Darning my Booties

Today I posted a picture on Instagram showing off my poorly realized darning work. I was repairing a pair of knitted booties which I use as slippers. One of my former students asked me why I didn’t buy a new one. I answered that they were made by my ex’s grandmother, and weren’t really replaceable in that way. I told her I was also trying to remember the skill of darning, since it had been years since I’d tried to repair anything that way. She said she understood that I was developing the skill, but I guessed that she didn’t know why I would bother to repair something like that.

It’s hard to explain, depending on the audience. For Christmas, Jackie’s grandmother would make the whole family knitted booties, kind of socks without a top, to use as slippers. The family would pay lip service to liking the gifts, and then throw them away as soon as they were out of sight. When I heard about their derision, I was really annoyed. Grandma bought the yarn, and spent the little time she had left forcing her arthritic fingers to knit something that might be useful for them, and the ungrateful family didn’t care.

Similarly, thrift stores always have a number of neglected, crocheted afghans hanging on the racks, which were made by some old granny and then donated to the store by the family. I have one as well, which I use as a cushion on my chair. It was a gift from granny to Jackie, and she didn’t like the colours. The frivolity of that is revolting. Granny has since died, but she’d laboriously made the gift only to have it rejected in favour of something from a sweatshop.

Once Jackie passed on the message that I liked the booties, grandma gave me several pairs. I was happy to hear that she knew her work was appreciated by someone at least. I have worn through one pair after another in the last fifteen years, and only have one pair left. That’s part of the reason I repair it. The old lady is gone now, and even if her family didn’t appreciate the thought she put into a gift, I am not quite ready to throw a perfectly serviceable pair of booties into the trash.

Their time will come, but while I am able to recover their use for another year or so, I will relearn how to darn and repair them enough to eke out some more time to appreciate the care the old woman was willing to lavish on others.

About Barry Pomeroy

I had an English teacher in high school many years ago who talked about writing as something that people do, rather than something that died with Shakespeare. I began writing soon after, maudlin poetry followed by short prose pieces, but finally, after years of academic training, I learned something about the magic of the manipulated word.
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