Wednesday, 16th July 2008
When my eyesight was still sharp enough to thread needles galore, I spent precious minutes sewing blue, green and yellow threads inside the back elastic of hundreds of knee socks, to colour-code those of each child. Then, of course, I had to separate them into pairs, fold them, and put them away.
Since my kids go through socks like a hot knife through butter, all but the first part of this operation had to be repeated very, very frequently.
Then it struck me. Ouch. I could buy each child ten pairs of the same kind of sock, that is, in different colours of the same design, and sorting them would be a piece of cake. Socks for school would be even easier to master – ten more pairs of the same type, same colour sock per child – and so whichever two they picked would be guaranteed to be a pair.
If one sock got a hole in it (not all socks may be darned these days), I did not have to throw its partner away too. And if a sock got lost – well, the same reasoning applied.
Then, I did not yet know about the site that offers sets of three socks, in matching colours but different designs, that are to be worn at random, leaving one acting as gooseberry-in-a-drawer each time. This gimmick also applies to other items of clothing – pyjamas, shirt and skirt combinations, and so on.
And suddenly I was reminded of one of my favourite dresses from when I was a child –pink polka dots on a purple background for the bodice, a stripe of pink and another of purple at the waist, and purple polka dots on a pink background for the skirt.
And when my daughter was tiny, she quite enjoyed running about the house in mismatching stripper socks (three pairs for Lm1) that could be bought from the Valletta Monti. Then, I drew the line at her going out with them, though – I would not do so now.
And that brings me to the solemn declaration by my friend Karina that July 14-21 will henceforth be Orphan Sock Blog Week. That the start coincides with the Fall of the Bastille is neither here, not there. Neither has the expression “put a sock on it”, apparently.
Most families, at one time or another, know what it is to have a bunch of orphan socks waiting listlessly for their partner, after a wash. Some people throw the orphan socks away immediately. Others place them again in the laundry basket, hoping that some cosmic magnetism will produce a matching sock out of thin air. Because, really, that’s where the missing socks would have ended up. The Sock Gremlins do not exist, although the Tooth Fairy does (at least in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books).
Others scour the washroom, the dog’s kennel, the cat’s basket, and even have a peek on the neighbours’ roofs, just in case the errant sock is there. And then there are smug people who never, ever lose socks, because they peg them out in pairs…
Others have never lost a sock simply because their socks are still in their original state, complete with a folded cardboard strip to indicate make and size, and plastic tags to keep them united.
Having worked for some time as a Kindergarten Assistant and Facilitator, I know full well that there are several uses for odd socks (and odd gloves).
Chew toys for pets; draught excluders; puppets; hair ties; instant ice-packs for bruises; Venetian blind cleaners or chalkboard erasers; cushion stuffing; furniture, silver and brass polishers; instant gift packaging for soft toys; slipping it over chilblained fingers, or those of children who bite their nails, or those who have hives, to stop them scratching themselves raw; as protection for necklaces… the list is practically endless.
You can also pot the ends of soap bars in them and then seal the top with a rubber band. You have the ideal “thingy” with which to soap the heels and toes of other socks before chucking them in the wash.
But this list comes with a dire pre-emptive warning. The minute you make irreversible alterations to your odd sock, the partner promptly turns up. In the sock drawer. Neatly folded. With another orphan sock.