Week 2 or Bodice II: On To The Shoulders! (complete post)


Before we go over this week’s task, I want to work on some KAL Blog infrastructure.

This is a partial post. I know some of you are fit to be tied to get going and I’m holding you up. So, I’m going to post this as is with the instructions through the back, keep working on it, and then update later today with the full instructions. The only thing that is changing is I am adding to the post instructions for the week. In response to the feedback, I’m trying to front-load everything. I know I’ll probably miss something because that is the nature of the beast. But isn’t it cool to be able to talk back to the pattern the way you can in this format? Usually, you have to wait until the coat is done and try it on to see if it fits. This way, if you have to rip out (and I’ve done plenty of that over time after the whole thing was DONE and seamed together. . . I prefer things this way) it’s trivial. So, like any good foundation, better to lay it right in the beginning.

Henceforth, the Monday Ella Blog will be partitioned into several sections to make it easier for everyone to see what the week’s task is, what is the difference in the two versions of the pattern and why I have done things the way I have, how to follow me in my Ella innovations, what to check for in your own knitting, and what incentives and diversions we have planned for you during the week.

Now, in order of appearance in this and future Monday Ella KAL Posts:

1. The Two Ellas: Their Differences and Similarities In this section, I will go over the differences between the original Ella Coat for Women and the more recently revised Ella Coat Re-Discovered so that no one feels left out or in the dark or guessing or any of that new-kid-on-the-block awkwardness.

2. What You Need to Know  In this section I will supply any additional information you may need to complete the week’s task, such as pattern notes, links to tutorials that others have done previously, and links to any tutorials or videos that I might make.

3. Nora’s Innovations and Tweaks  In this section I will divulge my innovations and tweaks and how to make them yourself.

4. What to Check As-You-Knit  This is where we will talk about customization issues. Here I will discuss fit, how to check for fit, what–in a big picture way–different folks might need to do in order to make Ella work for a body idiosyncrasy that the pattern does not take into account. A caveat: I can answer big picture questions, offer advice, make suggestions that will be relevant to many. I cannot do one-on-one consultations with individuals about their specific needs.

5. What Fun! Here I will outline any Ella Diversions to look for toward mid-week and detail any incentives or contests we are offering to keep you guessing and having a good time.


Now, without Further Ado:  Let’s move on!

1. Pattern Differences Outlined As Relates to the Shoulder: An Overview

I have specified the method for decreasing at the armhole edge, the neck opening, and the sleeves (I’ll remind you when we get there) in the pattern notes for the revised pattern and in the body of the bodice instructions, etc., in the original pattern. I include them here for ease of finding and following.

2. Relevant Pattern Notes: Decrease Method for Bodice & Sleeves Here is the method I want you to use when working the decreases for the armhole, neck, and sleeve:

• RS: At beginning of RS rows: k2, ssk, knit across; at end of RS rows: knit to last 4 sts, k2tog, k2. NOTE The Re-discovered pattern shows an ssk for the second decrease on a RS row, it should be k2tog in order for the slants to be mirrored. I will post an errata.  The decrease method in the Original pattern is correct.

• WS: At beginning of WS rows: p2, p2tog, purl across; at end of WS rows: purl to last 4 sts, ssp, p2.

  • Armhole BO: In the Original Ella, the BO is separated at the armhole and is done in two parts, the first half of the armhole BO is connected to working the back, the second part occurs when you work the front. My revision has the BO occur all in one stop so no tiny jog to take into account as you set in the sleeve.

Both methods work, but the revised method is more elegant. Here is the row: Removing all markers, work to 4 (4, 4, 5, 5, 5) sts before 2nd marker, BO 8 (8, 8, 8, 10, 10) sts for underarm, work to 4 (4, 4, 5, 5, 5) sts before 5th marker, BO 8 (8, 8, 8, 10, 10) sts for underarm, work to end. Slip the 34 (39, 43, 48, 51, 56) sts for each front to separate holders—68 (78, 86, 96, 102, 112) back sts remain on needle. [NOTE: the bolded numbers are listed incorrectly in the Ella Rediscovered pattern.]

3. Slight Tweaks from the Original  Because I moved the markers in the bodice a bit from the original coat construction, the stitch counts for the fronts and back are slightly different from the original pattern. Please use these instructions above–the total stitch counts are the same for both pattern versions).

  • Bodice Back: Decrease at each armhole edge (that is every row) per the patterns (both have same instructions and work even until armhole measurement for your size per both patterns or desired depth–more about armhole depth in my updated post later today . . . .
    Last row: Work 16 (18, 20, 20, 22, 23) shoulder sts, BO 26 (26, 30, 32, 32, 32) back neck sts, work 16 (18, 20, 20, 22, 23) shoulder sts.
    Place shoulder sts on holders.

NOTE about armhole depth: I made the arm hole on this coat smaller than the “standard” measurement charts that most designers use. My reasoning was this: so many ladies said to me, “for the larger sizes, don’t make the arms gorilla arms!” I was repeatedly implored to make the armhole human-sized. So, this is something I want you to look at with your garment. Is the armhole depth right for you? You can check by measuring this depth on a garment you like and want to fit similarly to your Ella. If you want to wear Ella as a winter coat, measure a light weight winter coat. More like a suit jacket? Measure one. More like your favorite t-shirt? You know what to do. If you add rows to the back, add to the front the same number for greater depth. You will need to do one more adjustment when we get to the sleeves, but more about that later.  In any case, take notes if you make alterations.

  • Left Front: Remember to work your stripes in the same sequence as you did the back. Shape the armholes as you did the back using the same instructions. Work even until the armhole measures 6 1/4″ (15.5cm) [that is, roughly 3-ish inches below the back neck]–29 (31, 35, 36, 38, 39 stitches).
  • Neck Shaping: BO at the neck edge as stated in both patterns. Decreases are as written for both patterns and stitch counts on both patterns are as written. Work even until front measures the same as the back to the shoulders. I like to count rows here as a double check.

NOTE For ladies with bosoms, you may want to work some short rows if you need extra fabric in the front. I hope some folks who do this can weigh in here. I’m sorry to say that I don’t have experience in this particular tweak so can’t be of much help except in a theoretical sense.

  • Right Front: Work as for left front.

4. What to Check Recap:

Check your stripe pattern to make sure you do in the fronts what you have done in the back. Carefully count your rows. I do have some row differences in my Ella fronts and back. I like them now, like a priceless Persian rug that has such differences–it adds to the character of the piece.

Make sure the armhole depth works for you and how you want to wear Ella. Take good notes as to what you are doing.

5. What Fun!

Please keep up with your project pages on Rav, adding pictures as you go and sharing with the Ella KAL group and other groups you may be a part of.

Join us for the live chat on Wednesday nights. I’ll be there this Wednesday from 9 – 10 pm EST.

I’ll be announcing the Ella Diversions for this week a bit later in the week. We’ve had requests for long and short diversions for maximum choices and time management, so I’m working on that. But you might have noticed I’m not one to just throw something together so I take a little longer at times than I and everyone else (perhaps) would like. I do promise, though, at least a little tiny Ella Diversion by midweek. I’m working on it tonight.

And if you have not already, please take a peak at my non-Ella blog post from yesterday, Jan 22. I’m going to try to make that a regular Sunday feature.

Happy Ella Knitting!

Dr. Nora’s Ella Advice Column, or More About Fit Before We Move On

“Measure twice and cut once,” my father says as he measures now for about the fifth time. He is deliberate and methodical. He writes each measurement down on a scrap piece of paper, the back of an envelope he’s fished out of the recycling. He uses a fat red genuine graphite pencil he has sharpened with a knife. He studies the numbers on the sheet of paper, his reading glasses at the far end of his nose. He considers them and then goes to work on the business of cutting or sawing or warping the loom . . .

For this process, one must be well fed and watered, be rested, be calm, for I have witnessed that it is true what Lao Tzu says in the Tao Te Ching: those who rush ahead never get far.

With all that in mind, I’d like to say a bit more about fit before we chug along to the shoulders. Please take some time to consider carefully the fit of your Ella bodice at this point. Ladies, prevail upon those closest to you for help! There are opportunities everywhere to bring us closer to those we love and who love us!

I take this moment to include here two questions from the comments you might not have seen. And if you have seen them already, they bear re-reading. How are these questions and answers relevant to you at this point? Part of the objective of this Knit-A-Long is not only that we all are working on the same project and make lovely coats to run in down cobbled lanes in early spring, the hems dancing around us as we go, but also to deepen our understanding of how to make a garment fit each and every one of us uniquely, perfectly. It is the rare pattern that can do everyone’s shape justice without a bit of personal adjustment of its measurements. Without further ado, here are the questions that two ladies have asked and my answers. There are some expert knitters among us, so if you find that there is something you would like to add to what I have said, please do so. We will all benefit from your knowledge.

Dear Dr. Nora 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? Sincerely, Janet

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 (that is, less room in the garment). 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.

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

Dear Dr. Nora I knit quite a few rows and discovered I had chosen a size that was too big. I’m starting over, and would like to have a coat with very little ease, so I am picking size 36 because my actual bust size is 38. However, my waist is 30, and that would leave a lot of ease at the waist. Is it possible to start with size 32, and then increase into a size 36 at the bust?  Thank you, Gwendy

Hello Gwendy,
It is possible to start with the measurements for the 32 for the cast on. . . in order to increase to the bust measurements for the next largest size, you will need to figure out how many increases you will have and you will have to do it faster. It’s pretty simple math. You’ve got 4 increase locations in the bodice, so you subtract the starting (CO) figure from your ending figure (stitches around at the bust) and then divide by 4. This gives you how many increases you need per location or the number of times you will increase. Then divide by the number of projected rows (using your gauge and the distance from cast on to armhole) to get the number of rows between each increase. As long as you keep the armhole depth the same as the size 36 you would then follow the instructions for the sleeves for the larger size. You will follow the skirt instructions for the smaller size. If you need more flair faster than you get it in the 32, then you just decrease the number of rows between each skirt increase.  Sincerely, Nora

Homework for everyone if you have not already done it and maybe even if you have. . . Check the fit of your bodice both in height and circumference, making sure that the increases in the bodice are properly positioned under the breast points. The last increase should be completed before one reaches these points. For those seeking an extra high waist–that would be with a waist just under the bust (a true Empire Waist)–you will want to make your increases quickly, with only a few rows between them so that the widest part of the bodice occurs just below these points.

Check back later today for the next installment in the Ella Coat KAL entitled Bodice II: On to the Shoulders!

Ella’s Bodice: Getting the Right Fit

As you work on Ella’s bodice with the goal of reaching the armhole bind off, please stop at that point without doing the bind off. Here’s why: It is important that the bodice fit you nicely and that the bottom of the bodice hits your body where it should–just above the natural waist.

Here is one way to see if the bodice to the armhole is long enough for your particular figure. Use the schematic in the pattern (for your convenience, I have included that schematic here) to measure from the armhole bind off to the shoulder.

To help you with this customization here is a link to a short little video we did that shows a quick way to get a sense of whether you need to add or subtract rows (or whether it is just right as it is).

After you finish your knitting for the week, it would be helpful to all of us {Melissa and I included} if you were to consider the KAL so far. Did you have enough to do? Any concerns? Tweaks? Are you all ready for Ella Diversions? Can we get a jump start on our fabulous embellishments if you all are ready? Is your schedule so filled that this week’s knitting assignment has been just right? Our sincerest hope is that we at Noni Design’s are able to provide you not with just a beautiful garment to knit, but a beautiful process of knitting.

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!

Preparing for Monday: Ella Knit-A-Long Nuts and Bolts

The Blog Is Our KAL Compass
The Blog will be our compass for the KAL. It is the place the place from which the KAL content springs.  There will also be many other places and ways we will provide help: Facebook, Twitter, Ravelry, emails to Melissa . . . Please make sure you either set up an RSS feed for this blog or simply remember to check it every Monday. Don’t worry that you may miss a Monday because you “forgot.” Melissa will post reminders everywhere. I know some of you have mentioned to Melissa that you are having trouble with setting up an automatic RSS feed. We have checked our end and the trouble does not lie with the blog site. It generally stems from the browser you use. So, try Google, Safari, Firefox or whatever you haven’t used if you run in to this situation.

Starting Monday the Blog will explain what we all are to do for the week with knitting Ella. It will address where to start working and where to end so you are ready for the next blog entry/knitting installment. I will be assigning homework: the activities you need to do will be spelled out. They will relate to knitting Ella and perhaps to embellishments or “Ella Diversions” (additional content such as patterns for other items such as accessories that you may want to make for a complete “look”).

During the weekly blogs I will not only to offer instructions for what I have done but also to suggest other things you can do. I’ve had a lot of ideas as I’ve been knitting my fourth Ella and I will share all those ideas with you. What will be really terrific is if you also share your plans with everyone, post your idea swatches, post pictures of your plans and/or finished results. My dream for this project is that we create a veritable library of Ella coat ideas. How fun will it be to page through that?!


Weekly Ella Challenges & Contests

There will also be weekly challenges: This is the fun part of your “homework,” aside from knitting Ella. There will be info here in the blog each week as to little extras you may do to be entered in different contests or giveaways. Melissa will post details for the week in the threads on Ravelry.

For week 1, you will be asked to simply keep up with your “Ella Coat Project” by way of the “Projects” pages associated with your Ravelry presence. If you have never logged a project on Ravelry, it is very simple: while logged into your profile, click in the upper right corner where you see an assortment of colorful tiny boxes next to the word “projects” and simply fill in all the information you can about The Ella Coat. PLEASE take pictures as you go! It is not only a lot of fun for everyone to see what YOU are doing, but to some knitters seeing your progress will be a huge help! You should “share” you Ella project with the Ella Rav group called The Official Noni Ella Reinvented KAL–Melissa will post a thread in the Rav/Ella group discussion board). All the different projects will appear in our “recently added projects” box. I encourage you all to look over them as we go along. This contest of keeping up with your project will run for the duration of the KAL. Get as creative and detailed as you want. There will be a panel of 5 judges to look over and critique these. One GRAND PRIZE WINNER will be named at the end of the contest and win a delicious prize.

By now most of you have all your materials and have swatched. We have had such a tremendous surge of last minute knitters that we now have made The Ella Coat Pattern available as a Ravelry download. If you purchase the pattern on Ravelry, you will have plenty of time to take it to your LYS and find yarns to MAKE ELLA YOURS. We are providing the Ella pattern on Rav for those knitters who do not have the pattern available in their LYS. Be sure to check with your yarn store! Some may be just a little delayed in getting pattern. If you are without a local yarn store, getting the pattern is very simple: you can go to Ravelry and find the pattern page there or you can just pop over to the pattern page on the Noni website: http://nonipatterns.com/collections.php?show_design=1302 and click on the “buy now” button.


Check-in Here on Mondays:  See You Back Here on Monday the 16th!

Every Monday come and look for the Noni Blog posting. You will want to have your pattern next to you to reference what we are to do for the week.

Melissa will hostess the Ravelry chat every Wednesday 9 to 10 EST to discuss what is to be done or what you have been doing that week.

If you are in a LYS group or a KAL group you all will follow the week’s breakdown in whatever way you decide. Our Facebook page, twitter and Ravelry group will lend additional support.


The Bloggers Knitting & Blogging Along With Us

We have bloggers knitting and blogging as they go!

Shameka at http://shamekaknits.blogspot.com/ is blogging from NYC. Please sign up for her RSS feed and get inspired by what she is doing with her NYC Diva color pallet.

We also have Stephanie who is known on Rav as DrSteph. Her blog is http://acunningplan.typepad.com/andsheknitstoo/2012/01/ella-revisited-kal.html and she hails from Canada. You will want to see what she is saying, so sign up for her RSS feed as well.

We will also have a blogger on board from Down Under who posts in the blog Random Knits http://www.randomknits.net/ . Donna may offer helpful insight as she blogs, so stop by and see what she says!

These ladies are knitting alongside you: They are great at blogging about what they are knitting and thinking and doing. I believe they will give a fair assessment of their own process, how it is going, and what seems easy or challenging. These ladies were asked specifically to join our KAL because they knit and blog very well. When they post their thoughts on projects they are knitting it is not simply informative, but layered with inspiration and perspective. Making a habit of checking their blogs and supporting them through your comments will be assets to each of you during this KAL.

So are you excited? Ready? Can’t wait for Monday? (truth be told, I can’t wait either!)

More on Stripes: How many colors are enough?

How many colors are enough. . . it’s a good question. And it requires a thoughtful answer. I’ve got an answer but not enough time to do a lot of swatching to show the answer–sorry about that! Bags to design, an Ella to knit!

I think quite a bit of mileage might be gotten out of just two colors. On the one hand, this seems almost impossible, but if you think of stripes not just as colors, but as differently sized bands of color, then the options increase greatly and the power of two colors expand in kind.

You see, if you set up all your stripes as the same width the eye searches for the pattern, figures it out, and the brain finishes with your coat.

If, however, you play with width and resist the urge to map out your stripe pattern on a graph (2 pink, 3 blue, 2 pink 3 blue. . . ), instead forcing yourself to do different things all the time, the mind not only stays busy as you are working, but the mind is more interested in the results. It searches for the pattern, can’t find it, searches again, searches again. The lack of a predictable pattern keeps you interested.

I have written about stripes before in this blog and urge you to look at those old posts in the next few days. They can be mined not only for colors and ideas but also for stripe width inspiration. In one (the set-the-table-myself place mat, the perfect fit laptop bag), I used many colors.  More than 11 in one of the laptop bags, I think. In another perfect laptop bag, there were  fewer colors and while the pattern does eventually repeat, the repeat is so long that the eye will have to search a long time to find it.

Here are some pictures of those projects to give you ideas.

Even non-matching stripes can look great.

Green & Brown Striped Laptop Sleeve

I can’t tell you how to combine your colors or graph out a stripe pattern for anyone. I can, however, tell you what I do and urge you to try it.

I put the different colors I like in a box. Then I pick out a group of colors I like together and line them up on the floor (or on the tray table of the airplane last October and November when I was traveling a lot) I work with the color I come to. When I have worked through all the colors in the line, I rearrange them in another line I like. All the while careful to vary the widths of the stripes:  3 of this, 2 of that, 7 of this, 5 of that, then 1, then 6, then 2, then 4. . .  I do this over and over. If I’m tired I look at what I’ve done, pick out a combination I like and do it again, but with a difference, reorder slightly, make sure all the widths are different.

Remember, your taste rules. If you don’t like it, don’t do it.

Always Buy Knitting Insurance:  Ok, a non-sequitor: if you are making an Ella coat with the tweaks I advocate on the blog, you will need more yarn than the pattern calls for. I recommend purchasing between 2 – 4 skeins extra in colors you like. At least 2 – 3 for the ruffle. Better to have more than enough and use some for flower decorations or Ella Diversions than run out and regret.

More About Picking Colors (anytime and for your Ella Coat)

There is lots of advice out there about colors, color combining, picking colors. I will not point you to color wheels and wax on about complimentary colors. It can be very academic and there are folks who can speak that language much better than I.

I have feelings about colors, respond to certain combinations more than others, have my own preferences, likes, dislikes.

I always hesitate to give advice about colors because I have very defined tastes of my own. . . and as I always say to the folks who take my workshops, “your taste trumps mine.”

That said, part of the objective of this Ella Coat Knit-a-Long is to help you unleash your inner knitting artist self. For those in touch with this power, I am in full support. For those who feel well, a bit stifled or maybe a bit at sea with no land in sight, I have an exercise for you.

Many people think that creativity springs purely from the self. One must wait to be inspired. . . But this is not quite the way I think of creativity. Creativity takes work–it is pleasant if hard work sometimes, mind you–and it also springs from living in the world. We can only hold so much in our own minds. If you want to understand how flowers are made, for example, you have to look at them, take them apart, garden them, understand them, and look at them. . . look at them. If you want to sketch the joints of a beetles leg, it will not spring from your imagination . . . you must study in the world.

I listened to an interview of a panel of esteemed writers. The reporter asked them about the creative process and asked if they waited to be inspired. . . they all laughed. Every last esteemed guest positively guffawed. One person finally said, “If I waited to be inspired, I would never produce anything.”

Artistry takes work. Every day.

Picking colors needs, like any artistic production, to arise out of living in the world. Nature is an unequaled painter. She is an endless source of inspiration and has put together some of the most startling and beautiful color palettes you can imagine. Even today as we were driving home from seeing HUGO (fabulous movie. . . magical and beautiful with a wonderful overarching theme about everyone having a purpose) I was seeing Ella coat color palettes everywhere.

Put simply: I don’t start in the yarn store necessarily for a beautiful selection of colors. I start with the throat of the foxglove, the petal of the stargazer lily, the sunset over the Rockies, even in that patch of grass by the road where we drive there are several green shades and above the celadon, the bright yellow-green, the darker bright green of more mature grass blades there is the grey of deciduous bushes and trees, the overcast sky.  I filter out the signs, the brick houses, the shops. Focus on the patch of greens (3 shades) and greys (2 shads). These are the colors for an Ella Coat.

The last day I was skiing in Colorado I skied down the mountain (amazing!). . . through the most beautiful birch forest. The palette was limited: creamy white, creamy grey, bits of chocolate, dark grey, a dark purpley blue. The effect was incredible. It was silent, cold, serene. A beautiful Ella Coat.

Colors in the Close up of a Birch Tree Trunk

The other night as I was talking to Melissa on the phone I kept staring at a box of chocolates across the room. The box was chocolate brown and on the side was a bouquet of crimson roses. A beautiful Ella coat, or many beautiful and very different Ella Coats. I can see a chocolate brown coat with stripes of Berries (only a little), Garnet, Christmas Red, maybe even Antique Rose (but that might be too light . . . I would try it and see how I felt. If I used it, only sparingly because a color so light in a dark field has incredible power).

Extract the flowers from the entire picture and focus on the reds, keeping the dark chocolate. . . Sometimes the pixilation of the photograph helps to extract the different reds in the picture.  Here I see Midnight Lake, Berries, Garnet, Christmas Red, even Hot Pink. There is also gold. . . I would omit this, but that’s just me. Maybe a splash of true gold or pumpkin would be fabulous, maybe not. In any case, it should be used sparingly because in such a palette the color has tremendous power.

Picture the coat in reds stripes, with slender stripes in the darker chocolate and possibly also Midnight Lake. Maybe I would harness the power of those darker colors for the ruffles, or just the tips of the ruffles.

If you see a combination of colors that you love, take a picture, then limit the possibilities by narrowing your attention in the photo. Use the crop tool in Photoshop to focus on a section of the landscape, picture, photo, greeting card image that you like. Here is an example. The first images is of a painting. There is too much going on in this painting for me to want to represent all of these colors in an Ella Coat. I’m overwhelmed. But what about the tree at the top right of the picture.  I’ll limit my focus to that tree.  I love the complexity but limited palette. . . A beautiful grey coat with green stripes at the hem and cuffs, or a striped coat that uses all the shades of green and grey . . . or a green coat with grey ruffles. . . or a green coat with stripey waist or stripey bodice. . .

I’ve highlighted other areas of the picture to show how limiting your vision can make for exciting possibilities and is less overwhelming. . . Those fabulous blue domes with a hint of purple. The darker blue palettes on the buildings, the neutral palette of the building at the center of the painting.

Here are the extracted color palettes:


More Blues

The Green Tree (you could segregate the lower and upper halves for very different coats).


Here is my challenge to you: Go out in the world, take some pictures. Then crop the picture to focus on a color palette. . . Post your ideas on the Noni Facebook page along with the yarn colors you pulled out of the picture(s) you took. You do not have to knit the colors you find into your Ella Coat, but you will begin to see color combinations you had not noticed, and you will start to notice which ones you like (and which you don’t). I want you to love your coat. And I want you to be the artist of your own color choices.

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: http://www.ravelry.com/groups/official-noni-kal-ella-reinvented
  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 http://www.facebook.com/events/137459436366683/   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!