During my pregnancy I had a crafting fantasy to fulfill: before our son was born, I wanted to collaborate on a sock monkey with my husband. I wasn’t specifically attached to making a monkey. Really, the only critical detail for me was that we would create a doll of some sort out of a sock. As serendipity would have it, my husband had recently been wearing an old pair of his grandfather’s socks and they were wearing out. This seemed to be the perfectly sentimental choice for our baby’s first doll.
My husband is a professional artist, a contemporary painter. He is incredibly creative and inventive. When it comes to projects he rarely proceeds in the ‘right’ way and this makes collaborating with him all the more interesting. The outcomes are never what I expect and always much better than I ever could have imagined. I learned to sew properly from my mother as a child and later I studied fashion design. When I sew I tend to follow the correct order of steps and I complete projects as perfectly as I can. Needless to say, our styles are practically in opposition and my husband and I have a lot to learn from each other. At least I have a lot to learn from him. It is inspiring and refreshing to under-think what I am doing. How helpful it is to receive a gentle push to loosen up!
When my husband sat down at my machine to begin our first Sock Monkey, he instantly started sewing with what appeared to be absolutely no forethought: no planning,no pattern, no pinning, and barely any cutting. Before meeting my husband I could never have taken this risk. However, this is exactly how we continued to proceed and it worked out amazingly. Utterly challenged to put aside any working order, I followed his lead and began fashioning body parts, face parts, and accessories. I didn’t get anywhere near my sewing machine because my husband was having way too good of a time. It was such fun to re-purpose old socks and make use of fabric scraps, all in order to turn out a beautiful, imaginative, soft doll for our baby to come. Ironically, my husband even convinced me that together we should make three sock dolls instead of merely one.
Our first doll was Fifi, next came Bunny Bunny, and then there was Coco, who is our son’s favorite. Material results aside (our son plays with these dolls every day!), the best part of this project for me was the influence the collaboration has had on my own creative process. Ever since, I have found it in me to be less thorough and to fuss over small details less. I never thought that being less skilled in my execution would result in something I like better, but this is exactly what has happened. Working in this way, loosening up, is a reminder to me that anyone can embark on a new project, experienced or not, and come up with something fun and fantastic to love. Perhaps, I've realized, the less skills the better when it comes to making dolls! I encourage every parent to give it a try. No matter what, your little one will be thrilled by the result.
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