Wednesday, February 16, 2011

52 Weeks - The Saga of the Sock Monkey

Toys--sock monkeys! In the late 1950s, my mother (Daisy Schwartz Burk) acquired two pair of red heel socks and the instructions to make sock monkeys for my sister and me. My memory is that the "kits" came home from summer day camp, but however they arrived, my mother was excited about making least the first one.

Mom had no sewing machine and didn't want one. Her mother, my grandmother Hermina Farkas Schwartz, was an expert with a treadle sewing machine and could have whipped up these monkeys in half an hour each (no exaggeration). But the directions looked simple enough for hand sewing and we girls thought the monkeys looked adorable, so Mom enthusiastically set to work.

That first monkey was probably fun to sew, but when it came to the second monkey, Mom's enthusiasm started to drain away. And now that I'm making a sock monkey for my sister's birthday (shh! don't tell her), I understand just how she felt. (BELOW is a photo of my completed gift sock monkey--yes, the one in the middle!)

The head, torso, and legs are made from a single sock. Getting the body to look just right isn't the hard part, especially if you have a sewing machine and you've got plenty of red yarn to cinch in body parts at the right places. It's the arms and ears and tail, made from the second sock, that are more challenging because little pieces of sock can unravel very quickly if you're not careful. It's not rocket science but it's a bit tricky.

Mom stuffed my sock monkey with old nylons (sis's monkey will be stuffed with odd bits of quilt batting). The original sock monkeys lasted for a long time but alas, all those beloved old stuffed animals eventually got loved to death.

A decade ago I found myself a ready-made sock monkey and it's been enjoying the hospitality of my guest room ever since. I found a second one for my sis around the same time, but her kitties have been enjoying it and the stuffing is leaking out. Now she'll have a brand-new, home-made sock monkey to bring back so many good memories of the original toys of our childhood!


  1. My grandmother made our sock moneys when I was a kid, and years later I found them ready made in a restaurant's store section. So I got one for me, and one for each of my sisters.

    I think sock monkeys have timeless appeal.

  2. Hi Dee, You're so right! And it's great that sisters can share the special memories of sock monkeys of our childhood even today, when the original monkeys are long gone.

    Thanks for your comments,


  3. I still have my sock monkey. I don't think it was handmade though. He's still in one piece.

  4. Still in one piece? Wow. Enjoy! And thanks for taking the time to read and comment!