So, here is the result of my sea-shell swatching!


The Shetland cockleshell seems to be most often used on scarves and stoles, but it is also an ideal stitch pattern to use for women’s garments. The fabric it creates lies across the body slightly on the bias – it is stretchy in a pleasing and shape-flattering way. The fall of the fabric is such that, even though there is no added shaping through the lower body, the lace fits naturally to the waist and hips.


As I spent a lot of time swatching and re-swatching, there was also plenty of time to think about fit and design. There are two key measurements here – underbust and full bust – and the pattern will allow the wearer to knit to different variants of these to create the perfect fit. On me, the difference between these two measurements is just two inches (nature kindly endowed me with a proportionately large ribcage, and then forgot to add the boobs) but for many women this difference is much greater. Also, for some women, the underbust is actually the narrowest part of their torso. Unlike many summer tops which only allow the knitter to work to to the full-bust measurement, and often create excess fabric around the waist and hips, the idea here is to flatter both lower and upper torso, whatever one’s dimensions. The use of colour is important here, too, I think. On me, the effect of the solid-coloured bodice against the tri-coloured waves below the empire line is to lengthen and shape my torso. (Just compare with the sadly unflattering top I made last summer, whose colour choices and placement forshortened my upper body, and endowed me with a disturbing pair of waist-boobz!)


(No waist boobz here, happily!)

As you can see, I’ve gone for maximum nautical effect with the styling. This is all part of the fun for me, and personally, I am very fond of my red sailors cap and kilted linen loon pants (though I did get a couple of funny looks from the folk on the beach at Tyninghame, where we took these pictures earlier today). Anyway, the design is bathing-suit-inspired, the pattern is a Shetland cockleshell, and it should have a maritime feel, as far as I’m concerned. The yarn I used is a Shetland, too (though not actually from Shetland, in this instance). It is JC Rennie 2 ply. The colours really are gorgeous, and have very pleasing names – I used bluebell, summer pudding, and harebell (which is not white, as it may appear, but actually the palest of pale blues – slightly reminiscent of Alice Starmore’s ‘Solan Goose’)

This a very soft and light 2 ply – finer than the yarn I’d use for Shetland colourwork, but perhaps not quite a laceweight either. Its a great yarn that creates a lovely fabric, and personally, I find it ideal for next-to-the skin wearing. This isn’t the case with everyone, though, so I’ll be testing the pattern in a merino of similar weight, with an equally good colour range, that I hope to be able to recommend as an alternative.

This design is Shetland inspired, and I’ve given it a good Shetland name – Betty Mouat. (I’ll explain why another time.) if all goes to plan, the pattern will be released in July.

Phew! That’s enough for one day – I’m off to don my red, black and green liberation jumpsuit and raise a glass to the memory of Gil Scott Heron. . .

Edited to add:
all the useful information I foolishly forgot to mention . . .

Design: Betty Mouat
Yarn: JC Rennie fingering-weight shetland 2ply. 440 yards of main colour and 170 yards each of two contrasting colours (economical! Bonus!)
Size: 28″ underbust; 30″ full bust.
gauge: 7 sts to 1 inch
needles: 3mms, and 2.5mms for edging.
Ravelled: here

81 thoughts on “. . . by the sea shore

  1. I’ve never liked seashell or scalloped patterns much because they seem so grannyish but now that I’ve seen your creation I think I’m going to have to do a very undignified and brake-screechy volte face! That sweater is just SO flattering and must be fun to knit too. I’ll keep an eye open for the pattern release, I think…

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  2. Oh, that’s beautiful and really flattering! I also have a largish ribcage…. makes things fit rather strangely sometimes. Hope you do release the pattern! I’ll watch for it.

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  3. gorgeous seashells! I await a pattern. To further add to the clamour – where can I get/make/obtain a similar pair of loon pants?!

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  4. This is genius. I love all the elements – the recollections of vintage bathing wear; your nautical combinations of hat, loon-pants, shells and maritime colours; the pleasing design elements such as the underbust/bust measurements; the connections to Shetland knitting traditions and the mix of utility/decoration in the design of the garment which looks both airy and comfortable to wear during the British Summertime. I also love the generous way that you have tracked the progress of your designing thoughts, both in relation to your time at the museum in Shetland; and in relation to your previous experience of knitting the top which you were unsatisfied with.

    HUZZAH!

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  5. Catching up on my reading and audibly gasped when I opened this post. You are one talented and creative woman! This looks like a really fun knit–I’m looking forward to the pattern in July.

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  6. The cockleshell top is really lovely, and I like that you used the palest blue, and not white. I can see it in corals, and pinks and creams also.
    I was at the beach on Sunday and brought home a couple of shells.
    The people you said gave you some funny looks; had probably never seen such unique nautical attire, except in a pattern book, and were surprised to see it all modelled in the flesh. Love your red shoes, and the pants. Your knitiing is so beautiful and even also.

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  7. Oh my god! i totally adore it. It has that absolutely marvellous 1920s feel that I adore but don’t wear well due to boobage (7″ difference)! But, hopefully, no longer; what a completely marvellous design.
    (love the whole outfit – I am such a sucker for the nautical look. Great to see you in unsupportive shoes as well. I have the same pair).

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  8. The more I read about this design, the more I liked it. I have a 7″ difference between my underbust and full bust, I’m just learning to knit garments, and I’m forever on the lookout for patterns that have some degree of fit customization written into it. This has been favorited on Ravelry.

    I also don’t mind saying that in reading htis, I was hit with such a wave of longing for my grandmother that it made me teary. I know the story of Betty Mouat, and think it a grand name for the sweater, but the stitch and colors remind me so much 1940s & 50s America, the things I remember being surrounded by in her home, and her. So thank you.

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  9. This is lovely! I’vr never seen the cockleshell pattern before, and your previous post was really inspiring. There are so many possibilities with that shape, and it is so elegantly designed.

    The idea of a bias knitted top that looks good on and can be knitted in two sizes for top and bottom is like manna from heaven for my weird figure XD I shall have to try it :)

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  10. I can’t wait for this to be released! I’ve had an idea kicking around in my head of a dress I’d like in a certain combo of colors in my stash, and how I might make that happen. But this far exceeds any ideas I might have come up with!

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  11. It looks great on you. A well-endowed friend avoids items fitted below the bust as she feels it draws attention to her chest. She has an Annabelinda pinafore which sits mid bust, thus obscuring the fullness.

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  12. Congratulations! Isn’t it so satisfying to be able to knit your own designs!? I love that inspired use of the Shetland cockleshell pattern. Pretty setting for your photo too.

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  13. You look ready for a good old American Independence day picnic. But on the 4th of July, you might be a tad warm in the USofA. Great work.

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    1. I’m a sucker for nautical. The seashell pattern reminds in these colors reminds me of bunting at Memorial Day and the Fourth of July.

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  14. Oh, I’m so excited…a designer who is my size! I might even be 30″ at the underbust and 30″ full bust, which would mean my rib cage is even larger proportionally than yours. In any case, I’ll bet this would fit me, too. Pretty pretty pretty.

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  15. It’s lovely – the colors, the fit, the knit all work together perfectly for you.

    I, too, would like to hear more about the pants!

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  16. This is beautiful and I love it. You have such a way with colour. I’m really intrigued by the stitch pattern, too – hadn’t come across it til your last post and now I’d really like to swatch it and see what can be done with it. Interesting.

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  17. The pants! I must know more! The shell is adorable but I have to say I’ve never heard of “kilted linen loon pants” before and I’m hooked! Where can I get some?

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  18. I love it! I’m one of those whose underbust is my narrowest part, so I love a fitted midriff. And I’m oddly attracted to nautical colors this year as well. Ahoy!

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  19. Two posts since I stopped by early yesterday morning – what a bonus!

    The fit and styling of this pullover are admirable. I can also see it in a monotone wool for a cool-season shell, but for summer I, like Pam above, will need to use a cooler fiber. What’s out there in fingering weight, besides the mercerized cottons that feel like iron?

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  20. What another beautiful knit. Need to finish Deco and Lyttleton first(which I have yarn for already) and knit something for my son but I guess you could wear it with long sleeve top underneath.

    Morag

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  21. A beautiful sweater that flatters you!

    Do you think the design would work in a cotton or blend yarn? Here in SW Washington state (US), I can’t imagine wearing a wool sweater in the summer.

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  22. You are adorable in this “bathing costume”.
    Love this pattern – the whole idea.
    Here’s to your creativity!

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  23. “Anyway, the design is bathing-suit-inspired, …”
    Yeah it was reminding me of nautical colors and of corse of old bathing suit!
    Really pretty indeed! And wow yesterday swatching progress and today a finished garnment? Fast, really fast!

    Like

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