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Mystery Blanket Club 2021: post 8, September

WELCOME TO THE EIGHTH INSTALMENT OF THE 2021 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB!

We are nearly at the end of the summer holidays here in Nottingham, and busy preparing for the children to go back to school for the start of the Autumn term. We managed to get away for a couple of UK breaks, which were very much needed! And I held my first Inspired Minds workshop event this year, at which I met some of you for a few days of glorious knitting together (it’s good to be back!) But now I am back at my desk and firmly focused on the forthcoming season, with lots of lovely new things in store for you all.

In this month’s blog there is an update on my new kit projects including my Festive Knits collection, news of a colourful new kit from BeadyKnits, and a heads up about the forthcoming Knitting & Crochet Guild’s Un-Convention. Plus, there is all the usual help and advice for this month’s squares and some great stories from the members too. There’s a lot to catch up on, so let’s go!

There are no technical videos this month, but you can use any of the previous ones to assist you with your squares this month. So, I begin with my video intro…

THE PRINTED PATTERNS HAVE BEEN POSTED – with the overseas patterns posted on 24th July and the UK posted on the 26th July. Apologies for the late posting of the overseas patterns but unfortunately our whole team were away on holiday at the same time and this was the earliest we could get them sent out. However, you should have the patterns now by email, and remember that you can also download them from your Debbie Abrahams account while you wait for them to arrive.

SIGN-UPS FOR THE 2022 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB ARE NOW OPEN IN OUR ONLINE SHOP! So if you have not signed up to it yet, there is still plenty of time to take advantage of our very special Early Bird promotion. We have a choice of one of three free gifts on offer to everybody that signs up within the first month (offer expires on 30th September at 23:59 GMT):

  • a bespoke set of knitting charms (specially selected by Debbie)
  • a knitting kit for a fairisle purse (beads, yarn and pattern included)
  • a Kaleidoscope book signed by Jane Crowfoot and Debbie Abrahams

 

All Early Bird members will also receive a 10% discount voucher which can be used once in our online shop for a limited period. It can be used for any purchases except Mystery products (Cushion, Blanket and Festive Boxes). We will email you a discount voucher for this with your membership confirmation email.

Please note that all three gifts are subject to availability, so signing up sooner rather than later will guarantee that you get the gift you choose. We sold half of the memberships within the first two days of launch, so we anticipate selling out all the memberships well before applications close on the 30th December.

If you would prefer to pay for your membership in monthly instalments, then we have a new payment system for this set up in our online shop called Splitit. This means that you can choose to spread your payments over 2-4 months with no interest or administration fees. It’s an easy way to spread the cost rather than paying in one go. The option to use Splitit is offered at the final stages of the checkout process. At this point you can select it as a method of payment and choose the number of months over which you wish to pay.

I always keep the theme of the Mystery Blanket a secret until the project begins and the design starts to unfold. However, if you are unsure whether this project is for you, I am going to give you a brief glimpse of what is in store for 2022 to help you make up your mind…

After a year of bright vibrant colours in the 2021 design, I have opted next year for a softer palette of colours which I would describe as ‘Vintage Modern’ – perhaps a bit of a contradiction in terms, but it has a nostalgic feel with modern hi-lights. Colours range from silver and vintage rose to fern green, salmon and ochre, enhanced with a glimmer of silver and pale gold. There are beads aplenty and silver rhinestones too, creating a beautiful palette that sparkles and glitters. And with four bespoke colours in Baby Cashsoft dyed up specifically for the blanket, it will be a totally unique palette of colours for my Mystery Blanket members only to enjoy.

I have chosen to use the luxuriously soft and utterly gorgeous Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino yarn for the main yarn and mixed it with a couple of colours of Rowan Kidsilk Haze. It is NOT a baby-themed design, I chose Baby Cashsoft Merino as it is a high, quality blend of fibres which is important for the theme of the project which is luxurious, chic and sophisticated.

Techniques will include fairisle and intarsia as well as textured stitches, cables and stripes. Two options will be offered on some of the trickier squares which will enable knitters of all skill levels to take part.

Knitters from all over the world are invited to join me, so you will find membership packages for UK, Europe and World Zones 1, 2 and 3, with Printed Patterns being an optional extra. Please note that due to the continued uncertainty of Covid-19 and possible disruptions to postal services, Tracked and/or Signed delivery is mandatory on all World and European memberships (it is optional for UK members).

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

BEADYKNITS HAVE BEEN SUPER BUSY AGAIN AND HAVE ADDED TWO BEADED COIN PURSES TO THEIR COLLECTION OF HANDKNIT KITS. These small projects are perfect to tuck away in your holiday bag for a spot of relaxing knitting while you are on vacation. Alternatively, if you are new to bead knitting then they are a great way to learn the slip-stitch technique.

These two colourways, Spectrum (above left) and Evergreen (above right) are a re-colour of BeadyKnit’s Coin Purse which was one of the original designs in their collection. Jenny has brought it back to life again in vibrant green and show-stopping red!

Each kit includes:

  • Quality Rico Cotton Essentials DK yarn
  • Debbie Abrahams Beads (size 6)
  • 6in zip
  • Lining fabric (may differ from image due to supplier)
  • Full colour printed pattern instructions for the chosen design

The cost of the kit is £16.00 plus shipping. Each kit includes enough materials to make one purse in the chosen colourway.

For more information about these kits and others in the BeadyKnits collection, please contact Jenny at jenny@beadyknits.com.

Or you can visit her shop on Etsy: BeadyKnitsbyJenny.

Please note that these kits are not available to buy from the Debbie Abrahams Ltd website. They must be purchased directly from Jenny at BeadyKnits: jenny@beadyknits.com.

WITH AUTUMN ALMOST UPON US, MY DESIGN STUDIO IS IN FULL SWING! So you might be interested in these new projects which will be available soon in our online shop…

  • Friday 3rd September: Seashell Purse kit – a textured and beaded purse using Rowan Summerlite DK and Soft Yak, inspired by the seashore. Kit includes yarn, beads, a ceramic handmade button, Kaffe Fassett lining fabric and printed pattern instructions: £25 (to make 1 purse)/£40 (to make 2 purses) plus shipping.

  • Friday 1st October: Twinkle Twinkle Festive Stocking kit – a fairisle and beaded design with cute pom-poms using the ultra-soft and luxurious Rowan Alpaca Soft DK in shades of Teal and White. This was the kit that was included in the 2020 Festive Mystery Knit Box. Kit includes yarn, beads and printed pattern instructions: £30 plus shipping.

  • Friday 1st October: Festive Favour Bags and Mini Festive Stockings re-coloured in silver-grey and snowflake-white using Rowan Baby Cashsoft Merino yarn. Favour Bags kit includes yarn and printed pattern instructions; Mini Stockings kit includes yarn, beads and printed pattern instructions: £21/£25 plus shipping.

 

  • Friday 15th October: Festive Mystery Knit Boxes – the perfect idea for a gift or a treat for yourself. Debbie’s Mystery Box includes over 8 mystery gifts including a new festive knitting kit: £59.50 plus shipping.

 

  • Friday 29th October: Lavish Cushion Cover kit –a fairisle and beaded design knitted in the round using Rowan Kid Classic, Felted Tweed and Debbie’s Merino Light DK, inspired by the 2021 Mystery Blanket. Kit includes yarn, beads, buttons and printed pattern instructions: price TBC.

 

THE 2022 KNITTING & CROCHET GUILD ‘UN-CONVENTION’ TAKES PLACE FROM THE 10TH-12TH SEPTEMBER. And I am thrilled to have been asked to contribute a talk to their annual event which can be accessed by K&C members on the 11th September between 1-2pm.

My film entitled, ‘An Inspirational Journey Exploring Pattern, Colour & Texture’ invites you into my world to take a look at the things that inspire me and how they have influenced my designs. Looking at their website it looks as though my talk is fully booked, however, there are plenty of other things happening across that weekend you will be able to access if you are a member of the Guild.

Above: some of my sources of inspiration, graffiti, stationary and Marimekko.

If you are not a member of the Guild and are interested in joining, then why not visit their website and get yourself signed up today! The Guild is a charity and relies on memberships and donations for all its funding, so every penny makes a difference. Being a member will introduce you to a network of like-minded people who are passionate about knitting and crochet, and in turn you will be helping to preserve and nurture our beloved crafts. Visit www.kcguild.org.uk to find out more!

HAVE YOU GUESSED THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET YET? With just one more instalment to go after this one before the Mystery Blanket is revealed in November, time is running out if you are still guessing. Congrats this month go out to Lori Yelvington, Christina Jones, Natalie Simon and Anna Wallis de Garay who have guessed it correctly – well done ladies! But for those of you who are still puzzling over it, will this next clue help you solve it? Letter number eight is “G”:

_  _  E  / _  H  _  U  S  A  _  D  / A  _  D  / _  _  E  / _  I  G  H  _   S

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.

THERE ARE SIX SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:

Square 24, Option One, Back to the Souk – intarsia pattern with cables, hooked-in and slip-stitch beads, shisha mirrors and chain stitch details:

Square 24, Option Two, Back to the Souk – cables, hooked-in and slip-stitch beads, a lace panel, shisha mirrors and chain stitch details:

 

Square 39, Option One, Plush – fairisle pattern:

Square 39, Option Two, Plush – striped pattern with basic fairisle:

Square 40, Lady Zubeida – cable pattern with hooked-in beads (same for both options):

Square 47, The King’s Palace (part 16) – striped pattern with a decorative slip-stitch beaded border and Swiss darned details (same for both options):

Square 48, The King’s Palace (part 17) – striped pattern with a decorative beaded border and lace panel (same for both options):

Square 49, Sumptuous 4 – striped pattern with decorative braids, textured stitches and slip-stitch beads (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 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.

SQUARE 24, OPTION ONE, BACK TO THE SOUK: Square 18 took you to the Souk for a first-time visit in June, and this month we go back there again, but in a different colour palette. Coral and Garnet are swapped for Turquoise and Topaz, and the beads are different too with Tangerine replacing Lipstick.

Remember that this is an intarsia square which means you need to use separate lengths of yarn for each section. So whatever you do, don’t strand Topaz behind Turquoise as this may result in puckering, plus you will use oodles more yarn. This is a single thickness piece of multi-coloured knitting, so just make sure that yours is single thickness too.

I would advise that you knit this option if you knitted Option One for Square 18. That way the centrepiece of the design will be balanced.

SQUARE 24, OPTION TWO, BACK TO THE SOUK: likewise, this second and easier option is also a revisit to Square 18 with the same colours swapped in and out.

The first 32 rows are the same stitch structure as Option One, but there is a different chart to follow for the remaining rows – a cable and bead pattern replaces the intarsia motif.

On Row 35 (and all its subsequent repeats), just remember to keep the yarn held at the front of the work (yf) as you sl 1 knitwise, K1tbl, psso, and DO NOT take it to the back of work. This has caught some of you out and has resulted in a problem with the number of stitches at the end of row. The instruction yf is the same as yarn over (yo), which means it is an increase of one stitch. So at the end of this row, you should have the same number of stitches as you had at the beginning.

SQUARE 39, OPTION ONE, PLUSH: you knitted this same square in Mail Out 5 in this same colourway, so this should be plain sailing for the Option One knitters.

If you went for Option One for Square 11 then it is advisable to knit Option One for this square so that the design is balanced. You will see what I mean when you look at the Piecing Diagram on page 4 of your September mail out.

SQUARE 39, OPTION TWO, PLUSH: this is exactly the same as Square 11 from Mail Out 5, same colours and same pattern. 

Remember that there is some basic fairisle in this square, but it’s very easy to knit as you are swapping from one colour to the next on alternate stitches. Just keep an eye on your tension and if it looks as though it is knitting up tighter or looser than the other squares in your blanket, change to a smaller or larger needle to resolve any tension issues.

SQUARE 40, LADY ZUBEIDA: you first came across Lady Zubeida towards the beginning of the project in the April instalment and this is exactly the same as that square. I remember that it took me some time to knit it as there is some pretty intensive cabling in it. Plus, you have the hooked-in beads to knit in as well. So maybe you should make a cuppa and grab yourself a comfy chair before you settle down to knit this cable extravaganza – it will be worth it!

SQUARE 47, THE KING’S PALACE (part 16): this is the last King’s Palace to knit in this colourway, which is the same as Squares 3, 5 and 45.

If you are sewing your squares into place as you go, then remember to try and match up the cast-on edges so that the beaded pattern along the edge matches up perfectly to the square next to it.

If you need a reminder of Mattress stitch, then scroll back to my March blog where I demo how to sew together Squares 2 and 3.

SQUARE 48, THE KING’S PALACE (part 17): this is the last King’s Palace to knit in this colourway, which is the same as Squares 2, 4, 6, 44 and 46.

Likewise, if you need a reminder of how to sew this square to Square 47, check out the vid in my March blog.

SQUARE 49, SUMPTUOUS 4: this is the final piece of the Sumptuous quartet and it completes the four corners of the blanket. It is subtly different to the other three squares in this series, with the colours of the yarns swapping around. The braids are attached to the square in the same sequence as Square 1, beginning and ending with Wine. However, watch out for Turquoise and Serpentine as these two colours are swapped over. Apart from that, everything else is the same, so happy knitting everyone!

I AM GOING TO BEGIN MY MEMBER STORIES WITH A LOVELY PHOTO FROM TRACEY NETTLESHIP FROM CONCORD, CALIFORNIA, USA, who, as you can see, has other ideas about what she could use her Mystery Blanket for…

Tracey says: “Tell me I'm not the only person who's done this. Seriously considering a poncho, lol! The colours look so fantastic under the Californian sun.

I was looking for the instructions for sewing together a couple of squares when I stumbled on the video you did for the blanket reveal last year, and I'm really looking forward to seeing your thought process and design decisions for this blanket.”

What a great idea Tracey, and one that I could see catching on! The colours do indeed look fabulous in that beautiful Californian sun. I just wish we could have had some of that here in the UK this summer!

HELEN JACKSON FROM BURNABY, BRITISH COLUMBIA, CANADA DELIGHTED US BACK IN 2019 IN A PREVIOUS BLOG WITH PICS OF HER GORGEOUS DOG MISSIE, who enjoyed snuggling up in her Winter Wonderland Mystery Blanket. And here is another one of her furry pals enjoying this year’s Mystery Blanket!

Helen says: “Instead of Missie the Dachshund we have Sammy the Cat on my current blanket as you can see - with my other blankets in the background! She LOVES laying on the blanket pieces!”

Now, just how comfortable does she look!?! I am so glad that your pets are continuing to enjoy your Mystery knitting Helen. It looks as though Sammy already has her paws on this one!

KATE NOWAK AND LEONIE HYDE WERE AMONGST THE 24 LOVLEY LADIES WHO JOINED ME ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT FOR OUR INSPIRED MINDS WORKSHOP IN AUGUST. Whilst on the knitting holiday, Leonie noticed how the colours of the landscape in Shanklin (which is where we were staying), were in sync with the project I designed, and sent me this lovely photo…

Kate sent in some pictures of her completed Seashell Purse, knitted, lined and ready to use! This was very soon after she arrived home, so, well done Kate for getting it finished so quickly! I am sure it will inspire others in the group to get their purses completed too. It’s certainly worth all that effort, it looks beautiful!

Kate says: “I just wanted to say thank you for such a lovely workshop on The Isle of Wight. I loved every minute and it was good to see you ‘in real life‘ again!  I am very pleased with the purse!

Also, with your expert guidance and confidence boost I have sewn my three strips of the blanket together yesterday! I’m so pleased with myself, thank you for helping me with that.”

It was great to see a few of the Mystery Blanket members on the knitting holiday, and it was a pleasure to help with the knitting queries – especially that sewing up Kate! I am glad it spurred you on!

YOU MIGHT REMEMBER JANE BOYD’S STORY FROM THE AUGUST BLOG – SHE HAS BEEN KEEPING BUSY WITH OTHER SMALL PROJECTS WHILE KNITTING HER MYSTERY BLANKET. Her latest creation is this gorgeous Rowan poncho design called Karis:

I immediately recognised it as I have it in my wardrobe too (although I have to admit that I bought it readymade from a Rowan garment sale many years ago!)

Jane says: “This poncho was my post-August MBC squares project. I’ve knitted it twice - once in Angora Haze and once in Kidsilk Haze. It’s a bit of a labour of love!

I shall be online tomorrow ordering next year’s Mystery Blanket.  I have to order two sets as I’m part of a knit and natter group and four of the girls want to do the blanket together with me as co-ordinator/technical assistant. They are very excited and scared about knitting your Mystery Blanket - they’ve seen all the ones I’ve previously completed and want a go. They are all too apprehensive about the skills required to do it on their own, so we came up with the group. I hope we’ll all meet at my house once a month - and individually as required - to form a plan of action.  We will have fun!

I’ve just started to knit your ‘Let It Snow Mitts’ to keep my fingers busy until 1st September - they will make adorable Christmas pressies for my female family members.

Sewing Mystery Blanket strips together today. I have to psyche myself up for this!

And I’ve just acquired these three - no doubt they will be my little helpers, Buster Bear, Teddy Bear and Bonnie Bear!"

Wow Jane! What a gorgeous bunch of kittens, they are beautiful! And my goodness! - how productive you've been with all those knitting projects on the go! It’s lovely to see them and to hear how excited you are about next year’s Mystery Blanket. Group knitting projects are great fun and I am sure that your friends will enjoy being on the journey with you next year. Thanks for sharing!

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE EIGHTH 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 EIGHT (SEPTEMBER): this month’s winner is member 502, Linda Heald from Newton Stewart in Scotland, UK. Well done Linda! Please choose a prize from the following selection:

  • A signed Debbie Abrahams book: 25 Beaded Knits/Kaleidoscope/Blankets & Throws To Knit/More Blankets & Throws To Knit
  • A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club: 2022 Mystery Cushion Club; 2022 Mystery Blanket Club
  • Four balls of Debbie’s Rowan Merino Light DK (any colours).

With just two more instalments to go after this month, it won’t be long until this year’s Mystery Blanket is finally revealed. And if you can keep your knitting momentum going, then very soon you too will have your own beautiful blanket to snuggle up under! Here in the UK the evenings are gradually beginning to draw in as the temperatures drop, so a knitted blanket is a most welcome addition to the household – and I have plenty of them!

Don’t forget to send in your stories and photos which are always a joy to read, and with your permission I will include them in the next blog. In the meantime, please look after yourselves and I look forward to seeing you back here in a month, dare I say it, when we are in the penultimate month of the project. Are you feeling excited? – I certainly am! Until then, take care, Debbie x


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