Friday, September 5, 2008

Cold Feet

So they got a little behind at my doctor's office yesterday. I was fine. I had a sock-in-progress in my bag, so while I waited two-and-a-half hours past my appointment time so that the doctor could jab a ginormous needle into my knee (which is every bit as uncomfortable as it sounds) I sat and went round and round and round and got most of a foot done when a woman sat down across from me and watched what I was doing for a while.

When she realized that I was knitting a sock her first question was "Do you wear them?" An odd question to someone who knits socks, but I suppose not to a muggle. She just couldn't believe that someone knew how to or would bother to knit their own socks. Neither could the woman sitting across from me on the train this morning.

So, having amazed two complete strangers in as many days with something as ordinary as a sock, I started to think. Up until relatively recently in human history, if you wanted a sock, this was how you got it. In fact, there was a time not so long ago when a woman wouldn't be seen walking down the road without a piece of knitting in her hands for fear of being "stigmatized with idleness".

I, on the other hand, do this as a hobby. I don't particularly need to knit socks. It's a novelty for me to have hand knit socks. If I were to never knit another sock, I could just go to the store and get a whole package of them for just a few dollars. Actually, I could get a whole package for less money than it costs me to knit one pair. If these women didn't knit socks, then they didn't have any socks.

I've got it pretty damn easy, too. If I want to knit a pair of socks all I have to do is go shopping online or walk into a store and I have access to a huge variety of colors and patterns and yarn that makes stripes all on its own with no effort on my part at all. (I had a woman thoroughly confused on the train a few months back with a skein of self-striping yarn. She absolutely couldn't figure out how I was managing to change colors.) Until relatively recently if you wanted a sock you had to go out and find a sheep, then you had to shear it, then you had to clean the wool, wash the wool, spin the wool into yarn, dye the yarn and then you could get started on knitting your sock.

Now I like to knit and I like to spin, but really...... If this was what I had to go through for a pair of socks, I would probably freeze.