Darning socks in a culture of waste

The other day, I had one of those moments when you just know — you can feel it, you don’t have to look — that your big toe just busted a hole though your sock. It’s uncomfortable, of course, so I took my shoe off, and sure enough, my big ole toe was sticking through a big ole hole.

Then I thought, dang, I really cannot afford to buy new socks. Yeah, we’re down to that kind of penny pinching.

But hey, I’m a knitter. I know how to darn a sock, right?

Photo © bst2012 • Fotolia.com

Photo © bst2012 • Fotolia.com

Who darns socks anymore? It takes five minutes or less, and a modicum of skill. But who has those skills anymore? I was reading in a knitting magazine recently about Eleanor Roosevelt, whose nanny cut holes in socks so Eleanor could learn how to darn them. I mean, we’re talking about one of the topmost families in the nation, and they made sure the girls knew how to darn socks. If anyone could afford to throw away socks and buy new ones, the Roosevelts could.

Instead, they taught their daughter to fix them.

We live in a culture where this is no longer ordinary.We live in a culture wherein most of the time, it’s cheaper and easier to throw a thing away and replace it than it is to fix it.

But since the economy tanked, most of us have been learning to do with less, to mend and carry on, to cobble together solutions. It’s encouraging, in a way. It reduces waste.

Sometimes I find it a bit silly, though. I’ve seen elaborate recipes online for making homemade versions of products like dryer sheets. Here’s a radical thought—maybe you don’t need dryer sheets. Maybe you could just pull your staticy clinging clothes out of the dryer and wrench them apart by brute force. Yes, it’s a terrible effort, I know. But it works. And it’s frugal.

If any good is to come out of this, I hope it’s that we have learned to be more frugal and less wasteful.

What are your favorite frugal lifestyle tips?


About Kristen Stieffel

Kristen Stieffel is a writer and freelance editor specializing in speculative fiction. She's a member of the Editorial Freelancers Association, Christian Editor Connection, and American Christian Fiction Writers.

5 comments on “Darning socks in a culture of waste

  1. Kristen, I use an all-natural highly concentrated laundry detergent liquid. It’s a little more expensive than regular detergent but still very affordable, especially when it’s on sale.

    I never use dryer sheets any more. I don’t need to because of that detergent. 🙂 We almost never have an issue with static cling. That savings makes that little 90 load bottle more than worth it.

    I also add a little vinegar to every load, but vinegar is very cheap.

    I spot-treat with All Free & Clear liquid laundry detergent. It works, it’s cheap, and that little bit of sulfites doesn’t drive me up a wall with rash like it would still be doing if I had continued using it to wash all of my clothes instead of the all-natural detergent.

    Oh, and I save on doctor bills for treating that rash!

    How you save and where all depends on what your priorities are.

  2. I’ve made my own laundry products for a long time. I’m a die-hard do-it-yourselfer in a lot of other ways, too, so it’s not solely for pinching pennies. I darn socks, patch clothing, repair shoes, and make a lot of stuff from repurposed fabric (worn-out jeans = new chair covers, old sweatshirts and flannel shirts = blankets, and so on). Score a sackful of yarns for 50 cents at a garage sale and I’ve got materials for any number of knit/crochet necessities.

    The unscented dryer sheets, for me, are both a luxury and a necessity. I’ve had jobs where below-sensory-threshhold static could fry delicate components. Current work is in a vet hospital — ever zap an upset cat with static? I don’t throw away the used sheets, though. There’s just enough “stuff” left so I can use them to dissipate static on the dogs when storms are in the area. Also use the sheet fabric for cleaning (handy scrubbers) and for interfacing when sewing collars, cuffs, etc.

    Vinegar is wonderful!

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