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I don’t know about you, but this month I have been particularly prickly. Perhaps it is the looming one-year anniversary of Covid sheltering at home. It might be the weight of loss from all of the people who have lost their lives to this deadly virus. Or it could be the lingering effects from the political madness that occurred not too far down the road from where I live. Watching TV and seeing streets I’ve often driven down now blocked with high gates and barbed wire has left a sour feeling in my stomach.

It’s almost as if we are living under a gray storm cloud, and I am so exhausted by that. I have hit and slowly slid down a pandemic wall.

I knew it was coming, I knew it would happen and I also know I’m not alone. So, the other day I decided I needed a quick and satisfying knit to give myself a mood boost, and then it dawned on me: that is probably why Ann and Kay always do a Bang Out knitalong at this time of year! Duh!  

Make Mine a Pullover

I’m not a rug person—I’m a sweater person—and I decided to finally use the yarn in my stash I bought to make myself a Winston pullover. I knit one for a friend back in 2019 and I loved how I could knit it in a weekend. Super bulky weight yarn and a super simple to follow pattern by Jane Richmond was just what I needed.

When I originally knit this sweater and tried it on, I realized that a sweater knit in super bulky weight yarn could actually be fun to knit and flattering on the body. I decided to knit my version using a yarn with a rainbow ribbon running through it because rainbows always make me happy. I also knit the body slightly shorter because of the fit I like in my sweaters, but otherwise I stuck to the pattern and I was so happy by the results. Four days of knitting, rainbows on my needles and it helped me wipe away a bit of the gloom I kept feeling at the end of the day. 

Gotta Love a Grandpa

Don’t want a pullover? How about the Superbulky Grandpa cardigan by Joji Locatelli? I’ve also knit this one—I leave it in my office at the University so I always have a cardigan I can throw on when my classroom gets cold. It’s cozy and has the coolest construction that isn’t too complex. Added bonus, POCKETS! Why do pockets always make everything so much better? 

Spring Forward

Or maybe this time of year you just want to knit a vest to help transition into spring. I’ve got Milliken by Elizabeth Smith on my list too. A cowl neck vest with a split hem is the perfect layering piece as warmer days come – and they will come!

No matter what you’re knitting, make it a great color. Always wear black? Try any of these in a crazy bright hot pink or red instead. Always wearing grey? Perhaps a sunny yellow would brighten up your perspective—or a green. I’ve found that as my mood gets sour, the brighter the sweater I put on.

Warmer, brighter days are ahead. I can feel it. 

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Photo Credits: Jane Richmond, Joji Locatelli, Whitney Hayward, Dana Williams-Johnson

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.


  • Thank you for expressing what so many of us feel. I’ve said things that I usually have enough sense to keep to myself and wondered what was different about now that hasn’t been true for almost a year now. Thank you for the word ‘prickly.’ It says that how I feel isn’t a failing and it isn’t permanent. That I need to be handled with care, for my sake and the sake of those around me. And that things as simple as bright colors and achievable goals will see me through.

    • Thank you for sharing your uplifting thoughts and beautiful smile. Please give Jellybean a kiss from me, she looks just like my furbaby.

  • Just what I needed! I’m knitting a fingering weight sweater, so these super bulky sweaters all look fabulous to me. Thank you for the inspiration. I’m a bit prickly, some might say crabby, too.

    • Thanks, Dana. For the strategy to counter the bluesy-grumps, and for being and sharing your wonderful knitterly self. I had to go nosing around til I found the rainbow-filled yarn you talked about. Truly luscious, if a tad too cozy for Florida. Thanks for being you!

      • And it’s February, the toughest month to get through. It’s two months past the holidays and two months until we can get gardening. That lime green cardi is THE perfect gazot needed. Thank you, Dana.

  • Boy oh boy, did you hit the nail on the head. And add to that being so far away from our kids in Texas right now. But, let me recommend that , even “sweater people “ could fall in love with this KIKI Rug thing – it’s just about the most satisfying escape I’ve found this year.

  • Thanks Dana. Your article has cheered me up and made me feel more positive. You’re definitely not the only one who has hit that wall, OK if I join you sitting on the floor for a bit?

  • I awoke this morning in a similar mind, with the thought that we need to step away from the same old grind stone, the same wheel that’s been turning and churning our thoughts the past Quadra years. Let’s focus on something other than the simplistic idea that we must be defined by only one aspect of our multigigibit neuron driven brains. Instead let’s focus on what brings us happiness. Real happiness.
    NASA has successfully dropped a rover on Mars! Spring is close at hand! For some it’s Cowabunga time on the surfboard. Let’s focus on what truly makes our hearts joyful. Teaching my granddaughter to knit has been inspirational. Her endeavors with the two sticks we called needles is artistic!

    • Perseverance! I watched the live landing yesterday, and one of the NASA people commented on how they could not have picked a more appropriate name. I’ve been in a funk too, but somehow watching that rover made me feel better. And I temporarily put aside the gray thing I was knitting and pulled out a bright multicolor for a shawl. And this morning, although it was still snowing, I once again noticed how much the bird activity has increased lately. Onward and upwards!

      • Bird activity Def increasing where I am in MA.

  • Yes!
    Prickly: It’s an overly infused adrenaline drop.
    Yup you nailed it…. That’s what I’ve saying too.

    Solid sleep and some focused knitting is helping. Lots of water!!!!
    But now a little coffee before greeting the online classes with a winter read-aloud.
    I will be ripping back my Stonecrop (BTweed) today for more vibrancy.

    Peace y’all

  • Hope to see you on YouTube with more cotton sweater updates.. love your style.. thank you for sharing.

  • Dana just your beautiful smile and Jellybean wearing your adorable sweaters make me smile every time!

    • I agree. Your sweater is Grampa’s in a bright green, would you share the name of Jelly Beans hot pink sweater?

    • Amen!!

    • Exactly what I was thinking! Joyful!

  • Dana, you bring the sunshine! Thank you.

  • Ditto to all the above comments. Hit the wall and slowly slid down it to a puddle of exhaustion and exasperation

    • *So* true – same here.

  • Dana your articles always make me smile which makes a wonderful start to the day- thank you and keep them coming

  • My mood is always boosted when I get to read something written by Dana.

  • Your smile and your sunshine article is just what this Texan needed this morning. Even though the heat is on and the water wants to be, our collective continued misery needed you today. Thank you for sharing and letting us all know that prickly is not a failing.

    • So true. Thanks for expressing

  • Bless you Dana.

  • Wonderful article – I am prickly too! Love your projects and hope to see the rainbow sometime. A vest with a cowl would be too hot for me. I’ll have to see if some clever person has done a modification. The green colour is so spring-like.

    • … should have said “see the rainbow ribbon sweater” sometime…

  • Just reading about Dana and seeing her megawatt smile is a mood booster!

  • Thank you for sharing these pattern ideas. I’m venturing into sweater and nice for you to provide the degree of difficulty.

  • LOL I started to read your words and it was as if you were in my head and you clarified what I have been feeling lately. Especially the prickly part. Thank you. I always enjoy reading your words and I love your use of color – something I hesitate to really explore sometimes. I will go and pick a project just for me and do some stash diving. I think a layering vest is just what I need right now. Have an incredible day and thank you again for saying what I have been feeling and not knowing what to do with. <3

  • You are not alone and I have a feeling that you are a reader, check out the book WINTERING by Katherine May.She explains why, how, when and if you can put it on Audible, you’re golden !

  • I was a test knitter for Joji’s superbulky Grandpa sweater. I was visiting my daughter in another state and the weather went from what was projected to downright cold, the day I was to fly home there was a foot of unexpected snow. I needed a warmer layer to wear over my clothes for church and started knitting my purple alpaca blend Grandpa on Wednesday with box store needles and yarn. It has been a great addition to my wardrobe and only took 3 days!

    • What yarn did you use? What yarn does Joji recommend?

  • The picture of you and Jellybean in your “matching” sweaters is worth 24 hours of sunshine! I am sure you speak for all of us who are similarly hitting that wall. Your thoughtful words bring a spark of hope that change is on the way…

    Your gorgeous green Grandpa is much like a sweater I knit 10 years ago, which is a staple in my winter wardrobe. But it’s too practical: I used winter white wool so that it would “go” with everything. I now realize why I’ve gotten tired of wearing it–it’s TOO practical! I am a color girl! Resolving to knit a new staple sweater in a glorious shade of who-knows-what, practicality be damned! Thank you for the inspiration!

  • It’s impossible to look at that gorgeous picture of you and Jellybean and not smile back! Thanks for brightening up my dreary Friday!

  • Reading Dana always brightens my day, even if she is feeling gloomy. It’s like getting a letter from my best friend.

  • I love your uplifting attitude. After reading this article, of course I had to go on to read the one on knitting custom sweaters for dogs since my dog is hard to find store bought clothing for. Then I was led into another article that showed a lot more pictures of your dogs and the beautiful sweaters you knit for them, yourself and your husband! Thank you for all the inspiration and sharing the wonderful pictures with us. I would love to have you as a nextdoor neighbor!

  • The sweater that Jellybean is wearing has got to be the cutest I have ever seen. Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the model is adorable.

  • Thank you for this bright, cheerful picture and post. It’s just what I needed. I too at times have felt so down from this lock down and this is helping me get back up. I think I will try my hand at one of these fast knit sweaters in a bright cheerful color. You are such an inspiration!

  • I always look forward to your posts, Dana! That color is fabulous on you, and you’re reminding me–I too have been prickly for all the reasons you mention, and the worst of the mood always seems to coincide with when, for whatever reason, I haven’t been knitting enough. I’m going to find something brightly-colored and cozy to kick off my weekend, and try to truly relax for a bit.

  • This post really lifted me up! I’ve been feeling the same way, it’s so nice to hear your sunny perspective on these dark days. The sunshine is coming!!! Just keep knitting ❤️

    …thank you SO much for including my Winston Pullover in your list! It made my day!!

  • I was very prickly indeed by the end of last year (lockdowns, death in the family, changing employment, packing up for a big move) whilst in the midst of our Southern Hemisphere winter. And then our spring/summer came and with it, sunshine! So hold on everyone – your spring sunshine WILL make you all feel so much better – it definitely helped me A LOT!
    PS – pockets do make everything better, especially for dresses.

  • Hi Dana and all other knitters. My name is Josie, I’m from Amsterdam. Grim times indeed, it’s difficult to get into a happy mindset with everything that’s going on. Haven’t seen my mum, 91, in person since August 2020. But spring is on its way and personally I find happiness in feeling that we’re going through this together ánd that knitting creates a strong worldwide bond. Stay safe and knit

  • That is the perfect shade of green, so cheerful and spunky! Thank you Dana.

  • You made my day. The grandpa cardigan is super, and your dog is adorable.

  • Thank you for the lovely smile and advice

  • Rainbows always win!

  • Dana, I loved your comments about the Superbuilky Grandpa and quickly jumped on the bandwagon order some of the Big Wool and the pattern. I love the color I chose but I am having issues with my gaurge (the reason why I shy away from knitting garments). I can get the number of stitches per inch but my number of rows is off. The pattern calls for knitting a certain number of rows rather than inches so I feel I am doomed before I start. Do you have any thoughts about an alternative pattern?

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