I decided to make sockmonkeys as my way of giving back to those who have helped me while I am travelling around the world. It might have just been something small, like sharing a meal with me. Or something larger like taking me into their home and sharing their typical life with me. By opening up their lives, their homes and their families, they have given me a better understanding of the how different the cultures I am travelling through actually are. I no longer looked upon the culture as an outsider but as someone who has insight, who has experienced the traditional life. Even if it was just for a single moment.
There is something magical that happens when I pull out a pair of socks and slowly create a sockmonkey. The women gather around me and watch with large eyes. I can only image they are wondering why I am cutting up a good pair of socks! But once I have completed the sewing and turn the un-stuffed monkey out the right way. They see my creation semi-complete and get very excited. A bond between the women, myself and this unborn sockmonkey is created and the women then go on a hunt for something suitable to stuff the sockmonkey with. Sometimes they tear open their very own pillows just to see the sockmonkey completed.
One of my best memories is being invited into the home of a seamstress in Pakistan. I sat in the center of the room on the piles of carpets and rough cushions for back support. I was surrounded by all the women in the neighbourhood and their babies. Sweet milky tea and biscuits were served and we began Pakistans first sockmonkey lesson. The seamstress’s caught on quickly and managed to turn out her sockmonkey in record time on the hand driven sewing machine, while everyone else giggled at their attempts and begged me for help. Not one of these women could speak english. None of them had a education above the age of 12 and yet we managed through my five words of Urdu and the use of sign language to complete a room full of sockmonkeys.
For those who have shared their life with me, I would like to say thank you. You have given me so much more than that small moment in time or that a helping hand. I hope you take my sockmonkey as a small token of appreciation.
Want yours to be added to the wall of fame – drop me an email with a pic of your monkey at firstname.lastname@example.org