Tuesday, March 17, 2009

How gorgeous is this? Function and Beauty. The perfect mix.

Best money I've spent. I commissioned a darning egg from SJS Woodworking, here's his SJS Woodworking Etsy Shop. I got this for under $30 and it's not only a GORGEOUS piece that I can leave sitting out near my knitting basket but also it made my job MUCH MUCH easier. This one is made of hard rock maple and walnut and he's buffed it with a wood wax finish. I dug my darning needle against this egg while fixing 8 pair of socks with 12 holes. You can't even tell I used it. It's still just beautiful. I highly recommend it. The woodworking genius is also a husband of a local knitter/spinner, so she's given much input and is involved in testing out the products to find what really works.

I know most people follow the Yarn Harlot's theory of darning socks as saying "Darn it!" and dropping the pair into the trash. Well, I thought about it. When I only had 2 pair with holes I really REALLY thought about it. I couldn't bring myself to do it, though as one pair was my monkey socks. I love my monkey socks. They're the only pair of lace socks I've made so far and they're koigu for cripes sake. I decided I'd just set them on a shelf in the basement where I would only look at them during laundry day and THINK about what to do with them.

This was a workable plan for some time, but as the number of socks on that shelf increased and the number in my sock drawer decreased I started to wonder if maybe there wasn't a better option. Time went on....and then there were three pair left. I was actually WEARING one of the last few at a spinsters meeting in Harveyville, KS. These were my first pair of socks that rock socks. Someone complimented me on them, so I pulled my foot out of my shoe and said "Oh! These are one of the last pairs I've got left without any holes!" and put my foot down onto the ground. I felt a very cold spot. Picked up the foot, and said "well, FUXX it" Yes. Another hole. It's a good thing "darning" was named long ago. I explained to the husband that women say "DARN IT" and laugh as they spend the weekend darning. I usually said something stronger, so told him I actually spent the whole weekend "Fuxxing". Apparently I'm not as funny to others as I am in my head because I laughed for at least 20 minutes on that one while he just walked away rolling his eyes.

Finding myself with only TWO pair of socks left was the deciding moment for me. I have no problem letting a well worn pair of socks go when they've given their all. BUT I happen to be quite hard on knitted socks. I occasionally quite often wear them w/out shoes while running out onto the rough cement driveway to grab something from the truck, have worn them sans shoes walking down the blacktop to the bottom of the hill and back to get a child. I have worn a pair while walking the length of the MN/St. Paul airport without shoes when the heels I was wearing bothered my toe. These socks hadn't given a lifetime of service, they'd been beaten and abused and had the bruises and holes to show it. The bottoms of the feet were holey before their time. The rest of the socks were just fine.

These were good socks that really wanted to still be worn. I don't actually TALK to my socks, but some things a knitter just knows. (OK sometimes I do actually talk to my socks, but they've never answered back so it's not at truly crazy levels yet). I owed these socks a better life. I have darned one pair of socks before without a darning egg. It was miserable. The lightbulb thing? First of all the needle scratching on the glass surface would just do me in. Second of all, I'm clumsy enough that we really don't want me wandering around with a lightbulb and needle. Can't you just imagine someone SITTING on it? Darning without the egg meant that my tension was all wonky and I either pulled too tight or not tight enough.

SO, I set aside some time this weekend and I darned. I darned and I darned and I darned some more. I tried both the weaving methods and the duplicate stitching methods. Being a lazy woman and having most of the holes on the bottom of my feet, I favored the weaving as it was faster and looked fine to me. On the toe holes I just unpicked the cast off edge or even snipped it off with scissors and reknit the toe. I got into a rhythm and really started cranking them out. I suddenly had a drawer full of beautiful happy socks again!

My monkey socks are back on my feet just in time for spring! I even walked to OTHER office buildings to take some photos, but really my building is set so that the pretty landscaping and indirect light is right in front. The other 2 nearest buildings had dark shadows and were unusuable. I timed it well and kineared my feet in front of the building between people coming outside and avoided the smoking crowd. If I got lucky there wasn't anyone looking out their windows watching the strange woman with her pants rolled up, standing next to the flower beds with her butt in the air taking pictures of her feet. Just call it my CYG (Crazy Yarn Girl) duty to keep the conversation at the water coolers and elevators going.

I've also sworn to my socks that I will no longer run outside without shoes. No longer wander airports or stairways without shoes and be extra gentle while washing them.

Think about darning a sock next time you're in the same situation. It's really not that hard, doesn't take much time and is a great feeling of accomplishment. Plus in today's world it's sure good to be frugal and make that sock yarn money last. Leave a comment, email or check out the links to get yourself a darning egg. I love that my fiber tools can be functional and a thing of beauty. Speaking of functional things of beauty......my spinning wheel is almost ready! Jeff's stained, painted, sealed and put together almost the whole thing. It's been hard to wait as he gave it many, many coats of stain and finish. Can't wait! Hope to have pictures soon of my new wheel!

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