. . . by the sea shore

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