Sock Monkeys: An Unexpected Beacon of Hope


Alayna Jones, Reporter

Sock Monkeys.The ever elusive stuffed animal that everyone knows about. Right up there with the Teddy Bear, Sock Monkeys have been comforting kids for decades. In a quest to learn all there is to know about these nostalgic toys, I attempted to make one. But first, a little information on these stuffed animals.

The website for “The Strong: National Museum of Play” gives a good background on sock monkeys themselves. The origin of sock monkeys began in 1872 when John Nelson and his business partner created the first knitting loom that could finish socks by automatically sewing the end of the sock together to form the toe. This invention was revolutionary to the sock industry which spurred the momentum of sock production and eventually sock monkeys. During the Great Depression, Sock Monkeys were at the height of their popularity. With stuffed animals being too expensive to be bought by Americans, they resorted to making stuffed animals out of old socks. Thus, the sock monkey as we know it, was born. 

Sock monkeys remain popular today as a fun craft or easy gift for a child. Alli Slack’s mom used to make sock monkeys for her when she was in elementary school. “Sock monkeys are really cute and they were a big part of my childhood. My mom would make sock monkeys for me and they always so important to me.” Even in her teenage years, Slack looks back on her memories with her sock monkeys with fondness.  

Knowing this background, sock monkeys didn’t seem very hard to make. Boy was I wrong.The sock monkey is pretty basic to piece together and sew and any one with a very basic background of sewing should be able to do it (emphasis on should). Seeing as there was a variety of patterns to choose from (all ending in the same result) I decided on the one by the crafting blog CraftPassion. This pattern was more of a basic guideline of what to do, with no template whatsoever. I had to use my incredible free-handing skills to draw lines for me to cut out the various pieces of the monkey.

One sock was used as the body, with a cut from the rim of the sock to the heel. Once sewed up, this became the pair of legs. The other sock was used to make the other pieces to attach such as the ears, nose, arms, and tail. 

 It’s important to note the pattern of the sock when making the monkey. The pattern would be upside down in some places and  if it wasn’t a universal pattern like stripes or dots, the completed product could look a bit confusing. This makes sense that the color scheme and pattern for the og monkeys is a speckled gray.

My sock monkey was made with a random almost giraffe-like pattern. Actually the monkey itself reminds me of a giraffe (probably because the nose is crooked and the ears are abnormally sized). Each piece that would be added onto the monkey went pretty smoothly and wasn’t too complicated to sew individually. Sewing the pieces onto the body, is a completely different story. This part  was the most difficult aspect of the whole project because it was hard to line up each appendage in the correct placement for the monkey to look proportional. As a perfectionist, this part was especially hard on my mind as well, so I had to disconnect from the project a little just so I could bring myself to finish the monkey. 

Overall the classic sock monkeys are easy to make and have an interesting background. Even though I had my struggles with my monkey, I was really pleased with how it turned out. These monkeys not only represent a nostalgic and cuddly companion, they also show how perseverance and hard-work will get you somewhere. The monkeys’ background is one of struggle and hopelessness, but  we don’t have to live in the same way as those in during the Great Depression. These creations can serve as a reminder of the hardships Americans and those all over the world had to go through. Now these creations continue their legacy of being the timeless comfort for those of all ages and backgrounds. No matter your circumstance, the sock monkey can be a symbolism of hope for all.