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My darling traveling knitters, let’s be real. A weekend? It’s not enough. No matter what I include, comments will explode with other things to do, see, eat.

However, the boss ladies wish for 36 hours! So stick your whole30-keto-clean-eating-no sugar-no fat diets on a shelf. Let’s laissez les bon temps roulez for a Knitter’s Weekend in New Orleans.

NOLA is not like other cities in the United States. Think of it as the northernmost port of the Caribbean. The pace is slow, people are friendly, the weather hot and humid. Palm trees grow. Rules get bent. Music is as elemental as air and light.

During the day, you’ll see block after block of shuttered facades. These houses aren’t vacant. They are keeping the sun out. High-ceilinged interiors stay cool till evening when the city busts out its jams.

Begin with Beignet

A visit to New Orleans should start at Café du Monde in the French Market. Order café-au-lait and beignets—freshly fried puffy treats with generous powdered sugar. Servers in old-fashioned style deliver the goods on the expansive awning-covered patio.

Sure, you’re surrounded by tourists, but also locals: musicians recovering from late-night gigs, a politician kicking off his campaign.

Street musicians play on the sidewalk, a riverboat sounds a calliope tune moored just a few hundred yards away on the Mississippi.

Feeling caffeinated? Brush that sugar off your shirt, it’s time to launch a day wandering the French Quarter and the Marigny. Mosey over to the French Market stalls, displaying both touristy tchotchkes and surprisingly sweet handmade. There are masks and beads and voodoo dolls, and fans and parasols, which locals really use in the sun. Handbound leather books and arty photos of local landmarks tempt.

I’m a sucker for tea towels, though. The vendor says she embroiders them herself, by machine, all local motifs like the fleur-de-lis, skulls, and landmarks.

A Bike and a Plan

The city is flat and bicycle friendly. Blue Bikes lets me grab a bicycle anywhere I find one, with an ideally proportioned basket.

The French Quarter is full of shops, wonderful facades, history, galleries, and quirky little museums.

Mardi Gras Museum of Costume and Culture is a stop any maker can love, run by a costume business. Museum purists may find it too casual but I love getting up close with the finery. Bling on bling on bling from across the social spectrum is displayed, from the marching clubs, called krewes. There are try-it-on-yourself-for-fun costumes. There are sweet video documentaries playing.

There’s a room devoted to Mardi Gras Indians, African American traditions, and stunningly executed beaded costumes. If this whets your appetite, I urge you to visit the Backstreet Cultural Museum of the Mardi Gras Indians in the Treme neighborhood. Docent guides there share stories and artistry that are deeply moving.

Yarn! Of Course

Back on the streets, I use local yarn shops to anchor my wanderings.  

First, the The Quarter Stitch. The shop is 50/50 knitting and needlepoint, and 100% worth the visit.

Handpainted canvases by local artists may lure you to needlepoint … but then there’s that wall of Koigu, and the only-for-the-shop Mardi Gras colorway from Mountain Colors. Coming soon, custom New Orleans colorways from Dragonfly Fibers as well.

Given the steamy climate, there isn’t local fiber farm yarn, but the shop carries hand-dyed strips of silk from Alquimie, a local textile arts business and handmade clothing shop. It’s a treat yo’self moment.

By now, you’ll need an interlude. Napoleon House, a nearby historic building with tales to tell, is perfect. I heart a distressed wall, and these are bedecked with pictures of storied characters. I settle in on a palm-filled courtyard patio with fans and misters, and order a cool Pimms drink. Knitting and people watching ensues.

Revived, we pedal to Bette Bornside Yarns, in the Marigny. Bette started a mail order yarn business pre-internet.  She’s kept it rolling ever since, now in a bricks and mortar corner shop. Walking in feels like a visit to her living room—comfy stuffed chairs, highboys full of books and patterns, a warm greeting. She’s put together an admirable selection of cotton and cotton blend yarns for knitting in this climate. I see my favorite non-wools like Berroco Remix, and brands I’ve never laid eyes on. Bette is especially proud of an alternative to a popular silk/mohair blend she’s sourced—Sugarbush Drizzle—same yardage but less expensive, and always in stock. She hosts a very friendly Wednesday knit night that I’m sorry to miss. The shop is obviously Info Central for an assortment of Sip & Knit, Wine & Stitch and other happy-sounding gatherings.

It’s time for another interlude. Seek a happy hour and put your feet up. The city comes to life again after sunset. I plan to roll into the wee hours.

Later . . .

As darkness falls, music spills onto the sidewalks. Frenchmen Street, which divides the Marigny and the French Quarter, is perfect for eating, roaming, and imbibing. The drink-to-go policy lets you wander bar to bar, hitting up jazz, rock, a fabulous vocalist, and a reggae band all in one block, with street musicians and a second line party parade in joyful procession. There are night craft markets coming alive with fine art, crafts and paintings.

The galleries along Royal Street nearby are open for browsing. Chris Robert-Antieau’s art combining fabric appliqué with stitching and taxidermy suits this city well.

Ok, I wasn’t going to own it but: French Fries Covered with Crawfish Etouffee at Dat Dog, in a duet with a fresh margarita, hit the spot.

Sunday in the Park with Beignets

A native daughter revealed she prefers her beignets on the  stone verandah of Morning Call, in City Park.

Though the menu also includes gumbo and jambalaya, I stick with edibles covered with powdered sugar, which is self serve here from a shaker on each table.

It’s perfect for a leisurely start to the day, gazing at the enormous oaks and moss canopy. City Park has been around since 1854. It is not a big leap to imagine when it was the site for gentleman duels, courtships, and entertaining. It would not be wrong to pull out your knitting and ponder the rest of the day in this urban treasure.

There are 1,300 grandly landscaped acres.

City Park is home to the New Orleans Museum of Art, the five-acre Besthoff Sculpture Garden, the New Orleans Botanical Gardens, tennis courts, a big lake (named Big Lake—it really is Easy around here), and meandering paths.  

If you have any littles with you, or just like a vintage vibe—you’ll appreciate StorylandPark and the adjacent Carousel Amusement Park.

There’s also golf, and a train tour within the park.

City Park can be reached by street car (or regular auto). Once there, the blue bikes are ready to go. Our day is made. This verdant, art-filled passage is our weekend coda.

End Notes

  • I know! I didn’t mention Bourbon StreetQuelle horreur! It’s impossible to miss in the French Quarter. Nowadays it has the same cartoon-like charm and booze-soaked energy as Times Square in New York, Lower Broadway in Nashville or the Fremont Street scene in Las Vegas. Yes, it’s full of landmarks, so go; you have to say you did it. Ginormous neon-colored drinks in souvenir glasses, and lifting your shirt up, optional.
  • There are many tours to consider—and they are worthwhile. Take your pick!
  • Check out RHINO on Magazine Street—Right Here in New Orleans—for fine local crafts


About A Knitter’s Weekend

Each piece in our series A Knitter’s Weekend is written by a knitter with local knowledge and a personal point of view. If you have additional places or information you’d like to share, we’d love to hear it—please leave a comment. And if you have plans to visit New Orleans, be sure to save this article in your MDK account.

About The Author

With a degree in photojournalism from the University of Minnesota, Gale Zucker has made a career of capturing the humanity and humor in the people and places that are her subjects.


  • Love New Orleansespecially the Quarter Stitch!

  • Thanks for doing my home proud, Gail…but next time, call me and I’ll come play too!

    • Yes ma’am!

  • One of my favorite cities. I love the quarter stitch and glad to hear of a new shop to try next visit (when I’m not eating)!

  • Let me add a suggestion, if you are renting a car, make a pilgrimage to the Lower Ninth Ward, and contemplate the post-Katrina story of this neighborhood. . This organization (we worked with them on a work trip last year) does great work and offers tours as well in exchange for a donation to their cause:

    • Agreed. I live in New Orleans, and it’s important to see the neighborhoods that haven’t recovered. Certainly more important and interesting than the French Market, which is kind of trashy.

      I like this article by Pableaux Johnson in which he makes the argument for having beignets as a snack, not for breakfast: At any rate, skip CdM (Morning Call is much nicer and you powder your own beignets to taste) and get a po-boy instead from one of the top po-boy shops … no need for me to list them; they’re all over the Internet.

      I truly don’t know anyone who goes to Bette Bornside!

      And the most important piece of advice I can give in late August: DON’T VISIT NOW! Wait until late October!

      • … and I’m sorry if I got too opinionated—it’s a habit one falls into here when the topic of where visitors should go/what they should do/where they should EAT comes up!

  • May I say WOW!!! You have captured the colourful world of NOLA …. and then some Dream weekend for sure! Can we see more please? Need to wrap myself in ribbons to compete with that experience! … and powdered sugar ❤️❤️❤️

  • Now I want a beignet. Or three.

    • Me Three! I haven’t had a Beignet for far too long!

    • Lucky, in Detroit there is a food truck selling delicious beignets at Eastern Market every weekend. You can add a delightful drizzle of chocolate or raspberry sauce (or both!) to the powdered sugar if you so desire.

      • I’ve never had a beignet but I think of them as all-season sofganiot (jelly donut thingies eaten at Hanukkah).

        • PS: not heavy, like donuts, but light and airy!

        • I too have yet to taste beignets, but I imagine them as like sopapillas, only served with powdered sugar instead of honey.

    • I know right?

  • I am from New Orleans, born and raised. What a stellar job reviewing the city! I could not have done it as well. Bravo.

    • Thank you! You made my day ! Xoxox

  • I’ll come back and read this one in the middle of Winter 🙂

  • Hello! So much fun to read these pieces. Have you ever done anything on Taos, NM? I would love to contribute a piece about the amazing textiles and yarns and coffee shops and incredible food, on the streets, and other very special places to see inside and out in that lovely mountain town. Thanks for considering. Cyndi Lee

    • YES! Spread the word about Taos!

  • Yay! That was a fun tour, Gale! I was in NOLA a year and a half ago when my sister was there for a conference, and visited/did some of the same things! Fun to compare:

  • God bless New Orleans and its wonderful soul. Thanks Gale for your beautiful photos. It obviously is such a photographer’s dream, And eating beignets in New Orleans with my husband is on my bucket list. We’ve eaten versions of them together all over America but never together in their native, most authentic place. He’s been missing out!

  • There is also Uptown Needle & Craftworks on Magazine Street. It is a fabric and yarn store and oh so good.

  • OMG, I can’t believe how much you did in such a short period of time. My husband and I were there for Jazz Fest last year and loved it! Heat, humidity, and all. The music was amazing both at the festival, in town, and on the streets.
    We stayed at The Belle Esplanade, walking distance to Jazz Fest and so much else. A lovely inn and the quirky and fun innkeeper was a font of knowledge about things to see and do. I highly recommend.
    Food was over the top everywhere. Love them beignets but CDM? I can have a diabetic attack just thinking of it. Imagine not just eating a mountain of powdered sugar, but sitting in it, walking in it, and breathing it.
    Wish I had gone to The Quarter Stitche. Looks amazing and definitely will visit in my lifetime.
    Best of all, tha amazingly warm, welcoming, and helpful people. Every single one! The 1st night, another diner quietly took care of our bill before he left. Is that an amazing welcome to a city?

  • I know that you said “no healthy foods,” but the menu of fried foods and alcohol with only a little crawfish etouffe on the side would leave me feeling a bit queasy, and with no energy for your tour! Other than that, it sounds great! Maybe just a touch of protein and vegetables next time?

  • Thanks so much for stopping by to see us at the Quarter Stitch! A quick note: that Mardi Gras colorway is made for us by Mountain Colors, not Meadow. Credit where credit is due!

    • Aaagh! So sorry! Clearly hit the Pimms too hard following my visit.

    • Thanks, Jen, just made the correction.

  • Excellent post, Gale! New Orleans is my second favorite City! It’s where I met my Larry. We have returned often in the past 27 years. Your photos, of course, show the colorfulness and flavor of the Crescent City! Thanks for the tip about the LYS in the Marigny!

  • Thank you for highlighting our marvelous city, truly a place part! And thank you for visiting two favorites–Quarter Stitch has been a New Orleans mainstay for decades and always has interesting yarns and needlepoint canvases. They wrap purchases so festively with tissue, curling ribbon, and confetti hearts that it is my “go to” when I take a friend or young person who wants to choose their first project. And if I had a nickel for every time I’ve gone to beautiful Bette Bornside carrying a wayward knit and asking her to figure out where I’d gone wrong, I could treat us all to piles and piles of beignets. She is fantastic. What a treasure! Come back soon!

    • I’ll be there again in eight weeks ….no, 7 weeks and 4 days ! Can’t wait.

  • I love New Orleans. The Quarter Stitch has the absolute happiest wrapping of purchases. Always good for a smile. Crawfish bread is worth a clogged artery or two.

  • Thank you, Gale!
    I have such a difficult time planning what I want to do when I visit a new place, I always miss something. Now when i finally get to go to New Orleans I’ll have my trip planned – with, of course, the addition of all these great comments.

  • Thanks for that story! Makes me want to visit ASAP!

  • I live in New Orleans. The Quarter Stitch and Betty Bornside are both wonderful shops. The former carries unusual yarns. I love Dat Dog but it does not serve the dish you recommended. It has only hot dogs but all kinds, I.e. bratwurst, other sausages, etc. with French fries. They are not to be missed along with a muffelatta at Central Market on Decatur Street. Thank you for the kind review.

    • Hi Karen, Maybe it’s a newer addition to their lineup! I stand by my late night noshing- (but I checked just in case I was hallucinating) Here’s the menu with all the options including the vegan hotdogs and the Crawfish Etoufee Fries

  • So what’s not to love about NOLA? I especially enjoyed my chat-up with Betty – she is so welcoming and knowledgeable.

  • I enjoyed visiting a little shop in the Quarter than made hand loomed rag rugs.
    Not sure how to upload a photo. The owner let me stand around and visit with her for quite some time. Wish I knew how to upload a photo so y’all could see.

  • What about a knitters weekend in the Blue Ridge Mountains in Virginia? Lots to do and see and wonderful knitting shops and alpaca farms! Think about it !
    Jill Fischer

  • While I live in the Greater New Orleans metro area, and can visit the places highlighted most anytime, seeing this story and beautiful pictures absolutely stirs my soul and compels me to visit all these places. LOVE the Quarter Stitch!! I WILL be doing these things as soon as the damage from Hurricane Ida is cleaned up. I WILL.

  • Bornside yarns is now closed.

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