The Monkey Toy Ladies at the Los Altos Senior Program formed in 1977. Some of the current participants have been involved for more than 25 years, and some are in their 90s. “We’re all ages and all ears,” said longtime member Nanette Pearson, alluding to the social nature of the group. In addition to the members that meet Monday mornings at the Hillview Senior Center, two others now sew at home.
“I don’t think people know the work it takes to make these – it’s a lot of work,” said volunteer Trudy Hickok.
Indeed, once the heather-brown socks are provided by the hospital, they must be washed, dried, cut and sewn into basic monkey parts. The lifeless monkeys are then brought to the Senior Center for production, with each member working on a monkey to completion. They’re stuffed (with the aid of chopsticks for tricky arms and legs) with cut-up nylon stockings, sewn up here and there, red handmade yarn pom-poms added and – the pièce de résistance – faces embroidered. Some are boys, some are girls, all are adorable. Pearson estimates that members spend 15 hours on each monkey from start to finish.