Barbara’s Socks

two hand knit and darned socks, wool

Feeding the Soul; The Value of Craft in Modern Society, at the Manitoba Crafts Museum and Library, Winnipeg, Manitoba. May 30 – September 13, 2014

Repair Centre
, Peter MacKendrick Community Gallery, Artscape Wychwood Barns, Toronto, Ontario July 13-August 2, 2015

Darned and mended clothing makes one think of lean times, of Depressions and thriftiness; of grey and dusty garments sagging with age. Socks fall at the lower rungs of the fashion ladder; stepped on, mashed about in shoes and boots, we wear them until they’re full of holes. Before the age of mass production, socks – good, warm, sturdy wool socks – were made at home. There were socks like this at the back of my partner’s drawer. Hand knit years ago by his beloved mother and worn until bare, they had been left in limbo: too precious to throw out, but too threadbare to be worn.

Barbara’s Socks is a challenge to our era of disposable fashion. In this work, darning has become an artistic tool that celebrates the act of renewing and reinterpreting garments rather than ‘making do,’ a sentiment that still implies a sort of forced reluctance. By extending the life and use of these socks by visible, patchwork style mending, Barbara’s Socks not only gives new life to the lowliest of clothing, but also creates a discussion around textile-based craft, consumption, women’s work, and our systems of economy and value.

Photographs by Phillipa C.