HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE APRIL BLOG! It seems a long time ago that the last set of patterns were sent out, and I know that many of you are ready and raring to go with the next batch. So here we go, with five squares to knit up this month, including one with an option.
But, before you get your knitting needles out it would be a good idea to read my blog first and, if needed, watch the new video demos I have created for you…
THE VIDEOS! After an intro from me there are six videos to help you knit your squares this month:
- How to c4b (cable 4 stitches to the back) on a WS row
- How to c4f (cable 4 stitches to the front) on a WS row
- How to c4b (cable 4 stitches to the back) on a RS row
- How to c4f (cable 4 stitches to the front) on a RS row
- How to weave in (fairisle)
- How to carry yarns up the side of the work
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.
There are now a total of twenty video demos that you can dip in to if and when you need some guidance with a technique. When a technique is repeated in a new square, I won’t be creating another video for it, so please refer back to previous blogs for assistance.
THE PRINTED PATTERNS ARE ON THEIR WAY! And hopefully by now most of you have received them. The overseas patterns were posted on the 22nd March and the UK were posted on the 29th March. Every member has been sent the patterns by email so you should find them waiting for you in your inbox.
THE 2021 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB HAS SOLD OUT! – so a huge thanks to everyone who signed up to it. I think this is a record time for selling out this Club, so it just goes to prove that knitters are as keen as ever to get their knitting projects lined up and ready to go. And 250 of you have done exactly that!
Below: Mystery Cushion 2020, ‘Orient Express’.
We will begin posting the overseas Mystery Cushion kits at the beginning of May as we anticipate that some of them will take longer than usual to arrive at their destinations (this will be dependant on the efficiency of your own national and local postal services). The UK parcels will be posted at the beginning of June. The first set of patterns will be emailed to each member on Friday 18th June when the Mystery Cushion Club begins.
IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR A SMALL COLOURFUL KIT TO KNIT UP THEN BEADYKNITS HAVE THE ANSWER! Their new range of Lavender Bags have been designed to match the Mexicana, Nougat, Peacock and Flame cushion covers which were launched last year. These delightful home accessories are a great way to brush up on your existing skills or learn some new techniques within a small achievable project.
Each kit contains enough materials to knit one Lavender Bag in your chosen colourway: Rico Cotton Essentials DK yarns, Debbie Abraham's size 6 glass beads, a length of satin ribbon, an organza bag, packet of Lavender (UK only) and full colour pattern instructions, (you must supply your own knitting needles and a sewing-up needle).
Knitting kit: £14.50 (+ shipping).
BeadyKnits are offering these fabulous discounts on bundle-buys:
10% off: 1 Cushion-Cover kit (square or pillow) + 1 Lavender Bag kit
10% off: 3 or more Lavender Bag kits
Please 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.
If you are interested in placing an order, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more details.
WOW! – SINCE LAST MONTH WE’VE HAD A LOT OF CORRECT GUESSES FOR THE MYSTERY BLANKET TITLE! So congratulations go out to Catherine Pope, Jennifer McKenzie, Debbie Medhurst, Kathyrn Taylor, Chris O-Rorke, Toril Grue, Elizabeth Holland, Catherine McDonald, Susan Cumming, Cara Hagmann-Smith, Ruth French, Sue Hayes, Alison Cossons, Rosa Martinez, Linda Murray, Valerie McNulty, Jennifer Dixon, Ann Stout, Lucille Tut, Karen Gill, Mabel Farrar and Jan Osman. Phew! – that’s a lot of correct guesses! So well done to all of you.
However, if you need to have another go, here is the third clue. This month the letter I am giving you is “U”:
_ _ _ / _ _ _ U _ A _ _ / A _ _ / _ _ _ / _ I _ _ _ _
Please send your guesses to Sue at email@example.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 another go!!!
THERE ARE FIVE SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:
Square 10, Lady Zubeida – cable pattern with hooked-in beads:
Square 17, Bedecked – striped pattern with decorative braids, textured stitches and slip-stitch beads:
Square 29, The King’s Palace (part 5) – striped pattern with a decorative slip-stitch beaded border and Swiss darned details (same for both options):
Square 36, The King’s Palace (part 6) – striped pattern with a decorative beaded border and lace panel (same for both options):
Square 37 (Option One), Magic Carpet 2 – fairisle pattern with hooked-in beads:
Square 37 (Option Two), Magic Carpet – striped pattern with moss stitch:
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 10, LADY ZUBEIDA: this is a cable-lovers delight to knit, with stitches twisting and turning to the left and to the right on both right side and wrong side rows. This might sound like a huge challenge, however, even if this is a new technique for you, once you get going it is very straightforward.
Guidance is given on how to c4b and c4f on right side and wrong side rows in the Abbreviations on page 23 of your April mail out, and there are four individual videos too if you need more assistance. All I would say is that you need to keep alert as to which cable instruction you are following as they chop and change throughout the pattern.
You could use page 9 (opposite the chart) to make any notes that might help you, or you could write out the cable abbreviations here for a quick and easy reference.
This square might take you some time to knit, but it will be worth it. And it’s a great way to learn the basics of cables.
SQUARE 17 – BEDECKED: this is a very busy square with plenty to keep you busy. But it includes techniques which you have come across before in previous squares – they are just all combined together in this one!
You can use use the video demo in the February blog to help you knit and attach the braids. The basic fairisle technique which is needed for rows 2, 11, 16, 23 and their subsequent repeats is also demonstrated in the February blog.
It is really important to keep your edges as neat as you as you can as you knit this square – particularly as there are so many colour changes. You should carry yarns up the side of the work unless you are instructed to cut them off. If you need some advice about how to do this then this month there is a video demo which shows you a little handy trick for this on both wrong side and right side rows.
SQUARE 29, THE KING’S PALACE (part 5): this is exactly the same as Square 15 from Mail Out 1.
If you need a reminder of 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 in the February blog. You can also find guidance in this blog for Swiss darning.
SQUARE 36, THE KING’S PALACE (part 6): this square is very similar to Square 8 from Mail Out 1 but there is slight change to the sequence of beads in the border. Remember that you will need to pre-thread the beads for the first section, but the beads on chart rows 22, 24, 26 and 28 are hooked in.
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 37, (OPTION ONE) MAGIC CARPET 2: this is your second opportunity to make a choice about which square you want to knit. Do you go for Option One which uses the fairisle technique? Or do you go for Option Two which is simpler to knit? Regardless of which option you chose for Square 9, you can knit either option for this square. (Note, that this is not always the case, and I will give instructions in the mail out if you need to knit a particular option to keep the design balanced). This time round you have the freedom to choose whichever one you prefer. So, do you mix and match your options, or do you keep them the same? It’s your decision!
There is a video this month to help you with the weaving-in technique which is needed to knit this square. So I would recommend that you watch it before making a start. In this square the techniques of stranding and weaving-in are combined together, so you might want to revisit my video in the March blog about the stranding technique if you need assistance with this too.
Watch out for the hooked in beads on chart rows 10, 26 and 42!
SQUARE 37, (OPTION TWO) MAGIC CARPET: this is the easier option, and it is exactly the same as Option Two for Square 9 from Mail Out 2.
WHEN IT COMES TO BEADING, SOME OF YOU HAVE COME UP WITH YOUR OWN VERY INNOVATIVE WAYS OF PREPARING THEM FOR THE TASK. LAURA JACOBS FROM ROCKVILLE, MARYLAND, USA sent in a picture of how she organises her beads for hooking-in.
Laura says: “I am very much enjoying the advanced techniques being taught in this year's blanket, and its fabulous colours. I found it quite interesting that you use only the very stiff top of the dental floss when adding beads. I have been using the entire piece so that I can string several at once and not have to keep taking them out and putting them away when I am forced to work on my blanket squares in small chunks of time. I have also done something which is probably appalling to a British tea lover. I have been using the piece of crockery meant to hold used tea bags as a perfect bead holder while I am stringing my beads. The sides are sufficiently sloped to keep the beads in and the "spout" is invaluable when returning the extras to the bag.”
That’s a great way to prepare the beads, and I love the little teabag holder being made use of too! I have one of those tucked away in the cupboard and might just start using it for my beads. At least it will keep them all in one place!
DEB STEINER FROM YARMOUTH, MASSACHUSETTS, USA HAS FOUND A GREAT BEADING NEEDLE, and she very kindly popped a few in the post to me – so thanks for that Deb!
Deb says: “The ‘Beadalon’ website has an international listing of shops. There are a few in the UK as well as other countries. I also use one of the needles, bent in half, for hooking in beads. That also works very well.”
This needle sounds like the perfect beading accessory – not only good for threading on beads for the slip-stitch technique, but also useful for hooking-in too. I am sure mine will come in very useful when I next do some beading.
NATALIE SIMON FROM GLOUCESTER, MASSACHUSETTS, USA USES DENTAL FLOSS TO HOOK IN HER BEADS, and from the photo and explanation she sent you can see how organised she is with it.
Natalie says: “I’m attaching a picture of the way I utilize dental floss and a dental floss threader. The upper part of the picture is for when you are loading all the beads on the yarn for pre-threading for slip-stitch beading (pb) - the dental floss threader is used instead of the needle and thread - it works great. The lower is for hooking in a bead (hb) - you don’t need a crochet hook, and if you’re using dental floss, you don’t cut off the fluffy part of the floss - you keep it there to load a few beads on in advance if you like, then use the stiff tip for threading/grabbing the stitch that is going to be hooked with the bead, and then pull the bead up from the fluffy part of the floss.”
What an efficient way to work with the floss, and it must save you so much precious time! I must give that go and see if I can save myself some time too – always a plus point when you have limited knitting time. Great tips, thanks Natalie!
ANNE MCCLURE FROM KINGSTON UPON THAMES, UK WAS DELIGHTED WITH HER ‘KING’S ROBES’ SQUARE, AND HAS A GREAT BEADING TIP TOO! I think to many people, this square does look complicated – especially with all the chain stitch embroidery. However, once Anne got going with it she found it much easier than she anticipated.
Anne says: “I am so enjoying this year's blanket. I wasn't sure that I would get the circles right, but they turned out surprisingly easy. I made sure to start each one in same spot. I also used preloaded dental floss with beads and a short circular needle (a size smaller) and hooked beads on the row, pushed stitches to other end of needle, then knitted row. No stop and starting and a much even finish.”
I love the idea of hooking in the beads first and then going back to knit the row. What a great idea and one I had not thought of. Anything to make life a bit easier is always welcome, so thanks for a great little tip Anne!
THERE’S BEEN LOTS OF STORIES AND PHOTOS SENT IN FROM THE MEMBERS THIS MONTH, SO HERE GOES!...
…BEGINNING WITH A CAT CALLED BENJI WHO I MENTIONED IN MY VIDEO INTRO…well, here he is!
Jill Stewart from Aberdeen, UK sent in these pictures of her gorgeous cat together with a story about what he’s been getting up to…
Jill says: "Benji is a Ragamuffin (American cousin to the Ragdoll). He will be one year old on the 3rd of April and shows few of the traits of his breed. In the main they are supposed to be indoor loving cats and he spends most of his time outdoors, when not destroying wool. He is a sneak thief and loves to pinch a ball of wool and run off with it, especially if that wool is attached to your knitting. Using a plastic bag is no deterrent as he also loves to bite plastic. Another joy of his is the printer. The minute he hears it switched on he comes and sits beside it and waits for the paper to print out. He then grabs the page and runs off. Quite a few of my knitting pattern sheets have teeth marks! He is extremely good natured and very cuddly. So he is forgiven for all his mischief!”
Jill had to replace a ball of her Tanzanite yarn after Benji got hold of it. At least he has good taste in yarn and knows a quality ball of yarn when he sees it! Jill will just have to keep it all locked away until her blanket is completed. Be good Benji!
XIMENA VERDUGO FROM VINA DEL MAR IN CHILE IS REALLY ENJOYING HER FIRST MYSTERY BLANKET PROJECT, and she is having a lot of fun learning new techniques along the way.
Ximena says: “Just to let you know I've finished my March patterns, enjoying each square as a challenge, learning new techniques and feeling proud and happy of my unknown skills...
The videos and instructions are definitely very helpful, and for the hooking-in method I used a small piece of fishing line which worked really well.
The project has been really addictive!”
It’s really wonderful to hear how much Ximena is learning from knitting up the blanket squares, and they are knitted so very beautifully too! You should be very proud of what you have achieved Ximena, well done for keeping up and taking on all the new challenges so bravely!
SHARON TODD FROM TORONTO, CANADA IS ALSO A NEWBIE TO THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB THIS YEAR, but she has bravely taken on the challenge and embraced it wholeheartedly with enthusiasm and determination! Although finding it a bit of a struggle at the beginning she has kept going with her squares and was thrilled to share her progress so far.
Sharon says: “I thought I should let you know I finished my three squares today. Your videos are very helpful. Watching YouTube is not since every knitter has a different style. The words mean different things to different people. And yes, there is a difference between ‘yo’ and ‘yf’ between North America and UK (at least as I saw for the position of the wool and the needles thus influencing stitch count!)
I assume I must be one of your most inexperienced knitters since I really have not followed a pattern before.
I took some liberties but mastered all of the stitches. I am pleased with the result although the time commitment is significant given my skill set. I have become an expert ripper outer and my use of curse words has greatly expanded!
But I am really sorry to say my squares do not match your pattern. I took some liberties and made it easier for me.
Square 1: I only did two braids and messed up the colours. I knitted with two yarns to add the braid so it was tighter. I was damned to introduce a new yarn in that row!
Square 8: I found the lace the most difficult. But I only did 4 sections - did not want to test fate!
Square 15: it’s missing the Swiss darning but I will do that. It should follow the pattern. I probably knitted this one about 6-7 times. I learned how to rip out stitches and rows on this first one!”
I just love that Sharon is so honest about her squares and has not been daunted by any of them! And not following my patterns to the letter is not a problem at all – no apology necessary Sharon! I think it’s great that you’ve had a go but not been precious about getting everything exactly right. At the end of the day, it’s your blanket and how it looks really does not matter, as long as you’ve enjoyed the process! Keep going Sharon!
ELIZABETH BLATT FROM LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA HAS KNITTED MANY ‘DEBBIE’ PROJECTS, and recently she was thrilled to have completed her ‘Autumn Bag’ – knitted as always to perfection!
Thanks for sharing this Elizabeth. Hopefully your Autumn Bag will come in useful – just be aware that you might get some orders for it from admirers!
PENNY SMITH FROM LEIGH-ON-SEA, ESSEX, UK HAS BEEN VERY BUSY KNITTING UP BLANKETS FOR THE FAMILY, AND THEY ARE SIMPLY STUNNING! Take a look at these…
Penny says: “Here are some pictures of blankets I have made, all using squares from the two Debbie Abrahams books. I did not stick to one blanket but picked out random squares from the two books. In order to ensure consistency in the size of the squares, I used the same size needles for all squares and always fifty rows, adjusting the pattern if necessary. The three colourful ones were for young granddaughters (who love them) and the fourth is for my daughter who asked for texture rather than beads. She was very happy with the result!”
I am absolutely thrilled to see what Penny has done with the squares in my books and what amazing blankets she has created. The colours combinations are exquisite and the choice of patterns are just perfect for each one. Well done Penny, this is super work!
PENNY NELSON FROM HONITON, DEVON, UK IS A SEASONED BLANKET KNITTER, and as well as knitting the Mystery Blanket she has also been busy knitting up other blankets from my books too. Here is her beautifully knitted ‘Floorcoverings’ from More Blankets & Throws To knit…
Penny says: I thought you would like to see a previous project, inspired by the Hungarian Vizsla in the photo from your book. At the time we had two Vizslas, but now sadly down to one, although both reaching a good age (over 15). Thank you for your help with the Mystery Blanket. It is all going well, and I am learning lots!”
What a super blanket and a great keepsake to remind you of your beloved pets. Let’s just hope that your Vizsla is not like our feline friend Benji and doesn’t steal your yarn! Thanks for sharing this with us Penny.
AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE THIRD 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 THREE (APRIL): this month’s winner is member 610, Peggy O’Brien-Bremer from Chicago, Illinois, USA. Well done Peggy! 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
- Four packs of Debbie Abrahams Beads (size 8/0 or 6/0) from the selection on http://www.debbieabrahamsbeads.co.uk
- 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 the weather stepping up a gear, the days getting longer and the promise of better things to come, I hope that the squares this month will also help to lift your spirits as you knit your way through April. With the Easter holidays about to start I am hopeful that the sun will be shining so that we can get outside for some fresh air. And I can’t wait for some of that al fresco knitting too! Until next month, please take care, enjoy your Easter celebrations and please DO eat plenty of chocolate – you deserve it! Debbie x