Virtue Signaling

I’ve been really bad, y’all.

You Know How It Is

One night, you’re sitting on the couch with a loved one, watching television, and you start rubbing your bare arms because the Thermostat Overlord is trying to freeze you to death. Your fingertips pass over one of those little, random bumps or skin flecks or whatever, so you scratch a little, maybe even pick a little. Next thing you know, you’re digging in a dark bathroom closet for a Band-aid.

Remember my girl?

I made this doll when I was in the seventh grade (maybe the sixth). We were assigned projects in Tennessee History class, so I made a sock doll and dressed her up like a Fort Nashborough settler. Sadly, Mr. Chandler was not impressed. Of course, that’s not her ‘settler’ dress; it’s an updated, jazzy, groovy number I made for her (in pity, no doubt) after I brought her home. Poor little thing, I just wanted to adjust her stuffing and maybe make her a new dress. But then . . .

I know. Gruesome, isn’t it? One ridiculous thing just led to another; I could not stop myself. But look at the cool stuff I found inside her:

Alright, alright; it’s cool to me, okay? Pulling things out of old dolls is like emptying the contents of a time capsule. Why? Because, even as a little kid, I loved reusing things. What looks like old socks to you, are, in fact, beloved memories to me. The coolest discovery, here, is the other sock. Now a whole world of reno-doll-vation is open to me.

Good times.

Socks are one of the most pleasurable, forgiving mediums to work with. You almost can’t ruin it. Almost. And it is so mold-able. The only drawback, and it is a small one, is the fact that most of the sewing should be done by hand. Knit socks–especially from the nineteen-seventies–require a hand stitch, but what fun! It’s basically soft-sculpture.

If a leg is too big, sculpt it down. Knitted material  s t r e t c h e s  and >condenses<. You can pinch gathers, add curves and dimples, snip things out, and add things in, with little to no drama (you people know how I feel about drama). Everything blends in after squishing it in your hands a few times.

I freaking LOVE it.

It’s easy to cut and easy to fit.

Major Piece of Advice

Don’t let your project intimidate you. NEVER put a limit on Creativity. Here’s the scenario that I have found to be true, over and over, when it comes to soft-sculpture: No matter how bad or weird it looks (it = some idea you had to lengthen, shorten, stuff, or change), just keep going until the ‘it’ is finished. Trust me, guys; see it to the end before becoming discouraged. I’m not sure why, but a good idea will almost always look like a bad idea at the start. Hang with it, work with it, and then decide whether or not to rip it out and start over (which isn’t the worst thing that ever happened in your life).

Also, remember that this is a one-of-a-kind, handmade treasure from your hands to the hands of somebody you care about. The imperfections make the work unique, just like the person who made it. Please don’t get caught up in nit-picking. You’ll never see the end of it or the end of your project.

See how sad she looks at the thought of endless picking? So disappointed . . .

Some Things

So, I:

  • took her completely apart, every stitch and stuffing
  • shortened her torso
  • lengthened her arms and legs
  • made her head big and round (the Barbie principle*)
  • added my customary lentils to bottom, feet, and hands
  • shaped a waist and a neck (strengthened by a stuffed drinking straw)
  • added buttons just because I like buttons

You get the idea. I didn’t follow any directions, just making things up as I went along. Since I uncovered the rest of the pair of socks I used, originally, the possibilities were endless.

Midnight Confession:**

The hair was a thing. Beware of too much yarn on a small head. She was getting a little fancy for a sock doll, and I kept having to remind myself to keep her simple and sweet. Sock dolls are for lovin’ and playin,’ not for sitting around looking aloof and complicated.


I tried to keep the original doll in mind. The outside may change a bit, but she’s still the same girl, like me.

There’s a virtue here, so now I’m thinking of a virtue name for her. Maybe I’ll give her my name, Constance.

Constance means “faithful.” She’s been faithful to stay with me all these years. Each time I have recovered her from a box or basket or tote, she’s always smiling, ready to greet me as though no time had passed, at all. Maybe she represents my faithful love of sewing, writing, and the small joys we share with each other.

I rarely tell people my full name. For all intents and purposes, I’m Connie. When I think back on my life, ‘constance’ is not a virtue that springs to mind, but we almost never consider ourselves kindly. What’s your hidden virtue? I’ll bet it’s the last thing you would think of yourself. If you don’t know, go ask your kids or your parents, really anybody in your family. They can nit-pick you like a boss.


* Barbie’s head is much larger, proportionately, than the rest of her body. This is because cloth weave is rarely fine enough to drape properly on a doll’s small body frame. Therefore, the body upon which the clothing is displayed, is disproportionate to prevent the doll appearing overly-enveloped by its clothing. Is that cool or what?

**This is just an opinion, but lead singer Rob Grill could be one reason mustaches were so popular in the seventies. Unfortunately, not everybody can pull one off as well as he did.





Trial by Cross Stitch

Coming right along, slowly, but surely.

Yes, it’s monotonous.

Maybe it’s a little boring (for me).

There is a level of tedium, here.

And I Wanna Make Another Virtue Doll . . .

Everybody gather round. Come in a bit closer . . . that’s it . . . closer . . . okay, ready? I’m the worst.

Just love me.

Good-bye, for now, cross stitch from the nineteen-nineties. Ta-Ta! Back into the tote, you go!

Wow! No, really, I was expecting something like guilt or shame or feelings of inferiority, but there’s, like, none of that! I feel great! Talk about taking a load off.

I don’t know, I guess I was somebody else in 1994, huh? She had keener eyesight, that’s for sure. 1994 Connie was busy raising young children, and maybe cross stitch was the zen she needed. Her life was busy, chaotic, and sort of lonely, in a weird way. Cross stitch was there for her, and I’m super glad it was.

The 1994 me is still in here, doing laundry, somewhere. She’s deep, inside the programming of the person I am in 2018. I like her; she’s good at folding towels.

Hey, guys!

Wanna make another doll?






Who’s Ready for a Road Trip?

While we’re finishing up those pesky projects, it is always a good idea to stop, look around, and take in some scenery. Tennessee is a great place to do it!

Beautiful Chattanooga, TN

Mr. Murphy and I took a little trip, took a little trip to Chattanooga (The Chat), last week–just an overnighter.

Here’s a view of the city from Lookout Mountain. Look at the clouds! The storms from the Gulf were rolling in, adding a major SCHWING! to the photo-op, don’t you think?

Here’s a pretty thing:

Kinda looks like something from an Alfred Hitchcock thriller, dunnit?

The Lookout Mountain Hotel was built in 1928, but became Covenant College in 1964. I’m told the inside is spectacular. I wanted to see, but Mr. Murphy said they wouldn’t let me in. Now, I’m sad. Let’s look at downtown.

Right?! And these photos don’t do it the justice it deserves. Just like most places in Tennessee, the land is beautiful and the people are super friendly.

What’s my point?

You don’t have to be rich and famous to go on a trip. No matter where you live, you are absolutely within a few hours from an adventure. Stay overnight in a cheap motel. Heck, sleep in your car or, better, pitch a tent at a roadside campground, but escape your normal for a day or three, and get a life! It’s good for your head.

Mr. Murphy’s 360° video cam is BOSS! That’s the Tennessee River bordering the right side of our Small Planet pic.

But Wait; There’s More

I visited my friends in White Bluff. Born in Nashville, I spent a large chunk of the grow years out here, in the woods. Check it!

I mean, have you ever???



We totally hiked it, stopping occasionally to BREATHE IN THE HEALING BEAUTY. With all those trees around us, the air was pure and heady with that awesome tree smell. If only I could post THAT in a blog. We had so much fun frolicking in the woods, we wore out a dog.

When my kids were babies, and they were waaay past tired, the best way to soothe them was to put them in the car, and drive around the block. Every parent knows that trick. If the car was out of the question, I would hold them and walk around the house. Why do babies love that? Maybe they think they’re going somewhere better, away from the boredom or bad dreams.

When everything agitates you, and life seems like all work and no play, it’s time to hit the road, even if it’s just a quick trip to the hills or the beach or the junk store. Grab some clean underwear and go, go, go!