Two of the themes of 2015’s Slow Fashion October were loved and worn. I know that’s ages ago, but those words have stuck with me for the last year and change, whenever I’ve purchased clothes, thought about donating or gifting clothes I don’t wear, or considered casting on a new project. In the context of the event and the conversation, those concepts can be applied in different ways. Garments that are loved can be splurge pieces that the wearer considered carefully before deciding to make an investment, and garments that are worn can be hand-me-downs or thrifted items that have had a whole life or two before they come into the wearer’s life. In my consideration of fashion and garments, the word “mended” has always been a natural addition to that list. Mending a store-bought item is a way to make it your own, to demonstrate that taking care of what you own is more important than having a new thing. Rather than just wearing something until it wears out, mending extends the life of a garment and allows you to love it for longer. It’s thrifty, but it’s also ecologically responsible. It’s an opportunity for creative problem-solving, but it’s also a political statement.
In a recent demonstration of the synergy of all three of these concepts, my mom sent me a pair of socks that had worn through in the heels. I had made these socks for her for the holidays in 2015 (the above photo was taken then), when I was relatively new to sock knitting and I prioritized the fabulous colors you see above over yarn durability. These were originally knit in KnitPicks Palette yarn, which is superwash but still 100% wool.
The colors have darkened a bit with wear, but they held up great aside from the heels. I looked up a couple options for replacing knitted heels, and determined that since I made an upside-down standard heel (a heel flap and gusset, like most patterns have, but designed for toe-up knitting rather than cuff-down), I’d be best off knitting the replacement heel directly into the hole from which I cut the original heel. I don’t have any matching yarn, so I went for the opposite extreme of a contrasting, coordinating statement yarn.
There’s a little bit of a jog between the heel and the pick-up edge, since the seam can’t line up the way it was originally. However, I’m quite pleased at how the gauge matches between the turquoise and the rainbow yarn, and I think these new heels will be plenty sturdy.
I can’t venture an explanation of how well these socks were loved, since they are not mine. But I think that in a place where socks are not a year-round necessity, for a person who has many sock options, given the amount of wear shown on the soles and the request for their repair in the first place, it’s clear that they’re worn. I’m proud to create things that are loved enough to be worth mending.