Monday, November 14, 2011

FO: Kids socks

Basic striped socks

In the Halloween post I noted that I made two costumes.  But I have four kids.  And since the baby really doesn't care yet, that left one girl without a mama-made item this fall.  So I set about making her a little something and that little something turned out to be a pair of stripey socks.

Relying on the basic 7 sts/inch sock pattern from Ann Budd I came up with this sweet pair of kids socks. 

The yarn is a cheap-o (under $3, on sale) 230 yds. of self-striping, superwash wool/bamboo/nylon blend from a big box store.  And - surprise - I have mixed feelings about it. 

I know how much abuse these socks will take; I know all the places these socks will go.  So typically I wouldn't scrimp on yarn.  I often pay more for yarns that are locally sourced, of better quality, and/or retain an element of reuse, reduce or recycle .  But ultimately I chose this yarn, for this project, specifically b/c I have to admit I don't know where these socks will go.

About two weeks ago I shooed the girls outside to play and next thing I knew 90 minutes had gone by.  I went outside to search for them and found them happily playing 'picnic' with recognizable (i.e. not fully decomposed) things they had unearthed from the compost bin.  They were all in their socks.  And they were covered in partially-made compost.

Rather than spend more on yarn that I love/care about - and risking my full-blown mama temper in the process - I went with the "well, whatever" attitude that comes free with the purchase of this yarn.

Knitting for kids is an awkward endeavor.  A rational balance between cost, labor, appreciation and use is so unattainable it's almost silly to try.  They have no way of knowing what goes into the garments I make for them and often I allow for that with my calm-ish demeanor when I find their hand knit items dragged across the arboretum (holes), left out in the rain (stained), or inside the chicken coop (just plain gross). 

But I knit, afterall, because I enjoy it.  I want to make them quality garments that feel good to wear and will last through a couple kids.  I also take seriously the idea that I vote with my dollars, and when I spend local or on artisan-made I know where my money is going.

With their regular clothes I accommodate my ideals and their needs by buying, almost exclusively, thrifted or gently-used clothing.  I can always find good quality; my money is invested in our community, I pay less and recycle in the process. 

But there isn't an easy parallel to knitting for kids.  Less expensive (read: really cheap) commercial yarns are often lower in quality and are often from far away places; some with questionable labor practices.  My money flows into vast streams of consolidated capital instead of my community, and quite frankly the yarns aren't aways enjoyable to knit.  So I could spend more for these projects, on the yarns that I want/like/care about, but nobody in my family would be happy with that situation.  I would be on pins and needles about the kids wearing things I made - and that would defeat the whole purpose now wouldn't it?  I make them things so they wear them.

They fit with a bit of room to grow!
 Maybe it comes down to the purpose of each garment - socks for four active, inquisitive, nature-loving kids should probably be made with less expensive yarns.  Sweaters for said girls?  Make them out of the yarns that I love, and do better at teaching them to be mindful of their special things. 

Matchy, but not matchy

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well said. Kitting for kids sure IS awkward. So, I've found, it knitting or making for people who aren't also crafty, or who don't share the same vote-with-my-money ideals when choosing what to buy. Now that Christmas is right around the corner, I'm hit with the annual dilemma: satisfy MY ideals by making and thrifting or recognize that nearly all that will be lost on 95% of the gift recipients? What is it that's most satisfying to me? The making or the appreciation of the recipient?
I'd love for you to answer these for me and tell me how to proceed. :) (hee hee) It's an annual struggle and this year I'm no wiser than last.