I started making sock monkeys right after college. Newly married, extremely broke, and working part-time, I had a lot of time on my hands and was fighting ennui. Not just boredom, but the dragging despair that comes along with not having enough occupation.
I was looking for things to do.
I remembered being a kid and having a sock monkey. It was soft, warm, just the right size to deliver a hug, and in its silent, half-smiling face was the understanding of a true friend who would never judge, never laugh, never gossip. Also, pairs of red-heeled socks were like two dollars each. That, I could handle.
I am in the process of cleaning out my craft supplies. I have a room devoted to them, a small room, but a whole room nonetheless, and it's gotten to the point where choked-up inspiration and half-realized ideas have clogged the entire floor space, shelf space, table space, drawer space. Attempts at organization have been woefully ineffective. I decided finally that the biggest problem in there was too MUCH in there, so I've been paring down. Down. Down. Pulling supplies out and making them into THINGS, and sending those things to people I love.
And one night, in the process of digging through a drawer where I'd found, among other things, a tiny pair of glasses and a sequined top hat, I found my last pair of red-heeled socks. I stopped, touched them, started to push them to the back of the drawer when I sighed and pulled them out. It was time, I decided, to make the last sock monkey. Until I buy more socks, anyway.
I've made dolls for years and years. As a kid, I used to hand-sew rag dolls and then make tiny dresses for them (pants were too complicated). I remember thinking it was funny, stabbing and stabbing and stabbing my needle through cloth that was becoming limbs, torso, extremities, a face. I still feel a little twitchy when I'm sewing up a sock monkey. Holding his legs apart so I can sew between them, cringing and saying, "This'll only hurt for a minute, I promise," lifting his arms so I can sew them onto what would be his rotator cuffs, sewing a line onto his lips with black embroidery floss so he'll have a mouth, but it feels like I'm sewing his mouth shut instead of on. Until I'm done, and then it looks proper.
More proper, anyway.
Something about a sock monkey, or any toy for a child, really. I might have read "The Veleveteen Rabbit" a few too many times, but I think the principle's there. A sock monkey is soft to catch tears, warm to hold hugs, and durable to pop out of a box years from now, so an adult can look at it, sigh, smile, and say, "Yeah, I remember this."
I hope so, anyway.