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Mystery Blanket Club 2020: post 5, June

WELCOME TO THE JUNE MYSTERY BLANKET BLOG! 

And as we begin the fifth instalment of this year’s Club, I hope that you are all continuing to keep safe, well and busy. We’ve been enjoying the glorious weather here in Nottingham and although we are still extremely busy with new designs and orders, our daily walks around our local streets have been a really lovely escape from being indoors. Houses have been decorated with coloured bunting, there is street art on the pavements and walls, children’s paintings in the windows and poetry for all to stop and read. This explosion of creativity has created such a positive energy in our local community and is a joy to see. And likewise, the emails you have sent into us about what you have been working on while in lockdown have also been very encouraging to read.

So, with this month’s Mystery Blanket patterns ready and raring to go, let’s see what June has in store for you all…

WE ARE AWARE THAT SOME OF YOU ARE STILL WAITING FOR YOUR SECOND MYSTERY BLANKET PARCELS TO ARRIVE, which is hugely frustrating. But we ask you to please continue to be patient as we believe that they will all be delivered successfully. Each day we are hearing of parcels arriving in different countries all over the world, so they are getting to their destinations. But because of the current global situation there are delays and unfortunately there is nothing that we can do to speed them up. Sue has tracking numbers for those who paid for this extra service, so if you don’t have your tracking number, please contact Sue and she will give it to you: sue@debbieabrahams.com

THE JUNE PATTERNS HAVE BEEN EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON THE 1ST JUNE, so the file should be in your inbox. But remember that you can also download it from your account on our website.

The printed patterns were posted to the overseas members on the 20th May followed by the UK on the 27th May, so if you have not already received them they should be with you soon. Our printer is continuing to work with a reduced workforce and shorter working hours, so this means that we are having to wait longer than usual for our order to be completed. So we ask if you can please bear with us on this, and we will do our very best to get the printed patterns posted to you as soon as we can each month.

SO WHAT’S NEW AND WHAT IS THERE TO LOOK FORWARD TO OVER THE COMING MONTHS? I have been busy working on several new projects, some of which I am launching slightly later than previously announced. But don’t worry, they will be available soon!

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 12th June 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 3rd July 2020.

Neon Rainbow – a third colourway in the Rainbow purse collection, knitted in Rowan Glace Cotton with seven colours of Debbie Abrahams Beads. Launch date from 24th July 2020.

Below: Hot Rainbow, kit currently available to buy.

Above: Cool Rainbow, kit currently available to buy.

Mystery Blanket Club 2021 – applications will open on 31st July for this brand new Mystery knitting adventure. We are introducing an extended payment plan which means you can opt to spread your payments over a longer period of time than previously offered with no administration fee. More details about this project will be released in my July blog.

Festive Mystery Knit Boxes – a box full of treats for you or a great gift for a friend or relative. Included in each box is a brand new festive knitting kit designed by Debbie, as well as a minimum of six other mystery gifts. Launch date from 1st September 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.

BEADYKNITS HAVE JUST LAUNCHED A FABULOUS RANGE OF SMALL COLOURFUL KNITTING KITS, which are ideal as a starter kit for someone who wants to learn how to knit with beads.

Two gorgeous colourways are now available in Jenny's popular Lavender Bags: 'Aztec' - bright and zesty and 'Sweet Pea' - fresh and zingy. They can be hung anywhere around the home, to give a pleasant and calming aroma of Lavender.

Below: 'Aztec' colourway.

Above: 'Sweet Pea' colourway.

The kit contains the following and is packaged in an pretty organza bag:

Rico Cotton Essentials DK yarn

Debbie Abrahams size 6 glass beads

Length of satin ribbon

*Pack of dried lavender (UK only)

Full colour pattern instructions including tension guide, photos and graphs

*Due to export restrictions, I am unable to send seeded Lavender to Europe, USA and Worldwide.

Price of kit: £11.60 + shipping

Shipping costs:

UK: £3.10

EUR: £5.35

USA: £5.80

ROW: £7.18

Contact Jenny at jenny@beadyknits.com  for more details.

Please note that this kit is not available to buy from the Debbie Abrahams Ltd website. It must be purchased directly from Jenny at BeadyKnits.

THE ‘LOVE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK’ BABY BLANKET IS STILL CURRENTLY OUT OF STOCK. However, due to the gradual reopening of the yarn warehouses in Italy we have now been able to order the yarn for these kits. So we are expecting both our Classic and Contemporary colourways to be available to purchase in our online shop from mid-June 2020.

FIVE MONTHS INTO THE PROJECT AND THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET IS STILL PROVING TO BE A ‘MYSTERY’ FOR SOME OF YOU. However, we did get some correct guesses this month from Gail Coles, Karen Marshall, Evelyn Deasy, and two joints efforts - Kate and Mike Plantholt (ggod to see the husbands getting involved!), and Kate Wood and her mother Sue. So congratulations to all of you! But if you are still guessing, here is another letter to help you. This month the letter I am giving you is “H”:

_  _  _  /  _  _  _  _  I  _  _  S / _  A  _  T  H

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 3, Old Sea Wall – striped pattern with slipped and textured stitches (same for both options):

Square 32, Little Ripples – cable and lace pattern with hooked-in beads (same for both options):

Square 39, Ocean Blues – moss stitch and reverse stocking stitch stripes (same for both options):

Square 46, Shimmer – hooked-in bead pattern (same for both options):

Square 47, Little Waves  – three colour slip stitch pattern (same for both options):

There are no options to choose from this month, so you are all knitting the same squares. But there are three brand new squares to knit up.

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 3, OLD SEA WALL: this is exactly the same as Square 43 from Mail Out 3. It combines sets of slipped stitches with stitches in between which are either knitted or purled. The yarn is held at the front (RS) of the work as you slip the stitches to create horizontal strands. Care should be taken not to let the stitches bunch up on the needle while you work these rows otherwise there is a risk of puckering. So keep the stitches spread to the correct width on the needle and to achieve a flat and even tension.

There are more rows in this square than in other squares so you will have to ease in the extra rows when you sew them together later on. I found that when I blocked this square I had to stretch it out sideways and ease the length in. I was then able to achieve a perfect square which after blocking and pressing retained it’s shape.

SQUARE 32, LITTLE RIPPLES: this is a new square in the design which combines small intricate cables with lace stitches and hooked-in beads. You will recognise the beaded lace pattern from the square Shells, but the difference is that this has four different coloured beads in it rather than just one.

You can choose to work from either a worded pattern or a chart – or both if you prefer. But you need to refer to the worded instructions for Row 3 and Row 7 for these chart rows and their subsequent repeats. Advice in the Pattern notes and tips on page 8 gives you further details about this.

Just a reminder as well that you need to keep the yarn HELD AT THE FRONT as you work the instruction, ‘sl 1 knitwise K1 psso’ – in which I purposely left out any commas so that it flows in one continuous instruction. If you take the yarn to the back at any point while working this instruction you will not have the correct number of stitches at the end of the row. So be warned!

SQUARE 39, OCEAN BLUES: this is similar to Square 23 from Mail Out 2, but it uses a whole set of different colours. There is a gentle graduation from greys through to blues, with alternate bands of moss stitch and reverse stocking stitch repeated throughout. It uses two different needle sizes so just make sure that you remember to change them over when instructed to ensure a neat and even tension.

SQUARE 46, SHIMMER: this is a new square in the design which will test your patience with hooking in beads! They are hooked-in on both right side and wrong side rows.

Don’t be alarmed by the hooking-in of beads on the cast-off row. It’s no different to hooking in beads on rows, but you will be casting off stitches in between.

SQUARE 47, LITTLE WAVES: this is the third new square in your patterns this month which is an interesting one to knit with horizontal strands which are pulled up to create the effect of little waves. As with Square 3 it is important to keep the stitches spread to the correct width on the needle when you are instructed to slip stitches to avoid puckering.

On Row 11 (and it’s subsequent repeats), you are instructed to pull up the strands and knit them together with the next stitch, after which you slip the strands to the back of the work. This might sound a little confusing when first read, but in practice it is simple to do. And if any of you knitted the 2019 Mystery Blanket, ‘Winter Wonderland’ you will recognise this technique from the square called ‘Glisten’. Give it a go and see how you get on!

A FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTION IS WHY DO I INSTRUCT TO CAST OFF THE SQUARES AND PICK UP THE STITCHES FOR THE NEXT SQUARE – rather then putting them on a holder and knitting on. It’s a good question and one which I have a very good answer for! The weight of a completed blanket can be heavy. So the seams which are created between each square (whether they are sewn together or picked up) create strengthening points throughout the blanket. This is important to maintain the shape of the blanket and will prevent it from stretching. It also helps to define the shape of each individual square, resulting in a crisper, cleaner finish to the completed piece of work. However, this is a merely a suggestion as to how I think you should knit the blanket, and if you prefer to ‘knit on’ rather than cast off, then it’s entirely up to you.

A COUPLE OF YOU HAVE BEEN IN TOUCH ABOUT WHAT YOU HAVE BEEN KNITTING OVER THE PAST FEW WEEKS. And I begin with MOIRA STUART from Feltham in the UK who has been busy knitting up this gorgeous little baby jacket using her leftover yarns from the Mystery Baby Blanket.

Moira knitted the Classic colourway, and I think that her use of the colours she had left over look fabulous in this jacket. What a fantastic way to use up all those bits and pieces. And it complements the blanket beautifully creating a lovely gift set for one very lucky little baby!

ELIZABETH BLATT from Los Angeles, USA was thrilled to have completed her Carnival Case. She has knitted it beautifully with every stitch and bead looking perfect! Well done Elizabeth, it looks stunning!

AND TO FINISH, HERE’S A LOVELY COMMENT FROM JEAN ALEXANDER from Inverness in Scotland, UK about a square from last month’s patterns.

Jean says: “I loved the name of one of the new squares, ‘Fraggle Rock’. Here is our Cocker Spaniel, his name is Fraggle!!!”

What a lovely picture of Fraggle, and how funny that he shares the same name! I wonder if there are any more pets out there who share the name with any of this year’s blanket squares? If there is then drop me a line and let me know!

DUE TO COVID-19, SOME OF MY WORKSHOP DATES FOR 2020 HAVE NOW BEEN EITHER CANCELLED OR RE-SCHEDULED. And for any of the other dates I would advise you to contact the individual shops nearer the time for updates and further information:

  • Saturday 27th June: Basic Design at Yarn Loft, 118 Hucknall Road, Nottingham NG5 1AD. Contact Doreen for more details: www.yarnloft.co.uk. Re-scheduled to Saturday 7th November.
  • 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. Workshop cancelled.
  • 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.  Workshop cancelled.
  • 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
  • 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 (JUNE): this month’s winner is member 446, Karen Keatinge from Angels Camp, California, 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
  • A £15 voucher towards a membership for the Debbie Abrahams 2021 Mystery Blanket Club.
I hope that you find the squares a welcome escape this month from whatever situation you are in, and that they continue to inspire you to be creative and happy. I have plenty here to keep me busy and will be doing my best to get all my new projects ready as soon as I can for anyone who wants a new knitting challenge. Let’s hope that the sun continues to shine (but with a bit of rain please for the very thirsty plants!) and that we continue to keep busy and positive. And if you have an interesting story about the blanket or any of my knitting projects, don’t forget to send them in to share them with all the other members – it’s always a joy to hear from you! In the meantime, keep safe and well and I look forward to seeing you back here on the 1st June! Debbie x

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