Week 1: Casting On Ella’s Bodice

Today is the day we cast on!

For those of you that have the Ella Coat Reinvented pattern, you can begin as described. . . just follow the pattern.

For those of you who have the Ella Coat for Women pattern, there is a tweak. I am actually in this category myself, because when I began my new Ella, I was using the original pattern. The tweak makes the coat easier and, I think, more fun to knit. Instead of casting on all those bazillion stitches at the bottom for the ruffle, we will begin our coats at the bodice. It is not wrong to start at the hem of the coat. I would say it is more traditional. I made my original 2 Ellas this way . . I also made several little Ella and the Legume coats this way and that coat starts from the bottom as well.

The Big Picture: How we will proceed

For this Knit-A-Long, we will all begin with the bodice, work up to the shoulders. Easier. More fun. And safer: you can try the coat on and make sure the bodice fits before you have finished all the knitting and finishing.

So, needles poised, ladies and any participating gents. Yarn at the ready.  I’m a long-tail cast on girl myself, so that’s my recommendation, but I’ve always advocated a more democratic teaching style, so cast on as you will.

For those of you with the original Ella pattern, you will see Coat Bodice in the second column not quite mid-way down. Second sentence toward the end there, you’ll see the total number of stitches you need to pick up in the skirt for the bodice. . . these numbers are, for you, now the cast on numbers. Locate your chosen size and cast on.

I am now going to supply you with the locations for 6 markers. 4 of those markers will locate your increases for the bodice: 2 locations in the center fronts just under the breast points and 2 locations that mirror these on the back. They look like darts and give the coat bodice its lovely shaping. The other two markers will locate your side seams–this comes into play when you are separating the fronts from the back to do your armhole shaping and work to the shoulder.

Ok, for you long tail cast on people. . .  you’ve cast on and now I want you to purl row 1 (see below) . . . why, you might ask, tempted to ignore me and just knit. Don’t do it. Here’s why: the purl row puts that lovely more knitterly (as opposed to purly) texture on the right side. I like this and think it’s pretty. When you go to pick up stitches for the skirt, you will be glad you didn’t ignore me. . . (if you do a knitted cast on, you can knit the first row).

So, here, without further ado and more bibble babble is the relevant, life/knitting-made-easier in an instant tweak . . . marker locations:

Row 1 (WS): Purl across, placing 6 markers as follows: p18 (20, 22, 25, 27, 29), pm for center left front;  p18 (21, 23, 25, 27, 30), pm for left side seam; p18 (21, 23, 25, 27, 30), pm for center left back; p36 (40, 44, 50, 54, 58), pm for center right back; p18 (21, 23, 25, 27, 30), pm for right side seam p18 (21, 23, 25, 27, 30), pm for center right front; p18 (20, 22, 25, 27, 29) to end.

AND NOW: I’ve got what I hope is a “worth the price of admission” tip (or at least makes you glad you came) . . . Once you know the location of these markers (you already know I like lock markers as I find they work well in most situations) it is trivial to count again as you pick up for the skirt and re-place them. . . however, if you are like me you might think of ways to save time and counting later, or, to say it a better way, to double-check your counting now and later. Here’s what I did. I set two markers at each increase location.

One set of markers stayed put at the cast on edge (ready for when I pick up the skirt stitches to just jump over to the skirt side) and one moved with my knitting. This way, when I pick up for the skirt, I can pace myself, instantly know where I need to have the markers, and double-check marker locations, stitch counts, and that my stitches line up from bodice to skirt.

Now, all of you can follow the pattern as written until you get to the armhole bind off!

Don’t Forget Your Homework!  As you work through this part of the KAL, remember to post on Ravelry in your Ella project log.Take lots of pictures! Be creative! There is an awesome prize up for grabs . . .

Happy Ella Knitting!

17 thoughts on “Week 1: Casting On Ella’s Bodice

  1. I was so tempted to cast on last night … glad I waited! Now, to get through an entire working day without getting out the needles I have stashed in my bag 😉

  2. Had to check blog 1st thing this morning with coffee in hand. Suspected we would start at the bodice, but had lined up my colors for the skirt. Will work on selecting colors for bodice. Our Ella KAL group meets on Tues evenings…I won’t be able to wait until then for the cast on…it will happen tonight. Thank you Nora for the tip to leave markers on cast on edge for the pick up for the skirt. Your are right, it is more than worth the price of admission! Ladies (and gents), start your engines! We are on our way!

  3. I’m starting the Bodice with the darkest color because we are at the waist so we want those waists to have the illusions of being smaller than they are!!

  4. Thanks so much for the photos; being a hands-on learner this is so important to me to be able to see what I’m reading.

    Since I just heard about this awesome project on Saturday, as you know, I won’t be able to get my yarn until Wed. evening. But I promise to make up for lost rows (LOL)!

    In the meantime, I’ll enjoy seeing the progress and promise to post as soon as I’m caught up!

    Happy Knitting!


  5. I am glad you are joining in the KAL! The pattern for our knit-along ca be the original The Ella Coat pattern. We also have the Ella Re-Discovered pattern that may be used. Either will work. If your Local Yarn Shop does not have it available, you may opt to purchase the PDF of Ella on Ravelry for immediate download and get in on the fun! Hope this helps!

      • Yes, but remember everyone, neither pattern is exactly what we are doing through this kniti-a-long. You are getting EXCLUSIVE CONTENT–a wonderful thing! So I hope you all enjoy all the changes you can chose to make (or chose not to make!).

  6. How do we measure the bodice across our chest to see if it is too big or too small? Do we use a lifeline and move all of our stitches on same to measure or is there an easier way?

    • Hi Janet, A lifeline is a good method, then make sure the piece lies nice and flat and check your measurements. I have also been known to use a circular needle with a long cable but I don’t think the results are as accurate. Keep in mind, as you do this, that you will have ruffles or plackets to bridge the distance between the front edges. You also have blocking as a tool to reach finished measurements.
      This sort of pick it up and try it on method is great for the big picture, for seeing if the sizing is way off in either direction and you definitely want to do this now instead of later. If you put the bodice on your body and find that the fronts are between 1 and 2 inches apart at the center and everything else is fitting great (the armholes are going to be in the right place, the increases are positioned under the breast points (for those of you who have never heard this term before I’m going to spell it out more or less: you want the increases or knitted dart to lie directly in line with the pointiest part of the breast. My breast-fed boy used to call them nibbles. . . : )
      If the darts are in the right place and the fronts are, as I mentioned, just a bit apart–up to 2 inches–you are getting a good fit. Darts not in line and too far out in a way that is too much for blocking to remedy? The bodice is too small. Darts not in line and too far in, the bodice is too big.
      I saw some remarks in the chat last night (I was in there reading the archives this morning) about fit. Some folks wanted less positive ease. If you want the coat to be more like a sweater dress, then you will want to make a size where the finished measurements are your measurements (no positive ease, no space between your body and the coat). As written, the coat should give you 2 inches of positive ease. This means that you can wear a t-shirt underneath and it will fit just a bit loosely.
      If you want more positive ease because you want to wear a sweater underneath, or an extra ella, then you will want to go up in size.
      Also remember that this coat worked on a 9 will give you a nice drape, a fabric with some give and stretch rather than a dense fabric.
      I will, Janet, probably repeat some of this material in a blog posting because some folks migth not read all the comments.
      I thank you for your question. Keep ’em coming, Ladies! The more good questions and answers, the more educated everyone becomes about the process and if I don’t have the answer, then I bet there is a knitter out there who does.
      Thank you to everyone for pitching in and helping out. This is how a knit-a-long can be a positive and wonderful community experience for us all.
      My compliments and thanks again, Nora

  7. Thank you. You’re a special lady and I appreciate the time you are taking to help us with our questions and/or concerns. Big hug, Janet

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