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Archive for May 10th, 2009

Spring Sock-Drawer Cleaning

Sunday, May 10th, 2009

(Note: I realize that if you are not into socks and socknitting, this will seem extreme. I invite you to look at your own life… it is pretty common for humans to have some sort of extreme side to them. Socks are colorful, affordable, and don’t take a barn to store them in… so I’m really fine with my own personal flavor of obsession. Besides, if simple things can make us happy, things are good!)

A few weeks ago we got home pretty late. I knew I was not focused enough to do administrative work, but I was not ready to head to sleep yet. I went upstairs to the bedroom for something, and realized that it was pretty impossible to close my sock drawer.


You see, I have pretty much been fascinated and obsessed with socks for probably four decades. I came of age in the 70’s. (I started middle school in 1969 and was first married in 1980.)

When I was just starting to notice fashion, there were fun rainbow socks, toe socks, argyles (in nasty nylon, but they came in a lot of colors), many more colorful choices. I was also in love with the colors worn by Twiggy in Seventeen Magazine.sockstrash.jpg

Do you remember the brightly-colored styles that came out around the time when “Laugh-In,” I Dream of Jeannie, The Brady Bunch and The Partridge Family were on TV? I am about the same age as “Marcia Brady,” Donny Osmond and Michael Jackson.

In addition to the 70’s influence, and my strong preference for bright colors, another important influence was my love for wool. You see, I made a chance purchase with my adolescent babysitting income at a local discount store. socksgive.jpgI found cobalt blue washable wool socks in the ice-skating department (of Meijer Thrifty Acres, probably about 1973).

I liked the bright color, and they promised warmth outdoors. I had money burning a hole in my pocket… and those socks became favorites instantly. They were SO comfy and SO warm that I was delighted! From that point on I was sold on wool socks. After all, nobody has feet as cold as mine… or so it seems.

Since I like wool and bright colors, and I have size 6 narrow US size feet, I rarely can find commercial socks that fit and are my preferred fiber/colors. I can find two out of three, but very rarely all three preferences are covered in a single pair.

I had 82 pairs of socks before I started knitting them. On top of that, since 2001 I have handknit 169 pairs, many of those for myself. It was time to say goodbye to some old “friends,” so that I could close the sock drawer again. Finally.

I made a few rules that worked for me:
1) If it’s not handknit, I will not darn it, so commercial sox with holes go in the trash.
2) Commercial cotton pairs which are so thin I could not knit them by hand, can stay.
Commercial socks in the same gauge as handknit socks, must go because I do not wear them. I finally realized why some “favorites” were never getting worn, and this was the reason.
Synthetics go, no matter how sentimental, take a photo before giving away if it helps say goodbye.
If I only can find one sock in that pair and have not seen it in a long while, it gets tossed.
6) Black or gray only stay if they fill a need that is just not filled by any other pair in the “keep” pile.

Funny, the hardest thing for me was giving away the lime green snakeskin-patterned socks (nylon) I bought as a souvenir when I went to New York City. I think I wore them once. My feet do not like synthetics! They went to a good home once I was able to let go.

Photo exhibit 1: Before. Just the socks that were clean and in my drawer, there were a solid handful more waiting to be laundered. I handwashed another six pairs Friday, not shown here.

Photo exhibit 2: Thirty-two (32) single socks… equals 16 pairs, but they did not match up exactly. Tossed in the trash. These were not good enough to be darned or repaired, and were in unacceptable shape to give away.

Photo exhibit 3: Twenty-eight (28) pairs of socks to give away. Half went to a friend who loves color, and the other half (mostly black) went to charity.

Photo exhibit 4: The basket that went back up to the sock drawer (which now closes, thank you very much). No, I didn’t count. Then again, this was not all of my socks… just those clean and ready to be put away.


Now if I could only find this decisiveness and energy for some other projects in my life. The delay is agonizing sometimes, between the discovery of my need to decide, and the clarity to make decisions. I’m getting better, but I do get impatient at times.

Does anybody else have something like my sock drawer in their life? A project that waits too long while you wait for some sort of decisiveness and clarity, in order to make it better???