I (internet) met Sarah Dawn when she emailed me the following question:
“I was wondering if you were only looking at interviewing fiber artists of colour, or if you were open to interviewing others from a diverse background as well. I don’t want to step on toes if you’re only looking for crafters of colour. That said; as a (white) visibly disabled and non-neurotypical knitter, I’d be more then willing to offer my perspective in an interview if you’d like.”
To be honest, I had not thought to highlight knitters and crocheters with disabilities. I was totally annoyed at myself for overlooking such an obviously under-represented population. Crafters of color are at least featured in knitting and crafting magazines sometimes, but I can’t think of a single example of a visibly disabled person being featured anywhere in the knitting/crochet community. In the continued spirit of Variegated Yarn Tales being the media I want to see, let’s get to know Sarah, shall we?
What inspired you to start knitting?
Well, I learned from my mom when I was very young (5-ish), as a form of physical therapy and motor skills training. At the time, I wasn’t thrilled. It was something I -had- to do because my parents said so, so, like most young children, I didn’t want to. And, honestly, I was awful at it. It was a real challenge for me to knit, because my motor skills were actually behind for my age. Even now, my knitting style is apparently a weird variant of English knitting, because some things I’ve just altered since they’re easier for my hands and coordination!
After my mother passed away, I knit off and on through my teenage and university years. I’d knit for 6 months or so, stop for a few years, then start again. I really came back to knitting consistently when I started finding online communities like Ravelry and Knitty Magazine; and found all the wonderful fiber arts people and communities that are on the internet!
Has knitting or crocheting got you through a difficult time in your life? If so, how did it help?
Well, knitting is actually very practical for me. It’s actually my version of a fidget toy! I pay better attention and have better focus, if I have something in my hands. So something plain, like a stockinette stitch sock or a garter scarf, has a tangible impact on my ability to focus and engage. Otherwise, I really don’t keep track of the conversation and events around me nearly as well.
It’s also a form of meditation and relaxation. When I need something to delve into because the outside world is far too busy and chaotic, knitting helps keep me grounded.
What keeps you obsessed?
I don’t need anything to keep me obsessed, my brain does that all on its own! 😀
Ok, longer explanation: As an ADHD’er (that is, someone who has ADHD), I have the ability to hyperfocus on things that provides good quality feedback for the ADHD brain, and for me, knitting is one of them. So my super-focus/obsession on knitting and fiber is a natural outgrowth of that part of my brain.
What’s your favorite project that you’re working on right now?
Hard question — I have lots of favorite projects, and it’s really a challenge to narrow it down to one or two! But if I had to pick favorites; Of my own patterns, it would be my Spiraling Star Fingerless Mittens.
I’ve got a second mitten I’m working up for a sample, and I’m really happy with how the texture and feel came out. It’s also the most complicated pattern I’ve done to date when it comes to sizing, which is something I’m really happy I figured out how to do!
Of other patterns, I’d have to say my Carson Throw by Romi Hill.
It’s big enough now to be unwieldy, but I love it already, because it’s so thick and heavy. It’ll be great when winter comes back around, but the weight is also just really comforting. 🙂 I am, however, somewhat dreading doing the border section, which comes out to 864 stitches (eek!)
What project are you most proud of? Why?
I think that would be my Fairview Scarf by Tanis Fiber Arts knit up in Tanis Fiber Arts Silver Label. (Sadly, I don’t have any decent pictures of it!) It’s something I wear when I’m ‘dressing up’; and I get a lot of compliments on it! It was also one of my very first lace pieces, which was an accomplishment!
What’s the best knitting or crochet advice you have received?
“There are no Knitting Police.” I’ve heard this advice from a number of people over a number of years; and it’s so true. I have to adapt how I hold my needles when my hands spasm, and it’s taken me a while to figure out how to do cables in a way that works for me. I also think I might be inventing my own way of working on the drop spindle, because I’ve never seen anyone do what I’m doing! There is no right or wrong way to knit/crochet/spin/weave/etc; so long as it works for you!
Has pop culture had an influence on your knitting or crochet?
Absolutely! For one, I’m a total nerd. I admit, I did go out and purchase the “Knits for Nerds” book when I saw it, and I’ve knit up a few things from it for myself and others.
Also, a lot of my designs have nerdy elements — I’m inspired by my favorite fandoms for pattern ideas all the time. I’ve got a cardigan idea currently in sketches that was inspired loosely from Lord of the Rings, and a pair of fingerless mittens just off the needles that were inspired by me experimenting with gradient yarn. Even the very first pattern I published on Ravelry has a nerd reference in the title!