observed by Diane » photo journal for those who enjoy vignettes of an ordinary life

  • Welcome to my photo journal

    Living on Vancouver Island in B.C. Canada Diane loves the scent of forests and rain, the rhythms of the sea, and holds discoveries and stories in high regard.

    Where mornings begin with a drum roll! --Diane M Schuller

    Updated each Monday ... simply an online journal of an ordinary life. Come on in to enjoy a breath of West Coast air.

    Keeping it simple

    “Stay low, stay quiet, keep it simple, don’t expect too much, enjoy what you have.” — This statement by Dean Koontz sums up my philosophy of living a simple life. I’m continually saying, “Enjoy what you have.” I think we all have some kind of mantra that we either live by or are known by.

    “The whistling dawn, the sussurration of the leaves, a honking goose, and then a sentimental confab at the Solid Rock Gospel Church with a wounded soul who poured his heart out …” — Edward Hoagland, In the Country of the Blind. I can imagine it!

    Australian Shepherd Heidi www.dianeschuller.com

    Heidi says, “hi” even with her mouth full

    After finishing the Trenchcoat socks the sock fairy somehow cast on another pair. This time for her amazing son.



    I loved knitting these husky socks. In fact, as I was knitting them I kept thinking how cozy they would be as house socks for me to pad around in this winter. I have lots of yarn leftover.

    “Knitting is clothing made in spare moments, or round the fire, whenever women gathered together… It’s something to celebrate — clothes made in love and service, something women have always done.” — Anne Bartlett, Knitting

    A dear neighbour and friend gave me a luscious skein of yarn last year which I made into a shawl but the shawl was a tad small. Not wanting the gorgeous yarn to go to waste I frogged the shawl (unraveled the whole thing), rewound it into a nice ball and decided it was meant to be socks. Although I much prefer knitting socks toe-up, I’m trying out a new pattern so have to be open minded with this cuff-down version.

    knitting with Sweet Fiber Yarns Super Sweet Sock

    Yarn: Sweet Fiber Yarns Super Sweet Sock in the colour way, Seastorm.

    socks, two at a time

    Of course, as you’ll see, I had to jazz them up a bit too.

    socks two-at-a-time ©Diane M Schuller

    If you’re thinking that in my spare time I must be doing nothing but knitting, I actually have written a few letters too.

    hand written letters || www.dianeschuller.com

    I’ve been enjoying picking up unique and quality gifts at the local Christmas fairs (I even bought myself a pair of hand knit socks made by another knitter). Last year I didn’t buy a single gift outside of our area, Qualicum Beach / Parksville. I’m trying to do the same this year.

    I love that by buying handmade instead of from a large corporation, an actual person benefits. It also contributes directly to our local economy.

    This weekend when I attended the local Christmas fair, with an abundance of handmade local goods, I received a bonus: I won a door prize (and it’s handmade too!) so buying handmade had a wee karma surprise come back to me.

    Until next Monday may you embrace simple pleasures with family and friends.

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    Lisa Gordon - November 28, 2016 - 2:11 pm

    Diane, these socks are BEAUTIFUL!!!
    I especially love the blue ones. That yarn is truly gorgeous.
    I wish you a wonderful week ahead, my friend.

    DIANE J PATMORE - November 28, 2016 - 11:43 pm

    Oh! You opened with a quote using one of my favourite words. (And now I’m going to throw a curve ball and make you guess!)

    Let me know how you fare with the cuffs-first socks.Here, it seems the most common way, but as I no longer knit I’m out of touch.

    I am easing back into artwork.Baby steps!Scribbly sketches (one on the blog)and ideas to try as lino cuts. And the never-ending garden work …

    Susan Clark - November 29, 2016 - 3:02 pm

    This year, for the first, and possibly the last, time everyone I love will be at our house for Christmas. Time will be the greatest gift-for walks, sitting by the fire, telling stories and reconnecting.

    Juliann - December 3, 2016 - 5:38 am

    Orange is one of my favorite colors so that heel pop is wonderful! Yes to keeping it simple and loving what we have. I have a card on the wall that says, Gratitude tipurns what we have into enough.

    Sherry G. - December 3, 2016 - 8:20 am

    Another homy post with gorgeous images and comments I just nod away at! Your knitting is superb and beautifully presented. And I am on the same wavelength about buying local. I bow to your success.

    She raised me up

    I tend to view this blog like my virtual living room, and am so grateful when it appears that’s how you think of it too. Get comfy, I’ll burn a candle and light the fireplace.

    My mother has been in my thoughts more than usual so I thought I’d talk about her here. She had a beautiful name, Ramona. Most of her friends called her Mona. Her life was a difficult one and held more diversity than one person should ever endure.

    She was kind to the core and no truer friend could a person be so fortunate to have in their life. Loyal beyond reason. She was known for bringing home strays that needed a helping hand. The four-footed strays were always grateful; the two-legged strays unfortunately not so. Sure, she had a vice or two, but who could blame her? She loved animals of all kinds especially cats and dogs. Gardening and preserving were her hallmarks. She had the best giggle. Music moved her. She was proud and self sufficient, never asking for help or handouts, even when that’s what she needed the most. She worked very hard, was incredibly conscientious, and taught me the value of being the same.

    An intelligent woman with a kindness as tender as the petals of her favourite flowers.

    I miss: the Sunday drives we took decades ago; hearing her laughter; sitting and talking; sharing books; sending her letters; her blousy peonies; how she sang at a moment’s notice; how she’d sit and pet her cat until her arm got too tired to continue; how she so lovingly nursed me to wellness when I was sick or injured; her understanding and non-judgemental way; her excitement; her touch; her.

    my dear Mom, Ramona Althouse

    I dedicate this song to my mother’s memory. You raised me up so I can stand on mountains, I am strong when I am on your shoulders, you raised me up to be more than I can be.


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    Lisa Gordon - November 21, 2016 - 7:16 am

    What a beautiful tribute to a beautiful lady, Diane.
    I do so love this song too.

    Juliann - November 21, 2016 - 7:46 am

    What a beautiful post. I have been thinking about my mom a lot lately as our daughter is getting ready to deliver our first grandchild. Mom and my daughter were good chums and she would have loved to have a baby around.

    Lionel Daneault - November 21, 2016 - 9:56 am

    Hi Diane!
    Fourteen years ago this month I lost both my wife and my mom in an eight day space. Novembers are always difficult for me. I found your blog quite soothing.

    Toffeeapple - November 22, 2016 - 9:12 am

    They never leave us, do they? My Mother died 51 years ago and I still have dreams about her.

    Sherry - December 9, 2016 - 9:45 am

    What a lovely woman! I’m sure that in your actions every day you honour her memory.


    comfy corner at Sooke Harbour House, Sidney, BC

    If you haven’t heard of hygge (pronounced “hoo-ga,” or “hue-ga”), let’s find out what it means. According to Danish tourism, “‘hygge’ actually comes from a Norwegian word meaning “well-being.” It first appeared in Danish writing in the 18th century and has been embraced by the Danes ever since!”

    knitting bowl ©Diane M Schuller

    In essence, hygge means creating a warm atmosphere and enjoying the simple and good things in life with good people. It’s a way of life, a daily way of life.

    I recently heard about this term from Staci Perry. I feel it very closes parallels how I have chosen to live my retirement years. After reading more about it and how the Danes embrace it so whole heartedly, it’s obvious I could be living with more hygge in my life. What about you?


    comfort food, hyggedsc_6176

    Did you check out those beautiful images of northern lights (aurora borealis), taken by Wayne Roberts, in the previous post? Isn’t that some northern hygge? His images take my breath away.

    Here are two brief articles about the hygge life, the first link having a lovely video demonstrating how the Danes embrace this everyday sense of well being.

    How to bring Danish hygge into your life

    Hygge: The Danish Word That’s About to Take Over America

    Until next Monday my lovelies, may your week be wrapped in hygge.

    candlelight and wine, hygge


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    Lionel Daneault - November 14, 2016 - 12:19 pm

    Thanks, Diane, for putting into one word the type of lifestyle Kathy and I aspire to every day.

    Sherry - November 14, 2016 - 7:39 pm

    Lovely, Diane. In between the busyness of my “mommy” days, I find moments of the hygge life. After the upcoming mess of a renovation, I hope to nurture more of these moments. As always, your blog is one of those beautiful places I visit when I need to sit with a cup of tea and soak up a little well being. 🙂

    Lisa Gordon - November 15, 2016 - 7:43 am

    I actually just recently saw this term (cannot remember where!), and I just love this idea. Now the task is to start practicing it more. A LOT more.

    As always, your photographs ae so lovely, but there is just something about that yarn in the bowl that I just cannot take my eyes off of. It is just so beautiful. Maybe it’s because it’s a really good example (to me) of hygge!

    Happy day to you, my friend.

    Andi - November 15, 2016 - 7:53 pm

    What a beautiful word and concept. I have never heard of hygge. I think it is absolutely brilliant. I would honestly have to say that your images are very hygge to me.

    Susan Clark - November 16, 2016 - 7:48 am

    We all need hygge. I wish our hardworking children could find a little more. Methinks it is the employers who need to be converted.

    A potpourri: storms to northern lights

    leftover pumpkins Vancouver Island

    We’ve had storms. On Wednesday I wrote: The storm is a spectator sport with roller derby waves, trees doing the rhumba, rain falling like waving racetrack flags, and winds sounding like angry fans.

    After my piano lesson I had a blast out on the stormy beach. Heidi needed a good run so I bundled up, took her favourite beach ball and we went to the beach to take advantage of low tide. She had a wicked time — me too. The storm had the beach all nicely ‘combed’ from the heavy waves and not a person in sight so we had it all to ourselves. {A photographer took this great short video showing the tail end of our storm.}

    STORM AT SEA by Amar Qamar

    CRASHING waves… SMASHING seas…
    Bringing sailors to their knees.
    As they struggle to save their lives,
    Hoping and praying help arrives.

    The stormy seas as dark as coal,
    Preventing the sailors from reaching their goal.
    Battered and bruised, but still they fight…
    Staring ahead into the dead of night.
    Rocking and rolling as they try to stand…
    Hoping against hope that they soon reach land.

    Bleary eyed from lack of sleep.
    Down in their cabins, huddled like sheep.
    As they’re rocking and rolling down beneath,
    Weary sailors above resist with gritted teeth.

    Hours later, as the storm starts to dissipate,
    It leaves a calm tranquil sea in it wake.
    The veteran sailors know the battle is over and they have won…
    As they contemplate other storms yet to come.

    # # #

    cappuccino at home

    morning cappuccino at home each morning

    On Saturday morning I awoke to quite an irregularity. In the 6 AM gloaming, the horizon of the Salish Sea, normally empty darkness, was alight like a city skyline. The sea was alive with a fishing boat traffic jam. The commercial seine, gillnet and troll boats all had their lights on, obviously to see what they were doing and to avoid contact with others in the jam. After sunrise the next morning, the sun shone on the fishing boats as if they were on stage. With the fog lifted and being sunlit it was like having my own theatrical performance to enjoy while I had morning coffee and then breakfast of poached eggs on seed toast. Sometimes I can’t believe what a remarkable life I am so fortunate to exist within and to observe.

    I found out the commercial fishers are harvesting chum salmon. Right now, in our area, the chum are returning to spawn in their natal streams and rivers. To take a photo of the outrageous nautical traffic jam from our home is futile. I’ve tried in the past and a photo simply does not capture the enormity of what I can see, especially without a proper zoom lens. But what I could capture, are the salmon spawning. That may be a diversion for me later today.

    egg salad in the making

    egg salad for lunch

    at table

    table for two

    Oh, and I did a little letter writing this past week too. I sent a letter to my sister and a postcard to a friend. After I took them to the post office, I realized I didn’t take any photos of them. Oh well, next time. Do you write letters or short notes when you send cards by post?

    There’s a lot of talk lately about why people still blog. I like blogging because I can share the things I enjoy, as varied (like today’s post) and sometimes subtle as they are. Of course, I also enjoying taking and sharing photographs. The two marry well together, I think. Other bloggers choose to keep to a particular theme (cooking, sewing, knitting, traveling, raising children, running/working out, design, and so on). What happens here is a potpourri of topics, thoughts, creations, and anything else that I choose to share at any particular time. I always appreciate those who stop by and you always make my day when you take the time to leave a note or respond to a question I may ask. I truly appreciate you.

    For those who love northern lights or are avid photographers, I’m leaving this video featuring my friend’s brother who was a master northern lights photographer. This is one of Wayne’s awe-inspiring photos of northern lights. I encourage you to view the short video. It will have you in awe. Enjoy.

    ©Wayne Roberts, photographer Carcross, Yukon

    Photo ©Wayne Roberts, Carcross, Yukon

    So my lovelies, until next Monday seek the wonder of Mother Nature and may you rock and roll your way through the week.

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    Lisa Gordon - November 7, 2016 - 1:56 pm

    It truly is always such a pleasure to visit you here, Diane!

    I know what you mean about potpourri.
    I do the same. Kind of whatever photos mean something to me, and whatever is going on at the time. Many times there is just a photo with very few words. It’s comfortable for me, and to me, that’s what it’s all about. I have to enjoy it, or it becomes just another thing that I feel I have to do. In well over 6 years, that has worked out very well.

    I DO write letters. Not a lot, but in particular, to one friend whom I’ve considered a best friend for almost 40 years.

    My goodness, the photo of the Northern Lights is absolutely magical! I would love to see this in person some day.

    You have a wonderful week, my friend.


    Susan Clark - November 7, 2016 - 2:25 pm

    A family friend lost his life on a fishing boat, he was very young. It was fifty years ago. Every now and again it still crosses my mind, like today when I read the poem you posted. I love the sea in all its moods but never underestimate its strength.

    Ine - November 9, 2016 - 12:58 pm

    Such lovely fall photography and thanks for sharing the video about the northern lights and lovely words about stormy seas, I enjoyed them!

    Susan - November 11, 2016 - 2:54 pm

    I love this peek into your days, Dianne and would have loved being on that beach after the storm! There’s something so comforting about all your beautiful images. Your posts remind me of May Sarton’s journals, one of my favorite authors.

    Candace - November 18, 2016 - 9:09 am

    The video of the Northern Lights is gorgeous! I’d love to see them someday.

    A lot of the bloggers that I “knew” back when I started blogging almost 8 years ago have dropped by the wayside. I do think it’s sometimes hard to keep a schedule with it and I don’t really do that anymore. I try to publish every week or so but, if I don’t, I don’t feel obligated anymore. I think I do it for myself more than anything. Posting one or 2 photos at a time on instagram or Facebook isn’t as satisfying for me. I like to have a little theme going. I like Flickr but it’s altogether different. I would miss it if I stopped, I’m sure, so I’ll be hanging in there with you.


    The winds have tumbled through the trees and across the Salish Sea this week like teenagers running from trouble. My week has scurried by with as much force as those winds and on multiple trajectories.

    First up on Monday was this note on Twitter:

    “@DianeMSchuller’s photos capture the beauty in everyday life: goo.gl/tEuDWL #PosterjackFeature ”

    What does that mean you say? Well, looks like Posterjack featured my photos (the ones on Flickr). How cool is that?! Needless to say I was rather tickled at what they had to say about my photos, or even that they felt them worthy to feature.

    featured on Twitter

    Also, on Monday, I checked out one of my favourite knit blogs and the dear Andi, My Sisters Knitter, went and included me in her list of blogs to visit! Goodness me, no wonder I stick to blogging. Kidding aside, I felt so honoured to be included and mentioned.

    Next up on Tuesday, I received an email from Posterjack learning that I also won their September photo contest! Here is part of their message, “Hi Diane! Congratulations! You’re the winner of the September #2016Snapshots contest. Here is your $100 voucher code…”

    These are the two photos I had submitted on the theme of books/reading.


    I realize there are people who take far better images than I do. Yet I can’t help but be incredibly honoured to have my images featured in this way. I look forward to using my $100 winnings on putting more of my images on my walls.

    “Photography takes an instant out of time, altering life by holding it still.” –Dorothea Lange

    Wait, there’s more. I found out about a ‘yarn swap’ at one of my favourite groups on Ravelry. It goes like this: you submit your interest and are paired up with another knitter. Each of you shops for the other person purchasing some yarn and adding any other little items you’d like to go along with it. Wrap, mail, and wait. You have no idea how excited I was putting the package together plus the anticipation of hoping my partner would be even half as excited as me. I forgot to take a photo of the goodies I sent but the recipient took the image below when it arrived.


    It contained: two luscious yarns in one of her favourite colours; a novel; one of my own book marks; locally made stitch markers; imported loose tea plus a couple tea bags; British toffee candies; a pattern for hat (perhaps for using the gradient yarn); gift tags for use with hand knit gifts plus a sheet of knit-gift tags with washing instructions; and a locally made card for writing a note to my swap partner.

    Earlier today I received my package from my swap partner. You should have seen the darling washi tape she had used with her wrapping paper: it had an adorable sheep on it. Her package contained: a luscious skein of fingering Merino wool by Bumblebirch (don’t you love that name?); some darling stitch markers in the shape of nautical rope balls; a notebook (always handy); the memoir Knitlandia by Clara Parkes; a sample of Eucalan; and the most amazing set of TOLT postcards. I would normally send postcards but these are too adorable to send — I think I’m going to frame them.

    yarn swap

    “Do stuff. be clenched, curious. … Pay attention. …  It connects you with others. It makes you eager. stay eager.” –Susan Sontag

    My Trenchcoat socks are finished! And they fit. And I can hardly wait to knit more socks. But first I’m going to make a pair for my son.

    handknit socks, Turtlepurl yarn in Trenchcoat

    Since I’ve been knitting again, I thought the next blog I would mention (as I promised to do on a monthly basis) is MySistersKnitter. I’ve been following Andi ever since I began knitting. You’ll see she’s a die-hard sock knitter and I envy all those lovely socks she makes. Hers is definitely a knitting blog and you’ll find she shares information about the yarn & patterns for the socks and other things she knits. What I enjoy most is her lovely chatty way — it’s like having a great visit at the kitchen table. If you’re a knitter, you’ll especially want to visit Andi. She always closes her blog posts with some delightful music you’re bound to enjoy.

    A glimpse of my week

    watching the storm roll in on the Salish Sea

    baking pies ©Diane M Schuller

    vase of chrysanthemum | www.dianeschuller.com

    I have a couple questions for you before I leave you with my wish for your coming week. Q: Do you think hand knit socks make a good gift; if so, is that something you would love to receive?  Q2: Would you ever be interested in doing some sort of a swap with me (doesn’t have to be a yarn swap though it could be, but could be postcard swap; letter swap; handmade item swap (sewing, knitting, crafting, paper, whatever) for example)?

    So now my lovelies, until next Monday I wish for you to be eager, make connections near or far, and keep sheltered from the stormy winds.

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    DIANE J PATMORE - November 1, 2016 - 11:37 am

    What a super post! I love those socks. Did you find them difficult to knit?

    Crazy busy here, but I’ll get a letter in the mail on Friday (I need to buy stamps and can’t do that til I have the car…)

    autumngeisha - November 1, 2016 - 4:56 pm

    Your pictures are lovely! They have an intimate quiet beauty. Love the socks too! I think that hand knit socks would make wonderful gifts.

    Juliann - November 1, 2016 - 8:40 pm

    I am also a fan of Andi’s blog. I am committed to not knitting socks although they are so lovely. i do think they would be a nice gift.
    If you decide to do a letter swap or maybe a book swap, count me in.
    I am just rebooting my own blog. I am enjoying visiting your writing space.

    Dianne - November 2, 2016 - 4:43 am

    I am to the last few rows on the toe of a sock this morning. Christmas socks for my daughter. My family loves to get them as gifts. When I was visiting last week, I saw the teenager heading to school a couple of morning wearing socks with her Birkenstocks. Yay for wearing socks made BY HER GRANDMOTHER to high school!

    Thanks for explaining how a Ravelry swap works. I have never exactly understood.

    Jessie Stevens - November 2, 2016 - 10:05 am

    I don’t as a rule even like socks but I always love the socks that are knit for me! 🙂

    Andi - November 5, 2016 - 6:32 am

    What a kind and wonderful mention- thank you Diane! 🙂

    Congratulations on getting your gorgeous photography featured. It was only a matter of time as I have been a longtime fan of your captures.
    It has been such a treat to see everyone having fun and swapping away. So happy that you joined in on the fun.

    Your socks turned out perfect!


    Lisa Gordon - November 5, 2016 - 11:51 am

    Congratulations, Diane!!!
    This is so truly well-deserved. I am thrilled for you.
    I absolutely LOVE these socks, and I think hand-knit socks would be a wonderful gift. The recipient would be very fortunate indeed.

    I hope you are having a wonderful weekend, my friend.

    Susan - November 11, 2016 - 2:56 pm

    Wow, such great news all around! Congratulations, so well deserved! Got my eye on those sweet socks!

    Candace - November 18, 2016 - 9:02 am

    Congratulations on all those successes, Diane. It’s always nice to get some recognition, your photos are always beautiful, even those of your everyday life. I guess I didn’t realize you live so close to the sea. That’s totally awesome!

    a piece of string …

    Japanese maple in autumn, Qualicum Beach BC

    I like making a piece of string into something I can wear.

    lace scarf by ©Diane M Schuller

    Yes, after a spring and summer knitting hiatus, I’ve cast on and the needles are clacking. I began by using up some yarn that really called out to be put to use — notice the autumnal colour. It’s a golden yellow shade and is the result of frogging a shawl I knit last year. Truth be told I’m sick of the colour and wasn’t keen on knitting anything with that particular yarn [again] so I trudged on through and made a lacey tube scarf with it.

    Australian Shepherd modelling lace scarf

    As soon as that scarf was off the needles, I knew exactly what would be next: socks! I have a Wildflower pattern that I really want to make but, wisely, I decided to first do a plain vanilla pair with some swanky yarn. That way, I can get the wrinkles ironed out in terms of fit and technique. So, in progress at this moment are a simple and basic pair of socks using some amazing self striping yarn called “Trenchcoat” by a talented Canadian yarn dyer, Turtlepurl.

    two at a time socks, Trenchcoat yarn by Turtlepurl

    two at a time socks | www.dianeschuller.com

    As you can see, I knit my socks two-at-a-time on one set of needles and I also don’t do them on double pointed needles, unlike most sock knitters. I much prefer to knit using magic loop rather than the DPNs — I’ve tried the DPNs and really, really do not like using them. The reason I do two-at-a-time (TAAT) is because I know myself well enough to realize if I knit only one sock, it would be a struggle (if ever) to begin knitting a second sock. The other reason I do TAAT is because that way, my socks will be a perfect match both in size, length, and gauge.

    detail, tip of Japanese Maple, www.dianeschuller.com

    After all that warm and cozy knitting, I’m going to close with something much more serious. This has deep meaning for me which is why I’m sharing this. As some of you may know, Gord Downie of the band Tragically Hip did a farewell tour this year because he’s dying of cancer. But for the past two years he’s been doing a much more important project known as the Secret Path. CBC summarizes it best, “The album and its graphic novel companion, Secret Path, tell the story of Chanie (Charlie) Wenjack, a 12-year-old boy who escaped from a residential school in 1966 only to die while trying to find his way home. Secret Pathpublished on October 18 by Simon & Schuster Canada, is a haunting imagining in pen and watercolour of the final days of Wenjack’s short life.”


    And, as it turns out, the very talented author Joseph Boyden has also written a compact, palm-size novel about Chanie, called Wenjac; read about it here.

    Everybody has a story. We are so fortunate. So, my lovelies, until next Monday let’s have an amazing week!

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    DIANE J PATMORE - October 24, 2016 - 10:34 am

    Aha! I see you knit your socks toe-up. I did knit some on double points (and think I still have a pair in the cupboard!), but long ago I found a pattern for toe-up and tried it.
    These days I can’t be bothered with knitting and am barefoot most of the time.Though yesterday, I borrowed a pair of Peter’s heavy work socks, it was so cold!
    Like Heidi’s fashion statement! :-))

    Dianne - October 25, 2016 - 6:43 am

    It’s a good thing there are multiple ways to knit a sock. I like to make them top-down and on DPNs. I’ve tried magic loop and can do it, but find it fiddly. I’m making Christmas socks right now. One at a time.

    Lisa Gordon - October 25, 2016 - 12:20 pm

    Never has a scarf looked so perfect on “someone!”
    I really like this color, Diane.
    And I love the idea of knitting 2 socks at a time.
    I need to try this.
    Then maybe I would not have so many single mittens!! 🙂

    You have a wonderful week, my friend.