Lum: My granddaughter’s socks |

Lum: My granddaughter’s socks

My granddaughter Riley knits perfect socks for my flawed feet. She uses a magic skein of knitting material that automatically comes out in complicated patterns, looking as if she were using several balls at once rather than just one.

My feet are usually either freezing or numb, and the weight of these socks is just right to stimulate them as I pad sock-footed around the house. The tops are loose, leaving no indentations in my shins.

As the fox says to The Little Prince, nothing is perfect. In addition to imperfect feet, my bedroom door sill contains a fatal flaw in the form of a hidden nail head. Run your hand over the sill and you will feel nothing but the smooth plastic covering the nest of wires hidden beneath.

But step on this sill in a brand new pair of Riley socks and a nail will pop up, bite into and hang onto a single strand, pulling it 3 feet out of the toe.

Between the nail-biting and the general wear and tear of hard floors on soft socks, between the aborted attempts at darning and that time a sock went into the garbage disposal making a sound I hope never to hear again, I am always down to my last scrap of socks.

My mother and maternal grandmother were both extreme knitters who could read aloud to us and knit at the same time, pausing only if they had to count stitches in very tricky spots.

I remember knitting very rough-looking mittens when I was in junior high school, never attaining any records for speed or dexterity, discouraged that when I finished one I would have to knit another.

In Aspen during the ’70s a new fad took hold with knitting needles the circumference of a hotdog and wool as thick as my thumb. This was my kind of knitting — I could knit a sweater in an evening, I could make sweaters for everybody and so what if they were so heavy the wearer could hardly move. (“It feels like a coat of mail,” my friend Bruce said of his Christmas present.)

Before I knew what hit me, I was ripping through balls of wool at a cost that would support a major heroin habit, hitting up Scandinavian Design on a daily basis until I finally had to quit cold turkey.

Riley has been knitting my socks for five or six years and is clearly showing signs of knitter’s remorse. A pair a year might be OK, but I up the ante, always wanting more, more, more, always afraid I’m going to run out.

Duh. Now that I’m 80 (is that possible?) it takes me longer to figure things out, but what I finally concluded was that I should learn to knit these socks myself. I have precious little to do except sit around the house bitching about how much my back hurts when I could be bitching and knitting at the same time. They would never replace Riley socks, which I would save for best and cease nagging her in the meantime.

I have no idea if these arthritic fingers are up to the job, but my friend Jack is a master knitter and Riley has sent us the pattern, so we shall see what we shall see.

Su Lum is a longtime local who is eager to get started. Her column appears every Wednesday in The Aspen Times. Reach her at

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