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Mystery Blanket Club 2021: post 1, February

THE COUNTDOWN IS OVER AND HERE WE ARE THE BEGINNING OF THE 2021 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB! I think that there has never been a better time to indulge in a brand new knitting project, and from now until November the Mystery Blanket will give you something truly exciting to look forward to every month.

We were totally overwhelmed by the amount of people who wanted to join the Club this year and had to extend the number of memberships to accommodate a very long waiting list. So thank you to everyone who signed up. It’s going to be a fun project with lots of exciting challenges to keep you motivated, so let’s get started!...

I’m going to begin this month with a video introduction which you can access by clicking on the link below. After my intro there are several short films which show different knitting techniques to help you knit your squares this month. They include:

  • How to knit a braid
  • How to knit in a braid
  • How to place a bead (pb)
  • How to hook in a bead (hb)
  • How to knit basic fairisle (stitches knitted in alternate colours)
  • How to Swiss darn

It would be a good idea to read my intro first and then go back to the video techniques when you are knitting your squares. Happy viewing!

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB IS A GLOBAL PROJECT, and each year we have knitters joining in from all over the world. I always get so excited to see which countries are participating! So as well as the UK, this year we have members from USA, New Zealand, Australia, China, Russia, Malaysia, Canada, Israel, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, Iceland, Luxembourg, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and Ireland. Isn’t it brilliant to think that knitters from all these countries will be knitting along together for the next ten months!

THE 2021 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB STARTS ON THE 1ST FEBRUARY and on this day the first patterns for the blanket have been emailed to all the members. If you cannot see this email from us in your inbox then please check your Spam folder. Often our emails end up in there and are not seen. However, if you are still unable to find it please contact Sue and she will check that we have your correct email details in our database: sue@debbieabrahams.com

Members that have paid for printed patterns will receive them in a separate card-backed envelope in ten separate monthly instalments. In the printed brochure (and in the emailed file too), there are additional pages for making your own notes - a useful place to record anything you need to remember as you knit up your blanket squares.

All members, including the printed pattern members, will be emailed the remaining patterns on the 1st of each month from March - November.

AS IN PREVIOUS YEARS WE ARE USING SEVERAL POST OFFICES AND POSTAL TEAMS TO SEND OUT THE HUGE AMOUNT OF PARCELS. Your kit will be sent to you in two parcels - one now and then a second parcel to arrive around the 1st June. This is always a huge task which involves weeks of preparation and planning. But this year we have had the additional problem of the global pandemic to contend with. So we started the posting process much earlier than usual and sent out the first batch of parcels at the end of December. These were to the furthest away destinations, and were followed by the Rest of the World, Europe and finally the UK. All of the parcels have now been posted, and I know from some of the emails we have received that many of you have already got your parcels. This is great news as we were expecting huge delays to countries like Australia and New Zealand, but to our relief many of them have arrived there in record time – a massive achievement by all the postal services involved! However, I do know that some of you are still waiting for your parcel to arrive, so I ask if you could bear with us and it will be with you soon. If you have any worries about your parcel then you can contact Sue at: sue@debbieabrahams.com and she will do her best to help you.

PLEASE CAN YOU NOTIFY US IMMEDIATELY IF ANY PART OF YOUR POSTAL ADDRESS IS INCORRECT. We have done our very best to ensure that the addresses are correct, but occasionally human error intervenes and there are occasionally some errors. Any discrepancies can affect the speed at which your parcel is delivered to you, or at worst it may not arrive at all. So please let us know and we will update our files: sue@debbieabrahams.com

EACH MONTH, IN ADDITION TO YOUR EMAILED PATTERNS, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO DOWNLOAD THE FILE FROM YOUR ACCOUNT ON MY WEBSITE. This is a quick guide to how you can do this:

  • Log into the website with your username and password: https://debbieabrahams.com/account/login
  • Under "MYSTERY CLUB DOWNLOADS" click "View all downloads"
  • Your latest available mail-outs will be visible here in PDF format to download

IF WE HAVE IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO PASS ONTO YOU, such as postal information, then we will send everyone an emailed newsletter. So it is really important that you check your emails regularly (and your Spam folder in particular) for any updates from us.

UNFORTUNATELY ERRORS DO HAPPEN SOMETIMES IN THE PATTERNS, and this is despite numerous checks which are carried out before we release them to you. I list any errors which are found in the ‘Addendum’ section on our website and you can locate it by going to the Homepage and scrolling down to the bottom where you will find a link to it. I would advise that you check this before you start knitting each square.

This month there are a few things that have been found, which I have also mentioned in my video intro:

  • Page 8, 3rd bullet point: this refers to wrong side rows so all the stitches should be purled (and not knitted). Please note that this has been corrected in the emailed version but not in the printed patterns;
  • Page 10, 2nd bullet point: same as comment for page 8;
  • Page 14, Knitting techniques: there is no explanation of ‘place bead’ (pb), so please use the video this month for assistance with this technique. I will make sure that it is included in all future mail outs.

YARN BALL BAND ALERT!!! It has been brought to our notice that a small amount of ball-bands on the Rowan Merino Light DK yarns in shade 024 Amethyst and 025 Tanzanite have been mixed up. So please can you check these ball-bands on your yarn very carefully. Amethyst is the deep purple shade and Tanzanite is the navy (dark blue). They are both very dark colours so you need to make sure you know which one is which when you are instructed to use them in the squares.

YOU HAVE A COLOUR CODER IN YOUR FIRST PARCEL – and I would advise that you set this up before you start knitting as it will help you to identify all the different shades. It’s a good idea to tie a small amount of each yarn onto the card and write the name and/or shade number next to it. There are some shades in the collection that are very similar to each other, so please pay extra attention to these when you use them.

It would be a good idea to keep each colour of yarn in a separate bag with either its ball-band or a note of which colour and shade number it is. Then you can be sure to pick up the correct colour and not risk knitting with the wrong one. If you use the wrong colour then you could run short of yarn.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE COLOURS IN THE MAIL-OUTS MIGHT NOT BE COMPLETELY ACCURATE TO THE COLOUR OF THE ACTUAL YARNS – both in the printed paperwork and in the digital files. I mentioned this in my video intro. We have done our best to make sure that the colours are as accurate as possible, however some discrepancies might occur. So it is always best to read the name and shade number of the colours rather than going by the photographs of the knitting. If you use the wrong colour it might result in you running short of yarn, so please take your time getting your yarns ready and double check that you have the correct ones before you begin knitting.

THE SECTION IN THE MAIL OUT CALLED ‘WORKING THE MYSTERY BLANKET’ is on page 3 and has some important information about the project which I recommend you read before starting to knit your blanket. Here you will find information on tension, the size of your squares, how to knit the squares in vertical strips (highly recommended!) and how to block and press your knitting. Towards the end of the mail out there is some further information on knitting techniques including intarsia, knitting with beads (hooking-in and slip-stitch techniques), embroidery on knitted fabric and an abbreviations list.

In previous Mystery Blankets all of the squares have been knitted and sewn together in the same direction, ie, each new square built onto the one below it by either picking up stitches or sewing it on. However, this year some of the squares are positioned on their side (selvedge) edge, so they cannot be picked up – they have to be sewn to the square below. When this happens I will write a note about it in the pattern instructions and it must be followed. You will not be able to pick up and knit-on these squares otherwise they will be laying in the wrong direction. If you are not sure then you can double-check this by looking at the Piecing Diagrams on page 4 of the mail outs which are updated each month with the new squares to knit.

AS IN PREVIOUS MYSTERY BLANKETS YOU WILL BE GIVEN OPTIONS ON SOME OF THE SQUARES. So when there is a square that involves the intarsia or fairisle technique you can opt to knit an alternative square that replaces them with a textured, beaded or striped stitch pattern which is easier to knit. Each pattern clearly tells you when there is an option and you can also see this on the piecing diagrams. Throughout the project you can stick completely to either Option One (Pink-headed pages) or Option Two (Blue-headed pages), or, if preferred, you can choose to mix your options. Patterns that do not have an option are Purple-headed. Mixing options gives the project increased flexibility and means that although you are all working on the same blanket design you can make yours look different, if you choose. However, to keep the design balanced, you should take care to note when I advise you to choose a particular option and follow my instructions. And just in case you are not sure, Option One is the more tricky option to knit and Option Two is the easier one.

This year there are thirteen squares that have two options. They are Squares 9, 11, 13, 18, 23, 24, 25, 26, 27, 32, 37, 39 and 41.

THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET is always kept a secret until you either guess what it is yourself or wait for the reveal in the final instalment. But as well as clues in the monthly squares, I also give you extra help with your guesses by giving you one letter each month. Here is the first clue for the title of this year’s Mystery Blanket. The letter I am giving you is “A”:

_  _  _  / _  _  _  _  _  A  _  _  / A  _  _  / _  _  _  / _  _  _  _  _  _

Please send your guesses to Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com. There are no prizes for the correct answer – it is simply a a bit of fun each month. And if you do guess it right, with your permission we will include your name in the next blog. So go on, have a go!!!

THERE ARE THREE SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:

Square 1, Sumptuous – striped pattern with decorative braids, textured stitches and slip-stitch beads (same for both options):

Square 8, The King’s Palace (part 1) – striped pattern with a decorative beaded border and lace panel (same for both options):

Square 15, The King’s Palace (part 2) – striped pattern with a decorative slip-stitch beaded border and Swiss darned details (same for both options):

There are no options to choose from this month.

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 and give pre-warnings as to what look out for in the pattern instructions. Also take note of the description under the title of each square as this tells you what the stitch structure is.

You can use the video demos to help you knit your squares. But here are a few extra tips to assist you:

SQUARE 1, SUMPTUOUS: this square has a lot going on in it, so as I mentioned in my video intro it might be a good idea to knit the other two squares first before this one. It’s actually not difficult to knit, but there are a few techniques involved and parts of it are a bit fiddly.

There are two needle sizes used in this square, so make sure that you change them over when instructed to do so. It happens first on Row 8 which is a slipped stitch row. The change of needle size will make these stitches sit neater.

My video shows you how to knit a braid, followed by how to knit in a braid. And there is also a video to show you how to place a bead (pb).

SQUARE 8, THE KING’S PALACE (part 1): this square begins with slip stitch beading which means you need to pre-thread your beads. Instructions for this are on page 8 of your mail out.

On rows 22, 24, 26 and 28 the beads are hooked-in. There is a note about this at the foot of the key for the chart on page 9. These beads are not pre-threaded.

It might be difficult to see the grid lines on Chart rows 21-23 as the Tanzanite is very dark. So here is Row 22 written out: P6, [hook-in bead, P7] 4 times, hook-in bead, P6.

It might also be difficult to see the grid lines on Chart rows 29-62, however, these rows are written out in full on page 9.

My video shows you how to place a bead (pb), how to hook-in a bead, how to knit basic fairisle (for Chart rows 20, 24 and 28) and how to knit the lace pattern on Chart row 31 (and it's subsequent repeats).

SQUARE 15, THE KING’S PALACE (part 2): although this square has several rows of what I call ‘basic fairisle’, I decided not to offer a second option as it is not difficult to knit. Plus, if you have never tried fairisle before this is a really good introduction to the technique.

Like Square 8, this square begins with slip stitch beading so pre-threading is required, see page 10 of the mail out. And then there are some textured stitches which are shown on the chart as white crosses. The Tanzanite makes it hard to see the grid lines, but you can work out the number of stitches between the swiss darned stitches in Topaz on rows 11, 13, 15, 17 and 19 as they expand by two stitches as you work up the chart. So, on Chart Row 11 there is one stitch between the swiss darned stitches, then it’s three stitches on row 13, five stitches on row 15, seven stitches on row 17 and nine stitches on row 19. You can probably see this more easily on a computer screen but it is more difficult to see in the printed version.

For those of you who are comfortable with basic fairisle, you might want to consider using this technique to carry the unused colour across the back of the work on rows 25, 29, 33, 37, 41, 45, 49 and 53. If you do this then it means you won’t need to cut off and rejoin the Turquoise and Serpentine yarns in the striped section of this square. Instead you can simply carry the unused colour up the side of the work until you need to use it. This means less ends to sew in at the end, so it's worth a go!

I would advise that you block and press your square before you do the Swiss darning. You can see how to Swiss darn in the video, but essentially you need a blunt-ended needle and enough yarn to complete the embroidery in one go. So make sure that you wind off enough so you don’t run out.

Bingo! You’re now ready to get going!

IF YOU HAVE A QUERY ABOUT YOUR MYSTERY BLANKET THEN YOU MIGHT WANT TO JOIN THE DEBBIE ABRAHAMS MYSTERY BLANKET THREAD ON RAVELRY, where you will find a bunch of very helpful and informative members who will be only too pleased to talk to you about your project. It is a great way to get help and answers to your knitting queries. And if you are not already a Ravelry member, then it is very easy (and free!) to join. Just follow the instructions on their website: http://www.ravelry.com

UNFORTUNATELY, AT THE MOMENT DUE TO COVID THERE ARE NO PLANS TO RUN ANY WORKSHOPS THIS YEAR. However, if the situation changes we will let you know. Confirmed dates will be posted on our Events page.

AT THE BEGINNING OF MARCH APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2021 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB WILL OPEN IN OUR ONLINE SHOP, offering you the opportunity to take part in a brand new Debbie Abrahams Mystery project. And for all 2020 Mystery Blanket Club members there’s some really good news as you will get 10% discount off the cost of your membership. We will send you a discount code for this when we launch the Club. So keep an eye on your inbox!

Above: 2020 Mystery Cushion, 'Orient Express'.

The Mystery Cushion is a much smaller project than the blanket, lasting for five months from June to October.  The theme is different to the Mystery Blanket but it works in the same way with a knitting kit sent out to members at the beginning of the project and monthly emailed patterns. I write a separate blog for the Mystery Cushion as well so you can get all the help and support you need as you knit along.

Below: 2017 Mystery Cushion, 'Metropolis'.

The theme for the cushion has been decided, however, I am still in the process of choosing which Rowan yarns I am going to use for it. So next month, when I have made this decision, I will give you some further information to help feed your curiosity – but not too much, after all, it is a ‘mystery’!

IF YOU ARE INTERESTED IN SEEING WHAT THE MEMBERS DID LAST YEAR WITH THE 2020 MYSTERY BLANKET (PLUS MANY OTHER DEBBIE ABRAHAMS PROJECTS), then you might want to check out the Member's Gallery blog which is due to go live on my website soon. I had planned for it to be launched before the end of January. However, I am currently without my much-missed laptop which has had to be sent off to be mended. And although we have other technology in the house to use for my work, it is not as convenient. So there will be a slight delay while I get the images and comments sorted.

When the Gallery is ready to view you will be able to see several examples of Our Precious Earth, which was the design for my 2020 Mystery Blanket Club. Plus there are lots of other ‘Debbie’ projects which people have created during the last twelve months. I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to everyone who has sent in their photos and stories about their projects. They were a joy to read and I am sure that you will enjoy looking at them too!

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE FIRST 2021 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 ONE (FEBRUARY): this month’s winner is member 544, Alison Reeves-Brown from Rugby in Warwickshire, UK. Well done Alison! Please choose a prize from the following selection:

  • A signed Debbie Abrahams book: 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: 2021 Mystery Cushion Club; 2022 Mystery Blanket Club
  • Four balls of Debbie's Rowan Merino Light DK yarn (any colours).

    Thank you for taking the time to read my blog, and I hope that you have found it helpful.  I love to see and hear how you are getting on with your Mystery Blanket knitting so please feel free to send me any news or photos that you would like to share and I will include them in the next blog. I am so excited that this new knitting adventure has now begun and that you have joined me on it. And I really hope that you enjoy knitting your first set of squares. Remember that it is not a race so please take your time and knit to the best of your ability. Use the video demos and tips in this blog to help you. And remember that I am only a click away if you have a specific question you want to ask. So get yourself comfortable, relax, enjoy and indulge (and a cup of tea and a biscuit might go down well too!) Have fun, Debbie x


    21 comments

    • Hi Debbie and everyone, well I’m way behind you all as I live in Western Australia. I waited until the weather has cooled down a bit now in April to start my blanket. Knitting when it is 35c in the shade is just a sweatfest! I’m overwhelmingly excited at having knitted my first braid, so I might just bust completely before I catch you all up. I can see this is going to take dedicated knitting time as I learn all the detail. No more knitting in front of Vera for a while… Thanks Debbie for your ingenuity

      Kathy Sassoon
    • I sat on my 3.5mm wooden needles at the end of January so finally managed to get hold of some new ones and start this project this week! Not easy in lockdown in Switzerland! Still waiting on the 2.75mm so square 1 will have to wait but the other two are blocked and presssed and looking gorgeous. I’m a competent knitter but have loved the chance to experiment with beads for the first time, and to refresh my memory with basic fairisle. Looking forward to developing my skills further! As another poster said, the squares are so lovely and bitesize, it’s a joy to finish something interesting but short and move on, so much variety!

      Emma Stroud
    • Hi Debbie, I feel so excited to be part of the Mystery Blanket Club 2021, for the first time, and from so far in Vina del Mar, Chile! It is going to be a great challenge for me, a chilean woman and spanish native speaker, and also always knitted as a “continental” using my hands and fingers in the opposite way, so I am sure it is wonderful for my brain and higher mental processes. So, learning new techniques too and practicing my english!! Already knitting my three first squares and expecting to knit a beautiful blanket during these ten months…

      Ximena
    • I have so enjoyed making these squares and learning new techniques. Being small it is not too daunting to unpick them when something goes wrong! Using such lovely yarns and colours adds to the pleasure. Looking forward to next month now. Thank you Debbie 😃

      Wendy Dowden
    • Hi Debbie,

      As a mystery blanket newbie I started with square 15 and worked my way up to square 1, as recommended. I have knitted with beads but years ago before I had a family and calls on my time.
      I must say that I am really enjoying this project and find the videos essential. I have returned to them to check what to do several times.
      My squares are not as perfect as the illustrations but they are mine and I quite like the odd little mistake in my work ( that maybe only I can see).
      Looking forward to see what comes next !
      Claire

      Claire D

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