I want to talk about socks. I’ve spent years of my life considering them a necessary evil, or silently cursing as I end up with a rash around my ankles courtesy of my allergy to elastic. They’ve been interchangeable, almost disposable, as the sock monster collects his tithe and leaves them bereft, forced into settling for a lesser mate from dogged pragmatism, or just plain fear of the bin.
It would be fair to say that socks are not a favourite garment of mine, or weren’t until the last pair of shop-bought, allegedly hypoallergenic socks had me itching within minutes and I realised I was going to be stuck with tights and knee highs forever. Well, unless I did something about it.
I came to yarn crafts comparatively late in life, when asked to buy a book as a gift for a friend’s daughter so they could learn crochet. My hugely talented granny had tried on numerous occasions to teach me and my best efforts looked like I’d given the yarn to one of my cats, so I was doubtful a mere book could teach anyone in isolation. I bought one book called ‘Kids Learn to Crochet’, and figured that if it could teach me, I would buy a copy as a gift, along with some starting supplies.
Years have passed since then, and I love to crochet for the colours, the textures, and the calming action that can help me deal with moments of mental health crisis in the way baking used to. And when one day I spotted a sale on sock yarn, I wondered whether I might be able to overcome my sock problem by learning to knit my own. The worst case scenario was having more lovely yarn to crochet with. so I bought it and hoped it wouldn’t just end up as a shawl.
I took almost a year before trying. Part of that was lack of time, part lack of mental space to learn and concentrate on a new skill, let alone understand a pattern. And partly an inability to prioritise my own needs when determining how best to use my time.
Today, another pair of socks has come off the needles, and I love wearing them, especially against my rather sober navy dress and black tights combo that is my go-to comfort outfit for those days where migraine lurks in the back of my skull, threatening to come out and play with the least misstep of food, drink or activity. They feel like they’re giving two fingers to the migraine, as well as cheering me with their colour. And should I be forced to hide in the dark later, my socks are no longer an irritant, but a friend providing warmth and comfort.
So now my socks are some of my favourite clothes and have become a process in themselves, from seeing a beautiful yarn – and giving it a squish and a stroke – to watching the pattern develop as the rows progress. The much-feared Kitchener stitch that I was convinced would defeat me is now an ally signalling the readiness of my socks. A new sock day is a celebration, like meeting someone you instinctively know will become a friend. And here they are, fresh on my feet. Happy sock day to me.