Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Travel Distraction - Sock Monsters

Traveling is physically and mentally taxing. Being such I have found it a necessity to carry with me a number of travel distractions. These could be anything from a magazine to a book to a DVD. One of my favorite travel distractions is a small sewing project known as a sock monster.

A sock monster is basically what it says on the tin. It's a monster made out of old socks. This does sound quite odd but the sock monkey is has a history dating clear to the depression. It was only a matter of time before someone put old mismatched socks to a more interesting use.

That someone was John Murphy who, while attempting to make a sock monkey, made something altogether different and brilliant. You can see a lot of John's work at Stupid Creatures.

That's all well and good but what does any of this have to do with traveling? I'm getting to that. You see, John wrote a book on how to make sock monsters (Stupid Sock Creatures: Making Quirky, Lovable Figures from Cast-off Socks). My wife bought a copy of this book for my mom as a Christmas gift but before my mom got a hold of it I claimed it as my own. Along with my wife we worked through all the patterns in the book and soon began designing monsters of our own based on the fundamentals in the book.

It wasn't long after that when I got to the point where I could cut all of the pieces for a monster and I'd just need to pin them together and sew them whenever I had spare time. Since I didn't need scissors I could take a monster or two with me on a plane and work on them. After a long day of checking e-mails and teaching software it's nice to be able to do something quiet and physically constructive. I even found that I can carry all of the things I need for sewing a sock monster in an Altoids tin which makes for a robust travel case.

One of the nice things about this travel distraction is the attention that it draws. People aren't used to seeing someone sew on a plane and they are generally curious about it. They generally don't believe me when I explain it to them but when I show them the monster pictures on my camera they warm up to the idea.

After the sewing is done I can stuff and finish the monsters when I get home. The monster pictured in this post was sewn almost entirely while I was on the road. I ended up losing one of the pieces so it took me longer than normal to finish but I think it came out quite well. It is currently living with a coworker who travels as often as I do.

It is nice that this hobby is also keeping old socks from being thrown away which is nice. In the disposable society that we live in it's nice to follow in the footsteps of those that created the first sock monkeys. Making something useful and entertaining out of items that would have normally been discarded. When I give someone a sock monster as a gift they are always well received because who sews nowadays anyway?

Just in case you missed my post earlier this week you can check it out at Travel and Disaster. This was a bonus topical post in addition to my regular posting, just trying it out, don't get used to it.

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Coming Soon: Rocklands BBQ-Vegetarian Hell


  1. And to see a man sewing as well! I think that is a great distraction, almost better than reading as you have produced something useful. My type of handywork requires scissors and long needles (tatting, lace making) and they won't let that on the plane. Great post. Nice to see a picture too.

  2. People do give me odd looks from time to time. One person thought I was darning (mending) socks. I do post pictures from time to time, just not every time.