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Those darn socks

A few years ago a friend of mine introduced me to smartwool. This magical fiber has found itself nestled against my feet for a few years now. Unfortunately I’ve finally come to realize the main drawback of this fantastic foot wrap. Smartwool tends to deteriorate faster than other, more contemporary, fibers. After a few years I have more holes in my Smartwool socks than I ever did with my old cotton socks, or any newer synthetic socks. Perhaps I could be a little more aggressive with tending my toenails, but alas, the past is the past and as a result of my wool fetish and pedicure aversion I found myself in the possession of several unusable socks. Most of the wool material was still warmly warming of my occasionally chilled metatarsals, but the holes that had developed in the toe region were proving to be somewhat of an annoyance. My large toe in particular was fond of poking itself through it’s newly discovered portal at opportune times.

About this time a secondary drawback of my Smartwool fetish made its appearance. Smartwool socks can be considerably more expensive than your run of the mill cotton socks. So replacing these socks would end up cost a non-trivial amount of cash money. Rather than see my hard earned cash money going directly into those corporate coffers (the bastards!) I figured I would take a queue from my great grandmothers and learn how to darn my socks.

I did get a few eyebrow raises when I asked my family for darning supplies for Christmas, but they were game and as a result I’ve been in the possession of some high quality wool thread, a few darning needles and a darning egg. The process of darning a sock is actually quite straight-forward. It only takes a few minutes to darn a sock and the resulting extension of the life of the sock feels almost like putting money in the bank. For the cost of one pair of replacement smartwool socks, I’ve extended the life of three pairs of socks, with enough material to do the same to 100 more.

But the financial aspect was only part of what made this process enjoyable. I’m actually proud of my socks… as ridiculous as that sounds. In some small way I’ve transformed my role from being one of consumption to creation. My socks have gone from something that I passively consumed, into something that I played a small role in creating. And frankly it’s hard to put a price on that.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Yay! I’m so glad you found my darning tutorial useful. As a knitter of socks, I think people often wonder why I would spend hours and hours making a piece of clothing that I could pick up at the store for a buck or two. I think you’ve summed it up precisely in that last paragraph. It should also be noted that while I love my handknit socks the most, my second favorite socks are my Smart Wool socks. I actually have them on right now.

    March 31, 2011
  2. Thanks Mandy. I’m always impressed with people who can knit or sew their own clothing. I think it’s funny that people will complain that they could never do the same thing because it takes so long to knit or darn a sock and then they use that extra time to sit in front of the t.v.

    Given the choice creating is so much better than consuming.

    March 31, 2011
  3. One of the main downsides of the “division of labor” is the loss of autonomy in our lives. Adam Smith counted this loss as important in human terms, but difficult to quantify in economics.

    March 31, 2011
  4. Yeah that’s true Brian. Division of labor is great for the economy, but we do tend to lose touch with the fundamentals of human survival. e.g. when was the last time you slaughtered a chicken?

    March 31, 2011
  5. Cheryl Owen #

    I’m so glad you enjoyed the darning egg Gary. Getting back to the basic’s of just mending wool socks can feel pretty rewarding at times and does save money.

    June 21, 2011

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