Thursday, September 14, 2006

Sock Monkeys and Elves

I have, for some inexplicable reason, developed a serious urge to knit a sock monkey. I have no idea why – maybe it’s that the words “sock monkey” are so silly, maybe I saw one in my peripheral vision lately and thought, “gee, I never had a sock monkey as a kid, and I’d kind of like one now,” or maybe I just want to knit cuddly toys.

I’ve been through toy knitting phases before. I’ve done pocket-sized dolls and clowns, puffy, pillow-sized dolls, a large mouse (it was supposed to be a bear, but then the ears ran away with me and I decided not to make a tail, so it’s a tailless mouse), bunnies from simple squares, a lovely frog, teddy bears – with variable success, and a striped cat. I even made a Christmas elf.

I’m not sure if I’ve told the story of the elf before. Many years ago, when Spawn and Bunny were tiny and Doodle wasn’t here yet, I got an urge to make socks. We were disgustingly low on ready cash, so I had to try to wing it without a pattern (and no online support at that time) and with only the yarn I had on hand. The socks, black, were stubby, and they weren’t going to fit anyone, but I liked them, so I knit upwards and gave each sock a leg. It would have been a little demented just to have knitted legs with black sock boots on them lying around, so I knit them together into pants, put a black belt on it, knit upwards to a sweater, and then dug some elderly peach yarn out and made a head and some hands.

The results were vaguely alarming, although I did think I did a good job on the nose. I had some crafty white fun fur around, so I made a beard and moustache, added a hat and so on. Voila! Un elf de Noel!

The kids (however many I had at the time, it’s really been so long I don’t remember) loved him. I knew he was pretty delicately made, and I wasn’t sure how being played with and loved would affect his knitted stability, so I pondered. It was fairly near Christmas, and our tree was up, so I stuck him under the tree, and with creativity spurred by worries about bad knitting, created a family tradition.

I told the kids that he was a magic elf. I said that on Christmas Eve, as soon as Santa showed up, he would come alive and help put the presents around the tree, and then he’d be so tired, he’d need to rest up until next year. Magic really takes it out of an elf, y’know. But, he couldn’t come to life until they were asleep, which was also Santa’s cue to show up, and then, as soon as Santa left, the elf would scamper to somewhere he could rest and go back to being inert. They listened to me with wide eyes, clasping whatever soft stuffies they had at the time. I don’t think they believed me, but once I had spun this tale, I needed to make it work.

On Christmas Eve, the kids went off to bed. Like most kids, they thought they were being quiet, but hubs and I could hear them thumping around and shushing each other, breathing stealthily and looking down the stairs. The elf remained a knitted entity. At one point, my husband said, quite theatrically, “I wish those kids would go to sleep.” I responded, “I know, me, too. Santa can’t come until they’re asleep, and the elf can’t come to life either. Just look at him, sitting there, all sad and slumped over under the tree!” The kids scampered back to bed.

Hubs gets up early for work, so he gets sleepy early. It falls to me to put out the gifts most of the time, and I waited up until I was good and sure the kids were out. I put the presents under the tree, then moved the elf to the bottom of the stairs with a little pillow under his head and a blanket over him. (I also bit the carrot, ate half a cookie, and drank most of the milk, like the rest of the parents out there.)

We awoke to much gleeful squealing the next morning. “Oh, Mommy, it was just like you said! The elf came alive and helped Santa, and then he was so tired, he went to sleep on the stairs! That’s how we knew Santa had been here!” said one or the other of the kids. I smiled at them, pleased as punch that my tale had sold so well.

Every Christmas since then, the elf goes under or near the tree during the week leading up the Christmas. Every Christmas morning, he’s been moved to somewhere else, and he is draped in such a way that he looks pooped.

I was right, he hasn’t held up all that well. I overstuffed him in some areas, the moths got at him, and he’s so pitifully patched and darned at this point that I almost threw him out last year. That didn’t go over so well with the kids – they protested that he had to help, and how would they know that Santa had been here (we all know it’s a myth, but we like to pretend anyway), etc. So, I patched and darned him some more and put him on the floor under the tree.

So, I suppose the moral of this knitting story is that there’s something good to be gotten out of even a very bad pair of socks. Knit on!

1 comment:

Michelle said...

love love love the Christmas Elf!!!