Mystery Cushion Club 2023: post 1, June

Mystery Cushion Club 2023: post 1, June

HELLO ALL MY LOVELY MEMBERS AND WELCOME TO THE FIRST INSTALMENT OF THE 2023 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB! I would like to begin by saying a big thank you to everyone who has signed up to the club this year. Many of you are Mystery Blanket members, but there are lots of new knitters on board too, so if this is your first KAL with me, I guarantee that you are in for a bundle of fun over the next five months! This is a global knitting club and I am delighted to welcome members from Australia, New Zealand, USA, Canada, Malaysia, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Switzerland, Sweden, Ireland and the UK!

From every membership sold we donated £5 of the profit to the mental health charity, Mind, and we are delighted to let you know that we collected a total of £1250! So thank you to everyone who signed up to the club and supported this charity. Your contributions will go towards helping raise awareness of mental health issues, giving vital support to those who need it.

Each month I write a dedicated blog for the Mystery Cushion which includes an intro from me, tech vids to assist you with your knitting, and plenty of hints and tips about the project. So I suggest that each month before you start knitting your squares you come here and have a read and a listen so that you are fully prepared for the month ahead.

Some of the tech vids have been created specifically for this project and show how to knit rows within the squares. And some of them are generic and demo the techniques on a sample square or using sample yarn.

This month you have three squares to knit which include beads, intarsia cables, stripes and frills. So there’s plenty to keep you busy while you knit your way through the rest of June and into July.

So, let’s make a start, beginning with my intro vid and nine tech vids to help you with this month’s knitting techniques:

  • How to cast on using several colours
  • Square 1, Summer Cable: how to cross the yarns over when changing colour
  • How to cable
  • How to pick up stitches along a cast-off edge (to knit the next square)
  • How to thread beads onto your yarn
  • How to bead, the slip-stitch method
  • How to carry yarns up the side of the work
  • Square 2, Pavlova: how to knit the frill
  • How to bead, the hooking-in method

ALL OF THE KNITTING KITS HAVE BEEN POSTED, so if you have not received your kit yet, it is on its way to you. As mentioned in my intro, we had a slight delay with one of the yarns being delivered to us late. However, as soon as we received it my postal team sprang into action and got the overseas parcels packed and off to the post office, about a week ahead of the UK. I have heard that many of you have received your parcels, but for those of you who are still waiting, please bear with us. Once they leave the UK they are in the hands of the international postal services, so we are unable to control the speed at which they are delivered. We have a tracking number for each overseas parcel, and we can give that to you upon request. Just email me at and I will email it to you.

When you receive your kit it is a good idea to check the contents against the list on page 2 of your June mail out. And if anything is missing, let us know straight away and we will send you what you need. You should have received an email from us which pointed out an error in the list of yarns. So just in case you missed it, in the kit there is 1 ball of Fuchsia (shade 455) and 2 balls of White (shade 465), and not the other way round. This information has been corrected in the digital file you have been sent, but unfortunately it is incorrect in the printed patterns.

FOR THE MEMBERS WHO PAID FOR PRINTED PATTERNS, these have been posted to you in a separate card-backed envelope and if you have not already received them, they should arrive very soon. We aim to have them delivered to you by the middle of the month, but apologies if they are a little late. Again, we are at the mercy of the global postal services, and some countries are less efficient than others at delivering mail. But we will do our best to get them to you on time. Overseas patterns are posted by standard Airmail so unfortunately there is no tracking number for them.

THE PATTERNS HAVE BEEN EMAILED TO EVERYONE ON 16th JUNE, but you can also download them from your account on our website:

  • Log into the website with your username and password:
  • Under "MYSTERY CLUB DOWNLOADS" click "View all downloads"
  • Your latest available mail-outs will be visible here in PDF format to download

From July - October (the remaining four months), the patterns will be emailed to everyone on the 15th of the month, and on that date they will be available to download from your account as well.

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: and we will investigate further.

BEFORE YOU START KNITTING IT WOULD BE A GOOD IDEA TO READ THROUGH THE WHOLE MAIL OUT SO THAT YOU ARE FULLY PREPARED. On page 3 there is some handy information about tension, construction, the finished size of the cushion-cover and blocking and pressing. More information about how to knit a tension square and how to block and press is included in this blog, but the information on this page in the mail out will give you an overall idea of how it all works.

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 constructed from nine rectangular blocks which are worked in three separate strips and then pieced together. The Back Panel is knitted in two halves – an Upper Back Panel and a Lower Back Panel.

As we progress through each month, images will be added to the diagrams, which will enable you to see how the design is developing.

THERE IS A TIPS AND TECHNIQUES SECTION IN YOUR MAIL-OUT, it is at the back of the June mail out on pages 13-14, and it includes important information about the intarsia and fairisle techniques, knitting with beads and embroidery on knitted fabric.

On page 15 there is an Abbreviations list which gives you an explanation of all the abbreviations that are used in the patterns. Keep an eye on this list each month as it will be updated when there is a new abbreviation in the patterns.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE COLOURS IN THE MAIL-OUTS MIGHT NOT BE COMPLETELY ACCURATE TO THE COLOUR OF THE ACTUAL YARNS – both in the printed paperwork and in the digital files. We have done our very best to make sure that the colours are as accurate as possible, however some discrepancies may occur in the images and on the charts. Therefore, it is always best to read the name and shade number of the colours rather than going by the photographs of the knitting.

LOOK OUT FOR THE LITTLE COLOURED ENVELOPE IN YOUR KIT! –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 theme.

YOU HAVE A COLOUR CODER IN YOUR PARCEL and it is important that you use it to identify the colours in the cushion. 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 square you are knitting 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 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!

THERE ARE TWO PACKS OF BRIGHTLY COLOURED BUTTONS IN YOUR KIT - a pack of large striped and polka dot ones, and a pack of smaller polka dot buttons. The larger buttons are for the fastening on the back, and the smaller ones will be used for decoration.

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. The recommended size is 45cm x 35cm.

NOBODY LIKES AN ERROR IN A KNITTING PATTERN (LEAST OF ALL ME), but unfortunately they do occur sometimes, despite a stringent test knit and several checks before the patterns are signed off. I can assure you that we do our very best to make sure that the patterns are correct. But if anything needs to be corrected, we always list it in the Addendums on our website and send you an email to alert you to it.

It would be a really good idea to check the Addendum page before you knit each square, and that way you will be aware of anything before you make a start. Scroll down to the bottom of the homepage and you will find a link to it there.

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. Please send your correspondence to Sue at and she will either answer it herself or forward it onto me. 

You might also be interested to know that there are a few groups set up on social media for my mystery clubs:

Ravelry: Debbie Abrahams Handknits

Facebook: Debbie Abrahams Mystery Knitters

Facebook: Debbie Abrahams Handknits (our own FB page)

The groups on there are a lovely bunch of very positive and enthusiastic knitters who are only too happy to pass on any help or advice if you get stuck with your Mystery Cushion knitting. So if you haven’t already joined these groups, then why not put that on your to-do list today!?! They are all free to join and a lot of fun to be part of.

I have an Instagram and a Pinterest page too. So, if you want to keep an eye on all the latest news about the Club and Debbie Abrahams Handknits, please follow us on our social media platfoms. It’s a great way to keep up with what is happening!

Instagram: debbieabrahams_knitting

Pinterest: debbieabrahams@debbieabrahamsk

I COUNT MYSELF VERY LUCKY TO HAVE A WONDERFUL YARN SHOP AT THE END OF MY ROAD, and Doreen who owns Yarn Loft very kindly invited me to hold Mystery Club meetings there once a month. So if you live within reach of Nottingham and fancy meeting up with other members for a couple of hours for a chat and a knit, why not pop along to the next meeting. We have already had three meetings so far this year, and they have been so much fun! Both Mystery Blanket and Mystery Cushion members are very welcome to attend.

Our next meeting is on Wednesday 12th July between 4-6pm at Yarn Loft, 118 Hucknall Road, Carrington, Nottingham, tel number 07825 702433, website: To cover the costs of hosting the meeting there is a small sub to pay (£3.00), which can be paid to Doreen on the day.

Just send a quick email to me at to let me know you are coming and we will make sure that we have a cup of tea and a cake ready for you!

SO LET’S TALK NEXT ABOUT SOMETHING VERY IMPORTANT - HOW TO KNIT A TENSION SWATCH, which is essential to do before you start knitting your first set of squares.

The tension for this project is 25 stitches and 36 rows to 10cm (4in) measured over stocking stitch using 3.00mm needles and using Rowan Summerlite DK yarn.

I would suggest that you use Coral Blush (shade 467) for your tension sample as you will have plenty of this in your kit. (If you’ve already knitted a tension square using a different yarn, don’t worry, you can always undo the tension swatch if the yarn is needed).

Any discrepancies in your tension could lead to shortages of yarn, especially if you knit looser that the given tension. So please take time to do this. Here are some tips about measuring tension:

  • the tension swatch should be longer and wider than the stated tension, so it is advisable to cast on a minimum of 35 stitches and work a minimum of 46 rows
  • block and press your tension swatch so that the stitches are fully relaxed
  • use a solid ruler rather than a tape measure to measure your stitches and rows
  • start and finish counting the stitches and rows in from the edges of the knitting and not from edge to edge
  • if your tension is too loose you will need to resample using a smaller metric size needle
  • if you tension is too tight you will need to resample using a larger metric size needle
  • if you need to change your needle size then you will need to change all of the other needles used in the project as well by the same number of sizes
  • stitch tension is more important then row tension, so if you are unable to match both to the recommended tension, choose the needle size that gives you the closest match.

Keep your tension swatch to one side, just in case you need to reference it while you are knitting.

BLOCKING AND PRESSING YOUR SQUARES IS ALSO VERY IMPORTANT, and if you want a professional look to your cushion-cover, then this will go a long way to help achieve it. Blocking your squares ensures that they are all a uniform size which will make the joining of them together so much easier to do. You might find that you have to ease some of them in or out to get them to the same measurements as other squares, but this is fine - I had to do this with some of mine and they all blocked to the same size. If your individual squares measure slightly bigger or smaller than 15cm x 11.5cm, then this should not be a problem. But you will need to decide on what size you are going to block them all to and stick to this throughout the whole cushion front panel.

Blocking is the pinning out of your knitting, and, unless instructed otherwise, you should always pin it out with the wrong side facing upwards. Pin frequently along each edge, keeping all four edges as flat and even as possible. There is no need to use heat to press your squares. Much more preferable – and much safer too! – is cold water. So, if you have one available, fill up a plant spray bottle and use this to generously wet down the knitting, making sure that the water is dispersed right across the knitting from edge to edge. And then simply leave it to dry completely before removing the pins.

Pressing is the process of applying either heat or water to your knitting which relaxes the stitches and softens the fibres, resulting in a much more fluid and softer feeling fabric.

Blocking and pressing also helps the edges of the knitting stay flat rather than curling over, as is the tendency with most stitch structures.

I would suggest that you block and press your front panel squares after you have knitted each one. I think it’s far easier to do this as you go along rather than leaving them all to the end. It also ensures that as you work through them, they are all knitting up to the correct measurements.

SO, WHICH SQUARES ARE YOU KNITTING THIS MONTH? There are three front panel squares to knit, and these useful tips are worth a read before you begin…

FRONT PANEL, Square 1: Summer Cable – intarsia cable:

FRONT PANEL, Square 2: Pavlova – beaded stripes with knitted-in frills:

FRONT PANEL, Square 4: Al Fresco! – decorative stripe with hooked-in beads:

So here we go…

SQUARE 1, SUMMER CABLE: so we begin with an intarsia cable in two colours. Can you see the vertical dotted lines between each colour change? This is created by crossing the yarns over on the right side of the work. And if you need any assistance with this or any of the other techniques in this square, then there are three tech vids you can watch for guidance:

  • How to cast on using several colours
  • Square 1, Summer Cable: how to cross the yarns over when changing colour
  • How to cable (this is a generic cable demo and does not show the actual cable pattern you are knitting for this square)

This might seem a steep mountain to climb for your first square, however, once you get the hang of the intarsia technique, it really is quite simple. If you have knitted intarsia before but not tried it in a cable pattern, then this is something new for you to try - and that’s always a good thing, isn’t it?!? And if intarsia is completely new to you, then this is a wonderful way to learn the basics of it.

After casting on in the colour sequence (as specified on page 6), there is a WS row followed by an increase row. The increase is a ‘m1’ which I demonstrate in a tech vid. It’s worth checking that you are doing this right as there are several different ways to increase. This is the one where you pick up the horizontal bar between the stitches and knit into the back of it.

It is essential that the yarns are crossed over at each colour change on the RS of the work to create those vertical dotted lines you can see in the image above. This is the opposite to how you would usually cross them over in intarsia. There is a tech vid which shows this really clearly, so do give it a watch before you start knitting if you are unsure of this technique. To get a really neat colour change, pull each of the yarns firmly as you cross them over and give them an extra tug after they have been worked.

After the increase row there is another wrong side row and then you can work from either the worded instructions on page 7, or from the chart on page 8. Both give you the same result so choose whichever one you prefer, or you could work from both if you want to.

SQUARE 2, PAVLOVA: this very pretty square has three frills which are knitted separately then joined in as you work up the square. There is some slip stitch beading too, so if you’ve never knitted with beads before, this is your chance to try it out.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • How to pick up stitches along a cast-off edge (to knit the next square)
  • Square 2, Pavlova: how to knit the frill
  • How to thread beads onto your yarn
  • How to bead, the slip-stitch method
  • How to carry yarns up the side of the work

Before you cast on for this square, you are instructed to knit the three frills. This is probably the trickiest bit of this pattern, so there is a tech vid to watch for guidance. If you were a member of the 2021 Mystery Blanket Club, ‘One Thousand and One Nights’, then you would have come across knitted frills in this project. This is the same technique and involves casting on a greater number of stitches which are then rapidly reduced down, thus creating a frilly edge to the knitting. You will find the instruction for this at the bottom of page 9. Cast on with Cantaloupe then cut this off and change to White - don’t continue with Cantaloupe (which is what I did a couple of times!). After this tricky row there is a row with a few more decreases, and then you knit a complete row using White before cutting off the yarn. You need to make three of these frills.

To begin the square, you need to either cast it on separately, or pick up 41 stitches along the cast-off edge of Square 1. If you are unsure about how to do pick up stitches, check out my tech video – it shows you where to pick up the stitches and how to ‘miss’ a stitch (Square 1 has 42 stitches and Square 2 has 41 stitches).

So, should you opt for casting on stitches or picking them up? I would recommend that you pick them up as the square will have much better definition with the corners and edges sitting lovely and neat and straight, resulting in a very professional and neat looking front panel. However, if this isn’t for you, you can sew them together instead.

If you have not knitted with beads before using the slip-stitch technique, then there is a tech vid to assist you with this. But beware, it gets incredibly addictive and before you know it your world will be filled with beads! I love knitting with beads, it is so fun and easy to do, and it’s a great way to introduce extra colours into your knitting. I know you’re just going to love it too!

On Row 15 you are instructed to knit in the frills, and this is repeated twice more in this square. This technique is similar to a three-needle cast/bind-off, but you don’t cast off the stitches, instead you knit the two sets of stitches together but leave them on the needle. There is no tech vid for this, but the instructions are straightforward, and it may well be a technique that you’ve used before in other projects.

SQUARE 4, AL FRESCO!: in this square you get the opportunity to try out the other beaded technique, which is hooked-in beading. The beaded motifs are alternated with a fancy stripe pattern.

Videos to watch for assistance with this square:

  • How to carry yarns up the side of the work
  • How to bead, the hooking-in method

The first thing to point out here are the multiple needle sizes that are needed for this square. The changes between different sizes are essential to keep the stitches super neat as you swap between the beaded sections and the stripes.

On Row 5 you are instructed to knit stitches in alternate colours (Fuchsia and Pear) while hooking-in beads. To stop your yarns from tangling round each other, pick one yarn up from on top and the other from below and keep this consistent across the row - this is actually basic fairisle knitting. If you don’t keep this ‘over and under’ system going then it is not disastrous, but your yarns will be tangled together.

To create the decorative stripe effect, it is essential that the Pear yarn is carried on top of the Fuchsia yarn across the whole of row 5 (and when this same row is repeated throughout the square). If you don’t do this then it will be disastrous and you won’t get the same effect with the loops of Pear yarn on the front of the work.

This square might take you some time to do - hooked-in beading can be slow, especially if you are new to it. But the effect will be lovely, and what a great feeling of achievement you will have when it is completed!

So take a deep breath and off you go! And just think, when you’ve finished this square, you can sit back and relax and wait for next month’s instalment as you would have completed all your knitting for this month. Enjoy!

AND FINALLY FOR THIS MONTH, IT’S TIME TO HAVE A GUESS AT THE TITLE OF THE MYSTERY CUSHION! Each month I am going to give you a letter which is in the title. Then if you think you know what it is, drop us a line and we will let you know if you are right. There are clues in the patterns, the colours of the yarns and the embellishments - what do polka dots and stripes remind you of? Any ideas?

This month the letter I am giving you is ‘A’:
_  _  _  _  _  _  / _  A  _  _  _

If you think you know what it is, please email your answer to Sue at to see if you are right. And if you are then with your permission we will include you in the list of correct guessers in the July blog. And if you are not, then it’s time to guess again!

So this is it then, the start of a brand new KAL and five months of blissful knitting! Thank you for tuning in and taking the time to read (and listen to) this blog. Hopefully the tips and advice will guide you successfully through this month’s squares but remember that we are always here if you need us - just ping us a message or an email. We always love to hear from you, so please send in any stories or pics of your mystery knitting and with your permission we will share it in the next blog. And don’t forget to send in your guesses for the title too! I’m off now to soak up some of this glorious sunshine and knit ‘Al Fresco!’. Maybe you’ll do the same…take care everyone and have fun, Debbie, x

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