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Mystery Cushion Club 2020: post 1, June

WELCOME TO THE FIRST INSTALMENT OF THE 2020 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB!

And first of all I would like to say how delighted I am that you are joining me on this brand new knitting adventure. For many of you it will be a welcome escape from the lockdown restrictions we are currently living under, giving you something new and exciting to look forward to for the next five months.

So, on the 15th of each month from now until the final instalment in October, you will be emailed a set of patterns. This gives you a full calendar month to complete your squares before the next instalment is sent. It’s good practice to try and keep up with your monthly instalments, however, if you find yourself a little behind, it does not matter – I or anyone else won’t be checking up on you!  

As with all my previous Clubs, this is a global project with knitters joining in from all over the world. This year’s Mystery Cushion Club has members from many countries including the UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Spain, the Netherlands, France, Switzerland, Germany and Sweden. I offer a warm welcome to all of you and hope you enjoy the journey!

WE DID OUR VERY BEST TO GET YOUR KNITTING KITS POSTED TO YOU AS SOON AS WE COULD. However, the warehouse in Italy where the yarn comes from was closed just as our order was due to be dispatched. This meant that we were unable to get the kits ready by the middle of April, as we had hoped. In the end we didn’t get our stock until the middle of May, at which point our packing and postal teams jumped into action and got them ready to send out as soon as they could. So huge apologies to you if you are still waiting for your parcel to arrive. The World 2 destinations which include Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA are taking considerably longer than usual to get there. However, we are hearing good news every day of parcels arriving, so bit by bit they are being delivered, and we are confident that everyone will receive their kit 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). I would suggest that you check the contents of your parcel when it arrives against the list of what should be in it on page 2 of Mail Out 1. And if there is anything missing, please contact Sue and she will get the items posted to you straight away: sue@debbieabrahams.com

BEWARE OF THE LITTLE COLOURED ENVELOPE IN YOUR KIT! – as this has your woven label inside it. The label has the name of the cushion on it, so if you don’t want to spoil the surprise it would be best to put this in a safe place until you have guessed the title.

PRINTED PATTERNS ARE POSTED OUT EACH MONTH IN A SEPARATE CARD-BACKED ENVELOPE. So if you opted for this you will receive them soon. Each instalment will be posted to arrive with you by, or close to, the 15th of the month from June – October.

Everyone will receive the five sets of monthly patterns by email, which will be scheduled shortly after midnight on the 15th of the month. So keep your eyes on your inbox!

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.

IF YOU NEED ANY SUPPORT WITH YOUR MYSTERY CUSHION PROJECT THEN WE ARE ALWAYS HERE TO HELP YOU. You can get in touch with us by emailing Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com  and she will answer your query or forward it onto me. I will do my best to cover as many things as I can in my monthly blogs to help you with your project. So it’s a good idea to give this a read before you contact us.

In addition to our services, there is a Debbie Abrahams group set up on Ravelry which 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.

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 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 THE FASTENINGS FOR THE CUSHION-COVER ARE NOT INCLUDED IN YOUR KIT. Details of what you will need will be included in the final instalment.

THERE IS A TIPS AND TECHNIQUES SECTION IN YOUR MAIL-OUT, it is at the back of your mail out 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 patterns, I would suggest that you read through the whole mail out thoroughly before you make a start. 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. 

IN EACH INSTALMENT ON PAGE 4 YOU ARE 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 made up from nine squares which are worked in three separate strips and then pieced together. You are given the option to either cast on each new square separately and then sew them together later on. Or you can opt to pick up the stitches along the cast-off edge of the previous square to begin the new one above it. Unlike previous years I decided not to give instructions to ‘knit on’ instead of casting off. This is because you get a much neater look to your squares if there is a seam between them, and your squares remain ‘square’ and undistorted.

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. You should test your tension before you start the project to make sure that you are achieving the correct stitch and row count (see page 3 of your mail out for advice). For this I would suggest that you use Cream (shade 102). However, if you do not manage to match the tension exactly then your cushion-cover will knit up to a slightly different size to what I have quoted in the pattern instructions.

THERE ARE THREE MYSTERY CUSHION SQUARES TO KNIT THIS MONTH:
FRONT PANEL, Square 1:
Butterflies – slip stitch pattern with hooked-in beads:

FRONT PANEL, Square 2: Sushi – striped pattern with hooked-in beads:

FRONT PANEL, Square 4: Bento Box – textured stitch pattern with hooked-in beads:

Here’s some advice on these squares to help you with your knitting this month…

SQUARE 1, BUTTERFLIES: this is a textured pattern with an all-over repeat which combines slipped stitches with hooked-in beads. Slip stitch patterns tend to bunch up if you are not careful, so it is important that on the rows where the stitches are slipped, they are spread to the correct width as you work along the whole row.

On Rows 7 and 19 and their subsequent repeats, there is an instruction to pick up the three strands and knit them together with the next stitch. You need to slide your right needle under the stands from underneath, before putting that same needle into the next stitch to knit it. Then, as you bring the new stitch through you need to slip the three strands to the back of the work. It might sound a little complicated, however, it really is quite easy to do. And if any of you knitted the 2019 Mystery Blanket, ‘Winter Wonderland’, then it is the same technique that was used in the square called ‘Glisten’. Give it a go and see how you get on!

SQUARE 2, SUSHI: this is an easy to knit square with garter stitch stripes and panels of hooked-in beads. But there are a lot of colour changes which means you will end up with a lot of loose ends as the colours cannot be taken up the side of the work. Some of these ends can be woven in across the back as you knit the square (try using the fairisle technique to do this). But I would suggest that an equal proportion are left until later on in the project when the squares are sewn together and they can be taken into the seams.

You are instructed several times to transfer the stitches onto the other needle. This is so you are back at the beginning of a right-side row to work two knit rows for a garter stitch stripe. If you knit the whole square on either double-pointed needles or a circular needle, then you can simply slide them to the other end as and when needed – it might just make it a little easier to do.

One last thing, don’t forget the changes of needle size which are given throughout the pattern. The change to a smaller needle will keep your garter stitch rows nice and neat!

SQUARE 7, BENTO BOX: this is another easy to knit square which combines reverse stitches with stocking stitch to achieve a 'grid' effect. Beads are hooked-in on alternate ‘boxes’ to add a spot of colour to the neutral background.

AND FINALLY FOR THIS MONTH, IT’S TIME TO GUESS THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY CUSHION! Each month I will give you a letter from the title – it’s a bit like Hang-man. 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 title is. But if not then here is the first letter, and this month it’s the letter ‘I’:
_   _  I  _  _  _ / _  _  _  _  _  _  _  

If you think you might know what it is, please email your answer to Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com to see if you are right. And if you are not, then the theme will continue to be a mystery for you until the next clue is given in another four weeks’ time!

So that’s it for the first Mystery Cushion blog of 2020! I hope you have found it informative and helpful. Next month I will be back with lots more help and advice for your project, as well as some exciting news about what new kits and Clubs we have in store for you in the Autumn. We always love to hear from our members, so if you have any photos to show us of your progress with the project or interesting stories to tell, then we can share them here with the other members next month. Until then, I hope you enjoy knitting up this first instalment while continuing to keep safe and well, Debbie x

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