Thursday, July 2, 2009

Sock and Soul

Just as Summer Solstice passes I always get the urge to knit. After all, we’re now on the downslope of the journey towards the shortest day of the year and the accompanying cold weather. In just a few weeks the leaves will start to change and there will be just the faintest snap of fall in the air.

Right around the time I returned to work after maternity leave I decided to learn how to knit socks so that I’d have something productive to do on the train. Since my earliest adventures in knitting I had been intrigued by socks. They seemed like the ideal craft for a commute—small enough to be portable, complex enough to hold my attention, but able to be knitted during brief bursts of activity.

In summer of 2008 I knitted my first pair and I was hooked. The work was interesting and fun and socks turned out to be the only knitted garment with universal appeal for my family members. T rarely wears the hat I made for him, refuses to even consider a scarf, and I don’t have time for a sweater but, he loves his woolly socks. Socks, when paired with sturdy toddler-proof shoes, are seemingly the only clothes we can keep on C who, like all two-year-olds, is a pint-sized nudist.

Now I’m in the process of converting my entire stash over to sock projects. Gone are the sweaters, hats, bags, and baby blankets I had planned—my mind’s eye now sees an army of socks, all different colors and sizes (but hopefully the same general shape) marching out toward the horizon.

Normally when I take on a new craft I devote a significant amount of effort to understanding the mechanics and the meaning behind the steps rather than just blindly following the instructions. With socks, however, I just haven’t taken the time to demystify the process. Instead I watch in wonder as my very own hands transform a tangled length of previously unconnected fibers into something recognizable and useful. Amazingly, adherence to the cryptic instructions yields a functional sock every time.

Each completed pair still strikes me as tiny little miracle—proof that real magic is found not in the unexpected but rather in the endeavor that goes exactly according to plan.

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