I’ve been working on my Summer Flowers of Northern New England book some more. Today I added (among other things) Whorled Loosestrife (Lysimachia quadrilfolia). Dunno why, but I love this plant, even though it looks so much like a weed. It is native, and to me, that makes it a lot less weedy. The only photos of this plant at the Commons were ones I had taken last year, and none of them were all that compelling. But it’s in bloom in my backyard right now, so I went out and took a dozen or two photos of it. This is the one I liked best:

Lysimachia quadrilfolia

Lysimachia quadrilfolia

I also found out a cool fact about the origin of the genus name Lysimachia. You’ll hafta look in the book to see it though.

The other thing I did today pretty much dispels any notion that I am not a complete dork. The other day Va saw me sitting in the floor in my sock feet and told me I had to throw away my socks. Yes, they had holes in them. But I am not one who can be commanded to part with an old friend so easily! I told her I would fix them. But would I use any tried an true method of fixing a sock? A method so ancient and revered that there is a special word for it? Maybe “darning”? Of course not! I’m a dork! I have to invent my own method of sock repair. I figure that the pioneers darned their socks because they had so much time on their hands, and they probably hadn’t even thought of the idea I had in my head. OK, they probably did, because the technology I intended to bring to bear on this problem was well known to them. It is also well known to the nomadic tribes of Mongolia, and has been for probably two millennia. Felting.

I had recently read about how felt is made. I had read about it a long time ago too, noting that the process was probably discovered when some poor sot wrapped his feet in wool before jamming them in his boots for a long, cold journey somewhere. Probably involving shepherding. When this guy got home, he had felt boot liners, yay!

Felt is made by compressing dampened wool fibers. In the shepherd’s case, the dampness was probably supplied by his sweat glands. But I figure, hey! I’ve got sweaty feet too! So yesterday I stopped at “The Elegant Ewe” and bought some raw wool. “I need some wool for felting,” I said, trying to sound as not gay as possible. And she fixed me right up. Dennis wisely waited outside, not wanting to be mistaken for the type of man who would go into a store with a name like “The Elegant Ewe.”

And just for the record, let me say that I think that name fails at Alliteration. Sure, “elegant” and “ewe” both start with an e, but alliteration is supposed to sound like alliteration, not just look like it. They should have named it “The Yellow Ewe” or something like that. In my opinion. But I digress!

This morning I picked out the rattiest pair of socks in my arsenal. An old pair of veterans with not just one, but two massive holes in them. One on the heel, and another on the ball. I got out one of my wads of wool (Hey kids! Alliteration!) and stuffed it into the sock, carefully positioning it over the ball hole. Then I wedged another wad of wool into position over the heel hole. I gingerly shod myself so as not to knock the wool out of place. I would imagine our shepherd did the same thing so many ages ago.

I checked on it at noon, and could see that the ball hole wool was felting nicely and integrating itself right into the sock as planned. The heel hole was not faring so well though. I doctored it up a bit and put my shoe back on. Everytime I went to the bathroom, or down the street to pick up lunch, or whatever, I thought to myself, “Nobody knows that I am busily mending my sock even now!”

I checked on it again in the late afternoon. The ball hole was looking fabulous. The heel hole was still not any better. Hmmm. I checked again when I got home, and it was still not working. But I have to say that the ball felt is working great. I assume that’s because it doesn’t slide around on the sock so much as the heel does? Who knows! The wool on the heel was felting OK, it just wasn’t bonding with the sock.

I figured I would have to intervene a little more. I got out a sewing needle and ran it through with no thread, hoping some wool would stick to the needle and get pulled through the sock. But that did not appear to happen at all. Then I tried again, but this time I used a dull needle. This is a needle that I had in the sewing machine this winter when I managed to untime it, causing the needle to bash into the bobbin several hundred times. That bent a nice little hook in the tip that really sucked for sewing – it would cause the cloth to pucker up and distort, almost as if I were trying to force a twig through the fabric instead of a needle. I figured that would be just what I needed. I jammed the needle through the sock and the wad of wool and pulled it out again. It brought the wool with it, right through the weave of the fabric. Yay! I repeated that maybe another two hundred times. Suddenly this is sounding like more work than the ancient art of darning, no?

So, now I’m wearing the sock again. I told Va I would probably have to wear this sock for about a week for the repair to be complete. Also, I will have to wear it to bed. And I will need to wear a shoe over it too so it will have a nice surface against which the wool will be compressed.

She just rolled her eyes, and I know exactly what she was thinking. “Dork!”