Tour de France KAL underway – more prizes!

We are now 2 days into the Tour de France and my annual KAL. I’ve sent out one pattern correction (sorry about that), and I need to tell you about some wonderful new prizes that have arrived. Details for how to try to win these prizes are in my Ravelry group.

My friend Beatrice who made such wonderful bags as prizes last year has done it again! This time it’s a fantastic drawstring bag with exterior pockets for storing all of your notions. It also has a matching needle keeper, which will make sure your work doesn’t struggle off the needles in transit.

Project bag by Beatrice

Meanwhile, Michelle at Sweet Petunias has provided a beautiful skein of yarn. She’s been fascinated with the knitting done by family members her entire life. Michelle has recently gotten the hang of knitting in the last few years thanks to a co-worker and her mom. Michelle was inspired by all the colour potential and creativity behind dyeing yarn and has developed a new obsession. This naturally led to making stitch markers as well, because why not!

Michelle’s dyed a lovely skein of sock yarn (84% superwash merino/16% stellina, 115 g/425 yds) called As the World Falls Down and also made some stitch markers for a prize:

As the World Falls Down by Sweet Petunias

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Marie Curie KAL Prizes

Last week I introduced the Marie Curie shawl, the subject of my Tour de France KAL this year. Now it’s time for the prizes!

I’ve updated my Ravelry rules/prizes thread with pictures of the prizes that I’ve got/chosen so far, but there are more coming! The amazing part of the fantastic knitting community that I’m a part of here in Ottawa is the amazing creativity, and my friends are helping me out with some wonderful prizes for the KAL.

I’m giving away a copy of the Knit Picks Lavish Lace book that contains my Coronet Stole. It’s as lovely as it looks:

Lavish Lace from Knit Picks

Now we’re really getting into the good stuff. My friends are some talented folks.

First up is Francine, my frequent model. She makes shawl pins, stitch markers, jewelry, and anything else she gets a fancy to try. She’s donated a silver shawl pin. I particularly love this one because the pin is attached with a chain.

Fancy That Shawl Pin

Karin at Pretty String donated a pair of skeins that is a single prize. These lovely coordinating skeins are 60/20/20 Merino/Alpaca/Nylon and 437 yds/100g. They are Son of a Beach and Pistachio Gelato.

Pretty String yarn to give away

Yvonne from Yvieknits Yarn has donated a 150g / 750 m skein of Merino Light Fingering in Pewter. That yardage & colour would be perfect for so many shawls!

Yvieknits Yarn Merino Light Fingering

And yet another friend dyes yarn! The Yarner has donated three 50g skeins of Sheepish Bunny (80% merino/20% angora): 2 in Into The Deep, 1 in Summer Clouds. Each skein is 50g and 219 yds.

Yarner_SheepishBunny

But wait, there’s more! My friend Beatrice who made amazing project bags last year is working on one especially for a prize, and there is another skein of hand-dyed yarn on the way from a new dyer who is the daughter of a different friend. See what I mean about this community?

Finally, because I want every prize winner to have choices, I’ve dipped into my stash for some more prizes and come up with these 5 skeins. I love these skeins, but since I haven’t used them yet they deserve to go to a home where they will be used and appreciated.

Cephalopod Yarns Nautilace in Asian Arowana (40% baby camel/60% silk, 2oz/400 yds)

Cephalopod Nautilace

The Woolen Rabbit Chantilly Lace in Red Riding Hood (80% merino/20% silk, 100g/850 yds).

The Woolen Rabbit Chantilly Lace in Red Riding Hood

Fibre-Isle Kami Bison in teal (60% Bamboo/30% Merino/10% Bison, 50g/800m, single ply)

Fibre-Isle Kami Bison

Sweet Fiber Sweet Merino Lite in Hippolyta (100% superwash merino, 115g/475 yds)

Sweet Fiber Sweet Merino Lite

Madelinetosh Prairie in Jade (100% superwash merino, 115g/840yds)

Madelinetosh Prairie in Jade

 

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Tour de France KAL: Marie Curie shawl

As I mentioned before, the Tour de France is coming in July, and I’m going to be running my 9th annual Tour de France Knit Along (TdF KAL) at that time. Starting on July 7th and running until July 29th, we’ll be knitting along on my Marie Curie shawl for fun and for prizes.

Marie Curie shawl by Natalie Servant

I run the KAL in my Ravelry group. If you’re not already a member of Ravelry, it’s free to join and great fun! It’s pretty easy to join in and knit along. All you need to do when you’re done knitting is post a picture in the prize thread, and you’ll be eligible for prizes. I’ll post more details on that soon.

Here’s the picture that inspired me to knit:

marie-curie_NobelPrizeOrg

I took the details at the shoulder and turned them into some simple knit texture with reverse stockinette and slipped stitches.

Marie Curie shawl - texture detail

The collar inspired the border for my shawl, and I love how the pink of the Neighbourhood Fiber Co.’s Rustic Fingering in Basquiat complements the grey of Shadow in this simple pattern.

Marie Curie lace border

The shape is a slightly different one for me. It’s based on a half octagon, so it has 4 sections. It starts at the neck and is knit downwards with increases. It has a cut out at the neck to sit nicely on your shoulders. The border is knit on sideways and features simple lace stitches.

Buy before the end of the Tour de France and it’s automatically discounted to $3 USD, but it’ll go up to $5 USD once the Tour is complete.

At the moment only the first two pages of the pattern are uploaded, and that gives you information about yarn, gauge, and abbreviations in the pattern. That’s everything you need to know to search in your stash or purchase some yarn and do a little bit of swatching.

The full pattern will be uploaded to Ravelry on July 6th, in plenty of time for us all to begin knitting on July 7th! I’ve started the usual threads about rules and prizes in my Ravelry group. I hope you’ll be able to knit along with us!

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More preparation: Festival Twist!

So last time I talked about preparation for the Tour de France KAL (pictures to come soon). Another load of preparation on my plate is for this August’s Festival Twist. I’m teaching 3 courses at Twist, and I’m putting the finishing touches on my notes, making more mini-samples to pass around and running test classes by friends to make sure it all still makes sense!

If you’re not familiar with this amazing festival, it’s quite a few days of courses in all different disciplines of the fibre world and 3 days (Aug 17-19) of a show with amazing vendors, local food, art exhibits and more. It’s located in Saint-André-Avellin, Québec. It’s about an hour’s drive from Ottawa (a little more from the outskirts) and about 1.5 hours from Montréal. I’ve been attending for years, and I’m so excited that this year I get to share some of the things that I love about knitting with others. I’ll be teaching in English, but my French comprehension is pretty good, and I expect to be doing a bit of work in both official languages.

On Saturday August 18th, I’m teaching a full day of Knitting with Beads. You bring fingering weight yarn and appropriate needles, and I’ll bring the beads, sequins, and scales and we’ll explore a whole variety of ways of attaching objects with holes to your knitting.

Knitting with Beads

As we work our way through making samples, there will be lots of time for show and tell of existing pieces and discussing the merits of different methods of working with beads.

 

On the morning of Sunday August 19th, I’m teaching something very dear to my heart: Knitting Lace Basics.

Khufu

If you have been too afraid to try to knit lace or if you’ve tried but you’d like some help, I’ll walk you through how I see lace. Using worsted weight wool to make things bigger and easier to see, we’ll work though some basic stitches, building up a stitch vocabulary together. We’ll focus on learning to read both our knitting and lace charts. The class notes have both charts and written instructions (just like most of my patterns), but I want to show you how a good chart and reading your knitting can help let you know if you’ve gone wrong somewhere.

Dominion Building Shawl by Natalie Servant (in Cariboubaa by Indigodragonfly)

We’ll also discuss (and try) lifelines, stitch markers, and other ways to make knitting lace easier when you’re just starting out. I can’t wait to encourage more lace knitters!

 

Finally, on the afternoon of Sunday August 19th, I’m teaching a class on Shawl Shapes. I have so much fun designing shawls, and I’m going to break down how to knit a variety of basic shapes.

Shawl Shapes

I have got class notes and mini-samples that cover more than we could possibly work on in one class, so I encourage students to try to knit the mini-shapes that they are most interested in during class, and we’ll deal with any questions that come up.

Echinacea

We’ll also look at many of my samples, and I’ll explain why I did what I did and how I tweaked the basic shapes taught in class to get exactly what I wanted.

Sunflower Field Shawl

I want people to leave this class feeling confident they can tackle a new shape and understand what they’re doing, whether they’re working from a pattern or creating their own design.

Gavrinis by Natalie Servant (West Yorkshire Spinners Signature 4 Ply)

Looking forward to seeing you at the Festival Twist in August!

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Tour de France preparation: inspiration

July 2018 will mark my 9th year of running a Knit Along (KAL) during the Tour de France. It all started out in 2010 with the Eiffel Tower Shawl, and every year since I’ve created a new shawl pattern inspired by something connected to France.

This year I’ve chosen a person as my inspiration. Marie Curie (née Maria Salomea Skłodowska) was born in Poland and eventually became a French citizen. Her work in chemistry and physics earned her two Nobel prizes and helped to change the world.

I remember learning about Marie Curie as a girl in one of my mother’s books that she’d had when she was a girl. The pictures and the story stayed with me. I wanted to know more about Marie Curie’s life and work, so I recently watched a video about Marie Curie and her life that I downloaded from my local library and it was fascinating. I had no idea that she’d spearheaded a practical use of radiology during WWI, organizing and running the creation of radiology units including mobile X-ray vehicles.

The picture of Marie Curie that I used as my inspiration came from the pictures taken for the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Marie Curie, 1903

I have used two skeins of Neighborhood Fiber Co.‘s Rustic Fingering in Shadow and Basquiat. I couldn’t resist the gorgeous Shadow and I held up potential mates for it until I was happy with the result. I was a little surprised to see that it went well with the pinkish Basquiat.

Neighborhood Fiber Co. Rustic Fingering: Shadow & Basquiat

The textured detail at the shoulders has become a relatively simple bit of textured knitting combined with some slipped stitches.

Marie Curie shawl - texture

The white accents just cried out to become an easy bit of lace, and I have done a knit-on border.

Marie Curie shawl - border

Only the blocking remains, so very soon I’ll be able to show you how it all looks when it’s put together. I hope that you’ll find the time to join in and knit along with everyone during the Tour de France. This year it runs from July 7 – 29th.

To my mind there is a small linkage between my first TdF KAL subject and this year’s subject. One of the things that I noticed about the Eiffel Tower when I went in person were the names of famous men of science all around it. Marie Curie would certainly have been on such a list if it had been compiled during or after her time!

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Knitting adventures with Lucy

I’ve been posting rather sporadically. Sometimes I haven’t had time, and sometimes I haven’t had much to say. Now I feel like I’ve stored it all up and I’ve got too much to say at once!

I’ve been busy at my new job since January. I’m still learning the ropes and there’s a lot less free/knitting time than there used to be. Don’t get me wrong, there’s still time for knitting, but I don’t often get great amounts of time all stuck together.

That changed a couple of weekends ago. I was lucky enough to get into classes that Lucy Neatby was teaching for our local guild. I would take just about any class Lucy offers, because I always come away with new ideas and new perspectives on old techniques. Plus she’s always got great stories.

We did one day of knitting in all directions, which was fun. The morning swatch looked like this:

Knitting in all directions

And the afternoon swatch was even more fun: triangles!

Equilateral Triangles with Lucy Neatby

Day 2 involved starting a double-knit octagon blanket:

dkside1 dkside2

And then the afternoon was filled with edgings.

knit edgings with Lucy Neatby

Although there were tidbits from the classes I’ll use throughout my knitting, what seems to have really stuck was the triangles. Last fall I organized my sock yarn stash by colour and readied myself to make a sock blanket – the square kind. I had good intentions, but nothing happened.

In the last 2 weeks, I’ve had fun and gone a little nuts knitting hexagons with my stash. I started out and had this after a weekend:

First seven hexagons

It’s so much fun that I organize 6 or so sets of colours at a time, ready for when I’ve got a few minutes. Each triangle is quick, and I can pick this up and put it down and not have any trouble remembering where I was. And these things are multiplying:

Current state of hexagons

Some folks may not like seaming and darning in ends, but the fun of this portable bite-sized knitting is super appealing to me. I figure I’ll have enough for a blanket in a few years – or perhaps less if I can’t kick the obsession ;)

I’ve got other designs on the go, and I’m already swatching for my 9th annual Tour de France KAL in July. Hopefully this coming month I’ll be able to show you a bit more of what I’m working on. In the mean time, hexagons will be filling in any other knitting gaps I might have.

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New inspirations: the Staffordshire Hoard

Just over a year ago I started listening to a new-to-me podcast on my way to work: The British History Podcast. My commute was at least half an hour in the morning, sometimes over an hour on the crappy snowy days, and Jamie’s storytelling, dad jokes, and references to diverse topics like football and the Thundercats kept me amused.

I’ve always been a bit of a history geek, especially when I am able to follow my own interests. I wrote a 5 page summary of a Cleopatra biography in grade 4. I’ve always done a lot of reading. And then I did a Classical Studies degree by correspondence for fun while in my first full time job. I blame my excellent high school Latin teacher, Mrs. Bell, for making that a dream.

Anyway, listening to Jamie tell the history and stories of Britain was a delight, and made the commute enjoyable. But what really struck me was when he turned to talking about the Staffordshire Hoard. Hearing about the amazing golden treasures wasn’t enough, so off I went to look things up. The stunning work inspired me, and I’ve been yearning to do some related knitting designs ever since.

This year I finally got around to making some sketches and swatches, but my routine has changed. I’ve started a new job with a fantastically short commute, but longer work hours. This means podcasts are now a weekend thing and I’ve got less knitting time in general. Instead of my original idea of publishing a collection, I’ve decided to put out designs as I’m able to complete them.

The designs won’t all be based on the Staffordshire Hoard, but the first one in progress is. You see, there’s some amazing textures on a golden mount featuring eagles holding a fish. Check out this video that shows how it would have looked untwisted and whole to see the full beauty. I’ve taken some of those textures and put the eagle feathers on the back of a mitten and the fish scales on the palm and thumb.

Fish and Fowl Mittens

Tentatively named Fish and Fowl Mittens, they’re currently in testing with some friends, and I’m hoping to be done soon, but I’m not pushing too hard.

There may also be a related eagle hat in the works.

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New year, new pattern: Cowl Necklace

So I really meant to blog last December, honestly I did. I went from a fabulous 5 day knitting retreat in early November to holiday preparation. Then I had the brilliant idea of doing an Advent Ornament KALendar.

2017 Advent Ornament KALendar by Natalie Servant

While it was fun, it was a daily chore and my blogging has fallen right off.

It’s 2018 and I’m back now with a pattern that’s been on and off the needles for months. The Cowl Necklace started out with some lovely Rowan Softyak DK yarn and some darker beads. What I wanted to figure out was, “What can I make with this beautiful yarn?”

Rowan Softyak DK Cowl Necklace

The answer turned out to also be the answer to so many of my personal requirements:

  • a garment warm to wear in a cold office, but pretty and with beads (unless you don’t want beads)
  • reversible
  • a one-skein project (~100g), great with hand-dyed yarn
  • works for multiple weights (fingering, DK, worsted)
  • simple stitch patterns mean you can easily pick it up & figure out what to do
  • beads are pre-strung (half at the beginning, half near the end), so the project is portable

Naturally, I had to try this again with some Tosh I had in the stash and some gold beads:

Tosh Cowl Necklace with Natalie Servant

And then some fingering weight Riverside Studio yarn in blues and greens with blue beads:

Riverside Studio yarn in Cowl Necklace

And then some gorgeous Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio DK in Banksy with black beads:

Neighborhood Fiber Co Studio DK Cowl Necklace Cowl Necklace by Natalie Servant

Aaah. And then I was finally done with knitting (probably). I’ve written up the pattern in 3 yarn weights (fingering, DK, worsted) and 2 lengths (single loop or double loop). And I have to hold myself back from knitting another one. It’s so much fun, and I feel like I made a dent in the stash!

What yarn and beads do you already own that you can quickly transform into a lovely bead-weighted cowl?

The pictures are something a little different for me. Earlier this week a knitwear designer received some criticism on her photoshoots and comments were made about “real bodies”. I usually use my lovely friend Francine as my model. I’ve had other great friends step in and help out too. I decided to try something different.I also dealt with my lifelong discomfort of being photographed and stepped in for a few shots. Then my daughter and her dear friend helped me out as well. Thanks girls!

Z & O in Cowl Necklace samples

We all had a good time and I’m thrilled with how things turned out.

The Cowl Necklace is $3 USD on Ravelry and it’s a fairly simple fun pattern.

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Indie Design Giftalong – part 4 of 4

Continuing on from part 3, here’s the last set of my favourite designs available for 25% off in this year’s Ravelry Indie Design Giftalong.

Indie Design Giftalong part 4

Golden Valley by Bonnie Sennott

Spring in Her Path by Mary Annarella

Elan Hat by Triona Murphy

Gnomeland Security by Kimberly Golynskiy

Stickley Cowl by Nina Machlin Dayton

Lady Jessica by Barbara Benson

Durango Socks by Sarah Jordan

Rib Run by Jennifer Dassau

Porteau by Megan Nodecker

Christmas Stockings by Faye Kennington

Clemmie by Tess Young

Spate by Jane Richmond

My tally of faves:

  • Hat: 14
  • Mitts: 10
  • Shawl: 8
  • Garment (adult/child): 6
  • Cowl: 3
  • Blanket: 3
  • Toys: 2
  • Socks: 1
  • Christmas stockings: 1

Wow, what a lot of gorgeous patterns. I definitely skew towards accessories, so if you’re looking for something specific, go browse the Giftalong Bundle and use the advanced search to find what you want! It’s much easier than going through all 5388 patterns one by one.

Enjoy the rest of the sale, and see you in the knitalong-only portion of the GAL over in the Ravelry group. It runs until the end of the year.

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Indie Design Giftalong – part 3 of 4

Continuing on from part 2, here’s the 3rd set of 12 patterns that caught my eye in this year’s Indie Design Giftalong. They’re on sale on Ravelry with code giftalong2017 until the end of day (Eastern time zone) on Nov. 28th.

Indie Design Giftalong - part 3

Oydis Cowl by Linda Marveng

BUX by The Restless Knitter

Steps by Tierce Knits 

Songbird Mittens by Erica Heusser

Wolf In Sheep Clothing Hat by Yvonne B. Thorsen

Hólm by Lee Meredith

Little Mr Fox by Mrsmumpitz by Doreen Blask

Sapin by Karen Fournier

Gelting Hat by Frauke Neubauer (Strickwetter)

Persian Dreams Worsted by Jenise Hope

Gehry Wrap by Noriko Ho

Soleil Nouveau by Sara Huntington Burch

I’ve got one more set of patterns to share with you. Meanwhile I’ll be over on Ravelry trying to figure out how I’ll find the time to make the patterns currently sitting in my cart. Only 2 more days to buy them at 25% off!

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