The Bonaire design itself is based on my concept of a coral reef: dense and concrete at the bottom, becoming almost porous at the top. I love to find ways to break apart stitch patterns, which often have more than one component. This stitch is so compact that the only way to infuse this top with the changing density I wanted to show was to add Stockinette. I added stitches between the pattern stitches, and between larger numbers of pattern rows.
I returned to the original dense stitch pattern to finish off the shoulders and neckline. Structure has to hold even the most open shape together.
The Coral Twists seemed like a natural way to finish things off. Personally, I would have covered the entire front drape with Coral Twists, but I was afraid of scaring everyone off.
Bonaire by Jill Wolcott of Jill Wolcott Knits
Originally published as Coral Seas in Creative Knitting Jill takes an in-depth look at the Bonaire pattern and its contents. Moderate difficulty & Flat knitting
This design got renamed Bonaire after a Caribbean island known for its coral reefs, not its sandy beaches. I think it sounds breezy and like a perfect vacation.
- XS (S) (M) (L) (XL)
- Finished chest measurements of 36 (40) (44.75) (49.625) (53.625)”
- Finished Length 22 (23) (24) (25) (26.5)”
- 5 sts/in and 6.75 rows/in = 20 sts/4″ and 27 rows/4″ in Scattered Coral Knot on size 6(4mm) needles
- Kiwi Fingering from Zealana, 40% NZ Merino, 30% organic cotton, 30% NZ possum, using 6 (7) (8) (9) (10) skeins of 40g/135 yds (123m)
- Ayelette is wearing my Bonaire, size M in Sun Orange
- Sheila is wearing the XS from Creative Knitting in Track
The model in the cover photograph is Sheila Devitt. She’s an actress and an herbalist. Her carriage makes her look lovely in photos too. There are some other photos in the pattern and online of Ayelette Robinson in Bonaire. Her body type is different—she’s bustier and not as tall. Ayelette is a lawyer and actress. She is wearing my personal version and our bodies are so different you would never guess that we would wear the same size!
Overall Layout of the Bonaire Pattern
- Page 2 is where to find all the information you need to get started. Don’t forget to check gauge and be sure your needle size will get the specified gauge using your needles, yarn, and style of knitting. I am a relaxed knitter and it is not uncommon for other knitters to need a different needle size. Getting the proper fabric is essential to any design ending up as presented.
- All of my designs are based on gauge, so it really will insure a more perfect garment if you do a gauge swatch. I consider the swatch my research tool and for anything that I don’t want to rip out and start over, I begin with a gauge swatch. To do a good garment swatch, always cast on a multiple of the stitch pattern and the + stitches. For 5 stitches to the inch I recommend casting on 25 stitches or more. I would work the Coral Knots (page 13) for the same number of rows as the Bottom Trim, then work Sequence A until I had an additional 5″ of length. I block my swatches before taking gauge. If you measure gauge before you block, you will also know what changes when you do block. This will help you if you need to decide whether you need extra length. I will also mention here that I never measure my knitting on the needles. I figure out how many rows I need to get the blocked length and then knit that many rows, ending on the RS or WS as instructed.
- Written instructions begin on page 3 and go through page 12
- Techniques and abbreviations are on page 12
- Detail photos are shown throughout the written portion pattern
- Appendix A follows the written pattern and contains the stitch pattern in written and chart form, shaping charts, by size, for each element of the project, as well as complete “as knit” schematics.
This pattern has lots of Notes. I am not chatty in my patterns, but I do like to give you whatever advice I think of that will keep you on track. Although I strive not to do it, Bonaire has some shaping that is done AT THE SAME TIME. The Notes will help keep you alert to this. There just isn’t a better way—we tried! These are the segments that will guide you through the pattern.
- Body Bottom Trim: Sets out cast on and stitch pattern for trim.
- Body to Armholes: Change to larger needle and work through Coral Knot Sequences A through D as set out. Placing markers in the edges whenever a set of pattern rows is worked will help when putting the Body pieces together.
- Body Armhole Shaping: This is where things start to get interesting! Read through the Notes and look ahead through this section to find the path for your size. You will be familiar with how the Sequences are working and it should be fairly easy. Just remember that you need to keep track of where you are in the pattern sequence AND do shaping for your size.
- Back Shoulder Shaping: Here, stitches are decreased to the width of the neck while working the final Sequence rows. For your sizes, this may be in Stockinette due to the number of rows between Coral Knot pattern rows.
- Back Neck Trim: The stitch pattern returns to the original Coral Knots pattern, worked while decreasing to continue to bring the Back neckline in to its final measurement.
- Front to Armholes: This is a repeat of the Body to Armholes. Repeat the edge markers for ease of seaming later on.
- Front Armhole and Neck Shaping: After working the Armhole bind offs, the armhole shaping continues similarly to the Back, but AT THE SAME TIME, stitches are also being increased on some rows to create the wider front neckline. As for the Back, you will need to be keeping track of where you are in the pattern sequence.
- Neck Increases: Work the increases multiple times after the armhole measures a specified depth. Stitch counts are not given because not all knitters will have completed all the decreases. Write down your stitch count as you begin the Neck Increases and add the total number of increases given to your number to make sure you are on track. This is probably the trickiest stretch, and it continues into the next section.
- Front Shoulder Shaping: The Note here instructs the knitter to continue to work Neck Increases while also working the beginning and ending decreases. Total decreases are given for the first set of decreases. The second set of decreases is followed by the ending stitch counts because all shaping–both increases and decreases–will be complete.
- Front Neck Trim: The Front Neck stitches become the Neck Trim stitches, worked like the Back Neck Trim except that there are no decreases. The Neck is completed in the Finishing section.
- Shoulder Yoke: Make 2. The total length of the Shoulder Yoke needs to match the Shoulder length on the Front and Back, plus the trim we will be adding to the armhole in the Finishing. Because the stitches are left on stitch holders, if you need to adjust the length after the Armhole Trim is completed, that is still possible.. If your row gauge is different than the pattern’s specified gauge, you will need to make adjustments. Because the Coral Knot stitch pattern decreases on RS pattern rows and returns stitches on the following WS Row, shaping decreases are specified as number of stitches removed outside of pattern changes.
- Finishing: See below for specifics.
I think Finishing is the secret to most projects. To master techniques before doing the finishing I always put trims onto my gauge swatch or otherwise practice to make sure I can do the best possible job on my project. The distortion of the armhole is caused by my oddly shaped dress form. I keep meaning to get another one, but never think of it until I am taking photos.
I usually steam and sometimes wet block before doing any seaming, then I use a 1-stitch mattress stitch for seaming—unless there is a compelling reason not to. I always specify exactly what I’ve done so you can replicate it. There is additional finish knitting after some of the seaming occurs. I always do any finishing possible on the needles, rather than with a sewing needle. If I have you sewing it is probably the best way to do it.
- Armhole Trim: This, like the other trims is done on Size 5(3.75mm) needles. The 10 rows should equal 1″ and if your row gauge is different, you should probably make an adjustment in the number of rows worked. Always when working PU stitches, adjust as needed–because you don’t want this too floppy or too tight. You do need an even number of stitches.
- Neck Trim Finish: This is so you can have a nice even neckline edge by binding off all the stitches in one round. These are all stitches left live on pieces already worked. By binding off purl wise the edge most closely resembles the cast on.
- Coral Twists: I think these are great fun to make–except that you are always knitting into an e-wrap cast on, which is never that fun. These can be done with the long-tail cast on, but it will be bulky. You can be certain that if I use the e-wrap cast on, it is for a very good reason because it is never that fun to knit into.
After applying the Armhole and Neck Trims and final seaming, Coral Twists are made and sewn to the neckline. There are a bunch of ends to work in to finalize. Personally I always at least steam things, but will re-wet block if needed. If you sew the Coral Twists on over a Coral Knot, you have a place to bury your ends.
Stitch Patterns & Charts, page 13: Set out in both written and chart form, this is a great reference and perfect for swatching! For this design, use Sequence A on the next page (or first page for your size) to do the remainder of your garment swatch.
Appendix A, pages 14 through 53: We have created charts for each size, so you can easily follow just what you need. Each Size contains charts for Scattered Coral Knot Sequences A, B, C, D, & E. Following those five charts are Back Armhole Shaping blank charts, beginning and ending. The pattern Note explains how to fill these in to customize them for where you are in the Scattered Coral Knot Sequences when you start this shaping. This gives you complete control and gives you a visual to follow. Similarly, Blank Charts are given for Front Armhole and Neck Shaping, beginning and ending. This also shows the increases that are occurring at the same time, so is a great reference point. These are followed by the Front Shoulder Shaping Chart and the Shoulder Yoke Chart. Finally, the chart for doing the Shaping on the Yoke.
- Stitch Charts for Size XS, pages 14 through 21
- Stitch Charts for Size S, pages 22 through 29
- Stitch Charts for Size M, pages 30 through 37
- Stitch Charts for Size L, pages 38 through 45
- Stitch Charts for Size XL, pages 46 through 53
Schematics, pages 54 and 55: The schematics give you measurements for what your final blocked pieces should be (if you make no length adjustments), including the seaming stitches included on each piece. Your final piece will actually be slightly smaller (see measurements on page 2) where there is seaming. Schematics also give you a visual of what your piece will look like–always useful!
I hope this helps you see the depth to which I dove into creating Bonaire and the pattern so you can make it too. You can see all the page 2 information on any of the pattern pages: Jill Wolcott Knits, Craftsy, and Ravelry, as well as photos. You must feel ready to start this one!