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Mystery Blanket Club 2021: post 2, March

IT’S THE 1ST OF MARCH SO THAT MEANS IT’S TIME FOR INSTALMENT TWO OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB – welcome to the March blog!

I know that many of you are eager to crack on with the next lot of squares, and this month there are four for you to knit. Some of them are similar to last month but there are some new ones too, including the first square with an option. This means that you will have to make a decision about whether you want to challenge yourself to fairisle or take the easier route with a simpler square. However, before you make that decision, I have lots of news, tips and advice for you to read in this blog, plus some more video demos to help you with the techniques. So Mystery Blanket members, let’s make a start and find out what March has in store for you…

THE VIDEOS! After an intro from me there are eight videos which include these techniques:

  • How to cast on using Thumb method
  • How to sew in loose ends
  • How to block and press a square
  • How to pick up stitches to knit on the next square
  • How to knit fairisle
  • How to do chain stitch embroidery
  • How to sew Square 1 to Square 2
  • How to sew Square 2 to Square 3

My intro has some tips and advice about this month’s squares, so it might be a good idea to read this first and then go back to the knitting techniques when you are knitting your squares. Have fun!

REMEMBER THAT THERE IS NO YARN PARCEL THIS MONTH - the second and final parcel of yarn and beads will be posted to you in May to arrive from the beginning of June. So you are just being sent the patterns this month which you should all have received by email on the 1st March.

Printed patterns for overseas members were posted on Thursday 18th February, and the UK were posted on Friday 26th February.

THE EARLYBIRD PATTERN FOR MEMBERS WHO SIGNED UP TO THIS CLUB BEFORE THE END OF JULY 2020, will be receiving their pattern by email this month. For those of you who qualified for this, a small organza bag of beads was included in your knitting kit. Yarn is not provided for this project, but it uses Rowan Merino Light DK in colours which are in your Mystery Blanket knitting kit. You may have enough yarn to knit up the project as well as the blanket, but if you need more yarn then we will have all the colours available to purchase in our online shop by the end of this month. And the good news is that all Mystery Blanket members will receive a discount of 20% on every ball purchased! When the yarn is available we will send you a unique discount code to use for this at checkout.

THE 2021 MYSTERY CUSHION OPENS ITS DOORS FOR APPLICATIONS THIS MONTH, so if you fancy another Debbie Abrahams knitting adventure this year you can book your place from Friday 5th March when it will be available in our online shop.

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 a 40cm x 40cm (16in x 16in) cushion-cover, and patterns are emailed monthly – just like the Mystery Blanket Club. There is a dedicated monthly blog for the Club which gives lots of advice about the project as you knit along. Plus there will be video demos to help you with the techniques.

Above: Mystery Cushion 2017, 'Metropolis'.

2021 Mystery Blanket members will get a 10% discount on their membership. A unique code for this to use at checkout will be emailed to all the Mystery Blanket members. You can use this to purchase the membership for yourself, or it would make a unique gift for a friend or family member. There are just two-hundred and fifty memberships up for grabs, so don’t delay if you want to join!

So what have I got in store for you with the Mystery Cushion?!? Being a ‘mystery’ project I can’t tell you too much. But I can tell you a bit about the colour palette and yarns. The project uses the brand new and gorgeously soft and cosy Rowan Cotton Wool in a calm colour palette which includes cream, mink, pink blush, ice blue and silver grey...

 

There are a scattering of beads, but the focus of this design is on big textured stitches which are combined with stripes and cables. There is a very small amount of intarsia (colour knitting), but everything is kept very simple, enabling new knitters to get to grips with lots of different knitted stitch structures, while more experienced knitters can sit back, relax and enjoy the ride…

If you are tempted to take on this new challenge then you can sign up to the 2021 Mystery Cushion Club from Friday 5th March. There are packages for UK, Europe and the World, so it’s a global project and everyone is invited!

If you want to spread your payment then you will have the option to pay in instalments, or you can simply pay in one go. There are no admin fees for splitting your payment so you can choose whatever is easiest for you and your finances.

With most of the world looking forward to a bigger and brighter year ahead, this is the perfect opportunity to get inspired and take on a new creative challenge. The Mystery Cushion Club begins on 19th June, will you be part of it?...

BEADYKNITS HAVE BEEN BUSY IN THE DESIGN STUDIO AND HAVE A NEW KIT TO ADD TO THEIR COLLECTION! The ‘Frosty Bobble Hat’ is the perfect accessory for your winter wardrobe, and with hooked-in and slip-stitch beads and a neat fairisle pattern, all knitted in the round (no sewing up!), it’s a great way to learn some new techniques.

The hat is knitted in the luxuriously soft Rowan Alpaca Soft DK with a touch of sparkly Rico Metallise DK making it a real treat of a project to knit up.

The cost of the knitting kit is £25.50 (plus shipping). You can place your order by contacting Jenny at jenny@beadyknits.com. Please note that this kit is not available to purchase in the Debbie Abrahams Ltd online shop and must be purchased directly from BeadyKnits.

THERE WILL BE SOME NEW KNITTING KITS AVAILABLE SOON IN OUR ONLINE SHOP, which include a new ‘Summer’ inspired colourway of the Autumn Bag, and a lace and bead cushion-cover in the  Hyacinth collection. Then later on in the year I will be adding some brand new kits to the Festive collection. So there is plenty in store to look forward to! As soon as these kits are ready you will be notified by email, so keep an eye on your inbox if you want to be the first to know!

WE’VE HAD A FEW CORRECT GUESSES FOR THE MYSTERY BLANKET TITLE, BUT NOT MANY! Congratulations go out this month to Brynne Baruch, Caroline Evans, Sandra Vargas, Karen Johnston and Kathryn McClurg – well done! But the rest of you will need to have another go! So here is the second clue for the title of this year’s Mystery Blanket. This month the letter I am giving you is “I”:

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

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. 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 FOUR SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:

Square 2, The King’s Palace (part 3) – striped pattern with a decorative beaded border and lace panel (same for both options):

Square 3, The King’s Palace (part 4) – striped pattern with a decorative slip-stitch beaded border and Swiss darned details (same for both options):

Square 9 (Option One), Magic Carpet – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads:

Square 9 (Option Two), Magic Carpet – striped pattern with moss stitch:

Square 16, The King’s Robes – slip-stitch and hooked-in beaded pattern with chain stitch details (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 and give pre-warnings as to what to 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 2, THE KING’S PALACE (part 3):  this square is similar to Square 8 from Mail Out 1 and uses the same colours, but they are swapped round. The beads are different colours though, with Velvet swapped out for Night Sky. Remember that you will need to pre-thread the beads for the first section, instructions for which are given on page 6 of your mail out. But the beads on chart rows 22, 24, 26 and 28 are hooked in.

As pointed out in the first Pattern note and tip on page 6 of your mail out, this square must be cast on and knitted separately, it cannot be picked up and knitted. This is because the right-hand selvedge edge is going to be sewn to the cast-off edge of Square 1. If you need help with this then there is a video in this month's blog which shows you how to do this.

We’ve lightened up the colour of the grid lines on the chart so all the squares and symbols should be much easier to see than on the chart for Square 8.

In the February videos I show 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 Chart row 31 (and its subsequent repeats), just in case you need a reminder.

SQUARE 3, THE KING’S PALACE (part 1): this is the same as Square 15 from Mail Out 1, but the blues are swapped out for purples.

Like the chart for Square 2, the grid lines have been lightened which makes everything on it much easier to see.

And if you need a reminder about how to knit those single rows of basic fairisle on chart rows 20 and 24 (and all other similar rows) then take a look at my February video for Square 15. You can also check out the February video for Swiss darning.

SQUARE 9, (OPTION ONE) MAGIC CARPET: this is your first opportunity to make a choice about which square you want to knit. So, do you go for Option One which uses the fairisle technique? Or do you go for Option Two which is simpler to knit?

If you go for this option then you can either already knit fairisle patterns, or you are up for learning a new challenge. There is a video this month to help you with the technique, so I would recommend that any newbies to fairisle watch it before making a start. Basically there are two main techniques used in fairisle knitting – stranding and weaving. Sometimes the two are combined together, and in other patterns stranding only needs to be used. It is okay to carry the unused colour across a maximum of three stitches. But if there are more than three stitches in one colour you need to weave in the yarns. Weaving will be explained in a later blog as you won’t need to use this technique in Square 9. But you will need to strand the yarns across the back of the work on every row, and you can see how to do this in my video.

Watch out for the hooked in beads on chart rows 10, 26 and 42!

SQUARE 9, (OPTION TWO) MAGIC CARPET: this is the easier option, so you might want to consider this one instead of Option One if you prefer an easier square to knit.

The only thing I would say about this square is to remember to change needle size when instructed. This is really important as the moss stitch sections (rows 7-17, 28-38 and their subsequent repeats), need to be knitted on a smaller needle to maintain an even tension and width of fabric.

SQUARE 16, THE KING’S ROBES: this square is not difficult to knit but it is time consuming. All of the beads are hooked in so there is no pre-threading. It uses Blue and Bright Green beads (oops, they are listed as Brilliant Green on page 14), and watch out as they can look quite similar in colour. So just make sure that you pick up the correct ones as you work your way up the chart.

The chart has been drawn up using pale grey instead of Tanzanite so that the symbols are easier to see. I talked about this in my introduction video.

After the square has been knitted, blocked and pressed it’s then time to add the chain stitch embroidery. In the video demo of this technique I mistakenly said that there are 24 circles to embroider, but there are actually only 20. So phew! – that’s 4 less! Use a blunt ended needle to avoid splitting the yarn you are using to embroider with and the stitches you are embroidering over.

I have one last tip before you make a start on this. I did 8 chain stitches for each circle, and when I had worked out how to do the first one I repeated the exact same method for all the other circles. So if it helps, make a note of where you are putting the needle into the knitting for each individual chain stitch so that you can embroider each circle in the same way. And that way they will all look pretty much the same.

Voila! – you’re on your way!

IT’S A REALLY GOOD IDEA TO LABEL UP YOUR SQUARES AS SOME OF THEM ARE VERY SIMILAR TO EACH OTHER IN THE DESIGN. I mentioned this in my video intro. I labelled up all my squares by placing a sticker on the back of each one in the bottom left-hand corner. It proved to be invaluable when I sewed the squares together as without them I could easily have got some of them mixed up.

I have heard so many cases of squares being sewn into blankets either upside down or in the wrong order, so I cannot stress enough how important this is. It could save you mass disappointment and hours of extra work.

KATE NOWAK FROM SURREY, UK HAS BEEN BUSY BLOCKING AND PRESSING HER SQUARES – take a look at her fabulous method!

Kate says: “I can’t express how much I’m loving this year’s blanket....roll on March!”

This is super to see Kate, and I love your unique method for getting your squares blocked out to the same size. As I said in my video demo this month, blocking and pressing is so very important to do. It finishes the squares and they will look and feel so much more beautiful. It can also sort out any size issues, plus the yarn will ‘bloom’ (fill out) when it is wetted down with water. So I would recommend that you do it and then you will have the best looking blanket ever!

IT SEEMS THAT OUR FURRY FRIENDS ARE ALSO LOVING THE MYSTERY BLANKET, much like Missy who was featured in the February blog. Here is Fran Hourican’s dog who simply loves all that Rowan yarn!

What a fabulous photo Fran! I wonder who might be curling up on your Mystery Blanket when it is completed?!?

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE GETTING TOGETHER WITH FRIENDS TO KNIT YOUR MYSTERY BLANKET! And here is a very lively bunch of ladies who are planning to do a monthly Zoom meeting for the Mystery Blanket so that they can share tips and have a good old chat while they are knitting!

Top left to bottom right: Kate Nowak, Andrea Gostick, Amanda Golland, Katherine Saunders, Susam Cumming, Felicity Miller, Elizabeth Holland, Karen Gill, Tania Ashton-Jones and me!

They very kindly invited me to their meeting on 1st February and it was great to see and hear how they are all getting on. They also had a go at guessing the theme and came up with 'fast food takeaways' after putting ‘The King’s Palace’ into Google – hilarious! Unfortunately (or fortunately!) this is not the right answer, so it’s back to the drawing board ladies for some more ideas when you meet up again on the 1st March. Good luck!

ANOTHER GROUP OF ENTHUSIASTIC LADIES HAVE GOT TOGETHER TO LEARN HOW TO KNIT INTARSIA, and with my permission they used the heart square from the 'Love You To The Moon & Back' baby blanket. The Kur-ring-Gai branch of the Knitters Guild are from Australia, and as you can see they were all ‘over the moon’ to learn this technique!

Jennifer Bevan is Secretary for the group and she was delighted with how everyone got on at the workshop. Jennifer says: “The Kur-ring-Gai knitters completed their Intarsia workshop using your graph from the Mystery Baby blanket. A great success! Thanks once again for the use of the graph and happy knitting!”

It’s wonderful to see groups getting together to learn new knitting techniques. Not only does it spur you on when you are with like-minded people, but it’s also great for having a good old catch up too. We are waiting desperately here in the UK for the return of our knitting workshops, so hopefully we will be able to get together again soon to enjoy some eagerly awaited workshops and events.

INGRID HOFSTRA FROM PUTTEN IN THE NETHERLANDS HAS A GREAT LITTLE TRICK IF YOU FIND A KNOT IN YOUR YARN WHEN YOU ARE BEADING. This can be very annoying (and I talked about it in my video this month), but unfortunately it does happen sometimes. However, Ingrid’s tip is brilliant and will help to relieve much of the stress if this happens to you.

Ingrid says: “Cut the knot from the thread. You now have the beads on the yarn which is attached to your knitting and your ball of yarn is separate. Take about 25cm of sewing machine thread and knot each end between the threads of yarn. Now slide your beads onto the thread and then onto the ball of wool. Success!”

This is a brilliant tip Ingrid and I am sure that it will be of great help to many people who find themselves in this situation. Thanks for sharing!

THE MEMBER’S GALLERY IS NOW ON THE WEBSITE (IN THE BLOG SECTION), so if you have not already seen it, it’s definitely worth a look. On there you will 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.

It’s totally inspiring to see all the work that has been done during the past year, with so many WIPs finished off during lockdown. You never know – you might be inspired to dust off some of your projects and get them completed too!

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE SECOND 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 TWO (MARCH): this month’s winner is member 101, Alison Cossons from Bristol, 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 (any colours).

With Spring in the air here in the UK there’s every good reason to feel motivated and inspired, and hopefully this month’s patterns will help to lift your spirits too! Next month you will have five squares to knit, so that’s one more than this month. But hopefully by then you would have settled down nicely into the project and will be familiar with how it all works. Next month I will have a few new techniques to show you as well as all the usual Mystery Blanket Club news. So make sure you remember to mark 1st April in your diaries for our next 'meeting'. And don’t forget to keep sending me all your wonderful photos and stories too, they are really lovely to see! Until next month, keep safe and well, and happy knitting to you all, Debbie x


6 comments

  • Well I’m all done with March and now eagerly awaiting 1st April so I can get on! I had to order some 2.75mm needles last month and so started this month behind by one square – delighted that I have now caught up and hopefully that means the 5 for April will also be doable!

    I would love some advice on how to weave in the ends of the chain stitch on the King’s Robes, maybe I should have carried one thread across each circle but in fact I now have both a start and an end thread for each of the 20 circles… not sure how to avoid them showing, anyone has any tips?

    Emma Stroud
  • I am loving the colors of this year’s mystery blanket and the more advanced techniques that one must master. The videos are very helpful. Thank you.

    Laura Jacobs
  • Hi Debbie
    That was the best demonstration of mattress stitch I have ever seen.
    I’ve been doing an effective but very botched mattress stitch in the past. I’ve watched many utube demos but never seen one as good as yours.
    have just threaded my beads and am about to start square 2, but am so excited to be try a proper mattress stitch. Thank you

    Carol-Ann Sevitt
  • Hi Debbie.
    It’s so great to be back “in harness” for this year’s blanket. It looks as though some of the squares are challenging which is what I like. The additions of videos is excellent, useful even for the most experienced knitter. Like the lady who dealt with knots in beaded yarns! Henry Ford, (Cars fame), said that if you wanted to do a complex process give it to the “LazyMan”. He will find the easiest way of doing it. I use floss method for hooking in beads, but I pre load floss with the beads for use. I sometimes sequence them, but normally have preloaded each colour on separate strings if floss.

    Anne M McClure
  • Thank you, Debbie, for providing this wonderful respite from all things again this year! Having this group to converse with and the patterns to surprise us and look forward to each first of the month is a godsend.

    Kathryn McClurg

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