAVE IN STORE FOR YOU OVER THE COMING WEEKS…

Above: Debbie's new 'Carnival Case' knitting kit, available from 6th April.

FREE DEBBIE ABRAHAMS KNITTING PATTERN: a pattern selected from Debbie’s archives will be included with all orders from Friday 3rd April (excluding Mystery Club memberships).

FREE DEBBIE ABRAHAMS KNITTING PATTERN PACK: included with all orders over £40 from Friday 3rd April, (excluding Mystery Club memberships). The pack will include three designs from Debbie's archives and a Debbie Abrahams woven label.  Packs will vary in their content.

FROM 6th APRIL:

NEW KIT
Carnival Case - a vibrantly coloured beaded and studded case suitable for a Debbie Abrahams A5 notebook or for a tablet of a similar size, knitted in Rowan Glace Cotton. 

BABY BLANKET WOVEN BAG
A unique woven bag to keep your Love You To The Moon And Back project clean while you are working, also ideal as a gift bag.

DEBBIE ABRAHAMS NOTEBOOK AND PEN
An A5 size notebook with a Debbie Abrahams engraved pen in soft lilac with silver logo, which has been designed to fit the Carnival Case. 

FROM 13th APRIL:           

NEW KIT
Sweetheart Cushion Cover - a sparkling project embellished with beaded heart motifs, knitted in Rowan Summerlite DK and Rowan Glace Cotton.

NEW KIT
Sweetheart Phone Cosy - the perfect project for a beginner with simple beading, knitted in Rowan Glace Cotton.

MYSTERY KNIT BOXES
A box filled with all sorts of knitting goodies with options of a Beginners box or an Intermediate/Advanced box. Contents will include a knitting kit, a notebook and pen or book, buttons, plus lots more (but that's a mystery until you open it!). You can choose from three colourways: Calm, Vibrant or Purple Passion. 

FROM 20th APRIL:

NEW KIT
Rainbow Purse - an easy-to-knit colourful beaded purse to keep all your bits and bobs safely stored away, knitted in Rowan Glace Cotton.

FROM 4th MAY:

NEW KIT
Autumn Bag – a beaded drawstring bag in rich Autumnal shades of Chestnut, Moss Green and Purple, knitted in Rowan Glace Cotton.

These dates are approximate and may be subject to change. However, we will let you know by email as soon as each new product is live in our shop and available to buy.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR TOP QUALITY KNITTING AND CROCHET SUPPLIES THEN WE HIGHLY RECOMMEND OUR FAVOURITE ONLINE SHOP, ‘JUST KNOTS’, run by our amazing friends, Jane and Andy Crowfoot. They are one of the largest UK specialist stockists of hooks, needles and accessories and have some fabulous things to treat yourself to: https://justknotsyarn.com/

Jane highly recommends their Namaste Budy Cases, which come in a glorious shade of purple – the perfect accessory for keeping your hooks safely stored away. These are well worth a look, as well as all the other goodies in their Aladdin’s cave of knitting and crochet supplies!

Jane is one of the most well-known British crochet and knitting designers, and there are a huge selection of her beautiful kits for sale in their online shop. She has just recently launched her brand new CAL, ‘Fruit Garden’, which is a true masterclass in crochet design. Here is a link to her gorgeous new project: https://www.janiecrow.com/fruit-garden-cal.html

I have to admit to you all that I can’t actually crochet, so I can only admire Jane’s beautiful work from afar and watch in awe as her designs are created. But those of you who can crochet can participate, so I hope that you enjoy browsing her shop and creating some of her lovely designs.

IT SEEMS THAT MANY OF YOU ARE STILL TRYING TO GUESS THE TITLE OF THIS YEAR’S MYSTERY BLANKET. We had just two successful guesses this month by Lorraine Merwin Brown and Rosy Platt, so well done ladies! But if you are still guessing, here’s another letter to help you. This month the letter I am giving you is “T”:

_  _  /  _  _  _  _  I  _  _  _ / _  A  _  T  _

Any ideas?!? If you think you know what it is, please send your guesses to Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com. There are no prizes for the correct answer – it is simply a bit of fun each month until you guess it!

THESE ARE THE FIVE SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH:

Square 9, Shingle – striped moss stitch pattern (same for both options):

Square 10 (Option One), Fossil – intarsia with small bobbles, hooked-in beads and embroidered details:

Square 10 (Option Two), Fossil – striped pattern with slipped stitches and textured stitches:

Square 16, The Beach – textured stitch pattern with hooked-in beads (same for both options):

Square 31, Slate – striped pattern with textured stitches (same for both options):

Square 45, Old Sea Wall – striped pattern with slipped and textured stitches (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. Also take note of the description under the title of each square as this tells you what the stitch structure is.

Here are some extra tips about this month’s squares…

SQUARE 9, SHINGLE: we kick off this month’s squares with a bit of revision as this is the same as Square 37 from Mail Out 1. Just remember that it uses a smaller needle than the recommended main needle size which will help to keep the moss stitch pattern neat.

SQUARE 10, FOSSIL (Option One): this is a brand new square which has a mixture of techniques to keep you on your toes, including small bobbles, hooked-in beads, plus there’s some swiss-darning and chain stitch embroidery too. As with Square 22, Option One, it is advisable to divide your yarn into small balls (or wind them onto bobbins) for each separate area of color. So no carrying yarns across the back of the work please, unless where absolutely necessary!

When you cast on you are instructed to cast on in the colours used in Row 1 of the chart. If you find this difficult to do then cast on using Scree only and then introduce the other yarn as you knit Row 1. Advice on the intarsia technique is given in the Knitting techniques section of your April Mail Out on page 21.

There is some embroidery to do after the square has been knitted and I would recommend that you block and press the square before doing this as the stitches will settle and sit more evenly. This will make it far easier to get the embroidery neat.

SQUARE 10, FOSSIL (Option Two): this is the alternative square you can knit if you don’t fancy intarsia. It’s actually the same pattern as Square 22, Option Two, Sandstone, but the soft shades of sand and brown are swapped for subtle greys.

If you find that it knits up a bit longer than Sandstone – as my test knitter did – then just make sure you ease the length in when you block and press it, and ease the width out, if necessary. Don’t worry, it will block to the right dimensions, but it might need a little help.

There are alternate rows of hooked in Pewter and Pebble, so be sure to pick up the correct colours when instructed to bead.

SQUARE 16, THE BEACH: this is the same square as Square 30 from last month’s Mail Out, an easy square to knit with hooked-in beads set between  reverse stitches in a regular 8-row repeat pattern.

Don’t forget to use a smaller needle than the recommended main needle size for this square - it’s a drop of one needle to ensure that it knits up neatly and to the correct dimensions.

SQUARE 31, SLATE: this is similar in stitch structure to Square 43 from Mail Out 1, but it’s the opposite side of the knitting that is used as the right side and this times it’s in a grey colourway.

Rows 3-5 and 18-20 (and their subsequent repeats) are actually basic fairisle, where stitches are knitted in alternate colours. So if this is a technique you have not tried before, this is a great introduction to it and a good opportunity to get to grips with the basics. Guidance is given on how to hold the yarns and work with them, so it’s pretty straightforward. If you managed to knit Square 43 without any problems, you should find this one just as easy.

AND NOW FOR A VERY EMOTIONAL STORY FROM SINEAD HAYES FROM LONDON, UK, who recently completed her 2016 Mystery Blanket, ‘A French Romance’ whilst dealing with a very difficult time in her life.

Sinead says: “I’ve finally finished the 2016 Mystery Blanket. This was completed in “binges”.....with long periods languishing in the back of my project drawer. Much of the work was done while in the depths of severe depression; knitting for me is almost instinctive.....my non-working brain found comfort in the meditation of the repetition of needle in, yarn around, pass to the other needle. I’m known for my red-velvet cupcakes, so chose to make this the central square. I’m back at work now, well for 80% of the hours, so I could afford to treat myself to a 2020 membership - a gift to myself for being out the other side. Looking forward to casting on.”

Thank you for sharing your experience with us Sinead and I am sure that your words and bravery will be of great help and encouragement to many other people. Knitting is such an amazing therapy and channels our creative energy into something beautiful and unique, enhancing our lives and giving us great satisfaction. So it is so inspiring to hear your story. I hope that this year’s Mystery Blanket brings you many moments of loveliness and that you continue to feel better and return to full health very soon.

ALL OF MY WORKSHOP DATES FOR 2020 ARE NOW ON THE EVENTS CALENDAR ON OUR WEBSITE. However, due to Covid-19, some of these dates may well have to be rescheduled. At the moment they are still planned to take place, but I would advise you to contact the individual shops nearer the time for updates on this and if you need any further details:

  • Saturday 27th June: Basic Design at Yarn Loft, 118 Hucknall Road, Nottingham NG5 1AD. Contact Doreen for more details: www.yarnloft.co.uk
  • Sunday 28th June: Subject to be confirmed at The Knitting Corner, No 5 Mitchells Shopping, Weeford Road, Sutton Coldfield B75 6NA. Contact Amy for more details: 0121 792 0774
  • Saturday 18th July: Sparkling Colour at Osprey, The Saddlery, Woodcock Hill, Coopers Green Lane, Hatfield, Herts AL4 9HJ. Contact Donna for more details: osprey@mezcrafts.com
  • Sunday 11th October: Subject to be confirmed at I Love Ewe, 4 Stamford Walk, Stamford, Lincolnshire PE9 2JE. Contact Rachel for more details: www.i-love-ewe.com
  • Saturday 7th November: Professional Finishing 2 at Yarn Loft, 118 Hucknall Road, Nottingham NG5 1AD. Contact Doreen for more details: www.yarnloft.co.uk
  • Friday 13th November: Beaded Project at Black Sheep Wools, The Warehouse Studios, Glaziers Lane, Warrington WA3 4AQ. Contact Amy for more details: blacksheepwools.com
  • Saturday 14th November: Festive Project at Black Sheep Wools, The Warehouse Studios, Glaziers Lane, Warrington WA3 4AQ. Contact Amy for more details: www.blacksheepwools.com

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE 2020 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 THREE (APRIL): this month’s winner is member 407, Laura Connelly from Los Angeles, California, USA. Well done Laura! 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: 2020 Mystery Cushion Club; 2021 Mystery Blanket Club.

Thank you for reading my blog, and I hope that it has managed to lift your spirits and inspire your creative thinking. I am just so thankful that I have my knitting needles and yarn for company as we live through these days of uncertainty and insecurity. You must remember that wherever you are and whatever you are experiencing, my Mystery Blanket Club is a special place you can come to for respite and relief. We are all knitting this blanket in many different countries around the world, but we are actually one big friendly, happy family and a great bunch of people who are here to help and support each other. So please keep sending us your cheerful and inspirational stories, and keep in touch with each other too through all the social platforms that we are so lucky to have. Never has our knitting been so important to us, so we must use this precious time to put all our wonderful skills to use and create lots of lovely things that make us happy. Until next time, keep safe and well and I look forward to seeing you back here on the 1st May,  Debbie x


4 comments

  • Having been ill myself and now looking after my mum after having pneumonia, it’s lovely to lose myself in my very first mystery blanket. My lovely staff at work clubbed together for my 60th last October to help me pay for it so it will be a lovely keepsake. Happy knitting everyone. Xx

    Sandie Angelo
  • Thank you, thank you, thank you. I did not work last year’s blanket as I was moving from West London to the Notts/Derbyshire border knowing that I would be undergoing cancer treatment and would not be up to it. The move went smoothly – we love where we are and have some fantastic neighbours. But like the knitting, exploring our new surroundings was just too hard for me. And this year was to be the year we got out and about and ‘found’ places. Well that was the plan! Now I’m high risk and along with everyone else not going out unless I have to. So seeing my squares row and the blanket appear is fantastic! I will get to the shop – I will – just don’t know when! Stay safe everyone x

    Suzanne Miller
  • I am really grateful for the Blanket as a project to focus on during these dark days.

    Ros Hext
  • Ah the joys of living in the US. We may be locked in BUT I received my April installment on March 31 Eastern Standard Time – a delightful surprise.

    Laura Jacobs

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