Sew a Sockee with the Ministry of Craft

What’s the fascination with really ugly and weird toys at the moment? Everywhere I go, I see odd, misshapen plushies that people go crazy over. There’s even a website dedicated to these curious little critters (Uglydolls.com – a brand that, believe it or not, Snoop Dogg is apparently a fan of. How very rare!). This trend’s now spilled over to the craftosphere and DIY-ers are getting in on the action by emptying out their sock drawers and making their own little monsters.

To see just what all the fuss is about, I made my merry way over to the Ministry of Craft in Manchester for their Sew a Sockee workshop – three hours of stitching and stuffing my very first ugly sockling. I was introduced to class tutor Anna Creighton’s Sockees, Joyce:

and Alan:

before picking up my needle and thread and immediately couldn’t wait to start giving birth to my own aesthetically-challenged companion.

So I picked out my socks and did a bit of cutting:

And then spent ages sewing the arms and legs on wrong. Because I’m a bit thick at times, I stitched one long leg where an arm should have been, which I had to unpick and sew in the right place. I then sewed the poor thing’s ears on backwards (which I left, because I was running out of time) and sewed up one of the legs completely, so I couldn’t stuff it. More unpicking for me.

All this trouble could have been why my Sockee was a hideous monstrosity at the end of the day, instead of walking a fine line between ugly and cute. He really was completely disgusting and made my boyfriend shake his head sorrowfully when he saw him. However, I persevered and re-stuffed him when I got home, sewed on a few button eyes and sorted out the mouth (which I also did wrong, but after five tries couldn’t get right so left it), after which time I ended up with a toy that I now ABSOLUTELY LOVE!

His name is Montgomery and he has pride of place on my sofa, even though his legs point in different directions and his arms look backwards. His favourite TV shows are Grey’s Anatomy and Dexter, he loves to eat macaroni cheese and I wouldn’t part with him for the world.

Even though I had a hard time making him, he was worth all the blood, sweat and tears. What Anna says is true: the humour and the fun behind these ugly little toys is definitely part of their appeal. Perfection’s boring, anyway. If you want to learn to make your own, sign up for a Sew a Sockee Ministry of Craft workshop. It’s like Build-a-Bear on acid – you won’t be disappointed!

Eye of the beholder

Here are some of the more interesting toys to be found around and about. Got any of these in your toy box?

Did you have any odd-ball toys when you were a kid? I think I was disappointingly boring. I only had a plastic crossbow (although it was wicked). Actually, that makes me sound a bit deprived – I had lots of other toys as well, that’s just the one I remember most clearly!

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