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The Sock Monkey Affair

March 22, 2013

Where is spring? Sock Monkeys come in all shapes and sizes. They arrive complete with the love and joy of their creator, which only grows when the recipient gives the doll their first hug. These creatures are a favourite of stitchers all over the world and that includes me.

I’ve been busy stitching a whole community of Sock Monkey dolls that will find themselves in loving homes across Canada.  Phillip, my original Sock Monkey, travels the prairies (and documents his trips with photos), Egypt is excited to begin her new life in Brooks, Alberta, and Terrance, the baby Sock Monkey, is busy exploring his surroundings before he finds a new home in Regina, Saskatchewan. Before I introduce you to Phillip, the Sock Monkey, and friends, let’s first figure out where and when the Sock Monkey began…

The Sock Monkey is Born:

Phillip loves to knit!The sock monkey journey began, we suspect, during the 1950s (although, other sources date them as early as the Great Depression (1930s). Check out  and the Midway Village Museum’s Sock Monkey Resource Packet for more factoids). No matter the year of their original birth, most sources credit the Sock Monkey’s arrival to the Nelson Knitting Company. They introduced the Rockford Red Heel work sock, the foundation of the original Sock Monkey doll, to American men. This comfortable and hard-working accessory was soon transformed onto the beloved Sock Monkey, with the red heel forming the sock monkey’s signature lips. Soon after receiving a patent in 1955, the Nelson Knitting Company began printing Sock Monkey doll  instructions on the packaging of every pair of work socks, a tradition that continues today.

The Sock Monkey Evolves

The Sock Monkey’s popularity declined in the 1960s, but our love for the Sock Monkey did not disappear from our hearts. In recent times his popularity has  brought him to the top of every knitter’s queue. We are stitching them up in every size, shape, and colour. We keep them for ourselves and gift them to our loved ones. They continue to bring a smile to everyone’s face. Who can resist hugging a Sock Monkey?

Most major yarn companies have introduced marbled yarn that mimics the look of the original Rockford Red Heel Sock (check out Patons Classic Wool in 77252 Dark Grey Marl or 77251 in LIght Grey Marl) and they are posting patterns to go with them  (check out Patons Classic Wool Monkey Business booklet). Yarn lovers everywhere are busy creating  everything from a traditional looking Sock Monkey to one with added personality unique to its owner, from cup cozies to baby accessories, and nearly everything in between. All you need are needles, yarn, and a stitcher’s imagination.

The Sock Monkey of Today

Today Sock Monkey patterns are available to all kinds of stitchers. Whether you sew, knit or crochet, you’ll find instructions suited to your craft. All you have to do is use Google to search “sock monkey patterns” and, at the time of this posting, about 1 220 000 results are there for the clicking.

Some of my favourite Sock Monkey patterns are:

Not a knitter? No problem. Check out some of these sources:

 Let’s Continue the Conversation

  • Do you have a favorite Sock Monkey pattern?
  • What is your favorite Sock Monkey memory?
  • Are you a knitter, crocheter, sewer, or combination of all? Show me your monkey!

Don’t forget to catch the adventures of Phillip and friends by following @stoonstitcher on Twitter. Phillip’s adventures will also appear in future posts.

Happy Stitching!

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Nicky permalink
    March 22, 2013 11:27 pm

    34 years ago when I started school there where two sockmonkeys. FU and UFU. These two thought us how to read and spell. If I remember right, they where red and green. It was in Germany.

    • March 23, 2013 11:24 pm

      Nicky, I’m so happy that my Sock Monkey journey has reminded you of days past. I hope these are fond memories. Thank you for stopping by and happy stitching.

  2. Leslie McLaughlin permalink
    March 23, 2013 5:46 pm

    I have enjoyed thoroughly watching Phillip and his friends come to life on Twitter! Your beautiful article concerning the history of the Sock Monkey has just added to that and I look forward to more adventures. I actually have a crochet pattern from Patton’s and look forward to making one in the future! Thank you for sharing your knitting talent!

    • March 23, 2013 11:26 pm

      Leslie, your kind words warm my heart. My Sock Monkey journey has brought joy and love to my heart as well as those who are gifted with this magical creatures. They truly have the power of transformation. I turn string into smiles with two pointy sticks and this is really what knitting is all about. I hope you get the chance to try your hand at the crocheted version. They bring just as many smiles and hugs as the knitted and sewn versions do. When I find some time, I hope to sew one up in the traditional manner. How much fun is that?

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