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,