Tour de France KAL – more about the prizes & the rules

A few days ago I gave you a preview of the prizes for my annual Tour de France KAL. Starting on Saturday July 2, 2016 and running along with the Tour de France, we’ll be knitting my Gavrinis shawl until Sunday July 24th, 2016. I’ll have the shawl up for pre-sale later this week.

Today I want to tell you more about the prizes and how you can win them. The yarn is all from my stash. This is yarn that I bought fully intending to knit with it. Every year I comb through the stash looking for yarns that I think you’ll love. I always hope that my favourites aren’t chosen by winners and that I get another chance to knit with them!

First up, something new this year, is a copy of Franklin Habit’s new colouring book, I Dream of Yarn. If you’ve already achieved SABLE (stash acquisition beyond life expectancy), perhaps this is the choice for you!

I Dream of Yarn by Franklin Habit

I’m also offering a copy of my own book. One printed edition of Canadian Art Deco Knits is also up for grabs.

Canadian Art Deco Knits by Natalie Servant

Now on to the fluffy stuff: Belisa Blend is 500 yards in 50g and is made up of 65% Lambswool, 25% Possum, 10% Silk.


Manos del Uruguay lace is 438yd/400m. This skein is mostly black with silver & bronze highlights and is 70% alpaca, 25% silk and 5% cashmere.


Silent Valley Alpaca sock is local to me. This skein has 415yds/385m of super soft alpaca (80%), nylon (10%), and merino (10%).Silent Valley Alpaca Sock

Indigodragonfly Merino Silk Lace in “Have Fun Storming the Castle” and it’s got 720yds/658m of a 50/50 merino/silk blend.

Indigodragonfly Silk Lace

This skein of Malabrigo Sock in Arbol is 440yds/402m of merino squishiness.Malabrigo Sock

Old Maiden Aunt BFL 4 ply in Brass Taps and Oak is 400yds/366m of wool.


Peppino by Rhichard Devrieze in the colour Frankly Scarlet. 450yds/412m of merino.

Rhichard Devrieze Peppino

Sundara Silk Lace in French Lessons – how appropriate! It’s 1000yd/914m of silk.

Sundara Silk Lace in French Lessons

Tosh Sock in Dusk is 395yds/361m of merino.

Tosh Sock in Dusk

Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace in goldmine is 765yds/700m of 50/50 merino/silk.Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace

Alchemy Juniper in Barceloneta is 464yds/424m of merino.
Alchemy Juniper in Barceloneta

Finally, Posh Yarn Olivia Sock is 460yds/421m of shiny blue silk.


Now you’ve seen the loot, it’s time for information on how you can win. The prize categories are pretty much the same most years. Winners will pick from the prize pool in the following order:

1. Maillot Jaune – Yellow Jersey: The first prize goes to the person whose post with a picture of their finished object gets the most love in the designated Finished Object thread in my Ravelry group.

2. Maillot Vert – Green Jersey: The sprinting prize will be a draw from among the first 5 finishers of shawls – this only counts for people knitting the rectangle (20 repeats), the medium semicircle, or the large semicircle.

3. Maillot à Pois Rouges – Polka Dot Jersey: The mountain prize will go to the person whose tale of tribulations experienced during knitting gets the most love in the designated thread in my Ravelry group.

4. Maillot Blanc – White Jersey: New to lace? New to knitting? 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.

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, but there will be a prize category for those who wish to follow along and cheer on the competitors. Join my Ravelry group or join my mailing list and you’re in the running. The inspiration comes from Didi Senft, a notorious spectator, bike-builder, and cycling fanatic. Here’s a great short video of Didi.


Posted in knitting, Tour de France KAL | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Tour de France KAL preview: a look at the past and the prizes

It’s June. In two and a half weeks the Tour de France begins, and with it my annual shawl KAL. Every July since 2010 I’ve created a shawl pattern inspired by something French, and this year is no different. My past inspirations have come from architecture (Eiffel Tower Shawl, Père Lachaise Shawl, Labrouste), archaeology (Childeric’s Bees), agriculture (Sunflower Fields Shawl) and even the Tour de France itself (Peloton).

This year the inspiration for my shawl comes from Neolithic times – around 3500 BC. Gavrinis in Brittany is the site of an ancient passage tomb. It’s now on an island, but it was once connected to the mainland. The stones inside the passage of the tomb are covered with intricate carvings. They’re amazing.

Some of the carvings are meant to represent axes. These came close to making it on the shawl, but in the end it didn’t work.

Gavrinis Axes

Some of them remind me of fingerprints. These are referred to in the interpretive material as shields. These symbols form the basis of this year’s design:

Gavrinis picture from Wikipedia user Athinaios

That’s it for today for design hints. I’ll show you the full thing next week when I’ve taken the formal pictures! The pattern itself has options: it can be worked as a semi-circle or as a rectangle, and is suitable for solid or semi-solid yarn in lace weight or fingering weight.

While you’re pondering your stash, here, let me distract you with a look at the prizes for the KAL. Here’s the yarny goodness – as well as a copy of Franklin Habit’s new colouring book, I Dream of Yarn. It’s all up for grabs.

prizes for Natalie Servant's 2016 Tour de France KAL

The yarn includes (from left to right): Belisa Blend, Silent Valley Alpaca, Indigodragonfly Lace, Malabrigo Sock, Old Maiden Aunt, Sundara Silk, Rhichard Devrieze Peppino, Tosh Sock, Sweet Georgia Merino Silk Lace, Alchemy Juniper, Posh Yarn Olivia Sock.

As in other years, there will be prizes for both participants and spectators. Stay turned to the blog & I’ll give you the full scoop on all of the prizes & what you can do for a chance to win them.

Posted in design, inspiration, knitting, Tour de France KAL | 1 Comment

“This Thing of Paper” from Karie Westermann

Welcome to the blog tour for Karie Westermann‘s upcoming book, This Thing of Paper. Thanks to the link over here from Meg Roper, the previous stop on the tour. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to explain why I’m so interested in this project.

This Thing of Paper (c) Karie Westermann

(c) Karie Westermann

I love history – lots different bits of history. Usually the bits I was most interested in had nothing to do with what I needed to learn at school. I bought and devoured a Penguin Atlas of Medieval History and used it to find other topics to explore. I love ancient myths and legends. While working at my first full-time tech job, I did a Classical Studies degree at night by correspondence just for fun. And if you’re reading this blog you probably know about my more recent obsession with everything Art Deco.

Also, I knit.

All of these interests primed me to love Karie Westermann’s work. When I heard about Doggerland, her e-book inspired by the artifacts from the lost land in the North Sea, I had to get it. The patterns are fantastic, the history is fascinating, and the hand-drawn sketches done by her partner David are lovely. I blogged about it back in 2013, and I’ve been following her work ever since.

I was so excited this month to read a post from Karie about her newest project that I rushed back to the computer and dashed off a quick email of congratulations. Karie is doing a Kickstarter for This Thing of Paper, a book of knitting patterns and essays inspired by the age of Gutenberg. I’m delighted to report that it quickly exceeded the target, so I know that next year I’ll be getting a lovely book in the mail – and you can too!

The book with its 10 patterns and essays will cover the transition from illuminated manuscripts

Public Domain,

Book of Kells, source: Public Domain,

through the invention of the press


replica Gutenberg press (source: user AodhDubh at English Wikipedia)

to a time when printed material was more commonly available.

Teaser for This Thing of Paper by Karie Westermann (c) Karie Westermann

(c) Karie Westermann

It’s amazing to think how much changed during that span of time, and I can’t wait to read Karie’s thoughts and to see the patterns.

Tune in this week to the Knit British podcast to hear Karie chat with Louise Scollay about This Thing of Paper. Next up on the blog tour this coming Wed. June 1st is Jacqui Harding over at HappyMaking Designs, who’s working on an exciting project of her own.

Full blog tour list for This Thing of Paper:

May 26: Naomi Parkhurst

May 27: Meg Roper

May 30: Natalie Servant

June 1: Jacqui Harding

June 6: Woolly Wormhead

June 8: Tom of Holland / Tom van Deijnen

June 10: Ella Austin

June 13: Leona Jayne Kelly of Fluph

June 15: JacquelineM

June 16: Felix Ford/KNITSONIK

June 17: Clare Devine

June 20: Dianna Walla


Posted in design, inspiration, knitting | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

Canadian Art Deco Knits is printed and available!

I’m excited to report that almost a month ago I received printed copies of Canadian Art Deco Knits. This is the end of a years-long journey and it’s thrilling to finally have it in my hands. Now you can get a copy too!

Here’s a peek at a few copies hanging out together:

Canadian Art Deco Knits by Natalie Servant

See that spiral binding? That was a decision that I put to the afternoon knitting crowd at my LYS. There was unanimous support for spiral binding. You can knit from the book quite easily, even folding it back on itself to take up less room as you work. There’s no straining to see the edge of a chart here!

The book design was done by the wonderful Elizabeth Green of Stitch Definition. I spent a serious amount of time reworking all of the patterns for consistency, then I shipped off all of the raw materials to Elizabeth. She pulled it all together into a beautiful cohesive design that really looks and feels like I’d imagined it could. It’s full colour throughout, and the pictures of the buildings that inspired the patterns are present, along with the histories that I wrote up. I’ve also added a bibliography (in case anyone else is hooked and wants to do more reading).


Finally I found a local printer who was able to come through for me in time to have copies to take to the Knitters’ Frolic in Toronto. It’s spiral bound with a clear cover to protect the front and thick front and back covers. Each of the interior pages is sturdy, glossy, and full colour.

Price: $35 CAD ($27 USD)

Price of book with shipping:

Canada: $40 CAD

United States: $45 CAD ($35 USD)

International: $55 CAD ($43 USD)

To order, simply email with your address information and if you’d prefer to pay in CAD or USD, and I’ll send you a PayPal invoice. If you can’t use PayPal, let me know in the email and we will try to work something out.

Canadian Art Deco Knits by Natalie Servant

I hope to write a more detailed post about the process and what I have learned a little later on. For the moment I’ll just take a breath and enjoy the end of this particular journey!

Posted in Art Deco, Canadian Art Deco Knits, collections, design, inspiration, knitting | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

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.

Posted in collections, design, knitting | Tagged , , , , , , | Comments Off

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:


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


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.

Posted in collections, design, inspiration, knitting | Tagged , , , | Comments Off

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.

Posted in Art Deco, Canadian Art Deco Knits, collections, design, inspiration, knitting | Tagged , , , , , | Comments Off

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

Posted in Art Deco, inspiration, knitting | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

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.


Posted in Art Deco, design, inspiration | Tagged | Comments Off


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?

Posted in inspiration, knitting | 9 Comments