We do the best we can to live according to our conscience, here on our homestead. And living within limited means dictates some of our less-than-ideal choices. We are always making choices, and usually making small sacrifices, to find a way to live conscientiously: to responsibly manage our time, our physical and mental energy, the natural resources on our homestead and in our community, and of course, our limited cashflow. We set priorities for the necessities, and make long term plans to meet wider goals. Most everything our society takes for granted is largely destructive at it's root: our electric grid, food system, transportation, and production/consumption cycle. We have made those large lifestyle changes to address the bulwark of our concerns, reducing our power consumption to a level we could affordably produce with renewable energy, growing most of our food, living car-free out in the country by sharing rides and organizing monthly town trips, and for the rest either going without or buying responsibly.
For most things, we prefer to buy second hand, for small appliances often times older models have higher quality manufacturing. I picked up this table top sewing machine for $5, in great condition. All of our clothes are second hand, there's just too much used clothing out there, in perfect condition, and with a sewing machine just about anything can be made to fit. I also love to knit, and am a novice spinner, so our hats, gloves, scarves, and even undergarments, are homemade. And will one day, be made from homegrown fiber.
But I don't knit socks anymore. It's not that I don't like to, it is just that they ware out too fast for the amount of time I put into knitting them, and the cost of the wool. A hand-knit pair of socks costs $3 and about 3 hours, and usually only last a month. But store bought socks, or the pitiful collection of thin cotton socks in the second hand bin, just don't cut it for our winters. And my dear husband certainly deserves good winter socks, he is the one usually doing any unpleasant work outside in cold weather, while I am inside the warm house baking and well, knitting. So I would knit socks regardless, if we hadn't come up with an acceptable alternative.
Our local second hand clothing shop has an under-utilized abundant resource of out-of-fashion wool ski sweaters. These sweaters are tightly knit and make a very durable and warm fabric, perfect for socks. One large man's sweater will make about three pairs of knee-high socks, costing maybe 25 cents and 10 minutes a pair, and lasting about six months. Use the waist and wrist edges as the top of the sock, depending on the particular sweater, either cut out two strips between 5-6 inches wide, the full length of the sweater, or one 10-12 inch block. With the fabric inside out, sew up the seam or seams on the sides of the sock, rounding the toe. The sleeves usually make a shorter pair of socks.