Norwegian Socks


Norwegian Socks.
A few nights ago we thought of re-visiting our socks, taking stock of an important item of apparel. Most us go through life not paying too much attention to socks but with retirement comes the time and opportunity to take a closer look. It was a rather cold week-end evening, a bit boring on TV and we were not in the mood for yet another comedy show on TV. How much jolliness can the system stand?

As we were gathering socks Helvi asked me if I still remembered buying a pair of thick woolen Norwegian socks. I did remember; it was in 1993 during a stay in Holland. We had both gone to the Saturday market at a small place in Holland named Nijverdal. It was a bitterly cold day and as we sauntered through all the different stalls I stopped at a hot fish and chips stall and ordered deep fried freshly crumbed sole for both of us with Patat frites. (French fries) Of course, the left eyed Dover Sole is a delicacy that is now rare.

They, like so many other fish species have been over fished but back in 1993 they were freely available. Indeed, since that day I haven’t eaten a single sole. Of course in the southern hemisphere a true sole is not there and we compromise and make do with flounder instead…and the chips are not the same either but that’s life. After arrival in Australia we discovered people would put vinegar on chips. It was a bad omen. However, the nail in the coffin was tinned spaghetti on toast. Can you believe it? Yes, I can. Everything you can imagine is possible in Australia, even the things you can’t imagine.

What is the same though are those before mentioned Norwegian woolen socks. I asked Helvi to chuck the socks to me for closer inspection. Only a true lover of woolen socks knows what it is to put a hand inside the confines of the heel and swivel the socks around the hand seeking for possible wear and tear. I held them up to light, still perfect. Not even a single ray of light penetrating the sock. That’s Norwegian socks for you. They were expensive but what joy to wear and over so many years.

My first memories are about socks. During the war years of 1940-45 and at St Nicholas on the 5th of December, when the Dutch give their kids presents, the same here at Christmas time, we used to get a single sock hanging from the fire-place as a present. It was some years after when there was more money about that the sock would hold actual presents. Those first toddler memories are still telling me today that the single sock was the total present.

My mum told me she knitted them from wool unraveled from an old jumper or perhaps even old under-pants. I must have worn this single sock on alternative feet to get the warmth divided equally. Ever since those single sock years I hold socks with a deep and heartfelt reverence. I just don’t understand the mentality of people throwing socks out just because there is a hole in the heel. All you have to do is turn the socks around with the hole on top of the foot and presto, the hole doesn’t show.

The other alternative is to buy Norwegian socks.

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16 Responses to “Norwegian Socks”

  1. Patti Kuche Says:

    We really don’t know how lucky we are do we and who knew that from such single socks so many rich memories were being woven into your life! Thank you Gerard for sharing!


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Hello Patti,
      Of course, it is still a case of a ‘lost sock in the laundry-mat of life’, There is some kind of sock bag that is advertise ad nauseam on tv. It is a ploy to put socks in them by pairs before chucking the whole bag into the washing machine. However; if you go to that trouble of finding matching pairs than you would not need it.
      Surely women are not gullible to fall for that? I loved your 4th of july photo album.


  2. Lottie Nevin Says:

    I have very fond memories of my mother sat by the fire in the evenings with her sewing basket, darning our socks, or turning my father’s shirt collars. Long live Norwegian socks and all who wear them! they sound indestructible 🙂


  3. gerard oosterman Says:

    Ditto here Lottie. I would have thought the UK folk were good sock makers as well. Scotland’s kilt wearers often also show up sturdy sock wearing habits. It’s been a long time since I tossed a good caber. 🙂


  4. petspeopleandlife Says:

    About all those socks and cold weather. It is hard to realize that you have winter where you are and we have summer here.

    I enjoyed reading about Norway’s fine socks that will outlast just about anything. If people were not so darn lazy they could learn how to darn their socks.


  5. Office Diva Says:

    Mr. O, your yarn about socks was a treat. I don’t think I shall ever look at a Christmas stocking quite the same way, or take my cozy footwear for granted from this day forth. Also, I now feel as if I am missing something in my life and feel that I should hasten to the internet and stock up on Norwegian socks, even though winter in Texas is still many months away. I also love to hear you speak of potatoes. I think they must be your favorite. :O)


  6. Andrew Says:

    Few people could conjour such feelings for socks. Of course our socks were darned as kids. Sometimes the darns were in the majority. Our Christmas socks were full of nuts and fruit and maybe some chocolate coins. I don’t think I have any Norwegian socks I’m afraid. If I do they were probably made in China. At least now I know what I should do this evening. Sock drawer here I come.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      My brother John was called ‘pan-cakes’ because my mum used to patch his pants from previous pairs. Kids are cruel though. Glad no-one in our family dressed in ‘pan-cake’ pants.
      I have this uneasy feeling that I might well have enough socks to see me out. Seeing out, is getting closer. Mind you, a man in Japan just turned 112 and still chops up fire-wood.


  7. kaytisweetlandrasmussen83 Says:

    “Tinned spaghetti on toast”! Really Gerard! That’s pretty bad. I used to knit my husband’s sox and yes they do last a lot longer. The Norwegians also make beautiful sweaters. Dr. Advice and I both have ski sweaters in our drawers which we’ve had and worn for 40 years! And my husband has a pair of handmade sox he bought in London about 9 years ago while walking down the street after leaving a pub and eating fish and chips! When I first married my mother-in-law told me I didn’t have to darn sox. Good advice and well taken, although I have the small wooden foot his grandmother used to darn with.


  8. hilarycustancegreen Says:

    Love this post and love the co-incidence – a couple of days ago, my husband (EG) emptied his sock shelf onto the sofa as we watched something, and sorted through, stashing the winter ones in a box. There was one pair we though might have been in his ‘trousseau’ – when we got married, my present to him was various bits of clothing, carefully chosen for fun and longevity.
    I, like my wartime parents, have always darned socks. I also remember tinned spaghetti, though perhaps not on toast.


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      Yes, we also sort socks for winter and summer. Recently my wife discovered another pair which she had stowed away somewhere for later use.
      The tinned spaghetti is still around and saw a mother with kids buying them at Aldi’s yesterday. My mum tried to entice us with sugar on our bread many decades ago. I suppose lollies were rare and less affordable then.


  9. macularmusings Says:

    Love the post. Thanks


    • gerard oosterman Says:

      I like your blog too. It is not often that we are given to reflecting how ‘sight’ (or the lack of it) applies to a population getting older. So much is taken for granted. Thank you for highlighting this.


  10. roughseasinthemed Says:

    I’m puzzled about the vinegar comment. What else do you put on chips? (apart from salt possibly). Chips always require vinegar and lots of it. In Ye Olden Dayes, there were countless (OK maybe half a dozen) jars of vinegar on the counter at the fish and chip shop.

    Who would not put the vinegar on their fish and chips? Or their chips? *Scratches head and walks off puzzling.*

    Oh, and my mother not only darned socks, but knitted the wretched things too on four needles as there were no decent ones around for me and my dad. Norwegian socks from Yorkshire perhaps?


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