October 31, 2014

Homemade Sock Monkey

It wasn’t that long ago that parents spent much less on Christmas presents than they do now. In fact, until the middle of the 1900s children received fewer gifts, and some of the gifts they received for Christmas were homemade. Some parents think it’s time to stop spending so much and get back to a simpler time. At one time children used to ask for a homemade sock monkey, and some still ask for them.

John Nelson, a Swedish immigrant, manufactured the first socks in 1890 in Rockford, Illinois at The Nelson Knitting Mills. These socks were sturdy enough to work in and were purchased by workers who had to be on their feet all day. Mainly, they were used by farmers and factory workers. In 1932, the company changed the look of their socks by adding a red heel.

Because of the Great Depression, mothers looked for ways they could create toys for their children out of items they had around the home. Some mothers took their husband’s old socks and started making monkeys and other animals out of them in order to prolong the money spent on the socks as long as possible. When the company learned that their socks were being used to create toys for children, they developed patterns and started including the patterns in the sock packages. This happened in the 1950s.

If you never had a homemade sock monkey, you can buy a package of socks and make one for yourself and your children. You may be able to find sock monkeys in gift shops, but there’s nothing like a homemade sock monkey if you or your child want a “real” one.

You may still be able to get sock monkey patterns in the Rockford Red Heel sock packages. Just in case the package doesn’t contain instructions, you can get some great instructions with pictures at Craftbits. You can also look up “Sock Monkey instructions” in your favorite search engine and get other sites. There are numerous versions, but generally all home-made sock monkeys will look similar.

What do you need to make your own home-made sock monkey?

* One pair of Rockford Red Heel socks. They come in two pairs to a package and cost around $12.00, and come in various sizes so you can make different size monkeys.
* Cotton batting or polyester fiber to make your sock monkey plump
* Red knitting yarn
* Black embroidery thread
* Black buttons, for the eyes
* All-purpose thread

Gather the above items, find your instructions, and within a couple of hours you can have one or two sock monkeys or sock elephants. I find that when I’m creating a project, it becomes much easier to make multiples of something to be cost effective.

There are several great things about a gift you make yourself: you know what went into it so you know there’s nothing harmful in it, you’ve spent precious time to make it, and even if it doesn’t look just like the one in the pictures, you’ve created it with love. Your child is sure to treasure the homemade sock monkey you’ve made them for years to come.

Until next time,


  1. Gosh, this brings back a lot of memories. My mom used to make sock puppets for me when I was little and then I made them for my own little one’s. Hopefully it won’t be long before there’s another generation of sock puppets in the family :-)
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  2. This is something considered as “new” to my young kids, especially when all they ever do is study or play video games.

  3. Nice article, very informative.

  4. This is very cute!

  5. This sounds pretty interesting. I think I’m going to try this one out myself. This will definitely be a fun activity. Thanks for sharing!

  6. You may still be able to get sock monkey patterns in the Rockford Red Heel sock packages. Just in case the package doesn’t contain instructions, you can do a search online to find patterns for the original sock monkey. Go to your favorite search engine and look up “Sock Monkey instructions”. There are numerous versions, but generally all home-made sock monkeys will look similar.

  7. hahaha, I remember sock puppets when I was kid growing up. It’s funny how generations change though, i tried introducing this idea as a fun projects with my kids and both looked at me funny and wrinkled their noses at me… lol .. Had to be there I guess to experience the humor of it all. At any rate I still think sock puppets are a great idea :)

  8. Mine looked really horrible!
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  9. How can they look horrible when the more odd, the funnier they look? :)

  10. Miles Kimball says:

    This is interesting! Thank you so much for sharing this information. Keep me updated with your new posts soon.

  11. Miles, just join our newsletter or the feed and you’ll get weekly updates of our new posts :)

  12. The problem is other kids. Most of our kids would be happy with small gifts if they didn’t have friends bragging about what they expect to get or what they did get. It doesn’t help that the toy companies and film companies release movies and themed toys in the run up to Christmas that cost a bomb.

  13. We’ve gone back and forth different years with this same issue. Last year we did more coupons for presents in our family. So car details, dishes, etc. Our friend does this every other year. One year is bought and the next everything has to be made or a gift of services. We loved that.

  14. Flashback from then, I used to used my Dad’s sock for Christmas :) Its better to make it personal than getting it from somewhere I’ll and Spending something. I missed those moments :(

  15. We can’t go back to childhood, but definitely can pass on new memories with our little one’s :)

  16. I love to make sock monkeys but I always wanted a classic sock monkey or a paul frank sock monkey. So please give me a link for the store. Thanks!
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  17. I’m glad I found your article. I have been trying to make a sock monkey for a while now
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  18. I just remembered I owe my nieces a couple sock puppets! Thanks for the reminder and materials list. :)
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  19. After reading your blog, I could say most moms are really creative and resourceful of creating new things for the enjoyment of their kids. Indeed, everyone can create new wonderful creation even just recycling some items in the home. Like here on the blog, by just gathering resourceful materials, you can be able to create homemade sock monkey. Thanks for sharing the materials needed.
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  20. I think this homemade sock monkey is nice to make. By just recycling some materials inside the house, you can already make this sock monkey. Perhaps, I will make this one for my kids.
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  21. Recycling materials to create new things are possible like this homemade sock monkey. In fact, I have made this one before when I was still schooling and I used it when we had a puppet show.
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  22. I love to make sock monkeys but I always wanted a classic sock monkey or a paul frank sock monkey. So please give me a link for the store. Thanks!

  23. Just what I’ve been looking for! I love sock monkeys! :)
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  24. Very good idea. Concise and to the point. It helped me understand it better. Thanks.

  25. Did you ever tried using baby or kid socks Anna?

    Sara Dinar
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  26. No Sara, I haven’t tried them but I bet they’d be cute! I’ve seen some smaller versions out there, but I don’t think they were really made out of socks.


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