Four years ago, my husband had a very complicated foot operation with a sixteen-week recovery period. I’m sure it’s no coincidence that I learned to knit socks at this very time. I’ve been a knitter all my life, but with socks I’ve found my knitting niche.
The first pair I made accompanied me to the waiting room during the surgery. I sat in the corner, concentrating furiously on my stitches, for the four hours of the operation. During the first couple of weeks of his recovery, when we were housebound except for complicated and exhausting forays to the orthopedist’s office for a series of casts, I struggled through the mysteries of sock shaping. Like many other occupations, sock knitting is mostly routine enough to watch a movie (or all the seasons of The Wire, in our case) while you’re working. At a couple of points, however, that placid routine takes a turn into mystifying rituals that produce a foot-shaped piece of fabric. It was perfect work for an anxious few weeks.
Since then, I’ve made socks for my three adult sons — not much fun because their favorite colors are navy blue and charcoal gray. I’ve made my husband several pairs of striped socks, beginning with conservative muted heathers and most recently getting into gaudy chartreuse and gold (some souvenir yarn from a trip to Copenhagen). I make patterned stripes for my sister-in-law, who calls them “happy socks” and kept a pair on during her mastectomy last summer. (She said the nurses all noticed them.) I’m working on Christmas 2016 right now.
It’s good to have a niche.