Thursday, February 24, 2011

The joy of socks

Today has been an odd, bitty, drifting sort of day, because I’m worried. I’m worried because just as I finished yesterday’s post, I learned that my younger sister is ill and in hospital for tests. 

She lives a long way from us, but close to her children, who are keeping us, her sisters, updated whenever they learn more about her condition. I know she’s in the best place and being well cared for, but still I’m worried and I’ve been finding it hard to settle down and concentrate.

So I’ve drifted.

I drifted on to the computer and sorted out the mini-avalanche of email which has been coming and going for the past 24 hours.

I drifted round the house, tidying up after DH’s return yesterday, but he has been too busy dealing with a client’s urgent problem to be able to stop and take my mind off my worries.

I drifted back to the computer to try to catch up with a few of my favourite blogs, but I’m afraid my heart wasn’t in it and my mind was definitely elsewhere.

Finally I drifted downstairs again and my gaze fell on my knitting. Usually I knit when the TV is on. Knitting gives me something to do with my hands and part of my mind, while the rest of my mind follows what’s on TV. To be honest, half a mind is as much or more than a lot of TV programmes deserve.

This time I didn’t switch on the TV.  Instead I just sat and knitted and worried about my sister and prayed for her and those who love her and those who are caring for her and gradually, as I knitted, I stopped worrying quite so much.

Knitting can do that for me. The gentle, repetitive action is soothing and doesn’t demand so much attention that you can’t think at the same time. Even better, knitting is productive. The worse thing about worrying is that it is so darned unproductive, such a waste of time and emotional energy. Yet, when someone we love has a problem, it’s very hard to stop ourselves worrying. So, if you can’t help worrying, sit down and knit while you worry, and if you want to feel really productive at the end of it, knit socks.

I just love knitting socks. It was DD, my knitting guru, who first introduces me to the joy of circular knitting and especially to the joy of knitting socks. It was she who gave me my first balls of funky sock yarn and my first circular needles and taught me how to use them. I was instantly hooked.

Putting on my first pair of hand-knitted socks was a revelation. They fitted my awkward feet perfectly and were so blissfully comfortable that I didn’t want to take them off. After that there was no stopping me. I knitted socks for myself and DH. I knitted socks for my sister and our daughter-in-law and now I’m in the throes of knitting socks for DS. The only thing that stops me knitting socks for our three grandsons is the fact that their feet are growing so fast that I could never keep up.

Knitting socks satisfies almost every need I have in a handicraft. Socks are small and light, so you can put your knitting in your bag and take it everywhere. Socks also take much less time to knit than sweaters or cardigans, so you never get bored or daunted and feel like giving up. Yet socks are complex enough to give you a sense of achievement and the warm glow of self-satisfaction that comes from being told how clever you are to be able to knit them.

There is an endless supply of wonderful sock yarns in every possible combination of colour and fibre, so that each pair you knit seems quite new and different. Finally, and this is the truly wonderful thing about knitting socks, you need never run out of people to knit for. In this era of sweatshirts and fleeces, not everyone wears sweaters or cardigans, or even hats or scarves, but everyone I know wears socks, and, believe me, once you’ve worn hand-knitted socks you want to wear them again and again.

So as I sit and knit and worry, at least I know that my sitting and worrying will result in warm feet for DS, and for me a renewed awareness of the importance of the people in my life and how very lucky I am to have them to worry about.  

Image via Wylio


  1. I love knitting. I rediscovered it when our grandson was expected and since then have been exploring the resources of the internet. Living in rural france there is little chance of patterns or wool locally but has been a revelation. And I find that everything I try requires new skills from youtube.
    One of the nice things about socks is that all the non knitters think you are sooooooo clever :-)
    All the very best wishes for your sister.

  2. I too have been knitting in the round this winter - pairs of fingerless gloves. Each digit has a tube which is also knit in the round with three pins. Megafiddly, but satisfying once into the rhythm of it. And I've been using funky sock yarns!

  3. Snap, Rosie! That's exactly when I started knitting again and I'm so glad I did so. Even here in the UK, I buy almost all my yarn on the internet. there are some wonderful sites for sock yarn. Oh, the smugness of us sock-knitters :-)

    Thanks for the good wishes. We're in the waiting for results limbo.

  4. Baby Siater, I need that pattern - now :-) DH likes fingerless gloves and I don't have a pattern. Sounds ideal for using up all my left-over sock yarn.

  5. Oh, and the thing I forgot to put in my post is that sock yarn is cheap. You can make a very acceptable present for a amall amount of money: very useful in these belt-tightening times.

  6. I've never attempted to knit socks. I'm not a good knitter but have made a few sweaters and cardigans in the past. Although arthritis makes it a bit difficult these days. Sock knitting is very popular in the villages in Turkey...and those produced are very colourful and warm.

    I hope everything is OK with your sister xx

  7. Socks are actually not difficult once you know how, Ayak, and are light to hold if painful joints are a problem. I have a friend who has recently takn up knitting again in an attempt to stop her arthritic fingers stiffening up, though it's too early to see if it will work.

    My sister is still in hospital and no news of results so far. We're probably expecting too much too soon.

  8. I joined our local 'Knit and Natter' but it was generally agreed that I should stick to making the tea and coffee. The knitting gene, so strong in my mother and grandmother, seems to have completely passed me by

  9. It's never too late to learn, Wylye Girl. I bet I could teach you and DD definitely could :-) I go to a Knit and Natter group in both Scotland and France, just can't find one near me in Wales.

  10. Keeping you and your sister in my thoughts.

    I can't knit..or crochet...but when I was working spinning used to be a way of switching off the conscious brain...and it was surprising what would pop to the surface at times.

  11. Do you have a favourite site for buying wool? Favourite pattern? I love the ones where you just knit and it looks like a really complicated fair isle pattern

  12. Fly, DD spins when she has time and it looks so soothing, but I've never learned. Knitting has to do the same thing for me.

    Rosie, I'll make a list of the sites I use and put it on here. The basic pattern is dead easy, and has improvements from DD, but I need to type it up properly before passing it on. This gives me an incentive to get it done :-)

  13. Haven't managed much spinning in a while, and my current sock is languishing whilst I finish OH's (last) Christmas present (ahem). But I'm glad to hear your socks are still going strong :-)

  14. Hi DD, glad opening up comments let you in :-) The new yarn for your brother's socks is great - but socks for men take so much longer...

  15. Can vouch for the superb qualities of said home knitted socks.

    Also appreciate P-I-T's lovely description of the distractions of knitting when worried.

    When worried about living relatives I distract myself with searching online for details of the lives of long dead relatives.

  16. Thanks, PolkaDot, glad you like them :-) Interesting how we all find our own coping mechanisms for worry. I look forward to see the fruits of your research.


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