DWJ, or Dana of YardsOfHappiness.com is a fabulously beautiful knitter, blogger, and dog lover. I am absolutely in love with her blog and her Instagram, which always bring me joy. Her beautiful sense of color and her ability to whip up a sweater in record time makes her website always interesting! I’m so happy I got to know her a little bit better with this interview, where she gives us insight into the importance of representation for little girls in their dolls, shows the power of craft when dealing with grief, and gives knitting advice we should all take to heart.
What inspired you to start knitting or crocheting?
I’ve always been crafty but didn’t know anyone who knit. I also have a big head and hats were never what I wanted so I started out initially wanting to learn to just make great hats. [Editor’s note: big-headed girls for the win!] It has now spiraled into a sweater obsession.
Has knitting or crocheting got you through a difficult time in your life? If so, how did it help?
My father passed away in 2015 from pancreatic cancer. He survived it for several years and we were lucky but in his last year he declined rapidly. That last year of his life I knit 13 sweaters. When we put him on hospice I ordered up some expensive Madelinetosh yarn and started to knit myself a sweater. It was soothing. And I realized by knitting it gave people something else to talk to me about other than the grief of my Dad passing. It’s partially why I call my blog Yards of Happiness because I’ve found that knitting has brought a lot of joy into my life when there could’ve been a lot of darkness and sadness.
What keeps you obsessed?
Everything. I love learning and I feel like I learn something new with every project. A new cast-on, a new stitch, a new bind-off, a new kind of yarn I like, a new pattern designer. I’m completely obsessed with all things knitting and I wish I could knit all the time.
What’s your favorite project that you’re working on right now?
I’m currently plotting out the colors for my Comfort Fade Cardigan and I’m insanely excited because anytime I get to blend a lot of color I’m happy. [Editor’s note: I’m also very excited to see what she picks! DWJ picks the best color combos in sweaters!] I’m also working on a lot a baby knits for friends and those are always the most sweet and satisfying knits. My friends love them, their babies are adorable and it’s like Auntie Dana is wrapping their kids in a hug.
What project are you most proud of? Why?
I’ve knit two little girls of color dolls that look like them. The first was for my girlfriend’s daughter Maddie and the look of pure joy on her face melted my heart.
The second was for a friend’s daughter Leia and the moment she saw it she said, ‘that’s me!’
She saw herself in her doll and that was why I made it. I saw her with a doll that looked nothing like her and I said I need to make her something that looks like her so she can see herself when she plays. Those moments are so awesome.
What’s the best knitting or crochet advice you have received?
Do what makes you happy. If a project frustrated the hell out of you, stop. If you don’t want to make something, don’t. If you only want to give your knits away, do it. Do whatever it is that makes you happy.