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Mystery Blanket Club 2020: post 4, May

HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE MAY MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG. I hope that this fourth post for the 2020 Mystery Blanket finds you safe and well. We have been very touched by the many messages of support and appreciation which have been sent to us over the past four weeks, and it is very encouraging to hear that you are keeping busy with your knitting projects.

I know that several of you have dug out your incomplete Mystery Blanket and Cushion projects from previous years and are focused on getting them completed. So this is great news and an inspiration to anyone who has any WIPs lurking in their cupboards – let’s make good use of our time and create lots of beautiful things to keep us happy and smiling!

THE MYSTERY BLANKET PARCELS HAVE NOW ALL BEEN POSTED, and we have done our very best to get them on their way to you as soon as we can. Some of the yarns in your Mystery Blanket kit come from Italy and unfortunately they locked down their warehouses just before our yarns were due to be despatched. So it’s been all hands on deck at Rowan to get together what we needed for our kits from other sources, which thankfully they finally managed to do. But this has caused delays in some of the parcels being posted out. So we ask if you can please bear with us during this time – your parcel will arrive with you soon, the post is just taking longer than usual in the current climate.

THE MAY PATTERNS HAVE BEEN EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON THE 1ST MAY, 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 23rd April followed by the UK on the 28th April, so if you have not already received them, they should be with you soon. In the current situation we are in you may find that they take longer than usual to arrive, especially to overseas destinations. We did plan to get them sent out a lot earlier, however due to a reduced workforce and working hours at the printers, this was the earliest that we could get them printed and posted to you.

YOU WILL FIND IN YOUR YARN PARCEL A SMALL COLOURED ENVELOPE IN WHICH IS YOUR WOVEN LABEL. We put them inside a sealed envelope so that you can decide whether or not you want to reveal the theme – that is, if you haven’t already guessed it…

THE 2020 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB HAS NOW SOLD OUT, so we would like to thank all of you who signed up and are joining me on this exciting new knitting adventure. If you didn’t get the chance to join then you can be added to our waiting list by emailing Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com. We sometimes get cancellations of memberships in which case we will contact you to offer you a place. The Mystery Cushion Club begins on 15th June 2020.

Above: the 2016 Mystery Cushion, 'Metropolis'.

I did say in my April blog that we were planning to post the Mystery Cushion parcels early. However, with all the colours in this kit coming from Italy, Rowan have had to source what we need from other warehouses around Europe, which has consequently delayed the delivery to us. But the good news is that we now have all the yarns for these kits, so we are planning to start posting them to the members within the next couple of weeks.

WE HAVE BEEN OVERWHELMED BY THE RESPONSE TO ALL OUR NEW KITS AND PRODUCTS IN OUR WEB-SHOP, and want to thank you for continuing to support us. Our Mystery Knit Boxes took us all by surprise with the whole lot selling out within an hour and twenty minutes of being launched! We have now posted all of the Mystery Knit Boxes and are working our way through the huge waiting list we have for them. So if you are on this list we do hope that we will be able to send you a box – although stocks are limited.

The exciting news is that we are planning to launch a Christmas Mystery Knit Box in the Autumn which will include a brand new festive knitting kit which will not be available this year to buy in our online shop. So if you fancy a special treat for yourself, or a unique gift for a friend or family member, then this could be for you! We will let you know as soon as they are launched – but watch out as we expect them to sell out very quickly again.

JENNY AT BEADYKNITS HAS BEEN VERY BUSY DESIGNING SOME GORGEOUS NEW CUSHION COVER KITS, which are currently available to purchase in two colourways. She is also working on other colourways for this kit, which will be available within the next few months.

This is what is available to buy now:

Above: 'Mexicana' (front and back panels).

Below: 'Nougat' (front and back panels).

Jenny’s beaded knitted cushion-cover kits are available in two colourways:  bright and bold 'Mexicana' or cool and calm 'Nougat'. They can be used as either a display cushion or a back rest, due to the rectangular shape. The kit is ideal for a relatively new knitter who wants to practice different knitting techniques over a longer project. Finished size accommodates an 18” x 12” pillow (pillow not included in kit).

Each kit contains the following to make one cushion cover:

7 full balls of Rico Cotton Essentials DK yarn

Debbie Abrahams size 6 glass beads

5 x 18mm buttons

Full colour pattern instructions with photos and charts

Price of kit: £38 (plus shipping)

Please contact jenny@beadyknits.com for more details.

(Please note that these kits are not on sale on the Debbie Abrahams Ltd website. They must be purchased directly from Jenny at BeadyKnits).

Happy shopping!

THERE ARE STILL A FEW NEW KITS DUE TO BE LAUNCHED IN OUR ONLINE SHOP OVER THE COMING MONTHS INCLUDING…

Rainbow Purse - a colourful beaded purse to keep all your bits and bobs safely stored away, knitted in Rowan Glace Cotton. Available in two colourways – go for Hot Rainbow or Cool Rainbow. Launch date Monday 4th May 2020.

Above: beading detail from 'Hot Rainbow' Purse.

Below: beading detail from 'Cool Rainbow' Purse.

Hyacinth Cushion Cover - an all-over beaded lace pattern knitted in Rowan Summerlite 4-ply Cotton in a soft shade of green with purple beads. Launch date from 18th May 2020.

Autumn Bag – a beaded drawstring bag in rich Autumnal shades of Chestnut, Moss Green and Purple, knitted in Rowan Glace Cotton. Launch date from 1st June 2020.

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.

THE ‘LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK’ BABY BLANKET IS CURRENTLY STILL OUT OF STOCK. So if you are on the waiting list for this, please bear with us. The yarn for this kit comes from Italy so we are unable to order any more stock for it until their warehouses reopen. As yet we do not have a date when this will happen, but we will let you know as soon as we have any further news. When the kit comes back into stock it will be available in two colourways, Classic or Contemporary.

Below: Contemporary colourway.

Above: Classic colourway.

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.

IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR TOP QUALITY KNITTING AND CROCHET SUPPLIES THEN WE ARE RECOMMENDING AGAIN THIS MONTH OUR FAVOURITE ONLINE SHOP, ‘JUST KNOTS’, run by our lovely 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/

I know how much Jane and Andy would love to hear from you, so why not visit their online shop today to browse through all the lovely things they have in store!

THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET IS STILL A ‘MYSTERY’ FOR MANY OF YOU. And as we are almost half through the project this is a bit of a record in comparison to previous years! However, we did get a few correct guesses from these very happy people: Felicity Miller, Ruth French, various members of the Cossons family including Alison, Graham and Tom – a joint effort! – and Catherine. So if you are still guessing, here is another letter which might help you work out what it is. This month the letter I am giving you is “S”:

_  _  _  /  _  _  _  _  I  _  _  S / _  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 1: Sand and Surf 2 – striped pattern with textured stitches (same for both options):

Square 2: Shells 2 – cable and lace pattern with hooked-in beads (same for both options):

Square 17: Slate 2 – striped pattern with textured stitches (same for both options):

Square 24: Fraggle Rock – lace pattern and hooked-in beads (same for both options):

Square 38: Option One, Pebbles  – intarsia with small bobbles, hooked-in beads and embroidered details:

Square 38: Option Two, Fossil – striped pattern with slipped and textured stitches:

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 1, SAND AND SURF 2: at first glance this might look like Square 43 from Mail Out 1. However, there is a difference as this time the stocking stitch side of the knitting is used as the right side. The colours are the same as Square 43, so you just need to keep an eye on whether you should be knitting or purling the stitches.

Rows 4-6 and 19-21 (and their subsequent repeats) are basically fairisle, so make sure that you keep the stitches spread to the correct width as you work across them to avoid puckering. They are actually very easy rows to knit and are a great introduction to the fairisle technique if this is a new technique for you.

SQUARE 2, SHELLS 2: this is variation of Square 44, which is also from Mail Out 1. But watch out as the direction that the cables are crossed is reversed. The beading and lace stitches between the cables remain the same however.  

A few of you have got in touch about Square 44 to say that after the increase row you have not got the correct amount of stitches. Every time this has been because the yarn has not been held at the front as instructed in the pattern. So just to clarify, you must keep the yarn held at the front as you sl 1 knitwise K1 psso, otherwise the yarn over (increase) will not work, which consequently will result in not enough stitches on the needle at the end of these rows. I know that it is instinctive to take the yarn back between the needles to K1, but you must not do this. If followed correctly this pattern does work, so if it does not, just check very carefully what you are doing as this is, without doubt, the reason why.

SQUARE 17, SLATE 2: so, this (and Square 31 from Mail Out 3) are similar to Squares 1 and 43 in that both the stocking stitch side and the reverse stocking stitch side of the knitting are used as the right sides. But this time it’s the reverse side which is used as the right side – which makes it the same as Square 43 but knitted in a different colourway. It this is all beginning to sound a bit confusing, please don’t worry too much about it. If you simply follow the pattern instructions it will work out!

SQUARE 24, FRAGGLE ROCK: this is a new square in the blanket which combines lace stitches with hooked-in beads. It has a variable stitch count which means that you won’t have the same number of stitches at the end of every row. However, it is stated at the end of every row how many stitches you should have, so you can sure you are knitting it correctly.

There is a new abbreviation in this pattern which is ‘M3’. This means ‘make 3 stitches’ and it is explained in the Abbreviations on page 23.

And one last thing to mention is that this square uses a size smaller needle than the main needle size of 3.50mm. So if you are using a different main needle to the suggested size of 3.50mm, you will need to grade up or down the needle you use for this square by one metric size.

SQUARE 38, PEBBLES (Option One): this square has an alternative option, so this is the more tricky of the two as it involves intarsia (colour knitting). It also has small bobbles, hooked-in beads and chain stitch embroidery, so there’s plenty to keep you busy!

Before you start you will need to wind off a few balls of the background colour (Scree) so that you can separate it to go around the pebble shapes. Remember, there should be little, if any, carrying across of yarns at the back of the work, otherwise you will use up a lot more yarn to knit this square and risk uneven tension.

We decided to write the names of the colours to use for embroidery onto the chart to make it clearer to follow. So hopefully this will help to distinguish in particular the Silvery Blue and White which are a very similar colour in both the image and the chart.

SQUARE 38, FOSSIL (Option Two): this is the same stitch structure as Square 22 (Option Two) from Mail Out 2, but it uses different colours. Also note that there are small knots (abbreviated in the pattern as ‘mk’), which are very difficult to see in the image on page 18. They are on Row 3 and its subsequent repeats (and on Row 75 also). They are very similar to the bobbles that were in previous squares, but they are just fastened off differently.

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

SANDY CERATO FROM MARYLAND, USA, HAD THIS VERY USEFUL TIP TO PASS ON ABOUT PICKING UP STITCHES. You might find this helpful as well as time saving…

Sandy says: “I’ve been meaning to offer a suggestion for picking up stitches with a long tail. I use a circular needle so I don’t have to take the stitches off the needle, I just slide them to other side.  
Much easier!”

Great tip Sandy, thank you!

CAROLINE FERTLEMAN FROM LONDON, UK, THOUGHT YOU MIGHT LIKE THIS SUGGESTION OF HOW TO PASS YOUR TIME (WHILE KNITTING, OF COURSE!)…

Caroline says: “Thanks for this marvellous Mystery Blanket project. It has much wider ramifications in the current climate. You can see my last blog for a long list of podcasts to listen to whilst doing the Mystery Blanket. 

https://howtimegoesfasterasyougetolder.blog/

Thanks for this Caroline, it is always useful to know what is good to listen to when there are so many podcasts out there to choose from!

MARGUERITE CURRAN FROM ESSEX, UK, WAS THRILLED TO HAVE COMPLETED HER 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET, ‘WINTER WONDERLAND’. And she found time to make some matching Let It Snow Mitts too!

 

Marguerite says: “I combined the two options in my blanket.  I also managed to knit four pairs of mitts (two of which have already gone to my sister and a friend!). I am going to give the blanket to my niece for her birthday. She really loved the one I knitted in 2018. I thoroughly enjoyed knitting this pattern. It was so different to the 2018 mystery blanket.”

I am sure that your niece will be overjoyed to receive such a special and unique birthday present, she is a very lucky lady to have such a generous aunt!

IT IS GREAT TO HEAR THAT SO MANY OF YOU HAVE BEEN USING YOUR TIME IN LOCKDOWN TO FINISH OFF YOUR MYSTERY PROJECTS. Here are a few stories from members who have recently completed their Mystery Baby Blankets, beginning with Anne Parker from Shropshire, UK.

Anne says: “I thought you might like to see what I did with the baby blanket. My grandson was born in December and I can't deliver it to him yet. His Dad's favourite colours are turquoise and orange so I adapted the patterns a little, and added a couple of personalised squares. I decided to back it this time and found some beautiful fabric - just the right colours and spaceships to match the theme!”

 

What a splendid job you have made of the blanket Anne, and the perfect gift for your new grandson. I just hope that you are able to give it to him in person soon. The personalisation is fabulous and makes it so unique!

Jan Osman from Monmouthshire, UK, was very pleased with her Classic Baby Blanket. Isn’t it beautifully knitted!

 

Jan says: “I wanted to let you know how much I enjoyed knitting the Baby Blanket - and the recipients are thrilled.  I completed it with a couple of small modifications!”

Pippa Taylor from Cambridge, UK, was also very pleased to have completed her Mystery Baby Blanket, and she is now raring to go with all her other projects!

 

Pippa says: “You often kindly ask to see pictures of your completed Mystery Blankets, so here is mine. I don’t have a baby in mind for it, so it has the initials of my daughter and son (L and M) and L’s sons, my grandsons, (A, E and O). I knitted it exactly to the pattern until almost the very end. I did all four borders at once, as I like mitred corners, and did an applied I-cord bind off. There’s also a small stocking stitch tab in the centre bottom, to avoid the jogs from one round to the next.”

This is super Pippa and I love the way you have done the mitred corners – what a great idea and something I might try with my next blanket!

And finally Barbara Quissell from Colorado, USA, who knitted not one, but two Baby Blankets for two very special little people…

Barbara says: “My daughter had her twin boys last week and the blankets were finished just in time! My brother works at Space X and the idea for a rocket ship followed a discussion we had about a launch as I was contemplating which pattern to do for that special central square.  Thank you so much for sponsoring this KAL!”

A big pat on the back for you Barbara, this is amazing work! And the addition of the space rockets in the centre squares is brilliant! You’ve chosen great colours too for the second colourway. Purple’s always a winner for me, it’s my favourite colour!

ALL OF MY WORKSHOP DATES FOR 2020 ARE STILL PLANNED AT THE MOMENT TO GO AHEAD. However, due to Covid-19, some of these dates may have to be rescheduled. So 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 FOUR (MAY): this month’s winner is member 324, Jo Rehbein from Clintonville, Wisconsin, USA. Well done Jo! 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 membership for the Debbie Abrahams 2021 Mystery Blanket Club.

Thank you for all your contributions this month, they not only keep me smiling but I am sure they lift everyone's spirits. It is great to see all the fabulous projects you are knitting, and inspiring to hear your positive comments. We are doing our best here to keep you busy with lots of new kits and ideas, and have lots more in store for you over the coming weeks. In the meantime, please stay in touch, keep safe and well, and keep crafting away! Until next month, take care of yourselves,  Debbie x


2 comments

  • I just had to let you know that I received my second shipment of yarn here in Colorado last week. With the hardship and new rules of life as it is today, we leave parcels in the garage for a few days before handling. I had completely forgotten about my box when my husband brought in the gorgeous collection of yarns and beads. I was so taken by the beautifully vivid colors that I just sat and held the bag for a while, taking in the beauty. Thank you for making this such a pleasurable experience during these trying times and thank you, also, for your perseverance in making it all happen. Cheers!

    Kathy McClurg
  • I have found a simple way of attaching beads, using a needle and thread , button twist is the best (much kinder on the fingers), attach a 12-15 inch thread firmly to a screw of paper at one end, then thread needle. Pick up beads and let slide down, pass the needle through the stitch then through a bead then gently slide the bead onto the stitch, the thread can be removed by reversing through the stitch. Just one thing if using mixed colours , pick up in reverse order!

    Lilian Breare

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