14 September 2006

If our socks could talk...

" 'There, that's finished,' Mama said. She stood and held her knitting up to the window. It was a gray stocking for Papa.... A year ago those stockings had been crinkly wool on the back of one of those merinos. Papa had sheared the fleece from the sheep's back, and Mama had washed it and combed it smooth with her spiky-toothed carding brushes. Then she had spun it into yarn on her spinning wheel. And now that yarn had been knitted into a pair of stockings.

"Charlotte looked at these stockings, flat and soft and gray in Mama's hands. It seemed to her they were made of more than just wool. There were words and thoughts knitted into them like the tiny prickles of grass seed that sometimes stayed stuck in the wool even after it had been washed and carded and spun. All the words that had been spoken while Mama's quick hands made the needles cross and uncross around the endless strand of wool -- all those words about the war, and Mr. Madison, and the cannon-heavy ships -- they were all there, knitted into Papa's stockings."
(From Little House by Boston Bay, by Melissa Wiley)

I imagine the stockings in the book looked a little like this.

Reading that passage inspired me to start a pair of sensible socks. I have no sheep, no roving to card, no handspun wool, so I picked a sensible-looking skein from my stash, in this case some Regia:

I think knitting toe-up socks is ever so much more sensible than top-down. Top-down always strikes me as backwards and queer.

In any case, if these socks could talk, I don't know what they'd say about the sheep, or the spinning with polyamide. I imagine the conversation would be in German or Italian, though. The skein travelled through WEBS yarn store, so it was in the same state (Massachusetts) as the stockings in the above passage.

And those green needles? I don't even know where they're from. I got them from my grandma, who got them from another lady at the Assisted Living Facility. They're not even a matched set anymore.

As I knit, the socks are now able to quote from Darmok and Jalad at Tenagra (don't knock it -- that episode features Picard doing an extemporaneous telling of Gilgamesh, and also shows him reading the Homeric hymns in Greek -- a classical ed. goldmine!). They've been to dance class and met a woman who spent $800 on Sonlight curriculum for 2 of her kids this year (she was carrying a very nice Sonlight tote bag; the socks were the conversation starter, but that tote bag got us into the homeschool discussion). They have been to the playground.

Today they will go to swim class. From there, who knows? The world is open.


Pensguys said...

I LOVED this post!!!

Which toe up method do you use? I've been experimenting with a couple (Figure 8 cast on and provisional like Wendy aka WendyKnits) but can't seem to get it either way. So for now, it is top down since I have a deadline to meet (my friend's birthday).

Mother Crone's Homeschool said...

I love that section of Wiley's book. When you think of it like that, they become almost sacred. I know there are only few folks I will knit or crochet gifts for because they just appreciate all the love that has gone into making the gift.

Your socks travels remind me of the posting of the Yarn Harlot, with pics of her socks all over the place! Poor woman though...$800 on Sonlight...yikes!