Knitting Socks for Strangers

slippers for strangers 2

slippers for strangers 2slippers for strangers 2Over the years, see I have knit many things: hats, store scarves, cowls, sweaters, ponchos, doggie sweaters, toys…even slugs and a praying mantis.  The list goes on and on.

One thing I never had an interest in knitting was socks.  And there are some awesome socks out there…but why go to all that trouble for something worn on your foot that no one will see!  I did felt a pair of slippers for my husband years ago, which turned out to be one of the more traumatic experiences in our many years of marriage.  But a good marriage counselor can help navigate even the most disturbing textile drama and we are still happily married…almost 16 years so far.  Moving on…

Recently, my brother-in-law requested I knit a pair of socks/booties for his friend you had just been diagnosed with Lymphoma.  He offered to pay, of course, but I felt chocolate would be a fair trade…after all…I’ve never made them before.  I couldn’t guarantee they would materialize at all!

So, I got the yarn and launched into the pattern “hiker socks” by Margaret K. Radcliffe

(Out of a great book “One Skein Wonders” edited by Judith Durant  Fantastic book for small projects and beginners.  I’ve easily made 15 projects from that book)  I chose these socks because they looked schleppy and comfy and easy to put on.

slippers for strangers 2slippers for strangers 2

So, in the evenings, I would sit watching t.v. and work on these socks for someone I didn’t know, but who had just been dealt a pretty awful  set of cards.  It was an important project.

It reminded me of my experience of losing my father to cancer a few years ago and how about the only thing that kept me sane was my knitting.

Two years ago, my Dad was put in the hospital with what was suspected to be bone Cancer. Terrible and painful for all involved.

I flew home and saw what a state he was in.  Nothing could have prepared me for this.  Time to pull out the needles and knit something – ANYTHING – just knit!

I can say one of the sweetest final days I shared with my Dad was at the hospital.  He was exhausted and sleeping.  I was working on a lace pattern (“Diamonds and Pearls Shawl” by Shelia January)  I was listening to him breath…in…out…Every now and then he woke up and looked at me, knitting.  “I’m here, it’s okay” I’d say and he went back to sleep.

If you’re not familiar with lace knitting, let me tell you this – you have to concentrate!  No wine or spiked hot toddies allowed.  No conversation, television…and the light better be good.  It commands all of your attention.  Which was perfect for this highly stressful situation.  He slept, and I knit.  I didn’t worry or freak out.  And when I met with his hematologist, I was calm.  Knitting helped me stay centered and present.


It was probably one of the most satisfying and remarkable days of my life.

I knit throughout his illness.  (Basically, I fucked up everything I was working on!  I ripped out more projects that year than you can shake your needles at.  Concentration and grieving don’t exactly work well together.)

But then, after the fog cleared (and it does…) I was able to get back on track with all of my projects.  And my life…

So here, flash forward to present day and I can share this work with someone whose life has just been suddenly derailed in a very scary way.

Whoever you are, I wish you a swift and speedy recovery.  I hope you kick the crap out of that cancer and live on for many, many years.  And it was an honor to knit for you.



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