Saturday, January 9, 2010
And then one of my own sons has been battling this whole time through health problem after health problem. Again, I feel helpless. Though that hasn't stopped my husband and I from trying to Google our way into a medical degree (not that we're actually going for the degree; we just have the compulsive need to double-check and direct the doctors. As dysfunctional as that sounds, it has proved sadly necessary to helping our son. But that's another story).
And, well, I worked too hard and too long during this period at my work-work. There were some good results, and some learning, and some creativity. But rather than finding the creative/playful side while working, I turned a lot of essentially creative work into a chore.
So, there you have it. I have used this serindipitous (spelling?) moment to renew my committment to continuing on the sock monkey journey. I actually had 3 more fun projects I did after I stopped blogging, so my first task will be to blog about each of those. But before then, I need to finish some responsibilities and obligations still left on my big plate of OverWhelmDuJour. Just writing this is giving me the strength to get through those and look forward to future sock monkey-making adventures!
Sunday, January 6, 2008
My niece, Jessi, made this adorable sock monkey! We spent a chunk of each of two days (probably 4 or 5 hours total) each making a sock monkey. I would show each step on mine, and then Jessi would do on hers. It was a wonderful aunt/niece experience, and I will cherish it always.
To teach Jessi (who is 14), we basically did a side-by-side making of the monkeys. Beforehand, I showed her all the monkeys I had made and we glanced through the book "Everything's Coming Up Sock Monkeys", for some history and ideas.
Then, we sat down at my sewing table, each with our own pair of Large Rockford Red Heel socks, and the instructions that come with laid out in front of us. I would explain each step, and then do the step on mine. Then Jessi would do the same step on hers.
I've gotten to the point where I have a process. I do all the machine seaming parts first -- body sock and arms, tail on 2nd sock. Then I cut out the pieces and seams. Then I stuff body and arms and ears, then do all the finishing/closing on ears (see previous posts for details). At that point, I have a nice little stack of body parts all ready for attachment. This pleasant hand-sewing/embroidery, is best done in a comfie chair by the fire, so that is what we did.
Jessi pronounced the hand-sewing "easy", and was faster at it than me. The only issue she had was that her arms were attached a little lopsided and a little too far back. Naturally, a good seamstress would have pointed out that you could just rip the seam out and do-over. I think I might have mentioned that, briefly, after going through my theory that the best "art" (and life, in my opinion) comes from your reaction to the little accidents thrown in your way. Personally, I like to build on the accident, such as turning this monkey into the Hunch-Monkey of Notre Dame. Hiding the mistake is always an option (and a strategy I use with all my clothing choices for my own mistake-ridden body).
Jessi had already picked out a fur-lined black sweater for her monkey, which hid the lopsided arms perfectly, so that was her decision. She liked some "zebra" print felt I had, and we just cut it and used some sticky velcro in the back as a fastener. She also like some black, leatherette doll boots I had purchased from Micheal's. Jessi knew exactly how to accessorize her monkey, gluing on rhinestone earrings and using a red, heart-shaped button for a belly-button ring (since the outfit showed off the monkey-belly). I also suggested a red pompom for the top of her head to make that white part into a hat, and Jessi sewed that on. Final touch, a bit of red ribbon with "best friends" imprinted on it to tie a bow at the top of her tail. And, Voila, proud Jessi and beautiful sock monkey!
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
This ballerina sock monkey was made for my niece Macie, who is just 4. She is a tiny (her mom says she is not even on the growth chart) little red-hed with a chirruppy, perfectly-articulated little munchkin voice. She's adorable and sweet.
I made a ballerina sock monkey for her, because I wanted something with soft colors and all sweetness and huggability. (She does not like little, yappy dogs or scary-looking animals -- like the turtle her cousins caught and kept in a cardboard box under the deck).
Note the little toy bunny this sock monkey carries. Her tutu and slippers are off-the-shelf doll clothes. Her top and hat are made from an old pair of my socks. I just cut and rolled the fabric -- nothing easier! But I thought it was to nice effect. I was tempted to use the other sock to make leg warmers, but sock monkeys kind of have their own built-in leg warmers with the white part of their legs. So, I forced myself to keep it simple, and I'm glad.
With this monkey, I think I finally solved my eye problem. I bought some felt that was JUST the shade of the creamy part of the sock, and used that for eyelids. You still get a little of the froggy effect with the lighter colors, but I think, with time, I can mitigate that with changing the shape of the eyes and getting embroidered eyeliner or lashes on the lid. I did the more child-proof eye construction -- sew on the base, glue the wiggly eye onto the felt, then glue the felt eyelid onto the wiggly eye (with intense gun-glue which is clingier than a psychotic girlfriend).
Also, with this monkey and the cheerleader monkey, I got into a new accessory -- neck ribbon. I saw this concept mentioned in several of the older, classic instructions. If you tie some yarn around the neck, the sock monkey looks a little less like a football player on steroids. At Michael's craft store, I found a little display called "bobbin ribbon". I think the bobbin part refers to its little small shape, because it surely would not fit in a sewing machine bobbin. Anyway, this ribbon had several colors, patterns and sayings on it. I bought several. The ballerina monkey's ribbon says "Imagine . . . " on it. The cheerleader (previous post) says "Best Friends".
This cheerleader sock monkey is for my spirited niece, Miah. Whenever I think of her, I think of her in motion -- skipping through the house, shooting across the pool, laughing and flitting about. So, I wanted her monkey to be reflective of that energy.
AND, she informed me, with her missing front teeth "I was in cheerleading classes!"
This was the first monkey I made for a child that I have witnessed the child's reaction upon opening the gift. I was nervous. In this age of electronics and mass-produced toy lines made for every popular T.V. show and movie character, could a child appreciate an unknown character hand-made from a pair of socks?
Well, the answer is yes, but differently. It's a little slower appreciation (not the big ooh/aaah at initial opening, but a nice building appreciation). Miah took the doll out of its wrapping and examined it. When I told her there was a prayer inside it for her, she immediately started feeling around in the stuffing for it. (Of course! Why didn't I think of that. It might be fun to put a small object inside and have the child feel for it and guess what it is). When her younger sister opened hers (next post), she was attracted to that one more. (By the end of the night they had switched). During the course of the evening, at various times Miah noticed things and commented on them (like, "hey, there's another sock monkey!" from my collection. Then I showed her mine and told her why I made them the way they were). She was also intrigued with the "made from socks" concept.
At the end of the night, when she and her family were leaving (the kids all jammied up with coats and boots over jammies), Miah was clutching her sister's sock monkey doll. "HOW do you make them?" she said to me, with just a note of awe. "I will teach you sometime," I replied, much gratified, and thinking that that is the true gift of the sock monkey -- a shared experience built on love and the age-old gift of creating.
Friday, December 21, 2007
I'm hoping this monkey will get as many hugs as I'm sure he will give to Nico. And each one will be blessed with my own special prayer for Nico, which floats in his chest. I printed his prayer to the right here, with the monkey, as I am sure he wouldn't mind the publicity (being so young and nonverbal and all).
On a construction note: His eyes are my evolved attempt at baby-proofing. First I sewed 2 felt circles on where the eyes would go (lots and lots of little stitches to keep those babies on!) And then I glue-gunned the wiggly-eyes on to the felt. They seem to adhere so much better to the flat felt than the knit material of the sock. So, Nico will be my kid-tester to see if they are truly as little teeth proof as I believe. I'm sure his parents will closely supervise the consumer-product testing.