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It has been a year since I wrote See Me—Not Just What I Knit and I have been thinking a lot about that year and that post. It is one of my most commented-on posts for MDK and I read every comment (and so did my Mom). Over the last year I’ve gotten emails months later telling me how that post changed someone’s perspective or how they shared it with their knitting groups. I have even received a few apologies for some of the comments. Since it was so impactful, I wanted to revisit it a year later.

One of the things that sticks with me is the comment “this isn’t the place to discuss politics.” Some wrote that on that post, a post Kay and Ann both read, of course.  They thought their site was a good place to discuss not just politics but social justice and society. I get the same comment on my own social media channels. If I can’t talk about the things that impact me and my life, deeply, in my own spaces, where should I go? That question is rhetorical because clearly, it isn’t about the “right space,” it’s about people not wanting, or not being ready, to hear what I have to say, or see what is clearly happening.

To me, talking about race, social justice, and equality isn’t political. It is everyday life. All of our actions, no matter how small, impact our life and ripple out into the world and impact others. How we choose to live impacts everyone and that definitely matters.  

Outside of knitting, I am entering my third year as a doctoral student at Howard University. I am getting a PhD in Communications, Culture and Media Studies and have focused a lot of my research on online communities, race, and feminism—which leads me back to the knitting community. I’ve learned that as early as 1765, women used knitting and spinning as a way to oppose the Stamp Act. Through various wars, knitters made socks, hats, scarves and even blankets for the troops. When women didn’t have a right to vote, they found other ways to make an impact through craft. To one person it might have been a meaningless pair of hand knit socks; to a soldier it was a way to stay warm and live another day. Knitting has been, can be, and is political. 

I’ve also learned how Americans of every race participated in knitting. Often when people talk about knitting the image that pops into their mind is a White woman. It is an image that we’ve seen on countless knitting magazines, book covers and pattern pages, but women of every race knit. I was tickled when I found the image above, of young Black girls knitting for troops in Hampton, Virginia–they looked like me when I was a little girl. I was excited when I saw Native American women were a part of a Red Cross Auxiliary group knitting for soldiers. 

A part of the Uintah and Ouray Indian Red Cross Auxiliary Fort Duchesne, Utah. Source: Denver public library Digital Collection.

I was elated to find these images because these aren’t the typical images that are shared in the knitting community, so at times I feel invisible. But much to my excitement, they exist, they are just harder to uncover. 

This last year has taught me a lot but most of all how what we do impacts each other. To you it might be a simple comment on a blog post and to me, it can become a way to discover history I didn’t know or to challenge myself in my research. What we do makes an impact, no matter how small. I hope this next year we all can make a ripple of change for the better. 

Featured Image: Hampton Institute – War activities of Hampton Institute, Hampton, Virginia – Whittier School girls learning to knit for war sufferers. Source: National Archives.

About The Author

Dana Williams-Johnson knits every day. Knitting is what brings Dana joy, and she shows that through her use of color (hello, rainbows) and modifications of favorite patterns into replica sweaters for her dogs.

You can read about it all on Dana’s blog, Yards of Happiness, and watch her video podcasts on YouTube.


  • Testing comments…

    • I love this. So honest and true. Thank you.

  • I really really appreciate you showing up in your wholeness and sharing yourself this way. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

    • Amber, I can’t say it any better than this. Thank you, Dana, for all your contributions to our knitting and greater society.

  • Thank you Dana. That Hampton Institute picture really captured me. So beautiful!,

    • ❤️

  • Amen Dana,

    • Amen.

  • You speak TRUTH! I remember that post well and celebrate the hugh ripples it caused/causes, and continues to cause! Thank you so much for this Anniversary Wisdom. I, too, seek out pictures like these, pictures that round out the truth of knitting.

  • Love you posts,, please keep them coming!

    • Thank you Dana! I really appreciate all of your commentaries.

  • I have always viewed knitting as a piece of what makes me a whole person. Your column was right on point and meaningful. Thank you

  • Wonderful! So thankful that we can find such thoughtful, talented word and wool crafters here

  • Thank you for your meaningful and insightful comments. Knitting is only part of who we are!

  • Namesta..I honor the light in you…❤

  • Thank you so much Dana. You are so wise and inspiring.

    • Thank you Dana for sharing your knowledge, your yearnings, your heart, and your joy!

  • Your comment is awaiting moderation.
    Dana, I feel so fortunate to be part of this community. I have learned more about knitting, crocheting and LIFE. Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights so we may expand our own horizons and try to understand what it truly means to walk in someone else’s shoes. My tradition states that it is our responsibility to repair the world in any way we can. I strive to do so and am appreciative of your insights.
  • Thank you for your very clear statement that issues of race, gender, class (and the list could go on) are not politics but what we live every day. It is not that that folks don’t “politicize” those issues; clearly they (and we) do. But they are the fabric of our lives, and we should be able to address the topics as a part of our conversations and expressions of life.

    • 100% agree with your comment… It is not knitting, or politics, or birdwatching, or good movies….it is just how we live our lives and engage with each other every day.

  • Thank you Dana!

  • Thank you for this post. Yes, social justice and rights sre what we live, ir don’t live up to, every day. Anyone who thinks politics are somewhere else is probably very privileged and unaware.

    I got a very pleasant jolt when I saw the young girls knitting! It’s not all about white folks. And the native American group too. That’s so valuable.

    Can you locate more of these wonderful enlightening images? I would love to see more, and honor the work of Black people in the crafts in general. Too often they’re unseen.

    • Try the Library of Congress photo archives –

    • You can look for the quilts of Gee’s Bend. These Black women made beautiful quilts that were for everyday use, but were rediscovered as “works of art”. Several of these quilts have been on display throughout the US.

      • Carole – thanks for mentioning Gees Bend and the wonderful quilts they made – that was going to be the first part of my comment. I have a coffee table book of wonderful pictures of the women and their quilts. Dana, thank you for revisiting your post of a year ago. I’ve come back to MDK after a long couple of years caretaking my husband and a period of mourning (not a sympathy plea – so many thousands of men and women lost their most-loved family members during Covid) and reading you post makes me want to read all your previous posts and check out your blog. I have been concerned for probably the past 27 years since I started knitting, spinning and felting in my forties – about how under-represented women of color are in all the fiber-related guilds, classes and major teaching events. If course there have been wonderful African American knitting and crochet designers and teachers from the beginning of my entry into the craft. I met most of them through taking their classes at Stitches or in my spinning guild. But the question remains for me – how to make everyday classes and groups more inviting and welcoming to new or experienced knitters of every color, and how to create an atmosphere that feels open and safe for everyone. I always think of Eldridge Cleaver’s often misquoted quote. The original was: ‘There is no more neutrality in the world. You either have to be part of the solution, or you’re going to be part of the problem.’ I too don’t like to hear politics hashed over in every group, but I think awareness and acceptance (though politics of course plays a part) are a much deeper issue of shared humanity. I’m going on too long here. I’ll hope to have a conversation on your blog. A huge shout out to Ann and Kay for being part of the solution and for all the changes they have made from changing what MDK now stands for and highlighting many black designers and teachers. It enriches us all.

    • Good reminder on the libraries. The web site for The Textile Center (an organization in Minneapolis, Minnesota, is worth a look. Plus, they have a significant library with a searchable index online.

      Also, if you google “Black Knitters”, or “Knitting While Black”, you’ll find some useful things.

      • Adding, check out the web site for Black Girl Knit Club.

    • Hey Liz! Librarian here. I suggest you reach out to your local public library. Most librarians I know would love a question like this – there are so many historical societies and large public systems that have put their historical pictures online. All you need is a guide – and I’m guessing you’ll find a librarian eager to explore these rich resources.

      • Yes! Second this.

        Adding: if you live near an historical society or even a good county archive, check those out as well.

    • So glad you are here & grateful for who you are & what you share. Thank you.

  • Everything we do does matter and impacts others. We need to stay mindful of that truth each day.

  • Thank you Dana. I always look forward to your posts. You really move the needle in more ways than one.

  • Life is political, whether you actively participate or sit on the sidelines, it’s a statement of your willingness to be involved.

    • Yes!

  • Thank you!

  • So many ideas, and histories, and personal stories have been missing from our lives and education. Seems like never a day goes by that I don’t learn a new fact that “should” have been something I already knew. I appreciate all the diversity that has finally broken free in the last year or so, and can’t wait to learn more from you and others. Please continue to share and teach – you are most definitely a blessing! Thank you, Dana!

    • Karen, Exactly my thoughts and you’ve expressed it so well.

  • YES! and well done, brave Dana. You are a force for change as well as an inspiration to me, and, clearly, many others. thank you!

  • “Government is not a thing, at least in America. We are the government, just as much as we are traffic, we are culture, we are media. A line I heard that changed my worldview: “Government is simply the name we give to the things we choose to do together.” I wasted a lot of time seeing politics as something you consume, when of course politics—going back to Aristotle—is always something we do.” This is a quote from Ryan Holiday’s latest blog post. I think to talks to how we look at racism or sexism or any other ‘ism’. It is something we have to do together. I am always so pleased when you write on MDK x

    • Government worker here (public health), and I love this, as an alternative to “government is that thing they do badly”! thank you!

    • Ooh, I like this perspective on government being rather “a thing we do together”! I think I will use it with my students in my Art of Advocacy course.

  • A day without knitting, if only for a few moments, feels like a day that is incomplete. A knitted gift or donation is my way to show compassion…with the hope that each small act of kindness makes a difference…personally and politically. Thanks for sharing your insights and spreading joy.

  • I enjoy your posts because they are meaningful. Knitting is something I do not to escape the world but to help me find meaning in the world. I find pleasure and inspiration in your colourful knits but what endears me is the honesty and truthfulness you share in your posts.

  • The best teachers/professors bring new information forward to enlighten and enhance our thinking. This isn’t political, it’s educational—and that is an important, no, essential, part of ‘moving forward’. You have taught us well, [nearly] Dr. Williams-Johnson. Thank you.

  • I hadn’t expected this last year to be so powerful in terms of the fight for social justice on so many fronts. When I read about the long and deep history of craft I see a shift away from the dominance of Euro-western influence. Thanks for your important work on that long deep history.

  • Thank you for today’s wonderful message of inspiration and encouragement. It brings hope to those who need to be encouraged. Life is precious and we must respect everyone.

  • When you talk about people “seeing what’s clearly happening” you neglect to take into consideration that each of us looks at life through his own filter. Your truth may not be my truth for multiple reasons. Media reports “truth” though its own lens making it important to read multiple sources to try to discover what your truth is, not to just parrot back what you are being “fed”. I’m not implying that you are doing that. I believe that you are honestly talking about your truth, which is a positive thing. I have just been struck by the number of people in the past year who say the “right” things without searching their souls to see if those things are truly things they embrace and live rather than catch words they are saying but not integrating. It felt like there was a big “jump on the bandwagon” effect last year when the knitting community began discussing race and social justice, with every knitting store owner, etc being very quick to say “not me, I’m not racist” rather than really asking themselves if this is true. Often it’s those who shout the loudest or put a sign on their lawn who are the most oblivious. It was interesting hearing what all who commented had to say, for some reason it rang hollow for me. It felt like virtue signaling and thus had a taste of lack of honesty. Where were these people and their points of view when it wasn’t “cool” to be talking about social justice and race?

    • Thank you, Susan and Dana. We have all had the opportunity to learn so much this year, it’s a long and difficult and much needed process.
      I agree with your bandwagon statement. We all need to be thoughtful in our process. I have observed an alarming trend that if someone makes a mistake, that instead of helping them do better and offer guidance, they are crucified, called “shitty people” and cancelled. People make mistakes that are reflective of their current growth. We are all learning. No good teacher would ever call a student names for seeing something differently, or making a mistake. I see people name calling and cancelling others as an attempt to prove that they are “good people” and not racist. I’d like to recommend Ibram X Kandi’s book, How to be an Antiracist, to those wanting to move forward. Get out and DO something positive. Don’t hide behind a screen and judge others.

    • Just a possibility to consider…maybe all the discussion helped some people to realize things that they had never thought of before. I know I considered some things like generational wealth that I had never really considered. Then I talked to my mom about it, not to be cool but more of a “have you ever thought about this?” I for one, appreciated the discussions because it helped me to see that someone else’s truth was actually just the plain truth and I was just unaware of it.

      • Yes, even if it just stops you and makes you think a bit deeper about your long held “truths”, it is a good thing.

  • Well said! I agree, we can’t just isolate ourselves from what is going on all around us. When my friends are worried about being victims of hate crimes, that’s just not acceptable!

  • Dana, who you are and what you offer, is clearly a missed absence when you aren’t posting on MDK. Hearing about your little family ,your schooling, and seeing all the beautiful creations puts you “out of sight out of mind”. We appreciate getting to share in your community.
    I loved the pictures of young girls sharing in the experience of creating. Having been born in 1941, I am the product of a generation that was taught a great deal by exposure and example. That is a truth that clearly applies to all people of every generation. We all young and old best learn by example. So I offer you this. If you want to make a difference thru communication this platform is waiting and yearning to hear more from you.

  • The idea that life is over here and politics is over there is one of the reasons our legal environment is so different than many of us would like it to be. It’s why people who would never be rude or unkind to anyone personally then go out and vote for them to be deprived of health care. The split supports the split.

  • Thank you for your writings, thoughts, comments, advice so that we all may live better lives…which of course includes knitting!

  • Amen. You said it all

  • I remember your post from a year ago and still think of it. I was reminded of it when one woman new to our knitting group said “this isn’t a political group, is it?” I had a difficult time explaining that politics is life so it does naturally appear in our group as it does in life. But really, all I have to remember is to knit for good, whether that be for the calm it brings me, the happiness of a lovely gift for someone, or building community through knitting. Thank you, Dana, and I hope your knitting helps you through these ugly political times.

  • Thank you Dana! Truth and beauty!❤️❤️❤️

  • Dana,
    Thank you so much for this post. Good luck with your doctoral studies. I am a retired dissertation advisor so I know the hard work you are doing.

  • Behind our knitting needles we are individuals with our own experiences, values, and beliefs. Through knitting groups, knitting retreats, and knitting-related social platforms I have learned so much more than ways to knit a stitch. I have met many interesting people from different backgrounds with different stories. The richness of the experience is in the different people coming together with one thing in common, a love of knitting, and sharing both that love of the craft and themselves. Thank you for sharing your experiences and enriching the fabric of our knitting community.

  • Thank you for your strong, beautiful comments. As an elder (really elder) I’ve learned that our connectedness in one area of life is a connectedness to all areas of our life. We cannot close off who we are and what we feel to a separate space. We learn, we love at all levels of being. You spoke the truth.

  • Thank you, Dana, for both your original post and this follow up. Wonderful photos! A friend recently shared this resource with me and I am sharing it with you, in turn, in case you didn’t know about it and in case it might be helpful to your research: Plantation Slave Weavers Remember: An Oral History

    I feel like just sharing this is going very far out on a limb and hope the association with plantation slavery does not offend – it is not meant to offend in any way but to honor the knowledge and history shared in the stories that this book contains. It includes more than weaving – other aspects of textile arts are also mentioned.

    • I read that book and it opened my eyes to something I didn’t know about. Reading the actual words from ex-slaves who had to make textiles gave me shivers. Such a valuable resource! Glad you mentioned it.

  • I loved this piece. I agree entirely!! I would love to see the results of your continued research. I wish you many awesome “finds”!

  • Really worth sharing your thoughts and the pictures. Knitting is such a part of my life and cannot be separated from the totality of what we are experiencing today . I will share these comments with my daughters.

  • Absolutely love this!

  • one -or two- pictures are worth a million good thoughts. thank you.

  • I love your whole self. All of it!

  • Keep writing, Dana and we will keep reading. Beautiful pictures!

  • Thank you, Dana, for being a writer, knitter and an inspiration to so many. I may have missed it, but would love to know the subject of your thesis/dissertation. And best wishes for a full recovery (just checked your May 10 blog post) ! I look forward to reading your posts for years to come.

  • Bravo!

  • “To me, talking about race, social justice, and equality isn’t political. It is everyday life.” YES – thank you for putting it so succinctly. I’ve tried to explain this to people, but … uh, I got kind of wordy. 🙂 This is perfect, and I hope it’s okay if I borrow it!

    Thank you for your column, Dana; you’re a terrific writer, and you always give me something to think about, whether it’s social justice or a piece of history or an adorable dog in a sweater. (Sometimes I really need to slow down and look at an adorable dog in a sweater.)

  • Wise words. Every time I hear “no politics here,” I respond with “please check your privilege.” Cannot wait to read your research! There is an old song from the Women’s Music Moment with the lyric “can we be like drops of water, falling on the stone—splashing,breaking,dispersing in air—weaker than the stone by farm but be aware that, as time goes by, the rock will wear away.”

  • Thank you, Dana! Let’s keep moving the ball forward.

  • Thank you.

  • Hi, Dana,

    I’m sitting here having breakfast coffee on my back porch, looking at the trees and flowers, listening to the birds and reading your thoughtful piece this early sunny morning. I can’t wait to get to my knitting today and how I wish you were joining me and some knitting buddies back here. I want to hear so much more about what you have to say. I want to know more about your worldview and I want to grow with mine. If the fact that 2 sticks and a ball of string can bring all of us together, well, that’s a beautiful thing. Some issues have small simple solutions, and if just knitting together brings us closer, then that sounds like a “truth” we knitters can make happen.

    For me, the word “Politics” has a rotten taste as I see and hear too many “politicians” who are egotistic, self-serving and selfish. They don’t really care about you or me or what’s good for our country. But an article like yours that addresses a deeply personal experience and the impact of that experience on others is the type of politics, ie living a life, that resonates a truth which is worth learning and caring about. Thank you for opening that door in my knitting world and beyond. You are welcome to stop by anytime!

  • Thanks for sharing the pictures! Wonderful to see young girls knitting – hope there will be pictures of “today’s girls” knitting for someone to find in the Future!
    And hoping that today’s knitters are an inclusive community.
    Knit on!

  • Knitting may be what brings us to this space, but it is so much more. We are all so much more. I value the time I spend here each morning, and especially on a day like today. Thank you Dana. And thank you MDK.

  • This is so lovely, Dana, thank you so much for sharing. Can I also say that I love that your mom reads all the posts?? That’s so heartwarming and FUN. With warm wishes to you and your mom, and much gratitude for your enlightening posts.

  • Thank you so much for sharing this, Dana. I, too, get a bit frustrated at the “this is not the place for this” comments—nothing exists in a vacuum, especially cultural and racial bias. But I’ve certainly had those thoughts myself on occasion, and I have to remind myself that part of my white privilege is that I don’t *have* to think about such things because they aren’t present in my everyday life, and so I resolve again to be better and more aware and understanding. It’s a process, and I’m not nearly done confronting my biases, even after 17 years as a civil rights lawyer. I don’t think we are ever done, and I think we are more successful at changing ourselves and our communities when we recognize that.

  • Thanks for widening our horizons. Those are wonderful and beautiful pictures.

  • Beautiful. I remember the article as well. Please continue to share your life with us. Pictures were wonderful to see.

  • Thank you again, Dana! Keep finding the photos to post.

  • Howdy Dana, …Like everyone else I remember your post, and enjoyed peering at those photos. I also want to say that for me, this website and venue for comments (when it is working!) is ABsolutely a place for speech and thoughts of any kind. I pay more attention to things that are well thought through, and respectful, but am interested in what anyone has to say (DG Strong seems to go far afield) outside of the technical knitting stuff. Ann and Kay have knitting topics covered!

    • I greatly enjoy DG Strong’s columns!

      • Me too! He makes me laugh. “Far afield” is a awesome place to go, particularly for birdwatching!

  • As always, I enjoy reading your posts and I learn something every time – thank you

  • When on a trip to Africa, we visited a small village for a tour. During our tour, I saw a half dozen ladies knitting on a bench. Although there was a bit of a language barrier, we communicated and I taught a couple ladies continental knitting. I had just learned it and they were as thrilled as I was with it. It was a real connection to people in another country, finding something in common. It warmed my heart.

  • You are so inspirational and I look forward to your columns.

  • Dana, thank you for your Wise Wisdom and for coming back to the message one year later. We have all changed, especially in this last year.

    As yiu mentioned, it’s hard to find old pictures depicting Black women knitting in a group, and I am so glad you shared the one you did. I am reminded of stories in Texas about Black cowboys, and I remember seeing pictures years ago and being surprised. But if you dive into the history, Black cowboys worked on ranches all over the state! And they celebrate this heritage every year on the Trail Ride into Houston for the Rodeo. I’m thankful for the continuing education and hard work to teach real history. Thanks for your part.

  • I look forward to calling you Dr. Dana! You have helped–are helping–many through your words. Go, go, go, Dana!!

  • I hope you, and others, find many more photos like the ones in your post! Certainly expands my world. Thank you.

  • Dana thank you again for your important words. The fiber community has taught me so much about race, politics, volunteering and how women can unite and make a difference. Let’s continue to learn, grow and help our community.

  • I love your knitting recommendations, but I appreciate this post even more. Thanks for everything you do, and I hope you feel 100% very soon! Hugs and carrots to Jellybean!

  • Exactly. Knitting (and quilting and sewing) are things I love and that bring me together with people I have nothing else in common with, which is great, but I’m not only that.

  • These photographs are so moving to me. Thank you for them and for re-visiting your work with us. Thank you.

  • Thank you for this post, and for the one a year ago. We have to constantly remind ourselves that the personal is political.

  • Such a relevant and poignant article. Thank you for sharing your work and your words with the community.

  • Your comments are so very true. Thank you for your well thought out insight.

  • It’s always easiest and comfortable to act/react in the ways we know. And we’re used to enforcing them too. We all need to be brave and move beyond our comfort zones if we truly want to progress, and yes it’s the folks outside the norms who have had to carry the burden and the risk of pushing change. The response to your original post brings this to mind and for me also taps into one more norm that is used for reinforcement: politeness. We are conditioned to react as if speaking out is impolite – because it ruffles feathers. Whose feathers get ruffled and why is this a problem. Politeness caught me last year when I was first reading about patriarchy chicken – look it up if you don’t know the term. More to the point, personal discomfort is likely a sign there is something outside our norm to examine and learn from when each of us us ready to do the lifting needed to make change.

    Thank you for helping us learn how to make space.

  • I see you and hear you and as a white woman of privilege, I thank you for using your voice to speak truth, especially to us. As you say so well, every action impacts the world around us. The journey is a long one but I have hope we can make change for the good. Heal and repair and thrive. We need you.

  • Dana I’m so glad you wrote this. I get very frustrated when people put anything that makes them uncomfortable under the heading of politics. It’s so important to have spaces where we are safe to stop sitting across from each other yet assuming we are seeing the same things. Better to sit next to each other – either metaphorically or literally – to understand each other’s views. Although occasionally I have sat next to someone who I disagree with or who’s values don’t align with mine, more often then not, it leads to a much richer and more truthful experience.

    • Thank you.

  • Your writing pulled me through the pandemic in so many ways – from a “political” perspective and from a knitting perspective. Thank you for being a wonderful teacher and inspiration.

  • The last year has been a journey for all of us. As a white person who is becoming much more aware of the privileges I enjoy, I truly welcome your voice and others who are bringing the topic of racial justice to the knitting community. Please don’t stop!! I’m very interested in your PhD thesis. I often share what I have observed in the knitting community as a great example of how to bring this dialogue to unexpected places. I so enjoy your posts on IG and on MDK – including your knit work and darling fur baby.

  • How wonderful to have found those lovely photos of Black Girls and Native women knitting!!! I love that there are these diverse images to bring light to the things all women share regardless of race gender or religion!!!

  • It is sad?, unfortunate? that so many try to stifle those whose thoughts make them feel uncomfortable. Instead we should each of us take a moment to examine why we are uncomfortable and if possible make changes that bring a greater peace and understanding. Don’t ever stop writing or sharing – I always find that your words help me better understand – myself, the world, others in it.

  • Clearly, we all have more in common than not. Today, everything seems to be political, because everything is made to be. We need to keep talking and sharing the common threads that make us the same, and also diverse. We have so much to contribute to one another. You can’t have positive change without sharing the past, our lives, our experiences, and truths. You are an artful messenger in so many ways.

  • Yes! So often people say, “political,” when what they really mean is, “topics that make me uncomfortable or that people in our country disagree about.” To me, politics is bout getting elected. Social justice, representation, economic justice, healthcare, and race relations are about life, ethics, morality, and humanity–the important topics in life. Thank you for sharing your humanity to challenge and inspire me!

  • I love this feature. It is so TRUE I LOVE seeing pictures of people like ME knitting that are genuine, authentic, and historical. Those have a wonderful meaning TOO reminding ME I am not a Fiber loving Anomaly.

  • A great post!

  • I hope you are back to knitting now. I don’t know how I would have got through the last year without it. But I wasn’t fearing for the lives of the people I love in the way that you were/are. I just hope that all this chaos and upheaval will lead to lasting change. Hang in there, stay safe, keep writing.

  • Dana – thank you for your words and photos (now and a year ago) … talking about race, social justice, and equality isn’t just ‘political’ anymore and should definitely be part of daily life. Thank you to Ann and Kay for choosing to include it all on this site.

  • Thank you for your thoughts, courage, and beautiful patterns. You sure now how to communicate!

  • Grateful for you, Dana!

  • Thank you, Dana. And thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, inspiration, creativity and your wonderful dog – Jellybean’s sweaters encouraged me to try making my first dog sweater (and Ruby LOVES it!) and put a smile on my face every time.

  • Thanks so much for enriching my life!

  • Bravo Dana, thank you for posting your thoughts and giving us something to think and reflect on. Best wishes on your doctorate.

  • When I was in graduate school in the education I wrote a paper about teaching knitting. I discovered f Sojouner Truth’s formal portrait. She’s holding her knitting! I’ve knitted hats and prayer shawls for friends with cancer and now have a brand new granddaughter. She’s small and was given a hand knit hat in the hospital. I’m thankful for the person that made that hat! We’ve used our knitting in ways that can be seen a political even if we don’t realize i no t at the time.

  • Brava!!!
    Eloquently and beautifully written! Thank you for sharing your experience and allowing for honest and well deserved conversations. Happy knitting!

  • Thank you for sharing your reality here (and everywhere). And those photos! I’m amazed at the power and comfort in pictures of women knitting. These photos are beautiful, compelling, and absolutely necessary to broaden (and correct) our shared ideas about knitting.

  • Dana, thank you for this post. I am a non-Black person of color, and I think people like me have a responsibility to increase awareness and fight racism within our specific ethnic communities. While I am proud of the work prominent South Asian Americans (Kamala Harris! Our shared sister!) are doing, there is actually an enormous amount of prejudice. We must do better.

    I’m raising my kids to never be oblivious.

  • We have always knitted! Thank you for taking up space and speaking about it.

  • I love you, Dana.

  • Bravo. Very well said/written. I’m grateful for the opportunity to read it on this forum

  • Thank you for sharing these photos! Look at those sweet girls knitting away – and I can’t help but think they are chatting about their day, their woes, their enthusiasms – just like we do today with knitting friends both live and virtual. I so appreciated your post last year, and so glad you have this corner that I can share with you. We’re so lucky!

  • Once again, Dana, thank you for posting such wise and true words. I look forward to your writings always whether they are about knitting, your life, or the community. I hope you are feeling better and I hope you know how you are an inspiration to so many people.
    Joanna Koss

  • I hope you find this comment among the “stash!” I recommend that you read “All That She Carried” by Tiya Miles. Written by a historian it traces the life of a single object handed down through three generations of black women. It honors the crafting of our ancestors saying the “our foremothers wove spiritual beliefs, cultural values, and historical knowledge into their flax, woolen, silk and cotton webs. The work of their hands can lead us back to their histories and serve as guide rails as we grope through the difficult past.”

  • Thank you!
    Crafting useful and/or beautiful things unites generations of humans…especially when we are making something for others. It soothes the soul and reminds us that we are all connected.

  • Never stop! You are a force for good and a hope for our humanity. You share with us your life which could be the same, similar or totally different from our own. But the common “thread” exists and as we knit let it bring us closer to understanding, compassion and love. Rock the knits; rock the world.

  • Thank you for remaining true to yourself. Thank you for sharing parts of history that we never knew existed. Thank you Dana.

  • Thank you Dana for another thoughtful piece. When someone says “this is not the place for politics” they are showing ignorance at to what is going on here. This is not about various political views, this is about common decency and respect for people of all colors and cultures and we should all be in agreement on that and not find your post objectionable.

  • knit

    1. make (a garment, blanket, etc.) by interlocking loops of wool or other yarn with knitting needles or on a machine.
    “she was knitting a sweater”
    2. unite or cause to unite.
    “disparate regions had begun to knit together under the king”

    Knitting has a broader meaning of creating unity

  • What do I LOVE about this article? EVERYTHING! Thank you, Dana.

  • Hi Dana,
    Thank you for adding your voice to MDK. I love the knitting photos! It can be so very hard to find photos of people of color to use. I am a Lactation Consultant at a hospital and I am always hunting for photos of moms of color breastfeeding their babies to include in educational materials or presentations. My options are very limited and I spend twice as much time searching. But it is worth it! As a white woman with a brown daughter, my eyes were opened in a different way. PS-I also got my hospital to start stocking wide-toothed combs. Small but important changes have value. Please let us know when we can officially call you Dr.!!!

  • Thank you for digging up those images and bringing them into the light- and for being a courageous and honest voice. As a white woman, I’ve had a lot of reflecting to do about my own assumptions and biases. Your voice has encouraged that process, another example of the rippling. I am grateful for you- sharing your perspective, inspiration and of course the colorful, joyous knits.

  • Thank you.

  • We need to uncover how much of our rich knitting history is reliant of people of colour. Patterns and techniques often get appropriated by us, the dominant class, as it has with other parts of our culture

  • Thank you Dana. I appreciate all your posts, you always share your wisdom and inspiration, which I know can’t always be easy. The post you made this time last year was especially powerful and I hope its ripples continue until they become a tidal wave of change.

  • Well done! You are a wonderful communicator! Looking forward to more posts from you! Thank you!

  • Thank you for revisiting this column. These are lively thoughts that I’ve sent (by the link) to many friends, most of whom do not knit… but they think and talk and consider. Please continue your road to health.

  • Thank you for both of your posts. I’m learning to be a better listener.

  • MDK is so lucky to have you and we, the readers, are so lucky to get to access your writing, your scholarship, and your creativity! Thank you!

  • Yea verily. I so look forward to your comments. They are thoughtful,insightful and impactful. Oh, and I love your knitting! Who knew that group knitting could be such a powerful societal statement while being so supportive and fun!

  • Thank you. I had to do a double take on the photo. I learned to knit in the 5th grade. picked it up again in high school. I did not knit again until i met a dear sorority, who was a Home Ec. teacher. Then infrequently after my big sweater project wore me out. When i went to knitting guilds I was often the only one. Often followed thru yarn shops as if I was some place I didn’t belong, unless I was W my white friend. I resumed knitting during nurse practioner conferences. Recommitted to the craft, just before the pandemic. can’t wait to look U up on youtube. congrats on your PhD, with “your bad self. thanks for doing it, karen.

  • I agree. I agree. I agree. And thanks for the discovery of the pictures. I have been scared about the strange statements I have heard in the last year or so about racial justice, public health, vaccinations, etc. But I have decided that it is better to have these statements in the open (um, I think) because we know what people are thinking. I have friends that make statements about groups like BLM that are abhorrent but also I had no idea they thought such things. I think I would rather know than pretend and “make nice”. And I have other friends that are in another political party but are really aligned with me in terms of racial justice, public health, feminism, etc and that is helpful to know also. I know that people think this is about misinformation and Fox News but I wonder if that is completely the truth.

  • Thank you. A long-time knitter, I’ve just taken up weaving, and someone on social media mentioned a book “Plantation Slave Weavers Remember.” Surprisingly, I found it on Amazon and it arrived today. The stories come from Federal Writer’s Project during the Depression. The first two pieces I read knocked me down.

  • Thank you for this article. I hope you are planning to turn your thesis into a book so that what you are thinking about and discovering can be shared with many!

  • Thank you for talking about your research. I knew you were in school and had wondered what you were studying. Please share more!

  • Dana, I LOVE your posts, and fully welcome your perspective and insight. Keep on keeping on!!!!


  • Thank you for your willingness to share yourself here, even in the face of some people wanting to shut down this dialogue. Thank you.

  • “To me, talking about race, social justice, and equality isn’t political. It is everyday life.”


    Thank you for such a clearsighted post! Hope you continue to feel better!

  • Your writing has impact. Impact of all kinds. Every little thing about all of us is political. I do not find that threatening. I find it enlightening and it always leads me to examine myself and lends clarity as well as muddying the waters as I explore and learn and change. How exciting, right? I look at you as a partner in this, Dana. And I am grateful to MDK for providing this platform.

  • Dana, you and your post last year opened my eyes in a way nobody and nothing else could have. The thing that really hit home for me was your comment that you worry about your husband when he goes for a run. I thought, “Dana’s husband!? That really nice guy we see wearing the really great sweaters Dana knits for him?” That’s when it really dawned on me how very differently the world sees you and your family and how different your experience is from mine. I hadn’t thought the gap was so wide until that moment. And I cried. And I heard what you said and I thank you and will try to work and make things right.

    • Yes, I think that this is what the last year or two has done for me – to help me see how different real life is for people of color – invisible where they should be seen, overlooked where they should be embraced, in danger where they should be safe. I’ve always thought I was unprejudiced but this past year has forced me to reckon with the blindness of my priviledge. Every forum and evey platform is appropriate for this conversation because we need to see the past and current contributions to our history, art and culture that have been made by people we have chosen to overlook or tried to forget..

  • What an inspiring lady. Dana, it is high time people of all colours lived side by side as equals, we are all humans that want to live. Have enough food to eat, a roof over our heads and in my case create things. The pictures you show are amazing and echo pictures I have seen here in the UK of white communities knitting for pleasure and the common good. It seems to me we all want the same things, most of all a bit of respect as a human being.
    Good luck with your studies and keep the needles clicking.

  • YES!!!

    • Thank you! I so appreciate your columns. It is long overdue but we are starting to see so much more diversity in print, and on the news. Last night while watching the PBS news hour several of the commentators where black men. It was a wonderful and noticeable difference. I love the photos you have posted.

  • I loved your post–the pictures especially and the wisdom about “everyday life.” Everything we do connects us or separates us from others. The choice is ours. You chose to connect people. Please keep doing that. You enriched us all.

  • I think that this is a great place to have discussions about how colonialism has impacted North America.

    Thank you for being brave and continuing the discussion.

  • Dana: We are all blessed by your presence, your intelligence, your bravery. Best wishes for a steady recovery and the energy to re-engage with your creativity.

  • Thank you again and always, Dana. And thank you for these pictures, which are wonderful and new to me.

  • Dana! What a wonderful follow up! I read last years’ post and did feel bad that I only commented on your beautiful work, but that post, as well as this one are so inspiring and spot on! I actually unfriended one person on FB for saying “there is no discussion to be had. We must respect Trump.” Ummm, no. There must always be discussion or else I won’t be able to understand your perspective. Doesn’t mean I have to agree with it, but communication is our only path forward for education on diversity!
    Thank you also for including the photos from the past! What a treasure! My brother is Inuit and having met his biological family, I know first hand all the crafts they do. We should be able to use our own forums for anything we feel is important to US, not what is important to others.
    Many hugs and wishes for rest and recovery! Love your beautiful face and mind!

  • Dana, Your inner light and beauty comes through in everything you write and knit. I love reading your words. Please continue to enrich us with your posts.

  • I’m struck by the lack of dissenting opinions in the comments to this article.

    I am personally sick of having race and social justice injected into every nook and cranny of our lives. It has ruined many a website, including this one.

    I just want to enjoy the people around me and share my love of yarn and kntting. Is that too much to ask?

    • To be fair, I enjoy the people around me because of the variety of their experiences. Sometines this means that they teach me things about their perspectives that I was unaware of. Dana has posted about this issue twice–once last year, and now. I fail to see how this has ruined anything. If you don’t want to read it, just go buy yarn.

      Thank you Dana for your always thoughtful points, and your research. Last year I commented that I would love to hear about the women in your family who practiced fiber arts. You gave us much more than that in this post.

  • Right on!!
    In a time when people want to suppress truth and history we all need to keep
    communicating, telling our truth and learning from each other whether we agree or disagree. This time of covid isolation if nothing else has brought home the importance of connection.

  • Excellent. A change for the better should always be a welcome change.

  • Thank you.

  • Wonderful article, love the pictures. Also, I hope you’re feeling better, and I can’t wait to see what you knit next. I have several of your projects in my Ravelry favorites. Seeing what you’re knitting always inspires me 🙂

  • Dana, I am old enough to be your grandmother, but you are my hero! For years, I had cringed at the original name of MDK, but never thought to mention it. You changed a company and therefore, thousands of people’s attitude, knowledge and hearts. You are a change agent for goodness and hope. I love your openness and honesty. I wish you a faster and complete recovery.

  • Amen, Sister! Racism is not politics. It is a disease of the heart & mind. Sunlight helps – the more the better.
    We have knitted in community with each other, sitting alone through through long nights, at the beds of sick loved ones . . . If you haven’t already, the book, No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, by Anne L. Macdonald, is wonderful.
    Knit on with power – true power of love that flows from our hearts & minds, through our hands, and into the world.
    P.s. My knitting sister & I are doing a KAL with the Togue Pond top thanks to you!

  • <3

  • “What we do makes an impact” Amen! And thank you for yours. ❤️

  • Our lives are intertwined with every bit of who we are-race, politics, beliefs and ideas, what we choose to do or not do… It takes bravery and personal awareness to put who we are out in the reaches of cyberspace. I admire you, Dana, and all who are standing tall and saying, “Look at me. All of me.” Bravo.

  • You inspire me to want to be more colorful in both my knitting and be thinking.

  • Thank you, Dana. It irritates me to no end when someone says “this isn’t the place to get political.” To me that’s a way to shutoff the conversation. I work with LGBTQ+ parents and children and we are also asked “not to be political.” Often it is “their” politics which is harming my community; you bet I will keep talking about it. I am always so impressed by your posts.

  • Wonderful post! I’m reading Child of the Dream A Memoir of 1963 by Sharon Robinson (Jackie Robinson’s daughter), and I’ve just read that her grandmother taught her how to knit! She shares this skill with Sharon to help ease the stress she’s experiencing with a family situation and social situations. I can’t tell you how happy I was to read about it. Thank you for sharing your experience!

  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts and ideas and views! And, the photos are so very important, because they reveal history that has been untold – suppressed and forgotten. It is wonderful that bit by bit, our FULL history is being uncovered and celebrated by people such as yourself who know that truth is hard, unforgiving, and ultimately rewarding and celebratory.

  • I have often thought that if more men of all races, colors,and backgrounds knitted, the world would benefit from those guys finally usefully seeing what we women havebeen aware of for centuries.

  • Beautiful…a ripple of change for the better. Such a powerful thought and so much potential for collective action. Thank you for this inspiring Saturday morning read.

  • Dana thank you for your post. I so appreciate you putting yourself on the page. It is an act of bravery.

  • Thank you for returning to (indeed, never leaving) the important topic of how knitters and other people view each other and conceive of who “belongs” in the picture. All of us have the human responsibility to push for social justice. Indeed, I took up knitting because I was jealous of friends at advocacy meeting who sat there knitting while I had nothing to do with my hands—counted cross-stitch not being conducive to following a conversation. Good luck with your PhD (your “phud”). I cross-stitched, embroidered and quilted through mine (it was pre-knitting). The pictures and your research are fascinating and help break down too many people’s assumptions about past… and present.

  • I so deeply love and appreciate what you have shared, in both this and the post from a year ago. Nothing will change if we don’t speak our truths out loud. Every. Single. Day.

    The connections we make with others who are knitters and stitchers now and historically are truly profound!

  • Ripple on, my friend. Your words help me see the world around me.

  • Thanks, Dana, for all that you do!

  • Everything is political. Last year, I felt like I needed to tell one of my good friends, who is Latina, that I knew that and was trying to do whatever I could to make it better. Our young-adult sons are lifelong best friends, and they and some buddies were planning a road trip around the west, and I told her that I remembered thinking, they’d better wait until my son (the only one in the group who isn’t Mexican-American) gets his license so he can do the driving in Arizona, since drivers there could get pulled over for “looking like illegal immigrants.” She laughed and asked, “You thought of that too?” Something as routine as driving is political— not for my Irish-Italian son, but for his Mexican-American best friends, whose families have been in the US way longer than mine (we immigrated here from Ireland when I was a child). Which is just wrong. And that has to change, as do so many other things, so I’m voting, donating, reading, calling my representatives.

    Also, I love those photos, especially the first one because they’re smiling and having a good time and it’s so much more casual than many older photos. They’re just kids. 🙂

  • Well put, as always, Dana. Everyplace is a place for politics — or everyday life, as you so rightly put it. Thank you for persevering, despite the challenges, to raise your voice and share your views, I hope your health continues to improve, and look forward to hearing more from you soon.

  • I have so much respect for you Dana. Thank you!

  • thank you for your honesty and integrity.

  • Thank you, Dana.

  • As many others wrote, thank you for this beautiful expression of compassion and insight.

  • I love your words and the pictures you posted of the young girls knitting on the porch and the native american women. I have been blessed to travel the world and the common thread for me is the crafters I have met….weavers, knitters, potters, sculptors……and the enthusiasm that we all share in talking about and showing our work. It didn’t matter who we were, what our religion was, the color of our skin or our beliefs….it was the appreciation and awe of the skill and wishing, many times, that we were neighbors so we could talk and visit more. It’s my wish and prayer that we can all appreciate and respect each other’s gifts.

  • Adding a positive comment to those here. How complex and interwoven are all the things involved in our lives, and how impossible it would be to pull one thread like knitting or politics free of everything else. I am grateful for your part in the fabric of the MDK community, and always want to hear what you have to say. Thank you, Dana! And congratulations on the continuation of your studies.

  • Perfect!

  • I love your posts–you inspire me to be a bit more thoughtful in my everyday practices. Thank you!

  • Thank you so much for sharing more of yourself with us. It’s a beautiful gift you’ve given us and I really appreciate it. And you are absolutely right about needing more variety in historical representation as well.

  • Keep at it, Dana! You’ve clarified some of the ways in which I might respond to the statement, “Not here, this isn’t the place for politics …” The stark truth is that the political landscape affects every part of my life – what I eat, what I breathe, what I hope for my children and my children’s children … We can all agree that somethings need to change, but if I can’t speak about it, how can I hope to make things better? The issue, I think, is not ‘politics’ per se, but learning how to listen with respect and an open mind. Thanks for your speaking and also for your listening.

  • I was watching a medical program I found on youtube and had a sudden jolt into understanding how I go blithely through life because I am white skinned. My days aren’t filled with an underpinning of anxiety because of my skin.
    The jolt I am referring to: a black man has died alone in his home. His relatives first thoughts were ‘was he murdered?’ ( he wasn’t)
    I don’t think murder would be near the top of my list of worries. It shows me the depth of vulnerability that is felt by those with dark skin. I don’t live my life thinking I am a target while many of my fellow humans have that feeling every day.
    I hope I am part of the solution, not part of the problem. I have always done my best, but I now have a better inkling of how skin color defines how we experience our days.

  • Thank you, Dana, the photos are insightful. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to build a collection of photos of the history of knitting groups in our country? I suspect that just like jazz and country music, we would find that the roots of these groups were gatherings of very diverse creators, coming together to share the soul of creating beauty. Don’t stop telling us this story!

  • Sincere thanks. Keep up the good fight, and very best wishes on your PhD work.

  • Thank you, Dana, for beautifully expressing something that needs to be said loudly and clearly for everyone to hear, even though some are not ready to hear it. I am so glad you are healing. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with all of us. Hoping you continue to feel better every day.

  • Dana, I enjoyed reading your article and wish you the best with your future endeavors.
    I love your patterns and look forward to seeing more of them.
    Happy Knitting!
    Betty G.

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