I am happy to say that the orphan sock is orphan no more, and has a friend to play with, and the two of them have been warming my feet most delightfully as I sit slaving away at my desk.
When I took a photo for my project page on Ravelry, I noticed that the older of the pair had a distinctly dishevelled air and is somewhat bigger than its friend, possibly symptomatic of my sloppy state when I started knitting it last autumn. But taken as a pair, they do signify some progress on my part, and so the sight of them is encouraging enough for me enjoy wearing them in their lopsidedness.
Which led me onto the thought that although it is a commonplace to regard craft as a form of self-expression - we choose our patterns and colours according to our taste, and arrange our materials in pleasing ways so that our fabrications say something about how we see ourselves, in a quite deliberate way - for me, what I make seems quite unconsciously on my part to become a repository of memory and experience which is conjured back into existence when I take up that piece of my making on another occasion.
It might seem a bit pretentious to recall Wordsworth and his idea of poetry as 'emotion recollected in tranquillity' as I look at a slightly wonky sock, but I have come to the rather bizarre realization that this power of recollection is why I love sock knitting so much. Socks are so easy to knit, so portable, and I can almost remember my favourite pattern off by heart now, so I knit socks in the midst of family life, and thus with every stitch they accrete memory and emotion and feeling and seemingly of their own accord they gain a symbolic power which just doesn't happen for me with cardigans.
So I have a pair of Accidental Socks - the first pair begun in A&E on a Friday night when the Ploughboy had had an unfortunate encounter which led us there - I remember the bad light and distraction which led me to knit the cuff in a horribly mean single rib, and the sense of our being in the midst of a multitude of human tragedies, large and small.
I found myself knitting the second on another weekend evening with another son on another late night visit to a hospital. This time the corridors seemed empty but the light was of the same sickly and overcast hue, and the memories stay strong because of the socks.
And then there are my favourites: my Brittany socks,
which in their colours capture the intense blue sky and sea and sunshine of a Breton early summer,
the pale sand and stones and shells,
the happiness of returning to a favourite place after a too-long absence, and finding it unchanged, like an old friend.
And the retrospective poignancy of that time only a year ago when a little princess was still a little girl,
and somehow in the revisiting of the scenes of former family holidays,
and the knitting of those socks on the beach, I find contained in them a series of happy memories of seas and skies and cathedrals, a cornucopia of past joy, which sends my heart soaring.
Those stitches going round and round keep my feet cosy and my heart warm, and once again I think back to those Romantic poets: Blake seeing a world in a grain of sand, and holding infinity in the palm of his hand ...
... and I think about knitting socks. I can meditate and be mindful, I can be a present and attentive (relatively speaking) mother and wife, I can make productive use of my time, and then every time I pull one of those socks from my drawer, like a rabbit out of a hat, those memories come tumbling out to make me smile and weep, and relive them once again.
I have just cast on another pair - Skein Queen Squash in Electric Lime, 64 stitches going round and round: I wonder where those stitches will take me, and what memories they will contain?