Local to global. Intergenerational craftivism with Operation Sock Monkey @woollybananas

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Last Sunday I had the pleasure of working with “my gang” at Rideau Manor again! 5 seniors participated in an Operation Sock Monkey (OSM) workshop and prepped a bunch of sock monkeys in celebration of Clowns Without Borders South Africa!









#operationsockmonkey does craft fairs! Shop local and handmade and support @woollybananas

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I want to acknowledge the extraordinary work of Operation Sock Monkey founder and lead operative Lindsey Hodgson. Truly my HERO! Where would we all be without her incredible vision and hard work? OMG. So many of us are operatives and happy sock monkey makers/therapists thanks to HER! And despite being a busy mom and professional woman, she takes time to man craft fairs and make sock monkey kits and manage OSM to help the cause expand and keep going. We are TRULY INDEBTED to this extraordinary woman. [APPLAUSE] Photo by Keith Lynn Staff

 You can support OPERATION SOCK MONKEY online or at:
Announcing our 2nd Holiday craft sale , Strathcona Winter Craft Fair. This is the 3rd year we're participating, always a great event, stop by and stock up on crafty goods, locally made!

Announcing our 2nd Holiday craft sale , Strathcona Winter Craft Fair. This is the 3rd year we’re participating, always a great event, stop by and stock up on crafty goods, locally made!

I LOVE PREPPING PRODUCT!  So relaxing and heartwarming.  Here are some of my latest:










And thank you to Lynn Gosnell (Auntie Lynn), Lenore Kane and friends for adding to the cornucopia!


On behalf of Operation Sock Monkey, huge thank you to Lenore Kane, Keith Lynn Staff and friends for the sock monkey additions for this year’s craft fairs! Love from Lindsey Hodgson and Kat! PS. And THANK YOU to all our OSM Operatives like Diana Brugos and partners around the globe!


2015 will be a very special OSM year filled with GLOBAL events, that’s for sure! Yay, sock monkeys! Keep sewing!

“She is sent to help you dance…” Operation Sock Monkey afternoon at Rideau Manor.

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Yesterday, residents at Rideau Manor in Burnaby BC, participated in an Operation Sock Monkey (OSM) workshop!  I had pre-prepped many sock birds for the residents to decorate (and to keep one each!).  During the workshop, I talked about OSM and we decorated monkeys and birds. It was an afternoon of smiles and laughter!





We talked about the Operation Sock Monkey Handbook and had a raffle at the end of the workshop.  This lovely resident won the “Canada Ambassador” and loved decorating her sock bird.



Many of the residents are visually impaired yet loved creating through the sense of touch.

20140810-145803-53883583.jpgThanks to Brent for arranging the opportunity and to Parmida for doing video capture for upcoming video! And thank you to the participants for being part of the cause.  And to all the local OSM operatives who made the sock monkeys!

Lindsey , OSM founder, picked up the batch of birds and monkeys today to add to this week’s shipment to Clowns Without Borders South Africa!  The sock creatures will be a part of the continued development of the  Sinovuyo Caring Families project in Cape Town, South Africa.



Rideau residents sent along some lovely notes with the sock monkeys and birds for Lindsey to include in the shipment:20140810-145834-53914724.jpg


Latest craft: Elizabeth I Sock Monkey. Sale benefits @woollybananas handbook development.

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Now for sale on my ETSY site!

Sale benefits Operation Sock Monkey Handbook development!

“All my possessions for a moment of time.”
― Elizabeth I

Huge thank you to Lindsay Ross for donating supplies.  SO INSPIRING!

Next dress is a Frida Kahlo Tehuana Huipli and skirt:


Update on the Operation Sock Monkey Handbook!

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The Operation Sock Monkey Handbook INDIEGOGO CAMPAIGN!

Thank you for your support so far!  I took a hiatus from the campaign for about 10 days to finish up some projects and jobs and do some family stuff!  Now I am ready to focus fully on my writing and illustration projects which includes this OSM handbook!

Next week I will be doing a media push.  An interview with a magazine in Cape Town re: craftivism is in the works.  And an interview with SFU radio is scheduled for end of August.

Intern Freja and her friend Bug are loaded up with supplies and will be creating unique and wonderful sock monkeys for OSM.

Clowns Without Borders South Africa need sock monkeys for Fall activities so it’s time to make product!  I will be conducting workshops soon.

Operatives around North America are busy sewing.  If you’d like to donate a sock monkey, drop me an email at kthorsen@shaw.ca or check out OSM’s site for more info: Operation Sock Monkey.

Structure for pilot projects at local secondary schools is in place:

  • SESSION 1 Executive Summary
  • Introduction to Katarina
  • Introduction to the project
  • Process and structure of a business plan
  • SESSION 2 Company overview
  • What do you stand for?
  • Why?
  • Vision boards, mindmaps
  • Mission/Vision/Mantra
  • SESSION 3 Competitive analysis
  • Where do you and your business fit in?
  • SESSION 4 Marketing plan
  • Social media
  • Connecting with customers
  • SESSION 5 The financial plan
  • Income and expenses
  • Color by numbers
  • SESSION 6 Management and personnel plan
  • Building a team
  • Creating a support network
  • Building online store and SEO
  • SESSION 7 Action plan
  • Goals
  • Strategies
  • Action steps
  • Outreach
  • SESSION 8 The operational plan
  • Maintain momentum
  • Social media network
  • Resume building
  • Documentation
  • Create group business plan
  • Prep for presentation
  • Finalize product and photos
  • Finalize website
  • Exhibit of business plan and product
  • Group presentation

Each session includes:

Journaling, mind-mapping, drawing, product (sock monkey) making, business plan development, debriefing, independent and group work.

Over the next month, I will be sharing sample writing and illustrations for the handbook here in updates section!

Have a beautiful day,

Love Kat

I am partnering with @woollybananas to create an Operation Sock Monkey handbook!

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My personal mission is to awaken creative expression through local and global art initiatives. 

One initiative partners me with Operation Sock Monkey to create a life skills and entrepreneurship handbook. Our goal is to implement local pilot projects in the Fall and to bring the work to New York City and San Francisco youth programs in Spring 2015 and then to South Africa September 2015.

Stay tuned for phase 1 fundraising! 



Presale on my ETSY site: embroidered drawing- Dead Bird Series 1 of 4

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Now available for pre-sale on ETSY:

Screen shot 2014-06-25 at 10.02.59 AM

Original art by Katarina Thorsen
New series. Drawing 1 of 4
China marker studies of dead birds, then embroidered on card stock.
18×24″ on newsprint in china marker
Currently being embroidered

$195.00 USD

Free shipping in Canada and USA.

YOUR PURCHASE SUPPORTS SOCK MONKEY THERAPY WITH AT-RISK YOUTH and life skills entrepreneurship development.






For I dance
And drink & sing:
Till some blind hand
Shall brush my wing.

If thought is life
And strength & breath:
And the want
Of thought is death…

― William Blake, Songs of Innocence and of Experience




Dead birds are a recurring image in my graphic novel:


PROJECT DEVELOPMENT: teaching life skills and entrepreneurship through sock monkey making. #craftivism

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GLOBAL: Creative Director, Anna Thorsen

LOCAL: Art Director, Kat Thorsen (Vancouver BC)

MISSION: To awaken creative expression

VISION: To develop global art initiatives

Art Events, Street Art, Apparel, Curriculum Development, Workshops, Workbooks, Speaker Series, Craftivism, Illustration, Portraiture, Documentaries, Graphic Novels


Curriculum Development Series 1:


Sock Monkey

Life Skills and Entrepreneurship Program

for youth groups, schools and community organizations


Phase 1:

Pilot Project Phase 1: May to June 2014

Introductory Message from Katarina Thorsen

In my role as art director at @bypoststreet, and as therapeutic art facilitator in the Lower Mainland, I am fulfilling my passion to awaken creative expression in everyone around me.  I do this through visual art, art facilitation, art events, street art, blogging, journaling and craftivism.  Especially sock monkeys.

Sock monkeys are a significant part of my work.  Perhaps my life’s work!

I have been delivering sock monkey therapy and workshops for years and there is nothing quite as magical as witnessing the smiles on participants as they awaken to the healing power of the sock monkey.   I use sock monkeys as part of my therapeutic art classes for at-risk youth and in my general art classes for all ages.  The process is quite miraculous.  The simple process of making a loveable creature allows for a moment of safety and caring.  The socialization and resulting dialogue is part of the magic.  Each stitch in a sock monkey contains thoughts, laughter, tears, dreams, horror, joy, secrets, trust etc.  The natural instinct for many is to want to make more and to share them.

There are so many stories:

H. using a sock monkey to comfort her as she testified in court against an abusive boyfriend.  T. making a sock monkey for his sick friend to take to treatment.  M., struggling with mental health issues, making sock monkeys with worn socks and dental floss and couch stuffing, bringing them to me to send to Africa.  C. using sock monkey making in her work with people living with Alzheimer’s.  A. making a sock monkey for her hero, after his mom passed away.  L. using sock monkeys to process trauma to face her abuser and to create dialogue and raise esteem in her peers.  H. interpreting her favorite artist’s work through sock monkeys then connecting with the artist through her micro-industry online sales and social media.  The entire school (Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary, North Vancouver) infused with sock monkey fever as we made 200 for Operation Sock Monkey.


Lindsey Hodgson and her Operation Sock Monkey team working GLOBALLY,  delivering 1000’s of sock monkeys to children in South Africa, Nepal, India, Haiti, Northern Canada and more.  Passion Foundation bringing sock monkeys as comfort for young victims at a rape relief crisis center in Cape Town.  Families using sock monkeys to help comfort their terminally ill children and themselves.  The use of sock monkeys in attachment therapy with Clowns Without Borders.  Women in Woza Moya making an income through sock monkey making.


Photo by Woza Moya Project

Little Maxx annually bringing smiles to children in a hospital in Philadelphia as he gathers sock monkey donations.

Photo courtesy of Operation Sock Monkey

Photo courtesy of Operation Sock Monkey

And the amount of people simply sewing a monkey to help them through emotional crises…

Heal monkey

It’s endless.  The feedback I get could fill a book and maybe it should.  It’s hard to imagine the actual number of people  who utilize the power of sock monkey  to make the world a better place.  And I am honored to be a small, albeit extremely passionate and vocal, member of that tribe.

I still make them on my own.  All the time.  I make them as my art.  They help me calm down.

Photo by Darcy Glip

Photo by Darcy Glip

I make them as a volunteer operative of Operation Sock Monkey.  I am passionate about spreading the word.  I get countless requests to teach sock monkey making.  But there is only one me, so my brother, filmmaker Fred Thorsen, created this wonderful video for me (originally offered as a class for Six Degrees of Creativity):

How To Make A Sock Monkey (HD) from Fredrik Thorsen on Vimeo.

But there is a whole new level of sock monkey therapy that I want to explore. 

• What

I want to develop a life skills/entrepreneurship curriculum/workbook/workshop to increase the extraordinary powerful impact of sock monkey making– a replicable model that allows youth groups, schools, community organizations and Operation Sock Monkey to use sock monkey therapy to create healing opportunities and to teach business skills, business planning and mind-mapping, essential life skills and the power of entrepreneurship through a  project-based learning model.    I want to develop a powerful, easy to use tool to deliver the life skills, to awaken creativity, to increase the production of sock monkeys for income and for charity.  The pilot project will involve seven local young women (graduates of my various youth-at-risk art programming) to test the curriculum and to help facilitate local workshops.

• Why now?

This is a critical time to begin the project as Christmas craft fairs are taking applications now for their 2014 tables, as schools are planning their 2014-2015 scheduling, as my team is ready to go, and as I have opened my life to this moment to dedicate my time to it.

I want to pay the fee to become a licensed Right Brain Business Plan facilitator to increase the power of the curriculum and to be able to expand the @bypoststreet curriculum event further.

I want the curriculum to be translatable and easy to deliver– locally and globally.

I am so tired of seeing cutbacks in programming, seeing schools and community programs have very little funding for workshop facilitators, yet desperate to bring them in.  I want to create an easy means for these organizations to utilize the curriculum I have created on their own.  I don’t want them to struggle financially to be able to deliver this powerful tool.  And I don’t want to have to struggle financially anymore due to programming cutbacks!

As I wrote already, there is only one me, so I want to spread the curriculum by “training the trainers.”

I have dedicated my life to awakening creative expression in others, and now is the time for me to increase the scope of that teaching, to utilize all my knowledge and to build a new career for myself where I actually make a living through sustainable curriculum development around creative expression (from sock monkeys, to visual art, art events, journaling, business development,  etc.).

I am the one to do this.  I got this.  You know I do!

Teaching my nephew Henrik how to sew.  Photo by Darcy Glip.

Teaching my nephew Henrik how to sew. Photo by Darcy Glip.

• How?


I am looking to raise immediate funds to begin this critical phase to be able to focus on it fully in May and June.  If you have been touched by the work that I do, and would like to see this project come to fruition, please donate.


a. Develop the curriculum covering:

Creative Expression, Therapeutic Groups, Art Techniques, Project-based Learning, Employment Skills, Life Skills, Entrepreneurship, Mindmapping, Business Plans, Community Outreach, Operation Sock Monkey, Social Media

b. Right Brain Business Plan Facilitator License– for @bypoststreet Art Director, Katarina Thorsen

c. Develop Pitch and Power Point Presentation

d. Christmas Craft Show application fees

e. Initial Team Development

f. Community Partnerships and Grant Applications




All donors will be acknowledged on website and in workbook.

Donations of $55 or more will receive a handmade sock monkey with “YES” on it’s belly!




Phase 2:

July-October 2014

• Implement Pilot Project with group of seven local young women.

• Provide honorariums to pilot project team.

• Test curriculum, document and evaluate.

• Develop community partnerships (including- Operation Sock MonkeyPassion FoundationGlobal SororityGirls4GirlsMountainside Secondary SchoolByrne Creek Secondary SchoolNorth Shore Neighborhood HouseSquamish NationHawthorne Care Centre)

• Grant applications.

Loretta Cella, Passion Foundation, with sock monkeys headed to South Africa as part of Loretta's work at Patch Centre.

Loretta Cella, Passion Foundation, with sock monkeys headed to South Africa as part of Loretta’s work at Patch Centre.

Phase 3:

October 2014- January 2015

• Create a sustainable model and workbook.

• Create website.

• “Train the trainers” workshop series.

• School and community workshops, craft shows and online sales.

• Community outreach.

• Evaluate.

Phase 4:

Early 2015

• Workshop and speakers series.

• Community collaboration.

• Global outreach- initial cities New York (Harlem Children’s Zone) and San Francisco (The Centre for Young Women’s Development).

• Evaluate sustainable model.

Phase 5:

Fall 2015

• Expand curriculum series to include visual art, street art initiatives, interactive art projects,  journaling, intergenerational projects, and project based learning.

• Expand global outreach to South Africa (Woza Moya).



Operation Sock Monkey Day for Passion Foundation and the Patch Centre, South Africa

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A beautiful week prepping monkeys culminated in an Operation Sock Monkey workshop today to create 46 sock monkeys (30 of which are ready for the April 24 trip!) as part of a Passion Foundation (Loretta Cella) and Global Sorority (Tia Kelly) project to provide leadership training to young girls and bring comfort to victims at the Patch Centre, South Africa.

Thank you’s to the sock monkey makers who helped me this week:
Darcy G.
Lindsey H.
Loretta C.
Laura M.
Fran W.
Fred T.
Cher H.
Jasper L.
Ashleigh M.
Julian B.
Anna T.
John D.