Saturday, December 3, 2011

Battle Scars

At every dance studio I went to as a kid, it seemed that this poster hung on the wall in a prominent location. We tried to emulate it, standing underneath and tweaking out our pliable little knees into a perfect 5th position plie, even though our ballet slippers were squeaky clean, baby pink leather and those mustard yellow tights were (sadly!) a thing of the past. But the image of those beat-up, perfectly worn-in shoes stuck with me. Later, as a teenager, I carried around a duffel bag half-full of old pointe shoes that were far past their prime. I mean far. Tips blackened by the marley floors and sticky from rosin, shanks broken by my unwieldy arches, ribbons frayed to the point of non-existence. But I couldn't bear to throw them away! They had molded to fit my feet perfectly, and putting them on for barre warm-ups was like putting on an old friend. It even took me another two years or so after I quit ballet to get rid of them outright. I've stopped dancing now, but I've come to recognize that same sense of history and friendliness in my newer foot-related accessory: handknit socks.

These socks, first knit in October 2008, were darned in April or May 2010, and haven't been worn since I got back from New Zealand. They still have pride of place in my sock drawer, though.

Knit in May 2008, these socks still see weekly use (as you can tell by the cat hair), despite having been darned heavily in New Zealand and despite being see-through:

These socks were a Christmas present to my mom in 2007. I stole them back away from her last year in horror when I saw the balls of the feet. Yet they remain undarned. Mea culpa.

The latest addition to our family of socks whose history is as long and varied as those above, but whose time on feet hasn't really even begun yet.
These socks began as a present for my older brother for Christmas last year. They have traveled around with me in my knitting bag for months, getting shoved perpetually to the backburner when sample knits or designs had earlier deadlines. They were Christmas presents, then birthday presents, and they finally they were plunked unceremoniously down on my brother's bed, with a note of apology, a few weeks ago. They're Malabrigo Sock in the colorway Alaucil, on size 1s, in my typical toe-up sock recipe. I reinforced the heels with reinforcing thread, but neglected to make sure that the spools matched when I grabbed them off the shelf. Oh well. It'll help him tell left from right.
Though I love how pretty they are here, I really hope that, in time, their history will be as long and varied as the ones above, and that they'll look just as decrepit in a few years. Because that's when we know they're loved.

Oh, and you want to know the best bit about the three socks pictured above?
Never even wove in the ends.


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