Sunday, January 15, 2006


A couple months ago a friend who was examining my collection of knitted slippers showed me the lovely handmade socks he got for Christmas last year. “Do you knit socks?” he asked.

“No,” I replied. “I prefer knitting slippers because they can be completed so quickly.”

Now almost immediately I wished I hadn’t had this conversation. Because this exchange got me wondering if I could, in fact, knit a pair of socks. And the wondering led to a further step. Although I have never contemplated knitting socks, (for cryin’ out loud I can buy 6 pairs for ten bucks), some invisible force grabbed hold of me when I was in town and led me to the Yarn shop and endorsed the purchase of some delicate wool yarn.

Now I am not a proficient knitter by a long shot. I’ve never learned to hold my work properly so that the yarn is threaded through the fingers to feed to the work automatically and the needles click as rapidly as the stitching of a sewing machine. But my knitting is very nice with an even tension even though each stitch is a separate struggle. And one would never know by looking at my slippers how knitting-challenged I truly am.

But nevertheless when I got home with my sock-specific yarn, there was nothing for it but to get out my thinnest needles and arduously set to work knitting socks. It took a few days but eventually I completed a lovely ribbed cuff and the upper portion of the first sock. But when I got to the instructions for turning the heel, it was Greek to me. Couldn’t understand a word of it. But I wasn’t about to start raveling it out now. So I fussed and fumed between pattern and process for a couple days. Eventually, unable to proceed, I searched the Web and found a similar pattern with understandable instructions on how to turn the heel and thus I continued.

So now the heel is finished and it is a mighty fine heel. The foot has progressed slowly but nicely and I am now about to start decreases to shape the toe. Not far to go now. And it is a beautiful sock. It doesn’t even look homemade. It looks like it was done by the Finest Knitting Mill in the land. But even that is not encouraging. It was so much work. And in order to have a pair, I’m going to have to do that same amount of work again. And as I told you previously, as Youngest Daughter so aptly said, a second sock to match the first seems quite redundant.

But that is not my only concern. If I finish these socks and give them to Hub he will treat them with such disrespect. Starting with putting them on his smelly feet. That is sacrilegious enough but then he will probably even wear them under his old work-boots that are partially separated from the soles when he is repairing sewers or digging ditches. And guaranteed, he will have holes in the heels before my knitting needles even cool down.

These concerns got me thinking about the people that craft rugs and hang them on the wall instead of putting them on the floor. And those that have coffee-table books that aren’t meant to be read. And those that have guest towels in the bathroom that aren’t meant to be used. Those that make apple jelly that will never be eaten. Apple jelly that will be stashed in the preserves cupboard. But before they stash that apple jelly (‘never to be seen again’ as Hub always says) they strategically place each of the jars upside-down on the kitchen counter for several weeks for all the neighbors to admire. The pretense being the jelly is only there temporarily to cool, but we all know better. It is there to advertise the effort gone into making it.

But getting back to my sock project, try as I might, I can’t face the arduous task of making another sock. Equally I can’t face the thought of another incomplete project in my craft bin. And another consideration –once I seal the toe on this first sock and remove the needles, how can I prove to anyone with absolute certainty that I actually knitted this sock? How then, do I advertise my skill and effort? These questions led to an obvious conclusion. I must bring the whole bothersome business to an immediate conclusion.

So I brought up my best wicker basket from the basement. Lined it with a bit of batting and a cover of rich burgundy satin. I dug out some knitting needles I never use and sprayed them with gold paint. Flashy gold paint. I used these to replace the old dull needles I had been working with. I arranged some balls of yarn in the basket. One attached to the incomplete sock, and another to artistically complement the colors of the basket, the basket lining, and my living-room décor. I even added a ceramic kitten in a playful pose.

It is now a delightful centerpiece for the dining-room table. And although there is only one sock that is very nearly completed, this project is now finished. The arrangement I just described to you is lovely to look at but it serves another more fundamental purpose. No one will ever ask again, “Do you knit socks?”

Although they may very well say, “Oh, I see you are a knitter of very fine socks.” And I’ll respond by saying, “You bet I am!”


P.S. Perhaps I should have been a politician. This exercise proves that I did what I set out to do even if I didn't come near the accomplishment of that which was fully expected.


Blogger Me said...

OK, then. What would you do for a quilt square that is eventually supposed to turn into a quilt? Additionally, what would you do with a husband (Big Dad as we call him) that has actually MADE a quilt before, and is giving me pointers????

7:05 AM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi me. I read your post about Big Dad's sewing and thought 'How neat is that?' A chance for togetherness in more things.

As for a quilt square, I guess it could be a cushion cover for the chesterfield and if it's much smaller than than -- put a back on it stuff it with batting and make a pincushion. Then you could give it to Big Dad for sewing projects for his birthday! ;)

9:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

(Making notes) I can see all sorts of uses for the unfinished quilting projects I've been fretting about!

Way to go, Roberta!


5:47 PM  
Blogger Roberta said...

Hi Buffy. You make me smile. In fact, you make me laugh. Don't take these projects too seriously however. I'll be the first to admit a house can get a bit cluttered with some of these creations. But thanks for the visit and maybe don't throw out your notes. Who knows, with a few modifications... ;)

7:19 PM  

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