Beginning The Ella Coat . . . or gathering your essential materials

I look at what’s in my knitting bag as a way to start this project. Of course you have to start with all the proper materials. Here is what you will need to begin (in no real particular order. . . they are all important at some point or another):

  • Your very own Ella Coat for Women Noni Pattern.

  • Knitting Needles: size 9 (4.5mm) circular needle. I recommend a rather long circular. You won’t need a long one right away, but if you want a ruffley hem, you’ll want the longest you can find. In this sense, a set with longer and shorter cables is ideal.
  • Size 10 (6mm) needle and crochet hook for the provisional cast on rows. Please have other sizes available if you need to adjust after making a swatch. You may work the coat on straight needles, but I also recommend circular needles (my own preference) or those flex needles I so seldom see anymore but some folks prefer.
  • Identify & Collect Your Yarn See my longer post about yarn: Choosing The Perfect Yarn for Ella for more about picking an appropriate yarn, some ideas for planning your coat, and carefully swatching before you commit. Briefly here: you will need light worsted or worsted weight yarn. For one of the Ellas I will be featuring here, I used Shepherd’s Wool by Stonehedge Fiber Mill. If, like me, you plan to tweak the pattern, you will want between 250 – 1000 extra yards to work with. My Ella has just weighed in at 2 lbs 5.2 oz! or almost 2500 yards and she might yet get heavier with flowers and other flourishes! Because one of the tweaks is to begin the skirt of the coat from the waist and work down to the hem, you can purchase yarn as you go (assuming you can get the same lot). For those interested in striping at the cuffs and hem, choose 2 – however many colors from your local yarn shop lovelies or your own stash. Then consider springing for something really fabulous for the body of the coat. My pick (after the deliciousness of Shepherd’s Wool) would be Madeline Tosh Vintage Tosh. . . I’ve got my eye on “Flashdance” personally. Below is a colorway I’ve been playing with. Earth colors. Add a little Chocolate Cherry Flurries and this will be lovely. For more color ideas, refer again to the post on picking yarn.

  • Assemble Your Arsenal of Sewing-type Needles: sharp, large-eyed darning needle (for weaving in ends), tapestry needle (for seaming), and sewing needles (for sewing flowers to the bodice of your coat, or to the lapel, or cuffs. . . as you might have guessed, you don’t need these immediately).

  • Lock stitch markers or other stitch markers to mark the locations of increase and decrease for the coat shaping. My personal favorites are Clover lock markers (small ones). I think Hiya Hiya also has a version.

  • Noni Flowers, in particular flat profile flowers such as Bling Flowers, Cactus Flowers, Hydrangea Flowers (the small ones), or Forget-me-nots. These little flowers are lovely to sew on as bodice and sleeve embellishments or to clip on (as I do with impunity) to your coat lapels, cuffs, and in your hair when you wear your coat).

  • (Optional) seed beads or beaded yarn . . . you know my feelings about ruffles and flourishes . . .


Now that everything is assembled we are almost ready for the BIG DAY! We cast on Jan 16th. BUT BEFORE WE DO….we swatch! Here is a challenge for you: swatch and post a picture to Ravelry or Facebook. For an extra challenge: why not work a small color pallet swatch (24sts X 24 rows) and post it as well! {Melissa is doing another fun give-away for a lucky participant! She loves giving things away! Anybody like that about her?}

Ok dear knitters: Gather ye knitting gear while ye may, Old Time is still a-flying…

Are you excited about the 16th?

Choosing The Perfect Yarn for Ella

Choosing Yarns by Gauge: Start by narrowing your choices through the elimination of gauges that won’t work. What will work is worsted weight and light worsted weight yarns.

Swatch to Confirm Your Choice of Yarn (Brand and Gauge): Maybe you know just what color you want. . . but if you do not, best to find the right yarn and then worry about color. I would hate for you to choose a pile of colors only to swatch and find out you can’t get the gauge you need. So, pick a color you might like or the same yarn from your stash and set about making a swatch to test your gauge.

Start with the recommended needle size for this project: Size 9 (4.5mm) and cast on 24 stitches. Work in St st for 24 rows. By this time, or long before, you will have a sense of whether you are knitting to gauge. More than 4.5 stitches to the inch? Go up a needle size. Stitches bigger than they should be? Go down. You know the drill. Get as close as you can to the stitch gauge, though, or you are going to have issues with reaching the finished measurements and with fit.

You have plenty of time to decide colors yet. We cast on together Jan. 16th, so swatch and check. {Repeat if need be…best to get it right now}

Here are some color pallet suggesting to help you Make Ella Yours!


Shepherd's Wool: Baby pink, pink, zinnia pink, hot pink, antique rose, orange. Flurries in Hibiscus, Stargazer Lily and a medium pink

Shepherd's Wool: Baby Blue for body with accents of Mint, Spring Green, Light Turquoise, and Misty Blue

Autumn in Shepherd's Wool" Midnight Lake, Brown, Milk Chocolate, Berries, Garnet, Roasted Pumpkin, and Harvest Wheat. I'm hungry for squash soup!

A classic in shades of grey: Shepherd's Wool in Black, Storm, Granite, Pewter, and White

Fun accents: Shepherd's Wool body in Granite with stripes of Hot Pink, Lilac, Raspberry, Violet, and Pansy at the hem and cuffs.

Guest Blog: An Overview of the Ella Reinvented KAL

Aloha! Melissa here with the pleasure of guest blogging for Nora as she is on vacation. Despite the opportunity of relaxing somewhere else she has not forgotten us! She is knitting away yet another Ella!

My purpose today is to answer a few questions regarding our Knit-A-Long (KAL). Many of you may have never done a KAL before. Don’t worry, you are in fine company! Nora herself has never done one. By the end of this blog I hope all of you feel empowered, excited and EAGER!

What is a KAL? How does it work?

A knit-a-long is simply a group of people knitting the same thing together over a period of time enjoying the process together. Our Ella Re-invented KAL will start on Jan. 16th casting on the first stitches together and end on April 16th. This project will consist of weekly “tasks” each knitter needs to complete in order to finish on time. When and where you knit during that week is up to you. Nora and I have collaborated ensure expectations are not overwhelming. Each Monday there will be posts of “What To Do this Week with Ella”.

What is unique about the Ella Re-Invented KAL?

Nora has tweaks to the original Ella Coat that will only be given here on The Noni Blog that include construction of Ella, fitting suggestions, and embellishment options! Be sure to subscribe to this blog to prevent missing anything.

There will be lots of interaction with YOU! Real live knitting groups, Ravelry forums and chats, Facebook, twitter, guest bloggers and GIVEAWAYS!

What should I be doing right now?

  • Get your pattern first! We strongly encourage you to support your Local Yarn Shoppe (LYS) with your purchases. If they don’t have it, ask them to get it! Let them hear how excited you are and they will want to join. If they can’t assist you let us know and we will direct you to a source.
  • Gather your knitting materials! {stitch holders, needles, etc.} 
  • Brainstorm on color choices! Don’t feel pressure to decide just yet. This week and next we will have color helps for you! There are several exclusive color pallets Nora designed for bloggers in NYC, Canada, London, Australia and Hawaii. Perhaps one of these will tickle your fancy!
  • Swatch if you have your yarn! MAKE SURE YOUR GAUGE IS CORRECT! {Putting on the “Nora Hat”: if you have any differences in your swatch gauge it WILL effect your knitting results!}
  • PLUG IN!!  We have a variety of ways to get involved.            

         Quick Checklist :

  1. Join your LYS! If they are not offering something ASK them.
  2. Start your own in person knitting group! Need help and suggestions? Contact me at melissa{at}nonipatterns{dot}com.
  3. Subscribe to this blog. Each week the updates are given here!
  4. “Like” Noni Designs on Facebook and then INTERACT with us! Comment on posts, like pictures, join in Events. YOU are ESSENTIAL!
  5. Join the Ravelry KAL Group:
  6. Attend the Chat Groups on Ravelry! {Our first is Dec. 28 9-10 pm EST}
  7. Follow us on twitter @NoniDesigns

{Little hints:}

Hold on knitters! Think of this as TEAM Knitting! If you start ahead of us not only will you miss out on important updates, but you may miss the benefit of community. **Remember: it is a Knit-A-Long not a Race**

Join in events and giveaways! We already have a fun contest going on right now! If you already have your Ella Pattern post a picture on our wall. Here is the Event Link   Join in and encourage others to do the same!

Thanks for letting me bring you up to speed! We are going to have a great time together!


Support Your Local Yarn Store & The Designers You Love: Buy Patterns!

Everyone’s getting ready for the Knit-A-Long–this just get’s more exciting!

Let me take this opportunity to make a personal plea to you, kind and gentle knitter, to purchase your own copy of the Ella Coat for Women pattern at your local yarn store.

Those who know me know how passionate I am about copyright laws. Some of you might already feel your attention flagging, but please hear me out. I’ve written here before about how we indy designers make our livings (or try!) from selling patterns. So, while I LOVE the idea of sitting elbow to elbow with a circle of women all squinting to read from a single xeroxed pattern because it builds character and community, it doesn’t put even a crust of bread on the table of the indy designer whose pattern it is or the yarn store who stocks that pattern. I beg of you to reserve such bonding experiences for the free knitting patterns now fluttering hither and yon practically out of car windows.

Noni has solicited the participation of local yarns stores all over the country and internationally to support the Ella Coat Knit-A-Long. They have patterns and appropriate yarns at the ready for you to choose from. Support our efforts with your purchases. Don’t forget how powerful you are in supporting the designers you love and the small business, the local yarn stores, where you make your pattern and other knitting purchases. Purchase patterns with pride: know that you are directly supporting the arts, the work of the designers you buy. You are directly . . . let me say that yet more slowly and passionately (if you were here, you’d see me get a little emotional): you are di-rectly supporting us and your own community.

I speak on behalf of all of us who draft, re-draft, test, tech-edit, re-work, publish designs in hope you will love them, knit them, wear them, and bequeath them: thank you for supporting our work with your time, your passion for knitting, your hard earned dollars.

Thank you for purchasing for your friends their own patterns instead of making copies of yours. Thank you for understanding in your heart of hearts that designs you love are the foundation of our art and for feeling it is more than ever important to demonstrate that understanding by purchasing your very own copy of The Ella Coat for Women pattern.

Now, let me also say this. If you are a woman who would LOVE to participate in this knit-a-long but just simply don’t have the funds to purchase a pattern. And you are even now unraveling sweaters to have enough yarn, please write to me, tell me a little of your story, and I will see to it myself that you have your own pattern. Likewise, if you know a woman who SIMPLY CANNOT afford a Noni pattern, please write to me with your story and I will see what I can do.

So, now that we have all gone to our local yarn stores and we all have our own patterns . . . now we can begin to think about the other needed supplies. . . more about those supplies and also more about yarn in postings coming soon.

Your pattern purchase allows me to keep designing. Thank you and thank you again.

More Details about the KAL

The response to our plans to have an Ella Coat for Women Knit-A-Long has been so tremendous and exciting! Before we even officially announced the project, the KAL was international: we have participating shops in 4 countries! We have well-known bloggers in multiple countries who are going to make Ella coats, follow along with my innovations, and blog about the coat themselves–more about them in a subsequent posting so you can visit with them as they knit along with us.

We are going to be supported by several fabulous yarn companies who have generously offered their fine products to our team of bloggers and also as prizes and give-aways you and your participating shop will be eligible for.

And there is so much more fun to come! Knitters who participate will be able to get exclusive content from their participating shops for specially designed coordinating accessories (think bag, gauntlets, cowls and other decorations for your person).

Check out our Facebook page often for more information, follow us on Twitter, and join the Ravelry Forum set up especially for this KAL.

Subscribe to this blog feed: If you missed these instructions before, here they are again. Look to the right of this post just below the latest entries, comments, and archives. See the “Entries RSS” right below Admin? Click on that and you will see a page that allows you to subscribe to this blog. The “Comments RSS” feed allows you to subscribe to all the comments.

There is plenty of time to get your pattern and pick out your yarn. More details about swatching and picking out your yarn shortly.


Introducing the First Ever Noni Knit-A-Long! The Ella Coat for Women Re-invented

Let me introduce you to my lovely Ella (re-discovered, re-invented, re-imagined)!

As you see her here, she is not finished. . . she will get even more fabulous as we knit – a – long together. Remember my fabulous boots?! Won’t they look lovely together, Ella and the boots?!

Due to popular knitter demand for access to my Ella innovations, we have planned for you this exciting Knit A Long! As I have mentioned in previous blog entries, I will divulge all of my innovations and tweaks. And in addition to that, I will suggest others that you can choose to make or not. For example, Ella would look lovely as a sweater that just kisses the hipbone. . . or she would look lovely at a “car coat” length, and ending just above the knee, or, as I have done, long as a duster. . . Just think she could even be sleeveless!, an Ella Vest . . . She is many coats, and there is certainly one that will suit you!

I will invite you to send in pictures of what you are doing. In short: this is going to be fun and the coats that result will be fabulous.

Come and knit along with us . . . You have time to prepare because we won’t get down to business until mid-January, just about the time when you need a new project to start working on. . . one for yourself.

But keep your eyes glued to this blog! So you won’t miss anything, look to the right of this post just below the latest entries, comments, and archives. See the “Entries RSS” right below Admin? Click on that and you will see a page that allows you to subscribe to this blog. The “Comments RSS” feed allows you to subscribe to all the comments. You might want to do both right now so you won’t miss a thing.

Stay tuned for more specific details soon about participating shops, how to get patterns, the best yarns to use, and more. Check our Noni Designs Facebook page for late-breaking news and happenings.


Introducing Melissa, Marketing Godess and Self-proclaimed Mrs. BossyPants

You might have noticed that lately the Noni Designs Facebook page has been a lot of fun. I wish I could take all the credit, but I have to say that I have been watching, delighted, from across the room as I sit here and knit furiously, design new bags, write blog entries, read your comments. Occasionally I will stretch my legs, pop in, and be part of the fun. The lion’s share of the credit for our new fun Noni Facebook, Twitter, and soon to some degree a bit of my Ravelry presence, goes to Melissa Schoenwether, one of the smartest, most upbeat, funny, and loyal people I know.

You might have noticed Melissa already. She has been posting comments to my blog entries and cheer leading on my Facebook page.

Melissa and I met a little over a year ago when I was on a teaching trip to Hawaii. Melissa lives on Kauai and I met her at the workshop hosted by Hanalei Strings N Things, a sweet little shop on the North Shore that has started their own line of hand-dyed yarns since I was there. We immediately became friends. Her three beautiful children got on well with my son, her husband taught my husband to surf . . . how often do you find a whole family with which you have that kind of feeling of sympatico?

Melissa called me with encouragement just about every day when I cloistered myself in my in-laws summer cottage on Lake Huron (in winter!) in order to write the Noni Flowers book (40 flower patterns in 30 days! It was intense!).

The circumstances of our lives took us away from each other for a while and it was, strangely, my phone that got us back in touch. That sounds silly: of course it was the phone. . . we talk on the phone a lot. But it was my phone dialing Melissa out of nowhere, truly, out of nowhere. I remember hearing the sound of a woman’s voice on the other side of the room in my studio (it was late and quiet, everyone in the offices and studios around already gone for the day) Melissa’s phone message sounded tiny and far away. She called right back and time closed. It was as though we had just said goodbye to each other in front of her house on the garden island.

I hesitate to offer a biography or resume for Melissa as it is much too tiny to capture her properly, except to say that she is truly one of the most energetic, smartest people I have ever met. She is teaching her children Latin, Hebrew, Greek, French. She reads marketing textbooks as bedtime reading. She has been a ballerina, owned a successful dance studio, is a masterful knitter (she said, when prompted as to her favorite Noni pattern she said this:  “I love ALL noni patterns! What are you trying to get me canned? Jk…. I love your sweaters, and Groveralls….I find it funny we are doing Ella as she has been my favorite since you sent me my pattern book.  Love flowers and purses too, but just was really taken by the sweaters—and how many looks you could get from one!!

She is a devoted wife, mother, friend.

Beautiful Day Knitting at the Beach: Melissa with her family on our last day on Kauai. This is one of my most favorite pictures from our trip. As soon as I look at it I am taken back to that day.

Melissa is one of those rare people who does nothing with a sense of lethargy–I marvel at what she has done in her life and she is yet young (and also beautiful!). She gives herself to her tasks. And I am so so lucky that she has given herself to the task of Noni’s social media face in order that I might devote myself more fully to this and the other blog postings, to my designs, to more book ideas, to sourcing and designing hardware and other products for your delight.

So, to clarify my world and hers: it is always always my voice you will hear in this blog. if you see a Facebook post from Nora Bellows, it will 99.8% of the time be me personally. Melissa might jump in if I am on a remote mountain with no internet and someone has a question that can’t wait for my return. Both of us will post on the Noni Designs wall, though it will mostly likely be Melissa as she is organizing promotions, give-aways, exciting events I hope you will all take part in. . . there is much more fun to come! If you want to talk to me, or hear from me, just ask. Just write to me. Just call. That’s me over there sitting on a boulder knitting flowers, and listening, and watching, and smiling at how lucky I am to have Melissa’s extraordinary help.