You can always tell if someone has never worn a handmade sock. They are normally the ones who spot you knitting, ask what it is and when you tell them it's a sock, they ask "Why?" They usually then add that you can "buy them at the store for a few bucks." These people act as if they're letting you in on the secret to a successful life and generally come over all superior as they look at you with a face that's etched with sympathy. In short, they think you're nuts. Why make something when you can buy it just up the street?
Well, my friends, I'm here to tell you, that if you've never been blessed with a handmade sock, you haven't lived. (Actually, it's better to be blessed with two ofcourse, unless you're in the unfortunate position of only needing one, but even then, two would be an extra blessing because you'd have a spare.) Indeed, if you've never owned a handknitted sock, then you've missed out on a treasure trove of experience.
Socks, knitted, with love and a great deal of care, really can't be beaten. First and foremost you get a perfect fit, secondly they're warm when the temperatures are subzero (centigrade ofcourse, I'm a European) and lastly, they just look damned good! You'd have to go a long way to beat the quality and style that a pair of handmade socks provide.
I was first introduced to sock knitting while living in Scandinavia. I have to confess that when I lived in England, socks were not top of my agenda. I was going through my baby phase in those days and my knitting consisted of booties, matinee jackets and the odd All-In-One Batwing sweater (it was the early '90's) to satisfy my selfish knitter tendencies.
Norway saw me launching into socks for the first time. I'd never really thought about them until then. The relatively mild climate in the south of England left my cotton/elastic Marks & Spencers bargain buys in the 'perfectly adequate' category. It was only when I moved that they ceased to meet requirements. In the snowy Norwegian winters that followed, woolly socks were a must inside both boots and ski shoes, so I set to with my needles. What a satisfying experience!
Making a sock fullfills both my desire to be creative and practical. I love that I can produce something so useful just by picking up some sticks and string; something that keeps my family's feet snug and warm (at least when I'm not in a selfish sock mood.) This is the secret to a successful life; an artisan's skill that can be used to bless those around you and in turn be blessed yourself. Often times, we knit for fun, we knit to explore, to create, to soothe, we knit to stay warm, to care, to love, we knit for all sorts of reasons, reasons that are captured in each and every sock.
So I look at the person who has never owned a handknitted sock. I smile back at their haughty expression with sympathy in my eyes and hope that someday they too will know the 'warmth' of a handmade sock.