May 25 – The Darning Egg

by Linda C. Wisniewski

On a cold spring morning, not too long ago, I dug an old pair of socks from the back of my drawer, admiring the purple, black and olive-green stripes I had knitted. Though oversized and lumpy at the heel, they felt warm and cozy as I put them on. Later in the day, I noticed holes in the toes and went upstairs to toss the socks onto the floor of my closet.

Later that week, with time on my hands and a need to feel productive, I sat on the bed, socks in hand, debating my choices. My husband watched, amused.

How long have you had them? Throw them away.

But how could I toss them aside, after struggling so hard in sock-knitting class, wielding four double-pointed needles in my two hands until I finally finished these trophies?

My mother taught me to knit, but never socks. She did not have the patience. She was always in motion: cleaning, cooking, sewing. Sometimes she’d sit down to read a McCall’s or Good Housekeeping magazine. I see myself in her, or is it her in me? Reading, knitting, and sewing can easily become just one more thing to accomplish.

I can do this, I thought, holding my holey socks in my hands, I can do this one little thing. I can mend the socks. I turned the first one inside out, tucked my fist into the toe, and remembered I still have my mother’s wooden darning egg. I took it down from a shelf and turned my sock over it. With quick small stitches, the way she taught me, I closed the hole, ending with a knot, a snip of the thread – and a deep connection to another time.

How is it that such a small, unnecessary task satisfies my soul? I wonder what else I can mend.

Linda C. Wisniewski writes about life and the connections we make by giving each other the space and time to be heard. Former feature writer and columnist for the Bucks County Herald and the Bucks County Womens Journal, Teacher of memoir workshops at the historic Pearl Buck House in Dublin, PA.  Linda is also the author of the memoir, Off Kilter: A Woman’s Journey to Peace With Scoliosis, Her Mother and Her Polish Heritage, published by Pearlsong Press. This post originally appeared in her blog, https://lindawis.com/.

4 responses to “May 25 – The Darning Egg

  1. Hi Linda,
    Now I remember the days when my mother tried to teach me how to mend things by hand, how to hem, how to sew buttons. I was a total failure and she a skilled seamstress 🙂

  2. Linda, Oh yes! I am recalling my mother’s darning egg and how we darned socks until there was nothing left to darn.

  3. Sara Etgen-Baker

    My mother, too, had a darning egg…not sure whatever happened to it. Like you, she took joy in completing small tasks. I think the focus and sense of accomplishment were satisfying on some sort of soul level. For the record, I don’t know how to darn or knit. But I like completing small tasks around the house. Thanks for sharing, Linda.

  4. What a gorgeous metaphor, Linda! Keep on mending. If we’re very lucky, we
    get to reap the rewards.

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