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Usually by this time of the year I’ve not only finished knitting holiday sweaters for my husband, myself, and our dog, I have also photographed our family and have cards mailed. With the way the year 2020 has gone, I decided to not stress myself out about making all the sweaters by a certain timeline and to just focus on sending out cards for the new year.

Honestly, between all of the things (virtual teaching, virtual graduate school, and living through a pandemic), adding a knitting deadline was an unnecessary stress I didn’t need to force on myself. 

Change it up happy

I had an idea to knit three Crazyheart sweaters by Tanis Lavallee: one for my husband, one for myself and one for Jellybean with a color palette of purple, teal, and gray. I started on my husband’s sweater back in November because it would take me the longest, and—since it was a bottom up construction—it gave me time to think about my color palette.

Turned out I didn’t love it, but I kept knitting the body of his sweater hoping to be inspired before I started his color work or started knitting my own.

Then after talking to my knitting girlfriends on a Friday night, I randomly dug through my stash and decided to knit what I call a palette cleanser sweater—something quick and easy to help reenergize me to finish what I’m working on.

I dug deep into my stash and pulled out some now discontinued Classic Elite Chateau and Palace yarns to whip up a bulky weight colorwork sweater—the Planter Pullover by Annie Lupton. I modified the sweater just a tiny bit with shorter sleeves and some short row shaping, but the seafoam green and yellow color palette just made me happy.

I also knit a Lucky Dog sweater by Sole Salvo for Jellybean using Spincycle yarn in a mustardy yellow named Salty Dog—that made me start to rethink my holiday sweater color palette. 

built for happy

As I knit other things and mixed and matched yarns—only knitting what made me smile—it felt so much better than what I had originally planned. So, I decided to change it up and make sweaters that made me happy.

Moving Forward

My husband and I have spent a lot of time together, and as much as I miss hugging my friends and seeing my students, I’ve also relished the fact that I’ve had dinner with my husband every night and have had a lot more evenings snuggled up on the couch with him. He’s been a great pandemic partner and I realize how fortunate we are to be healthy and able to stay home when so many aren’t in the same position as we are.

As hard as 2020 has been, I’m still thankful for this year and the lessons I am taking away from it, but I am definitely looking forward to the new year and what it will bring. And maybe instead of Christmas/holiday sweaters, I’ll just start making us New Year’s sweaters moving forward.  

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.


  • Dana: I love the picture on Rav of you and Jellybean in your bright sweaters. I think bright colors in the winter are a necessity especially this year. I hope you and your family have a wonderful new year with lots of colors to make you all smile.

  • Happy and safe holidays to your beautiful family!

  • I’m sending you and your family wishes for a safe and healthy Christmas and New Year. I love the colours in your sweaters on Rav. Jellybean looks like a ray of doggy sunshine!

  • Love the concept of a “palate-cleansing” project.

    • Me too!

  • Love hearing about the plus side of your year, Dana. We – . well, most of us, anyway, there have, indeed, been tragedies – need to focus on those. Life is too short to dismiss a whole year as bad. Your bright colors certainly help. Happy Holidays!

  • “Knitting what made me smile”.
    Thank you. This is a great knitting mantra.
    I’m looking forward to a colorful 2021.

    • I totally agree we choose knitting for joy.

  • Lovely post! Your gratitude inspires me!

  • Thanks for this Dana, it’s a great reminder that we don’t have to keep forcing ourselves down a road of our own making if it doesn’t make us happy. Happy Christmas to you, jellybean and your lovely husband.

  • As always, I appreciate your columns: they inspire & educate plus they are a joy to read. Wishes for a light-filled & good health-filled 2021 for you & your beloveds. Many thanks again for your writings.

  • Thanks for the timely reminder for a reset. Sometimes I need to re-evaluate my plans.

  • Merry Christmas Dana and A happy and healthy New Year!

  • Dana, What a delightful read and so encouraging. Thank you and may you and yours have a wonderful Christmas and a bright New Year.

  • I like the “knitting a sweater for New Year’s”, what a good start for a new year.

  • You and your family and your knitting make me smile! This is such a blessing in this surreal pandemic season. Thank you!!!

  • uh oh. My hubby just saw the sweater you made for your hubby and, out of the blue said to me, “I want you to make me a sweater just like that. If you did that, I would wear it every day!” I’ve never knit a sweater for him – gulp – so I am taking the hint. Thanks for the inspiration. Happy Holidays and sincere wishes of goodness, peace, joy, and snuggles.

  • Thanks so much for spreading the knitting, color and joy, Dana! Love those sweater colors. And I wish you and your hubbo, Jellybean and all your family and friends a safe, sane and healthy season, as we say a heartfelt Bon Voyage to 2020!

  • Wishing you and your family a very Merry Christmas! Love the idea of knitting what makes you happy right now. I too have let go of deadlines and knit for the joy of it.

  • Dana, Thank you for all the inspiration and wisdom and honesty you have given us this year. I love your happy sweaters, and seeing what you knit always refreshes my sense of what I can knit! In gratitude!

  • Dana- I love reading your blog, seeing your beautiful creations and of course JellyBean. However, I wish I could be one of your very lucky students because you are a very powerful, empathetic and of course interesting educator. Happy Holidays!

  • i am so grateful for your writing and inspiration on all your topics. And I am in love with Jellybean.

  • Can’t believe no pics of these sweaters on you guys. I had to stalk your project pages, and oh my! You look fabulous! ❤️❤️❤️❤️ And the sweaters are beautiful, too.

    Life is definitely too short to knit with boring yarn.

  • Dana’s Yards of Happiness makes me SO happy! Such a bright spot is a day! Thank you! Much more happiness in the New Year

  • What a beautiful and relaxing post! It took away the work stress and made my shoulders drop in a wonderful sigh of relief. Merry Christmas to you and all your beloved.

  • I’ve also been trying to focus more on knitting that makes me happy- I am trying to just let go of false ‘deadlines’ I impose on myself, and just knit happy stuff. Become a process knitter. I’m in the midst of at least 6 new WIPs, and not finishing stuff used to cause me some discontent. I’m telling myself daily how fortunate I am to have the free time and means to knit, and therefore should enjoy each stitch even if it never becomes an FO.
    I’ve learned a lot during the pandemic, and I have been grateful for the time to hunker in, spend time with my household which fortunately contains my favorite people and pets. How nice is that? Complaining about needing to stay in our safe loving homes has felt, to me, to be the ultimate in entitled thinking, and I’ve had precious few moments of wishing to go back to ‘normal’. I wish the pandemic could change a lot of things for the better – it has in my life and I am grateful.

  • Merry Christmas to you and yours, Dana. Thanks for your positive attitude, even in the face of a pandemic. I hope you have a happy and healthy new year.

  • Hi Dana — Thanks for the sunny reminder to knit what makes us happy. Last winter, I knit a gray cardigan, because it would go with everything, It does, but blah what a slog. When the pandemic hit, your “rainbows are neutral” idea became essential project-choosing guidance for me and it has definitely helped. Thanks for taking the time to spread light during the dark days of winter.

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