Darning Socks

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Darning Socks
(for Angela Wink)

My grandfather taught me how to darn socks.
I sat beside him by the fire and placed
a grey, wooden mushroom inside the sock,
stretching the sock wool to expose the hole.
He chose his colors with care, bright yellows,
oranges, reds, sky blues, anything that
stood out against the sock’s dark drabness. If
the socks were thin, he split new wool, pulling
it into individual strands that
he would draw through tongue and lips, wetting them
so they would thread with ease through the needle.
Curled wool threaded, I would cross-hatch the sock’s
hole, slowly forming a life raft that I’d
fill with colored wool. All my life, I have
darned socks, sewn buttons, mended my sweaters.
I always use bright colors, to my wife’s
dismay. Then, I know who did the darning,
and when. I still have my grandad’s First World
War sewing kit, all wrapped up in his signed
canvas wrap with his needles and some wool.
It’s lovely just to touch where his hands touched.
I still see dark blood traces where he pricked
his thumb, and where he sewed up wounded friends.

Commentary:

This poem comes from a comment, made by Angela Wink, on yesterday’s post. Such exchanges are precious and help create new memories. Thank you Angela.

13 thoughts on “Darning Socks

    • Funny: but we never forget them, those mushrooms, do we? I have sewn all my life … and cooked. I still love cooking, and that was our grandmother taught me. Lovely memories. I have to write them up sometime. All the ‘cooking’ things we did. I miss laverbread: maybe I’ll make some from Dulse… It’s been banned, chez nous, but rule are made to be broken.

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    • Great to see you here. We are the ‘patch and mend’ generation, brought up on the rule “never throw anything out, you don’t know when you might want it’. My grandfather used to un-knot every piece of string and roll it into little bows. I guess life was different in those trenches and some hard lessons were learned. hanks for commenting.

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  1. Thanks so much, Roger! I love it, especially that you also know the pleasure derived from mending something rather than throwing it away! Okay if I reblog? Maybe it will get others to learn how to darn their socks instead of throwing them away!

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      • I never lasted long in a quilting group, although I joined the ladies at church several times to help make the quilts for the annual picnics. I’m too slow for them, but have made about 50 to 75 quilts in my own time and pace. Most of them were gifts for family, but they also kept us warm every night we spent in the old house on the farm. I could always tell which direction the wind was from by the curtains blowing around. And now to write that part down before I forget. I loved every minute of those days — totally in retrospect. But it was fun, every bit of it.
        My daughter made one quilt for a boyfriend, but was never interested in darning anything. She eventually learned to crochet after leaving home and told me I was the one who taught her. Guess she retained a lot of the things I tried to teach her because she didn’t do that until long after college, marriage, and as a project with her own daughter! You are correct in convincing me to write all this down. I’m remembering things I had almost forgotten, and maybe my granddaughter will want to read it all some day. Thank you so much for your encouragement, Roger.

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      • I think we pick up a great many things by observation and osmosis and then remember them later. It’s funny: this exchange with you has brought back memories to me and I too have been writing them up. Great fun. As for helping: it is mutual. Encouragement is a two way street!

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    • Big storm here last night, thunder, lightning, wind, 19 mms of rain, and the wind still gusting this morning. The river has crested in Freddy, just below the 1973 records, but down river, those records have been surpassed, by over a metre in some places. You can read a river poem on my Thursday Thought: On Water. I did another last night, while the rain was pouring down and I’ll probably post it tomorrow. What a mess.

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