Everywhere I look these days (it seems) I run into another article about Marie Kondo and her book/philosophy The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I’m xnot sure I agree with all of her ideas (though maybe I’m just too intimidated to really try them), but I do love how everyone who writes about her talks about her feelings about socks.
For example, Oliver Burkeman writes in The Guardian: “Kondo thinks you should treat your socks like tiny people, and that when they’re in your sock drawer, they’re “essentially on holiday”.” (The illustration with that story is fantastic.) I also love this bit from Janet Potter’s review in The Millions: “Kondo’s a little hard to pin down. She’s simultaneously a hard-line pragmatist and a far-out child of the moon. For every no-nonsense truth she lays down — “storage experts are hoarders” — she comes out with an impassioned plea to stop balling up your socks — ‘This should be a time for them to rest. Do you really think they get any rest like that?’”
Both of these (and all the other things I’ve read about this book) do actually make me want to change the way I store my socks, if not specifically because I think they (the socks) have feelings, but because I have feelings about my socks. I have favourites. I have different memories and associations attached to different pairs, based on where/when I knit them or where the wool is from. I am genuinely sad when a pair wears out, and I take pains to prolong their lives — whether by knitting them at tight gauge, hand-washing them, or keeping a good rotation so that the wear is spread around. (Or, all of the above, actually.)
Okay, writing that down makes me feel a little strange, but still. If you knit socks you probably understand. And really, that last point is the impetus to keep knitting socks after you already have enough (however you define that). I really like Tanis’s method of keeping some pairs in reserve, but I know myself well enough to know that I don’t have the willpower. I love the feeling of a fresh-off-the-needles pair of socks, and it’s fun to add something new to the rotation, which also helps soften the blow when you realize that formerly favourite pairs are being reached for less and less, as their wear begins to assert itself. (These socks, in particular, were favourites, knit at a time when I had very few pairs of hand-knit socks which meant they were worn constantly, and now have been worn almost to pieces. I really ought to replace them.)
I have actually been thinking a lot about socks in the last little while — ever since Karen asked what knit people couldn’t live without. I’ve been wearing my sweaters like crazy, but the real star(s) of my hand-knit wardrobe are my socks. I have notoriously cold feet (I just tend to run cold everywhere really), but I have noticed a huge difference these last few winters. I’ve always worn wool socks, but there’s a big difference in warmth and quality between the ones I knit myself and the ones I used to buy. For the first time, maybe ever, my feet are reliably warm, and I have no doubt that it’s because the socks I wear now are better quality.
This post was actually supposed to be about Dawlish, which I finished the other night, but it seems to have gotten entirely away from me, so I’ll talk about Dawlish next time. It’s almost funny how much there is to say about something as basic as socks, but then I guess they’re a garment that everyone wears and people often have surprisingly strong feelings about. Where do you stand in the sock camp? Has knitting your own socks changed how you feel about them? (Confession: I used to be a sock hater. So yes, you could say I’ve changed my tune.)