HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE SEPTEMBER INSTALMENT OF THE 2020 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB! – which is the penultimate mail out with just one more to go after this – can you believe it?!? We are very close now to the end of the project and the reveal next month. So if you’ve kept up to date with your monthly instalments you will soon have your completed cushion completed and ready to display!
The weather has been pretty awful here in Nottingham of late, but the sun decided to come back out this weekend, and if the forecast is right it’s supposed to stay with us all week. So fingers crossed that it does – it always makes me feel so much more positive, plus it means I can get out in my garden for a bit of outdoor knitting!
So this month there is just one panel to knit, but it’s a larger one than the Front Panel squares. It might take a bit of time to do as it’s quite intricate. But because it’s an overall repeat pattern you should find that once you’re familiar with it you can settle down, relax and knit away very happily for a few hours.
THE SEPTEMBER PATTERNS WERE EMAILED TO ALL THE MEMBERS ON 15th SEPTEMBER, so you all should have received them by now. The printed patterns (for those who paid for them), were posted to overseas members on the 4th September and to the UK members on the 14th September.
MEMBERSHIPS FOR THE 2021 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB HAVE BEEN ON SALE NOW FOR JUST UNDER TWO MONTHS, and we thrilled to have sold over three quarters of the memberships. Rowan Yarns are planning a promotion for my new Club this month after which we expect it to sell out quite quickly. So if you have not signed up yet it would be advisable to do so soon.
If you would prefer to pay for your Club membership in monthly instalments then we are introducing an extended payment plan which means you can spread your payments over five payments with no interest or administration fee.
Below: Mystery Blanket Club 2009, Arabian Nights.
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. Please note that due to the uncertainty of Covid-19 and possible disruptions to postal services, Tracked and/or Signed delivery is mandatory on all World memberships.
Above: a sneak preview of the 2021 Mystery Blanket Club design.
Next year sees a return to a strong, vibrant colour palette, combining together several gorgeous yarns from the Rowan Autumn/Winter collection including Felted Tweed, Alpaca Soft DK and Alpaca Classic. And I am thrilled to be able to tell you that also included in the palette are some bespoke shades of Pure Wool DK which have been dyed up exclusively for this project. These shades will only be available to buy in the blanket kit, so they really are super special! And of course there are plenty of beads in it too to add a touch of sparkle! Techniques will include fairisle and intarsia as well as textured stitches, cables and stripes. Two options will be offered on some of the more tricky squares which will enable knitters of all skill levels to take part.
If you want to find out more about next year’s Mystery Blanket, then pop across to the FAQ page on our website where you will find lots more information under ‘Mystery Club FAQS’: https://debbieabrahams.com/pages/faq
THE 2021 KNITTING & CROCHET GUILD ‘UN-CONVENTION’ BEGAN ON THE 9TH SEPTEMBER AND CONTINUES TO THE 15TH SPETEMBER. The KCG are a national educational charity dedicated to UK hand knitting, domestic machine knitting and crochet, run by volunteers and supported by subscriptions and donations. They are passionate about taking crafts into the future while respecting the traditions and skills of the past. They look to encourage, inspire and be inspired by amazing makers at local level through our branches and the wider Guild community and are here to facilitate learning new skills and about the history of knitting and crochet.
If you are not a member of the Knitting and Crochet Guild then you can join their growing community by signing up via their website: https://kcguild.org.uk/
Due to Covid-19 their annual Convention has been an online event, with many exciting virtual events, talks and workshops happening throughout the week. And as a patron of the Guild I have contributed to the event along with fellow patrons Jane Crowfoot, Lorna Hamilton-Brown, Louisa Harding and Kaffe Fassett.
My keynote speech focused on my Mystery Blankets – ‘Beyond the blanket: the design process, inspiration and creation of a Mystery Blanket design’. If you did not get to see this then you can still catch up with it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7LApp40F7Z0&t=809s
And if you visit the Knitting and Crochet Guild’s Instagram page you can see all my posts from last week. It includes short films about my inspiration, two beading tutorials and a sneak preview of the 2021 Mystery Blanket Club.
Fellow patron and good friend Jane Crowfoot takes over the reigns on the 14th – 15th September, so pop across to see her Keynote speech and Instagram posts. It promises to be very exciting!!!
You can join the Un-Convention by following this link: http://b.link/kcg-unconvention
THERE IS JUST ONE MYSTERY CUSHION PANEL TO KNIT THIS MONTH:
UPPER BACK PANEL: Parasol – lace and bead stripe with pattern with buttonhole band:
Here’s some extra advice on this panel to help you with your knitting this month…
UPPER BACK PANEL, PARASOL: this panel is knitted separately and then joined to the completed Front Panel by a three-needle cast-off. So first of all you need to sew together the nine squares for the Front Panel, as instructed on page 6. In my August blog I did suggest that you get ahead and do this. But if you haven’t, then no worries! This is a reminder about how to sew the squares together using Mattress stitch (after you’ve blocked and pressed them):
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.
The Upper Back panel begins at the buttonband, so you are casting on at the bottom of the panel and working up. You can see from the images in the mail out that there are six buttonholes, so you could get prepared for the final instalment and order your buttons now. I used some chunky white plastic buttons which I’ve had in my button stash for years. I think I bought them from Duttons For Buttons, https://www.duttonsforbuttons.co.uk/ but you might find something similar – or better! – in your own button stash (if you have one), or in a haberdashery shop. And if you can’t get out to the shops then most stores have an online shop so you can still get your supplies.
You will find some tips about knitting neat buttonholes on page 6 of the mail out in the Pattern notes and tips. I use a cable cast on for the buttonholes as it gives a firm edge to the buttonhole and stops it from over stretching and becoming baggy.
The overall lace and bead pattern repeat is very simple and uses the basic lace stitches ‘yf’ and ‘P2tog’. You will see that there is a variable stitch count on these rows which changes throughout the pattern repeat, but then returns to the original number at the end of the repeat. So just keep an eye on this and perhaps count your stitches at the end of each right side row to make sure you are on track.
There are two abbreviations, ‘K1tbl’ and P1tbl’ – which I have just noticed are not listed in the Abbreviations – oops! These mean ‘knit one stitch through the back of the loop’ and ‘purl one stitch through the back of the loop’, which might be something you have come across before. If you haven’t then you basically do exactly what it says and you will see that the stitch twists on itself and tightens up.
There’s not too much else to say about this panel. Once you’ve got familiar with the repeat pattern (and remembered to change colour when instructed!), it’s pretty easy going. And the only other thing you need to follow very carefully is the instruction on page 8 to join the Upper Back Panel to the Front Panel. This is done by a three-needle cast-off, which is a great way to join two sets of stitches together. It’s like grafting, but far easier and less complicated. If you follow my instructions then you should be fine, but if you are unsure then there are some great tutorials online, search for ‘three needle cast OR bind off’.
SANDRA VARGAS FROM SOLNA IN SWEDEN WAS THRILLED TO HAVE COMPLETED THE FRONT PANEL OF HER MYSTERY CUSHION! And here she is with her beautiful piece of knitting – all sewn together and ready for the back panels:
Thanks for sending this into us Sandra, and I hope that you continue to enjoy the Mystery Cushion knitting this month!
AND FINALLY FOR THIS MONTH, IT’S TIME TO HAVE ONE LAST GO AT GUESSING THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY CUSHION! Many of you have guessed what it is, but for those of you who still need some assistance, here is another letter. The final letter I am giving you is ‘R:
_ R I _ N _ / _ _ P R _ _ _
If you think you might know what it is, please email your answer to Sue at email@example.com to see if you are right. You never know!?!...
So as we make a start on the last but one piece of the 2020 Mystery Cushion puzzle, the excitement is growing as we near the end of the project. And with this one coming to a close soon and new projects on the horizon, it’s time to get prepped and ready for your Autumn/Winter knitting. Next month we launch the Autumn Bag kit – which is finally finished!!! – and then there will be Festive Mystery Boxes and our Festive Kits promotion to look forward to – how exciting!!!. So there’s plenty in store from us to keep you going. I know that life continues to be difficult for many of you in the current global climate, but thank goodness we have our knitting needles and yarn to keep us going - for many of us this has been a life saver. I wish you all a cheerful and inspirational month and I look forward to seeing you back here in October for the final instalment. Until then, please take care of yourselves and keep safe, Debbie x