Doors Open Ottawa 2017

This past weekend I went out to a couple of the Doors Open Ottawa venues with my daughter and got my architectural fix.

First off we went to St. Matthew’s Church in the Glebe. This church has been on my list in the past, and finally I took the opportunity to go. It was designed by Cecil Burgess and built in the late 1920s. Since Burgess tended to include Art Deco details in his buildings, I was intrigued.

Here’s the view as we approached from the back:

St. Matthew's, Ottawa

I think it does have a bit of an Art Deco feel:

St. Matthew's, Ottawa

My favourite detail was a grille:


Our next stop was Lemieux Island to visit the water treatment plant. I visited this building a few years ago, but I love the details so much I went back for another view. The brickwork is fantastic:


Lemieux Island

Lemieux IslandThe metalwork above the doorway is gorgeous:Doorway detailOh look! Another grille! Yes, I’ve got a grille problem.Grille - Lemieux IslandI also love this chandelier:Chandelier - Lemieux Island


Finally, my daughter decided that we needed to go to the beach on the way home.

Britannia Beach

Just choosing a couple of buildings to visit was the right way to go this year. We’ll have to go back to the beach when the weather warms up a little.





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Daisies – what my friends did with them

When I was knitting my Daisy Hat and Daisy Mittens I had quite a few people volunteer to test knit for me. It’s always fun for me to see what other people do with the pattern, and with this one I find that the colour possibilities intriguing!

I started out with typical daisies for my mittens:

Daisy Mittens by Natalie Servant

Then when it came to the hat, I had this lovely golden yarn & the flowers are more like black-eyed Susans.

Daisy Hat by Natalie Servant

Francine wanted to make mittens, and hers are poppy mittens:


Nicole’s making red-on-red mittens:


Michelle did not like the idea of duplicate stitching the flower middles, so she went with beads:

Michelle's Daisy Hat

Michelle's Hat - beads

Anja made a reversible double knit hat with colour-changing yarn:

Double Knit Daisy Hat Double Knit Daisy Hat

Karin made a hat with vibrant colours that I wouldn’t have thought of putting together, but it works wonderfully. I guess that’s not a real surprise when you look at the Pretty String she’s been making!

Karin's Daisy Hat

There are other daisy variations on the go. On my end watching them get completed is like planting seeds without knowing what they are and waiting to see what grows!

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Hockey knitting

My husband and I have long been Ottawa Senators fans. Sometimes we’ve had full season ticket, sometimes we’ve had smaller packages of games, and sometimes we haven’t gone much (especially as the kids have been getting older). I’m not even sure that I’ve been to more than one game this season.

One thing that is constant about hockey is that if I’m at home watching the game, I’m knitting. At the moment with the Stanley Cup playoffs going on and the Sens still in the mix it’s been so tense that at times I’ve had to stop knitting and basically hold my breath for the last few minutes of the game.

In Round 1, I was knitting my Daisy Hat. It was just the thing that I happened to be working on at the time. It wasn’t too bad as hockey knitting. I could look up & down as needed, pausing occasionally.

Daisy Hat by Natalie Servant

In Round 2, I was knitting a Herbert Niebling doily. This was certainly not ideal hockey knitting, but I’d started it at one of my son’s swimming lessons and I wanted to finish it up. It was a learning exercise and I’ve long wanted to knit one of his patterns. It was fun and my new crochet skills paid off for the finishing:

Herbert Niebling doily

During Round 2 there were some tweets and some reaction to a woman knitting during the Pittsburgh Penguins games – at times right behind the bench. You could see from the video that @PensKnittngLady chooses her knitting more carefully than I do. She was cranking away on the knitting and keeping her eyes glued to the game. Now in Round 3, my beloved Senators are facing her Penguins, and once again I’m finding it hard to just sit in my seat.

Yesterday I came up with a plan for a small project that would use some lovely stash yarn. I’m finally breaking into my Kate Davies Designs Buachaille yarn for a pair of Gimmers. This fabulous sheepy pattern is just one of the 7 variations in Ann Kingstone’s lovely Tup Knits. If you aren’t already aware of Ann Kingstone’s work, go and have a look. I’ve been a fan for quite some time and William is one of my absolute favourites.

I wound the yarn by hand during the game, then ran all over the house in a break looking for the right dpns to get started. I tried a couple of sizes to get the gauge on the colourwork right:

Swatch for Gimmers by Ann Kingstone

I promptly ripped it all out to do the *real* knitting. I got the ribbing done during last night’s game and started that colourwork. If I am lucky enough to get seats to a playoff game I’ll have to leave this project at home in favour of some stockinette or garter stitch. For at home, this project is perfect to work on. The series is tied at 2 games each, so I’ve got at least 3 more games to knit through.

I’ve had to pack my Gimmers away in a beautiful project bag for hockey knitting only so that I knit on what I *should* be doing. I’m working on a series of swatches that will lead to my 8th annual Tour de France KAL. My inspiration this year is Chantilly Lace, and right now I’m working on getting the shawl border to look more like the picture in my head. I look forward to sharing sneak peaks of that in June!

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Daisy knitting and spring cleaning

For the last few weeks I’ve been knitting a hat and mittens. It might seem like exactly the wrong time of year here to do that, but I’m working my way through some long-delayed projects.

Last summer I had an idea for a pair of mittens. There was a woman in a Poirot episode (The Adventure of the Italian Nobleman) wearing a fabulous dress:

Anna Mazzotti as Margherita Fabbri

I just learned that the character played by Anna Mazzotti is called Margherita Fabbri – how appropriate! I have to think the pattern choice was not a coincidence.

The allover daisy pattern was beautiful, and I wanted to see if I could stretch and do something a little less geometric and regular than usual. You will of course understand that despite that goal, there is still some regularity (only 3 kinds of flowers) and I used some rules used for placement. It’s hard to let go completely! I knit up the mittens with some Brooklyn Tweed Loft that I just happened to have on hand in the right colours.

Daisy Mittens by Natalie Servant

Something was missing. I revisited the idea a few months later and designed a hat. This month I finally got around to making it. This time around I used Regia for the background and Manos del Uruguay Alegria to turn the flowers into brown-eyed susans.

Daisy Hat on Zoé

Right now there is a small army of test knitters working on these project, and I love what I’m seeing. Anja made a double knit version of the hat with a yarn that changes colours. Francine is working with a colour scheme that turns the flowers into poppies. Jo’s talking about using beads for the middles of the flowers because going back and doing duplicate stitch later doesn’t appeal. This pattern is very close to release!

Next up was spring cleaning. I’m thankful that I don’t have a picture of the before situation, but yarn that I’d got recently (in the last year or two) or brought out recently because I thought I’d knit it soon was accumulating on the window box in our bedroom. It was out of control. I have lots of ideas of things that I want to get started on, but I felt disorganized. I didn’t feel like I had a clear picture of where I was and what was next.

After several bouts of checking the physical yarn was checked into my Ravelry stash, I had it all sorted by weight. I have a sock yarn bin and a lace weight bin. Now I have a worsted weight bin, and bags for the other weights *in* the window boxes. It’s all tidied away, but the pictures in Ravelry let me look at all the yarn. I also got rid of yarn that I’ll never knit with, and I put a bunch of my stash up for sale. Aaah, that feels better.

And though it’s not even May yet, I used this opportunity to stash dive for prizes for my annual Tour de France KAL in July. I’ve got a bag full of pretty yarn to tempt you and to reward you! The next major task for me in knitting is to start swatching some of the ideas I have for this shawl. I haven’t settled on anything yet, and I’m excited to get knitting!

This weekend, though, I’m heading to Toronto for the annual Toronto Knitters Frolic. I’ll be helping Debbie out at the Sheeps Ahoy booth as usual. If you’re in town, stop by and say hello!

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Some small finished objects

Although I’m almost always working away on my own designs, sometimes I work on other things. In fact it’s nice to have a bit of easy no-pressure knitting/crochet for those days when my brain has totally evaporated after work.

One of my goals this year is to use up my stash of dishcloth cotton. I haven’t been knitting with it because it hurts my hands, but I have found that making crochet cloths doesn’t seem to bother me in the same way. It’s great to have in my bag when I’m on the go and I don’t have time or space to deal with a more complicated project. I’ve managed to get quite a few done in March:

crochet dish cloths

This month I’ve already got a completed project! I made a Jayne hat, as requested by my husband. Although there are many (many many) patterns on Ravelry, I went with the Cunning Jayne Hat by Renee Peterson. I had already bought Estelle Chunky yarn, so that helped make the choice, but then I was sold when I read her analysis of the hat. The worst part of this for me was making the stockinette earflaps, but then they had to match the original!

Jayne hat for Ron

I’ve got enough yarn left over for another go, which is good because although this fits, it’s a bit snug on Ron. I think I’ll take this one over and make a slightly bigger one for him. That should take care of most of this yarn. I don’t usually knit with bulky yarn, so I imagine it feels a little out of place in the stash ;)

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Let the yarn shine

Sometimes I like to come up with something fancy and complicated. Other times I like making a simple knit that shows off the yarn. When I was swatching for Impressionist Stripes, I was going for something simple that would let the beautiful colours of this gradient set play together (Sweet Paprika Yarns Elora in Wind in the Willows).

Impressionist Stripes cowl by Natalie Servant

What I wanted was an effect like I’ve seen in Impressionist paintings, where the colours are together and mixed, and almost look like something else. After some experimentation I settled on a relatively simple 4 row pattern based on seed stitch, but with slipped stitches as well. Only one colour is used at a time, and the pattern is easily memorized.

So far so good. I was happy to note that while one side was almost wavy, the other side was striped. Perfect! It’s attractive on both sides.

This fantastic yarn was dyed by Sweet Paprika and I snapped it up at last year’s Toronto Knitters’ Frolic. What makes it special is that it is from a limited batch sourced from Canadian Rambouillet-cross fleeces and spun at a Canadian mill.

Impressionist Stripes by Natalie Servant

I recruited some test knitters & my friend Yvonne (of Yvieknits Yarn) knit up a sample using her mini-skeins:

Impressionist Stripes by Natalie Servant using Yvieknits Yarns mini-skeins

Later on I was going through the stash and I realized that I had the perfect set of colours in Knit Picks Palette to make a *larger* version. I used almost all of each of the balls to make this longer version that can be wrapped cosily:

Impressionist Stripes by Natalie Servant

Or it can be doubled and used scarf-style:

Impressionist Stripes by Natalie Servant

Thanks so much to my lovely friends Rosanne and Janet for helping out with the photo shoot.

Impressionist Stripes is now up on Ravelry for $2

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January is for…

I’m not sure what January is for. A lot of people fill it up with organization and resolutions, but I haven’t had the mental space for that. This year it’s been about catching up, relaxing, tidying, and trying to keep the daily household tasks moving in the right direction.

I just finished up a large amount of secret knitting, so I gave myself a break. I finally knit my daughter another Top-Down Shoulder Warmer (by Laura Chau). Almost a year ago I made her first one in the smallest size in black. The hardest part was picking up all of the stitches. I needed a bright and sunny afternoon!

Shrug the first:

Top-Down Shoulder Warmer

This time around my daughter still wanted a neutral colour, but it was cream. Hooray! Picking up the stitches was an absolute breeze this time around. I went up to the fourth size. It’s a bit big on her at the moment, but she’s growing super quick. I bought her boots for this winter and (this blew my mind a little bit) I had to check that they fit me and that I liked them too in case she grew out of them. I wear a size 10!

Anyway, back to the shrug, my daughter is thrilled with the finished object and given her enthusiasm for just about all of her knits, she’s totally knit-worthy.

Top-Down Shoulder Warmer by Laura Chau

Also in January I’ve managed to finish up a bit of long-dormant spinning. It was Hello Yarn fiber, but that’s all I remember. I don’t remember how long the singles have been there, but I frequently looked at them and thought about finishing this up. I was a little nervous when I started, as the colours were matching up almost perfectly. What if it changed? How would it look knit up? In the end, there are nice little overlaps of colours changing throughout the skein. I think it’ll look fabulous.

handspun from fiber dyed by Hello Yarn

What’s up for February? I’m getting my design mojo back and I’ve got a couple of things close to completion. Perhaps I’ll find a way to spin more than one skein of yarn a year.


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Happy New Year!

It’s 2017, and I’m sure I meant to blog last month, but December got away from me. I was working right up to the 23rd, leaving town on the 24th for a family visit, and knitting away on a deadline project. Although I didn’t blog, I managed to keep my sanity and get all the presents wrapped in time, so I’m calling it a win.

Looking back over my work in 2016, I got a bit more done than I had thought: I had 14 new designs published. That includes 3 published by 3rd parties, including Azulejos in Twist Collective:

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

(c) Fanny Lafontaine-Jacob

Reckon and Reading Between the Lines came out as part of the Indigodragonfly Smart-Ass Knitters/World Domination club & they’ll be available to the world at large this coming April.

Reckon by Natalie ServantReading Between the Lines by Natalie Servnat


And here are all of my self-published patterns of the year:2016 designs from Natalie Servant

It helps that I did much of the swatching & design for some of the projects in the previous year. I don’t quite know what 2017 holds for me, but I know I’ll be knitting. I’m already working on a some ideas for my annual Tour de France KAL in July. I’ve also got an idea for a set of related designs, but I haven’t even begun sketching them yet. I also have a few patterns in the works that got left behind last year, so I’ll finish them up soon.

Something new I’ll be doing is crochet. I’ve tried to learn a few times, but what really did the trick for me was taking a class at my local yarn store. My friend Anja’s been teaching there for years, but finally the stars aligned and I was able to make time to take the course. After just over a month I’ve made a few pot holders, a granny square, and I’ve tackled a couple of random patterns from the internet. I’m a beginner, but I’m finally feeling like I understand the basics. This is what I tackled on New Year’s Eve:

Learning to crochet

What are you going to knit/learn/do this year?

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Indie Design GAL – last day for the discount!

As promised yesterday, here are my last picks from among the many many patterns eligible for the 25% off sale on Ravelry today (code giftalong2016). In some cases it was the texture that caught my eye, while in others it was the colours or the shape. If you don’t find something here that you love & must have, there are always the other thousands to go through yourself (on Ravelry (in a searchable bundle) or Pinterest).

It’s been fun to imagine that I’ve got the time to knit whatever I want. Perhaps I’ll finish up my current round of deadline knitting in time to participate in the KAL. Remember, you’ve got until the end of the year to knit any paid pattern from any of the 300+ participating designers to participate. Head on over to the Indie Design GAL Ravelry group to see what’s going on.

Here are the last few picks:

Vodograi by Natalie Pelykh

Vodograi by Pelykh Natalie

The Knitbots baby blanket by Vikki Bird

The Knitbots baby blanket by Vikki Bird

Winter Sunset by Gabrielle Danskknit

Winter Sunset by Gabrielle Danskknit

Snowflake Bracelet and Necklace Set by Natalie Kononova (crochet)Snowflake Bracelet and Necklace Set by Natalie Kononova (crochet)

Guillemins by Anneh Fletcher

Guillemins by Anneh Fletcher

Mullioned Cowl by Katy H. Carroll

Mullioned Cowl by Katy H. Carroll

Henrietta Silverdale by Teresa Morey

Henrietta Silverdale by Teresa Morey

Ranka by Emmy Petersson

Ranka by Emmy Petersson

Con Brio by Bonnie Sennott

Con Brio by Bonnie Sennott

Short Circuit by Jo Torr

Short Circuit by Jo Torr

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Indie Design Gift Along – more great patterns

Last week I told you that it was the start of the Indie Design Gift Along. I’d hoped to have a few more posts featuring patterns before the sale ended, but I got hit with a nasty sinus cold. I’ll pack the rest of my favourites into one post today & one post tomorrow.

Remember, these patterns are all 25% off with the coupon “giftalong2016″ until end of day Nov. 30 (Eastern).

I’ll start it off with some stunning sweaters:

Dancing Dragons Coat by Heike Campbell

Dancing Dragons

Sand Snake by Paige ReisenfeldSand Snake by Paige Reisenfeld

The Frost Fairy by Anna Rauf

The Frost Fairy by Anna Rauf

Tracery by Kathleen Sperling

Tracery by Kathleen Sperling

Courtyard Tiles Afghan by Julie Yeager (crochet)Courtyard Tiles Afghan by Julie Yeager

Endless Roses Christmas Stocking by Denise BalvanzEndless Roses Christmas Stocking by Denise Balvanz

Elan Hat by Triona Murphy

Elan Hat by Triona Murphy

Lakeview Hat by Danielle ChalsonLakeview Hat by Danielle Chalson

Mendia Hat by Ambah O’BrienMendia Hat by Ambah O’Brien

Wengwings by Kirsten McTeer, for my penguin-loving boy:

Wengwings by Kirsten McTeer

I’ll be back tomorrow morning with a final set of patterns in the amazing sale.

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