How long are the socks?

Lene (not my clever Toronto dwelling Danish friend – she’s got pictures of the twins again) but a Finnish Lapland knitter Lene, has written beautifully about hand knits here.

You should go read it. She raises some wonderful philosophical questions about knitting for “everyday wear”, about the difference between the things we make now (which are mostly luxuries) and the things that were made as necessities to keep people warm and covered.


(The baby is my grandmother, she’s wearing a beautiful hand-knit garter stitch dress with a checkerboard collar and hem, that was undoubtedly knit to be both beautiful and warm. This is Canada.)

In most of the world now, certainly where I live, it’s faster and easier (and usually cheaper) to go and buy your socks and hats and mittens, than to knit them up yourself. Many older people are grateful from having been released from the burden of having to manufacture these things. (Can you imagine? Truly, the idea of having no source for socks for my family except the ones that came off my needles gives me the heebie-jeebies. They’d all have lost toes to frostbite. Not only that, but there’s no way I would have the energy left to make them beautiful.) Lene made me think about the changing value of handknits…from necessity – to luxury item, and she got me reflecting on my personal philosophy, that beautiful things are more beautiful when they are useful.

Finally, she got me to think…you knit a pair of socks. Really beautiful ones. Socks knit from that special wool that you got when you went on a once in a lifetime trip. (It goes without saying that since you really love it, this yarn is now discontinued) Ones like the stockings Lene’s knitting, something with lace and twisted stitches and all sorts of carrying on. Not just complicated, but long too… Socks that go all the way to the knee of some really tall person. Lets say that you knit these (did I mention that it takes a long time?) and you give them away and now that person (who you obviously really love, since sock length is clearly related to affection level) can do as they please with them. How do you want them used? Tenderly? Rarely? Often? With so much affection that they get big holes in them, or with so much affection that they are worn once a year and will last a lifetime? What would you consider the greater compliment?