Tour de France KAL: Kick it into gear!

The Tour de France begins this Saturday, July 4th. This year’s Tour de France Knit Along pattern is Labrouste, this semi-circular shawl inspired by the ceiling of a reading room in France’s national library in Paris:

Labrouste shawl by Natalie Servant

So what’s the deal with my KAL? If you haven’t participated before, you buy the pattern (discounted to $4 automatically for the month of July), sort out your yarn and needles, and on July 4th you start knitting. Knitting continues as long at the Tour de France runs (3 weeks!) and then finishers post pictures on Ravelry.

To participate, just join Ravelry (free & fun), and join my Ravelry group. I’ve got a set of threads open for people to chat as well as ones to post your finished shawls. There are lots of prizes, including a prize for folks who start the KAL but don’t finish (because sometimes life interferes) as well as a prize for spectators (because we don’t all have the time to participate). See the details below.

Here’s the prize pool for 2015:

2015_TdF_prizes.jpg

Prizes will be chosen in the following order and the winner can choose any remaining skein they’d like or any single Natalie Servant pattern of their choice.

Prize Selection Order:

1. Maillot Jaune: Yellow Jersey – Finished object from this thread with the most (love).
2. Maillot Vert: Green Jersey – random draw from first 5 finishers in this thread.
3. Maillot à Pois Rouges – Polka Dot Jersey: The mountain prize will go to the person whose tale of woe in this thread has the most (love).
4. Maillot Blanc – White Jersey: This prize for rookies will be drawn from among the list of finishers who tag their project with the “white-jersey”. It’s up to you to decide whether or not you belong in this category.
5. Finishers: A draw will be done among all finishers who haven’t already won a prize. Just post your FO in this thread.
6. Lanterne Rouge: Started but didn’t finish? You’ll be eligible for a draw for this prize, provided you’ve got a picture of your progress on your project page.
7. Red Devil (Spectators): We don’t all have the time and space to compete in the Tour. Follow along and cheer on the competitors. Random draw from among members of my Ravelry group, my Facebook page, and my mailing list. The inspiration comes from Didi Senft, a notorious spectator, bike-builder, and cycling fanatic. Here’s a great short video of Didi.

Prize Pool:
Any single Natalie Servant pattern of your choice

Tosh Sock: Dusk
ToshSockDusk.jpg

2 skeins Estelle Super Alpaca Lace: 10104
EstelleSuperAlpacaLace.jpg

Malabrigo Sock: Arbol
MalabrigoSockArbol.jpg

Tosh Lace: Tart
ToshLaceTart.jpg

Sundara Silk Lace: French Lessons
SundaraLaceSilk_FrenchLessons.jpg

Tosh Lace: Citrus
ToshLaceCitrus.jpg

Art-by-Ana “House” Sock – Party cake
ArtByAna.jpg

Alchemy Juniper: Barceloneta
AlchemyJuniper.jpg

Riverside Studio Merino Singles Fingering: blue!
RiversideStudio_FingeringSingles.jpg

Yarn Chef Spun Sugar: Camelot
YarnChef_Camelot.jpg

Indigodragonfly Linen Silk: This Is Your Brain On Cookies
IndigodragonflyLinenSilk.jpg

Indigodragonfly Merino Nylon Sock: Bunnies, Bunnies, It Must Be Bunnies (Buffy)
IndigodragonflySock_Bunnies.jpg

Socks That Rock Superwash Merino Lightweight: Smokey Mountain Man
STR_Lightweight.jpg

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Canadian Art Deco Knits: Marine Building Shawl

I never realized when I started a pattern-a-month ebook subscription that it would make the year speed by even more quickly. Here it is July (Happy Canada Day! Happy 4th!), and the Dominion Building Shawl is now available.

One thing I like about some Art Deco buildings is the feeling I get from looking at the placement of the windows. The Dominion Building in Halifax draws my eye up with its vertical lines of narrow windows.

Halifax Dominion Building entrance

I played with this idea of narrow windows grouped in a set of five in the middle and threes on the outside to create this shawl. This trapezoid-shaped shawl is knit from a straight edge on the bottom up and out, so you can stop when it’s big enough or when you’ve run out of yarn. The pattern is simple enough that after a repeat you can store most of it in your head.

I knit the grey fingering weight version using 2 skeins of Cariboubaa in Sharktreuse from Indigodragonfly. I used 180g on the shawl with 4 repeats of the second chart. You may not want it that big, but it’s a nice comfy shawl that you can wrap around yourself.

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

I made the golden lace weight version with 1 skein of Merino Silk Lace in Goldmine from SweetGeorgia Yarns. Again, I did 4 repeats of the second chart, but since the gauge is slightly smaller, this delicate fluttery shawl is a little bit smaller than the fingering weight one.

Dominion Building Shawl by Natalie Servant (in Merino Lace Silk by SweetGeorgia Yarns)

You can get the individual Dominion Building Shawl pattern on Ravelry for $6 (USD).

Canadian Art Deco Knits by Natalie Servant

The Canadian Art Deco Knits e-book is $25 (USD) and will include 12 different patterns by the end of 2015. We’re over half way there now! 

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June yarnies: Raventwist and Riverside Studio

I used yarn in two completely different weights for June’s Marine Building Shawl.

First I used a meaty sport weight wool (Deva) from Raventwist. I told you all about Hasmi last month. Deva was fantastic for the pattern and almost didn’t need to be blocked. I used about 175g of this yarn for a nice cozy wrap:

Marine Building Shawl in Raventwist Deva (Slate) by Natalie Servant

The second yarn that I used was a single 100g skein of fingering weight from Kathryn at Riverside Studio. She dyed up this lovely colour for me and called it “Nat’s Gold”, which was a wonderful thrill to see on the label.

Marine Building Shawl by Natalie Servant
I first caught sight of Riverside Studio yarn at a knitting retreat. My friend Julie had brought the yarn to tempt us. Kathryn had dyed up some fabulous yarn, and I have been collecting it ever since! Julie, on the other hand, has been knitting fabulous sweaters and accessories out of the yarn instead. So practical, that lady! She has sent me some pictures to share with you:

 Moroccan Nights with 3 skeins of Riverside Studio Merino Lace Singles:

Moroccan Nights with 3 skeins of Riverside Studio Merino Singles Lace

Dotted Rays by Stephen West with 4 skeins of Riverside Studio Merino Lace Singles:

Dotted Rays knit with 4 skeins of Riverside Studio Merino Singles Lace

A couple of double knit cowls designed by Julie (and at least one uses Riverside Studio Merino Cashmere Nylon Sock):

double knit cowls by Julie Nandorfy with Riverside Studio MCN Sock

Kathryn does some amazing multi-colour skeins and fabulous semi-solids. Debbie at Sheeps Ahoy had a whole pile of it to sell at the Knitters Frolic in Toronto and I had a hard time not collecting even more. This Cobalt & Rust, for instance, is gorgeous:

Cobalt & Rust by Riverside Studio

Kathryn’s yarn is in her Etsy shop and  she, Julie (designer, knitter, teacher) and Maureen (a potter) blog over at Three Crazy Knitters.

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The Tour de France is coming!

I am always looking forward to the Tour de France. This is the 6th year I’ll be running a Tour de France KAL with a pattern inspired by some aspect of France. This year’s subject is the Labrouste reading room in the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris. Designed by Henri Labrouste, I came across it when reading a book about French ironwork. I looked for more pictures online & came across this lovely gem from Piero (aka CharlieBrigante on Flickr):

Labrouste reading room from Flickr user CharlieBrigante (Piero)But then I zoomed in and saw the decoration in the bands of colour in the domes:

detail of Labrouste reading room ceiling from CharlieBrigante (Flickr)Whoa. This was meant to be a shawl. And that’s how the Labrouste shawl was born. It’s semi-circular, puntuated by bands of increases, and then finished off with a lace border:

Labrouste shawl by Natalie Servant

I added in beads, but they aren’t mandatory. Neither are the nupps!

Labrouste shawl by Natalie Servant

The pattern is now up for sale on Ravelry ($4 through July 31, 2015, automatic discount). Until July 4th you’ll only get the first 2 pages of the pattern. Then I’ll upload it for the Grand Départ and we can all knit while watching the Tour de France (July 4 – 26). Join my Ravelry group for more details & discussion.

$4 USD until July 31, 2015 (then $6 USD):

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Canadian Art Deco Knits: Marine Building Shawl

Another month is almost upon us, which means it’s time for a new pattern in my Canadian Art Deco Knits e-book. The Marine Building Shawl is the sixth pattern. This crescent-shaped shawlette can be worked in any yarn from fingering up to sport or worsted weight. It’s reversible, like the Cormier Grille pattern from January.

Marine Building Shawl by Natalie Servant

The Marine Building is a stunning building in Vancouver. It is my favourite Canadian Art Deco building. It has terra cotta, ceramic tiles, intricate woodwork, and gorgeous elevator doors. There is so much detail and decoration to this building that I had a hard time figuring out what I wanted to work with. In the end, it’s the small diamond-shaped details above the front entrance that drew me in.

Marine Building entrance, (c) Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

Marine Building entrance, (c) Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

I’ve wanted to make a kind of a sibling to my Strand of Pearls shawl for a while – a side-to-side shawlette. I also knew that I wanted to use the same approach I used in January’s lace pattern to make the whole shawl reversible. I just love the way that the different sections of stockinette and reverse stockinette catch the light to highlight the pattern.

The fingering weight version was made with almost a full skein of Riverside Studio Merino Sock in Nat’s Gold.

Marine Building Shawl, fingering weight, by Natalie Servant

The more robust sport weight version was made with two skeins of Raventwist Deva in Slate. Deva is 100% Superwash Merino, 245 yards in 4oz/115g. I used 1.75 skeins (around 430yd/400m).

Marine Building Shawl in Raventwist Deva (Slate) by Natalie Servant

You can get the individual Marine Building Shawl pattern on Ravelry for $5 (USD).

Canadian Art Deco Knits by Natalie Servant

The Canadian Art Deco Knits e-book is $25 (USD) and will include 12 different patterns by the end of 2015.

 

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May yarnie #2: Shelridge Yarns

I’ve known about Shelridge Yarns for years. The first time I saw it in person was at a knitting retreat in a magical suitcase full of colours.

I worked with the Shelridge Yarns Soft Touch Lace for the first time for Time is Money, but the shawl has been in the works for a long time.  The rust colour had called to me before I knew what I was making – back in 2013. Once I’d figured out the design, I knew this particular yarn would be perfect. It’s 100% wool and that’s exactly what I wanted.

Time is Money shawl by Natalie Servant, Canadian Art Deco Knits

In fact I was working on this particular shawl in the morning before one of the classes I took from Nancy Bush back in 2014. She not only knew the yarn, but spoke very highly of it. She used it for the Triinu Scarf in her amazing Knitted Lace of Estonia book.

Time is Money Shawl by Natalie Servant

Later on this year I’ve got a cowl coming in the  Soft Touch Ultra solid yarn. I needed four different colours in fingering weight and they had to be certain colours and the colours that are next to each other had to have enough contrast. The solution that came to mind immediately was the wide range of colours from Shelridge. The bonus is that with the 50g skeins, it uses a lot of the yarn up! That pattern will be coming out in September.

 

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May yarnie #1: Raventwist

I first met Hasmi Ferguson of Raventwist back in 2011 at the Toronto Knitters Frolic. At the time she was working as Rocky Mountains Dyeworks. She did up some yarn especially for my Summer in Provence collection: a beautiful bright yellow for my Sunflower Field Shawl:

Sunflower Field Shawl by Natalie Servant

And she also dyed some super soft lace yarn that became my Vineyards Shawl. This was one of the patterns that I found hardest to design, but I was very happy with the result.

Vineyards Shawl by Natalie Servant

It’s been great being able to meet up with Hasmi and see her at the Frolic almost yearly. She’s a very vibrant person and fun to hang out with. In fact her whole family is interesting and creative. I’ll have to get out to the Rockies some time to meet them!

This year, though, Hasmi sent me some yarn a little earlier than the Frolic. I’ve got two shawls in her lovely yarn in my collection, one this month and one in June. This meant that I had the samples done in time to show her what I’d been up to. I can’t wait to share June’s pattern with you next week, but it’ll have to wait because I’m still editing the pictures!

For May I used Myrrah, a merino/silk fingering weight yarn for the silvery sample of my Time is Money Shawl.

Time is Money shawl by Natalie Servant, Canadian Art Deco Knits

Stay tuned for next week, when I show you what I created with a couple of skeins of sport weight yarn from Raventwist!

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More about the Bank of Nova Scotia building

The last couple of months have  flown by in a whirl of deadlines. The taxes are filed and we’ve already got our refund back. The one-year anniversary of our house just passed, which means we hired a home inspector and filed all of our outstanding issues with the home warranty program. Winter seemed to hang on forever (about a week after I laundered all of the winter things), but now we’ve launched into full-on summer weather.

Meanwhile, I’m still working away behind the scenes to create and share my year-long project that is Canadian Art Deco Knits. This month I’ve created Time is Money, a geometric shawl from a tiny bit of a very large building, so I thought I’d share some more of the pictures I took when I was in Toronto.

I approached from the south and tried to imagine the building as it might have been in 1951 without some of the more modern towers around it.

Bank of Nova Scotia, King St., Toronto

Frederick Winkler’s gigantic bas relief depictions of gods & goddesses from mythology look interesting in photos, but it’s hard to convey the scale of just how big they are. They made me think back to my fourth grade teacher who (among many other amazing things) taught us about Greek and Roman mythology. That was the start of my journey towards a Classical Studies degree, but that’s another story!

bas reliefs by Frederick Winkler, Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto

 

by Frederick Winkler, Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto

 

by Frederick Winkler, Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto

 

by Frederick Winkler, Bank of Nova Scotia, Toronto

I took a close-up of the grille that attracted my attention,

grille from Bank of Nova Scotia, King Street, Toronto

but then I had to use Google Street view to go back and see exactly how the grilles fit into the building. There they are as part of the King St. facade in between the sets of doors:

Front facade of Bank of Nova Scotia on King St. in Toronto from Google Street View

There’s another example around the corner on Bay St. too. For more about the bank (and interior photos, so very jealous) see this post from a Toronto history blog.

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Canadian Art Deco Knits: Time is Money Shawl

May’s addition to the Canadian Art Deco Knits e-book is the Time is Money shawl. The name came both from the inspiration (a bank in Toront0) and the fact that this bias knit lace shawl takes quite a while to knit.

Time is Money shawl by Natalie Servant, Canadian Art Deco Knits

The building in question is the Bank of Nova Scotia on King Street in Toronto. I visited it almost two years ago when I was touring the city’s Art Deco gems. The bit of it that I turned into lace was this grille, between the main sets of doors on King Street:

grille from Bank of Nova Scotia, King Street, Toronto

It was a new challenge to design a rectangular shawl worked on the bias, but it was perfect for these regular geometric lines.

Time is Money shawl by Natalie Servant, Canadian Art Deco Knits

As usual I did samples in different weights. The rust sample is in the Classic Lace Weight from Shelridge Yarns. I used two skeins of Rust, about 80g in total. This lovely 100% wool yarn made a very light and delicate fabric.

The silver fingering weight sample is in Myrrah from Raventwist. I used two skeins of Slate. The pictures don’t show the full sheen of this 50% wool/50% silk blend, but I enjoyed every minute of knitting with it. It’s a luxurious wrap.

You can get the individual Time is Money pattern on Ravelry for $6 (USD).

Canadian Art Deco Knits by Natalie Servant

The Canadian Art Deco Knits e-book is $25 (USD) and will include 12 different patterns by the end of 2015. As of this release, the e-book is now officially cheaper than the individual patterns in it!

 

 

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Sunday spinning update: back at it

The last few weeks have been a blur of the normally busy routine plus other deadlines (including taxes). This past weekend I’ve been on the road with the kids visiting my family and going to the Toronto Knitters Frolic. It’s been busy enough that I’m looking forward to the relative restfulness of going to work the week before a software release. I’m sure that feeling will pass.

Despite all that I’ve managed to get a little bit of spinning done recently. I finally cracked open the vibrant green Fiber Optic Yarns BFL that I bought at Rhinebeck a year or two back. I split it into three even pieces to spin for a three ply yarn. This is the first bobbin.

BFL in green from Fiber Optic Yarns - first bobbin

So far so beautiful. I’m hoping that now the taxes are in I’ll have a little more time to play with this.

In laundry news (I know, it’s been a while since I featured anything like this), I sense that my son has a bit of a theme going on this week. Here’s what he had in his pocketses:

What's in his pocketses - laundry items found this week

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