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2021 is here and so far, it still feels a lot like 2020.

I recently saw a headline about how people with anxiety rewatch old TV shows they have seen before because there is comfort in knowing what to expect. I am one of those people. I’ve had anxiety since I was young and my husband often teases me about how I will rewatch episodes of Law and Order as background noise—there is comfort in the known for me. I like order and repetition, it is soothing.

What could make knitting even more soothing for me? Knitting sweater patterns I know and love.

The Kids Are Alright

I like knitting patterns that I know well so there aren’t any surprises or opportunities to frustrate myself, especially when my anxiety is high (hello, pandemic). Sometimes I just want an easy project, and patterns feel even easier when they’re patterns for children or patterns that have a wide range of sizes so I can make them for everyone in my life.

I know after the holidays people like to knit for themselves after making gifts for others, but since I do not knit Christmas gifts—I hate deadlines and pressure knitting—I spent a lot of my post-Christmas down time making things for others, especially some of the little kids in my life. I thought I’d share some of the patterns I go to over and over again when I just want a soothing and satisfying knit.

Love Note by Tin Can Knits

I have to be honest and say I was surprised when this sweater didn’t win the MDK March Mayhem bracket, it is definitely a favorite pattern of mine. I’ve knit not one, two, three or four but SIX Love Note sweaters now. Two I kept for myself, a regular mohair version for winter and a short sleeve cotton version for summer, and I gave three of them to my sisters and mom.

Over the break, my friend’s daughter asked if I would knit her a sweater that was pink, purple and rainbow. A totally reasonable and adorable request from a four-year-old, and I was happy to oblige. I dug into my stash and decided that a Love Note in her size would be quick. I was correct, it took me two days and I smiled the entire time.

Every time the yarn gave me a new stripe of color, I got excited about what it was about to become. I mailed it off immediately and she promptly wore it to school the very next day. It’s a quick knit that looks great on every body type. How could you not add it to your comfort knitting list?

Baby and Child Sophisticate by Linden Down

I’ve made over a dozen of these cardigans for the children in my life. This is my go-to and such a favorite pattern with a great range of sizes. What makes me love this pattern so much is how easy it is to customize. My latest version is for my girlfriend who had a daughter at the very beginning of the lockdown. I had plans to visit multiple times this year and they have all been dashed. Since I can’t be there, I knit her daughter a cardigan and hat in the same yarn I used to make a hat for her years ago. Trust me, this pattern is a definite keeper.

Southwood by Galt House of Yarn

I mentioned Southwood in the fall when I knit my cousin and her son matching sweaters, and I am mentioning it again because it has been on my needles. I love when patterns have a range of sizes so I can make them for a child as they grow. I made another baby girl a very pink version of this sweater and embroidered the front. It can be knit in worsted or aran weight yarn and I whipped this up in an afternoon, beaming the entire time.

Sometimes I love a knitting challenge, but sometimes when I’m feeling a bit unsure I like to turn to my tried and true.

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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.


  • I so enjoyed this article. Favorite TV reruns, books and knitting patterns are like old friends we can count on.

  • Thank you Dana. That little rainbow Love Note was just what I needed to see this morning.

  • Lovely article and sweaters Dana! You melted me at the “hello”. Thank you

  • Pink + Purple + Rainbow : NAILED IT. So great.
    I also suffer when I don’t have a project on the needles that can go on cruise control, this is a great reminder to set myself up better for that. Your prolificness also reminds me of what I’m always telling myself as I knit – I run into project uncertainty nearly every time, where I think I’ve made a terrible color choice or it won’t fit or… And I have to tell myself, well, keep knitting and find out and then knit it again or knit another or fix it.

  • Loved your article, so much truth in it. I too was surprised that the Lovenote didn’t win. It’s such a beautiful sweater. (It’s in my queue to knit, I even have the yarn. ) I love all the Tin Can Knits patterns. One of the reasons is because they are so size inclusive. And knitting for little ones is gratifying. I have several people in my life who are expecting. I think they call them pandemic babies.

    • In every picture I’ve seen (and there have been a lot) Love Note seems to suit everyone. It’s kind of spooky in that respect.

  • I can so identify! I’ve been a Law and Order junky for years (decades). And I reach for familiar patterns when stressed. Last spring I knitted at least 30 golf club covers. There is comfort in the familiar.

  • Oh, is THAT why I keep watching Star Trek and Space:1999 … I had parsed it as far as “I wish I wasn’t on Planet Earth right now, take me away, Professor Bergman,” but anxiety/comfort in familiarity makes a lot of sense. 🙂

    Your wee sweaters are adorable – I especially love the rainbow one!

  • After my husband passed in February, I had to have Gunsmoke on just to fill the silence. I had always knit with it playing while he watched it in the other room. Comforting to me now

  • I love this article! Totally identified with background noise of old tv shows. For me it’s Everybody Loves Raymond and The Office.

  • I would like to knit the hat that accompanies the Baby and Child Sophisticate sweater. Please let me know where to find that pattern. Thank you.

  • Thank you Dana for writing about knitting and anxiety. I haven’t been knitting much lately and think I will finish that simple cowl I’ve had lingering for awhile. Your sweaters are just a feast for the eyes!

  • Love the rainbow Love Note. Could you share the yarn you used? Thanks!

    • Dana has documented over 400 projects on Ravelry – I stop by her project page for joy & inspiration pretty regularly. On the page for the rainbow Love Notes sweater, which she called “Little Love Note,” she said she used Lion Brand Cupcake DK in colorway 219 Balloons.

      • Thanks, Tess!

  • Thank You, thank you,…thank you!

  • Thank you Dana. You are always so uplifting with your posts. I love the bright colors. They are so uplifting. I have yet to knit a sweater but one day……

    • Follow Dana’s example and start with a baby one!

  • Your rainbow Love Note is smile-fodder. I hope the recipient just beams every time she wears it. And I don’t know why I never thought to make a short-sleeved cotton Love Note to wear in summer, but I am now! It will join the other two I’ve already made. Truly, a great pattern that I’ll return to over and over.

  • Thank you same feelings here

  • I am so impressed that you actually finish so many sweaters. Each one charming and packed with personality. Even though you are using familiar patterns, you have created unique variations suited to the wearers. My commitment for this year is to finish all of my half-knit sweaters. (I think this was actually last year’s resolution. But then COVID interrupted and I found it difficult to concentrate on anything other than scarves and cowls.) Finishing them will remind me of the times when they were started. First on the list, a Rowan kit purchased at the Liberty store in London. The woman at the sales register was knitting. Knitting at work in a major department store. I told her I thought she had the most perfect job in the world. (Just as a total aside, when I was in Kansas City the department store sales people would bring in TV sets to watch the Chiefs play on Sunday afternoons.) It is such a comfort to go back to that magical afternoon stolen from a long week of business travel. As for the background, late at night it’s Murder She Wrote. During the day, most recently, all variations on Morse.

  • Thank you Dana. It’s always a pleasure reading your posts, and the bright colours never fail to cheer.

  • Another great pattern rundown! Thanks!!

  • I totally get your leaving TV on while you knit. For me it’s the Great British Bake Off (GBBO), of which I have watched all of its seasons a bazillion times. Or a sport like baseball where you know when to look up because suddenly there’s more noise! 🙂 Or curling (seriously).

    Thanks so much for this foray into knitting for the littles. I have a now 2yo granddaughter who’s into a 3T already so I’ll have to keep asking her parents to measure her for me! 🙂

    • I haven’t been knitting much during the pandemic, although I still buy yarn. Mostly I just knit dish towels and dish cloths anxiously, while I watch tv. I have a lot of dish cloths.

  • Your sense of color is such a balm!

    I, too, rewatch familiar things… costume dramas, Big Bang theory (because my kitchen used to resemble their living room). Here’s to 2021 looking better. after the memorial last night, my emotional buttons were all pushed at the empathy and acknowledgment of the lives that have been lost.

  • Thank you so much for this article! I love all the patterns, but Southwood, especially, appealed to me. Even better, I went to Ravelry and it was offered as a free download!

  • Thank you, Dana, for pointing out “Love Note”– I have been eyeing the pattern but for some reason haven’t committed– seeing your rainbow version has convinced me! I’m in~ one for myself and one for my niece!

  • Hello Dana, Thank you so much for this post today. Learning why I continue to watch so many reruns is enlightening and empowering! I needed to see this patterns too. Can I find how you made the Child Sophisticate Cardigan WITHOUT the shawl collar somewhere? I love knitting for my grandchildren. I’m ready to cast on all three.

    • It looks as if it’s picked up and knitted on afterwards, so you should be ok if you just follow the instructions for the number of stitches to pick up, then just knit straight for a handful of rows (following the button hole section of the pattern but skipping the shawl collar instructions) and bind off.

  • Thank you for this lovely note. I, too, am into “comfort rewatching” while knitting. Soothes my nerves. I have been searching for patterns that I could customize for two different families, each with a daughter and son. These are wonderful–thank you. Happy knitting!!

  • YESSS!!!

    While my “favorites” list is different than yours, I completely understand that desire to repeat something which has brought you joy in the past I’ve made the Leisure Arts Top-Down Raglan (vintage pattern from the 70s) at least two dozen times, in sizes from newborn to XXXL.

    Yay for Knitting Comfort Food!

    • In the 70’s I made a bunch of those sweaters too! Loved them, it is what I learned to knit sweaters on. Been thinking of revisiting them and improvising.

  • I so agree with you about knitting Christmas presents, Dana. One year I knit 7 of the most beautiful scarves in luscious yarn for my family, injured my rotator cuff and was thanked by exactly 2 of the recipients. Never again.

  • Always enjoy reading your articles.
    Today, especially after watching a joyous inauguration!
    Your sweaters, your personality, are all joyous, too.
    Thank you.

  • That pink, purple and rainbow lovenote is just adorable. I can’t get over how fast you knit too! I totally agree about familiar things being comforting in times of stress too. Thanks for this lovely bright post Dana, it’s cheered me right up.

  • I’ve had Law and Order on in the background for 20 years!!

  • Thank You! I’ve been knitting my favorite shawl patterns. Bravo to you for knitting such Beautiful sweaters!

  • My feelings about knitting are just like yours, repeating patterns I know well many times keeps me calm and happy. I’m home from work recuperating from a serious fall and hip replacement surgery and I’ve made (so far) 9 pairs of baby booties in many different colors and decorative ties for all the babies and grandbabies being born in my life: it’s also all My brain can handle as I mend. My feelings and emotions guide what I knit. I really like it that way

  • Interesting that I don’t like to rewatch shows and movies. I’m always looking for something new to watch. But when it comes to my knits, I often knit patterns I love multiple times. Most recently I’ve knit Pull the Wool Over (5 times) & Twistmas (4 times), both hats, both Espace Tricot free patterns. My favourite one skein shawl pattern is Antarktis by Woolenberry which I’ve now knit 3 times. I’ve also knit a great free super bulky weight (knits up quick!) blanket pattern called Fire Side Chat by Molly Conroy 4 times. The joy of knowing!

  • Oh my goodness Dana! This article so completely hits home. I read books over and over and over again. I watch movies over and over and over again. I go to the same two restaurants every week for take out. My pandemic knitting was felted slippers for everyone in my family and then some (35 pairs in total). The steadiness of that project was like a lifeline of certainty for me this past year. Thank you for this piece of writing and thank you for all you gave to us in 2020. It was a long hard year and your posts and articles helped get us through it and feel a little less alone.

  • What perfect timing. Thank you! I have a friend who is expecting in March, and Baby & Child Sophisticate is just the thing. (And yes, to the anxiety skills – repeats of favorite audio books, familiar tea, favorite comfy lap blanket, same pattern-different yarn.)

  • Yes to relying on tried and true things in times of high anxiety – I recently watched old episodes of Julia Child’s cooking show, such a comfort. I’ve knit the baby and child sophisticate a couple times, and even a slow knitter like me can whip one up pretty fast.

  • You are amazing! “…whipped it up in an afternoon” 🙂 I love your passion for sweaters and ability to encourage the rest of us.

  • i can relate to using the old TV shows as backround- love those old star trek episodes. My often knitted comfort sweater pattern is a baby sweater pattern from my mom – a Jack Frost simple cardigan or pull over that I have made since the 1980s. No two were alike and they were great for experimenting with yarns , color and stitch patterns.

  • How Beautiful, love the selection of your colors! God Bless your efforts in our behalf!!!

  • I want a baby sophisticate sweater for myself to match baby’s.! How can I do that?

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