A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Thursday, 3 August 2017

Hooptedoodle #270 - The Sock Cull

Time for another post about socks, I think. [No, no - terribly sorry, vicar - I said socks.]

Some time ago I published a lament about the state of modern socks. It was heartfelt (if that is an appropriate phrase) - I had increasing problems with shrinkage of the ribbing tops of socks, which tended to compress my lower calves (on occasions my lower legs would develop an ominous, waisted, hour-glass shape which I would prefer not to dwell upon, but you will appreciate this is far from ideal.

Bad Guys - and there's masses of them - they are GOING AWAY
The Contesse tried valiantly to obtain socks for me which were comfortable - with little success. Even when we avoided certain brands which we have grown to distrust, I regularly ended the day with sore swollen ankles and calf muscles. Ah, I hear you say - it is not the socks, it's your circulation - it is the ancient veins, the game pie, the chips, the beer, the Armagnac, the excessive salt, etc etc.

Not so. One cannot hold off the ravages of field rations and tempus fugit forever, of course, but the change is mostly in the socks themselves.  

Almost a year ago, we went on holiday to Mayrhofen, in the Zillertal, Austria. It was a good holiday anyway, but one unexpected bonus was that one day I picked up a pack of cheap socks in the Spar supermarket in the village - just off-the-shelf jobs to help out with the demands of hillwalking - and they were a revelation. If I'd fully appreciated them in time, I'd have bought a load more before we came home.

They are comfortable, they do not strangle my legs - they are terrific. They are, I believe, how I remember socks used to feel. Is it possible that Austrians just expect their socks to be comfortable? Is it possible that Mike Ash***'s crusade to to buy up reputable brands and make everything cheap and nasty has not yet reached the Tyrol? The questions, of course, are rhetorical, but one wonders.

Good Guys - the first of the "diabetic" socks [L] and one of the Austrian
cheapo pairs from SPAR [R]
Since then, a further discovery for me has been a whole new world of special comfortable socks - some of them made with bamboo fibre (which sounds faddy, but is OK), some of them marketed as "diabetic socks", which is new to me but I'm sure well known to people who need them. The Contesse has done admirable research in this field, and I am well pleased with the new arrivals.

Thus far I am still feeling my way - some of these are about £8 a pair, which is a bit steep by my usual standards, but we are discovering cheaper ones - the choice of colours is not all it might be, maybe. There are also hiking socks of the same type. Better and better.

This morning's delivery...

Just as an aside - how would you feel about marketing black socks badged "SS"?
A further shipment of the "gentle" socks arrived this morning, so I have had a quick look in the chest of drawers and have emptied out the old socks - and there are dozens of pairs. I shall reduce the stock to about 4 pairs of the conventional socks, and replace them with the new comfortable ones. Perhaps we'll recycle the rejects - they can go to any needy people who have very thin ankles, or maybe they can just go on the tip.  Either way, they are going.

That's worth a glass of wine with my supper, I think.


  1. Now then. No goose-stepping in your SS socks. Especially if you visit Austria again.

    1. Promise. Or I might just be a stocking horse?

  2. Socks are important!

    I was much disappointed after buying a very comfortable pair of socks to buy more of what appeared to be the same type by the same brand name, only to find that they part boa constrictor. The only way i can tell them apart is to wear them for a few hours. I keep meaning to dispose of them as soon as an evil one is identified rather than pushing them down until I get home, and then forgetting.....

    1. This business of known brands changing beyond recognition is an established scam over here. My rantette last time was occasioned by some deliberate degrading of a number of old brands (such as Slazenger).

      The few hours delay before you can detect the boa constrictor is a problem. I think you should devote a morning to solving this once and for all. You need to have them all washed and ready before you start, of course. Be careful to put the correct ones in the bin - there are all sorts of potential complications in this. Hmmm.

  3. I can see a whole new world of blog opening up - Haberdashery Miscellany? After the SS socks, perhaps Freemasonry ones next? I think the style of sock is called soft hold. I tried them for a while but they ended up slipping not just down my ankles but halfway down the arch of my foot. But they were a different brand.

    1. Freemasonry ones next, definitely - colour-coordinated to match my Bicycle News tee-shirt. The blog could alternate product reviews with usage tips (e.g: socks on first, then boots) - great idea - we could get some ad revenue out of this as well.

      I've not seen these referred to as soft hold - that might offer a whole new search for our shopping enquiries. If they slid off your feet, the hold was certainly a tad too soft - the ones I've got thus far have all worked pretty well - even after washing. Maybe you should revisit, with a different brand?

      Cheers - T

  4. I have just been out and bought some new bamboo socks (I have been wearing them for years and am a great fan) ahead of my holiday to, as luck would have it, Austria. If only I had read your post first...

    And for an alternative political slant on foot garments one can find a variety of Che Guevara themed socks on eBay.

    1. Good to get a quick customer review for the bamboo socks - thanks for that - encouraging. I don't imagine all Austrian SPAR shops use the same suppliers, but they might - you have the photo of the sample - the light coloured ones above - if you see any of these in the SPAR then they are worth a shot. 3 pairs in a pack, and very cheap too, as I recall.