Friday, March 11, 2011

Darn those socks...

I like knitting socks from scratch, but I don't love it.  I like wearing handknit socks better than storebought, and so do all the male members of my family for whom I have ever knit socks.  They want me to knit them more socks, enough so that they can wear handknit socks every day of the week.  Truth be told, though, I'd much rather be working on another cardigan.  That's why I like to make sure that the socks I make will last a couple of years before the inevitable happens.  Not like this unfortunate pair, my Father Time socks, which stunned me this Wednesday by showing me a big gaping hole in the bottom of the foot after less than six months of wear.

The moral of the story?  For me, it's this:  buy cheap sock yarn with 25% nylon and 75% wool.  No more lusting after indie sock yarn dyers and boutique yarns.  No more dropping more than $30 on a skein of Three Irish Girls Sea Sock, with seaweed fiber that is supposed to be antibacterial and earth friendly.  It will just break your heart.  Not only will you be out the $30, but you will also feel guilty about the time you spent knitting them.  This is not what knitting is for.  I have not yet arrived at the point where I can stand in front of the trash can, say "darn those socks," and drop them away without feeling remorse and guilt.  So I darned them the old-fashioned way, but there is still going to be a fair amount of angst associated with those socks.  In the economics of knitting for me, there is a point where the useful life of a garment justifies the expense of the raw materials and time spent creating it.  These socks did not make it.  Sure, I had great fun working with the yarn itself at the time, and playing with an unusual pattern.  But when push comes to shove, socks are utilitarian objects and I expect them to do their duty like Roman soldiers, not act like works of art.

Some of my knitting buddies are members of sock yarn clubs, spend a sizeable amount of their disposable income on sock yarn, and have stashes that take my breath away.  They will be going to Sock Summit 2011 and making their stashes grow even more.  They will take classes on sock knitting techniques from the finest sock-knitting leaders in the world today.  I respect their love of their craft and their zeal for pushing new boudaries in the sock frontier.  But from now on, if I buy an expensive skein of sock yarn, it will be used for something frivolous and impractical that will not wear out.

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