Pet Projects, Part 4

Are you beginning to question my sanity when it comes to animals? Wondering if perhaps I've gone a little Dr. Doolittle on all of you? Not to worry. I have a few more animals to share today, but they aren't living and breathing.

two monkeys for operation sock monkey

They are real however. Stuffed with wool and ready to travel abroad. These two sock monkeys are on their way to South Africa, my small contribution to Operation Sock Monkey. I stumbled upon Operation Sock Monkey last summer while surfing the blogosphere, and knew immediately I had to participate. It took me months to finally get around to this pet project, but I'm thrilled that these little guys are done and ready to be loved by two little kids on the other side of the world.

two more monkeys

Here's two more little monkeys to love. These monkeys' mothers joined forces for another pet project.

4 dresses 4 craft hope

Four pillowcase dresses for Craft Hope. These dresses were amazingly simple and fast to make (with the exception of the homemade bias tape, right Marjorie? simple but tedious).

Last summer I learned something new about my late grandfather. Apparently he considered himself an "optimistic-pessimist". Now this could simply mean he was optimistic that things would go poorly, but I took it to mean something different. I've long felt opposing emotions, inner oxymorons. For example, I consider myself a idealistic realist. Perhaps contrasting emotions are embedded deep in my DNA. This realization made me sad and happy at the same time - just kidding.

As of late I've been feeling like a cynical philanthropist, or is it a philanthropic cynisist? Anyways, I came to the realization last year that I was a selfish crafter and set out to become a more selfless crafter, using my skills to benefit others, making items for charity, embracing the concept of craftivism. Yet at times I wonder, am I really doing any good knitting hats for the homeless and making dresses and stuffed animals for orphans? How can my small contributions possibly make a dent in these huge problems? A few girls in Mexico might have new dresses to wear thanks to my beginning sewing skills, but they'll still be poor, hungry and on the street without parents. Told you I was cynical.

Yet I have to remind myself that something is better than nothing. Last year at this time I wasn't making anything for others. I think I was knitting myself another pair of socks (not that there is anything wrong with making socks for oneself - I plan on doing it again real soon). I have to step back and look at the big picture. There are many people out there doing small things to help address big problems, and many small solutions can eventually make a big difference. Pillowcase dresses and sock monkeys will not fix these problems, but they will bring a little bit of hope and happiness to those that need it most.

More importantly, by making things for others and using my crafting skills for good, I am setting an example for my children. Craftivism will not be a new word they encounter in their thirties, but instead a way of life, something they've always done. And then one day, my grandchildren will be visiting with family, perhaps knitting a baby blanket for the local hospital or hand stitching a doll to send to an orphanage as they talk and listen, and they will hear stories about the items their grandmother used to make for charity, and they'll realize that making things for others is embedded deep in their DNA. And like their great, great grandfather, hearing these stories will make them happy and sad at the same time. I told you I was idealistic.

spring is just on the other side of the fence

P.S. Spring is just on the other side of the fence.


  1. I understand your feelings on "am I really making a difference?", because I feel the same way.

    But if everyone helped out just a little, the difference would be huge.

    So while your contribution may not seem like a lot at times, I think it's important to look at the whole. And at the people you inspire to do the same!

  2. oooo quince blossoms.thank you.

  3. Wendell Berry. You are probably familiar with his work. I just finished "Fidelity"-the loveliest and most inspiring short stories. You explore similar philosophies. For me, there is refreshing honesty and openness in your quanderies with just the right amount of love. Thanks.

  4. I learned this recently too, while helping out at the senior center here. I'd done it before and gotten frustrated, but when I went back, I realized that just a little bit of kindness goes a long way when someone is lonely.
    I absolutely love your new header, Molly. I've come back a couple of times just to look at it!
    Take care of those chicks! Tara

  5. I had a long talk with one of the doctors at work about this- she used to work in public policy and has always done hard core charity work - I was distressed about feeling my contributions were insignificant and also because I couldn't find a local charity that would "take" me and Benen as a team - her reply was every charitable act made a specific difference in someone's life - she suggested sharing our cookies with the homeless guys along the canal, doing a neighborhood coat drive, taking lunch to an elderly neighbor - that kind of thing. So we put it into action. And I realized she was right - every act is a small kindness,though it won't eliminate hunger, disease, etc. not that this resolves anything. Not that this resolves anything. i guess i'm saying - true that, sister, and slog on.
    p.s. dr doolittle's a-ok with me...

  6. can you tell i am typing this wiht benen in my lap?

  7. I wish I had the skills to be sewing for the children. Hopefully Craftism will be something I learn in my 30s. I love the new header!!!

  8. just got the dresses today! they are great. thanks so much!!

  9. It's part of that focusing on what one person can accomplish without carrying the weight of the world on one's shoulders. It takes all kinds of volunteerism to make the world go round - the movers, the shakers, the fundraisers, the crafters, the encouragers; and all put together they accomplish much.

    p.s. I got my wonderful rock in the mail! Thank you so much Molly! It's such a delight to see it everytime I wash dishes or fix a meal. Gal, you made a difference in my day!

  10. I think the act of doing for others--no matter what it is--makes a greater impact than we ever realize. Aside from helping people, you are setting a good example for your children, friends, family, and bloggy friends out there! I believe it is something contagious! Think of all the people you will inspire!

    Love the bunny. ~Karen

  11. don't let that pessimist attitude creep into this very optimistic project. I love it. And, I love the new blog header too.

  12. Your sock monkeys are almost as cute as your human ones. :)

  13. wow! that fence shot is breathtaking!!! And I love it even more now that I know the meaning behind it!


  14. LOVE your new blog banner.

    LOVEd sewing with you. Thanks for your patience. You are a very good teacher. I'm going to search thrift shops for bias tape ;)

  15. all the monkeys here are cuties! I think craftivism has it's place. I think kids don't necessarily think about being hungry and on the street, especially if this is their frame of reference (I was a social worker before kids, I can beat you at the cynical game!) but they do want and yearn for toys, dollies and what other kids have....

    I hear you... but i think craftivism...does more good than we grasp as adults...as adults we want children to be clothed and fed..

    We're all responsible like that.

  16. Think I'd have liked your gradfather - I think of myself as an optimistic-realist. I'm one of those people who has to work through the worst case scenerio then I can be hopeful and optimistic that all will work out just fine :)

  17. It's crazy how different you and I are, but at the same time, how much the same we are too. Guess that's what we get for sharing the same DNA. I'm learning that I am a real cynic. I don't want to be, but oh well. Guess that's just who I am!

  18. Reminds me of the scripture, "By small and simple things shall great things come to pass." What a lovely reminder to widen our focus to include those around us. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

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