Some folks can track their lives through the books that they’ve read, the songs they’ve heard, or the graduations they’ve attended. Personally, I find it incredibly meaningful to look at my life via the socks on my feet.
As a seven year old, I wore a school uniform, right down to the toes. White cotton ankle socks—no lace—no trim—bleached dead white. Nothing less was accepted and nothing less was ever worn, even if it meant washing out a pair the night before class and hanging them in the bathroom to dry. During the school day, these white socks purposely slid into our shoes and caused misery and anxiety. In late fall, the rules changed to a more seasonable grey knee high. These kneehighs had to “stay up”, no slouching allowed, just like our posture in class. Everything was at attention. I confess that we used rubber bands in order to keep on the good side of the administration who never seemed to hear of the words “phlebitis” or “tourniquet”.
In high school, if you were cool, you wore NO socks. Our mothers vehemently protested. “You’ll catch a death of a cold!” It’s not like we weren’t wearing bras or going commando…. Nevertheless, we learned to leave the house with socks afoot, and then clandestinely stuff them in our pocket (or bra) before arriving at school. Mother never knew.
At college in New England, the coolness of no socks turned into very cold feet. I learned to don not one, but two pairs of socks from November through late March. Shoes were bought a size larger to accommodate my thermal layers, and items from head to toe seldom matched. I was studious, warm and not fashionable.
After graduation, the work place had entirely new demands on my feet. As a teacher, I wore grown up clothes and grown up hose. Pantyhose, to be exact. What a stupid invention! I can guarantee you that no woman invented pantyhose. I learned to struggle with runs and sagging hose in the ankles as well as the tummy slip and slide. The waistband never stayed put. Elastic bands would be of no use. For many years, my sock drawer became my pantyhose drawer with fancy sub-dividers. They were not necessarily happy years.
Two years ago I learned how to knit socks. A whole new world opened up for my toes and my soul. The first several pairs were misshaped, too big in the foot, too tight on the top, and I absolutely loved them. Making socks for me is one of the nicest things I do for myself. Sock knitting offers fun yarns and excitement… something to look forward to at every step of the way: ribbing, leg pattern, heel patch, gusset, foot, kitchener stitch.
When my younger daughter left home to go to college and venture out into the world, she asked me for only one thing: Mom-made socks, as many pairs as I could knit. Wow- I thought- she sure is ahead of the sock-learning curve. She left with five pairs of socks that actually fit her and a standing order for more. One of the best things she ever said to me was “Every morning, when I get dressed and put on my socks, I think of you, Mom.” That was a puddle moment!
I’ve made a decision, at age 59, to only wear socks I’ve knitted. No more commercially made, skinny, skimpy, anemic, machine made socks. I’ve already created twenty pairs and am on the way to knitting one new pair a month. Wearing hand knit socks is like giving your feet a hug and a massage at the same time. Best of all, I love the instant smile that comes to my face when my pant leg happens to ride up and my bubble gum pink striped beauties wink at me.
Life is good. Hand made socks are great. Just do it! I can’t wait to tell you what my socks reveal about the next year of my life. I’ve just retired, and my sock yarn stash is taller than I am.