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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Sunday spinning update: 2 skeins!

It’s Sunday, and thanks to having a little extra time this weekend I’ve finished spinning and plying the skeins of BFL that I’ve been working on for the last month. The colourful one is Paris and the dark one is Eiffel Tower.

ParisAndEiffelTower2

 

Paris & Eiffel Tower: BFL dyed by Southern Cross Fibre & spun

Sadly my attempt to get approximately the same weight of yarn went wrong. Despite thinking that I’d spun Eiffel Tower thicker, I ended up with about 400 yards in 100g. Paris only has about 300 yards in 100g. I still think they’re destined for a project together, but it hasn’t come together in my head yet.

This week was a short one and a bit odd weather-wise. We had 16 degree heat one day and snow the next. Things all seem to be moving in the direction of melting and we’ve seen a woodpecker and a rabbit out and about today.

In family news the kids have survived all of the chocolate from Easter. Sam has lost his second front tooth, but the hole is the only evidence. He seems to have swallowed it in the night. Zoé has another very loose tooth and is hoping to hang onto it!

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Canadian Art Deco Knits: Albert Street Tam

It’s April, so it’s time for the fourth pattern installment in my Canadian Art Deco Knits ebook. This month the inspiration came to me via a family member. My aunt Viv lives in Regina, Saskatchewan, and sent me some pictures she’d taken of the fabulous Art Deco bridge. I loved it!

The Albert Street Bridge was built as part of a large works project during the Great Depression. Each terracotta baluster seems to have a different colour scheme. As you may have guessed, the inspiration for the design came from Egypt with lotus flowers & papyrus plants. King Tut’s tomb was discovered in 1922 and there are many Art Deco buildings with an Egyptian flair.

Albert Street Memorial Bridge in Regina by Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

(c) Sandra Cohen-Rose and Colin Rose

This beautiful bridge had me thinking about colourwork. Nothing quite compares to Shetland yarn for the type of hat I had in mind I visited my friend Debbie (aka Sheeps Ahoy). She’s got a whole wall full of every colour of Shetland wool imaginable. We played with Jamieson & Smith 2 ply jumper weight and ended up with eight balls that seemed to work together. It took me a few swatches and a failed hat attempt to arrive at the final design, but I had fun the whole way through.

Albert Street Tam by Natalie Servant in Canadian Art Deco Knits

I’ve got some tips for making the knitting of this hat as fun and satisfying as possible:

1) Do a gauge swatch in the round. Mine was two pattern repeats around.

2) To avoid hours of darning in ends, either weave them in as you go or spit splice the colours as they’re needed to avoid darning in any ends.

3) To give the colourwork section the same thickness and gauge throughout, use two strands of the same colour (one from each end of the ball) on single colour rows. I alternated every 3 stitches.

Albert Street Bridge Tam by Natalie Servant from Canadian Art Deco Knits

You can get the individual Albert Street Tam pattern on Ravelry for $5 (USD).

Canadian Art Deco Knits ebook 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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Sunday spinning update: still working away

Another week has gone by and I’ve managed to do a fair bit of spinning. I think I’ve done about 3/4 of the singles from the batch of Eiffel Tower that I was working on last week. I can’t really capture the colour this late at night, but here goes:

Eiffel Tower - BFL - 3/4 of singles spun

I’ve also completed knitting a shawl, written up directions for a new pattern, and blocked two shawls. And that’s just the knitting stuff! It’s been a productive week, but I’m feeling like I need something new on the needles.

The kids are itching to get the scooters out of the garage. Zoe’s made a couple of big trips around the neighbourhood on the nicer days and it’s reminding me how much time they spent out and about last summer. Hopefully real spring weather isn’t too far off!

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