When I first received the Petulant Grey Sock UFO through the post from the Project Administration Service it looked like this:

Petulant Grey Sock UFO
Petulant Grey Sock UFO

It was about half of a top down grey man’s sock. It had been knitted to just past the heel turn and there were a few dropped stitches. I thought about what to do with it for about a week or so before actually trying anything out.¬† I was thinking about relationships and how two people can become very interdependent on one another. Also about what we bring to a relationship, whether it is a romantic, business relationship or a friendship.

There is a geometry problem called Mrs Miniver’s Problem that is about overlapping circles (not that I’m into maths: I’m a bit rubbish actually, but bear with me). It has its basis in a story…

[Mrs Miniver] saw every relationship as a pair of intersecting circles. It would seem at first glance that the more they overlapped the better the relationship; but this is not so. Beyond a certain point the law of diminishing returns sets in, and there are not enough private resources left on either side to enrich the life that is shared. Probably perfection is reached when the area of the two outer crescents, added together, is exactly equal to that of the leaf-shaped piece in the middle. On paper there must be some neat mathematical formula for arriving at this; in life, none. [Ref Wikipedia with thanks to Beth]

According to Mrs Miniver, two people in a relationship should share exactly two thirds of their interests with the other person. Personally, I think that is a bit much and have adjusted accordingly in my making! My sock  is perhaps a warning not to get too hung up on one another or you might not have enough of yourself left to keep adding anything to that relationship.

The basic sock pattern lent itself to the concept rather well. Instead of finishing it at the toe, I knitted another heel and up a second leg, making a visual metaphor for a relationship between two people. I interpreted the idea of the circles a into knitting by making the circles 3D, turning them on their sides and making staggered transitions rather than Mrs Miniver’s Venn diagrams. I wanted to make the change between one sock and the other pretty obvious so I used the contrasting yarn, and also (in somewhat of a stereotype I admit) made a female sock. Actually while I was making it, it was more about the relationship between the original sock maker and me, so I made the second sock to be one that I would wear.

The final piece which came out of around a month of thinking and experimenting is called Mrs Miniver’s Petulant Sock.

Mrs Minivers Petulant Sock
Mrs Miniver's Petulant Sock
I rather like that nobody can wear it. Also that it’s a sock: something that is generally thought of as a practical garment, but that I’ve been able to make into a piece of impractical art.

I think this might be the start of a series.

Mrs Miniver's Petulant Sock

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