Maker Crush - Dana Williams-Johnson of Yards of Happiness
I have a confession to make: I'm jealous of makers. So for someone like me who is...less than skilled with even a needle and thread, I was immediately enamored with Dana Williams-Johnson and her gorgeous hand knit dog sweaters. Below, Dana discusses twinning with her rescue fur babies Cher and Jellybean (!), knitting as an act of self-care, what influences her design work.
First off, I am extremely jealous that you are living the two dog life. Tell us everything about your fur babies.
Cher and Jellybean are both rescue dogs. Cher is a chihuahua pug mix (we think). She was actually my first dog ever when we adopted her in 2013. She was 9 1/2 years old and had spent 3 years in different shelters. My husband had convinced me that since he was traveling with his new job we needed a dog to keep me company and when I saw her face on the rescue site I knew she was meant to be ours. Jellybean joined our family in 2016 after looking for a year for the right dog to keep Cher company. She is a short haired chihuahua and tips the scales at 6 1/2 pounds and is always cold. Hence the hand knit sweaters and clothes for her all year. They're total opposites, sometimes they fight like sisters but at the end of the day they're always snuggling next to each other. Cher will be celebrating her 15th birthday this July and Jellybean will be 7 in August.
Describe Yards of Happiness and why you decided to create it.
Yards of Happiness is my blog about knitting. I used to be a beauty and accessories blogger and stopped after five really great years but I missed blogging and the connect. In 2015 I was deep into my love of knitting (I learned how to knit in 2011) but I didn't see a lot of knitters of color and I decided I'd use my blogging background to fill a void. It has been great, I've made online friends and feel like I have a great community of knitters around me for help and support. But really we just share awesome projects and yarn that we love.
What influences the designs you choose for your dog sweaters?
Often I will make a dog version of a sweater pattern I've knit for myself, the designers seem to get a real kick out of it. Sometimes it will depend on what I want the girls to have in their wardrobe or if we're doing something special. A girlfriend sewed them dog collars that looked like shirt collars with lovely bows and I realized I had yarn to match so I made them sweaters to go with them just because. They typically wear those when we travel and I know they're going to see a lot of people.
Twinning with your pups - for or against?
I'm here for it. I've even made my husband twin with Cher while I twinned with Jellybean for our holiday photos.
You’ve mentioned that apart from the obvious creative outlet, knitting is a method of self-care. How does that work for you?
I've read that touch yarn can have the same effect on you as petting a dog, which can be so soothing. I always have a knitting project with me and have used knitting to give myself a bit of a mental reset. Sometimes something will make me angry or upset and I can't shake it, nothing better than shifting your focus on a pattern you need to concentrate on to help wipe away the bad feelings.
What Sir Dogwood items do you have your eye on for Jellybean and Cher?