Mystery Blanket Club 2017: post 1, February

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WELCOME TO MY VERY SPECIAL TEN YEAR ANNIVERSARY MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB! It doesn’t seem five minutes ago that I was writing up the very first set of patterns and getting the parcels ready to send out to the eighty members who signed up in 2008. And now, ten years on there are three postal teams involved with packing and sending out the parcels and there are over seven-hundred people in the Club, which is a huge increase on that first year. So thank you to everyone who has signed up for 2017, making it the biggest and the most successful so far in the history of the Mystery Blanket Club!

It has become a tradition for the past two years to begin each blog with a photo of my little boy Seth, and many of you have emailed me to ask if I am going to continue to do this. So for those of you who have enjoyed seeing his progress month by month, I am happy to say that I will continue to post a photo of him each month – it’s a nice cheerful way to start each blog! So above is the first photo this year of little Seth with his mum and dad (Mrs Mystery Blanket and Mr Debbie Abrahams Beads!), taken at Christmas time when he turned himself into a little elf! He was a great help around the house and enjoyed wearing his little festive outfit throughout the Yuletide!

AS IN PREVIOUS YEARS, THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB CONTINUES TO BE A GLOBAL PROJECT, with members joining from all over the world. And this year we have the largest number of overseas members than ever before from many more countries than in all previous years: USA, Australia, New Zealand, Canada, The British Virgin Islands, Norway, France, The Netherlands, Singapore, Ireland, Germany, South Africa, Spain, Finland, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Iceland, Italy, Denmark, Mexico, the Falkland Islands, Russia, Israel and the UK. Isn’t it wonderful to think that so many people in different countries around the world will be knitting up their Mystery Blanket squares each month at the same time as you! Knitting may be an isolated craft for some people, but remember that you are now part of one big very special knitting group, and there are ways that you can keep in contact with fellow Mystery Blanketeers too, which I will tell you about later on in the blog…

THE 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB LAUNCHES TODAY ON THE 1st FEBRUARY, which is when the patterns for Mail-out 1 have been emailed. This year we are continuing to use three post offices and three postal teams for the yarn parcels. Last week I sent out an emailed newsletter to all the members with lots of information in it about the Club, including details of the the postal dates of the parcels. World Zone 2 were posted week commencing 16th January, World Zone 1 posted week commencing 23rd January, Europe and UK Special Delivery posted on the 30th January, and all the remaining UK parcels were posted on the 31st January and the 1st February. So if you have not received your parcel yet, it will be with you very soon. I have had several members contact me to ask when their parcel will arrive. However, please remember that it is impossible for us to control exactly when the parcels are delivered to you, so I would ask you all to be patient and to wait for at least a week (UK) before you contact me. For the overseas members, I would ask that you give your parcels at least two weeks to arrive. We have a tracking number/barcode reference for all the members who opted for Tracked & Signed Delivery or Special Delivery, so if you would like us to email it to you please let us know. And if any of you have any worries about your parcel then you can contact Sue at: sue@debbieabrahams.com and she will do her best to help you.

AFTER THE FIRST YARN PARCEL YOU WILL RECEIVE ONE MORE PARCEL, which will be posted between the 17th April – 1st May. We will advise you of the exact posting dates in an emailed newsletter nearer to the time. When you have both parcels you will have all of the materials to make the whole blanket. But patterns will continue to be sent in instalments on the 1st of each month (March – November).

PLEASE CAN YOU NOTIFY US IMMEDIATELY IF ANY PART OF YOUR POSTAL ADDRESS IS INCORRECT. We have done our very best to ensure that the addresses are correct, but occasionally human error intervenes and there are slight errors. Any discrepancies can affect the speed at which your parcel is delivered to you, or at worst it may not arrive at all. So please let us know and we will update our files: sue@debbieabrahams.com

ALL MEMBERS THAT HAVE PAID FOR PRINTED PATTERNS will receive them in a separate card-backed envelope, EXCEPT FOR members 1-200 who will find their patterns included in their yarn parcels. I have gone back and forth a few times on this, telling you one thing in the emailed newsletter and another in the Welcome letter. But please note that this is the latest update and it is what we have gone ahead and done. All members, including the printed pattern members, will be emailed the patterns on the 1st of each month. So please keep your eyes on your inbox and if nothing turns up, please remember to check your Spam folder before talking to us. We usually find that with the first mail-out we have a few teething problems with emailed patterns, however, a lot of these are often solved when the Spam folder is checked. If you are still without the patterns after checking the other folders on your computer, then please let us know as soon as possible so that we can sort out the problem with you: sue@debbieabrahams.com.

YOU HAVE ALL BEEN GIVEN A UNIQUE MEMBERSHIP NUMBER FOR THE 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB, so please can you quote it in any correspondence to us. We can locate your details such as postal address and email much more quickly if we have your number, and this means that your query will be dealt with much more efficiently. Your membership number was included in the confirmation email we sent to you when you signed up, and it is also written after your name on the address label of your parcels.

IF WE HAVE IMPORTANT INFORMATION TO PASS ONTO YOU, such as a pattern addendum, then we will send everyone an emailed newsletter. So it is really important that you check your emails (and your Spam folder in particular) regularly. We use software called Mailchimp to send the newsletters and this enables us to monitor our mailings so that we can see who has received the email, who has opened it and who has not. It also tells us if the delivery of the email has been unsuccessful – in which case we will contact you. So please be email-aware as there may be some important information sitting on your computer that you need to know while you are working your way through the Mystery Blanket!

YOU HAVE A COLOUR CODER IN YOUR FIRST PARCEL and it would be wise to set this up before you start knitting. Use it to identify all the different shades in the project by tying a small amount of each yarn onto the card and writing the name and/or shade number next to it. Please note that there are twenty-one different colours used in this year’s Mystery Blanket, however, there are only eighteen punched holes. So you will need to either double up on three of the holes with two yarns, or create an extra three holes in the card to accommodate all the yarns. There are a few shades in the collection that are very similar to each other, so please pay extra attention to these when you use them. It is very important that you use the correct colour yarn for the correct patterns otherwise you could run short of yarn. I have used the Rowan colour names for the yarns instead of generic names. So for those of you who use Rowan Yarns regularly, you may be familiar with some of the colours I have used in the blanket, and therefore should be able to idenitfy the different colours more easily.

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 – so please be aware of this when working each square. We have done our best to make sure that the colours are as accurate as possible, however some discrepancies might occur. So it is always best to read the name of the colours to use in the pattern instructions, rather than going by the photographs of the knitting and the graphics in the mail-outs.

THE SECTION IN THE MAIL OUT CALLED “WORKING THE MYSTERY BLANKET” has some important information about the project which we advise you should read before starting to knit your blanket. Here you will find information on tension, the size of your squares, how to knit the squares in vertical strips (highly recommended!) and how to block and press your knitting. On the last three pages of the mail-out there is some further information on knitting techniques, including intarsia and fairisle, knitting with beads, Swiss-darning, Chain stitch and an abbreviations list. Questions that you have may well be answered here, so it is well worth taking the time to read all of this information before you begin knitting. Please note that these pages will only be repeated in mail outs 4, 7 and 10 as they are duplicated information.

AS IN PREVIOUS MYSTERY BLANKETS YOU WILL BE GIVEN OPTIONS ON SOME OF THE SQUARES. So when there is a square that involves the intarsia or fairisle techniques you can opt to knit an alternative square that replaces them with a textured, beaded or striped stitch pattern. Each pattern clearly tells you when there is an option, and you can also see this on the piecing diagrams. Throughout the project you can stick completely to either Option One or Option Two, or, if preferred, you can choose to mix your options. Mixing options gives the project increased flexibility and means that although you are all working on the same blanket design you can make yours look different, if you choose. However, to keep the design balanced, you should take care to note when I advise you to choose a particular option. For example, there are two options for Square 37 in Mail Out 1, and when you knit Square 13 later on in the project there will be a note in the pattern instructions to tell you that you should choose the same option for Square 13 as you chose for Square 37. Failure to follow this instruction could result in your completed design looking unbalanced and you may then be unhappy with the final result. So take care when choosing your options, read the instructions carefully and I promise you will be fine! And just in case you are not sure, Option One is the more tricky option to knit and Option Two is the easier one.

THE THEME FOR THE MYSTERY BLANKET is always a hot topic for conversation every year and usually it is kept a secret throughout most of the project. However, in the Welcome letter (included in your first parcel) I have revealed for the first time the inspiration behind this year’s Mystery Blanket. To celebrate the ten year anniversary I decided to take inspiration for the squares from all the previous nine Mystery Blankets, in order to create a brand new design. To look back at all the previous designs was not only a very enjoyable experience for me, but it was also very challenging too – but hopefully one that you will enjoy knitting up! So as well as the usual guessing game for the title of the Mystery Blanket, there is a bit of additional fun each month (with prizes!) to guess from which previous Mystery Blankets each square in the 2017 Blanket (including the Option Twos), has been inspired by. Each month the first person to guess all of them (or the most) correctly will win a prize. However, a prize can only be won once, so if you are the winner for a second time the prize will be passed onto the next person who guessed correctly. To help you with your guesses I have given each square the same name it had originally, or if only a number was given I have called it “Untitled”. More help can be found in the Gallery on my website where you will find a photo of each of the previous nine Mystery Blankets. And those of you who purchased my 2017 Mystery Blanket calendar will be able to check your squares against the photos in it to see if you can find any more clues…

But for now, here is the first letter clue for the title of this year’s Mystery Blanket. In each blog I will give you another letter to help you guess the name of it. This month the letter I am giving you is “O”:

  • _  _  _  _  O  _  _  _  _  _  _  _  _
  • Please send your guesses to Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com. There are no prizes for the correct answer – it is simply a tradition with the Mystery Blanket and hopefully a bit of fun too!

THESE ARE THE SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH:

Square 36: Untitled – striped cable pattern with knots (same for both options)

Square 37, Option One: Nordic Stars– star motifs using the fairisle technique with beads

Square 37, Option Two: Frosty #1 – slip-stitch mock fairisle

Square 43: Untitled – textured stitches with beads and swiss-darning (same for both options)

Square 44: Country Stripe – striped pattern with slipped stitches (same for both options)

Square 45, Option One: Untitled– geometric intarsia motifs with swiss-darned detail

Square 45, Option Two: Untitled – striped and beaded cables with swiss-darned details in a striped section

On each pattern page there is a list of Pattern notes and tips that are worth reading before you start to knit each square. These bits of advice will help you with, pre-warning you what to look out for and giving you some useful information about how to knit the square. In the following notes below I am going to give you a few extra tips about some of the squares, which should help you further with your knitting:

SQUARE 36, UNTITLED: throughout this square you have to keep a 3-colour stripe sequence going as you work all the rows from the cast-on to the cast-off. So it might be a good idea to write out the colour sequence repeat from start to finish and strike through each one as you knit it. When I was sampling this square I made a mistake a couple of times and knitted two consecutive rows in one colour, which I then had to undo and reknit. So please pay special attention to this when you knit it so that you don’t make the same mistake that I did.

SQUARE 37, NORDIC STARS, OPTION ONE: to avoid unwanted extra ends on chart rows 11-13 and 31-33, it is advisable to do the following: measure out two separate lengths of Avocado that are long enough to complete two rows of knitting. On Row 11 join in the first piece of Avocado halfway along its length, so that you can use one end to knit Row 11 and the other end to knit Row 13. Repeat this for Rows 31 and 33.

SQUARE 37, FROSTY #1, OPTION TWO: as with Square 36, throughout this square you have to keep a colour stripe sequence going as you work all the rows from the cast-on to the cast-off. So it might be an idea to write out the whole repeat of the pattern rows 1-4 from start to finish and next to each one write which colour the row needs to be knitted in. Then you can strike through each one as you knit it, ensuring that you knit the correct colour in the correct sequence on the correct row. There’s a lot to think about with this square, but I promise you will be pleased with the result. Just take care not to make any mistakes!

SQUARE 44, COUNTRY STRIPE: I didn’t write any tips about carrying colours up the side of the work for this square as you will find that each colour does need to be cut and rejoined to the work at some point. So I would suggest that you work a few rows after a change of colour before you cut off a yarn, and if you can carry it up the side of the work, even for a few rows, then that would help save on ends. What you have to do is read through the pattern and work out whether when the same colour is used again, you will be at the correct end of the work to pick it up and continue knitting with it. If you are then you are ok to carry it up the side, but if not then you will need to cut it off and rejoin it when it is needed again.

SQUARE 45, UNTITLED, OPTION TWO: there is a note on this pattern to say that the stitches that were increased on Row 30 are NOT decreased back out at the end of the square. If you are wondering why this is, it is is because those extra stitches will be needed for Square 46. I will say no more!…

DON’T FORGET TO CHECK OUT THE DEBBIE ABRAHAMS MYSTERY BLANKET THREAD ON RAVELRY! Here you will find a bunch of very helpful and informative members who will be only too pleased to talk to you about your project. It is a great way to get help and answers to your knitting queries. And if you are not already a Ravelry member, then it is very easy (and free!) to join. Just follow the instructions on their website: www.ravelry.com…

…AND IF YOU WANT EVEN MORE HELP WITH YOUR BLANKET… then why not join me at one of my Mystery Blanket Club knitting workshops! I am running a 3-day break at the very lovely Rookery Hall Hotel in Cheshire in August, which I will give you more details about next month when it will be launched in my web-shop. Plus I will be at Knitting Corner in Lichfield, Staffordshire and Yarn in Beeston Nottingham, all details to be announced soon in my March blog. Workshops are a great way to meet other members of the Club and improve your existing skills, as well as learning some new techniques. So I really hope to see some of you at my Mystery Blanket events this year for a really fun and enjoyable day out!

I HAVE SOME EXCITING NEWS! DUE TO HIGH DEMAND WE HAVE HAD ANOTHER 50 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB CALENDARS PRINTED… so if you did not get round to purchasing your calendar the first time round, it’s not too late! We have them in stock now and you can buy your one very easily in my web-shop today. Not only is it a commemorative calendar celebrating ten years of the Mystery Blanket Club, but it could  also help you with your guesses of the squares each month. And you never know – it may well help you win one of those monthly prizes!

WE HOPE THAT YOU WILL ENJOY USING YOUR SPECIAL ANNIVERSARY NOTEBOOK AND PEN to record all your notes while you are knitting uo your blanket. And if you would like another notebook and pen then the good news is that we have fifty more available for you to buy. They are not available to buy in my web-shop, so if you would like to place an order please email me at debbie@debbieabrahams.com and I will send you a Paypal invoice. The cost for the set (including shipping costs) is as follows: UK members £8.00; European members £11.00; World members £14.00. Stocks are limited and once they are gone, there will be no more available. So don’t delay if you want to place your order, the goods will be despatched to you as soon as you make your payment.

A MEMBER OF THE 2013 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB HAS DECIDED TO SELL HER KIT, so if you are interested in getting your hands on this limited edition Debbie Abrahams project, please email me at debbie@debbieabrahams.com and I will put you in touch with the seller. It was the Tropical Paradise cushion which was very popular and sold out. So it might just be your lucky day if this is one of my Mystery designs that you have been hunting for and would like to add to your collection!

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE FIRST 2017 MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB PRIZE DRAW!!! Each month a member is picked at random to win a Debbie Abrahams prize. So it is worth reading right the way to the end of each blog to see if you are that lucky member!

PRIZE DRAW ONE (FEBRUARY): this month’s winner is member 546, Linda Schaefer from Fish Creek, Wisconsin, USA! Well done Linda! Please choose a prize from the following selection:

A Debbie Abrahams book: Blankets and Throws to Knit/More Blankets and Throws To Knit/25 Beaded Knits/Kaleidoscope

A Debbie Abrahams dvd: More Blankets/A Professional Finish

Ten year anniversary notebook and pen (same as the free gift, while stocks last)

A 2017 Mystery Blanket Club calendar (while stocks last)

Four packs of Debbie Abrahams Beads from the selection on www.debbieabrahamsbeads.co.uk

A £15 voucher towards a Debbie Abrahams Mystery Club (2017 Mystery Cushion or 2018 Mystery Blanket)

I will contact Linda directly to discuss her choice.

I hope you have enjoyed reading my first blog for 2017. Hopefully you have found the information interesting and helpful. I will write another blog at the beginning of March, so please don’t forget to come back here again next month. If you have any ideas as to what the Mystery Blanket title is, please send us an email to see if you are right. And don’t forget the extra quiz each month to guess which Mystery Blankets inspired each square –  you never know, you might be the first person to give us the correct answers and win a prize! We always love to hear from our members, so if you have any Mystery Blanket stories, news or photos, please send them to us and we will share them with the other members in the next blog. Until next time, happy knitting everyone! Debbie x

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