Wednesday, April 17, 2013

The value of a good handknit sock

As you may recall, at the eleventh hour I bought proper walking shoes with room in them for handknit socks, to take on my trip to Italy.  And thank goodness because they turned out to be even more comfortable than the other shoes I packed, and boy did I need comfort!

This is what they looked like after their final day of hard work, complete with the dust of Pompeii which I could not bear to wash off till I took this picture.

Now, I only packed three pairs of handknit socks, because I realized the weather was going to lean more toward hot than cold and my bag was getting pretty crowded.  In fact, it was slightly cool over the first few days in Florence, but once in Rome, 'sweltering' was a more appropriate descriptor.  So there were a lot of days I felt okay about having to wear thin cotton storebought socks, but the fact is: my feet always hurt more at the end of those days than they did on my handknit sock ones.

My inexpert deduction is that wool just offers a better cushion than cotton, and the flexibility of the stitches offers more support than the tight knit of a storebought sock.  Also they are so much more cheerful to look at, when you are gazing at supertired feet.

Sock maintenance, on the road

When I found out where we would be staying on this trip, I looked up the hotels on TripAdvisor, and discovered there were a lot of complaints about the sinks in the Florence hotel.  The consensus was that it is illogical to install a sink that takes up more than half of the available counterspace, such that one can not put out one's toiletries.

I think those reviewers must not know about the value of a good handknit sock.

How lucky am I that I had free time one night to rinse out a few things?  Because the giant shallow sink is why I managed to have clean handknit socks to wear in Pompeii.

Hanging out to dry

One thing I found super attractive in Italy was the clothes hanging on lines outside windows flanked by shutters.

This sort of setup was much more appealing to me than the ones I saw on highrises flanking the highways: wouldn't the clothes be dirty again before you could wear them?  But one does what one can.

Case in point.

Oh, and in case you were wondering: yes, the second hotel room we stayed in, in Rome, had a clothesline out the window.

But considering I got vertigo just taking this picture, I highly doubt I could have brought myself to use it.  Never mind what would have happened if a sock had slipped off the beam and fallen five flights.

(best not to think about it.)

Speaking of handknit socks: remember I said I'd show you the travel socks when I got home, and you'd know that all the work past the cuff had happened in Italy?

Yep: zero, as I mentioned on Monday.  The worst was I didn't even miss it, I was that tired - except on the day of the Papal Audience, when I was sitting in a chair waiting for two hours and knitting through it would have been awesome.  I bet the socks would have been extra special, too.

Still, it's not as though I were constantly presented with reminders of my lost lifestyle.  I did nearly have a heart attack when I saw this sign:

But it was over the door of a health food shop, so honestly, not that compelling.  I couldn't even find a knitting magazine, at any of the stalls I stopped to check.  My guess is that everybody in Italy is far too busy enjoying long, drawn-out dinners, dressing astonishingly well, and lining up for bathrooms.

(seriously though, you could spot a native Italian in a crowd of tourists in one of two ways: either they were bundled up in a scarf and coat in spite of the temperature being indicative of North American shorts weather, or they were impeccably stylish, or both.  In one park I actually saw a little boy playing on a go-cart sort of ride while his parents gazed on adoringly... they'd put him into a brown tweed suit jacket with blue elbow patches that matched his jaunty knotted scarf, and a white pocket square to boot, and he wasn't even trying to wriggle free of it all.)

Tomorrow I hope you won't mind looking at pictures of Pisa, some of which remind me of lace carved into stone.  Now go have a great day, and I'll see you then, okay?

1 comment:

Leslie said...

I had zero luck finding anything yarn-y on my trips, too. I saw what appeared to be hand-knit sweaters and scarves and hats, so know people must have access to yarn and good stores somewhere, but only found some cheap-ish yarn at a department store in Zurich. They must secret away their stores, it's all I can figure.