But it's really more than that. While I was knitting socks for gifts this year, I had a lot of time to ponder the simple sock. It is something we take for granted, something that can be purchased in a 6 pack at any store and thrown away without a thought.
But throughout history, the simple sock has saved many a toe from frostbite, many a heel from blisters. They are reminders of home, of loved ones, of hardships, of adventures. Before knitting machines, socks were hand-knit with care and darned when they wore through. In times of war, socks were scarce. For the pioneers, winters were harsh and towns were often miles away. Throughout history, survival depended on something as simple as a pair of socks.
So, why do I make things? Above all, I think it has to do with being self reliant. I often think of Ma Ingalls. She would spend the entire day working hard cleaning and cooking and tending the garden. And then, instead of settling in to drink wine and watch Miranda like someone I know, she would spend the evening hours darning socks, sewing clothes, fixing tears and patching quilts. She kept her family warm, kept their fingers and toes safe from the deadly bite of winter. She did all that with just her two hands.
The drive to become self reliant, to acquire and develop useful knowledge and skills is something I am grateful to have. I was watching the documentary Happy People: A Year in the Taiga and found myself particularly drawn to the Siberian trapper and ski-maker. One thing he said really stuck with me: "You can take away anything from a man, his wealth and health and suchlike, but you can't take away his craftsman skills. Once you learn a trade, you'll always know your trade for the rest of your life."
I really feel that's true. It makes me proud to have put so much time and effort into learning my trade. It has taken many years of hard work and practice but now my hands can make things, my hands can create warmth and shelter from bits of fabric and yarn. In this modern age, many see the 30 hours it takes to knit a pair of socks as a waste of time. I see those 30 hours as a gift. Therein lies the skill, the craft, the trade. And that can never be taken from you.
Also, I'm just saying, assuming we survive the zombie apocalypse (omg, please don't let there be an actual zombie apocalypse), my hand-knit socks will be in high demand. Tired of running from zombies in your bare feet, are we? Who's wasting their time now!
So, tell me...what is your trade? What crafts are you proud to have worked so very hard to master? What skills will you bring to a post-zombie-apocalyptic society?
Also, in case I've convinced you of the importance of hand-knit socks and you want to start knitting a pair now rather than waiting until you're actually running away from zombies in your bare feet, I recommend starting with this yarn , of course:
I can't bring myself to actually buy this yarn because it (obviously) reminds me of zombies which (obviously) absolutely terrify me...but I think it would be perfect for someone who is not quite so terrified. Omg, I have to stop thinking about zombies...this is not how I anticipated this post would end.