It’s funny how sometimes shop assistants feel the need to comment on the products you’re purchasing. Maybe they’re just being chatty. Personally I find it embarrassing. I want to run into a shop, pick up what I need, pay for it and go. I don’t need it being turned into an amateur analysis of who I am. Perhaps I’m just touchy. I still find it trying that in my 30’s I occasionally get asked for ID when buying alcohol or other age restricted products. I’m told it’s a compliment but c’mon peoples! How many underage drinkers do you know with greying hairs at their temples. Or that wear hand knitted clothes.
I don’t want people to comment on my shopping, I don’t need it to be suggested I try the other flavours I haven’t bought just in case I might like them too. I don’t need to be asked if I’m having a chocolate craving today (or that it will make me fat) or be told that particular brand of whatever happens to be your favourite too. Or not your favourite and really I should try something else. Perhaps it helps to relieve the boredom of passing thousands of items through the checkout to observe what things people buy together. Maybe I should try it sometime when I’m standing in the queue. The take out curry and family pack of loo rolls. The Sour Cream and Chive Pringles and the peppermint mouthwash. The weeks supply of Pampers, formula milk and a large bottle of gin… Although possibly my favourite in my late teens was when my brother and I being sent over to Sainsbury’s on Christmas Eve for a few last minute things and the checkout guy staring mournfully at the bottle of cider and the couple of tins of Whiskas cat meat on the conveyor belt and remarked “have a good Christmas Dinner…”
But recently I bounced into the local art gallery that happens to stock my favourite Braintree bamboo socks and the lady in there raised an eyebrow. “Oh, hello. You again. After some more socks is it?”
What can I say? I’m hard on socks. It’s all that yomping around in wellies and whatnot and I go through the heels in next to no time. Because I feel the need to apologise for my existence I started to explain this to her, wellies, lots of walking, these are so comfy, such a shame they don’t last, blah blah blah but she was unmoved – apparently I was meant to darn them. Sheesh. Do you WANT to sell me some more socks or not?! And frankly, when I’ve got holes these big in my heels then they are beyond darning. In my desperation I even took off my shoes then and there in the gallery to show her. So there. In silence I bought my new socks and went home. But something had to be done.
I spin and knit on a daily basis for sheer love of it. I can spin any weight of yarn I choose from any blend of fibre I choose. I am happy to knit plain or lace, I’ll tackle most patterns if I want to make them enough. But I stumble at sock knitting. Of all the hand knitted items I possess none are socks. I’ve only knit one pair and they were a gift and a labour of love. I don’t know what it is about it – after all it’s a knitted tube with nothing more challenging than a bit of ribbing, turning a heel and a weeny bit of kitchener at the toe. And then in between those it’s just round and round and round…. Oh yes. That’s why I don’t knit socks. I get bored and put them down. And strangely, if knitting languishes in a bag someplace else then it doesn’t get finished. Which is why I’m still knitting the same pair of socks I started in, Ooo October maybe?
I finally finished the first one the other day and it fitted like a glove. Or a sock in fact. I was so charmed by this clever construction of wool and time that in a fit of enthusiasm I not only cast on the second sock (get me!) but also whipped up some batts of merino and bamboo in luscious shades of magenta, teal and dusky blue and spun enough yarn for the next pair of socks. But chugging through the ribbing of Sock Number Two this morning I was torn between wanting to go for my usual long Sunday walk and carrying on with my newfound sock zeal. Why not take Sock for a walk with me? So I slung my yarn and my camera into my trusty Hobo bag and set off in the precious Welsh spring sunshine unsure as to whether this would result in a sock or simply me wandering into a ditch as I knitted round and round and round…
It worked. I think I enjoyed this walk more than usual, my hands were kept fruitfully busy and my eyes were free to roam over the countryside, admiring the wee lambs snoozing and playing in the sun
and all the time I was getting the fresh air, exercise and sunshine I so craved. Granted several of my neighbours passed me as they drove along the road. So now my barmy status locally is pretty much guaranteed. In fact one drove past me several times in his tractor over the course of my walk which made me wonder if he was unable to believe what he was seeing but it turned out he was lugging stone from the quarry further down the hill and after the fourth time of me stepping onto the verge and nodding at him over my knitting he couldn’t stand it any longer and opened his cab door to offer me a lift which I politely declined. He was probably relieved as his eyebrows did do a funny twitchy thing as his gaze fell on my embryo sock…
There is so much around if you keep your eyes and ears open. I watched a couple of buzzards soaring on a thermal, noticed the clouds building up over the Welsh mountains on the far horizon, the smoke drifting from bonfires on the hillside and laughed at the lambs skipping around their grazing mums. I stopped to look at the way the light glowed through the red bramble leaves from last autumn
and the mosses growing on the cliff in the cwm I walked down.
I listened to the croak of ravens and chuck of crows, the bees that overtook me as I bumbled in the slow lane and the water trickling down the ravine and then foaming where it joined the race tumbling under the bridge where I stopped to turn round. Two hours of pure enjoyment and interest.
And at the end of it I had a third of a sock too. Bonus! Now excuse me, I’ve a heel to turn.