The cotton socks aren’t particularly well made but they come from my son, the least crafty person in our family. He tie-dyed them for my birthday several years back.
I don’t care for tie-dye but the socks fall into that distinct emotional category reserved for kindergarten macaroni artwork and handprint turkeys; cherished on principle. Never mind that my son was in college at the time of his gift and that he has since confessed that a former girlfriend had been responsible for both the idea and the actual execution of this gift; these socks are dear to me. I have worn them faithfully and in doing so, I have worn them out.
I learned to mend socks by watching my grandmother darn brown hose with matching thread. Hers was a labor of necessity. My own repairs have always been optional. In a world awash in cheap clothing, I have never been forced to make do.
But mending is trending up and not only because most of our cheap clothing is currently stranded in shipping containers around the world . For a couple of years, I have been following instagram accounts of Dutch and Japanese slow-makers who insist on mending everything from shoes to underwear. The slow-made mending movement splits in two camps. Those who make things disappear (particularly the crotch holes in ripped jeans) and those who turn woolly socks into abstract art.
I fall somewhere in between: practical and colorful but not militant.
Mending socks takes time and good daylight which the pandemic has granted me plenty. I have now mended my way through the entire third season of Ozark, with time to spare.
Mending also demands an attention to the needs of the body. The skin does not tolerate bumps or knots. Mending must attain the tricky balance between smooth and durable.
I wish I could tell you that I found peace in the slow work and precision but these times are too fraught with fear and anxiety. I am not the meditating type; the best I can achieve is a temporary truce with my spiraling panic.
But when both professional and social activities have shrunk to next-to-nothing mending has offered this minuscule consolation: as the world comes crashing down, I have the skills to repair a tiny, tiny piece that’s important to me.
It’s a thread of resilience. A wisp of will to hang on to.