Advice from a woman who makes stuffed animals from socks

kitty two standard deviations shy of the mean

As one might guess from reading about my sock animal sewing adventures, I have never seen a craft I didn’t want to try.  I have had a lot of success making greeting cards and binding small books and have taken some photographs I am proud of.   I can easily knit a scarf and have made a few wonderful sweaters, except for the one I made for my father that would have looked a lot better on a man 100 pounds heavier and three feet taller.  I have made a bead necklace, which sometimes I still wear.  I attempted to work with hot glass, which was fascinating, but extraordinarily difficult due to the 2300 F. heat blasting from the furnace and the weight of the gathering.  At least now I have a greater appreciation for the skill and creativity involved in producing even the simplest piece of glass.  But sewing has always intimidated me, starting with the required 8th grade Home Economics class in which I used red tracing paper to outline the darts on the outside of my light yellow fabric instead of on the inside, allowing the world to see my mistake, that is, if I were ever to have worn this pathetic-looking garment.  Worse, I was given a C grade.

I don’t know that there will be a future for me in making sock animals, since to do this requires sewing, but I decided to seek counsel from the source of the idea, namely, Brenna Maloney.   After all, she wrote “socks appeal,” which was both the inspiration and the basis for creating my penguin and snake. Doing said projects then caused me to feel embarrassed, so my embarrassment is surely her fault, right?  Here’s what she told me:

“You might have been feeling foolish because you were essentially sewing a stuffed animal. Out of a sock. Which on the surface might indeed seem like an odd thing for a grown woman to do. Let me help you with your thinking, though. Let me tell you why creating your snake and penguin were good things and a good use of your time.

“1. As a practical matter: You couldn’t actually WEAR the sock you made the snake out of, could you? No Certainly not. It’s much too jazzy a sock to be hiding under a pants leg. That would have been a waste. A crime, really. I would have had to report you if I ever saw you wearing such a thing.

2. You looked at something ordinary in an extraordinary way. It’s no longer a sock. It no longer goes on a foot. Now it has a face. And character. Maybe even a name.

3. You were brave. You said you aren’t the world’s greatest seamstress. I’m not either, for the record. But you didn’t let that stop you from trying. To me, that’s a win. Stepping out of your comfort zone is always a win.

4. You beat the odds. The world has a million reasons why you are too busy to fiddle with a pair of socks. You have work to do. You have emails to check. You have people to care for. You have toilets to scrub. There’s a lot competing for your attention. There are only so many hours in a day, and you only have so much energy in that day. And yet. And yet. For a short period of time, you ignored all those competing demands, and you chose to do something different. You made a happy little penguin and a happy little snake. And I think that’s good. I do. Of course, I wrote a whole stinkin’ book on the matter, so obviously I’m as mad as a hatter and my advice is suspect. Who takes advice from a grown woman who makes stuffed animals out of socks anyway?”

Many thanks to Brenna for sharing her wisdom (and humor) on this topic.  I just made a date with Donna to return to Nowhere to make a sock monkey, which according to a comment in response to the earlier blog, should lead to greater success since it will be made from much larger socks.  Meanwhile, at Donna’s urging I attempted to assemble the cat inspired by Brenna’s book.   Based on his skinny fore legs — the result of having used up too much of what was left of the sock for other body parts —  my husband named him “kitty two deviations shy of the mean.”  I believe that’s a name that will stick.

About stillalife

I retired June 30, 2010 after working for 40 years in the field of education and most recently doing school public relations/community outreach in a mid-size urban school district. I wrote for superintendents and school board members. Now I'm writing for me and I hope for you. In this blog, I offer my own views coupled with the latest research on how to preserve our physical and mental health as we age, delve into issues most of us over 50 can relate to like noticing wrinkles and forgetting where we left our keys, discuss the pros and cons of different ways to engage our minds and bodies after we leave the workplace, and throw in an occasional book review, all peppered with a touch of humor, irony, and just plain silliness. Also, I'm on the third draft of my second novel since retirement.
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4 Responses to Advice from a woman who makes stuffed animals from socks

  1. Karen Clark says:

    Had to laugh about the sweater you made for your Dad. I lstarted to knit in college after a girl in the freshman dorm got me interested. We picked a pattern and yarn I liked but neither of us knew about what you have to do in terms ofr the needle size or number of stitches if you select other than the weight of yarn identified in the pattern. I finished the sweater – came home on a vacation and left the sweater next to his golf bag ready for his game the next morning. When he came home – not wearing his sweater – I asked him if it got too warm. Trying to keep a straight face – he told me that the entire foursome could have worm the sweater at the same time!

  2. Karen Clark says:

    I appears I should proofread my comments before posting. Sorry for the typos! Don’t know how to correct my post.

  3. Marilyn says:

    “You looked at something ordinary in an extraordinary way.”

    Brenna nailed it. This is the heart of creativity, the spark that leads us on to new adventures. Hats off to Brenna on her extraordinary journey and hats off to us for following that spark again and again!

  4. Jackie Smith says:

    Brenna nailed it! We do need to be reminded the prioritizing our lives sometimes means doing something that is a challenge to our sense of reason. If you were hit by a car (heaven forbid!) today would you be happier knowing you had left a cute little sox kitten behind or a clean toilet? As my Poros street artist reminded me, “It is what you leave behind that counts!”

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