Tuesday, 10 May 2011

Sox Before Marriage

I am not desperately fond of ironing [although it has been much more fun since I got my Rowenta Steam Generator three years ago]

rowenta dg7140 iron

But there is one aspect of sorting out the laundry from which I get a perverse delight once the task is completed.

Sorting out the socks [or ‘sox’ as I always abbreviate when writing myself notes]

sockmatesI have never gone in for those devices which keep socks in pairs through the washing machine – like these Lakeland ‘sockmates’ – although I am sure many people find them a boon and a blessing. But I resent paying 25p for a piece of plastic with two holes in it!

Consequently, my socks return from the washing line in a heap of mismatched items. And I sit down and sort them into pairs


When I was young and single, I used to grab each pair of socks and make a lumpy ball, which would roll around in the drawer.

This seemed perfectly reasonable to me. It was how my family did it.


However, upon marriage, there were a lot more socks in the laundry basket. I didn’t mind washing his socks – I even darned the holes![That was back in the 70’s when most socks were thicker and darnable] But Bob seemed surprised at my sorting technique.

His family put away their socks differently. I am sure there is a deep lesson about communication and compromises within marriage here. But, dear friends, in those heady honeymoon days, I practised and practised, so that I could put away socks in the way his mother did, and keep him happy. I can hear the feminist hackles rising – but actually I DON’T CARE IF THEY DO!! My MIL’s system was a good one. After almost 32 years of blissfully happy marriage, I still derive enormous satisfaction from seeing all the socks arrayed in neat, flat little rectangles, which go tidily into the sock drawer.


If learning the Van Der Zanden Sock Sorting System has contributed to our happiness, it was well worth the effort!

The only problem with the system is that it still doesn’t deal with The Great Odd Sock Problem. [The Mathematical Theorem Of Socks states that “given an odd number of socks, if you throw ONE sock away, you will still somehow have an odd number”]

[Yes Steph, one pair in that photo is yours – left behind at Easter – will post sox back shortly!]


  1. I love sorting socks too. They tumble around freely in the washing machine but I sort them as I hang them to dry, even ensuring the pegs are the same colour on each sock (not the same colour as the sock) causing great amusement to my fredins who observe and accuse me of being anal at best and 'on the spectrum' at worst.

    I grew up with the method you know use, so maybe it's a regional vaaraition (I grew up mostly on Northamptonshire) Although I do have European forebears too...

    Thanks for bringing a smile!

  2. I have never thought of flat socks... I do sock balls or 'rabbit ears' depending on how much space there is in the drawer they have to fit into. I think my mum did 'rabbit ears' too. I hang my socks on the washing line in pairs (you know me and my line) and push them together into 'rabbit ears' as I take them off - it saves sorting them later, is my theory.

    The thing about adopting other practices all depends on if they're good. Nothing 'non-feminist' about adopting better practice from your husband's family. It's just logical. Abandoning a better system of your own just to keep him happy would have been letting down the sisterhood, I suppose... But nothing is ever that simple, is it?

  3. Oh dear, mine are definitely the rolled into a ball shapes.

  4. Ha ha! I ironed all Bill's t-shirts. He had piles and piles of them. His mama did it that way, so I wanted to, too.

  5. I have the theory that sock manufacturers actually make one of each pair water biodegradable after say twenty washes - I mean how else can you explain all the odd ones? :)

  6. This generated some interesting comments. I am intrigued by Ann's theory - it IS a reasonable explanation for the oddness of sox!


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