Hand-knit socks are more than a gift by the maker, they are a look into the past before plastic and elastic. They are a memory that our bodies will rejoice in. No tight band around the calf; no smell after one wearing. These socks are a delight that can be worn for days and days, and stay just as comfortable and wearable.
In case you can't tell, my passion for 100% wool socks is ongoing, and this means I must learn to darn. So let me tell you a bit about my first attempt!
This past year I found a knitter who made me socks for my Locally Dressed challenge. In case you're in search of the perfect wool socks, she makes hand-knit goods for sale on Etsy - check her items out!
In her wisdom as an experienced knitted, she originally advised me against 100% wool socks, which is what I really wanted. She warned me that darning would be needed within a year. Well, she was right, but that is OK!
My favorite socks she made me were longer than the others; they aren’t knee socks but half way up the calf. They came in a graphite color that went with everything and the pattern was simple.
The other day I realized why I like these socks so much; they formed into the shape of my foot and calf and as I slide them on each day they require no elastic to mark my body or possibly disrupt blood flow. These socks keep me warm even if my shoes slip into water while hiking. I can wear these socks day after day without washing and stay fresh and comfortable. Why? Because wool itself has antibacterial properties, so no odor. I just take them off, let them breathe overnight and put them on again.
I admit, I wear them so much that they have a bit of felting on the bottom from walking around my home on hardwood floors. (OK sliding around a bit as these socks glide along the floors!)
They're very loved and were wearing thin. So they needed darning, a sewing technique used to mend holes or worn fabric using needle and thread. There are so many ways to darn with different tools and yarn. Repaired socks can either show off visible mending or have invisible darning to close up holes. But either way you can wear the socks longer before discarding.
So how did I choose this particular approach to darning? These are my favorite socks. That won’t change after my challenge; these socks are here to stay. I envision mending them many times again.
I didn’t have a darning egg or mushroom typical tools for sock mending. I used a wooden ball I already owned (made to help foot tightness when running too many miles in a week).
The wooden ball was a bit small but did the job. The mending isn’t as neat as it could be and I chose yarn a bit thinner than the original sock material. But my favorite socks are again on my feet with no discomfort from the darning.
With my new knowledge, I will darn a few more pairs of running socks, neither wool or sustainable. But the longer we wear any clothing the better. Maybe I will try some pretty visible mending with these socks and over time they'll have more and more natural fibers. It's a nice thought that we can transform our clothing through mending to better represent our ethos.
I'm also working on a new pair of ivory wool socks for myself. This will take a while as the needles required are VERY small. (I'm not suggesting anyone else get this brand of needle or use circular needles for knitting socks. I am going to give it try as I haven't used double-sided needles nor the magic loop method. I'll update you on how I find these tiny needles!)
It’s a new year with new projects and an ideal time to start using less, keeping our clothing longer and talking about individual changes that leads to increased sustainability. Let’s raise our voices locally and beyond to create the change needed to care for our planet and each other.