A Homemade Sock Monkey
for Your Grandkids

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 home-made. 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 home-made sock monkey, and some still ask for them.

History of Sock Monkey Toys

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. 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 home-made sock monkey, you can buy a package of socks and make one for yourself and your grandchild. You may be able to find sock monkeys in gift shops, but there's nothing like a home-made sock monkey if you or your grandchild 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 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.

What do You Need to Make a 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 on the Internet, and within a couple of hours you can have one or two sock monkeys or sock elephants. 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 grandchild is sure to treasure the home-made sock money you've made for years to come.




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