Knock my socks off, will you?

Have you ever had a sales person try to convince you to purchase the latest tech gadget or kitchen time saver using this hackneyed old phrase: “It’ll knock your socks off”? Don’t just laugh at their cutely ineffective sales tactics. That dastard is threatening you.

To most people, the idea being stripped of your socks in a moment of retail ecstasy is not that disturbing. After all, socks are cheap and you can always get more. A 4-pack of Gold Toes at the department store cost less than $15. That’s less than $2 for each sock. And the mall is probably open until 9. No worries.

As a knitter, the notion of losing socks is a source of anxiety. I usually spend more on just the yarn than a normal person spends on a whole 4-pack. And that’s just the tip of the woolen iceberg (What a weird metaphor, and yet oddly appropriate as it reminds me of the pile of woolen handwashing waiting for me upstairs. Which I will continue to ignore.).

I spend hours and hours of my free time carefully crafting each sock. 16-20 hours for a simple pair; 40+ for a fancy pair. Imagine getting paid minimum wage for that labor (I know, what a laugh, but I can imagine.). What are these socks worth just at cost? The mind boggles.

Simple socks: $7.25 x 20 hrs = $145

Clandestine socks by Cookie A. From Ravelry.

Fancy socks: $7.25 x 40 hrs = $290

Add to this the cost of the yarn. This is what it’s worth at cost, roughly. Then consider a 100% or 200% retail markup (We know they do it. Plus the scenario is more fun to think about that way.)

A recent article in Slate discussed the market in high-end socks.  A certain shop in Rome has been outfitting the pope and his cardinals in red footwear for two centuries ($27 per pair). And a company called Zimmerli sells a pair of $200 socks in a dreamy merino that supposedly wear out after only 6 or 7 washes. Seriously?  I’m not quibbling about the price. I doubt they were hand knit, but they were probably crafted from virgin merino, sheared under the full moon while monks chanted a detangling prayer, or some such business. What I can’t believe is that they only last a handful of washes. I can make you a pair of $200 socks that will beat those socks all hollow (haha, it’s funny because you won’t we wearing them). Only if you want cables or lace, mine might be more like $300. But hey, if you’re already in the market for $200 disposable socks I don’t think you’ll have any problem with the idea of $300 durable socks.

So anyway, my point is this: When a sales person enthusiastically threatens the fate of my socks in this way, well, it’s a good thing my mouth has a functioning filter. Thank the dear and fluffy lord. Otherwise, we’d have the conversation I always fantasize I’m having:

[Random awesome gadget] will knock your socks off.

*Stony faced stare*


Are you threatening me? 


You wanna dance, punk? Do you feel lucky?


  1. That’s crazy about those $200 socks that last only a couple washes. If I had to go the absurdly high-priced sock approach, I would definitely shell out the extra hundred to get your proposed $300 durable socks. Totally worth the price jump.

    • There’s a lot of very interesting history about socks. A lot of women used to contribute to household income, centuries ago, by knitting and selling stockings. And we’re not talking chunky ankle socks. Some of this was very delicate knitting with very fine yarn. They had to be very fast and efficient. My 20 hr socks would probably be a laughable achievement by comparison. But that’s the difference between a skill necessary for everyday living and a skill practiced for fun. How many of us would be such good typists these days if using computers was not so vital for communication?

  2. When I first began to knit, I was enthralled and amazed at the tiny, perfect knit in my pink, $15 striped sweater and used to imagine how long it would take to complete one single row. You make an excellent point about the value of things…that is often more than we realize and we often take them for granted. A pair of hand- knitted socks is a magnificent gift!

    • It makes me think of the days when more of our clothing was hand constructed. What the true cost or value of those pieces was and how important it was to know how to make things yourself. Clothing was a lot less disposable.

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