Remember saying “darn it all” when you were a kid or maybe “gad darn it” for something really bad. Yeah we were really cute and quaint back in the 50’s and 60’s. And we dressed like old reruns of Mayberry – little boys had haircuts like Opie and little girls wore puffy dresses with smocking across the top. Well no more our kids wear sweat shirts and jeans from walmart. Our little girls don’t wear frilly handmade dresses either. And why do I think that this deserves an entry on my blog. Well I have been thinking about this because of a mystery story I just finished. The book is The Fifth Woman by Henning Mankell. In the book a police detective is having dinner with his adult daughter. She guestioned why it was so difficult to live in Sweden these days. And Wallander’s reply is “sometimes I think it’s because we have stopped darning our socks”
he continues to explain that we have turned into a throw away society. It started with our clothing and “then it started to spread, until it became a kind of invisible but ever-present moral code.” Reading this startled me-I have never heard it put this way- in such simple terms. But it made me pause and reread the passage. I was born in 1955 and as I grew up there was always a basket next to my mother’s chair in the family room. While she helped us with our homework or we watched Bonaza or World of Disney on TV she would pick up a sock that had a hole in its toe and darn it. Or patch a pair of pants that had a blown out knee. Pants with patches were reserved for playing or for working in the yard with my father. They wouldn’t be worn to school or church. Clothes were passed down through the family -my older brother and sister had new clothing and we had their hand me downs. In the late 60’s and 70’s patched jeans became fashionable. Wearing a jacket or sweater that had belonged to an older relative was cool. In the 70’s and 80’s I made a lot of my children’s clothes and they even wore hand me downs. But some where along the way it changed- I am not sure when – probable they were teenagers. Clothing was cheaper but not made as well….so you didn’t patch it -after all you could run out and buy a bag of 6 tube socks for practically nothing. And who would want to wear a darned pair of socks any how the patch would rub inside your shoe if it wasn’t done well.
I actually subscribe to a blog where the writer has taken darning and turned it into an art form. If you don’t believe me click on A vintage cardigan repaired with vintage wool « tomofholland Scroll through Tom’s blog and you will find that his visible mending is wonderful. He revives clothing and it is worn as if it is from the finest shop. Also one of my favorite knitting writers Kate Davis, who writes some of the best textile history and designs beautiful knitwear, has written on the lost art of darning in her blog worn | needled
I just reread The Fifth Woman and marked the passage about darning, it is smack dab in the middle of the book.Kurt Wallander says to his daughter “When I was growing up, Sweden was still a country where people darned their socks. I even learned how to do it in school myself. Then one day it was over. Socks with holes were thrown out. No one bothered to repair them anymore. The whole society changed. ‘wear it and toss it’ was the only rule that really applied to everybody. I guess there were some people who kept darning their socks. But they were never seen or heard from. As long as it was just a matter of our socks, the change didn’t make much difference. But then it started to spread, until finally it became a kind of invisible but ever present moral code. I think it changed our view of right and wrong, what you were allowed to do to other people and what you weren’t. More and more people, especially young people like you, feel unneeded or even unwelcome in their own country. How do they react? With aggression and contempt. The most frightening thing is that I think we are at the beginning of something that’s going to get a lot worse. A generation is growing up right now, the kids who are younger than you, who are going to react with even greater violence. And they have absolutely no memory of a time when we darned our socks. When we didn’t throw away anything, whether it was our woolen socks or human beings”
Wow, thats a lot to think about. And yes Kurt Wallender the detective in the book is reeling from the death(natural) of his father and also the case that his squad is working on- but still this does make you think. And I think there is a kernal there. I think in many ways we have become a throw away society and at times we don’t value the person right next to us. (If you watch police shows and movies the violence is overwhelming – if you watch too much you become immune to the impact. Because I live in a rural area I sometimes thing I have become too insulated from ‘real life’. ) This has become a long post -very wordy-there are signs that the pendulum may be swinging back there is a resurgence of people who appreciate handmade and are willing to pay for it because quality last longer. And there are a lot of people knitting and sewing again and carefully crafting to wrap their loved ones in stitches they create themselves. I remember telling my children how many stitches were in sweaters I knit for them and telling them that I thought of them with every stitch I made. I liked to think that as I bundled them into a scarf and mittens that they had an invisible mommy shield around them that would protect them all day. And sometimes when they were sick I would put the special quilt my mother made on the bed. I like to think that as I read in groups like ravelry that there are a lot of men and women just like me that don’t want to live in a disposable society and want more carefully craft their own clothes and they appreciate the time and effort put into that. And perhaps as Henning Mankill suggests we also value other people more, we become a more caring community instead of individuals just out for ourselves.
so my mission this week is to gather up a few things that need mending and to mend them. not everything is hand made…..such as the first picture of the nylon socks. they were kind of a silly purchase. They are extremely long over the knee socks meant for fashionable teens. But they reminded me of the socks we wore in junior high, the ones worn with garter straps cause we weren’t to wear panty hose and knee socks were for little girls in elementary school. Once I worn these I realized these were perfect for that in between weather we are getting this year in the midwest…cold but not cold by our standards. Not cold enough for woolies(lined flannel pants) or legwarmers but not warm enough for regular socks. These are cheap but I really like them so I will try my hand at darning them.
and then there is this –bad puppy has worried a little hole in the drapes. These are 4 matching panels. Some time during the night Meva tore a small crescent moon shape. Not the end of the world as only a sliver of light wanders into the room in the morning and the room stays pretty dark for us to sleep in. Or rather one of us to sleep in as bad puppy like to wake up early and go outside- where after a half hour of exploring she lies down and takes a morning nap until the rest of us are ready to go for a walk.
so it seems that I have found a few things to patch ..I hope to update soon to let you know how the whole(hole) darn thing works.