Little Waterfalls tunic – Knitting Magazine, August 2014…and the creative serendipity behind the design

Here it is!  My latest design for Knitting Magazine, the Little Waterfalls tunic, is in the August issue.  It is a casual top with coloured stripes worked within a lacy cluster pattern.

LittleWaterfalls1The design process for this garment was a serendipitous one.  You’ve heard those stories about designers discovering things by accident, haven’t you?  And these amazing discoveries are ALWAYS something resembling genius?  Yep.  Well, although I can’t claim that Little Waterfalls ascends such lofty heights, something similar happened whilst I was swatching and I wanted to share it with you.

When I received the nautical-themed brief from Knitting, my first thought was of water, not stripes.  I rummaged around in my drawer of blue oddments, pulled out some DK cottons and thought about how I could convey movement within knitted fabric.  After a bit of doodling I decided my first attempt would involve some sharp decreases, as these would be more dramatic than the bog-standard ‘K2tog’ etc.  I settled on double decreases and double yarn-overs, offsetting the pattern to the right by degrees to echo the natural right-hand slope of k3tog.  Here’s how the swatch turned out:

LittleWaterfallsSwatch1aThe pattern was sort of doing what I wanted: the path of the stitches looked like trickling rivulets, but it felt a bit blah – and a quick conference call to my mum, ever forthright, confirmed that it was somewhat lacking.  After staring, feeling a bit fed up, and realising that neither of those things were useful, I decided to cast off the swatch and come back later.


I normally begin and end swatches with a few rows of garter stitch.  Practically, this makes them easier to mount; psychologically, a few plain knit rows are a good warm-up.  This swatch was no different, but I couldn’t help noticing that something interesting and unexpected was happening to the stitches as I prepared to cast off:

LittleWaterfallsSwatch1bIt looked as though little clusters were forming, and I immediately thought of sea foam…followed by the plungpool at the bottom of a waterfall.  And then my mind raced: my rivulets became waterfalls and I now had no intention of casting off the swatch.

I continued working the same essential pattern, but broke up the smooth waterfall stripe with a ‘plungpool’ of garter stitch each time.  Another decision made on the fly was to change colour after each textured plungpool section: I thought this mimicked the change in colour and texture as water is agitated or impacts something.

I knitted on, and, feeling happier with each row, cast off the swatch for good.  Here’s how it looked – one of the photos is at an angle for perspective and a better idea of the movement I was trying to create:

LittleWaterfallsSwatch2 LittleWaterfallsSwatch3My final creative decisions were easy: I knew a simple relaxed shape would suit both the brief and let the stitches do the talking, so I went for a boxy tee with minimal shaping and recommended cottons/cotton blends for stitch definition when submitting the design.

A final touch was the bracket the welts with short stripes of reverse stocking stitch, and deploy a 3-needle cast-off at the shoulder/overarm seam, adding a bit more texture and ease of construction.  Hardly any finishing is needed, you just need to join the side seams.  As I knitted the sample garment, I carried my yarns up the side when not in use, periodically ‘locking in’ each one to the edge using the fairisle weaving technique – so fewer ends to sew in.

LittleWaterfallsCarryingYarnsAnd that is how Little Waterfalls was born.  If you knit it, I hope you enjoy.  If not, I hope you enjoyed reading this.


5 thoughts on “Little Waterfalls tunic – Knitting Magazine, August 2014…and the creative serendipity behind the design

  1. Hello Natalie! I am currently knitting this! I love it (although I can’t stand the k3tog with my blunt needles…) I have chosen slightly different colours. Two different shades of grey, and light yellow. Can’t wait to finish it and wear it! Thank you for a great pattern!

  2. Just noticed a mistake in the pattern! Row 19 and 20 are missing! They are easy, as they are only knit rows, but still, they are not there…

  3. Oh, and another little pattern correction (am I getting repetitive and annoying now…?). In row 22 it says: “…rep from * to last 3 sts, p3.” This seems to be wrong. In my mind this needs to read “…rep from * to last 2 sts, p2.” Otherwise the stitch count will decrease as the third stitch from the end is the double yo.

    1. Hello Stine in Norway 🙂 First, thank you very much for getting in touch. I have let Knitting Magazine know that there are a couple of pattern rows missing from the magazine; it is probably a typesetting error and something got chopped off whilst they were preparing the layouts. And yes, row 22 should read as follows: “P1,*p1, (p1, k1) into double yo; repeat from * to last 2 sts, p2.” The pattern repeats over a multiple of 3 stitches, edge stitches included. And you are far from annoying!
      Finally, a big personal *thank you* for your lovely comments and being the very first person (that I know of) to knit one of my published designs. I have only had three featured in Knitting Magazine so it is very early days, and I am very happy to know that one of my little ideas inspired you to cast on and knit the design, errata and all. Your colour combination sounds lovely and fresh too – I really hope you enjoy wearing the tunic! Best wishes, Natalie x

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