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Mystery Blanket Club: post 7, August

HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE SEVENTH INSTALMENT OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB! And as we make a start on our seventh set of patterns, you will have a good idea now of what the blanket is going to look like as six more squares are revealed. I was going to unveil the “mystery” of the blanket this month, however, as there are so many other things to talk about, including the launch of my 2019 Mystery Blanket Club, several members’ stories, a Mystery Blanket workshop report, advice on Mattress stitch and the usual tips and advice on the squares to knit, I thought that I would let the “mystery” continue for another month and reveal the theme to you in the September blog instead. So, ahead of this month’s Mystery Blanket news, let’s begin with a look at how a certain little someone is doing…

…and as you can see, Seth has made another trip to see his favourite hairdresser, Jay at “Whyley’s” in Nottingham! Doesn’t he look super-cool in his Batman t-shirt!?! But hang on a minute!!! Who is that on the right-hand side of the picture? It looks as if Seth’s got a brand new friend!?! Yes indeed – it’s Spiderman! So now he has two new best friends – Batman and Spiderman. What a lucky little boy he is!!! (and lucky to have such a lovely hairdresser too!)

SO NOW FOR THIS MONTH’S MYSTERY BLANKET NEWS...and I begin with the optional printed patterns which were posted to overseas members on the 26th July and to the UK members on 31st  July. The emailed file was sent to all the members on 1st August, so if you have not received it yet, please let us know and we will resend it to you: sue@debbieabrahams.com

THE 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB HAS BEEN LAUNCHED! So if you fancy taking up the Mystery Blanket challenge again next year, you can sign up right now by purchasing your membership in the online shop on my website.

And the even more exciting news is that if you sign up before 31st August you will get a 5% discount off the cost of the Standard package (shipping and extra options are excluded from the discount).

This is how you can sign up today:

First you will need to register yourself on my website (if you haven't already). Then follow these 7 easy steps to completing your membership purchase and early bird discount:

  1. Log-in to the website (if you have not already done so).
  2. Select your preferred package from the drop-down menu, then click “Add to cart”.
  3. Review your order and click “Checkout”.
  4. Enter the discount code "EARLYBIRD19" to apply 5% off the base cost of the club
  5. Click “Continue to shipping method” and the basic shipping cost of your shipping package will be displayed.
  6. Click “Continue to payment method” .
  7. Select Paypal or input your debit/credit card payment information and then click “Complete order”.

When you have completed your payment you will sent an automated email to confirm that your transaction has been processed successfully.

Before making your payment please read the Terms and Conditions for the Mystery Blanket Club. You will find a link to these at the foot of the Home page. Please note that if you make your payment you are agreeing to these Terms and Conditions.

As with all my previous “mystery” clubs, memberships are limited and when they sell out the Club will be closed. So don’t delay if you want to part of my brand new knitting adventure next year!

I talked about next year’s design in my July blog, however, this is a reminder of what you can expect for my 2019 Mystery Blanket Club…

After a very colourful and vibrant 2018 Mystery Blanket design, I have decided to go in the opposite direction next year with a design that has a much softer and quieter colour palette. So, for those of who have been waiting for something more serene and calm to come along, this could be the Mystery Blanket for you! I am returning to wool-based yarns with an emphasis on soft, cosy fibres, and I have selected some gorgeous yarns from the Rowan collection to work with, including their brand new Alpaca Classic, Felted Tweed and Alpaca Soft DK. And of course there will be plenty of beads in it too! The design focuses on the fairisle technique but also includes many other stitch structures and techniques including stripes, textures and embellishments. So if you haven’t tried the fairisle technique before, this blanket would be a fabulous introduction to it. But remember that there is always that second option offered on colour-work squares which gives you the opportunity opt out and knit something a bit easier.

You can visit my online shop today to purchase your membership. You will find various options for UK, Europe and World Zones 1 and 2 including Printed Patterns and Tracked delivery.

When you sign up to the 2019 Mystery Blanket Club and make your payment you will be sent a confirmation email within seven days which will give you your membership number and ask you to confirm your address and email details. If you do not receive this email, please let us know and we will resend it to you: sue@debbieabrahams.com

If you want to find out more about next years Mystery Blanket, it would be a good idea to visit the FAQ page on my website where you will find lots more information under “Mystery Club FAQS”: https://debbieabrahams.com/pages/faq

So, see you again next year?!?

MY 2018 GLACE COTTON SHADES ARE STILL AVAILABLE TO PURCHASE, but hurry as some of the shades have sold out. These are the colours that are still available:

Candy (066)

Jaffa (316)

Rich Red (1006)

Lime (256)

Lilac (869)

Heather (871)

Sky (140)

Emerald (230)

Spring Green (260)

Moss Green (281)

Jade (187) (sorry, no image at the moment)

Don’t forget that if you purchase this yarn before 1st September, Mystery Blanket members can take advantage of  a 25% discount which means you can purchase it for £3.71 per ball (plus shipping) (usual RRP: £4.95). At the moment it is only available to Mystery Club members so it is not in my webshop for general sale. So to place your order simply email Sue with the list of colours and quantities you would like to order and she will sort out your payment with you. Payment can be taken using the following options:

  • Paypal: we will send you a Paypal invoice
  • BACS: bank account 29364260 / sort code 77-22-08
  • Cheque (UK only): made payable to Debbie Abrahams Ltd and posted to: 26 Church Drive, Carrington, Nottingham NG5 2BA

Place your order before 1st September to take advantage of this great discount!

THESE ARE THE SIX SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH…one of which has a second option for you to choose from:

Square 11: Harmony – multi-coloured wave pattern using Japanese short-row shaping (same for both options)

Square 12: Ripple #4  – striped pattern with textured stitches and hooked-in beads (same for both options)

Square 30: Mask (part 2)  – three-colour stripe pattern with textured stitches, hooked-in beads, swiss-darning and chain stitch details (same for both options)

Square 31: Salon (part 2)  – lace pattern with hooked-in beads (same for both options)

Square 32, Option One: Salon (part 3)  – intarsia motif with textured stitches, eyelets, chain stitch and swiss-darning

Square 32, Option Two: Salon (part 3) – striped cable pattern

Square 49: Trencadis #3 (the turret)  – textured pattern with hooked-in beads and chain stitch details (same for both options)

On each pattern page there is a list of Pattern notes and tips that are worth reading before you start to knit each square. These bits of advice will help you to plan how to knit each square up, and pre-warn you about what to look out for. Also, there are indications in the description of each square (under the title) of what the square entails. For example, Square 32, Option One, Star, states that it is an intarsia motif,  so this is the technique that you should use to knit this square.

ONE OF THE SQUARES THIS MONTH HAS A SECOND OPTION, but you can choose whichever option you prefer as it does not have to match any of the other choices you have made in the design so far. It’s Square 32 which has the choice of an intarsia motif or a striped cable pattern.

SQUARE 11: HARMONY: we begin this month with a square which you have knitted before - it’s the same as Square 39 from Mail Out 5. I have heard from several of the members how much they have enjoyed knitting this square, so hopefully for most of you it will be a pleasant return journey to an old favourite.

SQUARE 12: RIPPLE #4: this is the fourth and final “Ripple” square which is similar to Square 10 from Mail Out 6, but note that the coloured stripes and beads have been reversed. This time the stripe pattern begins with Heather yarn and Mink beads, and finishes at the top with Emerald yarn and Indigo and Emerald beads.

SQUARE 30: MASK (part 2): this square completes the Mask which was started in Mail Out 3 with Square 37. So it’s back to the three-colour stripe pattern using Marble, Stone and Oyster. I found it really helpful to write the rotation of the three colours onto the chart beside each row so that I knew exactly which yarn I should be using and when. It really helped me to keep on track with the stripe pattern and to ensure that I was knitting with the correct colour on every row.

SQUARE 31: SALON (part 2): this is a brand new square which is the second part of the nine-block centrepiece of the blanket. It has no option so it’s the same pattern for everyone. It’s a neat little stitch structure which is basically a lace stitch with hooked-in beads. It involves a special abbreviation – “LSO” – which you work as follows: lift the stitch with the bead over the two stitches just knitted and off the needle. In doing so you decrease one stitch which is compensated for by the “yf” (yarn forward/over) after each “LSO”.  You might find it easier to pass the stitch over using a finer knitting needle as it can be a bit tricky to pass it over the two stitches. I knitted this square using my Signature knitting needles which have “stiletto” points, and I found that these worked really well. There is a beaded repeat pattern across each beaded row which changes from row to row, so make sure that you pick up the beads in the correct order when you hook them into your knitting.  Before starting each beaded row I laid my bead bags out in the order in which they were needed and I found that not only did this ensure that I knitted them in the right order, but it also speeded up the rate at which I was able to complete the beaded rows. So that’s definitely worth a go! Just one final note on this square, and it’s to do with the continuous repeat of decreases on every other row which all lean to the left. It means that the square will lay on the bias, however, with a good block and press and after it has been sewn into the blanket later on, it will sit flat.

SQUARE 32: SALON (part 3), Option One: this is the third part of the nine-block centrepiece of the blanket which has two options. So if you decide that you don’t want to knit intarsia you can go for Option Two instead. There’s a lot going on in this square apart from intarsia - there’s also swiss-darning, chain stitch, textured stitches and eyelets. So for those of you who like a challenge, this square will certainly keep you busy! It might be difficult to see some of the chain stitch on the chart, so just to clarify, Azure yarn is used for the circular outline in chain stitch on the Indigo coloured circle, it’s Spring Green chain stitch on the Lime coloured circle, and Lilac chain stitch on the Heather coloured circle. There are many colours used in this square, both for the knitting and for the embroidery. So to make it clearer in the key I have listed the colours for knitting in one column and next to it in a separate column the colours are listed for the embroidery (chain stitch and swiss-darning). On the chart only the three swiss-darned lines along the colour joins (using Heather yarn)are shown and NOT the chain stitch, so you will need to use the photo as a guide for the chain stitch lines. If preferred you can knit in the three swiss-darned lines as you go rather than embroider them on afterwards. But if you decide to embroider them on instead then it does not matter which colours you knit these stitches in as they will be covered up by the Heather yarn. And finally for this square, just a note to alert you that there are three eyelets in the intarsia motif which are positioned in the middle of the Indigo, Lime and Heather knitted circles. They are denoted using a symbol which you will find in the key. Now you’re ready to go!...

UNLESS YOU DECIDE TO OPT FOR SQUARE 32: SALON (part 3), Option two, INSTEAD! This is the easier alternative to Option One and is a basic striped cable pattern. Watch out for the cables twisting to the right and then to the left (c6b and c6f). And also be aware that the first and last stitches of each cable are worked through the back of the loop which twists them and makes them neater. So on a right-side row that’s K1tbl, and on a wrong-side row that’s P1tbl. It really does make a big difference to the look of the cables, so it’s worth remembering to do it on every row.

SQUARE 49: TRENCADIS #3 (the turret): this square will look familiar as the pattern is a repeat of Square 1 from Mail Out 1 – but with some differences. Stone is replaced by Sky, and the colours of the beads and chain stitch are different too. Just be sure to use the correct colours for the chain stitch outlines - they use Marble, Stone and Oyster in this square. You might find that referencing the photo as well as the chart is a good idea to ensure you use the colours in the right place for the outlines. The colours of the Mink and Sienna beads on the chart might also be difficult to distinguish, so it’s Mink for the line of beads that begins on Chart Row 8, and Sienna for the outline of beads that begins on Chart Row 37. Enjoy!

IF YOU ARE UP TO DATE WITH YOUR MONTHLY SQUARES THEN AT THE END OF THIS INSTALMENT YOU WILL HAVE TWO COMPLETED STRIPS - so this means that you can get ahead and sew them together saving you a bit of time at the end of the project. I always use Mattress stitch to sew my strips together, so if you haven't tried it before, it would be worth giving it a go. You can use it for sewing together both vertical and horizontal seams. So if you have knitted your squares individually and need to sew them together first before sewing together the strips, here are a few tips on both types of seam:

You work with the right-side of the work facing towards you, so at all times you can see how the seam is progressing. And if you do happen to go wrong, it is very easy to undo. First of all you need to look very closely at your knitting and identify the edge stitch. In stocking stitch this is an open “V”. Then you need to find the bar (“running thread”) between the edge stitch and the next stitch in – there is one for each row. It is these bars, between the edge stitch and the next stitch in, that you need to insert your needle under to sew up. These bars exist in every piece of knitting, even in textured knitting. So you need to get yourself familiar with them and where they are as they are essential if you want to use Mattress stitch. Once you have identified these bars, you can start sewing up as follows using a blunt-ended needle:

  • Horizontal (if you have not worked in strips and need to sew the squares together): with right sides facing, lay the squares flat with square one at the bottom and square two above square one (and so on throughout the strip). Beginning at the right-hand side of the work, take the needle from back to front of work through half a stitch of square one, inserting the needle just below the cast-off edge. Then take the needle under one whole stitch of square two, inserting the needle just above the cast-on edge. After this continue to take the needle under one whole stitch on each square. This means that on square one the needle is always coming up through the middle of stitches and on square two the needle is coming up between the stitches.
  • Vertical (to sew together your strips): before you start sewing the strips together, it will really help you if you create a 49 x 49 square grid and write onto it the number of rows in each square that you have knitted so far. Then you will be able to work out where you need to ease in rows if one square has more rows in it than another. I found this a massive help when I sewed together my strips.

This is how Mattress stitch works vertically: with right sides facing and with two strips sitting next to each other, take the needle from the back to the front of the work under two bars at a time, inserting the needle under the bar between the edge stitch and the next stitch in. To keep the edges level at the bottom, begin by taking the needle under the first bar of the first square (the one on the left), then take the needle under the first bar and the next one up (two bars) of the second square (the one on the right). After this take the needle under two bars on each side, zig-zagging back and forth between the two strips, and making sure that your needle always goes back into the same gap between the bars each time you take it under the bars.

Happy sewing up!!!

SANDRA VARGAS FROM SOLNA IN SWEDEN WROTE TO TELL ME HOW MUCH SHE IS ENJOYING THE MYSTERY BLANKET, and she took this fabulous photograph of herself with her squares:

 

What an interesting photo and one that wouldn’t look out of place in a glossy magazine! Sandra has just guessed the theme of the blanket and she wrote some lovely words to me about it which I can’t share with you in this blog as it will give away the mystery! So I will include them in next months’ blog instead. I am so glad that you are enjoying the project Sandra, and maybe you might just decide to join me again next year too?!?

SOPHIE HOUSTON FROM FALKIRK IN SCOTLAND HAS ALSO GUESSED THE THEME CORRECTLY, so well done Sophie! And she sent in a photo of a lovely cushion that she has knitted recently, inspired by a square in my “25 Beaded Knits” book:

I love the alpaca in the centre! Sophie says that this was inspired by the “Sheep” square in the 2017 Mystery Blanket. What a beautiful cushion – and it looks lovely and soft too, just like that cute little alpaca!

PETER AND SUE BARTLETT FROM CONGELTON IN CHESHIRE HAVE BEEN KEEPING THEMSELVES BUSY AGAIN, and sent in this photo of a fabulous knitted blanket that Sue has made using leftover yarn from previous kits:

Peter says: “Sue has been busy using remnants from previous kits and worked a super blanket, isn’t it gorgeous! It’s been made available to the family to snap up when we visit in a few weeks’ time. Sue was reading about next year’s Mystery Blanket and let out a groan of despair…she had thought to have a ‘year off’ but the little teaser in the blog was just enough to put her into a dilemma.
So, she thinks she’ll do six mystery blankets then all the grandchildren will have one. She’s working on the third at the moment, so you’ll have at least one blanket customer until 2021!!!”

I couldn’t think of anything better than having Sue join me on my Mystery Blanket knitting adventures for the next three years! So it’s great news that you are planning to be with me for some time yet Sue! And I love to see what you have made out of all your leftover bits and pieces of yarn from your mystery projects and kits. I am sure that the Bartlett family are very grateful for all your wonderful handcrafted creations, they are truly inspirational. Great work Peter and Sue!

YARN LOFT IN NOTTINGHAM HOSTED A MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB WORKSHOP ON 28th JULY, and I was joined by seven lovely ladies, two of whom were Mystery Blanket Club members and five ladies who  were not – but might be in the future?!? We had a fabulous day in Doreen’s wonderful shop and spent the day working on a small purse project called “Ocean Waves”. It was inspired by the squares in the Mystery Blanket and focused on the techniques of Japanese short-row shaping, slip stitch and hooked-in beads and chain stitch.

At first I think that some of the ladies thought that they would never be able to master the technique of Japanese short-row shaping – especially with all the banter going on! However, by lunchtime everyone in the group seemed at ease and happy with the technique, and the purses were coming on a treat!

(Above, left to right: Jen, Pat and Venice concentrate on their knitting)

(Below, left to right: Ann, Julia and Jeanette try out Japanese short-row shaping for the first time - and with great success!)

Doreen’s shop is stocked full of colourful yarns, with numerous different brands filling the shelves from floor to ceiling. And she also has lots of gorgeous knitting needles and accessories too, which tempted all of us to have a look (and some of us to make a purchase!) when we took a break for lunch.

(Below, left to right: Hilary, Jen, Pat and Venice enjoy their afternoon of knitting)

We had a really lovely day together and by the end of it everyone had made great progress with their project. There would be homework for everyone to do, however, I was convinced that they would all be fine as they had all mastered the techniques so well. What a fabulous day out, and big thanks to Doreen for being the perfect host!

Doreen is hosting a half-day festive workshop with me on Saturday 1st December, so if you get the chance, do come along and join us for some seasonal knitting. Details of the workshop and how you can book your place on the course are listed further on in this blog. Yarn Loft website: www.yarnloft.co.uk

YARN IN NOTTINGHAM HELD THEIR MONTHLY MYSTERY BLANKET MEETING ON 11THJULY, and I managed to join the ladies for an hour after hopping on a tram and a bus to get to Sarah’s shop. And I am so glad that I did make it to the meeting as Anne Sampson, Aileen Lyon and her daughter Angie, Liz Jenks, Mary Leeson, Kerry Bloodworth, Audrey Russell-Smith and Sarah Doherty were all there for some pleasant knit and chat. I was very pleased to hear how well the ladies were keeping up with their squares – almost everyone was up to date, or at least working on the current month’s squares.

(Above, left to right: Kerry, Angie and Aileen enjoy the afternoon knit and chat)

We chatted about many different things including a debate on hooked-in beads versus slip stitch beads. And in the end we decided that we liked both methods for different reasons. So that pleased me!

(Below, left to right: Audrey knits socks while Anne gets on with the blanket squares)

Audrey is a Mystery Cushion member and she told me how much she is enjoying the project so far. That’s great news Audrey, and there’s lots more to come too in the remaining four instalments to keep you on your toes!

Due to several other knitting commitments Mary was only able to start her 2018 Mystery Blanket in May. But she was very excited to tell me how well she had caught up. In under two months she was almost bang up to date, with just a few of the July squares to complete. So well done Mary!

(Below, left to right: Mary and Kerry are pleased with their progress!)

The next meeting at Yarn is on Wednesday 5th September from 4:00 – 6:00pm, and I will be attending that meeting. So if you are a Mystery member of either of my Clubs then we would love to see you there! Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk

Please note that there will be no Mystery Blanket Club meeting at Yarn in August as we are taking a break for the holidays.

WE HAVE HAD TWO CANCELLATIONS ON OUR HELL BAY IN THE ISLES OF SCILLY KNITTING HOLIDAY IN OCTOBER. So if you would like to join me, it’s not too late, there’s room for you! We now have the following suites available to book from the 20th-25th October (5 nights):

Spring Tide First Floor suite with surrounding views. The cost of the suite is £885 (which does not include the cost of your travel): https://www.hellbay.co.uk/our-rooms/spring-tide

Studio Ground Floor suite with sea views. The cost of the suite is £885 (which does not include the cost of your travel): https://www.hellbay.co.uk/our-rooms/studio-suites

If you are interested in booking either of these suites then please contact sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com for more information.

ALTHOUGH MY KNITTING HOLIDAY AT THE WATERMILL IN POSARA NEXT MAY HAS SOLD OUT, Lois and Bill are creating a waiting list in case of cancellations. So if you would like to join me on this amazing holiday in beautiful Tuscany, why not get yourself on the waiting list?!? - and you never know, a space may become available!

(all images kindly provided by Amanda Golland)

I will be at The Watermill from 25th May – 1st June 2019 and would love you to join me. I am planning a very special project for the participants to work on during the week, and there’ll be plenty to keep you busy including some intarsia, beading and textured stitches. You can find out more about this fabulous workshop and the beautiful Watermill by following this link: https://watermill.net

THESE ARE THE WORKSHOPS THAT I AM RUNNING THIS YEAR IN THE UK:

If you want to find out more information about these workshops or make a booking then please contact the individual shops:

  • Saturday 1st September, Mystery Blanket Purse Project: The Knitting Corner, Curborough Hall Farm, Lichfield WS13 8ES, tel: 01543 415837 (contact Doreen Humphries)
  • Saturday 8th September, Mystery Blanket Purse Project: The Kast Off Group, The Kast Off Group, Barnham Broom Village Hall, Norwich Road, email: j.gosling4dt@btinternet.com (contact Jean Gosling)
  • Saturday 1st December, Festive Project (half-day): Yarn Loft, 118 Hucknall Rd, Nottingham NG5 1AD, tel: 07825 702433, website: www.yarnloft.co.uk (contact Doreen)

IF YOU MISSED OUT ON THE 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB – WHICH WAS THE VERY SPECIAL TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY MYSTERY BLANKET - then you are in luck as a kit has become available!

My “Retrospective” blanket has become a highly collectible addition to my Mystery Blanket Club collection, with all 640 kits selling out well before the Club began last February. So if you are interested in purchasing this kit please contact Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com and she will be happy to assist you.

WE ALSO HAVE ONE OF THIS YEAR'S (2018) MYSTERY BLANKET KITS AVAILABLE, so if you are interested (or know of someone who is!), please get in touch with Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com.

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE EIGHTH 2018 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 FOUR (AUGUST): this month’s winner is member 464, Noelle Moore from Illinois in the USA! Well done Noelle! Please choose a prize from the following selection:

  • A Debbie Abrahams book: Blankets and Throws to Knit/ 25 Beaded Knits/Kaleidoscope
  • A Debbie Abrahams dvd: More Blankets/A Professional Finish
  • A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club (2019 Mystery Cushion or 2019 Mystery Blanket)

There’s been a lot of news to tell you next month, so I hope you have enjoyed all the tips and techniques, advice and stories! In my next blog I will finally reveal the “mystery” of this year’s blanket…and I have some lovely photos to share with you too that one of the members took when she visited the very place that inspired me to create the blanket! So don’t forget to see me back here next month on the 1st September , and in the meantime you might just decide to join me again next year?!? – I do hope so! Take care and happy knitting, Debbie x


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