“I have a GREAT idea!” Loolie’s voice roared happily from my phone messages a couple of months ago. “Call me asap!”
“Oh, NO,” I muttered. Of course you know, THIS means work, I thought, unworthily. It was clear, from the tone and the level of heartiness, that Loolie had a new project.
And when Loolie has a new project, it usually turns out that I do, too.
We talked the next day. Looking ahead to Easter, Lools was philosophical.
“I imagine,” she thought out loud, “that Kerri will be going to Joe’s mom this year. And let’s face it: the girl’s too old for mummy to put together an Easter basket for her! She’s a woman, after all. Why go to all that fuss and bother for a twenty-three year old woman???”
So far, I thought approvingly, making agreeable noises, this sounds good–it sounds, in fact, like a relinquishing of work.
“And then,” said Loolie, “Martie called about a family in the safe house. And I had it: we’ll make Easter baskets for the kids who’ve just been moved away from all that they hold near and dear, those scared little kiddos wrenched into safety. But wrenched,” she emphasized, “nonetheless.”
Martie is an old friend from high school; she works in social services, and one of her jobs is to winkle family members in danger away from the source of harm. Generally–but not always–that means mothers with young children. And even though the old place was bad, and the old place held danger, Martie says that usually all those frightened, displaced children want is to go back to that familiar house or apartment. It’s often the only home they remember, and the newness and strangeness of a safe house is–despite the safety–very scary.
I sighed. One of the most annoying things about Loolie is that her enthusiasms and projects contribute to the loveliest of causes. I imagined myself saying to her, “Yeah, tough about those scared babies. Sorry I can’t help.”
I imagined it for about thirty seconds; there was actually some satisfaction in picturing Loolie at a loss for words or comment. And then–of course–I said, “What’s the plan, Stan?”
And then–of course,–she told me.
So that is how I came to be knitting sock monkey covers for plastic ice cream buckets this Lenten season. Loolie–would it surprise you to know that Loolie is a Pinterest fanatic???–found her inspiration on Pinterest. She saw a pin that featured take-out coffee cups–those long skinny disposable cups that, filled with piping hot brew, burn your hands unless a cardboard sleeve is slipped around them. But these cups had hand-knitted sleeves that looked like sock monkeys.
“And I thought to myself,” Loolie boomed, “If someone could make a sleeve for a CUP, why couldn’t I make a sleeve for a plastic pail? So I bought some yarn, and I played with gauge…”
…And the rest, as they say, is herstory. Early in February, Loolie roped all of us into knitting sock monkey sleeves for ice cream buckets. (Although Loolie offered to send me a surplus of buckets she’d stored up in her basement, I refused. I figured that actually eating the ice cream to empty the tub was the consolation prize. And I discovered I had one or two already in the recycling anyway.) Among the four of us–Loolie, TJ, Peggy, and me, the knitters of our little group,–we managed to knit up 27 Easter baskets.
Then Loolie charged us with filling them.
“Think MONKEY!” she said, a little obviously.
Sent forth to shop, we gathered a multitude of monkey themed treats, including…
….banana Laffy Taffy
….books–like Curious George and Five Little Monkeys Jumpin’ On The Bed
….cute little stuffed monkeys
….annoying little stuffed FLYING monkeys that scream when they fly
….Curious George (and other monkey-themed) DVD’s
….Barrel O’ Monkeys games
….and other clever things.
I considered that candy that is hard and looks like bananas and other fruit–do you know the kind I mean?,–but then thought, nah: kids could choke on that. So I opted for un-ape-related goodies: Tootsie Rolls and fruit roll ups and jelly beans. I found card games and sunglasses and cool pens and little parachute toys, too–and note pads and crayons and stickers and pencils.
Okay, so I got into it. That’s a common occurrence in Loolie-led projects: one careens from dread to reluctance to unwilling agreement to all-out enthusiasm. I enjoy thinking of tired little faces lighting up on Easter morning–of, perhaps, a misty-eyed mama watching the kids and thinking to herself that maybe, just maybe, things are actually going to work out okay.
We cranked out so many of the baskets that I actually had three left over, and those went to…well, I won’t tell you where they went, since there’s still time for one to be a surprise. But I’m hoping the receivers have as much fun with them as the sender did.
And the Loolmeister, by the way, made up a Loolie-palooza of a basket and sent it off to Kerri, who got it a day or two early, opened it immediately and absolutely loved it. Loolie won’t have Kerri with her for Easter dinner, but she has an enormous spray of tulips, sent by her girl and Joe, adorning her dining room table.
You can grow up, Loolie philosophized over the phone, but you don’t ever outgrow the fun of getting a surprise in the mail. (I think she’s right. Again.)
Sock monkey buckets could work as gift buckets any time of the year, so I’ll include the directions here.
Size 7 US needles
Red yarn for finishing
Buttons for eyes
Needle and thread
With brown, cast on 15 stitches, or amount needed to create a sleeve that covers from bottom to lower edge of rim of a plastic ice cream bucket (see photo, above). Measure the circumference around the bottom. Knit in garter stitch until you’re two inches shy of that measurement. Cast off; sew ends together, and stretch the sleeve onto the plastic bucket.
Cast on twelve stitches in cream. Work two rows in stockinette stitch. Keeping in stockinette stitch, increase a stitch at each end of the next two knit rows.–16 stitches. Work two rows. Decrease one stitch at each end of next two knit rows. Work two rows in stockinette stitch. Bind off.
Sew snout to sleeve (see photo for placement). Using red yarn, embroider a smile. Sew on two matching buttons for eyes.
Ears (make two cream and two brown):
Cast on twelve stitches. Work in stockinette stitch.
Work two rows.
*Decrease a stitch at each end of knit row, Purl one row.
Repeat from * until two stitches remain; knit together and bind off.
Placing right sides of a brown ear and a cream ear together, whipstitch the ear pieces together and turn them inside out. Lay the sleeve flat with the snout centered. Attach an ear on either side. Slip finished monkey on bucket.
Fill with wonderful goodies. Share with wonderful people–of the little variety and also of the young-at-heart type.
And, as Loolie always says, my friends, may this Spring’s sunshine bring you wonderful warmth and growth!