Mystery Blanket Club 2017: post 3, April

Seth April blog

HELLO AND WELCOME TO THE THIRD INSTALMENT OF THE MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB! At the Debbie Abrahams studio we are still on a huge high from our recent Mystery Blanket trip to the Isles of Scilly! As you can see from the photo of Seth this month, he spent the week looking ultra cool in his sunglasses! He insisted on wearing them upside down, so perhaps this is the start of a brand new craze?!? If you would like to read about my adventure to Hell Bay with twenty-five very excited Mystery Blanket ladies, then you might want to check out the day-day blog of the holiday in the “Recent Posts” on my website (under Blogs) to find out what we got up to…..

AND SO, WHAT MYSTERY BLANKET NEWS DO I HAVE FOR YOU THIS MONTH?!?… I am going to begin with a reminder that there is no Mystery Blanket yarn parcel this month – the second and final parcel will be posted to you in April in preparation for the next set of patterns in May. You will all be sent an email in due course with our proposed posting dates, just so that you can make sure you are in to receive it.

PRINTED PATTERNS HAVE BEEN POSTED TO ALL MEMBERS THAT OPTED FOR THEM, so if you have not received them yet, then I promise you that they are on their way! Next month we are planning to include the printed patterns with the yarn parcels. However, with three postal teams spread across the country, this may prove to be more difficult to organise than first thought, so I will let you know what we decide to do nearer the time.

I HAVE TWO MINOR ERRORS TO REPORT IN MAIL OUT 3 (APRIL), which unfortunately I only noticed after the patterns went to the printers. The version you have all been emailed today has been corrected, however, the errors are on the printed patterns that we have sent to members. The first error is on page 2 where it says “Mail Out 2” at the top of the page, and it should of course be “Mail Out 3”. The second error is on page 12 in the Pattern notes and tips. It’s the third tip down which says “see Abbreviation list for how to knit the cables (c4b, c4f and c3b).” This should say “c3f” and not “c3b”. As I said, the errors are minor and will not prevent you from knitting the squares as the pattern instructions for the squares are correct. I am not going to post out an amended hard copy of these pages, however, if you want to re-print them yourselves then you should be able to do that by selecting page 2 and page 12 in your “Printer Properties”.

I HAVE BEEN CONTACTED THIS MORNING BY ONE OF THE MEMBERS WHO SAYS SHE IS VERY SHORT OF PEBBLE YARN, and she is very concerned that she is going to run out of it before she completes knitting Square 2 this month. The Mystery Blanket is test knitted four times in total and all of the knitters had enough of the yarns used in the April patterns – although admittedly there was very little left over of both Pebble and Cypress yarns. However, if you do run short of these yarns this month it could be because of two reasons. Your tension is slightly looser than the given tension in the pattern (even a discrepancy of one stitch to 10cm can make a difference to the amount of yarn you use.; Or your ball of yarn has slightly less metreage than stated on the ball-band (this does happen and the difference can be as much as 4-5 grams, which as far as I know is accpted within the industry). So I am keeping my fingers crossed that you will all be ok. But if you have any concerns, please let me know: debbie@debbieabrahams.com.

APPLICATIONS FOR THE 2017 MYSTERY CUSHION CLUB LAUNCHED AT THE BEGINNING OF MARCH, and I know that many of you have already signed up to it – so thank you so much! We have sold over a third of the places already (and the number of memberships we have for the Club is a third higher than last year), so if you haven’t signed up yet and you are planning to, it might be a good idea to get your membership purchased sooner rather than later. You will find the Mystery Cushion Club as a product in my online shop which you can add to your shopping basket. And there are some optional extras that you can choose to add onto your Basic package. For UK customers all parcels will be sent by Royal Mail First Class post, and there will be extra options for printed patterns and Special Delivery. For overseas members all of the parcels will be sent by Airmail with printed patterns being an optional extra. In the online shop you can pay by debit or credit card, Paypal, or AMEX. For UK customers who want to pay by BACS or cheque this is possible, but you need to contact me at debbie@debbieabrahams.com and I will assist you through the process.

Mystery Cushion 2011

Mystery Cushion 2011

Sugar Rush 2014

Sugar Rush 2014

As a reminder about what is in store for this year’s Mystery Cushion members, I can tell you that I will be using yarns from the Rowan collection, including Rowan Super Fine Merino 4-ply and Rowan Summerlite 4-ply in a mix of vintage shades. There will also be plenty of size 6 and size 8 Debbie Abrahams beads used in the project.

And don’t forget that all 2017 Mystery Blanket Club members are offered a 10% discount on their Mystery Cushion membership. You were all sent an email last month with the discount code, but if you need a reminder then email us and we will let you know what it is. The discount will not show up straight away, but it will be deducted from the price at the end of the checkout process. However, if you do experience any problems with this process, just send us an email and our web support team will be able to assist you: sue@debbieabrahams.com

I AM THRILLED TO ANNOUNCE THAT MY MYSTERY BLANKET WORKSHOP RETREAT AT ROOKERY HALL HAS NOW SOLD OUT!  However, the even better news is that we have managed to book a further five rooms for our knitting party. So if you would like to join us at this very special anniversary event, there is still time to make your booking. But you will have to be quick as the extra rooms are only being held for us until the end of May: http://www.debbieabrahams.com/rookery-hall-knitting-retreat/

As a reminder about what Rookery Hall is all about and what the two-night break has in store, this is what I wrote in last month’s blog…

I have booked the charming Rookery Hotel and Spa which is located in Nantwich, Cheshire. Set in thirty-eight acres of Cheshire countryside, Rookery Hall was built in 1816 for the wealthy William Hilton Cooke, but over the years it has been renovated and enhanced to transform it into the luxury venue that it is today. With a health club and spa and stylish new bedrooms, it’s the perfect place to unwind in the heart of the English countryside. Rookery Hall has a relaxed, homely atmosphere and attentive service that makes you feel extra special.

rookery-hall1rookery-hall2

As well as an award-winning restaurant (two AA Rosettes), the hotel has been awarded the AA Four Star Inspector’s Choice for Country Houses. It has seventy bedrooms which are an enchanting mix of the old and new. Debbie has booked twenty Classic bedrooms in the 1990’s wing of the hotel, in which you can enjoy snuggling down under a sumptuous duvet on a cashmere mattress with the finest fibre pillows – perfect for some late night knitting! And if you want an extra treat during your stay then you could pop across to the Old Stables which has been developed into a fantastic onsite health club and spa.

Awarded the prestigious “5 Bubble Spa Award”, it has seven treatment rooms, an indoor heated swimming pool, a hydrotherapy pool, sauna and steam rooms, and the Amber lounge and relaxation room. Treatments at the spa can be booked directly with the hotel at an additional cost. (If ten or more people book into the spa for a treatment then a 20% discount will be honoured on all bookings).

During this retreat Debbie will be running some workshop sessions to help you with your Mystery Blanket knitting techniques. Each participant will be given a special Debbie Abrahams knitting kit to work on, however, if preferred, personal knitting projects can be brought along instead.

During your stay there will be the opportunity to relax with your knitting in the elegant sitting rooms of the house, take some time to enjoy the beautiful gardens of the house, or take a stroll around the surrounding countryside. And if you fancy a bit of retail therapy, then the charming town of Nantwich is only a few miles away.

IN ADDITION TO THE ROOKERY HALL RETREAT, I WILL ALSO BE TUTORING A SIX-NIGHT FESTIVE PROJECT WORKSHOP THIS OCTOBER WITH KNITTING HOLIDAYS IN FRANCE!  After a break of a few years I am thrilled to be returning to the beautiful region of Charente-Maritime to hold a 6-night knitting holiday from 22nd – 28th October 2017. And although we are hoping for blue skies and warm sunshine, I have decided that it’s the perfect time to make a start on some festive knitting. So the week will be Christmas themed, and all being well, complete with a Christmas tree and a French-style Christmas dinner too! As well as hours of knitting and relaxing amongst like-minded people, there will also be the opportunity to visit some of the beautiful nearby French towns for some retail therapy. So if you would like to join me on this very exciting new knitting adventure, please contact Sue directly to book your place: Knitting Holidays in France, rue de la Verderie, 17770 Brizambourg, France; Email: sueculligan@gmail.com; T +33 (0)5 46 94 08 53; M +44 (0)7986 199662. I do hope you decide to join me, it would be fabulous to see you there!

The knitting group working on their projects at Sue's in March 2013

The knitting group working on their projects at Sue’s in March 2013

THE THEME FOR THIS YEARS’ MYSTERY BLANKET has been guessed by more of the members over the last few weeks, but I know that some of you are still trying to guess what it is. So without further ado, here is another letter to help you…this month the letter I am giving you is “P”:

  • _  _  _  _  O  _  P  _  _  _  I  _  _
  • Please send your guesses to Sue at sue@debbieabrahams.com. There are no prizes for the correct answer – it is simply a bit of fun each month!

SO NOW FOR THE GUESSING OF MARCH’S FIVE SQUARES (for which there is a prize). This is the monthly bit of fun where I invite you to guess from which Mystery Blanket each of the squares was inspired by. The March quiz was won by Miranda Shelley, so very well done to you! Miranda has knitted several of the Mystery Blankets over the years so she made her guesses very quickly and was thrilled to get them right!

These are the correct answers for the March patterns:

Square 1: Untitled – Arabian Nights (2009)

Square 38: La Belle France– A French Romance (2016)

Square 46, Option One: Triangles – Perugian Perspectives (2015)

Square 46, Option Two: Untitled– House Of Aphrodite (2011)

Square 47, Option One: Untitled– House Of Aphrodite (2011)

Square 47, Option Two: Untitled– House Of Aphrodite (2011)

Square 48: Country Cable #1– In The Country (2008)

Just as a reminder, we accept all correct answers which are emailed to us within 48 hours of the launch of the new patterns, and then all of them are put in a hat and a winner picked out. That way everyone has a fair chance of winning.

THESE ARE THE SQUARES THAT YOU WILL KNIT THIS MONTH (APRIL):

Square 2: Country Cable #2 – cable pattern with bobbles (same for both options)

Square 3, Option One: Untitled– geometric intarsia motifs with swiss-darned detail and a striped section

Square 3, Option Two: Untitled – striped and beaded cables and a multi-striped section

Square 4, Option One: Triangles #2– geometric intarsia motifs with swiss-darned detail and a button

Square 4, Option Two: Untitled– striped cable pattern with beads

Square 15, Option One: Starlight #1 – geometric intarsia motifs with swiss-darned detail and beads

Square 15, Option Two: Untitled – striped and beaded cables with lace stitches

Square 16: Lattice – textured pattern with travelling stitches, swiss-darned details and a button (same for both options)

Advice on How to use this document, Working the Mystery Blanket, Knitting techniques, Knitting with beads and Embroidery on knitting fabric are not included in this mail out. You will need to refer to Mail Out 1 for this information.

IT SEEMS THAT THE CONTRAST COLOUR BOBBLES IN THE BLANKET HAVE BEEN CAUSING A PROBLEM FOR SOME MEMBERS, so I am going to give you some advice which should help you this month with Square 2, Country Cable #2. You are instructed to introduce the contrast colour into the work on the row before each bobble is knitted, so I do this by purling the stitch (in this case using Leaf yarn), but I don’t catch in the Leaf yarn on the stitch before (as I would do in intarsia), and neither do I weave the loose end in. Then on the next row when I make the bobble, this is what I do to get it as neat as possible. I knit into the stitch several times and turn the work, as instructed in the pattern. But before I purl the stitches I pull on the loose end of the yarn very firmly until the first stitch on the needle has tightened up. After purling the stitches I turn the work, again as instructed, then I pull again firmly on the loose end before knitting the stitches. I cast off the extra stitches made by lifting them over each other very carefully, taking care not to stretch the stitches. And finally I pull the yarn firmly as I knit the next stitch after the bobble, pushing it firmly to the front of the work and pulling the yarn firmly across the back of the work. And I have a quick and simple way to get rid of the loose ends of the bobble yarn too. Several rows after the bobble row I knot the two ends of the contrast colour yarn together nice and tightly and then snip them off – easy!

When we were at Hell Bay last week, June McBain told us about her way of knitting bobbles which avoids turning the work. Her bobbles were really good, and many of the ladies in the group gave her technique a go and really liked it too! So this is how she knitted her bobbles. June’s advice was to increase into the stitch and then knit the stitches as advised in the pattern instructions. But then instead of turning the work to purl the stitches she slid them back onto the left-hand needle and knitted them again, pulling the yarn firmly across the back – a bit like knitting an I-Cord. She then cast off the stitches as instructed in the pattern, and her bobble was complete! It’s definitely worth a try if you have been struggling with any of your bobbles in the blanket.

ON SQUARE 15, STARLIGHT #1, OPTION ONE, the chart shows the edge stitches on the right-hand side of the square on rows 17 and 39 as swiss-darned using Iceberg yarn. However, I would advise that you omit these stitches from your swiss-darning as they will be caught into the seam.

SQUARE 15, UNTITLED, OPTION TWO, has intricate cables which criss-cross in both directions – that is to the left (stitches held at the front), and to the right (stitches held at the back). So make sure that you follow the instructions very carefully to get them right. In fact, I have just noticed on the photograph of my sample that there is an error where I have not crossed some of the stitches over – AAARGGGH! It’s too late now for me to correct it, but if you are ultra careful with your knitting then fingers crossed you won’t make the same mistake as me!!!

ON SQUARE 16, LATTICE, THERE IS SOME SWISS-DARNING USING STEPPE AND FLOWER YARNS. I have not given you a chart for this so you will need to study the photograph very closely to make sure that you embroider over the correct stitches. This close up image of the stitches may help you with this:

Lattice close up

JO CROWTHER FROM TEWKESBURY IN GLOUCESTERSHIRE HAD A GREAT TIP FOR HOOKING-IN BEADS, and she is very happy for me to pass it onto all the members. This is what she uses to hook-in the beads, an ingenious alternative to a crochet hook or dental floss! This is what Jo had to say:

“I have found another way for the hooked in beads that I have found easier. I have got two sewing needles which I have threaded with strong cotton (I knew the  left over darning cotton for point ballet shoes, would come in handy one day!) and knotted them firmly, and then you can lift the stitch up, thread on the bead and then lower the stitch back onto the needle.”

This is a very useful tip Jo, so thanks for passing it on. I am sure that some of the other members will give it a go next time they are hooking in beads!

I GOT A LOVELY EMAIL FROM LONDON-BASED MBC MEMBER SALLY REED, who sent me a photo of her beautifully completed French Romance Mystery Blanket from last year. Sally made several changes to the original blanket design, which I think have all worked really well. This is what Sally had to say about her masterpiece:

“I decided not to have the pictures of cakes on my blanket. So I bought your first blanket book and decided to do flowers instead.  And, for the centre, I decided I liked the hearts from that same book.  I thought that this went pretty well as we already had hearts and flowers on the blanket.  So here it is ‘Hearts and Flowers’!”

 

Sally's wonderful "Hearts & Flowers" blanket

Sally’s wonderful “Hearts & Flowers” blanket

 

YARN IN NOTTINGHAM ARE HOLDING THEIR NEXT MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB MEETING ON WEDNESDAY 5TH APRIL, and everyone is welcomed to the shop by Sarah between 4.00 – 6.00pm. It’s great fun at these meetings and many tips are swapped as the ladies knit their blanket squares over a hot drink and a biscuit, provided very generously by Sarah. As well as all is good at home with Seth, I will be attending the meeting on the 5th, and I really hope that some of you can make it too. If you are not on Yarn’s mailing list for the Mystery Blanket meetings and would like to be, then you can contact them at: Yarn at 55 Chilwell Road, Beeston, Nottingham NG9 1EN, tel: 0115 9253606, email: info@yarn-in-notts.co.uk.

IF YOU HAVE ANY INTERESTING MYSTERY BLANKET STORIES TO TELL ME ABOUT OR PHOTOS TO SHOW ME, then please send them to debbie@debbieabrahams.com, and next time your story could get shared on the blog with the rest of the members! I know that many of you meet up to knit your squares together, so it would be really lovely to hear about your Mystery Blanket knitting groups.

AND FINALLY FOR THIS POSTING, THE APRIL MYSTERY BLANKET CLUB PRIZE DRAW!!! Each month a member is picked at random to win a Debbie Abrahams prize.

PRIZE DRAW THREE (APRIL): this month’s winner is member 512, Merridee Dobbeck from Tualatin, Oregon, USA! Well done Merridee! 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
  • 4 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)
  • a knitting kit from the selection on Debbie’s website

I will contact Merridee directly to discuss her choice.

I am getting ready for our first Inspired Minds workshop retreat this year to the luxurious Rudding Park hotel in Cheshire at the end of this month, which I know some of you are coming to. So safe travels to everyone who is joining me there (including Mystery Blanket Club member Jill, who is travelling all the way from the USA!) Hopefully the weather here in the UK will continue to improve so that we can all enjoy some knitting in the sun this month! So until next month, keep happy, healthy and busy (and don’t forget to eat lots of Easter eggs!!!), Debbie x

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