Monday, April 10, 2006

Why I knit socks - Part 1

I knit. I knit socks. And I love it. There is my confession.

Although more and more people are knitting, and more and more are doing it in public, nonknitters still occasionally stare. Gawk is probably more accurate. Sometimes the gawking is tinted with awe and amusement, as if a memory is being stirred and prodded by my pointy sticks clicking between long strands of wool. That's when comments such as, "Wow, is that hard?" or "My, how pretty." shower down. I'll smile back and give my knitting a little loving squeeze because it briefly brought joy to someone.

Other times, the gawking is more sinister, mocking, and haughty. That's when the "Oh, you knit" comments fly with the owner's own pointiness, poised to lunge at my sticks. Usually, the comment stops there if I'm knitting something innocuous, like a scarf or a sweater. Those seem to be nonthreatening types of garments, acceptable handknits, but, socks are different. Socks evoke confusion and sneers. Some nonknitters seem to be truly taken aback by someone who would make socks and see the knitter as, dare I say it, odd.

"You know, you can buy those at the store."

"Yes," I feel like replying, but just smile back instead, "and you can make your own coffee at home, you know." (SEC Disclosure: I own stock in a prolific coffeehouse - where there are as many locations as there are STARs in the sky - and strongly encourage everyone to go out, spend a BUCK, and have a barista prepare coffee for you. If you must make coffee at home, then buy this store's brand. You know which one I'm talking about).

Since I don't reply, the nonknitter walks off, shaking her head at my weirdness. Yes, I could buy socks at the store, and I do. I wear those socks often. They are utilitarian. They are not handknit socks, and I am speaking as a true connoisseur.

My love for socks began in grade school. I'm a product of a Catholic education which translate to 12 years of boring white socks. I'm not much of a boring white socks type of girl. Even my white socks now have a touch of pink trim or extra shock absorbing heel gussets. I craved bright colored socks with character, something that begged for attention. I began collecting socks that had toes, with bows, with bells, with stripes, with dots, with frogs. My sock drawer exploded with crazy socks in college.

Then I grew-up, got a job, and wore hose. The socks began to dwindle as they wore out, but I still loved looking at them in the stores. After awhile, I noticed that the white socks were making their way back into my drawer. Now, they brought their little black trouser sock friends with them. I was okay with this, but a little sad. It fit with my grown-up life. Something about it though, just didn't fit with me. That's when I started knitting again.

The urge hit suddenly. I began to see knitting books everywhere I went, calling to me. I'd flip through them until, one day, I found myself at a hobby store, in the yarn section. I bought some yarn and crocheted and knit. I made scarves, I made a sweater, I made a tank top. I saw patterns of socks and was taken aback. Sure they looked pretty, but they were socks. I could buy socks at the store...


Aaron Pentzer said...

Great post, and I LOVE the last picture.

Aaron Pentzer said...

Great post, and I LOVE the last picture.