Mystery Cushion Club 2018: post 1, June

SO HERE WE ARE AT THE BEGINNING OF MY EIGHTH MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB! For the next five months you will be part of a very special and exclusive knitting club, with a project that I hope will keep you intrigued right through to the final instalment in October. For those of you who are new to my Mystery Clubs, this is the place on my website where we “meet up” every month to share all the latest news about the Club. And it’s a good idea to read it before you make a start on your squares as it has lots of helpful hints and tips which will guide you through the project. So bookmark this as your first port of call on the 15th day of the next five months and then you’ll be well and truly prepared for what I have in store for you in each instalment!

Over the years my Mystery Clubs have built up a huge global following, and this year the Mystery Cushion Club has members from all around the world as well as in the UK, including USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, China, Malaysia, Israel, Mexico, Denmark, Sweden, Germany, Norway, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Malta, Belgium and Ireland. This is a new record for the number of countries participating in the Mystery Cushion Club since it began in 2011, so thank you to everyone from around the world who signed up this year. You’ve all made it a truly global knitting project!

This year the memberships went a little crazy and sold out within a week of the Club opening its doors in March. So we extended the number of memberships and have ended up with four-hundred Mystery Cushion members – which is double the number of members that we usually have in this Club. So thank you to everyone that signed up, and I do hope that you enjoy my brand new and very colourful knitting adventure!

ALL OF THE PARCELS HAVE NOW BEEN POSTED, WITH THE OVERSEAS POSTED AHEAD OF THE UK PARCELS. So if you have not received your parcel yet, it is on its way to your doorstep and should be with you very soon. Please note that this is the only parcel you will be sent for the project and it contains everything that you need for your cushion-cover project (with the exception of fastenings). The kit has a lot of different things in it including shell buttons, shisha mirrors and a pom-pom maker, as well as yarn, beads, a colour coder and welcome letter. So as you can guess, there is a lot going on in this year’s design and plenty to keep you really busy for the next five months ahead!

PRINTED PATTERNS HAVE BEEN POSTED OUT IN A SEPARATE CARD-BACKED ENVELOPE. So if you paid for this option you will receive them very soon - and hopefully at the same time as your knitting kit. Each instalment will be posted just before the 15th of the month from June – October. And everyone will receive the five sets of monthly patterns by email, which will be scheduled at 12.15am on the 15th of the month. So keep your eyes on your inbox - and some of you on your postbox too!

PLEASE LET US KNOW IF YOU DON’T RECEIVE THE EMAILED PATTERNS it might be because we have made an error with your email address in our database, which we can correct immediately. But sometimes our emails go into a spam folder instead of the inbox, so please make sure that you check this before contacting us.

These are some trouble-shooting steps that you can take to make sure that you are set up correctly to receive our Mailchimp newsletters:

  • add our “From” email address to your email contact list or address book
  • check any spam filter settings to be sure that your content isn't being flagged
  • find the email in your spam folder (if this is the case), and mark it as “Not Spam” or “Not Junk”. This will help register that our content is safe for receiving into your inbox

If you do not receive the June patterns from us then please try some or all of these checks. And if you need further help then please contact Sue at: sue@debbieabrahams.com and we will investigate further.

REMEMBER THAT YOU ARE NEVER ON YOUR OWN IN A DEBBIE ABRAHAMS MYSTERY CLUB, and you can always get in touch if you have any queries – although I will do my best to cover as many things as I can in my monthly blogs to help you with your project. Please send any correspondence to my wonderful assistant, Sue, at sue@debbieabrahams.com. Sue will do her best to answer your query, but she will forward it onto me if she cannot answer it herself. You may not be aware that there is also a fabulous group set up on Ravelry that you can join to get lots of help and advice. The group on there are really lovely and are only too happy to pass on any help they can give if you get stuck with your Mystery Cushion knitting. And if you have any thoughts or ideas of your own that you wish to contribute, please don’t hold back, and with your permission I will include them in my blog.

YOU HAVE ALL BEEN GIVEN A UNIQUE MEMBERSHIP NUMBER which is printed on the address label of your yarn parcel. It would be very helpful if you could take note of it and quote it when contacting us as it means we can locate your details in our database much more efficiently. If you are not sure what your number is and want to know, all you need to do is get in touch with us: sue@debbieabrahams.com.

IF AND WHEN WE HAVE ANY IMPORTANT NEWS TO TELL YOU, (such as an addendum), we will send all of the members a newsletter by email. So don’t forget to check your inbox on a regular basis so you don’t miss them.

YOU HAVE A COLOUR CODER IN YOUR PARCEL and it is important that you use it to identify the colours in your cushion kit. The shade numbers on the ball–bands correspond to those stated in the patterns, beside which I have written the Rowan name for each colour. If you do not use the correct colour for the correct block then you may run out of some of the yarns, so please take some time to set up your colour coder to avoid getting the colours mixed up. Tie a small amount of each yarn onto the colour coder and also write the name of each yarn and its shade number beside it. And then remember to keep your colour coder near to you at all times when you are knitting so that you can make sure you have picked up the correct colours to work with!!!

PLEASE NOTE THAT BUTTONS TO FASTEN THE CUSHION-COVER ARE NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR KIT. Details of the number, size and type of buttons that I have used for the project will be included in the October blog and pattern instructions. The buttons which are included in your kit are for decoration – their use to be revealed later on!...

THERE IS A TIPS AND TECHNIQUES SECTION IN YOUR MAIL-OUT, which is at the back of your first set of patterns on pages 12-13, and it includes important information on things like knitting with beads and embroidery on knitting, as well as an Abbreviations list. Information on tension, construction, blocking and pressing and advice about how to read the document can be found towards the beginning of the patterns on page 3. To ensure that you make no errors when knitting up the squares, I would suggest that you read through the whole mail-out thoroughly before you make a start. That way you can familiarise yourself with the instructions and enjoy trouble-free knitting! And those of you have joined the digital age and have a tablet should find that the file is compatible with your device, so you can read your patterns directly from your tablet instead of using a printed copy.

I HAVE ALSO INCLUDED ON EACH PATTERN PAGE A HANDY LIST OF “PATTERN NOTES AND TIPS”, which give you extra advice about the square you are knitting and alert you to anything that you should watch out for, such as needle size changes, changes in tension, when to cut off or carry yarns up the side of the work, and special techniques and abbreviations. So I highly recommend that you read through these notes very carefully before you start knitting each square. It will prepare you for the task ahead and ensure that you are fully aware of what the pattern entails, avoiding any unexpected shocks along the way!

IN EACH INSTALMENT YOU WILL BE GIVEN A PIECING DIAGRAM WHICH SHOWS YOU WHICH SQUARES YOU ARE KNITTING and where they are positioned in the design. The Front Panel of the cushion-cover is constructed as follows…it is made up from nine blocks which are worked in three separate strips and then pieced together. Unlike the Mystery Blanket, the stitches for each block are left on a holder after they have been completed so that the next block in the strip can be knitted onto it. I decided to do this because a cushion-cover – unlike a large heavy blanket – does not need the extra strength that is created by horizontal seams. The Back Panel is knitted in two halves – an Upper Back Panel and a Lower Back Panel.

IT IS ADVISABLE NOT TO PURCHASE YOUR CUSHION INSERT UNTIL YOU HAVE COMPLETED KNITTING THE CUSHION-COVER as the finished size of it will depend on your own tension. If your tension differs from what I achieved then it will result in the cushion-cover knitting up slightly bigger or smaller than the size I have quoted in the pattern instructions.

THERE ARE THREE MYSTERY CUSHION SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:

FRONT PANEL, Square 1: Bazaar – striped and beaded pattern with knitted-in decorative braids

FRONT PANEL, Square 2: Macrame – eyelet cables with slipped stitches and hooked-in beads

FRONT PANEL, Square 4: Medina – textured basketweave pattern with slipped stitches and hooked-in beads

SQUARE 1, BAZAAR, HAS BRAIDS THAT ARE KNITTED SEPARATELY AND THEN JOINED INTO THE SQUARE BY KNITTING THEM IN, which might sound a bit complicated but actually it is very easy to do. I would advise that you knit the four braids first and leave them on one side until you need them. The braids are knitted on a smaller needle than the suggested main needle size for the project so that they are firm in tension. You might find therefore that when you pass the 6 stitches over and off the needle (Row 2), the stitches are tight on the needle and difficult to lift up. However, with a bit of gentle easing you will be able to pull them over the stitch and off the needle. Lift off one stitch at a time and not altogether as a bunch of stitches. When you knit in the braids (on Rows 7, 19, 31 and 43), you will be holding three needles all at once – one 3.00mm needle with a braid on top of one 3.75mm needle with the square, and a third 3.75mm needle to knit with.  You are instructed to knit the first stitch of the square on its own, and then on the next stitch you start to knit in the braid. The technique is similar to a three-needle cast/bind-off, but you are just knitting the stitches together one-by-one and not casting them off. When you have knitted in all the braid stitches you will have one stitch of the square to knit to finish the row. Repeat this four times in the square and your very first square will be completed!

SQUARE 2, MACRAME, IS A CABLED PATTERN WITH A DIFFERENCE - it combines eyelets created by a “yrn” (yarn round needle, which is the same as “yo”), with slipped stitches and hooked-in beads. Each cable twist involves a decrease of one stitch, so at the end of Rows 3, 7, 11,15, 19, 23, 27, 31, 35 and 39 you will have 31 stitches. But on the next row after each cable these stitches are increased back in so that you have 37 stitches again. Because of the thickness of Handknit Cotton (which is closer to a lightweight aran yarn than a double-knitting yarn), you will find it far easier to hook-in the beads using dental floss or wire rather than a crochet hook – in fact I don’t think that you will manage to get a crochet hook through the middle of the bead and pull the stitch through as well. So if you have not already got any, it would be wise to invest in some. The best dental floss you can buy for this is Oral-B Superfloss which is widely available to buy online and in pharmacies. Instructions on how to hook-in beads using floss, wire (and a crochet hook) are included in the back of your pattern file on page 12. But remember that in this square you are hooking-in two beads onto each stitch - they will be snug, but they do fit on! Oh! – and just one other thing…when you begin Square 2 you slip the stitches from Square 1 onto a 3.00mm needle, but then you continue using 3.75mm needles, so just make sure that you remember to make this needle size change (guess who didn’t?!?...)

SQUARE 4, MEDINA, IS A BASKETWEAVE PATTERN WITH HOOKED-IN BEADS, and it’s a nice easy square to knit up – that is once you have mastered your hooking-in technique. And like Square 2, more than one bead is hooked onto each stitch – it’s three this time. So you will have to push them down really firmly onto each stitch before you slip the stitch back onto the left-hand needle to knit it. Most of this square is knitted using 3.50mm needles, which are fractionally smaller than the suggested main needle size for this project of 3.75mm. These are not available in UK sizes – only in metric – but if you have not got any then you will find that they are widely available to buy on the internet and in many good knitting shops too.

AND NOW FOR SOME VERY EXCITING NEWS!…STOCK OF MY UNIQUE ROWAN GLACE COTTON SHADES WHICH I HAD DYED UP FOR THE 2018 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB, are going to be available to buy in my web-shop in a few weeks’ time! Due to minimum order levels I had to purchase quite a lot extra of each colour, so as well as being used in some very special knitting kits (to be launched later on this year), you will also be able to purchase single balls of it for your own knitting projects. But you will have to be quick as once they are gone, they are gone! So make sure that you keep your eyes on your inbox for our news alert about this very exclusive yarn…

AND FINALLY FOR THIS MONTH … THE THEME OF THE MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB! This is just a bit of fun each month and something to think about while you are knitting your squares up. Each month I will give you a letter in the title of the cushion cover, then it’s over to you to let us know what you think it is. Although you have only seen a small part of the cushion-cover so far, there are plenty of clues in this first mail-out, so you might have some ideas already as to what the theme is. So, in true “hang-man” style, here is the first clue, which is the letter “A”…
_  A  _  _  _  _  _  / _  _  _  _  _  _  _

Any ideas?!? Email Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com to see if you are right, otherwise the theme will continue to be a “Mystery” for you until the next clue in four weeks’ time…!

Thank you for reading my first Mystery Cushion blog and I hope that you have found it helpful for your first set of squares. I love to hear your mystery knitting stories, so please email me if you have anything you would like to share with me and the other members – and photos are always welcome too!  Have a wonderful and very colourful June and I will see you back here in four weeks’ times for the second instalment. Until then…happy knitting! Debbie x

3 comments

  • The colors are stunning and the first designs look so clever and fun!
    I’m not much of a summer person since Virginia has such muggy hot summers, but these bright, cheerful colors will make it more bearable!

    Lindsey-Brooke Hessa
  • Just read your blog, was very concise and full of information, hopefully I will do your designs justice, as I am not an adventurous knitter. But I will do my best. Till next month.

    Jan Bridge
  • WOW WOW WOW! Thank you❤️

    SL Mills

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