MetaKnit Shawl

The third & final pattern in my Lace Revelations collection is the MetaKnit Shawl. This  rectangular shawl has V-shaped motifs that look like knit stitches.

MetaKnit Shawl by Natalie Servant

It’s knit from one end to the other, so it’s easy to re-size to make it wider or to change the length. I made the medium width and did 27 repeats of the chart. I used about 875 yards (803m) of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Deep Purple.

MetaKnit Shawl by Natalie Servant

I really enjoyed the challenge of working with the same technique (reversible tessellated lace) to come up with 3 unique shawls, each with a completely different shape and construction. Plus, after working on a 12-piece collection for a few years, it was nice to bang out a small set of related pieces in a relatively short period of time. Mind you, I was swatching some of the ideas as far back as my trip to Rhinebeck, but I do have a day job and a family!

The Lace Revelations ebook is on sale for $12 US until end of day April 25, 2016 (automatic discount from the regular $15 US price tag).

The MetaKnit Shawl is $6 US.

MetaKnit Shawl by Natalie Servant

I’m not sure exactly what is on my design agenda next, but I have 2 or 3 projects that I need to get started on so that they’re finished in time. And there’s another longer term project that should be on the back burner, but guess what I swatched for today! Sometimes things just want to be started right away.

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Lucky Number Shawl

It’s time to reveal the second pattern in my Lace Revelations collection. The Lucky Number Shawl is a top-down shawl with rectangular lace sections in the front and back divided by triangles of seed stitch. This construction means that it sits nicely on the body and can be pinned in place. I made the sample with about 850 yards of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in Oyster.

Lucky Number Shawl by Natalie Servant

What’s with the name Lucky Number Shawl? As far back as I can remember, I’ve had a strong attachment to the number 3. This shawl is full of 3-sided shapes, so it’s as full of threes as it could be!

The lace panel at the back is twice as wide as the ones at the front, so there are even more triangles:

IMG_8996

The reversible nature of each pattern in this shawl means that the light catches the triangles differently depending on how it’s worn:

Lucky Number Shawl by Natalie Servant

IMG_9069

The Lace Revelations ebook will have one more pattern for a total of 3 reversible lace shawls by April 25th, 2016, and it’s on sale for $12 US until then (automatic discount from the regular $15 US price tag).

The Lucky Number Shawl is $6 US.

I’m tempted to try this again in the round as a poncho, perhaps with fingering weight yarn. If anyone wants to try that, send me a message and I’ll give you some guidance.

Stay tuned! I’ll share the final pattern in the collection with you next Monday.

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For the Bees

Remember those little balls of yarn I showed you? Well this week I’ve released the first pattern in the Lace Revelations collection. The bronze ball was the one from the first design. Here’s For the Bees:

For the Bees shawl by Natalie Servant

For the Bees is a bottom-up shallow triangular shawl with reversible hexagonal motifs. That felt like quite a word jumble as I typed it, but it’s all true.

What I wanted to do with this small collection was to explore reversible lace with stockinette and reverse stockinette sections. I have done this type of work in a few other patterns. It started out with the Cormier Grille Shawl, last January:

Cormier Grille Shawl by Natalie Servant (Canadian Art Deco Knits)

Then the Marine Building Shawl in June, which also had a garter stitch element:

Marine Building Shawl by Natalie Servant

And then most recently, in the Spring/Summer Twist Collective, there is Azulejos:

Azulejos by Natalie Servant, Spring/Summer 2016 Twist Collective, picture (c) Fanny Lafontaine-Jacob

picture (c) Fanny Lafontaine-Jacob

Did you see how I slipped that in there? I’m thrilled to have had another pattern accepted to Twist Collective. I made a gigantic swatch to prove out this design. This was, to my mind, the most complicated version of this type of lace that I’d done.

I wanted to see what other shapes would work for this technique. I hit upon the idea of tessellated shapes. After designing and swatching for a couple of months, I had 3 winning ideas. I also had 3 skeins of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace in my stash, which I felt would be an excellent match for these patterns. The silk content really shines, which means that when you get sun involved like this, you can really see the difference in the two types of fabric:

For the Bees shawl by Natalie Servant

Although my swatches were all rectangular, I wanted 3 different shapes as part of this shawl collection. When I considered these hexagons, I had the idea of working from a small set of stitches and growing in little steps. This idea turned out to simplify the pattern, which was a happy coincidence!

The Lace Revelations ebook will have 3 different patterns by April 25th, 2016, and it’s on sale for $12 US until then (automatic discount from the regular $15 US price tag).

For the Bees is $6 US.

Stay tuned! I’ll share the next pattern in the collection with you a little later this week.

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Saturday knitting update

This winter has been awfully long – or at least it felt that way. My work changed in January which meant a small additional amount of driving. Between that extra time and the extra time I put in to try to meet deadlines, there hasn’t been a whole lot of creating going on. Finally the snow is disappearing and the days are getting longer. I’ve taken on another contract, so I’ll have a day job for the rest of the year. I haven’t been doing any spinning at all. I’ll have to pace myself this year as far as design work goes, but I’ve got a few things coming up, including my annual Tour de France KAL.

Right now I’m working to finalize my latest collection. Lace Revelations is going to be a 3 piece shawl collection. There are 3 shapes (rectangle, shallow triangle, and semi-circular), 3 reversible lace motifs (hexagons, triangles, and V’s) and I used 3 different colours of Fyberspates Scrumptious Lace. All three shawls are reversible. The idea that I’ve been working on is reversible tessellated geometric shapes. After much swatching, there were 3 winning ideas. I’m hoping to have the patterns off to the tech editor tomorrow. Right now, though, all I can show you is the leftovers:

Fyberspates Scrumptious

Art Deco architecture still pops up all the time when I’m watching TV, even when I’m not really expecting it. Did anyone else notice Vancouver’s Marine Building in a recent episode of Lucifer? I had to go through the episode again just to make sure it was what I thought it was. Ta-da!

Marine Building in Lucifer

In family news, the kids have been pretty great. The weather’s gradually warming up and they want to go out on their scooters and hang at the local parks. They’re very close and I’m very grateful. One school night I missed the sounds of a door opening & little steps when I was downstairs, because when I went up later this is what I found:

sleeping beauties

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Commerce Court North: so many things to see!

Ages ago I started telling you about my Toronto trip last year. I started out at the old Stock Exchange. I then moved on to Commerce Court North.

Commerce Court North

I showed a few pictures of this building a few years ago, but I didn’t get the opportunity to go inside. It’s an amazing building. There are plenty of details on the outside:

Commerce Court North detail

 

Commerce Court North detail

When I first went inside, I was snapping pictures of all of the little details. There are animals everywhere and most of them are charming:

Commerce Court North fauna Commerce Court North fauna

Commerce Court North fauna Commerce Court North fauna

 

When I finally went through into the banking hall, the ceiling took my breath away.

Commerce Court North ceiling

 

And the chandeliers:

Commerce Court North chandelier

And that medallion in the middle.

Commerce Court North

I stayed taking pictures even after I knew I had what I wanted because it was so beautiful.

 

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Interconnected

About a month ago I was on Marly Bird’s podcast, “The Yarn Thing” , which was a fun and interesting experience. It’s not too late to have a listen. It really made me think about how I’ve grown as a knitter and a designer. I was worried that I came out sounding like a name dropper, but my skills came from somewhere. My growth as a knitter and designer is thanks to the bloggers and books I’ve read, the knitters I’ve met, and the teachers I’ve been lucky enough to learn from.

By 2005 I was already reading knitting blogs and doing a whole lot of knitting. I didn’t know many knitters, though, and it was mostly a solitary event for me. In January, when I was about 8 months pregnant, I attended a party for my husband’s work. I wore a t-shirt that I’d just bought and a recently-knit shawl. That event changed my life.

Debbie Wilson (yes, my friend who now owns Sheeps Ahoy) approached me and asked if I’d knit the shawl. I’d used silk from Fleece Artist that I’d bought at Yarn Forward, my LYS. Debbie told me that there were a group of people that got together at Yarn Forward to knit on Thursday afternoons. Her timing was perfect because I was just going on maternity leave.

I started going to the yarn store on Thursdays as well as attending my local guild meetings. I read more blogs. I knit more shawls. I listened, learned, and asked questions of people who have tons of knitting experience. I took advantage of every opportunity I could to learn something new. Lucy Neatby came and taught in Ottawa. I started attending an annual retreat that Debbie now runs. I designed some more. I started going to Rhinebeck in the fall. I went to Knitting Camp.

I’ve been lucky to take courses in person from many great knit designers as well as courses online.  A couple of weekends ago I had a chance to spend some time in the company of other designers just to knit, chat, and exchange stories. The support in this community is wonderful. My world of knitting connections keeps growing.

I’m still rooted in the afternoon group that I started attending 11 years ago. I go when I can, work permitting. Those people are dear friends (and models, and test knitters, and wonderful cheerleaders for me). Their stories, recipes, and tips all come to mind when I am knitting, even when I’m alone, and they keep me company.

It seems so very appropriate to me that a craft that uses yarn has brought me such a wonderful interconnected group of people.

What does your knitting community look like?

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Long weekend spinning

It has been very very cold this weekend in Ottawa: under -40 degrees with windchill. That means I haven’t been outside much. I’ve had a good long weekend from a knitting perspective, so I’ve allowed myself some spinning time.

Now there’s nothing really pressing on the needles: one new shawl is blocked, my year-old blanket has been cast off, a new scarf with no particular deadline is cast on, and I’ve got a shawl in progress that I hope to complete this month. This means that I can do a little more spinning to relax.

I finished up the singles of the SCF Esmerelda on Bond, but I haven’t plied them yet:

Esmerelda singles, Bond from SCF

My new spinning is my first ever spin of fiber from Hello Yarn. This is the start of Lurking in Alleys on Falkland wool top:

Lurking in Alleys, Falkland, from Hello Yarn

So far so good. The colours are great and the fiber is nice and easy to deal with.

Here’s a glimpse of my new blanket next to the fireplace that warmed my toes after a trip to the park yesterday. The scarf that I cast on is in the same stitch pattern. I expect it’ll be out while the weather still warrants knitting warm things.

Ribbed Chevron Blanket by Natalie Servant

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My knitting companion: Poirot

I’ve been knitting so much this last week that I haven’t spent any time at all with my spinning wheel. Hopefully that’ll change soon. I’ve been working on a deadline knit and I finally cast off last night.

What’s been keeping me company through much of my knitting since November is the TV series of Poirot with David Suchet. I’ve been watching the whole series on Netflix. The only problem with knitting and watching Poirot is that I frequently have to stop and go back a few seconds to take a picture of the buildings:

Poirot

Poirot

Or the fashion:

Poirot - hat

Poirot

Or the colour combinations:

Poirot - Miss Lemon

 

Poirot

Poirot - tam

And then at other times I need to go back to write down some of the meaner but hilarious things that Poirot says. For example:

Mr. McNeil: “I’ll have you know that in the 5 years that I have been head of security here not so much as a paper clip has gone missing.”

Poirot: “Monsieur McNeil, I am sure if such a thing were to happen, you would be the man ideal for the case.”

There is also plenty of knitting on display. Captain Hastings sports his Fair Isle sweaters:

Hastings - sweater

Poirot - sweaters

Hastings - sweater

And Hastings is also on the receiving end of Poirot’s remarks:

Poirot: “We must be so intelligent that he does not suspect us of being intelligent at all.”

Hastings: “Absolutely.”

Poirot: “And there you will be invaluable, mon ami.”

I’ve probably got a few weeks left of intermittent viewings of Poirot while I knit, and I intend to enjoy them! I’ll leave you with this picture of Poirot, sick in bed and sporting a shawl:

Poirot_shawl

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Suburban Station Hat & Mittens: the design process

This week I put out a new hat & mitten set.

Suburban Station Set by Natalie Servant

The Suburban Station Hat & Mittens are inspired by a railway station in Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania Railroad Suburban Station Facade (c) Lucius Kwok

(c) Lucius Kwok, under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 Generic license

This was one of those designs that seemed to move really quickly, but when I thought about it, it’s taken more than a year. Back in October 2014 I went to Rhinebeck and bought some O-Wool O-Wash Fingering – their new superwash fingering yarn – in Paw Paw and Black Bear. I was intrigued when I read about their certified organic wool that was turned into superwash wool by a non-standard process. I went to the booth and I spent ages agonizing over colours. I eventually chose the two highly contrasting skeins for a potential  colourwork project.

Then in January 2015 I was doing a sketch a day (or so), looking for inspiration everywhere. I was trawling the internet for cool Art Deco buildings when I saw a picture of the Pennsylvania Suburban Station and quickly sketched out a mitten idea.

Early this January while I was supposed to be doing other things I came across my sketch. I got absorbed by the idea and came up with a draft of a mitten pattern in a couple of hours. I knew I had exactly the right colours in the stash with the O-Wool, and when I realized both the building inspiration & yarn hailed from Philadelphia it seemed like the perfect match.

A few hours later I’d wound the yarn & embarked on the first mitten. There were some revisions to the charts when it wasn’t looking quite as good as I’d imagined. Ripping the mitten back was painful, but I’m thrilled with the end result.

Just a few weeks later I had the hat and mittens knit, the pattern back from the tech editor, and pictures taken with Francine on a lovely walk around the Stony Swamp. I am thrilled with this set. I wish you could feel how soft & smooth the fabric is. I am certain I’ll be knitting with this yarn again. And when I stop by the O-Wool booth at Rhinebeck this year I won’t feel any guilt about buying more because I used mine!

IMG_8830_close

The Suburban Station Set (hat + mittens) is $7.

The Suburban Station Hat pattern is $5 by itself.

The Suburban Station Mittens pattern is $4 by itself.

Don’t worry! If you get one of the patterns & decide you need the other one later, the discount for the set will be automatically applied.

Suburban Station Hat by Natalie Servant

Suburban Station Mittens by Natalie Servant

 

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Sunday spinning update: back at it

After all the super skinny singles of December, I wanted to take things a little bit easier in January, so I grabbed a bag of Southern Cross Fibre (Esmerelda on Bond Wool). I split it into quarters and I’ve done almost 3 of them so far. The singles are a little thicker than my usual and I’m planning on turning this into a 2 ply, eventually.

Southern Cross Fibre - Esmerelda on Bond

Meanwhile I’m still keeping my eyes open all the time for beautiful and inspirational things. Here are some of the things that have caught my eye recently.

Funky clouds: I stopped the car on my way home on a yucky day and pulled out the real camera for this one:

Cloudy Sky

Having a front balcony with a great view of the setting sun has greatly increased the number of sunset pictures I’m taking. I think it’s great! I’m noticing more sunsets.

Sunset

 

Winter can be beautiful. One day last week I noticed that there was a layer of frost on everything. I had to go outside to walk the kids to school, so I took advantage of it. I grabbed the camera and went around taking photos on the way home. Some of the trees were glowing, lit up by the sun.

Frosty tree

Frosty pine

 

And then there’s wildlife in the winter. Today I captured a squirrel in motion and a very typical chickadee:

IMG_8766_squirrel

 

IMG_8742_chickadee

 

 

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