Welcome to my blog!

Photo of Betsy McCarthy

Ten years ago life became more fun when I left a 9-to-5 career to reinvent myself as a serious knitter.  When I’m not teaching, writing or designing, I am usually knitting–often socks in coffee shops, theaters, dentist offices and on the sidewalks of my neighborhood. At home in quieter moments I enjoy lace knitting that is meditative and centering….yoga with yarn.  My book Knit Socks!, first published by Storey Publishing in 2004, is being re-issued in an expanded version in September 2010. I hope you will visit my blog often and look forward to hearing your comments.

21 thoughts on “Welcome to my blog!

  1. Hello, Betsy,

    I just watched your story on the Today show and had to get in touch with you. Congratulations on your successful knitting career. My mother was a master knitter. She learned to knit when she was a young girl living in Sewickley, PA. Most of her friends also knitted. She told me stories of how she and her school mates would knit so much, even knitting in the dark at the movie theater. My mother and her friends were all of UK decent (English and Scotsh). They would kid each other about being born with knitting needles in their hands! So your story of how you knit and where you knit brought back memories of my mother! Thank you.

    Sincerely,

    Maxine Fox

    • Maxine, I loved the stories about your mother–have heard of people talking about being born with a silver spoon in their mouth, but never knitting needles in their hands! If I had a choice, I’d take the latter, such pleasure they bring so many of us. One favorite memory of mine was when I was wearing a long, heavy fair isle sweater that I’d knit (it really functioned as a coat here in the Northwest). I was working in healthcare and was wearing the sweater in a hospital when a short, very sweet woman with a Scottish accent came up to me slowly and asked, “may I touch your sweater? It so reminds me about all I love of home!” I was touched to the core—-and think Alice Starmore would have been too, as it was her design Alba that I was wearing.

    • Dee, the internet has wonderful knitting instructions available that can get you started—I’d google “knitting instructions,” “learn to knit,” and also check out websites such as http://www.tkga.com where, I believe, there is information about good places to go. Also, if you aren’t already, you will be amazed at the number of knitting blogs and wonderful websites put up by local yarn shops that are great resources. Good luck!

    • Oh, Dee, I forgot to mention in my reply to your comment that I don’t sell my socks. In the past I have occasionally made models for yarn shops, but all the socks I’ve knit (and they must number hundreds and hundreds) have gone to family and friends when they weren’t for me (which was most of the time). I love the words of the poet Louis Simpson in “Song,” who said something like, “you can only keep what you give away.” My socks and other knit items are made from my hands and heart, just as the handcarved items my brother Dick creates are. He, too, gives away carvings to those he loves but never sells them.

  2. I saw your story on the Today show this morning. My husband happened to be walking by the TV while the segment was on and I said, “she has my life”! I know so well the pleasure of knitting, and socks especially. I left a stressful life in So. Cal to come to a small town in Colorado. When I started knitting socks, I always said that it focused my mind and de-stressed me because I had to concentrate to learn the patterns. Now I call them “zen socks” because it’s like meditation for me. I’ve knitted, on and off, for most of my life. Mom taught me. But a cold, snowy winter in Colorado lead me back to knitting with a passion. And I love knitting socks! I never thought to knit socks in California…who would wear wool socks in 90 degree weather? Anyway, I just wanted to let you know how happy I was to hear your story. And knitting is a worthwhile occupation. Continue Happy Knitting. Karen

  3. Hi,
    I saw the Today show today. You looked great! fairly relaxed and knitting like crazy. make any mistakes during that? I guess those will be your Jane Pauley socks? Congratulations on your notoriety- you deserve it. The AARP video is longer and I’m glad to say they did edit our knitting group conversation…See you soon. Linda Dawson

    • Linda,
      The Tuesday knitting group is so special to me. I’m glad that at least a glimpse into it made it into the final video. And I can’t wait to see Marilyn see herself on the video when she gets back from Hawaii!

  4. Betsy,
    What a journey. When we sat at the Java House just chatting about your interest in doing this segment, who would have thought what would evolve. “Live with Ambiguity and Do Not Panic” are the perfect words so truthfully spoken by you and will be etched in my brain for a long time to come.
    Your courage in meeting what the day has to offer is inspiring. What makes you happy makes others happy to be around you. Keep knitting, sharing, teaching, chatting and smiling. It makes everyone around you want to do the same. Knitting is not my calling, but I will embrace what presents itself. The peacefullness of knowing we are doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing at the exact time we are doing it. I love ruling out the no’s as much as exploring yes’s to adventures that come along.
    Much Love and looking forward to continually Ya Hooing your success!

  5. Yes, life really is full of surprises. It’s so much easier sometimes to say “no” to the unknown rather than to go with it. I remember when I first heard about this “opportunity,” I very wary, even a bit fearful, about even considering doing it. What came to mind were the potential downsides instead of the good things that could and did come from saying “yes” to this adventure.

    I love your statement “I will embrace what presents itself,” as probably there is no better way to really live life as it comes to you. You are an inspiration to me!!!

  6. Hi Betsy:
    I watched the Today Show this morning and I was so exited to see the author of the book I bought a couple of Christmas ago. You are dear to my heart; knitting is one of my passions. I have a similar life story. I retired two years ago from a 20-year school teacher career to knit every day at any time during the day. I also make socks for every member of my family. Every time we go on a trip I come home with a finished pair of socks. My socks are named after the cities or countries we visit. There’s always a project in my purse that I can take out at any time, at a doctor’s office, the post office, and some times at a red light. Most of my knitting is for charity though, chemo caps, preemie hats, prayer shawls, awareness scarves, etc. This is very satisfying for me since I live in Houston, TX. our weather is not conducive to heavy sweaters, hats, or mittens. One question:
    Do you knit one sock at a time or try the two at once? Thanks for being an inspiration.
    Happy knitting,
    Patricia

    • Patricia, I really do think we were separated at birth! Are you sure that you really were born to your own parents! Joking aside, I love how we so quickly discover that we are much more similar than we are different! You could have done the interview with Jane and delivered the message that would inspire others, just as it seems I did. What did you teach during the 20 years? I started to say that I didn’t teach that long, but I really did. Both my mother and my father were teachers, and the only thing I need for sure when I was in high school was that I didn’t want to be a teacher. I kept taking courses, got one degree, took more courses, got another and then a teaching certificate….insurance, of course, not that I ever wanted to teach. And then I taught for a while. And then moved onto other things, where it suddenly became clear that what I was doing was teaching others, sharing, giving and loving it!! I loved your note and could say “ditto” to everything you said. I always assume (correctly) that I will have time to knit at the PO, at doctor and dentist appointments and when driving down certain sections of roads under construction. I almost seek them out!

      The answer to your question: I knit one sock at a time on one set of needles–whether they be five double pointed needles, two circular needles or one long circular. I don’t knit two socks at a time but I usually knit two sequentially. That is, I have two sets of whatever needles I’m using (and I vary this because I like to keep it interesting and also because I believe that variation will in the end help possibly prevent repetitive movement injuries becasue we’re using slightly different ligaments and tendons, etc.). So, I might cast on stitches for the first sock and knit the ribbing. Put those needles (or that needle) down and cast on stitches for the second sock on another set of needles and knit the ribbing and perhaps the leg to the heel. Then I will put that down, pick up the other sock start and knit the leg down to the heel and the heel and maybe even turn the heel. Then I’ll pick up the other…….and in that way keep knitting one part of one sock, and the same part of the other…….In that way I’m sort of knitting two at a timei and do finish them very closely together, which is very satisfying….as opposed to having to start all over again. I also do the latter at times. Those big 100 gram balls of wonderful self-striped sock yarn don’t make it as easy to do two at once as 2- 50 gram balls. So, sometimes I divide those balls up (being careful where I break them off if they’re self-patterning) and sometimes I just knit one sock at a timei. I’ve found that with experience I’ve learned that I don’t have to make them at the same time to get them to match or to be the same length. Tape measures and rulers work. I have worked two on two circulars at a time or two at a time on one long circular and think it’s a great way to knit socks if that’s what floats your boat. I like not having to worry or even think about two socks and two balls and keeping everything straight. I like to get into the flow of knitting around and around and around….I find this harder to do when working with two socks on, for example, two circular needles, and so don’t usually do this. A long answer to a short, direct question!!

    • Dear Patricia, You would not happen to have been a teacher in Johnstown, Pennsylvania at any point in your career? If so could you e-mail me back, at my e-mail address at ….ib2famous@yahoo.com I have been searching for a teacher I had.

  7. I overheard my co-worker listening to the news in her cubicle and as I knitter i tuned in an ease-dropped when i heard the knittign references. Glad I did . I love your story, leaving the job for your passion!!!!I know it sounds easier than it actually is …but good for you for being so brave ! and faithful !
    I will visit again !

    thanx for the knit-spiration !

    • Yes, it did take a while for me to get ready to make the change and to know that it was the right thing for me. There were also many times in my life when I wouldn’t have been able to make such a change because of financial responsibilities for children, for a mortgage, etc.

  8. I’m so glad I found you on here! What an inspiration you are to me. I am a very new knitter (just over a year) and feel such fulfillment knitting all the time. I would LOVE to master socks, so it looks like I need to go out and grab a copy of your book ASAP! Thanks for sharing your adventure : ).

  9. Hi Betsy,
    I love your story on the Today show. I hope one day I will be able to do the same thing. I have been in a 9-5 job forever.
    I love to knit and crochet.

    Jacqueline Rogers, President
    Needling Around, Inc.
    8059 S. Francisco
    Chicago, Il 60652
    312-502-8109

  10. Betsy, I have just finished Rebecca’s Book. It was so beautifully written about a very engaging woman.

    You have definitely blossomed as a knitter. It is beautiful to see what you are doing.

    Janet

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