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I openly admit to the fact that I have an overflowing collection of gorgeous yarns and a catalog of patterns that I couldn’t knit in a lifetime. I own knitting books, take classes, and gobble up knitting techniques and information whenever I can. I love to knit and have since I learned back in 2011.

I revel in the beauty of stitches, in the fact that I can in fact make myself the colorful rainbow sweater I’ve always wanted but never found, and that I can make my own clothes. Knitting is my meditation and my peace at the end of a long day.

A PhD candidate in Hannah Mann’s PhD Candidate

It is rare that I am caught without my knitting because it feels almost as if it is an extension of me. And yet knitting just for the joy and love sometimes seems trivial to the world at large. Such a silly little thing to do when I could use my time so much more wisely. HA! 

Someone asked me the other day why I knit so many sweaters. I laughed and simply answered, “because I can.” I always get asked why I love knitting so much but lately I’ve felt like I’ve gotten more comments wanting me to justify my love for knitting too.

When it comes to crafts, to things that are considered “women’s work,” I find that more people question the value or the need for it. Questions like: Why waste the time knitting when you could just buy a sweater? Why would anyone want to knit socks? Can’t you just go to Target and get a hat, scarf and mittens set? Aren’t you just wasting money?

Yet no one has ever asked my husband why he spends so much time and money playing golf (and some of those hours playing golf are even spent playing with me).

I find myself even more bothered and examining the double standard since I finished my doctorate about knitting and representation. And in turn, it has made me ask more questions too. Why is it we expect everything women do to be of value to the rest of the world but not something of value just to us? Why can’t we just knit because we want to…because we can and enjoy it?

From December 2022 through March of 2023, I was writing the last chapters of my dissertation and teaching full time and yet in the few moments of down time in my day, I chose to knit. Over those four months, I knit two sweaters that were significant to me.

For myself, I knit the PhD Candidate sweater by Hannah Mann, since I actually was one. I didn’t want to jinx it and didn’t knit it until I was officially a candidate. I dug through my yarn and pulled out the colors of my university. It was like a gift to myself to commemorate that time in my life because I am never getting another PhD.

The second sweater I knit was the Alyssum Sweater by Tomomi Yoshimoto as a gift for my advisor, Dr. Loren Coleman. She helped to usher me through the most challenging parts of my graduate degree, helped keep me on track and on task and gave me the motivation to finish.

I knit a lot of love and gratitude into each flower on that sweater and was delighted to give it to her at my graduation. She was shocked: one, that I knit her a sweater while writing my dissertation; two, that I knit one that fit her; and three, that I picked colors and a pattern that so suited her personality and style.

I definitely paid attention to her in class. It’s my knitting super power, to find the perfect thing to make for someone I love and care about. And in giving her that gift, I got all the validation I needed in making such a special gift for my advisor and one for myself.

I don’t call projects I make for myself “selfish knits.” I learned to knit for myself, so using that skill definitely isn’t selfish. I’m proud to just delight in the process and the projects and will keep knitting to my heart’s content. 

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.


  • Congratulations, Dr. Williams-Johnson, on your PhD and on being such a positive force in the world — one that needs no justification. Your writing, knitting, and spirit are so inspiring!

    • I am interested in reading your thesis. Is there a way to do that online or get a physical copy?

    • Well said, I second every word!

  • So powerful, well said and I love your point of view.

    • What a beautiful sweater you created for your advisor, what a big heart you have! I love following your posts, you inspire me always.

  • Congrats on your PhD! What an awesome topic! Thanks for encouraging me to knit for myself and not feel guilty! You’re absolutely correct, people expect everything we do to be of service to others. How freeing to not allow them to steal our joy. You rock!

  • Women’s work! Ha! I love your thought process around the concept. I have knit for almost 70 years. Yes I love it but I have made things for babies nieces and nephews and homeless folks and nursing homes and prayer shawls. I had ful and busy career. Never lost interest in new techniques. Yes it gave me satisfaction in the process and think it made a few others happy as well. Who could ever find these items in a store that would make us as happy as this! Thank you Dana.

  • Dear Dana,

    I am scientific researcher in a completely different field, with a backgound in psuchology. I looked your PhD dissertation and I was impressed by your work, congractulations! A PhD work in knitting, back women and communication, it just sparked my interest!!! Congractulations from a fellow doctor and knitter!!


    • Oh that means so much that you looked up my dissertation! Thank you!

    • Dana, congratulations!! I am so happy for you. I envy your ease of knitting sweaters for yourself and those you love. Have you ever thought of instilling that “making a sweater is easy” knowledge into a book? If you do, I will be first in line to buy it.

  • Congratulations on your doctorate!

  • Congratulations Dr. Dana!

    • Congrats! Have to know: where are you sitting in the photo with the brick buildings??

  • Brilliant, and thank you for the welcome reminder to all of us who’ve had to defend how we spend our spare time.
    Congratulations DOCTOR!!!

    • “Because I’m never getting another PhD!” LOL. I felt that way when I finished mine, too. I took up knitting during that fraught period to relax after a full day of research and writing. Those evenings knitting were when the insights came. Brains are funny that way. I’m going to look up your work now.

      Congratulations, Dr. Williams-Johnson! Knit on.

    • Well said & what beautiful sweaters! Congratulations on your PhD.

  • What a beautiful gift and so perfect! I feel like I’m an observant person but I definitely struggle with knits that are spot on for others. Congratulations Dr! And what a great topic. We definitely need more people like you, knitting and showing us the way.

  • Brava, Dr. Dana! Your joy and excellence in academics, knitting, and living your best life are wonderful to behold! We MDK-readers are fortunate to enjoy the reflections of our favorite PhD—Post Hole Digger, as one child laughingly explained to me!

  • I LOVED this article. It struck a note inside me about why I knit and knit gifts for other people. Congratulations on your Ph.D. !!!!
    I taught myself to knit during the COVID pandemic and as a healthcare worker I found it very calming after a long day at work. I still consider myself a beginner knitter and love knitting dishcloths for nieces and nephews and hats, scarves and mittens for anyone who requested them. The sweaters pictured in the article are beautiful and they started me thinking I would like to try knitting a sweater for myself. How did you get started knitting sweaters? Do you recall what pattern you selected for your first sweater?
    Congratulations on your degree and your beautiful beautiful sweaters!

  • Dana, your thoughts are so wonderful and welcome, and all these comments are right on; I can’t add any new thanks. But I just have to add my own: thank you for all you do!

  • Thank you for this Dana. And congratulations on finishing your PHD. What an accomplishment! And your two sweaters are beautiful

  • Love. Pursuing a love that resonates history in the modern day. Additionally, you have provided an exceptional source of material through your dissertation for future historians and scholars. You’ve done with many just dream of doing.
    I’m overwhelmed with the beauty of the sweater you designed for your advisor. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
    Congratulations, Dr. Dana Williams-Johnson!

  • Congrats on the PHD, that’s awesome and so is your wonderful knitting. Validating what you love doing is your passion so why the need? Not justifying works for me and sail on enjoying. I love seeing your art!

  • My mother was in the Business School at Northwestern in early 1950s. One of only fifteen women. She used to knit argyle socks during lectures – hanging bobbins and all. One day a professor was exasperated by the class and blurt out that they were all wasting their time, “except for that girl knitting.”

  • Kudos on the doctorate degree! A stunning achievement!
    I too knit because I can! Taught at a very young age (4) by
    my Maternal grandmother I find it a Life skill that I Am able
    to use as an amazing meditative tool, a de-stressor, and gift
    generator, and I certainly do not feel I need to justify my choice
    to knit for anyone’s belief.

  • Yes, yes, YES! Everything you wrote is exactly how I feel. Thank you for sharing your passion, your joy and your knowledge with us…and congratulations!

  • What a joy to read your article! I feel the same about knitting …. and glad to have such talented company.

  • I knit because I can. It brings me joy, relaxes me, and helps my mind ponder things without obsessing over them. I love learning new techniques and discovering new yarns. This year my husband commented that he had decided to not buy me sweaters anymore because I knit my own and they were beautiful. Gifts are knit and given with love and gratitude for the recipient.

  • Congratulations! On your PhD, your multitude of sweaters, and not having to explain! I am awed by your productivity and your mindset.

  • Yes yes yes yes and yes!

  • I find Dana not only so talented but inspirational, she makes me want to keep on knitting.

  • I love this post! I would love to read the dissertation because just from just the one sentence about the topic I am sure that it makes important points that many of us will find relatable. I knit my way through grad school, even as I was raising an infant and a pre-schooler; it was how I maintained my sanity. I did not, however, produce two such elaborate, complex, and beautiful sweaters as Dana has shared with us. I hope that now that the dissertation is done and accepted that we get to see more of Dana on these pages.

  • Thank you, Dana! You perfectly capture so many insightful and important aspects of being a knitter, a woman, a friend, and a concurrent student and educator. Dr. Coleman’s smile says it all about your generous and perfect gift! During my doctorate journey, I declared Thursday ‘no-schoolwork’ day and always found myself knitting in those few hours not spent reading or writing (or working the day job). Yes, you said it, knitting time is not selfish – it’s precious and important!

  • Love, love, love every single word!

  • Brava, Dana! Wonderful, wonderful.

  • Woo hoo! Congratulations and what a spectacular gift.

  • You are an inspiration and I thank you for sharing your story with us.

  • Congratulations Dr. Williams-Johnson. Thank you for your article. I found it inspiring and I feel happy! I look forward to reading your blog and watching your videos.

  • Congratulations! If men could only do some of the so called “women’s work” the world might look a little differently. Your spirit and dedication are an inspiration.

  • That is just your SECOND sweater?? You must have been Born to Knit! What is Wrong with “Women’s Work” anyway? Occasionally I get kind of sidetracked by a TV woodworking show – how do they cut those lines so straight? Does the host of that show get belittled for doing “Men’s Work”? Who needs a handmade rolling pin or pizza peel anyway? (Who needs a pizza peel period? Can’t you just buy pizza in a store?). There is a great book – which I can’t find right now, of course – which describes all the benefits of knitting. Including as an aid to addiction withdrawal. Knitting is fun, portable and you get to make beautiful things. End of story.

    • No that was her second sweater WHILE she was working on her dissertation! Dr Williams-Johnson has knit many many sweaters and the most heart warming matchy sweaters for her adorable chihuahuas, look on Ravelry.
      Congratulations doc and thank you for your letters that are always inspiring!

  • As an attorney, a wife, a mother, and now a grandmother, so much of my life has been about other people. I wouldn’t have it any other way. But now, I struggle with spending time on things for myself. Your words untied a worrisome knot inside me and I’m very grateful to you. Thank you! And thank you for sharing your beautiful sweaters!

  • Alas, someone who feels about knitting that I do, and well said to boot. What a gift!

  • Your smile says it all! Well, along with your words, of course! Thank you for this article and for sharing your knitting and wisdom with the world.

    Looking at your projects’ page in Ravelry (489 projects!) is so inspirational to me! What a wonderful way to start the weekend and give me the push I needed to finish my first sweater (it’s too big but I don’t care!).

  • You are such an inspiration. I love your story! Congrats on your PhD

  • Hello Dana,
    I never comment on articles but I have to tell you how much I love, love, love you!! Your passion, your colors, sweaters, intelligence and your kindness. I so enjoy your articles and gain inspiration from them always!

  • You are a super hero! Thank you for all your super encouraging words.

  • Congratulations Dr. Dana Williams Johnson! You are an inspiration in every way!

  • Dr Williams-Johnson is inspiring in so many ways-what a loving gesture to create a custom sweater for her advisor.
    And for something completely off topic-Betty the Chihuahua is a leading character on ‘Will Trent’, a current TV program. Betty has been sporting cute sweaters and when I saw her I immediately thought of Jellybean.

  • What a great article! Congrats and keep us posted on future prijectz

  • Congratulations on your PhD, after all that hard work. Those 2 sweaters are stunning – I love the flowers so much. Thanks for the research done on and ideas you’ve put out in the world, about knitting and representation. And, the wonderful inspiration for colourful, joyful knitting.

  • Terrific philosophy which I support 100%! Kudos to you for accomplishing the esteemed title of PhD after your name.

    • Congratulations on finishing your doctorate and on more wonderful sweaters. I’d like « I knit because I can « on a t-shirt! Or maybe intarsia on a sweater!

  • That is just your SECOND sweater?? You must have been Born to Knit! And what a side-benefit to being your friend. What is Wrong with “Women’s Work” anyway? Occasionally I get kind of sidetracked by a TV woodworking show – how do they cut those lines so straight? Does the host of that show get belittled for doing “Men’s Work”? Who needs a handmade rolling pin or pizza peel anyway? (Who needs a pizza peel period? Can’t you just buy pizza in a store?) There is a great book – which I can’t find right now, of course – which describes all the benefits of knitting. Most likely you came across it in your research. Which lists knitting as perhaps unexpectedly, wonderful as an aid to addiction withdrawal. In the end, knitting is fun, portable and you get to make beautiful things. End of story. (I admire Ph.D. achievers like you for not just the work but the sheer long-haul determination that it takes to get there. Bravo!)

  • Thank you for your lovely affirming words and congratulations! Well done you!!!

  • Congrats on your defense!!!
    It’s a long hard road … and knitting helps. I know.

  • You’ve always been Dr. Knitter to us! Congratulations on your degree and on a victorious life.

  • The Alyssum sweater is absolutely stunning! You are amazing and so thoughtful!!!

  • Dana, I loved this!!! Congratulations on your PhD too!!! What an accomplishment. Thank you for your inspiring story.

  • Amen and well said! Congratulations on your degree!!!

  • Thank you! Like Miriam I would love to read your thesis – has it been bound and where might someone be able to purchase a copy? The theory of women’s work makes me grit my teeth.

    • By the way – Congratulations!

  • I firmly agree that there are so many other interests (I will not call them hobbies – because I think that is diminishing) which cost more money, take more time, and in some instances involve MUCH less skill, but which are not trivialized the way fiber crafting is. Moreover, I have spent WAY too much time on silly games on my phone, with nothing to show but a “high score” – and some folks spend money on those games as well. Just this week I saw a TikTok responding to the criticism that someone reads too much…….ummm, what?!
    When I knit, the result is always a useful object. AND it is my entertainment. That’s what I call valuable.

  • congratulations Dr. williams-johnson, what an awesome accomplishment and while knitting sweaters that fit! you should be very proud of all your accomplishments, power to the women!

  • Hooray!! Will we see a book out of this disseration? Asking for a friend.

  • Yes, YES, and ***YES***!!! “Women’s work” (as if there truly were such a thing — beyond those associated with childbirth and lactation) has so often been ephemeral, performed within the confines of the family group, and intended for immediate consumption or utilization. As such, its products don’t hang around for study by archeologists, sociologists, or any of the other learned (and, historically, mostly male) “-ologists” who get to rule on that which is culturally or historically significant. “Women’s work” therefore tends to fall somewhere between “frivolous” and “an idle hand is the Devil’s workshop.” And that judgment is often made by those (again, most often male) who will directly benefit from it. Thus, a well-cooked meal is “good”, even though it disappears in a tenth of the time taken to produce it, but an intricately crafted tablecloth is “frivolous”, even though it may be handed down for generations (mostly by and to women).

    You keep knitting, Dana! Keep creating beauty. Keep imbueing every stitch with love and hope and caring. And please, keep sharing your thoughts and your projects with us.

    Woman’s work is never done because life and love are never ended.

  • I love everything about this column. How amazing to accomplish a PhD……and make the time to knit while doing it. And yes, the constant need to explain WHY.

  • I am impressed by your knitting fortitude! Both sweaters are fabulous.

  • Wonderful story. If we ever thought we needed permission to knit, you just gave it. Congratulations on your PhD and fantastic knitting accomplishments.

  • “Why can’t we just knit because we want to…because we can and enjoy it?”

    Absolutely! Thank you so much for your thoughts, and congratulations on your PhD!

  • Congratulations on your PhD! That is an achievement that deserves recognition!
    I agree that women’s creations are undervalued, whether they are works of traditional art or hand-crafted pieces that reflect individual imagination and talent.
    Also, I love your doggies!

  • I ended up in a hospital due to kidney problem when I was 7 months pregnant…my husband took my glasses, so I was not able to see T.V…..the next day a nurse gave my needles and yarn..she said I looked smart enough to figure it out. That was around 50 years ago. And today I still have nothing knitted or crocheted for myself…there has always been someone who could use a sweater or scarf.

  • Both of these sweaters are wonderful, Dana!

  • Quite a variety of eye rolls…
    “Watch doin’?”
    Knitting…working on a sweater for…”
    Interrupted, “Oh, I could never have time for that…or patience… or…”
    Me—“… you’ll never know what you’re missing…”
    As I’m thinking of all the wonderful, interesting people I’ve met because…KNITTING!
    Congrats on your accomplishments—ALL of them. Yummy sweaters.

  • Congratulations on your Ph.D.

    We are not truly equal when women only seek to emulate men. How often do we see men seeking to emulate women, and that being encouraged? Our foremothers had amazing skills, and they are ours to treasure, and learn from.

  • Congratulations on your huge accomplishment, Dr. W-J! Way to go!

  • Congratulations on your PhD! I love your outlook on knitting. A wonderful validation to those of us who find it such a satisfying pass time. (Not an obsession as I am often told) And what a beautiful and thoughtful gift for your advisor!

  • I love you, your knitting, your words, your well dressed dogs! Keep posting, we need to hear from you.

  • Your articles always lift my spirits and inspire me to keep knitting, just for the pure pleasure of it.

  • You speak to my heart! So many people around me question what I do- even in their silence. Your words help validate why I knit and what it gives me. Thank you! Would love to meet you one day.

  • This. I applaud you.

  • Love everything you share with us! As a fellow PhD, I understand what you mean about never getting another! So in point! I look forward to more posts from you and seeing more of your beautiful knitting and your thoughts in representation.

    • On point!

  • Wow, this was so inspiring! I want to read your thesis! It sounds amazing. And your knitting is so beautiful. Keep carrying on the light….

  • Well stated and so true. I too would be interested in seeing a copy of your dissertation.
    During my working years my (mostly male) collegues would ask why would I take 4 days off to go to a knitting event/retreat (example – Stitches or Madrona)!? I would always liken it to them going to golf or fishing camp — and they did understand that. Sadly, we didn’t have the “you do you and I’ll do me” expression in those days.

  • Absolutely lovely – your knitting and your story!

  • Always wonderful to hear from you, Dana and see your beautiful and accomplished projects. Heartiest of congratulations on your doctorate!

  • Way to go!!! Knit for uour own pleasure and knitnfor those you love. Congrats on that PHD, and the sweater!!!

  • I loved reading this article and could so identify with the love of knitting!!!I wrestle with the thought that knitting is wasted time-this helps me release this idea and just enjoy the joy!!!

  • I enjoyed ‘For the Love of Knitting’. I am curious about your dissertation. You’ve also inspired me to reflect on my love of knitting in retirement. Lots to do, observe, think, and plan for.

  • Congratulations on completing your Ph.D. — that is major. I look forward to following your scholarly and your knitterly careers, and to seeing where their intersection leads.

    You have likely observed the same kind of dismissiveness and expectations for justification in attitudes toward those in traditionally female areas of academe. In my field (language/lit/area studies), apparently teaching language takes no skill at all — everybody uses language, and we just go into the classroom and have students read the textbook! — and the real work is done by those who teach, say, the history and politics of our region. It is an infuriating assumption, too easily made by folks who should know better — or at least know to pause and question before assuming — and I was dealing with it just yesterday at a faculty meeting.

  • Good for you Dana. Your gift sweater was absolutely beautiful. As are all your sweaters. Congratulations!

  • Congratulations! What a milestone!. And to those nay sayers?

    “ I’ll do me… you do you!” With a smile

  • That sweater for your advisor is breathtaking!

  • Congratulations on your Ph.D! You are such an inspiration both in knitting and in life.

  • Heartiest congratulations on finishing your Ph.D! What a fabulous accomplishment! I always love reading your essays.

  • I love the topic of your dissertation and the beautiful sweater you gifted your advisor with. I have a friend who is a beautiful knitter and she always uses the term, “Knit Worthy”, to describe someone she knits something for. Someone who will respect and love the gift she knitted them. Congrats on all you have accomplished and blessings to your amazing advisor for all her encouragement and advice❤️

  • Truly enjoyed my Saturday morning read about Dana-Williams Johnson post. Like her comment about husband and golf games $$$$ add up. Enjoy receiving emails from MDK and share with Madison County Fiber Fanatics Indiana.

  • Congratulations, Dana! As a lifelong knitter, I completely agree that knitting is a worthy use of anyone’s time. You are a knitting goddess and an amazing talent, and I look forward to seeing what you will knit next!

  • Your story resonated with me. I taught myself to knit during graduate school. It gave me an creative outlet. I felt productive during my precious and rare downtime. I took love being able to make whatever I want.
    Your sweaters are beautiful.

  • YES YES YES! 🙂

  • Love this article. I knit with a lot of women who do strictly charity knitting and often feel guilty because I like to knit for myself, and maybe a family member. I so enjoy the process, and tired of justifying the size of my stash to others, as well as myself. I have finally decided it doesn’t matter how many sweaters or cowls or shawls I knit. If I wear them even once, that is enough! Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone in this line of thought.

  • I love this!

  • Well written, Dana! Thank you for sharing your thoughts. They really resonate. Knit on!!❤️

  • I loved everything about this – it was just wonderful all around, as your posts always are. Congratulations on your PhD and two more gorgeous sweaters!

  • Congratulations on achieving your PhD! And thank you for putting into words, so eloquently, how we knitters feel about knitting. I feel validated. I think of my knitting as self care, whether I am knitting something for me or another loved one.

  • Amen to everything you said!! I knit because I love to knit. I have a yarn stash that could almost fill a small shop. My wonderful daughter-in-law will inherit whatever is left when I’m gone. Thanks for putting in print what so many of us have thought for so long. You’re spot on. And…congratulations on your PhD!! Woohoo! ❤️

  • Congratulations Dana on receiving your PhD. Well done. Your blogs are such an inspiration. Thank you.

  • Bravo and congratulations on a job well done! Where does one see a copy of your dissertation?
    I’m so glad that you can say that you knit for the joy of it. I do also and knit almost every day, making a garment or accessory that is unique. I’ve always loved the feel of the yarn and to people who ask I tell them that in addition to making something to wear I’m also doing math, making a fabric and a garment at the same time. That really gets people thinking!

  • Perhaps the world would be a better place, and people more content, if more knew the pleasure and Zen of engaging one’s hands productively.

    Regarding how women’s efforts are minimized, don’t even get me started. My husband and I are retired, and moved to a new area 10 years ago. In that decade, only two people have ever asked me what I did when working (I was a director at an international trade association), yet my husband is always asked.

    By the way, when I was working, all that time on all those airplanes and in all those airports and hotels, I had a crochet or embroidery project in hand. I would have brought knitting had I known how to knit, but I didn’t learn until in my 50s.

    Thank you for sharing Ms Johnson. I always enjoy your articles, and LOVE your knitted projects.

  • Well done and congratulations on your milestones (sweaters & PhD). I love to knit too!!

  • I love your thoughts about knitting and the way the world views it. Or maybe it’s just the modern first world view. Regardless, I find myself questioning the time I spend knitting and not doing more “purposeful work”, whatever that means. Why shouldn’t I spend the day knitting rather the zillion other household chores that need to be done? Hard habit to break!

  • Yes! THIS is EXACTLY how I feel! Thanks for putting it into words! I’ve only ever knitted one baby sweater and finished two pairs of socks, but I love the heck out of those socks! I, too, have way more patterns than is humanly possible to knit (and crochet), but I want to knit (and crochet) EVERYTHING! Knit on!

  • Hello Dr. Williams-Johnson,
    Thank you for sharing what I wasn’t really aware of on a conscious level before. I’m 74 and have been a knitter since I was 13. When I learned to knit no one questioned why I wanted to do it because it was an acceptable women’s activity at that time. I had wanted to do it since I was 9 or so but had no one to teach me; my mom taught me to crochet and that was good for awhile, but when I got older I got myself a learn to knit book and never looked back. I have always just done my own thing, mostly because support and instruction and other knitters weren’t available to me when I was young and because I am an introvert by nature. I first learned from books and magazines commonly available at that time and then eventually learned the principles behind shaping, lace, etc and just made what I wanted or copied what I saw in pictures. Lots of women I knew as a young adult in the early 70’s did crafts because there just wasn’t as much to amuse ourselves with then. I expect you know that knitting fell out of fashion for quite a few years once cheap ready-made became easily available and many other ways to spend time became common—except with those of us who just are lovers of the craft for its own sake and kept doing it regardless of how much time other stuff took up.

    I believe your adviser may have been shocked because it’s uncommon in most circles for people to receive a gift that takes time and planning and actual manufacturing by the giver when it’s not someone who is a close friend or relative. It’s becoming more common I think for folks to enjoy a carefully planned and executed gourmet level meal these days, but not handcrafted items.

    I have been following you for awhile. You are an artist who apparently has the gift of knowing what a recipient will like and who has learned to make things to fit superbly. Prime example: the sweaters for Jellybean and yourself which have the look so seldom found that great original “bespoke” items have. That is very difficult for some of us who are great technicians but are not artists i.e. truly original instinctive creators. It sounds like you are both. What a true blessing that is!!!!

    I dislike the relatively new term “selfish knits”. Back in the day people admired women who had a whole wardrobe they had made themselves, and it was relatively common for women to do so in the small towns and cities in which I spent my childhood and young adulthood. Maybe it wasn’t so in larger cities where great ready-made was more available.

    Furthermore, who cares how many sweaters Jellybean has or how much you create for yourself? I wish people would celebrate the abundance with you instead.

    When people ask me about knitting now I just tell them I do it because it feels good and try to explain why. I long ago made for myself most of I wanted (been knitting a long time ) and now knit for charity, which is a great outlet. I just find out what’s needed and then make designs I like and give them away instead of keeping them.

    May you continue to be blessed and bless us all with your work!! I appreciate it very much and I know others do too.

  • Great article. Completely agree…we knit because we can and it brings us joy. Thank you.

  • Producing and creating something with your own hands is. Powerful thanks for reviving me thus motivating and congratulations to you

  • What an amazing woman and it was wonderful to read about another woman who like myself, loves and needs knitting for creativity and for me, therapy for my personal grief.

  • Ack! That anyone would say that our past times are a waste of time. (I always say that I knit so I don’t kill people, so that is definitely a benefit to the world! ) I could go through all the male hobbies and critique them, but I would rather say that we are able to choose how we spend our time. For me, knitting is the soothing, challenging, tensile opportunity to create magic with string and sticks and experience the wonder of wonderful yarn. The fact that we get a final product is just gravy. So back off, critics. You’ll really value us when the world falls apart and there is no Target to buy those fast-fashion pieces of junk that fall apart after the season is over.

  • Congratulations on your PHD. I agree with every word that you wrote, well said!

  • I totally agree with your article on knitting each day,for me it is calming peacefull time after a stressful day,I knit for three charity shops,for friends and myself ,it is a great feeling knowing my hobby helps keep some things going and others are enjoying my creativity.Thankyou so much for your article and your work is amazing and very much appreciated

  • Thank you for your wonderful article. Your sweaters are beautiful, as always. I too struggle sometimes with giving myself permission to truly embrace my crafts, knitting, sewing, others. Even though I’m retired now, I feel I have to justify my time. I need to let myself know that my crafts, my art is important to my well-being and not just an afterthought. Congratulations on your PhD!

  • Well done….I admire the message in your knitting…..the love you stitch in every row……I also have a rather interesting stash of yarns, always looking for a project. Thank you for sharing……”passion” for what you do is the key to personal success……..

  • Congratulations Dr Williams-Johnson. What an amazing gift.

  • This is my favorite “Dana’s Edit” yet. It brought tears to my eyes. Yay you!

  • Congratulations on your PhD! I taught myself to knit at age 10 ( I’m now 67) and have knit my way through undergrad, two masters, and a doctorate ( at age 58) I knit for my babies, then grandbabies, family, & friends. I love being able to knit things people want and love and couldn’t buy in a store – because they’d never be filled with all the love!

  • What stunning sweaters you made while finishing your PhD. Congrats! And for the PhD too, of course.

    As for the knitting, I look forward to retirement and having more time for all these fiber arts. It won’t be a waste of time! My mom is still knitting and tablet weaving at age 89.

  • Those are some impressive sweaters! Beautiful.
    This was a lovely article. Very uplifting.

  • I’ve been knitting since my mother taught me over 60 years ago. I was young and it was meant to be. Her whole family were knitters, including the menfolk. But she was the best of them.

    Her Arrans were amazing, a minutes going over the pattern and she never looked again, except to increase and decrease, and she wove heavenly designs.

    Her baby clothes were created with such love, and I remember her laying them out to dry, flat in front of a coal fire.

    She never tackled Fair Isle, and this drove me to knit many pieces, to show her it could be done.

    In my time I’ve knit dresses and even my son’s christening shawl, it took 5 attempts to get started, my mother would have never forgiven a dropped stitch, but it can go through a wedding ring and was like gossamer.

    She was the reason I did it. She was the person who made me. She was the woman who couldn’t sew for toffee, who would give me the pieces of her knitting to join, but who sat up all night hand stitching my school dresses because we couldn’t afford the bought ones.

    The best gift a mother can give her daughter is to learn to knit. Because she gives her the power to create beauty.

  • As a fellow PhD knitter, I could not agree with you more about the absurd and ridiculous questions, people ask us. It is also not lost on me that no one ever questions the amount of time or money men spend on tools for their workshops. Congratulations on your Doctorate and your stunning knitting.

  • Love it.

  • Congratulations on completing your PhD!! My daughter just completed hers and so I have been along for what was a long, hard, and determined ride. It’s a great accomplishment. Love both your sweaters. Best wishes for your post graduate journey.

  • Knitting is my addiction, I quit smoking in 2004 and needed something to do to help with the cravings. I’m still a non smoker and I knit everyday and usually donate all my projects to a local charity

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