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Mystery Cushion Club 2018: post 4, September

WELCOME TO THE FOURTH INSTALMENT OF THE MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB FOR 2018, in which you have been given the final three squares for the Front Panel. This means that if you are up to date with your knitting you can get this completed, ready for the final panel –the Lower Back Panel –in the last instalment next month. To help you with this I have included in this blog some tips on sewing up using Mattress stitch, and as well as this, there is a link to a video demonstration of how to attach a shisha mirror to your knitting for the centre square – so there’s plenty in store for you!...

THE FOURTH SET OF PATTERNS WERE EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON 15TH SEPTEMBER. And for the members who opted for printed patterns, the overseas were posted on the 6th September and the UK were posted on the 12th September. So if you have not already received them they are on their way to you and should arrive soon.

MEMBERSHIPS FOR THE 2019 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB HAVE GOT OFF TO A FABULOUS START, with over two-thirds of the places now sold. The Earlybird discount that was on offer has now expired, however, you there is still time to sign up to the Club. But remember that memberships are limited so it might be a good idea to secure your place now if you want to be part of next year’s Mystery Blanket knitting adventure.

And in case you are wondering what next year’s Mystery Blanket is all about, although I cannot give too much of the “mystery” away I can tell you that I am returning to soft, cosy wool-based yarns from the Rowan collection including Alpaca Classic, Felted Tweed, Kid Classic, Alpaca Soft DK and Baby Silk Merino DK.  These gorgeous yarns are combined together in a beautiful colour palette that ranges from cool silver-greys and lilacs to soft aquas, with some bright sparks too, all enhanced with a good scattering of sparkly beads. There will be lots of lovely different patterns in the design to knit up including stitch textures, stripes, lace and beads with a focus on the fairisle technique. So if you haven’t tried the fairisle technique before this blanket would be the perfect 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.

If that all sounds good to you, then why not sign up today?!? You can purchase your membership in the online shop on my website where you will find packages on sale for the UK, Europe and World.

Every year my Mystery Blanket Club has sold out, and next year I expect it do the same. There is a signing up deadline of 31st December 2018, however, the Club will close if the memberships sell out before this. 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 more information: http://www.debbieabrahams.com/mystery-clubs/mystery-blanket/

SO, ON WITH THE SQUARES THIS MONTH, AND THIS TIME THERE ARE THREE TO KNIT…

FRONT PANEL, Square 3: Back To The Souk – striped and beaded pattern with knitted-in decorative braids

FRONT PANEL, Square 5: Camel Trail – striped and beaded pattern with fairisle, chain stitch and shisha mirrors

FRONT PANEL, Square 6: Medina – textured basketweave pattern with slipped stitches and hooked-in beads

SQUARE 3, BACK TO THE SOUK, IS THE SAME PATTERN AS SQUARE 7, but the colours have been swapped round. If you need a reminder about how to knit the braids then you could refer back to the video demonstration in my July blog in which I show you how to cast on using beads and then how to knit the "buttonholes". Also, remember that there are needle size changes throughout this square which are hi-lighted in bold type in the pattern instructions. These changes are important to maintain the width of the knitting.

SQUARE 5, CAMEL TRAIL, IS A BRAND NEW SQUARE WHICH IS HIGHLY PATTERNED WITH FAIRISLE, EMBROIDERY, BEADS AND SHISHA MIRRORS - so there’s plenty here to keep you busy! The shisha mirrors are stitched onto the knitting after you have completed the square. If you need some guidance on how to do this then then this video demonstration will help you through the process:



You are instructed to draw round the shisha mirrors to give you an outline to stitch around. To do this I used a Prym fabric pen. It has ink that is clearly visible on the fabric but then it miraculously disappears! You can buy them online or in haberdashery shops.

The camels are knitted using the fairisle technique which you can find information about on page 13 of the Mail Out. It’s only 14 rows – from Row 13 to Row 26 – so if this is a new technique for you, it's a great opportunity to try it out and get to grips with it. If you are concerned that the stitches might tighten up and pucker then you could try using a size larger needle to knit these 14 rows. And if you can remember to keep the stitches spread to the correct width on the needle and not let them bunch up close together, then you should find that this helps too with maintaining a good, even tension.

SQUARE 6, MEDINA, IS A REPEAT OF SQUARE 4 FROM MAIL OUT 1, so this is a nice easy one to complete the knitting for the Front Panel.

SO, WITH ALL NINE PANELS NOW COMPLETED FOR THE FRONT PANEL, I would suggest that you get ahead and sew them together to create one block. And to do this I would recommend using Mattress stitch. Here are some tips on the technique if you have not tried it before or simply need a reminder. I think it’s a really good way to sew up and well worth a try – I am sure you won’t look back once you have given it a go!

Before you start sewing together the three strips for the Front Panel, it is advisable to make a note of the number of rows in each square. 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:

Vertical (to sew together your strips): 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.

So how do you ease in rows?  You can do this quite simply using Mattress stitch by taking the needle under one bar instead of two whenever you need to ease. If there is just one row to be eased, I would advise that you do this in the middle of the square. However, if with other squares there are more rows to ease in then you can repeat this as many times as required along the edge that needs to be eased in, dividing the number of easings as equally as possible along the seam.

Now it’s over to you! With some careful planning and a few calculations you could soon be whizzing those three strips together to complete your Front Panel!  Have fun!...

INSTRUCTIONS FOR JOINING THE FRONT PANEL TO THE UPPER BACK PANEL WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE FINAL MAIL OUT, so please do not join them together yet as there will be special instructions about how to do this.

NOW FOR A COUPLE OF MEMBER STORIES, BEGINNING THIS MONTH WITH A LOVELY LITTLE REPORT FROM SUSAN SMITH FROM SHEPHERDSTOWN, WEST VIRGINIA, USA, who was travelling on the Queen Mary II when this happened to her…

“I have a smile for you Debbie...my husband and I were on a transatlantic voyage from New York to Southampton last month.  Each afternoon, we ladies of a certain age were invited to bring our needlework to a certain lounge to chat and knit.  I brought one of my Mystery cushion square to work on , and barely had it out of the tote bag when someone yelled. "Oh look, she is making a Debbie Abrahams!"  Lots of conversation, all of it positive, followed.  So your fame continues on the high seas as well! ” 

Thanks for sending this in to us Susan – and yes, it did make me smile! It is nice to know that the Mystery Cushion Club stretches far and wide across the world, and that it gets recognised when it leaves your knitting bag! I hope that you and your knitting enjoyed the voyage.

JUNE GLOVER FROM TOTNES IN DEVON, UK, SENT IN THIS VERY HELPFUL TIP ABOUT HOW TO HOOK-IN THE BEADS, and she thought it might be helpful to you too. So here goes!...

Says June: “My daughter’s hobby is beading. Her name is Catherine and she makes likes making earrings and necklaces. She has been encouraging in my efforts at hooking beads. But best of all she lent me one of her bead trays which is lined with foamy material which stops the beads rolling about and getting lost. I've found I can push the dental floss easily into the bead as it lies still in the tray. It works best if you sit at a table with the beading tray on something that has sides to keep the beads in. If possible place a bead on its side so you can see the hole. Then having secured the stitch with dental floss, place the two ends of the floss neatly together and push them through the bead before swooping it up to push down onto the stitch. Beading trays and mats are available online.”

You can indeed find beading trays online, and I bought one recently myself. Here is a picture of it:

I am not sure whether it is the same as June’s beading tray, but it does exactly the same job and I too have found it very helpful! So thank you to June and to Catherine for that very useful tip which I am sure the other members will appreciate – and especially if they are constantly chasing beads across the floor!

YARN IN BEESTON, NOTTINGHAM, HELD THEIR MOST RECENT MYSTERY CLUB MEETING ON 5th SEPTEMBER. I was able to attend the meeting and joined a jolly bunch of both Mystery Blanket and Mystery Cushion members for an hour at Sarah’s lovely shop. At the meeting were Liz Jenks, Mary Leeson, Catherine Pope, Anne Sampson, Audrey Russell-Smith, Kerry Bloodworth, Joan Bray. Michelle and Sarah.

Kerry (above) had two strips of her Mystery Blanket ready to sew up and needed some help with Mattress stitch. I think that she was surprised at how good Mattress stitch was and how easy it was to do! So after a short demonstration she was raring to go!

Audrey (above left, sitting next to Anne), was thrilled to have completed all her squares and panels for the Mystery Cushion and was up to date and waiting eagerly for the September patterns to arrive. I was very impressed by her squares which were beautifully knitted. She had totally embraced all the different techniques in the project and knitted them with perfectly –a great achievement for a first-time Mystery Cushion member!

The

(Above: Anne and Catherine got on well with their squares at the meeting).

Mystery Club meetings at yarn are a great way to spend a couple of hours, so if you fancy joining us, why not pop down to Yarn next month?!? We are meeting on the xxth October between 4.00-6.00pm. Yarn is at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606. If you want to contact Sarah to be added to her mailing list then you can email her at the following address: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk. It would be great to see you at the next meeting!

I AM RUNNING ONE MORE WORKSHOP THIS YEAR IN THE UK WHICH YOU MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN COMING ALONG TO:

  • 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)

To book your place, and for further information please contact Doreen at the Yarn Loft.

AND FINALLY FOR THIS MONTH … THE THEME OF THE MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB! June Glover, Katy Fry, Anne Ainsworth and Sarah Moar all sent in the correct answer this month, however, there are plenty of you out there still guessing. So in this fourth and penultimate month of the Mystery Cushion, I am going to give you another letter to help you guess the theme - which will be the last one before the reveal next month. It's the letter “R”…
_  A  _  T  _  R  N  / _  R  _  _  _  _  _

It’s only a bit of fun! But if you have any ideas as to what the theme is then email Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com and if you are right we will give you a mention in the next blog.

So, just one more instalment to go after this and then we will be at the end of another Mystery Cushion project! I am very busy in the Design Studio at the moment working on my 2019 Mystery Cushion and Mystery Blanket projects - maybe you might decide to join me again next year on one of them, or maybe even both?!?  I hope that you enjoy knitting your squares this month and have found the tips, techniques, and stories in the blog helpful and interesting. If you have then please come back and see me here again next month when the final piece of this year’s Mystery Cushion will be revealed. Until then, take care, Debbie x


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