Sock Critter Inspiration: Beyond the Sock Monkey

After sharing about my recycled sock kitty, I started cruising the web to see what else I could make with socks. I found some great ideas.

The classic sock critter is of course the monkey, but I’ve never really liked the traditional pattern (those red lips freak me out).

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Nightmare fuel.

However, people have taken the sock monkey in lots of interesting directions. I love Pippa Joyce’s colorful sock monkeys.

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Not nightmare fuel. (Sock monkeys by Pippa Joyce)

I was really wowed by this sock gorilla but I can’t find any reference to who made it. The post also includes links to some daring sock monkey variations (click at your own peril). My favorite is the Sock Monkey of Willendorf.

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This sock monkey makes a statement. (“Get out of my face!”) [Maker unknown]
Many of the really nice looking sock critters are available as kits, made from brand new and cool looking socks. While this isn’t recycling, it does produce some lovely toys. Sock Creatures in the UK has a particularly nice set of rainbow-striped kits. My favorite was the snail.

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Sock snail (kit available from Sock Creatures)

Zarzak makes clever use of toe socks, and is available as a book and kit (Stupid Sock Creatures Box Set) as well. (I first saw Zarzak on Anita LaHay’s web site and have used her picture below because it is so great.)

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Anita LaHay’s interpretation of the Zarzak pattern.

There are also brave souls making something cool with their old socks without a pattern. I really love Karin Emsbroek’s original designs. Where does she buy her socks?

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Sock whale by Karin Emsbroek
sock_bat_emsbroek
Sock bat by Karin Emsbroek

Or if you love the unique but are too lazy to make your own, you can commission one. I would go to Jayme at Rawr because her designs are all wonderful. Below I show my favorite, her owl.

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Sock owl by Jayme at Rawr.

Now that I have insulted sock monkeys everywhere, I’m ready for your input. Nightmare fuel or not? Let me know!

A Use for Unwearable Handknit Socks: Cable Kitty

One of the down sides to making things by hand is that sometimes it doesn’t go the way you planned. I like to knit socks, but even though I have made so many pairs that I have the pattern memorized, not every pair is a success. Sometimes the yarn is a bad choice, or the size isn’t quite right. As a result, I have a bag of handknit socks that I don’t wear but haven’t been able to throw away.

Imagine my delight when I came across the book Stray Sock Sewing: Making One of A Kind Creatures From Socks. Here was a book with patterns turning socks into totally adorable little critters. I was stoked.

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Unfortunately, while the book title implies you will be using cast-off socks to make your new friends, the results are much better if you buy new socks for these projects. Socks that have been worn are stretched in places so that the stuffed shapes you make are warped. Brand-new baby socks seem to work best — tiny weave and tiny feet make for the sweetest tiny critters. Also, you can choose the coloring of the sock to enhance the appearance of your finished creature.

Making these toys out of socks knit by hand with colorful yarns? Not really what the author had in mind.

I refused to be daunted. I was not about to buy socks for my project. My goal was to find a way to use the socks I already had. So I dug through my bag and decided to make a cat from pair of rainbow socks that I didn’t wear because they hurt my feet (the yarn was too thick and hard).

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It worked in the end. Granted, my kitty is not the sweet, tiny, Japanese-style creation that this book promotes. Instead, it’s big and chunky. But I love it.

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Because I was already in recycling mode, I was inspired to give the cat a necklace that is actually a bracelet I made but never wore. The birds on the necklace seemed exactly the sort of thing this happy little kitty would wear and by dumb luck, it fit.

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Best of all, this little cat has a job. The cable that runs from my laptop to my monitor on my standing desk has a tiny connection and a heavy dongle. I was afraid the strain on the plug would damage the computer, the cable, or both. But my recycled sock kitty is the perfect size to hold up the cable, and she loves her job.

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You can tell she loves her job. She’s smiling!

What do you do with unused knitting projects?

How to Make an Apron Out of a Sundress: An Easy Recycling Project

A few years ago, Marisa Lynch gave herself a fashion challenge: make 365 wearable items for 365 dollars. She shopped at thrift stores and garage sales. I admired her emphasis on reusing existing clothing, but I was even more taken with how she did it. She bought items that were the wrong size or in the need of repair and then altered them to make her new wardrobe.

Her “anything goes” approach has changed the way I shop at thrift stores. I used to only look at items that were my size, and ignore the rest. Now I look for things I like, then try to figure out how to work with them. That’s how I wound up with this sundress, which I had no hopes of fitting into:

The strapless dress I started with.
The strapless dress I started with.

For a long time, I’ve been in need of an apron, and I thought this would make a fun dressy one, perfect to wear when hosting dinner parties. I bought myself 3 yards of ribbon to match the ribbon on the dress and got to work.

First, I opened the dress up along the seam in the back. I extracted the zipper and saved it to use later (just like Marisa would!). Then I pressed the raw edges over and sewed them down for a finished edge.

Just roll under and stitch!
Just roll under and stitch!

To place the ribbons, I laid the dress on my front and looked in the mirror. I cut two 32″ pieces for the waist ties and two 22″ pieces for the neck, completely using up the ribbon I’d bought. I stitched along the edges of the waistband ribbon and made sure the raw edges were turned under and tacked down for all of them. The loose ends are all cut on the bias to keep them from unraveling.

I tacked the waistband ribbon down with extra stitching since it will be under stress.
I tacked the waistband ribbon down with extra stitching since it will be under stress.
To keep the stitching from coming through onto the front, I temporarily removed the tacking stitches that hold the facing down.
To keep the stitching from coming through onto the front, I temporarily removed the tacking stitches that hold the facing down.

Last of all, I trimmed off some excess fabric that was flapping around and finished the cut edges.

Slice and sew!
Slice and sew!

It took less than 2 hours to turn the dress into an apron, and I loved the results! So much more interesting than an ordinary store-bought apron.

The finished apron.
The finished apron.