Week 11: Finding The Perfect Closure

I’ve been lurking in the Rav forum peeking at what people are doing and seeing some amazing amazing Ella Coats!  I want to own them all for myself, I have to confess! And I want, even more, to see a convention of Ella coats. What a sight that would be!

I could see, already in Week 10, that there is discussion of closures. The right closure for Ella is rather like searching for the right button. It is no easy task. Fortunately, Ella can be worn open for a while or closed just under the bust for a nice effect. The waist detailing also suggests a nice location for an interim closure.

In other words, there is time to find the right thing. . . Sometimes the search takes a while and requires a few false starts or tries. I have, myself, not found quite the right thing for my two Ellas: Red Stripes Ella and Pewter Ella.

I have tried the JUL spiral bridge closure on both. It is dramatic and striking. In short, fabulous. But it is also heavy. Pewter Ella, being a bit more sturdy than Red Striped Ella could handle it. She’s got a very elegant strength to her. So, the closure has moved to Pewter Ella’s back, where it makes quite a statement.

I want something easier and lighter for the front closure. I looked at (and re-produce here) some of the pictures of closures that people have put up in the Rav forum.

There is the conventional subtle cord-covered hook & eye. I took these from one of Beth’s posts. . . These are great if you really don’t want a closure to show. Perfect for the ruffle on both sides Ella.






And here is a little bit fancier version for the person who wants the closure to show but is content to let those curls nestle amongst the ruffles. I also found a gold version when I was poking around on the internet sites that offer frogs.

Want something still traditional but a little fancier? Try this one. I bet you can get it in just about every color there is. Don’t really want it to show, maybe put all the hoo haa on the inside. so just the knot is visible (or not).






Here are some more of the more ubiquitous frogs . . . some smaller and more subtle than others. Picking frogs is like picking buttons (or light fixtures). . . you have to see it on the coat. . ..





I liked this flower frog. . .




This seemed one that would look great nestled amongst ruffles. . . I can see this on a bag, too.

And then there are the fancy, really unusual frogs. . . like the white one below (also available in black). This is a frog that is meant to be the center of attention. I would say one just under the bust. Two at the most. One under the bust and the other at the waist detail.





And then there are the frogs that look as though they could be worn with fancy buttons. Perhaps folks with ruffles on one side and simple plackets on the other would want to choose one of these types. . .

I’m still on the hunt myself, so as I find options I am considering myself (along with decorations), I will post about the search. In the meantime, please keep posting pictures of your beautiful coats and the closures you are considering. You can always use a shawl stick or a wooden cable needle to close your coat in the meantime.

On another note, in the live chat last Wednesday I asked people if they had any particular desires when it comes to bags. I’m in the middle of designing my new collection for Spring and Summer and wondered if there was overwhelming consensus. . . it was ruffles.

SO, I have designed Ella’s Going Out Bag. . . festooned with ruffles and French Anemones . . . I’m casting on later today. And as soon as she can be seen, I’ll post sneak peak pictures on Facebook. She will debut at MD Sheep & Wool Festival in the Noni Booth.

Check back on Wednesday for the first posting about the next Noni KAL:  A beautiful summer project from Noni Flowers.

Ella Week 10: The Skirt Ruffle & Front Plackets

You have have already decided how many ruffles and flourishes you want . . .


I think most of you have already finished the skirt ruffle, but if you have not, please feel free to do that. For those who are following me, here is the picot ruffle again. . . Work to desired skirt length – about 1/2 – 3/4 inch, ending with a WS row.

RS: Kfb across the row.

WS: Purl.

RS: *Kfb, k1; repeat from * across row.

WS: Execute a picot bind off as follows: *Using a cable cast on, CO 2 stitches, BO 3, placing the stitch that remains on the right needle back onto the left needle; repeat from * until all stitches are bound off.



For simple, minimalist plackets, follow the instructions in either the original Ella pattern or the Ella Rediscovered for the button band plackets. These are folded plackets with ruffles. You will want to put button holes on one side (if using buttons) and leave the other side without the buttons.

For the more simple ruffle you see on the pattern cover, please follow the ruffle instructions for sleeves.

For my picot ruffle, please follow the instructions for my ruffle meets ruffle tweak below.

1. A Tale of Two Ellas:

In both original Ella patterns, I have a button band on one side and a ruffly placket on the other.

In my newest Red striped and Pewter Ellas, I have ruffled plackets on both sides and am still debating about different closure methods (more about this in next week’s Week 11 post!).

In both Ella patterns, the front plackets are accomplished before the collar and neck ruffle. We have not done things this way. Thus, the plackets will begin at the top of the collar and neck ruffle and proceed all the way to the bottom of the skirt ruffle.

In order for this to look as though the ruffle was made all in one piece we have to join the ruffly-ness of the placket to the neck and skirt. Best way to do this is to use the technique of short rows.

2. What You Need to Know

Short Rows: If you’ve ever made a sock, and I bet most of you have, you have used short rows. Here is a great tutorial by Cat Bordhi on how to wrap and turn in exactly the manner I want you to do for the plackets. You will see, as you watch the video, that she works through the process by looking at her stitches rather than counting. Because the number of stitches you will be picking up along the front edges varies from coat to coat (but is 3 stitches for every 4 rows), I will not count stitches, nor do you need to.


3. Ruffle Meets Ruffle Tweek: After picking up stitches on the right side per the instructions in the pattern and those above, you will purl the first row.

Row 2 (RS): Work to last stitch, w&t.

Row 3 (WS): Work to last stitch, w&t.

Row 4: Work to last stitch before wrapped stitch, w&t.

Repeat row 4 on both knit and purl sides until 1 inch (2.5cm) before desired placket width, ending with a WS row.

RS: Knit to end, working the wrapped stitches as Cat Bordhi instructs in the video so they will be invisible.

WS: Purl to end, working the wrapped stitches as Cat Bordhi instructs in the video so they will be invisible.

RS: Kfb (knit in the front and back) in each stitch.

WS: Purl.

RS: Kfb, k1 across, with no worries about whether you end with Kfb or k1.

WS: Employ the ruffle bind off of your choice. If you would like to do my favorite picot bind off, here it is again: *Using a cable cast on, CO 2 stitches, BO 3, placing the stitch that remains on the right needle back onto the left needle; repeat from * until all stitches are bound off.

Weave in ends at the end and beginning of the ruffles so that the plackets ruffles are joined seamlessly to the neck and hem ruffles.


Final Weeks of Ella Previewed!

Next Week (Week 11): More About Plackets  Here, I will segue into ideas for decorations, as ways to close the coat should be considered decorative

Week 12: Decorating Ella

At the same time we will begin preparing for some of the knit-a-longs that are associated with the Noni Flowers book. I think we should have a good, old-fashioned VOTE for your favorite project and whichever one wins, wins. . . or should I just pull rank and say we’re going to make the Gossamer Fuchsia Wrap first? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Week 9: Looking Ahead and Catching Up Because the Skirt Takes a Long Time

This is another catch-up week as you continue, perhaps, to work on the skirt. I have heard from a lot of folks who are at various stages of done-ness. . .

If you are itching to move on to the skirt ruffle,  you may certainly do so. The options are as they have been before.  .  .  If you have chosen a particular finish for your sleeve cuffs and neck, then you will probably want to employ the same technique for the skirt ruffle.

You might think about spicing things up just a tad by doing the last row and the bind off row in a slightly different color to catch the eye and shake up expectations.

For the skirt ruffle above (a conventional ruffle), I just did the bind off row in a very similar slightly more orange color that was dazzling next to the hot pink that precedes it.

Preview of the Rest of the Ella Coat Knit-A-Long:

I think some folks are just steaming ahead if they are working faster than others. Those of us who spend all day in an office (not knitting . . . ) are going a little slower than the folks who have more time to knit. I’ve even had people write to me that they have finished their coats! While I admire your speed. . . you are missing all my remaining tweaks!

So, here is a plea to stay with us. Because here is what is coming up:

After the skirt ruffle (which I will detail next week, week 10), we will return to the plackets (week 11). I have a tweak for them so that the ruffled plackets meet the ruffle at the hem and at the neck for a seamless, looks-like-you-did-it-all-at-once, appearance.

Decorations (week 12): All of your Ellas are unique, but what will make them even more stunning and fabulous, more firmly rooted in the world of art-piece, is the special finishing and decoration you do after your Ella is done.

I know some folks are working on poppy cowls so you are familiar, perhaps, with the Oriental Poppy flower . . . here is what I am working on for my long red Ella. I am picking up stitches (on the wrong side) just above the sleeve cuff ruffle so that you will not be able to see the stitches. I am picking up in the sleeve color at that point. Then I will make poppy petals around the cuffs, right side of the petals facing up, complete with dark splodge in the middle and picot bind off ruffle. Lots of work but I think the result will be nothing less than stunning. I’ve mocked it up here (just below) to see what I think (and you think). . . still in love with it, I have to say.

I’ve added a decoration to the back of my Pewter colored Ella Coat to take up just a tad extra width and add some drama:

Sitting around the table and sharing ideas becomes particularly inspiring at this point. I would like to try to do some of that here. Think of the comments in the Rav forum and the comments below this post as a table we are all sitting around.

Post in the comments here, and post in the Rav forum (I’ve just created a thread) with your ideas, musings, pictures of what you might already have done. Pictures from me later as I execute what are as yet ideas.

I will, for blog postings other than Monday, start talking about the process I went through in writing Noni Flowers at the same time that I share some photographs of my own garden in Springtime.


More KALs Coming After Ella

After the book comes out, we will start working through, KAL-style, all of the projects in the book, so stay tuned for that deliciousness! We will start with that fabulous gossamer wrap with fuchsias dripping from the edges that you see in the opening images on the website. I’ll have kits in lovely colorways available for purchase. . .

AND, I’ve got some more tricks up my sleeve for projects that will compliment Ella nicely . . . More about this on Tuesday (tomorrow), so come back and read the post.

Week 8: The Skirt is Long . . . Weave In Ends as You Go

As you work on the skirt, you will be thinking about length.  .  . Perhaps you have already decided how long to make the skirt so it’s just a matter of trying it on now and again. You will stop when it is just shy of the right length.

I will leave you to all that decision making . . .

This is a plea to weave in ends as you go. I am a confessed leave it all to the end person myself. I come from that perspective. I get all caught up in the knitting and I don’t want to weave in ends or block or do much of anything else (even water the flowers) until the project is done. Then I return to myself and notice the plants drooping in their pots, weave in ends for days, literally days.

I have been working on a new Ella as some of you might know, inspired by the ski hat my son recently requested.

This Ella has even more ends than the last one as I have been changing colors with greater frequency.

My Medallion Travel Bag is full to bursting with balls of yarn. . .

This means lots of ends to contend with.

I have, in light of the suffering before me, decided to suffer as I go. I have gotten out my large-eyed sharp darning needle and my thread nippers and spend some time at the end of each knitting session to weave in the ends produced since the last time I sat down to knit.

I’ve talked before about my technique: I weave straight back from the edge along the same color field, piercing the fibers in that field in much the same way a little mole tunnels just under the surface. My needle is that little mole. . . I think it creates a better “stick.”

When I join a new color at the edge, I tie the new end with the old one in a square knot (stays but better than the granny knot my own granny would not have used as she, too, preferred the square knot). Then I weave in the ends like color with like. I read once that Barbara Walker was not shy about starting with a new strand of yarn in the middle of the row. I have to admit I am of the same mind. If I must use a new ball of yarn in the middle of a row, or get it in my mind to switch colors mid-row, I just start working with the new strand, tie the ends together in a square knot, and weave in the ends going in opposite directions each color with its like color field. I weave in about an inch of the end before cutting off just about 1/16th of an inch from the fabric as you can see just above.

We are thinking ahead to decorating finished Ellas in our Wednesday Ravelry live chat. Join us between 9 and 10 pm EST!

Week 7: Beginning the SKIRT!

First, forgive the late post. I have no good excuse except I didn’t realize it was Monday. Sounds impossible, but there you are. So sorry! Won’t say another word about it!

Finally!  We are ready to make the skirt!

1. A Tale of Two Ellas: As you know by now, the original Ella had you begin the skirt at the bottom and it is the first thing you do. I have saved it for week 7 in order to make the coat more accessible and easier to fit. The Ella Rediscovered pattern has you begin the skirt at the bodice and work down to the hem. That is what I want you to do.

2. What You Need to Know: All you need to know at this point is your original bodice cast on number. For those with the original pattern, here are the numbers:144 (164, 180, 200, 216, 236). If you altered your CO for fit, go with that number. If you followed my advice way back in week 1, you have markers just waiting for you in the marker locations you will need for the skirt.

If you did not follow my advice, you will re-place markers where you placed them when you cast on for the bodice. Here is the text from Week 1 that tells you where to place the markers: 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.

3. My Innovations & Tweaks: In order to work the skirt by picking up the bodice stitches and working down, you will return to the bottom of the bodice and pick up and knit according to your size on the RS of the bodice fabric.

If you have been working on the bodice and feel that it is a bit short, I recommend that you pick up the whole stitch. This will make the transition from bodice to skirt almost invisible. If you need greater length in the bodice, work down for a bit before you start the increases for the skirt.

If you would like the bodice cast on to show, you will pick up in the back half of that first cast on stitch.

And let’s imagine that you want a sort of “belt” look. You will pick up in the back half of the cast on stitch, work down (no increasing) for about an inch and a half or desired length and then cast off again–being careful to transfer your markers to stitches–and then pick up again in the back half of the stitch. It’s a great detail!

If you want to fake this detail, simply knit on the purl side.  Doesn’t look the same but has a similar effect.

4. What to Check As-You-Knit

I want you primarily to be concerned with making sure the bodice length is correct for your body and that the coat is fitting.

If you want greater width in the skirt, start increasing sooner and increase more often.

If you want less width, begin increases where they occur but increase less often–that is put more rows between one increase and the next for a straighter skirt.

For those of you with the original pattern, you will work the increases thus:

*Knit to 1 stitch before first marker, M1L, k1, sm, k1, M1R; repeat from * 5 more times, knit to end–12 stitches increased during each increase round.

Continue increasing every 14 (or desired #) rows until skirt is the length you desire.

You have three weeks to work the entire skirt, so no rushing! People working stripes, enjoy this process. People working striped borders, please keep this in mind as you work down. How much of a border do you want? If you are matching the border on sleeves, you will have to start the stripe pattern at the right point to get the right length.

Try on your coat every once in a while to see if you like the length. Remember, Ella can be many coats. She can be hipbone length, mid-thigh length, just above the knee, just at the knee, duster length, to the floor, she could have a train. . . The choice is yours.

Week 6: The Neck Ruffle

This week is an easy week. Your task is to work the collar and neck ruffle. If the live chat audience is a good cross section of the entire Ella audience, then some of you are holding off making a decision about what sort of ruffle you want to use for the entire coat. This is fine . . . I have to confess that I save most of my ruffles for last. . .

1. Two Ellas: Minimalist, Ruffled? Super-ruffled?: The Collar

The original Ella neck/collar was worked in stockinette stitch and had a conventional ruffle. As you will notice in the picture below, the collar is soft and unstructured and no amount of blocking would persuade it otherwise. As it is, it falls open and reads like a soft v-neck collar. You might notice that the collar goes all the way to the placket. This is because I worked the collar after I worked both front plackets as written in the pattern. . .

My new Ella collars are worked in a 1×1 rib and end with the super picot ruffle introduced in last week’s post. But they are worked before the plackets on the front of the coat. You can see in the picture below (when compared to that above) that the plackets on the front are picked up on the side of the neck ruffle rather than the neck ruffle extending all the way to the end of the placket. The feeling is quite different for several reasons:  The 1 x 1 rib gives the collar greater structure. It also makes it stretcher and looks the same on either the “inside” or the “outside.” AND the extension of the front plackets up the edges of the neck ruffle (and another secret tweak I will divulge when we get to the front plackets & ruffles) also adds structure and gives the neckline more of a V-shape look with the weight of the ruffle pulling the collar open. I like both but they are different. If you are going to follow the pattern with the front plackets done before the neckline, you will not have much to do this week, I’m afraid. . . except make your gauntlets (look for information about that pattern link in Wednesday’s post) and make Bling or Cactus Flowers to decorate your coat (look for these patterns in your local yarn store. You can see what they look like on Ravelry).

The Ella out of the Red Barn Yarn Hand-dyed in Mushroom is a more structured coat all around so the collar itself is more structured and likely to stand up. As you see it behaving here is almost how the collar behaves when you are wearing it.

Here you can see the collar is not as tall as the Mushroom Ella and has more drape. As do the others, the collar stays open when I wear the coat.

2. What You Need to Know & How to Do What You Need to Do:

For this week, the only official assignment is to work the neck and any ruffle at its edge. The unofficial assignment is to catch up if that has been at all an issue–I know we have some late-comers joining us, so this gives some a chance to get closer to where we all are knitting (I, personally, am starting 2 new Ella coats–one for me and one for Melissa!. . . pics of them as soon as there is anything fun to show!). So, finish whatever might be remaining on the sleeves, finish those cuffs and cuff ruffles. . .

For the collar treatment pictured in the pattern, you will have to wait.

For a stockinette or 1 x 1 rib collar worked as my new Ellas are, here is how you will pick up stitches (on the right side): 20 (21, 22, 23, 23, 23) sts along right front neck edge, 26 (26, 30, 32, 32, 32) sts across back neck, 20 (21, 22, 23, 23, 23) sts along left front neck edge. Tweak slightly if necessary so that your total number of stitches is divisible by 2 + 1 extra stitch.

Purl the first row.

Begin your 1 x 1 rib with a knit stitch, *p1, k1; repeat from * across, ending with k1 for a lovely symmetry.

Or, to say this another way if you are like me and don’t want to count stitches particularly: Pick up stitch for stitch at the neck bind off, 3 sts for every 4 rows for the side neck, pick up stitch for stitch across the back neck, 3 sts for every 4 rows down other side neck, stitch for stitch at neck bind and make sure the total stitch count is divisible by 2 +1 extra stitch.  Purl the first row (now WS)
Next row (RS): Starting with k1, work a 1 x 1 rib across and end with k1.

Work in established stitch pattern until the collar reaches the desired length. I check this two ways: 1. Were a strong breeze to come up and coax me to pull my collar up around my neck, does it do the job? And, 2. When the collar lies down, as it will most of the time, do I like it? When the answer to both of these questions is yes, I’m finished. Time to ruffle.

3. My Innovations & Tweaks:

You may, of course, choose to use the more relaxed ruffle style in the original pattern. It takes less time, yarn, and is more understated. If you are smitten with my favorite ruffle, here it is again just I introduced it in last week’s post. I employed this same ruffle at the end of the collar as well as the sleeve cuffs, plackets, and skirt hem.

RS: Kfb across the row.

WS: Purl.

RS: *Kfb, k1; repeat from * across row.

WS: Execute a picot bind off as follows: *Using a cable cast on, CO 2 stitches, BO 3, placing the stitch that remains on the right needle back onto the left needle; repeat from * until all stitches are bound off.

4. What to Check As-You-Knit:

Truth be told, not much to check on this week . . .  except the length of the collar, as I mentioned above. You may want to try on your Ella bodice as you are working to see how long (tall) you want the collar to be. I made my Ella collars between 3 and 4 inches long. Please your own eyes and sensibilities!

5. Fun Stuff!

As you may know, we are working on the Poppy Cowl mini knit-a-long. This week I will discuss grafting a rib pattern as well as introduce my matching gauntlets pattern. I will have the gauntlets uploaded onto Ravelry on Wednesday. Shops, I’ve got paper patterns you can order! Just write to orders@nonipatterns.com.

If you’d like, you may want to start making some Bling or other flat profile flowers for decoration. . .You can see a couple of little flowers I have pinned to my Ocean Stripes ella (above). . . Usually I have more but I probably took some off to wear in my hair. I used the flower clips I distribute for this purpose. Easy to sew flowers to the clips and then clip to anything. See more about these in previous postings on flowers.

Come to the live chat Wednesday, February 22 between 9 and 10 for a special announcement!

Whatever you decide to work on, please post your pictures for everyone to see!

Happy Ella Knitting!

Week 5: Moving on to Sleeve Cuffs and Cuff Ruffles

This week, we are finishing the sleeves! I urge you to read the entire post before launching ahead. I will give you the specific differences between the two patterns first and divulge my ruffle secret on a platter, then go over the techniques you will need for this week’s assignment, and finally offer yet one more cuff innovation you might want to consider.

1. A Tale of Two Ellas: Both the original Ella Coat and the Rediscovered Ella Coat have you working the sleeve ruffles the same way. You put your provisional stitches back on the needle, work down until desired length, and then begin the ruffle.

In both cases, the ruffle asks you to increase by knitting in the front and back of each stitch across a knit row, purling back, repeating the increase row, then binding off. Here is how this ruffled sleeve cuff will look:

This is a lovely ruffle. . . but if you want something almost ineffably more fabulous, try my personal tweak to the pattern and you’ll get a ruffle that looks like THIS!

Here you see the difference. . . decided which ruffle you’d like to employ for the ruffley bits for your own coat.

I recommend that you swatch the original ruffle from the pattern across about 16 stitches. Then do the same for this new ruffle. See which you prefer. If you have other ideas for a treatment that will work for neckline, front plackets, sleeve cuffs and bottom edging, please share. I did hear grumblings that a shop in Michigan was swatching I-cord bind off edgings and I am keen to see how that is turning out.

Without further ado: My Favorite Ruffle Fully Disclosed:

RS: Kfb across the row.

WS: Purl.

RS: *Kfb, k1; repeat from * across row.

WS: Execute a picot bind off as follows: *Using a cable cast on, CO 2 stitches, BO 3, placing the stitch that remains on the right needle back onto the left needle; repeat from * until all stitches are bound off.

I will not sugar coat this: it is sometimes tedious and takes some bit of time. I refused to count my stitches because then I might get, well, distracted by the number. But it is simple to do and you can even fudge it sometimes and CO 2 and BO 4 or something like that about half the time. The delicacy of stitches is delicious. If you are daunted by what I’m saying, you should do that swatch exercise I mention before you commit. But I’m telling you, you’ll love the results and no regular ruffle can rival it. . . this may be as good as throwing down the gauntlet for some who will scour the internet for a rival ruffle . . . If I’m wrong, I’m happy to admit it, but show me optical proof!

2. What You Need to Know:

Cable Cast On, the text with pictures (this tutorial explains more than one type of cast on method but pays particular attention to the cable cast on method. I use the cable cast on without the twist: Check it out here.

Cable Cast On, the video. KnittingHelp.com has two videos, one showing how to perform this cast on if you are a Continental knitter.

and one showing the English method.

Picot Bind Off, the video. This video is straightforward for those who want to see the picot bind off worked in addition to reading how it’s done. See it here.

3. My Innovations & Tweaks . . .

NEW:  French Cuffs for Ella!

This is my most recent Ella innovation. . . Take a look at how fabulous they are!

In week 4 I implored you not to move forward with the cuff ruffles themselves but to make the sleeve the desired length by leaving it alone, shortening, or lengthening.

At this point, then, you should have sleeves that are just right.

I asked you to leave at least 4″ (10cm) un-seamed at the cuff end. This way you could try on the bodice until sleeves were perfect, but then put the whole project carefully in your knitting bag or basket waiting for today. . .


Well, as I was working on my own latest Ella, I had the idea for French cuffs. So, if you’d like to follow my example, here’s what you do. Don’t seam the sleeve all the way to end! Leave between 2 and 3 inches unconnected. I won’t dictate the length as your taste trumps mine and you might have longer arms than I do. Please your eye, or the eyes of those nearest and dearest to you.

You already have the live cuff stitches waiting for you and you have closed the seam to the desired point. Now, with the right side facing you, you are going to pick up and knit the stitches from seam to cuff on the left side of the sleeve as it lies on the table in front of you (cuff farthest away from you and the body of the sleeve nearest you) Pick up stitches on the left side of this opening, starting closest to the moment where the two parts of the sleeve come together. Pick up and knit 3 stitches for every 4 rows until you get to your live stitches, work across those live stitches, then pick up and knit 3 stitches for every 4 rows on the right side of the remaining part of the opening. Purl back across all stitches. Then make your ruffle as written, as you please, or as I did . . . (refer to My Favorite Ruffle instructions above).

 4. What to Check As-You-Knit: 

The ruffles do not add much length, so I recommend that the sleeves are the right length before you start the ruffle itself.

5. What Fun! Ella Diversions for this week:

Don’t forget that Week 2 of our Cowl diversion/mini-knit-a-long is this Friday! I have added pictured to last Friday’s post of red poppy cowl colorway, so take a look and join us!  Patterns can be purchased through your favorite participating yarn shop–the newest participant is a shop in Howell, Michigan named Stitch in Time. They are prepared with red poppy cowl kits! with the pink and purple ones on the way to them this week (as soon as I get home to ship them out!).

Week 4: Finishing Your Ella Sleeves, Seaming, Measuring . . .

This past Wednesday on the Ravelry live chat, we got overwhelming feedback that 1 week was not enough time to finish the sleeves. I hope this statement does not elicit a round of growls and groans from the studio audience who knitted ceaselessly, at great sacrifice to themselves and their families, to finish the sleeves. . .

I hope I can make everybody happy with this week’s assignment: For all those who are ready to do something with the sleeves you have knit, I’ve got something for you! For all who need more time to finish the sleeve knitting, here is what to do when you are done in preparation for next week’s assignment.

1. Weave in the bodice and sleeve ends: I have not offered my thoughts about this topic here before, and I may be bucking tradition, but here is what I think. Put your tapestry needle back in the needle case. Save it for the seams. Get out a large-eyed darning needle, that is a sharp needle, and use that for weaving in the ends. Here’s why: I make a point of inserting my needle into a portion of the purl stitch bumps on the wrong side of the knitted fabric (in mole-like fashion. If you’ve taken a workshop from me before, you will recall me referencing moles and voles. Your needle, like a mole, is going to make it’s way beneath the surface, in this case of the wrong side of your knitting. Continue in this manner away from the origin of your end to be woven in for about an inch (2.5cm) and then come to the surface. Pull the needle through to snugness but not taught-ness. Cut close to the surface of the wrong side of the fabric. It is my conviction that this produces no impression on the right side of the fabric and makes for a better “stick.”

If you have a weaving-in method that you like and that works, by all means do what works for you.  But please weave in your ends up to this point if you have not already done so, especially you folks working in stripes.

2. Block your bodice and sleeve pieces (if you like): As most of you already know, blocking your pieces as you prepare to work some seams make it easier to do this work. If you are a non-blocker (I confess I fall into this category), I’m not going to tell you to do something I don’t do myself. I block at the end. . . But I do concede that there is a certain pleasure in beautifully blocked pieces and that seaming has a greater sweetness with well-blocked fabric.

3. Seam up (most of) each sleeve: I have not forgotten that I implored you last week not to put the provisional stitches with which you began your sleeves back onto needles. This week, if your sleeves are finished, you may move those provisional stitches back to a circular needle or needles in preparation for knitting your sleeves down to the desired length cuffs.

Because working these stitches will require a certain amount of play in the fabric of your sleeves, we are going to begin the seam on each sleeve from the armhole BO end and work toward those provisional stitches. I want you to work the seam until it is about 4 – 5 inches (10 – 12.5cm) from the live provisional stitches.

For those of you have never made a garment before, you will be using a conventional mattress stitch to make the seam more or less invisible. There are a lot of on-line tutorials with good videos on how to do this technique. Google at will to find one you like. This one does the job: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvAS-HCWk9I

Things to keep in mind as you work on the sleeve seams:

1. Don’t forget to work from the BO toward the cuff. Stop (with plenty of tail) about 4 or so inches (10cm) from the live provisional stitches.

2. Line up the two sides of the seam, right sides facing you, with increases and any stripes aligned. Clip in place using seam or hair clips. T-pins can also be used for this purpose. If others have little tricks that would benefit us all, please share in the comments.

3. For those who have striped the sleeves, choose a seaming color yarn that is compatible with the majority of your stripes. This yarn should in most any circumstance, be undetectable on the outside. But if you worked your coat in a palette of black to white with shades of grey in between, you might want to use a middling grey for the majority and stick with white for white and black for black. If a medium grey does the whole thing well, by all means do it. The main point: choose wisely and maybe swatch a little to determine the best match. You’ll be glad you did.

Setting the Sleeves into the Bodice

Once sleeve seams are complete (save for that last bit toward the cuff about which I keep growling ), you can set them into the bodice. For this part of the seaming work, you will need to join stitches to each other horizontally as well as vertically. You will join the bound off stitches of the bodice to those of the sleeve at the underarm. These bound off stitches are here so that there is a smooth, flat bit under your arm where you need it to lie flat and not bother, bunch, or bind.

Then you will begin to join stitch to stitch vertically, matching stripes if relevant. You will notice those 24 bound off stitches at the top of the sleeve cap–if striping, you might have wondered why your sleeve stripes stopped so much sooner than the bodice. The reason is because all sleeve caps must be more or less flat over the crown of the shoulder. If the sleeve continued to decrease to nothing or almost nothing as the stripes continued for the same height as the bodice, the result would be a sleeve that, like a really pointy toed shoe, would squeeze you in places you wouldn’t want to be squeezed, the fabric of the bodice would stretch to try to accommodate the width you need at the top of your arm. O, just trust me, it would be bad.

Sleeves in place, now you can try on the Ella BOLERO, I mean the Ella bodice with sleeves!

I hope the results produce a great sense of satisfaction. But here’s what you will learn in an instance. You will know if the sleeves are long enough. . .  or too long (hope not. . .).

If they are long enough, you are ready for next week’s assignment. Don’t rush ahead because I’ve got innovations to divulge. .

Too long? You can take them back a bit if you need to.

Too short? Work until the desired length.

Just don’t seam up that little bit there at the cuff end.  I’ve got options and plans for you, so sit tight. . . more about this next week.

If you really need something to do, join our mini-knit-a-long. We are working on the Poppy Cowl (see my last blog posting) and will add to it some cute gauntlets to match.

Happy Knitting!

Week 3: Making the Ella Sleeves

It might seem strange to add sleeves now. . . but I’m thinking about yardage and stripes. If you were to make the skirt next and then run out of a color, you wouldn’t have it for the sleeves. This could be bad. . .

In order to make sure you have the right colors for your sleeves, let’s make them now.

Your Assignment: For this week, we will make the sleeves as written without picking up those provisional stitches to make the cuffs–save that step for next week. So, just the knitting. No seaming, no setting in! We’ll do that a bit later.

1 & 3. The Sleeves in the Two Ellas & My Tweaks:  In both Ella patterns, the sleeves are saved for one of the last steps. . . this is conventional, but not so great if you are worried about running out of a particular color necessary for matching a stripe pattern in the bodice. . .

The main difference between the two patterns is that in the original, I have a more traditional increase scenario, asking you to increase every 6 & 8th rows. This means that first you increase on the 6th row, then the 8th, then the 6th. . . you get the idea. For the revised pattern, I have you do the first increases every 6th row, then switch to every 8th. The results are virtually the same, just easier to keep track of. Same number of increases, so everyone please follow your patterns as written with regard to how many increases for your size.

2. What You Need to Know:

Fit: I have you cast on the sleeves using a provisional cast on. Here’s my reasoning. Not all people and their arms are alike. When you case on this way, once you finish with the sleeves and sleeve cap, you can return to the provisional stitches, pick them up and work down as far as you like (more about this in next week’s post).

Matching Stripes: You may have your stripe sequence all mapped out. . . if this is the case, you will want to count down from the bodice BO to the approximate number of rows below the BO and match that pattern as you knit up toward the armhole BO.

You may, like me, not know what you will do.  If this is you, you will want to match stripes beginning with the stripe pattern you do know–that of the bodice. In short, match the stripes beginning with the CO for the bodice.

In my latest Ella, I only matched the sleeve stripes with the bodice beginning with the armhole BO. This way, I didn’t worry about gauge, only about matching the stripes where the sleeve meets the body. Number of rows per color must match exactly.

4. What to Check As-You-Knit: You will want to make sure that the sleeves fit your arms in both length and width.

Let’s tackle sleeve length first: please take a moment to look at the schematic either in your pattern or here in the blog. Is the sleeve, as written, about right?, too short? If so, no worries. But what if it is too long? If too long, please identify by how much. It may be that all you will need to do is change those increases every 8th row to every 6th row. In any case, a little easy math and work with your row gauge will tell you that you should increase every ?th row.

What about width or circumference? As I mentioned last week with regard to the armhole depth, I intentionally made the armhole depth for larger sizes less deep than most size schedules or charts would have a designer do. I did this in response to lots of feedback from ladies who pleaded that I not make the arms too baggy.

Thus, in the sleeves, as with the coat in general, I am assuming at least 2 inches (or more) of positive ease. This means that the sleeve circumference is at least 2 inches greater than the circumference of your own arms. Basically, if your arms are larger than the pattern but the armhole depth works for you, this means you will need increase faster and make more increases. When you are done, you will have a sleeve that, at the BO will be wider than the pattern or schematic reports. You will have more stitches to get rid of in order to make the sleeve fit nicely into the existing armscye. This is possible but you may need some help working out the decrease scenario so the fit is just right.

5. What Fun! These sleeves should keep you busy this week. . . but if you do need something to do, start making some Bling Flowers with which to decorate your coat . . .

Making matching flowers to decorate a felted bag will Ella-fy your bag. My picks?  Vintage Bag (large), Bowling Ball Bag (large), The New York Bag (new and officially launched soon. . . stay tuned!), Bedouin Bag, Nomad Bag . . . I could go on.

What are your picks?

A Tiny Ella Diversion . . .

I have spent a part of the day working on a little diversion for you Ella knitters. Now you can make a coffee cup cozy that matches your coat! Or several!

This first tiny Ella diversion (as yet untitled) is, as you know, a free pattern . . . So, it will not include all the bells and whistles and it is a bare bones pattern. Simple. Fast knitting. Fun.

I am, however, working on another version of the coffee/tea cup cozy that is not free (but still fun, simple knitting, fast knitting and a great gift)–do I even have to tell you that the level of fabulousness is far superior? But you’ll see for yourself when I am done with the “Ella Cup Cozy” as I’ll call it.

Here is the Tiny Ella Diversion NO. 1–how cute is this?!:

I mean, devestatingly cute! But the BLING IS KEY!!

Gauge: 6.5 sts/inch in a 1 x 1 rib  –this is an -ish gauge. . . (see note below).

Needle Size:  Size 5 or needle size to achieve gauge.

Supplies: Bling package. Pictured cozy is decorated with 40 sparkles, 20 in hibiscus and 20 in persimmon. There were 10 littles and 10 bigs in each color.

Pattern: I worked flat, so the pattern is written with that in mind. If working in the round, subtract 1 stitch from the CO number.

Using a single-strand of yarn, CO 49 sts. Work in a 1 x 1 rib beginning and ending with K1 (now the RS) until piece measures 3″ (7.5cm) or desired height, ending with a WS row.

Next row (RS): Knit in the front and back of each stitch across the row (this is now definitely the right side).

Next row (WS): Purl.

Next row: BO knit-wise.

Decorate liberally with Noni bling package!

Look for fabulous Ella Cup Cozy later (no set date for release . . . you’ll just be surprised and delighted and I’ll be offering a Noni KIT!)

Now, remember, this is a coffee cup cozy and the rib is intended to allow it to fit a lot of different cups and to allow for different gauges (within reason). So, you don’t have to be spot on gauge with this pattern, you just really need to make sure the ribbing is fairly dense. For two reasons:  it needs to snuggle your coffee/tea cup AND you want to be able to put those cute bling rivets all over it, or at least on one side.

In order to get maximum stayage of the bling, you need to split strands with the rivet shank and then set. Set by putting pretty side down on a magazine and then hit the bag with a hammer. 3 hits or so should do the trick.

If you are doing the KAL with your local yarn shop, seek out the bling there.  If you have no local yarn shop, I am happy to supply you with a bling package.