I need to do a better job sharing things that bring me joy. Hands down, Dana Williams-Johnson's website/blog Yards of Happiness is one of those things. I mean, really, she is all about things that spark joy. For her, those things include knitted sweaters.
To say she is a prolific knitter is a HUGE understatement. She cranks out sweaters faster than I eat holiday chocolate...which is pretty fast. Not only does she create beautiful sweaters for those of the human persuasion, she also creates tiny masterpieces for Jellybean, her dog. Most of the time these sweaters coordinate charmingly with her people sweaters and pictures are always included. In addition to great photos, she also includes the people sweater pattern names and tips, hints, pitfalls, strengths of the pattern and/or yarn choice she uses. It is a great launching point for sweater inspiration.
She is active on other platforms, as well, if you prefer or want a little more Jellybean in your life. She is an active contributor on the MDK website, sells enamel pins sporting her brand on Etsy and posts photos regularly on Instagram. I believe she also has a YouTube video podcast. And while most of her posts are full of joy and spark happiness, she is a dynamic person living a real life with important things to share and say. It is not all dog sweaters and great color combos, but there is a lot of that.
Bottom Line: If you like knitting and you like sweaters, this is a blog to keep on your radar. If you don't even care so much about sweaters but you share Dana's exuberance and outward joy, this is a blog to keep on your radar.
Quite recently I stumbled upon a blog by a wonderful writer, Nadia. It is an Irish craft and garden blog, but I feel it really touches on much more than that brief description implies. While the blog includes much by way of fiber craft and gardening, it also provides a heartfelt outlet for the voice of a woman, mother, wife and dedicated writer. Nadia's posts are very moving and speak to me on a personal level, which is why I enjoy reading them so much. I am a stay-at-home mother of two toddlers, as is she, but this does not define all of me...this is just a part of me. I have dreams and ambitions that I try to squeeze in between potty training, trying to teach my sons to be gentlemen, and weird gloopy messes on the couch. Nadia gives me strength when I am feeling slightly defeated and cries out to me that I am not alone. In a way, I find myself feeling as though I am part of a crafting, fiber-loving, sci-fi enthusiastic sisterhood when I read the words put down by this blogger.
I am writing this as a blog review, but I would be remiss not to include the other ventures Nadia includes on her website. Nadia also produces quality, interesting podcasts (I've listened to a few and have loved each one) as well as engaging social media posts. She has committed herself to being a full-time freelance blogger, so I feel the content is only going to grow in the coming months. Her beautiful photography is also worth checking out, both on Instagram and on her blog. Her garden is really an inspiration.
She is the full package, ladies and gentlemen...her website has a little something for everyone. I would highly recommend checking out her website and joining in her conversation. Even if you don't find fiber as exciting or gardening as consuming, she offers something more. She writes about life, which we are all currently involved in, so take a peak at her perspective. It is well worth it.
Blog written by
If you are an avid reader of knitting blogs, you likely have already come across Stephanie Peal-McPhee's "Yarn Harlot." If you are a casual blog peruser, it is possible you might not have come across this wonderful site. Ms. Pearl-McPhee, perhaps, has been a pioneer in knit blogging- her blog started in 2004. That is a beautiful thing. In 2004, smart phones were not in every person's pocket and some people still used dial up. Do you remember that horrible noise as your computer connected itself to the world wide web? Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is that this blog has stood the test of time. Thirteen years is a long time to keep knitters engaged, and I think this blog has done a wonderful job engaging..the awards it has received are just proof in the pudding.
This is not a "how-to" blog, per se. The posts I have read are more about Stephanie Pearl-McPhee's knitting life, which I hazard to say is a large chunk of her life. The posts chronicle her projects and adventures. With that said, there is a ton of invaluable information in her posts. First, you must consider, these posts are written by an expert in the craft. Just by writing about what she is doing, she imparts knitting knowledge on her readers. Learning her process, her style, her mistakes, etc. can only serve to make you, the reader, a better knitter. Second, she has built quite a following- deservedly so- so each post has quite a few comments. If a particular post has caught your interest, it is worthwhile to read the comments, too. She encourages discussion and responds accordingly. It is in these comments that you can find new ideas or perhaps answers to some questions.
Bottom Line: Overall, the website is a no fuss blog. Reading her blog makes me feel like my blog is too convoluted, but alas, we cannot all be the Yarn Harlot. Us lesser bloggers must fill the bottom rungs of the knitting ladder, and that's okay. Her posts are witty, interesting and informative. This is a woman who knows what she is doing. It is my humble opinion that if you read knitting blogs, this one should be at the top of your list.
Storefront & website
Purl Soho is a New York based store dedicated to needlecrafters. When they say "needlecrafters," the good people at Purl Soho are casting a wide net. This term includes knitters, quilters, embroiderers, and all shades of needlework in between. While a brick and mortar store, their online presence is really remarkable. Not only is their online store wonderful, but they maintain a blog-like "Create" section of their website called the Purl Bee. There are not a lot of sites I visit with regularity, but this is one of my few online standards. It is a gold mine of information, ideas and inspiration.
Something I find almost as inspiring as the patterns Purl Bee shares are the number of patterns they share for free. *Gasp* The designers at Purl Soho seem to care a lot about moving needlecraft forward, keeping it relevant, and helping fellow crafters. The instructions are clear, the photographs are great...and they are sharing it like it is information that should belong to everyone. I really appreciate that mindset. Perhaps that is one way they have engendered such loyalty in me, and probably helps me splurge and buy their products...so perhaps it is by design and less altruistic than the picture I'd like to paint. However, if a company is willing to treat me well, I have no problems returning the favor. Besides, their patterns are beautiful in their simplicity and are a breath of fresh air when compared to other free patterns available.
With these numerous free patterns, Purl Bee is set up more as a community crafting group than a counterpart to a retail store. They encourage people to reach out, and as far as I can tell, they do an excellent job responding to those that do. Many of their patterns are coupled to products that they sell, which may justifiably give you pause, but there is no pressure to purchase. Granted, their yarns are breathtaking and scrumptious, though expensive. And as I mentioned, they always make such beautiful projects with their yarn that in the end, you want to make something that looks just like theirs...right down to the expensive yarn. Those devils. (There is a review of the Purl Soho merino in an earlier post.)
I tend to focus on the yarn offerings and knitting patterns, but the site is also the source of my Cricket Loom and I enjoy perusing their sewing section from time to time. My dream is to one day be the proprietor of an establishment such as Purl Soho, but until that dream comes to fruition, I am happy to indulge in reading this website on a near daily basis. As such, I felt it only right that I let you, my dear reader, know in the most blatant of terms, that if you consider yourself a needlecrafter of any kind, you should take a journey to Purl Soho and see what they have for you.
Bottom Line: Purl Soho is a WONDERFUL website. It seems to be an endless source of great photographs, clear organization, wonderful products and bountiful inspiration. If you are not familiar with the site, please go and check it out. It's worth it.