The Darning Egg

On a cold spring morning, not too long ago, I dug an old pair of socks from the back of my drawer, admiring the purple, black and olive-green stripes I had knitted. Though oversized and lumpy at the heel, they felt warm and cozy as I put them on. Later in the day, I noticed holes in the toes and went upstairs to toss the socks onto the floor of my closet.

Later that week, with time on my hands and a need to feel productive, I sat on the bed, socks in hand, debating my choices. My husband watched, amused. How long have you had them? Throw them away.  

But how could I toss them aside, after struggling so hard in sock-knitting class, wielding four double-pointed needles in my two hands until I finally finished these trophies?

My mother taught me to knit, but never socks. She did not have the patience. She was always in motion: cleaning, cooking, sewing. Sometimes she’d sit down to read a McCall’s or Good Housekeeping magazine.  I see myself in her, or is it her in me? Reading, knitting, and sewing can easily become just one more thing to accomplish.  

I can do this, I thought, holding my holey socks in my hands, I can do this one little thing. I can mend the socks. I turned the first one inside out, tucked my fist into the toe – and remembered I still have my mother’s wooden darning egg. I took it down from a shelf and turned my sock over it. With quick small stitches, the way she taught me, I closed the hole, ending with a knot, a snip of the thread – and a deep connection to another time.

How is it that such a small, unnecessary task satisfies my soul? I wonder what else I can mend.

How about you? Have you resurrected a craft during this strange housebound time? Comment here and I’ll put your name in the hat for my copy of Big Stone Gap by Adriana Trigiani, a novel of a small town pharmacist on the brink of self-discovery.

The winner of last month’s drawing is Jeanne Kane. She wins a copy of Michael Ondaatje’s Warlight. Congratulations and thanks for commenting on my blog.

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