Mystery Blanket Club 2022: post 1, March

HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE 2022 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB! I am delighted to finally get this project underway and hope that you are excited as me about this brand new knitting adventure!

Those of you who have been on a Mystery Blanket journey with me before will be familiar with my blogs and know that this is the place to come to at the beginning of every month to check out all the latest news about the Club. So, to all the newbies on board this year, I recommend that you do the same and have a good read and listen before you make a start on your squares. There are lots of tips and extra information in the blogs which will really help you with your understanding and creation of the blanket.

In past years my Mystery Blanket blogs have been a mixture of Club updates and other general news about Debbie Abrahams. However, going forward I have decided that I am going to focus this blog solely on the Mystery Blanket and any other related Club news. And then in addition to this I will be creating a digital newsletter once a month giving all the latest updates on everything else we are doing including workshops, weekend events and new kit launches. As a member of this year’s Mystery Blanket you will already be signed up to this.

Last year I included knitting technique demonstrations which were a real help to the members. So I am pleased to say that I will be continuing to do these for this year’s project. You will find all the videos for this month below, beginning with my intro video which I recommend you watch before you make a start on your knitting. Following this there are seven knitting technique films:

  • Debbie’s intro!
  • How to thread beads onto yarn
  • How to bead, the slip-stitch method
  • How to bead, the hooking-in method
  • Razzle Dazzle: Chevron stitch
  • Diamonds: T3R and T3L
  • Diamonds: T2R and T2L
  • How to attach a rhinestone stud to knitting

IT ALWAYS FASCINATES ME TO THINK THAT KNITTERS FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD ARE KNITTING THE MYSTERY BLANKET AT THE SAME TIME. This year I am thrilled that we have members taking part from many different countries and continents including New Zealand, Australia, China, Japan, Malaysia, USA, Canada, Israel, Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Norway, Sweden, France, Spain, Germany, Greece, Italy, Malta, the Netherlands, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the UK. Wow! – that’s amazing!

IF YOU HAVE ANY QUERIES OR CONCERNS WHILST WORKING ON YOUR MYSTERY BLANKET, please contact Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com and she will assist you. Sue may pass your email onto me if it is a knitting query, or onto Jason if you need technical support. Throughout the project we will do our best to assist you in every way we can to ensure that your knitting experience is as smooth and enjoyable as possible. So do get in touch!

THE 2022 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB STARTS ON THE 1ST MARCH WITH MAIL OUT 1, 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 see it please contact Sue and she will check that we have your correct email details in our database.

MEMBERS THAT PAID FOR PRINTED PATTERNS will receive them each month in a separate card-backed envelope. If you did not sign up for printed patterns but have changed your mind, it's not too late. Contact Sue and she will be able to set this up for you for an additional cost. All members, including the printed pattern members, will be emailed the remaining patterns on the 1st of each month from April - December.

ALL OF THE PARCELS HAVE NOW BEEN POSTED AND MANY OF THEM HAVE ARRIVED SAFELY. However, if you are still waiting for your parcel then it shouldn’t be too long before it is delivered. If you have any concerns about this then please contact Sue.

When you receive your parcel check the contents of it against the list on page 2 of your March mail out. And if anything is missing (hopefully not!), let us know immediately and we will sort it out for you.

Members that signed up before the end of September will find their free gift included in their first parcel. You opted for either a knitting kit, a set of bespoke charms or a signed Kaleidoscope book. Our postal teams were extremely careful to ensure that everyone who had a gift got the right one. But if you have any queries about this, please get in touch.

IT IS VERY IMPORTANT THAT WE HAVE YOUR CORRECT CONTACT DETAILS ON FILE SO PLEASE NOTIFY US IMMEDIATELY IF THEY ARE INCORRECT. This goes for both your email and postal addresses. Any discrepancies in your postal address can affect the speed at which your parcels are delivered to you, or at worst they might not arrive at all. And an incorrect email address will mean that you will not receive our emailed patterns or club updates. So please let Sue know as soon as possible if we need to revise any of these details for you.

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

CORRECTIONS IN PATTERNS ARE HUGELY FRUSTRATING FOR EVERYONE, however, despite the test knits and numerous checks which are carried out before we sign them off, unfortunately they do still occur. When an error is reported and confirmed I list it in the ‘Addendum’ section on our website. In my intro video I talked about where you can find this – it’s accessed through a link at the bottom of the Homepage. I would advise that you check this before you start knitting each square just in case anything has been found. It could save you a lot of time.

THERE’S A FEW THINGS THAT I WOULD SUGGEST YOU DO BEFORE YOU MAKE A START ON YOUR SQUARES. The first one is to have a good read of the March mail out and familiarise yourself with the contents. In my intro video I talk you through it and point out several important things to watch out for. We lay the patterns out in exactly the same way in each instalment, so once you get familiar with them and how the patterns are written, they should be easy to follow.

On page 3 of your March mail out there is lots of general information about the project including information about tension/gauge. It is very important that you test your tension before you start knitting.

I would suggest that you use Svelte for your tension sample as you will have plenty of this in your kit.

Any discrepancies in your tension could lead to shortages of yarn, especially if you knit looser that the given tension. So please take time to do this. Here are some tips about measuring tension:

  • the tension sample should be longer and wider than the stated tension, so it is advisable to cast on a minimum of 30 stitches and work a minimum of 40 rows
  • use a solid ruler rather than a tape measure to measure your stitches and rows
  • start and finish counting the stitches and rows in from the edges of the knitting and not from edge to edge
  • if your tension is too loose you will need to resample using a smaller metric size needle
  • if you tension is too tight you will need to resample using a larger metric size needle
  • if you need to change your needle size then you will need to change all of the other needles used in the project as well by the same number of sizes
  • stitch tension is more important then row tension, so if you are unable to match both to the recommended tension, choose the needle size that gives you the closest match.

There’s one final thing I would suggest you do before you start knitting, and that is to set up your Colour coder. You will find this in your kit, it’s a piece of card onto which you can tie samples of each of the yarns and write on their colour names and shade numbers. This will prove to be such a handy tool to have while you are knitting, and as you use each yarn it should be checked carefully against the pattern instructions, especially as some of them are very similar in colour. Watch out for Brick (002), Chic (003) and Nutkin (121) which are all shades of terracotta and could be easily mistaken for one another. Also take care with the Kidsilk Haze yarns Ghost (642) and Pearl (590) which are both very pale shades. And the lurex yarns, Metallic Silver (301) and Metallic Gold (302) are also quite similar in colour.

You could also 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.

WHILE I AM TALKING ABOUT YARNS, I AM GOING TO MENTION SILVER GHOST AND GOLD PEARL, which each are made up from two yarns held together. There is a note about this on page 2 of your March mail out at the bottom of the right-hand column, and it is essential that this information is followed:

Ghost (642) and Metallic Silver (301) are always knitted together as one yarn and are called Silver Ghost.

Pearl (590) and Metallic Gold (302) are always knitted together as one yarn and are called Gold Pearl.

My suggestion is that you wind each of these yarns onto separate bobbins and then use them as instructed, knitting the two strands together as one yarn. If you knit them from the balls then they could get very tangled, and the lurex can be really tricky to handle as it is prone to spiralling and twisting. Winding them onto bobbins eliminates all these potential problems and will enable you to knit with them much more easily and efficiently.

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 patterns and in the digital files. We have done our best to make sure that the colours are as accurate as possible, however there may be some discrepancies. Therefore, it is always best to read the name and shade number of the colours rather than going by the photographs of the knitting.

WE HAVE DONE OUR VERY BEST TO GIVE YOU THE SAME DYE LOTS WHEN THERE ARE MULTIPLE BALLS OF ONE COLOUR IN YOUR KIT. However, the delays to our yarn shipments meant that we had to swap some of the colours around to enable each of our three postal to have enough for the first parcels. This means that the dye lots in your kit may differ. So, it is very important that you take note of your dye lots and are aware if there any differences. If there are then I would suggest that you use a new ball to knit a square that is all one colour (like Square 2, Diamonds), and that you use the partial balls for stripes or small areas of colour. My blanket was knitted up from all sorts of odds and ends, and you honestly cannot notice it. So if you do have mixed dye lots, this will not be a problem, it just needs to be managed as I have suggested.

THE PIECING DIAGRAMS ON PAGE 4 OF YOUR MARCH MAIL OUT SHOW WHERE THE SQUARES ARE POSITIONED IN THE BLANKET. There are two diagrams – one for Option One and one for Option Two. Each month the new squares will be added to them so that you can see how the overall design is progressing.

In most of my previous Mystery Blankets 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 turned the other way up so that the top (cast-off) edges of two squares meet. These squares will be joined together by a three-needle cast/bind off. When this happens it will be made clear in the pattern instructions and the instructions for joining them to other squares must be followed.

You will also notice on the Piecing Diagrams that there are dotted lines between some of the squares. This indicates when two squares are knitted as one panel with no seam between them. An example of this is Squares 1 and 2 in your March patterns. On page 6 you will in the top left-and corner of the page a purple square which says Squares 1 & 2, which indicates that this is one panel and not two separate squares.

SOME OF THE SQUARES IN THE BLANKET HAVE A SECOND OPTION. This means that when there is a square that involves a more advanced technique such as fairisle, you can opt to knit an alternative square instead that replaces it with something that is easier to knit. This will be either a textured, beaded or striped stitch pattern. It is clearly stated in the pattern instructions when there is an option – there is a note in the left-hand column of the first pattern page for each square - and you can also see it 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 is perfectly okay to do, so you can pick and choose and go for Option One for some of the squares and Option Two for others. This gives the project increased flexibility and means that although you are all working on the same design you can, if preferred, make your blanket unique!

BLOCKING AND PRESSING YOUR SQUARES IS VERY IMPORTANT, and I know that it is avoided by some knitters, which I completely understand as it is not the most exhilarating part of the knitting process! However, it is very important that you take time to block and press your squares. Blocking your squares ensures that they are a uniform size which will make the joining of them so much easier to do. You might find that you have to stretch some of them to get them to the same measurements as your other squares, but within reason (!) this is fine - I certainly had to do this with some of mine! On the other hand, other squares may block out quite easily with no easing in or out required. If your individual squares are measuring slightly bigger or smaller than 18cm x 18cm, then this should not be a problem. But you will need to decide on what size you are going to block them to and stick to this throughout the whole blanket.

Blocking is the pinning out of your knitting, and, unless instructed otherwise, you should always pin it out with the wrong side facing upwards. Pin frequently along each edge, keeping all four edges as flat and even as possible. There is no need to use heat to press your squares. Much more preferable – and much safer too! – is cold water. So, if you have one available, fill up a plant spray bottle and use this to generously wet down the knitting, making sure that the water is dispersed right across the knitting from edge to edge. And then simply leave it to dry before removing the pins.

Pressing is the process of applying either heat or water to your knitting which relaxes the stitches and softens the fibres, resulting in a much more fluid and pleasant feeling fabric. This is especially true of the lurex yarns which, when knitted up, feel quite crunchy and hard to touch. However, after pressing these yarns drastically change in quality and feel beautiful and soft.

Blocking and pressing also helps the edges of the knitting stay flat rather than curling over, as is the tendency with most stitch structures.

I would suggest that you block and press your squares after you have knitted each one. I think it’s far easier to do this as you go along rather than leaving them all to the end. It also ensures that as you work through the squares they are all knitting up to the correct measurements.

THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET is always kept a secret until you guess it, and with each instalment comes more clues as you work your way through the design. If you think you might know what it is, then send in your guess and we will let you know if you are right. Or if you have no idea what it is you will have to wait for the reveal in the final instalment in December.

As well as clues in the monthly squares, I also give you extra help by giving you a clue in the blog to help you guess the title. This month the letter I am giving you is “A”:

_  _  _  _  / _  _  _  A  _  _ 

Please send your guesses to Sue. 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 and have a go!!!

THERE ARE THREE SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:

Squares 1 & 2, Razzle Dazzle – striped chevrons, hooked-in beads, stocking stitch stripes and a rhinestone detail (same for both options):

Left to right: Square 2 and Square 1

Square 3, Diamonds – textured diamond pattern with slip-stitch beads and twisted stitches (same for both options):

There are no options to choose from this month, so everyone is knitting the same squares.

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:

SQUARES 1 & 2, RAZZLE DAZZLE: these two squares are knitted as one panel, as indicated on the Piecing Diagrams on page 4. There’s a mixture of techniques so there’s plenty here to keep you motivated!

Videos to watch for assistance with these squares:

  • How to bead, the hooking-in method
  • Razzle Dazzle: Chevron stitch
  • How to attach a rhinestone stud to knitting

It begins with Chevron stitch which is created by balancing pairs of increases with decreases, resulting in a zig-zag edge to the knitting. You are instructed to use larger size needles to knit this section as the chevron stitch structure tightens up the tension. Note also that Row 1 of the pattern is a wrong side row which means that all odd numbered rows up to Row 37 are wrong side rows (this goes against the normal rule for knitting which is odd numbers for right side rows and even numbers for wrong side rows).

When you get to Row 37 you will see that four stitches are decreased from 51 stitches down to 47 stitches, which gives you the correct amount for the next section of the pattern.  Beads are then hooked in to create the beaded diamond. This section will take some time to do as hooking in beads is labour intensive. However, the effect will be spectacular so it will be worth all the effort. Time for a cup of tea and a biscuit maybe before you make a start on this!

In the videos for hooked-in beading I show two methods for how to add in the beads. One uses a crochet hook and the other uses a piece of dental floss. Both are worth checking out to see which one you prefer. I would suggest that if you find the method with the crochet hook splits the stitch, give the dental floss a go instead. Personally, I find the floss far easier to work with and my stitches don’t tend to split so easily, if at all. But you will need to get hold of the stiffer floss for this technique. I use Oral B Superfloss which is perfect for the job. You can see this in the video.

When you have completed Squares 1 & 2 you will need to block them to the correct measurements. This will be 18cm across in width and 36cm down in length. You will need to pin out the bottom edge starting at the beginning of the the first Royal stripe at the side edge – this is where you start measuring from. The zig-zag edging does need to be pinned out and stretched down to emphasise the points, but they will fall outside the 36cm measurement.

The icing on the cake is the rhinestone stud which is added to the panel after it has been completed. Take care when you add it to the knitting as the claws on the back of the stud are sharp. They need to be pressed down firmly so that they are flat to the knitting, and then the stud will be securely attached.

SQUARE 3, DIAMONDS: this square is either knitted separately or picked up from the cast-off edge of Square 2. You can knit it from a chart or from worded instructions.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • Diamonds: T3R and T3L
  • Diamonds: T2R and T2L

This square focuses on the technique of twisting stitches and requires a cable needle. Stitches twist to the left and to the right to create the diamond pattern. In the videos I show an alternative method for T2L (twist 2 stitches to the left) which omits the need for a cable needle. So it is worth checking this out before you make a start as I think it makes the technique far easier to do.

One thing to watch out for on the row following a T2L is the stitches which tend to sit on top of each other. So you need to make sure that you knit each of them separately and not together as one stitch. This only seems to be an issue with T2L. You should find that with T2R, the stitches do not overlap one another and are therefore easier to knit on the following row.

There are beads in this square but this time you are going to add them using the slip-stitch method. This means that they will need to be pre-threaded before you cast on. Follow the instructions for this on page 10 of your March mail out.

Due to the high row density of this pattern, there are more rows in this square than in others. However, you should find that it knits up to the same measurements. If necessary you can ease it into shape when blocking and pressing.

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

There are also a couple of groups set up for Debbie Abrahams Mystery Blanket on Facebook, and I have an Instagram page too. So, if you want to keep ahead with all the latest news about the Club, please follow us on our social media platfoms. It’s a great way to keep up with what is happening!

Instagram: debbieabrahams_knitting

Facebook: facebook.com/debbieabrahamshandknits/

ON FRIDAY 4TH MARCH WE ARE LAUNCHING OUR 2022 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB, which offers you the opportunity to sign up to a brand new Debbie Abrahams Mystery project! And all 2022 Mystery Blanket Club members who join this club will receive a fabulous 10% discount off the cost of their membership. A unique discount code for this will be included in the emailed newsletter we will send you as soon as memberships are available to purchase. So keep an eye on your inbox!

Above: the 2021 Mystery Cushion Club, Restore

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 which will include knitting technique videos, so you can get all the help and support you need as you knit along.

Above: the 2017 Mystery Cushion Club, Metropolis

Memberships are limited to 250, so be sure to sign up promptly to book your place!

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE FIRST 2022 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 (MARCH): this month’s winner is member 196, Dorothy Rodden from Greenock, Scotland in the UK. Well done Dorothy! Please choose a prize from the following selection:

  • Your choice of one of the Rainbow Purse knitting kits: Neon, Hot or Cool (take a look at them in our online shop)
  • A £20 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club membership: 2022 Mystery Cushion Club; 2023 Mystery Blanket Club
  • A 'mystery' goody bag!

We will notify Dorothy to let her know the good news!

That brings me to the end of the first blog for this year’s Mystery Blanket, which means it’s now time to make a start on your blanket! Hopefully the information in this blog together with the knitting technique videos will help you breeze through your first set of squares. But don’t panic if you get stuck or have any questions as we are always here to help - simply drop us a line by email and we will spring into action! We love to hear from our members, so please get in touch if you have any photos or stories that you would like to share with us, and with your permission we will include them in next month’s blog. I wish all of you happy knitting and look forward to seeing you back here at the beginning of April for instalment number two! Until then, take care and keep busy! Debbie x


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