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Socks, and the knitwear formerly known as socks


Once upon a time, long long ago, before I had stretch marks, bags under my eyes and three adorable children, I used to knit rather a lot.  Sort of obsessively. Rather as if I had oodles of free time in which to play with sticks and string.  And about five to six years ago my obsession dedication to that fibre art got quite specific.  I knit socks. A lot of them.  I knit socks for family birthdays, for H, and lots and lots of socks for me.  There were socks in beautiful multicoloured skeins of yarn that coiled and wrapped themselves around my feet in rich velvety swirls of colour, there were the plainer yarns used to knit up the most intricate patterns I could find, cables, lace, knots and leaves, the first pair of socks knitted from my own handspun, and a very memorable pair of pirate argyles, (that alas appear to have gone unphotographed).

And gradually my sock drawer got fuller and fuller and fuller to the point at which I phased out anything that wasn’t either hand knit or for sport.  Similarly H has work socks, sports socks and a beloved collection of fluffy socks that explode out of his drawer at the slightest opportunity.

But the problem with knitting all your socks is that they wear out.  And the problem with knitting all your socks within a 24 ish month period is that they all wear out more or less at once.

And so the casualties have begun.  Worn patches under the ball of the foot, stitches escaping from a hole in the toe and unravelling half way up the foot, odd stitches that you didn’t think were in any danger suddenly giving way mid way through the wash leaving you with a hole big enough to make thumbless mittens by the time you pull it out the machine.

I’ve darned more than a few but it doesn’t seem to extend their life expectancy by more than a couple more wearings before the bit next to the bit I’ve darned all falls apart too.  Clearly I would have failed darning if they’d taught it at school.  I think about throwing them away, and sometimes I even take them out of the drawer and put them on the top with a vague sort of intention to actually move them gently towards the bin, but they never get that far.   I think there’s just too much work in each pair for me to be happy just chucking them away.  I’ve thought about unravelling them and using the yarn for something else, probably a smaller pair of socks, or maybe some stripes, but as much as I like the idea, I also know myself, and I know that that plan is only going to end with a pile of socks insulating a corner of the studio while I cast longing glances at the untouched stash upstairs.

So this year I have a plan.  Well a plan of sorts.  Some of it is a little experimental (but aren’t the best plans always like that) and it starts with a little ruthless attention to the sock drawer.  Everything with a hole in it has come out.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

If it’s a toe up pair then they are no longer candidates for being a pair of socks.  The sock has to go on to pastures new, no plea bargaining allowed.

If I knit them cuff down and the hole is in the toe and there aren’t any other noticeable weaknesses then they’re candidates for re-knitting.  Which is this lot:

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Five pairs, most of them just need a new toe and I’m tempted to say that I’ve got until Easter to get them back into circulation, but don’t quote me on that one.  I have however put the green pair back on the needles for a new toe.  They’re special socks, the colour is called Lucky, I was wearing them for my first ultrasound with Kitty and during a lot of my labour and they’re on the save list for sentimental reasons alone.

And as for the rest of them. Well these are no longer classified as socks.

Space for the Butterflies - an eclectic handmade family life

Which is where the experiment comes in.  I still really don’t want to throw them away. I love those socks, there are hours of my time knit into them, they’re made of yarn that I think is soft and warm and they’ve kept me cosy and warm for so many years.  And they’re beautiful.  Just rather well ventilated.  So the plan is to upcycle them. They’re going to be a blanket.  Or some of them is anyway.

My plan is to slice across the bottom of the cuff just before it expands into the heel.  The foot can’t be saved but the cuff could then be sliced open vertically to give me a square ish sort of shape which could then be crocheted to lots of other former socks to make a knitted patchwork blanket.  Not all the colours will work together and I’m sure some will fall apart somewhere along the line, but what about something that looks a little bit like this:


I haven’t cut anything open or tried to crochet around all the raw edges so I have absolutely no idea how this is going to work out.  It could be brilliant, it could be utter madness, but having made the momentous admission that these are no longer functioning socks I don’t think I’ve got anything to loose.  It’s time to get the scissors out.