I've spent free moments in the last two weeks, darning holes in handknit socks. I think I fixed 17 pairs (I lost count somewhere around twelve). Some of those socks have been out of rotation for over a year, so it's nice to have them back in the mix. I've gone through the rest of my socks, and found 6 more pairs with thin spots that need reinforcing (heels, toes, balls of feet- I went through a serious Self Striping phase, as you can see). Thanks again, Merike Saarniit, for teaching me a quick and efficient way to fix my socks.
When I started seriously knitting socks, I probably made a dozen pairs before I could bring myself to give any away (back in those days, I was shocked to spend $16 for sock yarn... had I but known...). These days, I keep very few new socks (the exception being the 4 pairs I knit for the Sock Summit)- my Sock Gifting List is longer than I can keep up with, no matter how fast I knit (and some days, I can knit pretty fast).
Even so, I was surprised to discover that have 41 pairs of handknit socks (8 pairs from handspun yarn)! Of all of the socks I've made, I've only lost 1 sock (and I still have the mate, just in case I find it again, though it's been 5 years since the first went missing), and have only thrown one pair away (because it was knit with totally unsuitable yarn, which grew holes the moment I put them on my feet). Otherwise, every pair of socks I've knit for myself, I still wear- some of them are nine years old and still going strong. Now, many have had multiple repairs, but until the feet blow totally, I'll keep fixing them.
And when they finally do wear out, I'll probably cut the cuffs off and knit new feet.
Handknit socks are forever.