Mystery Blanket Club 2024: post 5, June

Mystery Blanket Club 2024: post 5, June

WELCOME TO THE FIFTH INSTALMENT OF THE 2024 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB – which means that we are already halfway through the project. With a further five squares revealed to you this month, the blanket is now really starting to take shape. And if you have not guessed the theme yet, then there are more clues this month to get you thinking…

I have recently returned from a fabulous trip to The Watermill in Posara, Italy, and later on in this blog you can read all about it, as well as catching up with all the latest Mystery Blanket Club news. There’s also an exciting new promotion in our online shop to tell you about, plus all the usual tips and advice for the squares you are knitting for June.

This month there is no intro vid from me, so there is just this blog to read. There are no new tech vids either, but you can use the list below to go back to any of the ones that are already available to you if you need a reminder:

  • How to knit star stitch (June blog)
  • How to cast on using several colours (April blog)
  • Square 22, Lunar (Option One), how to cross over the yarns (April blog)
  • Square 1, Capricorn (Option Two) (March blog)
  • How to knit intarsia (March blog)
  • How to cable (March blog)
  • Square 8, Tranquility: Japanese short-row shaping (February blog)
  • How to carry yarns up the side of the work (February blog)
  • How to add Swiss darning to your knitting (February blog)
  • How to thread beads onto your yarn (February blog
  • How to bead, the slip-stitch method (February blog)
  • How to bead, the hooking-in method (February blog)
  • How to knit fairisle (February blog)
  • Picking up stitches to begin a new square (February blog)
  • Mattress stitch (horizontal) (February blog)

THE JUNE PATTERNS HAVE BEEN SENT TO ALL THE MEMBERS, so you should find an email from us in your inbox. However, if you cannot see it then please check your Spam folder first before doing anything else as sometimes our emails end up in there. Remember that you can also download the June file and all of the other digital files for the Mystery Blanket from your Debbie Abrahams account on our website.

THE PRINTED PATTERNS HAVE BEEN POSTED TO THE MEMBERS WHO OPTED FOR THEM. We sent you an email recently to say that the overseas printed patterns would not be posted until I got back from my trip to Italy. So I am pleased to say that they have now all been posted and are on their way to you. The UK printed patterns were posted on the 30th May.

 

ADDENDUM FOUND ON PAGE 12, GEMINI, OPTION 2: the Velvet beads are listed as code 244, but they are code 244.

ADDENDUM FOUND ON PAGE 6, LUNAR, OPTION 1: in the picking up stitches info in the first column, Fjord and Baby Blue should be Iris and Serenity.

WITH JUST TWO WEEKS TO GO TO THE LAUNCH OF MY 2024 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB, THERE ARE JUST A HANDFUL OF MEMBERSHIPS LEFT IF YOU STILL WANT TO JOIN. With the Mystery Blanket Club now well underway, you might fancy a new smaller challenge to keep you busy over the summer months. And with a fabulous discount of 5% off the cost of the membership offered to all 2024 Mystery Blanket Club members, you could be starting on a brand new KAL within the next couple of weeks! It’s easy to claim your discount. Simply input LOYALTY5 into the coupon box at checkout and the discount will be applied to the cost of the membership.

I’ve got a fabulous, colourful project in store for you this year! And in case you’ve missed our emails and social media posts about it, here is a reminder of what the 2024 Mystery Cushion Club is all about…

Over five fun-packed months of inspirational knitting using some of Rowan’s finest and most luxurious yarns including Alpaca Soft DK and Felted Tweed, you will have the opportunity to create your very own Mystery Cushion.

If you’re new to the Mystery Cushion Club then it’s a smaller project than the blanket, beginning on 14th June and finishing mid-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 which will include knitting technique videos, so you can get all the help and support you need as you knit along.

The knitting kit includes Rowan yarn, Debbie Abrahams Light Wool DK, Debbie Abrahams Beads and buttons for fastening.

So what about some hints?!? If you like rich Autumnal colours with a hint of Vintage, then this could be the cushion you’ve always dreamed of knitting! Bold motifs are mixed with simple stripes and textured stitches, finished off with a sprinkling of sparkling beads and bronze stud details. The theme has several different strands to it, including a nod to one of the great masters of 20th century art…now there’s food for thought!

There will be a download option only (no knitting kit) for this club, which will enable you to use yarns and beads from your own stash to knit the cushion. The list of yarns and beads for the knitting kit will be released a week before the project begins so you can yourself prepped and ready. The five sets of patterns will be emailed monthly from June to October.

To make things easier you can choose to spread the cost of your payment. If you don’t want to pay in one go you have the option to pay in 2-4 instalments using our Splitit payment plan. There are no admin fees for splitting your payment so you can choose whatever is easiest for you and your finances. This can be used for both the knitting kit and download pattern only options.

Feeling tempted?!? As with all my Mystery Clubs, memberships are limited and once they have sold out the Club will be closed. So don’t delay in getting yourself signed up. There are packages for UK, Europe and the World - it’s a global project and everyone is invited to join in!

WE ARE REALLY EXCITED TO TELL YOU ABOUT A NEW PROMOTION THAT IS HAPPENING IN OUR ONLINE SHOP THIS MONTH. You can enjoy a super 25% discount off selected colours in the Debbie Abrahams Light Wool DK and Merino Light DK collections, plus 25% off all our beads. And if you spend over £50 we will give you a free pattern for an exclusive small purse designed by Debbie.

Above: some of the yarns that are on offer in our June promotion.

The offer begins on Friday 7th June and runs for two weeks. So it’s well worth noting this on your calendar if you want to take advantage of our June promotion and stock up on yarn and beads for all your forthcoming projects. Happy yarn and bead shopping everyone!

NOW WE ARE HALFWAY THROUGH THIS YEARS MYSTERY BLANKET, THERE HAVE BEEN MANY CLUES IN THE TWENTY-TWO SQUARES YOU HAVE KNITTED SO FAR. Many of you have guessed it right (check out the separate blog this month with all the names of the correct guessers so far), but if you are still trying to work out what it is, here is another letter.

This month the letter I am giving you is “T”:

_  _  ‘  S  / _  R  _  T  T  E  N  /  _  N  /  T  _  E  /  S  T  _  R  S

With that extra letter this month, the whole title has nearly been revealed. So take a look and if you think you know what it is, drop us an email to let us know what you are thinking. Sue would love to hear from you and would be even happier to be able to tell you that you’ve guessed it correctly. So why not have a go, you’ve got nothing to lose! Please send in your guesses to Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com. And if you do get it right, with your permission we will include your name in the next blog. Good luck everyone!

THERE ARE FIVE SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:

Square 4, Lunar 2 (Option One) – intarsia cable pattern:

Square 4, Lunar 2 (Option Two) – striped slip-stitch pattern:

Square 5, Gemini (Option One) – fairisle pattern with textured stripes and slip-stitch beads:

Square 5, Gemini (Option Two) – slip-stitch pattern with textured stripes and slip-stitch beads:

Square 11, Starry Starry Night 2 – textured stripe pattern with hooked-in beads (same for both options):

Square 17, Shooting Star – beaded star pattern with hooked-in beads and slip-stitch beads (same for both options):

Square 38, Stargazer – textured stripe pattern (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 tech vids to help you knit your squares. But here are a few extra tips to assist you:

SQUARE 22, LUNAR (Option One): this is a re-colour of Square 22 from the April mail-out, but Fjord and Baby Blue are swapped out for Iris and Serenity.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • Picking up stitches to begin a new square (February blog)
  • Mattress stitch (horizontal) (February blog)
  • How to cast on using several colours (April blog)
  • Square 22, Lunar (Option One), how to cross over the yarns (April blog)
  • How to cable (March blog)

To keep the design balanced I would recommend that you choose the same option that you knitted for Square 22.

There are both worded instructions and a chart for this square, so choose whichever you prefer to work from. It’s an intarsia cable but with yarns crossed over on the RS which creates the vertical dotted lines between the colour changes. All of the cables twist to the left – as they did in Square 4. And they are all worked on RS rows. The abbreviation for ‘c8f’ can be found on page 23 of the June mail-out.

I found it much easier to knit this square using yarn bobbins, rather than separate balls of yarn. I filled up 5 bobbins -three with Iris and two with Serenity – and was able to complete the square without running out (although this depends on which yarn bobbins you use).

There are several tech vids to help you with this square, including one which shows you how to cast on using several colours and another that shows how to cross the yarns over when changing colour. If you are picking up stitches to begin this square then you will need to wind off long tails to pick up each set of stitches, and then transfer the stitches back onto the other needle so that the RS is facing to begin Row 1. Instructions for this are on page 6.

Remember to block and press this square with the right side facing, as mentioned in the Pattern note and tip on page 5. I would advise to block and press all cable patterns with a reverse stocking stich background this way as it is far easier to pin it out that way than with the wrong side facing up.

SQUARE 4, LUNAR (Option Two): if you don’t fancy knitting intarsia cables, then this is the alternative choice for Lunar. It’s the same vertical slip-stitch pattern as Square 4, but Fjord and Baby Blue are swapped out for Iris and Serenity.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • Picking up stitches to begin a new square (February blog)
  • Mattress stitch (horizontal) (February blog)
  • How to carry yarns up the side of the work (February blog)

This is a nice easy alternative square to knit to Option One, with an all-over slip-stitch pattern worked in a rotating three colour stripe. Once you have joined in all three yarns, they are not cut off until the square is completed. Simply carry them up the side of the work at the end of each row, making sure that they are neat and not pulled too tightly.

It's on all the RS rows that the stitches are slipped, and on all the WS rows the stitches are knitted or purled – there are no slipped stitches on WS rows. This is a good thing to remember and will enable you to knit a bit quicker once you’ve got used to the pattern repeat.

I have written the pattern over 72 rows, but on page 9 I have also given a measurement of 18cm to work to. If you knitted this option for Square 4, then make sure that you knit the same number of rows so that they are identical in length.

SQUARE 5, GEMINI (Option One): this is the fourth square in the blanket that has fairisle zodiac symbols, and moves from the green/blue colour palette into pinks and purples.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • Picking up stitches to begin a new square (February blog)
  • Mattress stitch (horizontal) (February blog)
  • How to carry yarns up the side of the work (February blog)
  • How to thread beads onto your yarn (February blog
  • How to bead, the slip-stitch method (February blog)
  • How to knit fairisle (February blog)

I would recommend that you choose the same option that you knitted for Square 3, Libra.

The chart for this square on page 11 has been drafted up with a white background so that the symbols in Sapphire are easier to see.

Don’t forget that the needle sizes change from 3.50mm to 2.50mm for the rows of garter stitch in the beaded stripes. This will keep the stitch tension the same as the rest of the square.

SQUARE 5, GEMINI (Option Two): this is the easier alternative and uses the same colours as Option One.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • Picking up stitches to begin a new square (February blog)
  • Mattress stitch (horizontal) (February blog)
  • How to carry yarns up the side of the work (February blog)
  • How to thread beads onto your yarn (February blog
  • How to bead, the slip-stitch method (February blog)

This square is the same as Squares 3, 15 and 29, but the greens and blues are swapped for purples and pinks. The stitch pattern is exactly the same, it’s just the colours of yarns and beads that are different. Just watch out for the Velvet beads which are knitted in across the middle of the slip-stitch sections as they are hard to see on the image of the square on page 12. The instructions for this are on Row 20, and it is repeated twice more in the square.

SQUARE 11, STARRY STARRY NIGHT 2: this is a variation of Square 23, with Utopia swapped out for Jupiter, and uses both Gold and Clear beads.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • Picking up stitches to begin a new square (February blog)
  • Mattress stitch (horizontal) (February blog)
  • Square 1, Capricorn (Option Two) (March blog)
  • How to carry yarns up the side of the work (February blog)
  • How to bead, the hooking-in method (February blog)

After the cast-on and first couple of rows (before the row numbers begin), there is a change to a smaller size needle (3.25mm). This needle is used for the whole square, apart from the cast-off row which reverts back to the main needle size (3.50mm).

If you need a reminder of the stitch pattern in this square, then the tech vid from the March blog for Capricorn (Option Two) will guide you through it. Some of the members who knitted this square found themselves in a pickle on the wrong-side rows where stitches are passed over and off the needle. So make sure that you read this instruction very carefully and follow what it says. And if in doubt, watch the vid.

The pattern has a variable stitch count, so at the end of each row it is noted how many stitches you should have. It would be a good idea to regularly count your stitches – at the end of every row would be best – to ensure that you have the correct number on your needle.

There are both Gold and Clear beads hooked into this square, however, they are difficult to see in the image on page 14. So just to clarify, you work one whole beaded row using Clear beads (as Row 2), followed by one whole row using Gold beads (as Row 6). And this continues to alternate throughout the whole square. The colours of the beads are clearly stated in the instructions, so as long as you are following the correct row (especially after Row 8 when rows are repeated) then you will be fine.

SQUARE 17, SHOOTING STAR: this is a new square that has both hooked-in and slip-stitch beads, for which there is no alternative option.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • Picking up stitches to begin a new square (February blog)
  • Mattress stitch (horizontal) (February blog)
  • How to thread beads onto your yarn (February blog
  • How to bead, the slip-stitch method (February blog)
  • How to bead, the hooking-in method (February blog)

If you are enjoying knitting with beads then this square is going to an absolute delight to knit, with both beading techniques used within it. The star uses the slip-stitch technique, and all the Clear beads in the background are hooked-in.

There is a long bead threading sequence to follow first before you cast on, which is on page 16. It is essential that you get this right and don’t make a mistake with the threading, otherwise the beads for the star will not be knitted in the correct order. So why not ask a willing friend or member of the family to get involved and ask them to read out the sequence to you. This means that you can fully focus on threading on the beads without having to look at the pattern instructions yourself. I think that this is the best way to ensure successful bead threading without any mistakes – that is as long as your assistant reads the sequence correctly, of course!

There is a chart to follow on page 17. The symbol for the Clear beads in the background (around the outside of the star), are a white circle with an inner circle, not to be confused with the white circle with no symbol which are the Clear beads inside the star. So make sure that you keep this in mind as you knit the square – the circles with the inner circles are hooked-in, as clearly indicated in the key for the chart. These are the only beads that are hooked-into the knitting in this square.

SQUARE 38, STARGAZER: this all-over textured stripe pattern is an exact repeat of Square 10 from last month’s mail out.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • Picking up stitches to begin a new square (February blog)
  • Mattress stitch (horizontal) (February blog)
  • How to knit star stitch (June blog)
  • How to carry yarns up the side of the work (February blog)

If you need a reminder about how to knit this square then it is advisable to watch the tech vid called ‘How to knit star stitch’. There are only two rows to the repeat, but the colours rotate over eight rows. My demo shows you how to knit a wrong-side row and a right-side row.

Yarns are changed over at the beginning of all WS rows, and this is the row in the repeat where most of the work takes place. The little ‘stars’ are created by P3tog (a double decrease), yrn (which is an increase of one stitch), followed by P3tog again into the same stitches (which creates another increase). Therefore, the two decreases for each star are balanced out by the two increases, resulting in each row finishing with the same number of stitches that they started with.

Just take extra care on this row to remember to P1 between each star, as instructed in the pattern. Once you get going across the row and are more familiar with the pattern and therefore possibly quicker at knitting it, it is easy to forget this P1 – I did several times!

After every wrong-side row, all of the stitches are knitted on the following right-side row. So although this is a nice easy row to knit, watch out for the clusters of three stitches as it is very easy to knit two of the three stitches together by mistake.

WHEN TO BLOCK WITH RS FACING AND WHEN TO BLOCK WITH WS FACING? You will notice in the Pattern notes and tips for each square, I have included a note about which side should be facing up when you block and press them. There is a basic rule that I apply to this which is an easy one to remember.

If the stitches at the side edges are in stocking stitch, then block and press with the WS facing upwards. And if the stitches at the side edges are in reverse stocking stitch, then block and press with the RS facing up.

The reason for this is because the knitting will be easier to pin out flat if it curls up towards you, rather than curling under. So if you think about a square in the blanket like Lunar, for example, both options have reverse stocking stitch at the side edges. If you roll the edges back with the RS facing, this is far easier to do than rolling the edges back with the WS facing. You will see exactly what I mean if you grab this square and check it out for yourself!

THE WATERMILL IS A BEAUTIFUL CONVERTED MILL IN THE HEART OF RURAL TUSCANY, AND I HAD THE ABSOLUTE PLEASURE TO BE INVITED BACK TO IT TO TUTOR A KNITTING HOLIDAY LAST MONTH. The hosts are Bill and Lois Breckon who were there to ensure that our stay at the Watermill was as relaxing as possible by providing high class accommodation and delicious home-cooked Italian food (three courses every evening!), while we spent our days knitting, chatting, sightseeing and exploring.

I was joined on the trip by eleven wonderful ladies, three from the USA and eight from the UK. Left to right in the photo below is myself (I’m not sure what I am pointing at!?!), Katrin, Kathy, Susan, Shelley, Tania, Kate, Lesley, Kathy, Judy, Hazel and Kathleen. Everyone was so friendly and enthusiastic and got on so well together, which made my job super easy, so thank you ladies!

When I design a workshop project, I always take my inspiration from wherever I am visiting. So for my project for The Watermill, I chose a colour palette that reflected the rich colours of the buildings and landscape, and added to it a generous sprinkling of sparkling beads. This is the Tuscany Case and Phone Cosy that they all worked on during their stay. It is knitted in Rowan’s beautiful mercerised cotton yarn, Cotton Glace. It knits up beautifully with our beads, and knitted to a firm tension it is perfect for cases and cosies.

The week combined workshops with trips out to local villages and towns. So as well as working on the project I had set, we spent one morning in the charming market town of Fivizzano, where I think we all paid a visit to the Carrefour supermarket and stocked up on pasta, biscuits and other Italian groceries to take home.

We spent a few hours knitting, followed by an amazing three-course lunch at a restaurant in the village of Monte dei Bianchi, with spectacular mountain views.

On Wednesday we had the choice to go out for the day and visit either Lucca or Cinque Terra. Everyone opted for Lucca, so we travelled together on the train and then split into smaller groups to explore the city. There was plenty of shopping done by all, including a stop at the Lovi Lane yarn shop and a return visit for me to my favourite ceramics shop in Lucca, RossoRamina, which I managed to find quite easily again tucked away down one of the very narrow cobbled streets.

The peace and tranquility of the privately owned monastery, Il Convento dei Carmine, was the perfect place to sit and knit for a couple of hours, after which we enjoyed a gourmet picnic provided by the wonderful Karsten (who also sat and knitted with us!).

On the last day we visited the small ancient village of Verrucola, which included a guided walk and a three-course lunch at the Il Castello restaurant.

There was a surprise opportunity one evening to take a ride on the back of a 1950’s Vespa owned by Flavio the gardener at The Watermill. So I took him up on his offer, and off I went! Several of the other ladies also took a ride. What an experience!!!

The whole trip was absolutely magical, and as well as spending a week immersed in the wonderful culture and lifestyle of Italy, much knitting was done and new friendships were made. All of the ladies worked so hard on their project, and as you can see from our show-and-tell on the final evening, they created some amazing pieces of work.

I have been invited back to The Watermill in 2025 (dates to be confirmed), so if you fancy joining me then, make sure you keep an eye on their website for all the details of how to sign up: www.watermill.net. I can guarantee that you will have the most wonderful time!

IF YOU FANCY A KNIT AND A NATTER AT A UK YARN SHOP AND LIVE IN THE EAST MIDLANDS, THEN COME AND JOIN ME AT THE YARN LOFT IN CARRINGTON, NOTTINGHAM! My most recent to Doreen’s wonderful shop was on 1st May where I was joined by Alison Riddell, Mary Leeson, Catherine Pope, Kerry Bloodworth, Vanessa Briscoe and Lyn Fitzsimons.

The meetings are not only a great way to meet other Mystery Club members, but they are also a brilliant way to get yourself motivated if you need a bit of encouragement. Plus you can sort out any problems you might have with your squares by sharing techniques and advice within a friendly and helpful group.

Yarn Loft is at 118 Hucknall Road, Carrington, Nottingham, tel number 07825 702433, website: www.yarnloft.co.uk. Our next meeting is on Wednesday 5th June. If you are able to join us, then do pop down. It would be lovely to see you.

To cover the costs of hosting the meeting there is a small sub to pay (£3.00), which can be paid in cash to Doreen on the day.

DON’T FORGET TO FOLLOW US AND JOIN IN ALL THE FRIENDLY BANTER ON OUR SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS!

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

The Debbie Abrahams Mystery Knitters group on Facebook is another fun way to keep in touch with other members. It was set up a couple of years ago and has grown in size to over 500 members, so that’s well worth joining too.

We also have our own Facebook page where you will find regular updates on everything we are doing from knitting kits to workshops and events!

Instagram: debbieabrahams_knitting

Pinterest: debbieabrahams@debbieabrahamsk

Facebook: Debbie Abrahams Mystery Knitters

Facebook: Debbie Abrahams Handknits

Ravelry: Debbie Abrahams Handknits

AND FINALLY, IT’S TIME TO FIND OUT WHO IS THE WINNER OF THE FIFTH 2024 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 FIVE (JUNE): this month’s winner is member 430, Leslie Foote from Salinas in California, USA. Well done Leslie! Please choose a prize from the following selection:

  • Your choice of one of Debbie’s knitting kits up to the value of £30.00 (take a look at them in our online shop).
  • Six packs of Debbie Abrahams Beads (size 8/0 or 6/0) from the selection on http://www.debbieabrahamsbeads.co.uk
  • A £30 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club membership: 2024 Mystery Cushion Club or 2025 Mystery Blanket Club.
  • A Mystery bag of five gifts!

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

Thanks for taking the time to catch up with me this month, and I hope that the tips and advice make your June knitting a super pleasurable experience. I am up to my ears with design work for the Autumn/Winter season ahead, so I will be staying home in the UK for a while, with a few workshops booked around the UK to keep me on my toes! Don’t forget to sign up to the Mystery Cushion Club – there’s under two weeks to go until it begins – and watch out too for our yarn and bead promotion. You can never have enough projects on the go, can you?!? Take care everyone, and I will see you back here on the 1st July for the sixth instalment. Happy knitting, Debbie x

 

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