My socks are so comfortably lovely..”
Donovan P. Leitch
From: I love my Shirt.
If you’re old enough to remember Donovan, the Scottish heart throb, musician, composer who wrote ‘Sunshine Superman’ and ‘Mellow Yellow’, you may also remember another of his, ‘I love my Shirt’. If you do remember it and have read the lines above, you probably have today’s earworm already playing in your head. (You’re welcome.) Those of you who are too young and missed the 60s and 70s, check him out. I bet you’ll find a song or two that you know. Donovan’s early album covers featured psychedelic writing, which I am certain gave rise many years later to the colorful, inventive graffiti that we now see spray painted on railroad cars, abandoned buildings and underpass walls.
I’ve strayed. This post isn’t about music or graffiti. It is about socks. My socks.
As a knitter and a dyer, I have bought and hand dyed thousands of pounds of sock yarn. So, I’ve knit my share of socks. Frankly, sock knitting doesn’t do it for me. There are parts of sock knitting that I enjoy, like turning a heel, or grafting the toes. But, I’d rather knit a sweater, or a shawl, or hat. There’s a lot to be said for the fit and beauty of hand knit socks. I happen to like store bought socks better. Particularly, Costco’s wool socks. They fit me perfectly. The problem I have, with all wool socks, is that I wear them out very quickly. Impossible as it sounds, I’ve gone through a sock in a day. I really don’t like to throw otherwise perfectly good socks away. A couple years ago, the piles of single socks sporting holes, began to take over my sock drawer. I was faced with a real dilemma, either start wearing mismatched singles everyday, throw away both socks in the pair, or learn to fix them. That’s when I began to darn socks.
If I told you that darning is not only sort of fun and relaxing but also provides nearly instant gratification, would you believe me? In less than a television show worth of time, my sock can not only be put back into service, but can be embellished with as many colorful circles, squares, or squiggles as I care to make. Visible only when stacked in my sock drawer, the little darned patches are my secret, hidden in my shoes, and enjoyed while I fold the laundry.
That brings me to my new to me contraption. Around the Christmas holiday season , I chanced upon a photo of a small metal darning loom. It was made in the fifties, in Ukraine. The genius of it astounded me. I absolutely needed it. Ebay produced several on auction. From England, one with a wood disk was going for nearly 125.00. I could buy an awful lot of socks for that price. The few from Ukraine were priced a bit better. I set my limit and bid. Each time my limit was passed. Over the next couple weeks, I checked for others. Then, three showed up from the same seller in Russia. Unlike all the others I’d seen that had wooden disks, one had a lovely swirled plastic disk to attach as the darning mushroom. It was beautiful and It was totally unique. It is mine now. I’ve thought about this purchase and it’s journey. Imagine, something made in the 50s, maybe 60’s, used to darn someone’s socks, maybe generations of someone’s socks, in Russia, stored in a sewing basket, or maybe a cookie tin on a shelf or under a bed. Imagine that someone’s granddaughter finds it and wonders what it is or why anyone would bother to use such a thing. Then imagine that someone thinks to sell it instead of tossing it away, and that I see it for sale, halfway around the world and want it. Really want it. It gets packed better than any package I’ve ever received and travels through bureaucracies, by how many people, in how many ways until it reaches me. And, finally, last night, it once again, was used to darn my sock.