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Sock Drawer Gumption

January 29, 2010

“I like the word ‘gumption’ because it’s so homely and so forlorn and so out of style it looks as if it needs a friend and isn’t likely to reject anyone who comes along…I like it also because it descibes exactly what happens to someone who connects with Quality. He gets filled with gumption….A person filled with gumption doesn’t sit around dissipating and stewing about things. He’s at the front of the train of his own awareness, watching to see what’s up the track and meeting it when it comes. That’s gumption.  – Robert M Pirsig

This is a quote from one of my favorite books, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, which deals with among other things, the difference between Romanticism (the idea of a thing) vs Quality (the in-depth understanding of a thing). Meaning, the work that goes into learning the skill is just as important as knowing it in the end. Which led me to the subject of socks…

In my opinion, there is nothing more humble than a pair of home made, perfectly crafted socks, intricately cabled or laced, that may never get more recognition from the rest of the world than a quick peak into a drawer, or an edge above a boot top. They truly are made for the sake of the craft. 

For those of you afraid of tackling a sock project, let me suggest this…Everything new is a challenge. The first time you picked up the needles, attempting a simple knit stitch was scary, but you kept at it, and you eventually got it. That first scarf wasn’t pretty, but each project you completed taught you a little bit more….Socks use a few specific skills and techniques, are aren’t any different than learning that knit stitch.

1. working in the round on Double Pointed Needles (DPNs) 

2. Turning a heel


Both of these things can seem daunting, but with a little patience, you’ll get it, I promise. I turned that first heel, following the pattern word for word, tearing the not quite turned heel out a dozen times until it all made sense, and eventually voila, I had a heel!

So, I say gather your gumption and go for it!

P.S – This book also taught me how to kick start a finicky old Triumph Bonneville, and adjust a carburator when I was hopelessly stuck. See page 111 if you find yourself in a similar situation.


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