Tour de France KAL: prize details

Yesterday I covered some details on the Echinacea shawl, the subject of the KAL as well as the prize categories. Today, I wanted to show the yarny goodness that you can win.

Prize details:

As well as the yarny prizes below winners can choose any Natalie Servant Designs pattern or e-book, if they like.
Alegria by Manos del Uruguay in Atlantico
75% merino/25% nylon, 445 yds in 100g
Alegria Atlantico

Alegria by Manos del Uruguay in Mallard
75% merino/25% nylon, 445 yds in 100g

Arietta by Sweet Paprika in Rumplestiltskin
50% silk/50% merino, 1110 yds in 100g


Please Stand By Yarns PSA in Gabrielle (Xena – Warrior Princess)

100% superwash merino, 400 yds in 100g


Please Stand By Yarns PSA in Xena (Xena – Warrior Princess)
100% superwash merino, 400 yds in 100g


Posh Yarn Amelie Cobweb in I Belong to Yesterday
50% suri alpaca, 30% merino, 20% silk, 1300 yds in 100g

Madelinetosh Tosh Sock in Warm Maize
100% superwash merino, 395 yds in 100g

Ecobutterfly Organics Pakucho Qoperfina Lace in Natural & Deep Golden Brown
3% copper, 97% cotton, 500 yds in 50g

Posh Yarn Olivia Lace in What’s New Pussycat?
100% mulberry silk, 820 yds in 100g

Tanis Fiber Arts Silver Label in Cobalt
100% mulberry silk, 550 yds in 100g

Posh Yarn Olivia Sock in Such Sweet Thunder
100% mulberry silk, 460 yds in 100g

Hopefully there’s something in the group that appeals to you!

Tour de France KAL prizes 2017

See you in my Ravelry Group on Saturday, when the Tour de France kicks off. Show us what you’re knitting with and let us know which version you’ll be knitting!

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Tour de France KAL: Echinacea details

July 1 is less than a week away. That’s when the Tour de France starts, and with it my annual KAL. This year’s shawl is Echinacea. It’s time for a few pictures and more details about the pattern.

Echinacea by Natalie Servant

The blue sample is a medium sized 3 section version in heavy lace weight (~600yd/100g). I used Valley Yarns 2/10 Merino/Tencel Colrain Lace.

Echinacea by Natalie Servant

The purple & pink sample is a small sized 2 section version in fingering weight (~400yd/100g). I used almost a full skein of Madelinetosh Eyre Light in Flashdance, and about half a skein of Persian Rose.

What will you need?

Echinacea - yarn guidelines

Here are some simple outlines show you the basic shapes of the 2, 3, and 4 section shawls. Each section is a truncated triangle and each shawl is worked from the top down:

Echinacea - 2 sections



So that’s the shape side of things. Next up is size. The shawl begins with 1) a stockinette section punctuated by lace, followed by 2) a lace section with diamonds.

For the small size, each chart is worked once.

For the medium size, section 2’s repeat is worked twice.

For the large size, both section 1 and section 2’s repeats are worked twice.

Finally, there’s yarn choice. I’ve done the estimation for 3 different weights of yarn. I’ve also listed approximate stitch counts of each size, so if you do the swatch that’s part of the pattern right now, you’ll have an even better idea of how much of *your* yarn it’ll take.

TdF KAL Prizes

The Tour de France KAL will be run in my Ravelry group, and as usual there are prizes for everyone: participants, finishers, people who have issues, and people who don’t have time to participate but want to hang out. Prizes will be chosen in the following order, and I’ll post tomorrow with the full list of prizes.

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. Past Glory: You wanted to do one of my previous TdF KAL patterns instead? Go ahead. Post your finished object in this thread to be eligible.
8. 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 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.

So now that the shawl design is a little clearer, what tempts you? I love the contrast of the border on my 2 section sample, but I love the drape of the 3 section sample. Perhaps I need to knit another!

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Tour de France KAL 2017: Echinacea and prizes

July is less than 2 weeks away, and I’m afraid I’ve been running a little later than usual on my annual Tour de France Knit Along (TdFKAL) preparation, but I’m close! The pattern has been edited. Two samples have been knit. Proper pictures are happening on Tuesday. Here’s a little preview of Echinacea:

Echinacea by Natalie Servant

It’s the floral border that gives the shawl its name. It reminds me of the drooping shape of Echinacea flowers.

Echinacea border

This sample is the medium 3-section version knit in Colrain Lace from Valley Yarns – a heavy laceweight yarn, around 600 yds/100g. Echinacea can be knit in 2, 3 or 4 sections and in small, medium, or large sizes.

The pattern is available for pre-purchase now ($5 USD until the end of the TdF, then $7). Right now it only includes swatching information as well as yardage estimates. This should give you plenty of time to prepare for the Tour de France KAL if you want to swatch and get a good estimate of yarn usage. Consider it your training. The full pattern will go up on July 1st! The KAL is run out of my Ravelry group, so head on over there for prize info, rules, chat & more.

Echinacea is inspired by Chantilly Lace. The characteristics of Chantilly Lace that I felt were important to include are:

  • a hexagonal lace background with more solid designs in the mesh
  • an undulating border with a special design
  • an eyelash edging

As always, I’ve been through the stash and come up with some delightful prizes for participants and spectators of this KAL:

Tour de France KAL prizes 2017

I’ll explain the prize categories & detail the yarny goodness of these prizes later on this week, but it’s too pretty not to show you now!

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Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 11 came out today, and I’ve got a cowl/stole pattern included: Prism.

I’ve been working on reversible lace patterns for a few years, exploring different ideas. I love making something that you can’t put on the wrong way. When the call for designs came out for Brooklyn Tweed’s Wool People 11, it looked like it was right up my alley:

  • laceweight wool yarn
  • simple or complex designs
  • traditional lace motifs not required
  • plenty of geometrical inspiration photos

I dropped what I was working on and came up with a swatch. Then I looked at it critically and realized it wasn’t right: close, but not quite right. I futzed around on the computer, changing my chart. I made multiple options and solicited opinions from all of my family members. What ended up coming off the needles was much better than the first attempt:

Prism swatch

Confession: I unraveled the top edge of this swatch and I’m still working on my own Prism. I do have a gold yarn obsession!

What this swatch turned into was a long stole using 3 skeins of Vale in Hammock:

Prism by Natalie Servant for Wool People 11, photo by Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

(photo (c) Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed)

The cowl version used 2 skeins of Vale in Sashiko and is seamed in a garter stitch section:

Prism by Natalie Servant for Wool People 11, photo by Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed

(photo (c) Jared Flood / Brooklyn Tweed)

This is just one of the 12 beautiful designs in Wool People 11. There are some gorgeous sweaters and tempting accessories. I’m delighted to be a part of it. What are you tempted to knit?

Keep an eye on the Brooklyn Tweed social media feeds & Ravelry group for more details, but they’re planning a Vale KAL during July. I’m also running my annual Tour de France KAL in July. There’s also a wide-open TdF KAL on Ravelry. Oh, and there’s a Canadian KAL running until September if you want to knit something that qualifies for lots of KALs!

My medium-sized 3-sectioned Tour de France shawl sample in a slightly heavier yarn is just off the needles, but I’ll be doing major math this week to figure out how much yarn you might need. If you’re thinking of getting Vale from Brooklyn Tweed or from a local stockist and you’re worried about getting the yarn in time, get in touch and I’ll try to help you figure out yarn requirements. Stay tuned in the next week or so for previews!

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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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