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

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

  • Your very own Ella Coat for Women Noni Pattern.

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Are you excited about the 16th?

Choosing The Perfect Yarn for Ella

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Guest Blog: An Overview of the Ella Reinvented KAL

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

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

What is a KAL? How does it work?

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

What is unique about the Ella Re-Invented KAL?

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

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

What should I be doing right now?

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

         Quick Checklist :

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

{Little hints:}

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My New Ella Coat: How It Began

It all started with a pair of great boots. Now you shoe and boot people will know exactly what I mean. You see a great pair of boots, you get them, and then you realize that you’ve got to have a coat to go with the boots . . .And a matching bag. It could get nutty. And I find myself even fantasizing a new Medallion Travel Bag, or a new bag altogether. The possibilities know no bounds and I’ve been doing a lot of wishful for knitting time thinking.  Ah, the things I could do!

But the boots. Even strangers in airports (I’ve seen a lot of airports lately) notice and comment on these boots.

My Amazing Boots

These boot do not look so great with my blue-striped Ella . . . See for yourself.

Love the boots. Love the coat. Together, not so much.

I found myself wondering, “Don’t I have this coat in reds? Or too bad these boots don’t come in a blue version.”

So, I began to devise my plan for a new Ella. It was the beginning of October, just starting to be knitted coat weather, and I was going on a 1-week/4-shop teaching tour of California. Perfect knitting time. Long plane ride, late nights knitting in Best Westerns accompanied by the sort of TV I never otherwise watch: Say Yes to the Dress. I can’t adequately explain why I love this show so much when I am away teaching. Maybe because it’s perfect knitting television: not too boring, not too interesting, not too emotional, not gory and sad like true crime . . . it’s strangely neutral but nicely plot driven.

As I packed for the trip, I started grabbing balls of yarn left over from all the flower knitting I did last Fall (more about this soon. . .). I chose mostly Stonehedge Fiber Mill’s Shepherd’s Wool for it’s divine softness and the beautiful color palette. I added a few bits of Tilli Tomas Flurries in Plum, Atlantic, and Rasperry. I had some odd skeins of the now sadly discontinued Tilli Tomas Whistler in Ruby Wine. I chose a delicious melange: Red, Christmas Red, Garnet, Berries, Orange, Hot Pink, Zinnia Pink, Antique Rose, Raspberry, Violet, Blue, Turquoise, Purple, a tiny bit of Lakeshore, some Lime (one stripe), and some Spring Green (two rows). The picture below is the balls in my Medallion after most of the knitting was done. Imagine this bag full to bursting. I stuffed it ruthlessly under the seat in front of me on the plane. The coat got bigger, the balls got smaller.

The Medallion Travel Bag with my assortment of colors (much reduced from the pile with which I started).

I knew I wanted the coat to be long and that I wanted to continue the A-line shaping as far as possible, but I didn’t want to figure out all that math ahead of time. And what if I wanted it still longer after all that knitting? So, I decided to start with the bodice instead of the bottom. That would remain unchanged. So, I cast on the stitches for the bodice at the point in the pattern where you would normally bind off the stitches for the skirt, transferring markers to stitches, and then pick up those same stitches, transferring the markers back to their rightful places. All I needed to figure out was where to place the markers for the bodice shaping. Not difficult at all! I will include the details of my pattern tweaks in a separate entry entitled, unceremoniously, My Ella Coat Pattern Tweaks Unveiled. Warning: they will mean little if you don’t already have the pattern. If you do have the pattern, I will orient you to the right locations and it will all be clear. If not, comment on the post and I’ll get you all sorted.

The bodice went quickly and it was almost as satisfying as a top-down garment. I could try it on and see it fit.

Next, I picked up stitches in the cast on edge of the bodice so that the front half of the stitch was visible on the outside of the garment. I like how the structure of the bind off is visible here and provides subtle empire shaping–a flattering style for most any figure. Garments that have the waist located just above the natural waist are always more flattering because the skirt then skims over the waist and hips. Lovely. Here’s how that detailing looks:

By starting with the bodice and then picking up stitches to knit the skirt of the coat down, I didn’t have to worry about finished length, about the ruffle at the bottom . . . I could just enjoy the process of striping (never has stockinette been so much fun! I tell you, I loved every minute of it because I didn’t chart out the stripes. I striped as the fancy struck me, so there are similarities in the patterns that arose, but no pattern is repeated. I kept trying it on with my crazy boots until the length seemed just right. . .

It will be Thanksgiving tomorrow and I had had a hope I could wear it to the feast, but, alas, the sleeves are only just finished and not yet seamed, so perhaps late in the evening tomorrow I will have time to weave in some ends, seam those sleeves using the tails of like colors for a prettier seam, and then set them in. It will be ready for its maiden voyage next week.

For more about this project, look for my posts (coming very shortly) about An Argument for More Ruffles! and My Ella Coat Pattern Tweaks Unveiled . . .


Rediscovering the Ella Coat for Women

I designed the Ella Coat for Women during the Summer of 2008 for Fall 08 release. I made the coats in my own size but didn’t wear them for a few reasons. They were in demand for trunk shows. They spent a lot of time on mannequins . . . until this Fall.  I started wearing them. One is striped, cool colors–it’s the coat featured on the inside of the pattern. It is made in Shepherd’s Wool and so soft I can wear a short-sleeved t-shirt underneath. The other is turquoise Lorna’s Laces kettle-dyed superwash merino. Also delicious.

I love these coats. In fact, I have to force myself, as the days grow cooler, NOT to wear one of them each day. I fear I will wear them out too too fast. But they are swingy, with A-line shaping. The front is ruffled on one side and appeals to my love of froof.

So, I’ve been working on another coat.  I mean, I’ve got lots of plans for this pattern. I want one in every color with all sorts of innovations. But for now, I’ve settled for working stripes off pattern, making the coat long, AND ruffling both sides of the front . . . all the way down.

I am at the studio as I write and the coat I am working on (almost done! working on the sleeves in the evenings!) is at home, so I will post more later with pictures included.

But let me say this: everywhere I go people love this coat. On a recent teaching tour to California (perfect Ella coat weather, I might add) lots of the workshop attendees tried on one of the other of my coats, all of their bodies different than mine, some ladies a little larger, some a little smaller. I am not the least embellishing when I say the coats looked good on everyone. If your body is a little rectangular, it looks great, the shaping adds shape and flare, some romance. If you are a little more spanish guitar shaped, the A-line skims over hips in a flattering way. A little broad in the shoulders? The ruffled hem creates balance. Don’t care for the striped effect? Make it solid, or just stripe at the hem and cuffs for a unique detail. Tall? Make it LONG.  Smallish? I’m only 5 foot 2 early in the morning so I like to wear platforms to give me a little extra stature, but short or longer, the Ella coat is such a lovely shape it works.

The smallest size fits a 32″ bust, the largest a 52″ bust. . . so there is a size for just about everyone.

Knit along with me. . . more shortly with what I tweaked and how you can do what I have done, or just follow the pattern as written.