Saturday, November 1, 2008

Hand washing socks

If you know me for more than a few minutes, you know that I knit. And after that, you'll quickly learn that I especially like to make socks. I can wax rhapsodic about the joys of custom fit hand knitted socks.

Yes, I know that you can buy ten pair for $12.00 at Target. And that those socks are easily tossed and replaced without a moment's thought. I also acknowledge that handmade socks cost more in terms of the price of the yarn and the time involved in making them. But, plain old cotton crew socks cannot hold a candle to handmade, hand dyed, wool/silk socks.

With this luxury comes an obligation to the care of one's socks. While some of them are made from machine washable wool, most require getting right into the sink with them and scrubbing. Generally, I wait until I am almost out of socks before I engage in the great sock wash.

I take the basket containing the dirties to the bathroom sink and fill it with very warm water. And, for reasons passing understanding, I use the liquid Kiss My Face soap on them. So, I submerse a few socks and pump on the soap. As I rub each sock with soap, attempting to dislodge unseen dirt, I notice again the stitches, the texture and the feel of the knitted fabric. Most of the socks are not particularly delicate but I'm aware of wanting to take care not to felt the yarn as I scrub. Scrubbing hard enough, and yet not too hard, to get the job done.

As I scrub, rinse and wring out, my mind wanders to the lesson of the socks. The difficulty of rinsing the soap out completely, the need to be firm yet gentle, the repeated movement to get the task done.

And I consider that we are all like handmade socks. We each are made of different materials and yet still have the same form. Some of us are hearty wool work socks, perhaps not as pretty as others but strong and durable. Others are silky lace socks that are beautiful but require extra care. Then there are the colorful ones which allow for a bit of self-expression that would never be found in a larger garment. We all get dirty, to one degree or another, by what our life takes us through. We all need special care and careful attention in order to restore ourselves to a more pristine state. We can't take too much hot water or too much agitation. And occasionally, life rubs a hole that cannot be darned.

I hang the socks to dry and hear them drip as I clean the sink. Then I reach for my needles again.

10 comments:

Denise said...

Great post. I'm lacy colorful socks that have been treated like work socks. I have my holes.

yarnpiggy said...

Wonderful post! I think I might be a utilitarian, worsted-weight sock with a few holes. :-)

Scarlett said...

you should print this and hand it to someone who goes you knit socks???

knightlight said...

Delightful read! My teacher's assistant raises her own sheep, dyes, spins and knits! I have learned so much from her and have an appreciation for those of you with such a wonderful passion! I am probably the woolly work socks with a few holes!

joangee said...

Love what you've written, pondering how to describe myself

Mandella said...

That's an interesting perspective on people and it makes me glad I'm not the only one who enjoys handwashing those socks.

Rudy said...

What wonderful thoughts. I actually read your column twice just to let the words sink in.

Starman said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Starman said...

Hi Nan! Great post! Messed up on last comment, so try again! I think I am a Chameleon type sock, always changing. :)

LizzieK8 said...

Wonderful post! Well done! I found you via Colin (Knitman) at your post on self betrayal. I'm now subscribed and look forward to reading more.