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In the northern hemisphere, summer means three months with long days and sunshine. It’s traditionally a time for vacation. That might mean a week at the beach to beat the heat, a jaunt overseas, or my family’s favorite: the road trip. My dad loved to drive, and for a few weeks every summer he was in his natural element. We drove up and down the California coast, through National Parks in Arizona and Utah, and even more exotic places like across the Nullarbor Plain in Southern Australia. Out on the open road, there were sights to see, games to stave off boredom, and the inevitability of getting lost somewhere along the way.

Sonya is wearing: 100 Acts of Sewing Tunic no. 1; Dress no. 1; and Pants no. 1.

Traveling takes you out of yourself and out of your daily routine. You live out of your suitcase and have the opportunity to discover things, like perhaps a new fabric or yarn store with the promise of pretty textile souvenirs. Since I can’t take any sewing with me, it means packing my knitting. I always think there will be time to work on a project, but sadly I don’t have a lot of success in that department. I’ve packed the wrong needles too many times to mention or ended up one frustrating skein short. More often than not, my knitting will go on a vacation without seeing as much as a row added.

Open Summer Cardigan #294 from Knitting Pure & Simple in Ornaghi Filati Natural; Dress no. 1; and Pants no. 1.

While travel helps build an appreciation for how people live outside our home region, we can have our own armchair version any day of the week, thanks to technology. There’s a lot of talk about the divisions in our country and the world in general. One word getting bandied about is tribalism. Gathering together with others who share beliefs and passions is hardly a new phenomenon. As knitters on the internet, we seek out people who share our passion for stitches. An instant camaraderie comes about from the admiration of whatever handknit garment you have on, the mutual appreciation of a lovely skein of yarn, and perhaps most important, not having to justify the expanding dragon’s hoard of wool that makes up one’s stash.

Sceles by Anna Maltz in Shibui Twig; dress (own pattern); and modified Pants no. 1.

When thinking about the way that different civilizations have particular traditions of bread baking or textile making, which includes knitting, it’s a way of seeing commonality across cultures. The practice of taking yarn and creating interconnected loops didn’t start in one place with the knowledge passed relay-like, but rather simultaneously, with traditions emerging on different continents. The methods change from country to country, with variations in cast on, how the yarn is held or which direction it wraps. These all add to what we know as knitting, with no one style being better or worse, but simply different.

Forest Canopy Shawl by Susan Lawrence in Kaalund Yarns Enchanté; dress-length Shirt no. 1; and Pants no. 1.

On the rare occasion when I remember to knit while traveling, whether it’s on a flight or in an airport, it very often elicits the question, “What are you making?” The question is an acknowledgment that working with our hands is noteworthy. When we can observe with curiosity and an open mind, our experiences are all the richer.

About The Author

Sonya Philip is an artist, designer, teacher, and the author of The Act of Sewing. She has made it her mission to convince people to make their own clothes, by teaching classes and selling patterns. When not covered in bits of thread, she can be found knitting another shawl or cardigan. Sonya lives in San Francisco with her family and their scruffy terrier duo, Willie and Hazel.


  • I tried to see if the patterns were for sale but the website sends me to Etsy where the patterns are sold out. There is a note to go to the website which sends me to Etsy and on and on. I love these garments – comfortable, practical and are appropriate for different fabric choices. Thank you for your help!

  • Insightful as always. Thanks much for giving me a great start on the day!

  • Another terrific article. In a political time when divisions can take the front page, I appreciate your reminders of how we can come together. Many thanks for that.

  • My favorite moments on any trip are when i connect with other people and talk about, well, anything. I have found that knitting in public in strange places is often the way to make that happen. I love to knit in the car while my husband drives, but sitting in a national park, discussing my knitting with someone from China: thats over the top!

    As always: everything you are wearing is perfect!

  • Sonya…I like your style!

  • I love the connections you are making here. It reminded me of a time in an airport when a little boy asked me where my cat was, because he thought yarn was only for cats to play with!

  • Always travel with my knitting. Sometimes I even get to knit!
    Love your style. Love your patterns. Love the clothes I’m making from the patterns.
    Thank you.

  • The joy I get from someone on an airplane asking me about my knitting (lately the flight attendants) is that generally they tell me about their own knitting or crochet habit in return. Recently a flight attendant pulled out her pink crocheted alphabet baby blanket work in progress as show and tell. You can’t beat that!

  • Just had to stop and say I always love reading your posts and seeing what cute outfits you have put together! I vow to fire up the my mom’s old sewing machine, find a simple pattern and pick up some cut fabric. So far, inertia and my constant crochet projects have prevented this. On that note, I chuckled when I read about traveling with yarn. I never leave home without it and a good book (I would panic if I did), but seldom make any progress on the crochet project I took along. Looking forward to your next post!

  • Well said. As always.

  • Your website has opened up a wonderful new world of some incredible artists ❤️
    Thanks !

  • Great article. I always love seeing your creative outfits.
    Why is it we are willing to spend hours knitting a garment but sewing something by hand seems incredibly eccentric? I keep meaning to do just that one of these days, because it would be a portable project. I am sure it would still be faster than knitting!

    • I have a sewing machine, but I often sew by hand. I love the meditative quality of it. And, yes, it it totally portable. Flat fell seams in the car while my hubby drives, heaven.
      Julie in San Diego

  • It was my mother who loved to drive when I was a child and getting lost was the best part. Sonya, your wardrobe is an inspiration. I live in the Land of Black is the New Black and your style is so joyous. Makes me want to move,

    • This is so intriguing to me. Where on Earth are you that everyone wears black and you feel you must also? I would have to wear lime green!

  • …but will instead probably just knit a lot of fun stuff.

  • An absolutely lovely article. We took a road trip this summer, and yes, there was car knitting and good food, beautiful scenery and conversations with strangers. Now off to purchase that Open Summer Cardigan! Enabled again!!

  • I am a knitter, too. I love the bright yellow, such a happy color. Your dresses are so cute. Admire anyone who can sew.

  • Sonya, you are such an inspiration with your beautiful and stylish garb!

  • I have a been a fan of Sonya’s patterns for some years now. They are so versatile! Simple lines (my favs), easy to “hack” and oh! So wearable!

  • I have been itching to get a sewing machine again (I sadly had to get rid of my old one). I just came across your website and patterns via this post and I think I’m in love. I could make a whole wardrobe from your collection of patterns. They are the perfect complement to knitted garments. This has spurned me to try to save up for a sewing machine sooner! Thank you!

  • Dress #1 in the color block fabric…who makes that fabric? I love it!!

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