It’s spring here in D.C., and it’s time to think about summer knits. I have a long queue for winter, but I am needing some immediate gratification. Katherine has been asking for a tank for a couple months now, which is exactly the kind of quick but complex project I need. So, off to Ravelry I went to find a sleeveless top to knit in cotton or linen. As usual, there are so many choices, but we were able to narrow it down to 6.
Top left is Auger, by Pam Allen of Quince & Co. I love her use of garter stitch and the detailed split hem in this casual tank. Top right is the elegant Ginger by Kim Hargreaves from Rowan: The Summer Tweed Collection. Middle left is Quince & Co., Amalia, designed by Pam Allen. This is such a graceful top that could really go from casual to dressy. Middle right is the classically designed Square by Shellie Anderson from Shibui Knits SS15. This tank has such an interesting contemporary feel to it with the paneling on the side. Looks like we have a theme here, with the bottom left, also a Quince & Co. pattern, Annex, designed by Norah Gaughan. Norah is such a creative genius on unique construction, and this top is a great example of her artistry. All of these were such strong contenders, and are staying on our queue for summer tanks for future projects.
The tank she ended up choosing though was from Classic Knits by Erika Knight (featured above), a book that I have had for years. The subtitle is 15 Timeless Designs to Knit and Keep Forever which certainly is true since we are using one of the patterns thirteen years after publication. The pattern is called the Cotton Camisole and it has such a delicate quality with her use of decreasing with an eyelet stitch. We chose Rowan’s Summerlite 4 ply cotton yarn which is soft to the touch. I can see knitting quite a few things from this book of beautiful designs. Oh, if I only I could knit all the things!
I’ve been having a bit of a creative slump when it comes to weavings lately. I wasn’t too excited about the work I was doing and felt uninspired. So I turned to embroidery and put weaving on the back burner. That is until I went on a yarn shopping trip and found some amazing fiber! Color and texture are crucial for me in my design process, so a lot of the times looking at my materials first can help inspire the start of a potential project.
From there I started to look at images that evoked a sense of wonderment, playfulness, and serenity. Above are the eight images that inspired my drawings featured below. If theres one thing I love most its texture. So going into these drawings I was focused on exhibiting different weaving techniques that create texture such as pile and fringe which can be seen through out the drawings.
And now here we are. At the final step before the execution of the product. Choosing which piece I want to create. I have ones that I am leaning towards for practicalities sake and some that I love because of how fuzzy all that texture is going to be. But I also want to hear from you all! Which one speaks to you? And how do you break up your creative slumps?
As with most knitters, if I am sitting idly somewhere, I need to have a project in my hands. While I was a great packer due to traveling so much in my banker days, I wasn’t so good about being prepared for a knitting project(s) to take on a holiday. That learning curve was a lot longer. So this is what I have learned:
Plan ahead! I mean at least a week ahead. I used to leave my knitting project to the night before the holiday. Not good. Especially if it’s a new project and a swatch has to be made. All swatches should be wet blocked and dry at least two days ahead of departure. Keep good notes on pre-block and post-block measurements.
Consider a project(s) that is easy to carry around. A flat knitted sweater with all of its sections probably isn’t holiday worthy. I just recently got into sock knitting, and socks are great for airplanes and urban transportation. A scarf, shawl, hat, cowl, and mittens are all good project ideas for being on the go.
Circular needles or double pointed needles only. Those airline seats aren’t getting any roomier, and the person next to you might get cranky if they keep getting jabbed by the end of a straight needle. If this is a road trip, personally, I still go with circular and/or double pointed needles.
Now for the tough question. How many projects should you bring? I remember bringing all the yarn and supplies for three projects on a trip to Disney World with my kids. Yeah, I know! Consider your holiday. Is it a laid back relaxed vacation with a lot of downtime on a beach or cabin in the woods? Depending on the size of the project, and how fast you knit, two (maybe three) projects will be plenty. I always like to bring at least two that I can switch between just in case. It also allows for unexpectedly losing your mojo on one of the projects. You still have something to knit! If it’s an active holiday, then a very portable project (or two if small) is a good choice. Consider your flight time or road trip time, too. You may not be knitting much while being a tourist, but if you have significant seat time, then factor that in on how many projects to bring.
Determine how you want to access the pattern for your project. I am still one of those people who prints out my patterns. I have tried to use an iPad based program, but it just doesn’t work for me. While I have a knitting notebook, I like to write notes on the pattern as I go, thus the preference for a printed pattern. Regardless, have the patterns printed or downloaded to your preferred device ready to go. Read through the pattern and make sure you have all of the supplies listed for the pattern.
Create a project bag for each project. In each project bag, I put the needles and yarn needed for that particular project, and a stitch counter. For the supplies that are needed for most projects, I will put those in just one of the project bags. After all, you are traveling, and you want to keep things as minimal as possible. Measuring tape/ruler, stitch markers, stitch holder, scissors (keep them small, especially, if you are traveling on a plane), pen or pencil for note taking, darning needle, and any other supplies required by your pattern (such as a cable needle). I have never had any issues with my knitting needles going through security, including international flights.
Have fun on your holiday! If you forgot something, isn’t that a great excuse to find a local yarn store on your travels?
The Prickly Pear Cactus is one of my favorite plants ever! It’s beautiful in its variations of flowers and fruit as well as the unique shapes it configures itself. After admiring them for so long, I finally decided to create a piece inspired by their beauty.
When I embroider, I always start off with a drawing, working in black and white. I then jump to color after deciding what the piece will become when finished. For this piece specifically, I wanted to turn it into a patch to go on a jacket, which is apart of our up-cycled line. If you are interested in learning how you can up-cycle your own clothes we have a workshop on April 27th from 10am-1pm at Park Story in Fairfax, Virginia. Just bring a piece of clothing and your lovely self and we will provide the rest! You can purchase your tickets here.
For this piece I wanted to highlight pink and green in a way that is as fun and unique as these cacti. The other two cacti will depict varying shades of green differentiating them from one another. By deciding on a color scheme ahead of time I have more of an opportunity to make sure colors are going well together and match them with a piece of clothing if need be.
The main stitches I am using for this piece are:
These three stitches are some of my favorites for creating texture and filling in my drawings and I have a lot of fun ideas on how to use them for this piece. I can’t wait to show you all the progress I’ve made next time on What’s On My Hoop! In the meantime, make sure to keep up with our other posts as well as our instagram to see what we are up to! (:
Nature has always held so much inspiration for me. Growing up in Minnesota, I was surrounded by lakes, rivers, and forests. While I love all of nature, flowers seems to inspire me more and get me thinking of new projects. And out of those flowers, Magnolias leave me the most awestruck. They are unique, divine in their construction, and looking at them fills my heart with joy, stirs something in me. It is what moves me and inspires me to continue my work. When something catches my eye, I immediately envision drawings, embroideries, color schemes, anything I can work on to encapsulate the beauty of what lays before me. That’s what happened when I saw this photo. I sat down and drew the flower, my favorite way to first get out all of the ways I’m feeling about my current inspiration.
Do you have a flower, plant, or something within Nature that inspires you? What do you do with that inspiration?
I am a third generation maker, with my grandmother being a seamstress by trade and my mother was both a sewer and a knitter. I have been knitting sweaters for many years now, and I have had a preference for knitting sweaters flat. Harking back to those influential seamstresses in my life, I believed that knitting flat and seaming up the individual pieces was just how it was done. Then I met the Doocot Sweater by Katie Davies. I might not ever go back to flat work again! Joking, not joking!
As a slow knitter, this type of sweater construction is a game changer. While it is cropped, which does speed things up a bit, this has been the fastest sweater I have ever knit. If you haven’t tried this type of sweater construction, I highly encourage you to do so. This particular sweater starts out knitting flat, back and forth, then after splitting off for the sleeves, you join for working in the round. Of course, doing a gauge swatch is the number one rule of getting a finished sweater that resembles the pattern you desire. Some of us; however, have purl stitches that create a difference in flat knitting versus knitting stockinette in the round.
Tip: I always buy an extra skein of yarn just to be on the safe side.
To get gauge, I ended up doing 8 swatches. After all of that swatching, I ended up with was a size 3 needle for the flat knitting back section, and a size 5 needle for knitting in the round (I have very fat purl stitches). I was able to get the number of stitches per 4 inches gauge for both, but the row count was off on both so I just needed to do a bit of math to make adjustments.
If you don’t know how to swatch in the round and are more of a visual learner, you can check it out on this video WEBS video.
Here’s how I go about swatching in the round:
Using a circular needle, you cast on, and instead of turning your work, you move it back to the right needle, and knit across, again not turning your work, but moving what you just knit back to the right needle, continuing this way until you have enough rows for checking your row count. There will be yarn floats at the back of the work that you will cut after soaking your swatch, but before wet blocking. In the photo above, the swatch with the fringe is my swatch for knitting in the round.
Another thing I do is try the sweater on as I go. In the case of knitting flat, I hold it up to myself or the recipient to make sure I am on track. In this case, I was making the sweater for Katherine and I am so glad I had her try it on! I made a rookie mistake by looking at the length dimensions that were in centimeters and acting as if they were in inches! So, I got the opportunity to rip about 5 inches of stockinette.
Trying on as you go is extremely important. I always have written down my pre-blocked and post blocked gauges so I am aware of the differences, and I still try on the sweater mentally noting that it might be fitting a bit more snug then after blocking.
My fiber preference is wool, or wool blends with natural fibers. While I have many environmental reasons why I choose wool, what I really love about working with wool is that it is very forgiving. I may not be the best knitter, but after a bath in warm sudsy water and wet blocking, those wool fibers just line up with each other and create such a beautiful fabric. I was fortunate to learn about knitting from people who find the importance in blocking, so I have always wet blocked everything I knit. In my opinion it is a step you never want to skip.
In making this sweater, I followed some of the basic rules that I was taught many years ago:
Always swatch and get gauge, or at least the fabric you want and then do the math (In this case, swatch for both flat and in the round).
Keep notes on your unblocked and wet blocked gauges.
Try it on as you go allowing for unblocked and wet blocked differences.
Once completed and your ends are woven in, give your sweater a nice warm bath with soap appropriate for wool, and wet block.
These simple steps helped get my Doocot sweater to look this beautiful! What are some of your basic rules you follow when you knit?
We here at Scilla + Luna love coffee. It’s honestly become so ingrained in our lives that we’ve noticed that we had started to collect coffee shops here in DC. Didn’t matter how far away they were from home we would go because that sweet cup of joe, the yummy pastries, the ambiance, and the location made it all worth it. So here is our list of the 5 Best Coffee Shops around DC.
Most people know of Georgetown Cupcakes as the place to get cupcakes around D.C., but the real place to go is Baked & Wired. Their cupcakes are to die for and on top of that they make some of the best coffee drinks in the DMV. I know thats a bold statement, but have one sip of their lattes or matcha and you’ll realize you’ve been missing out.
And for those of you who aren’t feeling like eating cupcakes they have a wide variety of cookies, breads, scones, and biscuits. One of my favorite pastries to get there when I’m not feeling cupcakes, is the Pumpkin Donut Muffin, and yes its as delicious as it sounds. Between the amazing baked goods and the delicious coffee we can’t help but list Baked & Wired as one of the best coffee shops around the swamp.
Katherine’s Recommendation:Matcha Latte and Dirty Chai Cupcake
Mary’s Recommendation:Oat Milk Latte and Chocolate Chip Cookies
Kintsugi is one of the newer coffee shops on our list, popping up this past summer inside the Eaton Hotel. It is probably one of the most esthetically pleasing coffee shops Mary and I have ever been. Plants fill the room along with beautiful rugs, dark wooden fixtures, and a sense of warmth as you walk up to the counter, making it an experience all in its own.
Kintsugi is the Japanese art of of repairing broken pottery with lacquer that is mixed with gold, silver, or platinum and when I learned that Eaton Hotel had named their coffee shop after this technique I knew I had to check it out. Kintsugi does exactly what it is named after, it takes an old premise, breaks it down, and builds it back up into something brand new. Their drinks and health focused pastries are delightful, but it is the space in which you enjoy these that really makes it worth going to. This is also a great place to go for meetings, work, or to just enjoy their delicious coffee while you take in the beautiful interiors.
Katherine’s Recommendation:Matcha Latte and Coffee Donut
If you are like Mary and I and work from home sometimes staring at the same walls day in and day out can be a bit maddening. Finding a space to work outside of your home that is both comfortable and full of caffeine is a blessing. Lucky for us, Tryst is just that.
Sitting along the main street of Adams Morgan is Tryst, a cafe, coffee shop, and people watching hang out all in one. With delicious coffee and amazing food (so many vegetarian options!!!) it’s easy to see why anyone would come to Tryst for a bite to eat. But the really amazing part of Tryst? All of the amazing seating. Couches, tables, and chairs fill up the large space so you’ll never be looking for somewhere to sit. On top of this amazing seating arrangement is the ability to stay as long as you want without feeling that gnawing pressure that you have outstayed your welcome. Tryst feels like home and theres nothing better then curling up on one of their couches, embroidery and chaippuccino in hand.
Katherine’s Recommendation:Chaippuccino and Breakfast Burrito
While yes all of these coffee shops are local to the area many of them serve the greatest coffee inside this city, Compass Coffee, a local chain fueling the swamp on the daily. Compass Coffee stores are located through out the city, but our personal favorite is the one located in Shaw, referred to as The Shay. While this one isn’t the original, the original is also located in Shaw and we would definitely recommend checking that one out as well!
Compass Coffee was founded by two Marines that were inspired by the different types of coffee they would try while being stationed abroad, specifically in Afghanistan. Their story and service to our country fits perfectly into our capital and we couldn’t be happier that they brought their knowledge to us here in the DMV, with their locations spread out around DC and now in Virginia.
Compass Coffee is amazing no matter where you go, from their Nitro Brew to their lattes you’ll be happy and caffeinated. There’s lots of available seating in each of their shops as well, which can provide a great place to work or relax while enjoy your cup of joe.
One thing I noticed when I first moved to DC is the Coffee Shop Bar that seems to appear through out the city. As a beloved fan of Coffee Stouts I couldn’t have been more excited. The Wydown is the perfect example of that, as one side of the bar is coffee and pastries and the other side is, well, a bar. The beautiful interiors of this Coffee Shop located inside of the Apollo bring you right in, with beautiful lighting, gorgeous appliances and fixtures, and a sense of wonderment. You can’t help but stand in awe of this jewel box shop. While the seating is minimal and is mainly at the bar, it is a great place to come enjoy a drink and relax after a long day. I recommend that you head over there to try their amazing cocktails and pastries.
Katherine’s Recommendation:Matcha Latte
Mary’s Recommendation: Latte
Coffee Shops are a place for community, warmth, and rejuvenation. Whether you are going in for a quick drink or staying awhile, Coffee Shops have an important part of different neighborhoods. I always joke that I haven’t really lived in a place till I’ve found my favorite coffee shop. I hope that you love these places as much as I do! Where is a place where you live that gives you comfort? Is it a coffee shop, a book store, a friends home? We would love to hear all about it so drop us a comment. (: