Beginnings, Endings, and the Lessons of Sock Knitting

Here we are. It is Monday the beginning of a new week and also December 31st, the ending of the year. The beginning and ending all on the same day…there are so many ways a writer could approach this situation. Life is full of moments that are at once endings and beginnings. Milestones that bring both sadness and joy. For even when the ending is one that is welcome – the end of a project, a great book, a favorite movie – there exists a slight twinge of loss.

Today I want to talk about knitting socks. It might not seem like there is a connection, but please bear with me. For those of you who are shaking your head and wondering, “Knit socks? Who in their right mind would make something you can buy at Walmart in a twelve pack for ten dollars?” I’ve heard it before and I will share that part of sock knitting another day. For now I have a specific sock knitting story to tell and hopefully you will see the connection in the end. If not, well, that’s ok too. You will have learned about a vast world where people like me use pointy sticks and spend many hours knitting tiny yarn into pretty coverings for their feet. We are a devoted bunch.

Road Knitting

We love road trips. Texas is a very large state with an incredible variety of things to see and do. So anytime I am the passenger, I have something with me to keep my hands busy. This includes driving across Houston or just out of the subdivision to run errands. I love Houston, but the traffic is notorious; if I have to be trapped in a car with my husband complaining about people who don’t know how to drive, I better have a project to keep me focused and calm.

Socks are most knitter’s go to project for travel. They are small and often the work is repetitive. I have had a long-standing love affair with socks…a story for another day, as that is a bunny trail we don’t need to travel today.

I selected the yarn and pattern and cast on (placed the yarn on the needles so that knitting could begin) at home. Steady hands and concentration works best for this step. Once the stitches are in place then the three needles must be joined for working in the round. The technical stuff is about to end. Stick with me.

Off we went driving north from Houston to Tyler for our four hour trip. I happily sat knitting away, stopping every few rounds to admire my work. I knit while we were at mom’s. I knit on the way home. I knit after we got home. Then, as I was knitting the heel flap, I thought the sock looked…well, kind of big. Ignoring the little voice in my head I continued. That voice nagged at me with every turn of the needles until finally I put the sock over my foot (I begin at the cuff of the sock, so it was just the leg portion). Just as I was afraid of, the sock slid right over my heel and just sat there on my leg looking more like a 1980’s leg warmer than a sock. I knew what had to be done.

Shall we just say that it doesn’t take nearly as much time to rip out as it does to create?

The End of the Road

This leg warmer sock had to come to an end so that something new and better could take its place. Most knitters learn early on that there are just times when you must “go backwards before you can move forward,” to quote a very wise friend. So, out it came. I immediately cast on again, correcting my mistake, then settled in to the familiarity of knit two, purl two.

As this year draws to a close are there things from last year that need to just be ripped out and reworked or possibly, just tossed in the trash? What needs to end so that a fresh new beginning is possible? It takes courage to let go, for even the things that aren’t good for us can feel safe and familiar. Letting go opens us up for the unknown and that is always scary. But, just like with my sock, if familiar doesn’t fit, why keep it around?

Life is precious and short, always strive for the best. And remember to have a little fun along the way.

Tomorrow I will share my ending and beginning…until then,

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