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Mystery Blanket Club 2020: post 7, August

HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE SEVENTH INSTALMENT OF THE 2020 MYSTERY BLANKET! And as temperatures soar this weekend in the UK, I feel that Summer has finally arrived as we look forward to a cheerful and sunny start to the Summer holidays.

For many of us lockdown and self-isolation are still very much part of our daily lives. However, the good news is that whether you are at home or enjoying a break away somewhere, I have plenty of new treats in store to keep you busy. There's the launch of my brand new 2021 Mystery Blanket Club, some gorgeous new cushion kits from BeadyKnits, and a new bag kit in the Debbie Abrahams collection to be launched within the next couple of weeks. And with the August Mystery Blanket patterns ready and raring to go, and the Mystery Cushion Club in full swing, it’s going to be another very exciting month!

Now for this month’s news…

THE AUGUST PATTERNS WERE EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON THE 1ST AUGUST, 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 21st July followed by the UK on the 29th July, so if you have not already received them they should be with you very soon.

YOU CAN NOW ACCESS PATTERN ADDENDUMS ON OUR WEBSITE. So it’s a good idea to check it out before you start knitting a new square. You can access the page by scrolling down to the bottom of the Home page where you will see a link called ‘Addendum’. On this page you will find addendums for the 2020 Mystery Blanket and Mystery Cushion, as well as my published books.

We check our patterns very carefully. However, despite a thorough test knit and several pairs of eyes scanning the pattern instructions, some errors do unfortunately still occur. However, with this handy page now at your fingertips you can find out whether there are any amendments and knit on with confidence!

IN OUR MAIL OUTS SOME OF THE PHOTOS OF THE KNITTED SQUARES HAVE BEEN CROPPED so that they are a uniform size. But unfortunately this means that some of the stitches and rows are missing from view. So if you want to see them uncropped, they are visible in the section below where I give advice about each of the individual squares.

I AM THRILLED TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE 2021 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB HAS NOW BEEN LAUNCHED, and is available on our website to sign up to today! So if you fancy taking up the Mystery Blanket challenge again next year, you can join the club right now by purchasing your membership in our online shop.

We have some fabulous news! We have a great Early Bird special offer for everyone who signs up before the 31st August. You will receive the pattern and beads for an exclusive Debbie Abrahams accessory design which will only be available to our Early Bird members. Plus we will send you a 15% discount voucher which can be used in our online shop whenever you fancy treating yourself to something new from our Debbie Abrahams collection. The knitting pattern will be emailed to you and the beads will be included with your first yarn parcel. When you purchase your membership we will email you a code for the discount voucher which can be used once in our online shop at anytime with no expiry date. It can be used for any purchases excluding Mystery Clubs.

If you would prefer to pay for your Club membership in monthly instalments then we are introducing an extended payment plan which means you can spread your payments over five payments with no interest or administration fee. And the even better news is if you sign up to this before the 31st August you too will be eligible for the Early Bird special offer.

The previous two Mystery Blankets have focused on soft colours with cosy yarns to match. However, next year sees a return to a bold, vibrant colour palette, combining together several of Rowan’s best loved yarns from their Autumn/Winter collection including Felted Tweed, Alpaca Soft DK, Alpaca Classic and Softyak.  I am thrilled to be able to tell you that also included in the palette are some bespoke shades of Pure Wool DK which have been dyed up exclusively for this project. These shades will only be available to buy in the blanket kit, so they really are super special! And of course there are plenty of beads in it too to add a touch of sparkle!  Techniques will include fairisle and intarsia as well as textured stitches, cables and stripes. Two options will be offered on some of the more tricky squares which will enable knitters of all skill levels to take part.

With many people around the world anticipating a prolonged period of keeping safe and staying at home, a Mystery Blanket knitting kit is the perfect project to keep you busy and focused through the months ahead. We are expecting a high demand for memberships, and with the Club limited to five hundred members, it would be wise to secure your place early to make sure that you don’t miss out. There is a signing up deadline of 31st December 2020, however, the Club will close if the memberships sell out before this.

You can visit my online shop today to purchase your membership. You will find various options for UK, Europe and World Zones 1, 2 and 3 including Printed Patterns and Tracked delivery. Please note that due to the uncertainty of Covid-19 and possible disruptions to postal services, Tracked and/or Signed delivery is mandatory on all World memberships.

If you want to find out more about next year’s Mystery Blanket, then pop across to the FAQ page on our website where you will find lots more information under ‘Mystery Club FAQS’: https://debbieabrahams.com/pages/faq

So, see you next year?!? You’ve got until 31st December (or sooner if it sells out) to make up your mind…

LOOKING FOR A NEW KNITTING KIT RIGHT NOW?!? Then you might be interested to know that BEADYKNITS have launched two brand new colourways in their cushion collection. The busy design makes them look quite complicated to knit but in fact they are an easy project and ideal as a starter kit for someone who wants to learn how to knit with beads.

‘Flame' - hot & fiery:

'Peacock' - stately & opulent:

They can be used as either a display cushion or a back rest, due to the rectangular shape. The finished size accommodates an 18” x 12” pillow (pillow not included in kit).

The kit contains: 7 full balls of Quality Rico Cotton Essentials DK yarn, Debbie Abrahams size 6 glass beads, 5 x 18mm buttons and full colour pattern instructions including tension guide, photos and graphs. (You must supply your own knitting needles and a sewing-up needle).

Price:

Knitting kit: £38.00

Shipping:

UK: £3.10

EUROPE: £7.25

WORLD ZONE 3 (USA): £15.18

WORLD ZONES 1 & 2: £10.83

Please contact Jenny directly at jenny@beadyknits.com for more details.

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

SO NOW IT’S TIME TO HAVE ANOTHER GO AT GUESSING THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET! I am glad to say that for some of you the guessing game is over, so well done to Katie Thompson, Sandra Vargas, Sophie Houston and Anna Wallis de Garay who have all guessed it correctly. But for those of you who are still guessing, here is another letter to help you. This month the letter I am giving you is “U”:

_  U  _  /  _  _  _  C  I  _  U  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. There are no options this month so you are all knitting the same squares…

Square 5, Little Waves – three colour slip stitch pattern (same for both options):

Square 13, Heath – striped moss stitch pattern (same for both options):

Square 19, Perfect Storm 2 – moss pattern with textured stitches (same for both options):

Square 20, Buds – textured stitch pattern with hooked-in beads (same for both options):

Square 21, Gorse  – striped lace stitch pattern (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 5, LITTLE WAVES: it’s a nice easy start to this month’s squares as this is exactly the same as Square 47 from Mail Out 5. It has long strands across sets of slipped stitches which are picked up and knitted to create little loops in alternating colours of Lagoon and Silvery Blue. Keep the stitches on these rows spread to the correct width so that the knitting does not pucker. And remember also the changes in needle size which will help to keep all the stitches and rows neat and tidy.

SQUARE 13, HEATH: this is a variation on Squares 9 and 37 from Mail Outs 3 and 1 respectively. Shades of brown and grey have been swapped for blues and greens in an all-over moss stitch pattern. The whole square is knitted on small needles to ensure a neat tension. Working yarns are carried up the edge of the work until you are instructed to cut them off. There’s not much else to say about this one, it’s a another easy to knit square, so you can sit back with a cuppa and a biscuit and enjoy!

SQUARE 19, PERFECT STORM 2: so, this is square which is the reverse side of Square 33, Perfect Storm. But it is also the same stitch structure as Squares 1, 17, 31 and 43. This time it’s the stocking stitch side of the knitting which is the right side, but apart from that it’s virtually the same. There are several changes of needle size for the different stitch structures, so don’t forget to change them over to keep the width of the fabric the same from cast-on to cast-off.

SQUARE 20, BUDS: it was some time ago that you knitted Squares 16 and 30, The Beach. But this month it’s back but in a different colourway and in a palette of greens and blues. This all-over beaded square is a bit of a hooking-in marathon, but as long as you get the beads in the correct sequence you should be ok.

Our test knitter Andrea had a good little tip for this. She found it much easier to have the beads in four small separate dishes and then she rotated them round as she hooked them in. So perhaps you could give this a go instead of following the threading up advice given on page 14. Andrea found this to be a very efficient method and whizzed through the square with ease!

SQUARE 21, GORSE: this is a brand new square in the design and combines lace stitches with stripes in an all-over repeat pattern. If you are not sure about the lace abbreviations then you will find them explained in the Abbreviations section on pages 22-23. 

There is a variable stitch count which means that the number of stitches varies throughout the pattern and is not constant. This is because the number of decreases are not always balanced by the number of increases. However, I have written the stitch count at the end of every row so that you can keep an eye on it and make sure that you have the correct number.

One last point about this square. When you cast off (see page 18), you are instructed to decrease stitches at the same time. So just in case you are unsure, after you ‘[K2tog’ you then cast off the next 6 stitches which includes the stitch you have on the right needle after the K2tog decrease. And likewise, after ‘skpo’ you cast off the next 3 stitches which includes the stitch you have on the right needle after the skpo decrease. What you should find is that the decreases match up with the lace pattern so that they are virtually invisible.

MANY OF YOU HAVE BEEN KEEPING EXTREMELY BUSY OVER THE PAST FOUR WEEKS FINISHING OFF YOUR WIPS AND HAVE SENT IN YOUR INSPIRING STORIES, PHOTOS AND TIPS. I begin with a photo from June McBain from Edinburgh, UK who was thrilled to have recently completed her second Love You To The Moon & Back Baby Blanket. She not only knitted the Contemporary colourway, but she took on the Classic colourway as well. Isn’t it gorgeous!

JULES OWEN FROM ALDRIDGE, WEST MIDLANDS, UK WAS VERY PLEASED TO HAVE COMPLETED HER CARNIVAL CASE, and together with her mother Joyce, has been very productive during lockdown.

Jules says: “Mum and I are both doing ok - Mum is beavering away on the Mystery Cushion with the camels in the centre and I have finally finished ‘Carnival’ and now have a very posh pencil case! I am thrilled with it and as my pens and pencils were bursting out of my previous pencil case which lives on the kitchen table most of the time, it seemed a great use for it!“  

What a fabulous job you have made of the Carnival Case, and it sounds as if you have a great use for it too! Thanks for sending in your lovely photo and sharing your achievement with us!

SUSAN BAILEY FROM BERKHAMSTED, UK HAS BEEN BUSY AGAIN AND IS VERY HAPPY WITH HER LATEST KNITTING ACHIEVEMENT! She has been working day and night to get her Love You To The Moon & Back Baby Blanket finished in time for a new arrival.

Susan says: “Just thought I would let you know that the blanket is finished and will be on its way to the baby who was born on Saturday. I have to admit I have not done much else since the 29th June!”

Susan also has a great tip to pass on which she used on her baby blanket: “When I am picking up stitches with a long tail to save the hassle of moving stitches from one needle to the other, I use a circular needle and then it is easy to just slip the stitches from one end of the needle to the other and there you are, ready to start knitting.  Just thought this information might be of help.”

Thank you Susan for the great photo and the tip! I am sure your advice will help other members with their blanket knitting and save some precious time too!

LAURA JACOBS FROM ROCKVILLE IN MARYLAND, USA ALSO HAS SOME GREAT TIPS FOR BLANKET KNITTING WHICH SHE THOUGHT MIGHT BE HELPFUL. Not only is Laura working on the 2020 Mystery Blanket, but she has also ordered the Love You To The Moon & Back Baby Blanket, so she is going to be keeping herself very busy over the next few months.

This is Laura’s great advice…

Laura says: “While working on the Mystery Blanket, I have developed a couple of procedures which have been helpful to me and I thought that you and the members may find them interesting.

(1)  After doing Rows 1 and 2, I realized that there were a few columns of squares which were virtually indistinguishable in the piecing diagram, so I had to go back to original instructions to determine which was Square 1, which was Square 2 etc.  So I decided to mark Squares 1-7 so I would always know which column I was adding on to.  (I use the pick-up the stitches method so Square 1 is already attached to Square 8 etc.):

(2) When strings of beads get heavy - as in the Shimmer squares - I find it helpful to keep most of my beads confined in an old prescription bottle and I take out just what I need for each row:

Have a good rest of your day.  Mine is just beginning!”

Thank you Laura for those great tips and for the photos too. It is so important that you know which strip is which in the Mystery Blanket so that when you knit the squares you add them to the correct strip. And you will also need to be able to identify the strips correctly when you piece them together later on in the project to complete the blanket So those are great bits of advice and I am sure they will be of great help to many of the other members!

LYNNE BUSH FROM READING, UK WAS ABSOLUTELY THRILLED (AND RELIEVED!) TO HAVE COMPLETED HER 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET – ‘WINTER WONDERLAND’! She has made a fabulous job of it and as you can see she has already found the perfect place for it in her home.

Lynne says: “I finally finished sewing off all the ends of my blanket yesterday! I used lockdown to sew the squares together and dealing with all those ends! I am very pleased with the results. All my friends think I am a creative genius but a lot of the credit must go to you. Definitely a family heirloom!”

It is so lovely to see this Mystery Blanket finished and knitted so beautifully too! I am sure it will become a family heirloom, but in the meantime you can sit back and admire your amazing work!

TESSA MUNCEY FROM KING’S LYNN, NORFOLK, UK WAS EAGER TO KNIT UP A SPARKLY EVENING PURSE AND FOUND JUST WHAT SHE WANTED IN MY BOOK, ’25 BEADED KNITS’. In the original pattern I used purple and pink sequins and beads and a deep aubergine coloured yarn. But Tessa has gone for a completely different colourway for her purse and it looks fabulous!

Tessa says: “I made the Sparkle Purse as you suggested. Knitting with sequins is another first for me. I wanted a sparkly green and black look for a little evening purse. Hope I did your pattern justice!”

You certainly did Tessa, it looks amazing! I am sure when you go on an evening out you will be asked where you got your purse from. But I imagine it’s a one-off with all those sequins and beads and the answer – if anyone asks – is no!!!

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 SEVEN (AUGUST): this month’s winner is member 115, Jacqueline Clapham from Swinford, Leicestershire, UK. Well done Jacqueline! 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.

What an incredible month it’s been with so many lovely photos and stories from the members – it is great to hear from you so please keep sending them. And with new knitting kits, the launch of the 2021 Mystery Blanket and our Festive kit promotion and brand new Festive Mystery Knit Boxes ready to launch next month, we are certainly hoping that we can continue to keep you busy and inspired. Next month we are one step closer to the finishing line for this year’s Mystery Blanket, with just two more instalments to go after that until the end - I can feel the excitement rising!!! So please come back and join me here for all the latest news about the Club in a month’s time. But until then, please keep safe and well and keep those knitting needles busy! Debbie x


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