Operation Sock Monkey Western Division: Craftivism and Healing using Sock Monkeys and Sock Owls

I am delighted to still be part of Operation Sock Monkey Western Division—the relationship is going on 10 years now!  Time for an update as to what we have been up to lately!Screen Shot 2018-05-23 at 9.49.11 AM

About OSM:

Since 2005, Operation Sock Monkey has raised nearly $10,000 in support of the humanitarian work of Clowns Without Borders. Partnerships with Clown Sans Frontieres (Montreal) and CWB chapters in the United States and South Africa have helped to bring joy and laughter to children affected by trauma around the world. OSM has sponsored CWB expeditions in Haiti, South Africa, Asia and Swaziland, sending clowns to bring smiles and laughter and promote healing through joy. In 2009, OSM partnered with Woza Moya, an HIV/AIDS community resource centre in Kwazulu-Natal South Africa, to teach the art of sock monkey to local artisans. The Woza Moya project is now producing sock monkeys for sale in craft shops in Capetown and Durban, proceeds from these sales will supplement the income of underemployed crafters in the Ufafa Valley.

Initial connection:

I initially came connected with the founder Lindsey Hodgson when I was working at Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary School where I used sock monkey making in my art therapy.  The students and staff and community members created hundreds of sock monkeys for local and global initiatives.


Various OSM Western Division projects over the years:

There are COUNTLESS sock monkey therapy/ OSM Western Division stories of amazing people in my community of family, friends, schools, organizations etc. creating and giving.

Such as:

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.

Passion2Lead 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 our sock monkeys in attachment therapy with Clowns Without Borders South Africa.

HELP YOUTH CANADA sock monkey workshops to create safe space to dialogue on education.

And the countless of people simply sewing a monkey to help them through emotional crises such as trauma and grief…

An alternative craft is the SOCK OWL to work around time constraints and as an adapted craft that is easier to tackle than a sock monkey, but equally fun!


These crazy little sock owls are wonderful for creating dialogue around the craft table!





There are so many healing stories– connection building through the lowly craft of making a monkey out of a pair of socks!

Some of the latest—

Mulberry PARC:







I love that the Mulberry PARC Retirement Living Group always approaches sock monkey making as a team helping each other with challenges such as arthritis, poor eyesight, bad backs, loneliness , grief, etc- there are those that sew, those that stuff, those that assemble…


Canucks Autism Network:


Intersections Media:


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Byrne Creek Secondary School:


Project Sophia:

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Sophia, age 16, was born with a life limiting condition sadly passed away on January 1, 2017.  She was part of the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice community for 14 years.


Sophia loved to spread joy around and this included handing out countless sock monkeys (made by her and our Operation Sock Monkey community members) to patients and staff at Canuck Place.


Sophia with a GIANT batch of sock monkey ready to handout at Canuck Place! (August 2016)


Sophia and Glen (sock alien made by Darcy Glip) at Canuck Place…

Project Sophia continues and celebrates the joy that Sophia brought to the world.

Kat with sock monkey maker super hero Lynn Gosnell and Sophia’s mother- Beverley Pomeroy at Strathcona Winter Craft Fair, 2016.

I am honored to witness Sophia’s mother, Beverley Pomeroy, doing extraordinary work as she carries on her daughter’s legacy and shares her own personal story of Living Grief- the profound journey of ongoing loss.


A few weeks ago Project Sophia met up at The Landing in Ladner BC to use sock monkey making to process grief, connect and laugh:


Photo by Denise Levine

Check out:

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Go to Operation Sock Monkey for more information on how you can support this amazing global initiative!
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Here’s my HOW TO MAKE A SOCK MONKEY video created by my awesome brother, Fredrik Thorsen:

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

100 HERONS Art Project


I am creating of twelve 20″ x 30″ panels depicting a total 100 Herons between June 14 to July 31, 2017.  

For every $25 raised I will draw a heron!

THE SPONSORED ART will allow me to develop and provide FREE ART LESSONS for REFUGEE YOUTH from war-torn countries at a Lower Mainland program.




I will be drawing a heron for every $25 raised!

Any amount welcome!  Donors of $10.00 CAD or more can choose to have their name and/or a special message woven into Heron nest imagery in the panels.

You can donate via PayPal or email transfer britakatarina@gmail.com.  I can provide receipts.

Check the panels at:

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I currently have several 20″ x 30″ panels in progress.  They are being embroidered and embellished.  They will be exhibited at various community events in August!


The panels are being made available for pre-purchase on my ETSY site:

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The art will be drawn in my signature style– collaged onto 20″ x 30″ foam board panels and embroidered with additions of discarded nest sticks, found feathers, string, beads, and sponsor names.

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Sample drawing showing chinamarker on newsprint, embroidered, with additions of discarded heron nest stick, found heron and seagull feathers, recycled beads


I have been asked if I can provide art lessons to a group in Surrey, BC, that provides support services for youth ages 16-24 who have experienced extreme trauma and life disruption.  The youth comprise of refugees from war-torn countries.

These particularly vulnerable youth face challenges and barriers that may include: lack of employment, experience of violence / trauma, lack of education /interrupted education, cultural shock, family size / issues, little or no English, social isolation, mental health/chronic health issues, lack of financial means, criminal justice issues, housing issues, alcohol/drug addiction, lack of support…

The group meets twice a week and the youth have expressed a strong desire arts-based programming.  

ART and creative expression breaks down the barriers, builds connection and resiliency, and strengthens the participants’ abilities in making healthy decisions about their futures.  Participation in therapeutic art programming provides participants with the opportunity for developing healthy relationship skills, learn stress and anger management, and build the confidence to be the best possible versions of themselves.  Art connects us beyond language.  We connect with the heart, within a safe space.  We express together and move towards healing.

The program staff, who I met during an inclusion focus group, are incredible and dedicated.  They provide extraordinary services on an extremely tight budget.  I have been asked me about my services and fees.  I am so honoured to be asked.  Creating art and helping others express themselves creatively is what I am on this planet to do.  This is EXACTLY the type of work that makes my heart sing!  But there is no way I could/would/should charge a fee for my services and supplies to this group.  


Unfortunately, I am between contracts and currently not in a financial position to be able to volunteer my time to develop and facilitate the program and nor provide supplies.  And the need is urgent.  This is not the time to wait for months and months for grant opportunities.

What to do?

I took a walk into “my backyard” the other day– Stanley Park.  I stood for a long time under the heronry wondering about my own life, my work, about my desire to provide free programming to youth, at a loss as to what to do next.  I bathed myself in the sounds of the heron chicks.  I continued on a long walk into the trees, around the lagoon, listening.  Walking with the question.

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I dreamt that night of 100 Herons, walking among them.  A mixture of being up in the trees with them, under the trees, in the water.  I had a peaceful heart, feeling this was a message about the healing power of art– about my need to make personal commitment to my true path:

TO CREATE, to focus on my gifts.  To stop searching elsewhere.


 You are being called to take courage and follow your true path, which will be discovered through exploring your inner self.  Find what draws you to action.

[Message of the HERON]

And so the 100 HERONS art project is born!


Funds raised go to:

• Art Supplies 

• Creation of the twelve panels

• Program development (will include drawing, painting, journal exercises, sock monkey therapy)

• Facilitation

• Transit fees

• Free ART programming at the Refugee and Immigrant Specialized Experience Program (RISE), Surrey BC [Youth ages 16-24]

Donation Button 


I will be drawing a heron for every $25 raised!

Any amount welcome!  Donors of $10.00 CAD or more can choose to have their name and/or a special message woven into Heron nest imagery in the panels.

You can donate via PayPal or email transfer britakatarina@gmail.com.  I can provide receipts.



CREATE twelve 20″ x 30″ panels depicting a total 100 Herons between June 14 to July 31, 2017!

IMMEDIATE GOAL: RAISE $2500.00 CAD by June 30, 2017

Art classes with youth will occur: JULY 2017 and AUGUST 2017

Art lessons include: drawing, painting journaling, sock monkey therapy, one on one and group projects.

Completion of the panels July 31, 2017

Art exhibit and sale: AUGUST 2017


Thumbnail list of panels plans

  1. Nest and heron silhouettes (The Stanley Park Heronry)
  2.  Heron portraits
  3.  Heron portraits
  4.  Heron portraits
  5.  Heron portraits
  6.  Herons on West End buildings
  7.  Herons in ocean
  8.  Herons at Lost Lagoon
  9.  Herons at Beaver Lake
  10. Eggs and chicks in a nest
  11. Heron nest with eagle in background
  12. Heronry trees

Total of 100 Herons drawn!

Each panel will include surprise additional Stanley Park characters: racoons, mice, squirrels, sparrows, chickadees, owls, insects…

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Each panel will also contain additions of discarded heron nest sticks, found feathers, string, beads…

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Interested in pre-purchasing panels?

$375.00 CAD per panel [plus $40.00 shipping fee if panel needs to be mailed]


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June 13, 2017

The first four out of 100 ready for embroidery and embellishment!  (The donor wishes to remain anonymous)


No. 5 out of 100:

Sponsor: Terry Cowan

Eliza’s Story


“210 years later, Eliza Hamilton’s orphanage — now a family services agency called Graham Windham — is still helping kids get their shot.  Graham Windham serves over 4,500 kids and families each year.  Just like Eliza’s husband, these kids survived a tough start in life.  Graham Windham provides services like family counseling and treatment, after school academic support, health services, and other services that help kids thrive into adulthood.”



I am SO EXCITED to be connecting with this incredible organization that is so aligned with all my passion and values.

I am buzzing with excitement that plans are in the works to bring sock monkey therapy and creative engagement to Graham Windham when I visit NYC July 2017 (when I go see Hamilton: An American Musical with my daughter who gifted me a ticket! AAAAAAH!!!).

Here is my specially requested portrait of Eliza Hamilton for Graham Windham:

Her eyes “betokened a sharp intelligence [and] a fiercely indominable spirit,” [Ron] Chernow writes in the biography. – smithsonian.com


Grieving, but now out of her husband’s shadow, Elizabeth threw herself into charity work inspired by her Christian faith and her husband’s upbringing. She and two other women founded the Orphan Asylum Society, New York City’s first private orphanage, in 1806. She served as its second directress until 1821 and then first directress until 1848, raising funds, collecting donated goods, and supervising the care and education of at least 765 children. – smithsonian.com

Spreading sock monkey love is one of my favorite things:


Check out:


Operation Sock Monkey Project Sophia 





Sophia, age 16, was born with a life limiting condition and she has been part of the Canuck Place Children’s Hospice community for 14 years.


Sophia loves to spread joy around and this includes handing out countless sock monkeys (made by her and our Operation Sock Monkey communtiy members) to patients and staff at Canuck Place.


Sophia with a GIANT batch of sock monkey ready to handout at Canuck Place! (August 2016)

Project Sophia celebrates the joy that Sophia brings to the world, as well as the incredible work Canuck Place does to support children and their families.

We had a wonderful and successful day at Strathcona Winter Craft Fair on November 28, 2016!


And it is always so wonderful to see how people pick and choose!

We raised well over $500 for Canuck Place and sock monkey therapy!

Huge thank you to my Operation Sock Monkey team!  I love each and every one of you!

I’m raising funds to provide free sock monkey therapy!

I am selling sock monkeys and sock birds on my ETSY site to raise for sock monkey therapy!

See selection at:iusb_760x100.14271221_keu7


100% of proceeds go towards me providing free sock monkey therapy workshops for local at risk youth in Vancouver BC Canada!

Sock monkey therapy creates a safe space for youth to dialogue while delivering valuable life skills and while generally lifting mood and spirit.



Orders includes a little surprise!

Love Katarina




Operation Sock Monkey Booth at the Strathcona Craft Fair Nov 28! And Latest Updates!



My incredible Operation Sock Monkey Western Division team of youth, teachers, support staff, community members of all ages have been hard at work since July, volunteering time and donating supplies and monkeys.


And now part of this great sock monkey collection goes on sale this Saturday at the Strathcona Craft Fair 10 AM-4 PM! 601 Keefer, Vancouver BC

Only $20 each!

Proceeds benefits the KYT Foundation‘s water pipeline project in Nepal as well as my sock monkey therapy for local at-risk youth!

Inspired by the Shaking the Movers conference in Summer 2015 and thanks to the social justice class at Mountainside Secondary School, each monkey is tagged with a human right:



 Huge thank you to my sock monkey makers and support team!

I love you all!!!  YOU ARE AMAZING!

Special mention to my hero Lynn Gosnell, “Auntie Lynn,” who has created and donated an incredible collection of her monkeys.  She is an angel on earth and has positively impacted countless of youth in her many years as a child and youth worker.

Auntie Lynn receiving a sock monkey made by student, Liz, at Keith Lynn Alternative Secondary School in 2011.

And thank you to our beloved customers and donors whose generosity keeps us going!


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This is such a feel-good craftivist movement for everyone involved!!!

Check out:

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UPDATE November 30, 2015:

The craft sale went well!!! We sold about thirty monkeys- most at $20 each, some at $10 and some given to vulnerable kids. We raised $524.00!  I sent $290.00 to KYT Foundation and the rest goes to much-needed supplies and free workshops with local homeless women and youth, as well workshops with refugee youth and students at Mountainside Secondary.

My daughter, Anna Thorsen, manned the booth with me and Queen of sock monkeys, Auntie Lynn, visited us!  Her monkeys were a huge hit!
Operation Sock Monkey Western Division Operative, Leann Weisbecker, dropped off some gorgeous creations!
One of our very happy customers!

Mountainside will be hosting a craft sale December 11 at which we will sell more monkeys (funds from the craft table rentals and sock monkey sales to KYT) and I have a stock of 20 at home I will be offering on ETSY (proceeds to KYT).  LINK


I held a workshop for refugee youth last month and we all had a great time! Monkeys spoke a language we all understood!  I will be offering more of these workshops in the new year as the need increases and will be assisted by social justice students.

Tons of love! Kat

“I am doing what I can.” – Dukdukdiya, the hummingbird

Update December 9, 2015

A total of $350.00 has been donated so far to Kamala Yonzon Tahrayli Foundation from Operation Sock Monkey sock monkey sales from Nov 28 craft fair sales and Dec 7 sales. Sock monkeys were made by local community members and students at Mountainside Secondary School! And the school is holding a craft fair on Friday Dec 11 to benefit KYT Foundation!

Sock monkey with hummingbirds #craftivism 

“If the hummingbird shows up in your life as a spirit animal, it may remind you to enjoy life’s simple pleasures and take time to enjoy yourself.

The hummingbird’s wisdom carries an invitation to take part in and draw to you life’s sweetness, like you would drink the nectar of your own flower.” [source]

My latest hand-sewn sock monkey is made from luscious high quality “Sock it to Me” socks covered in hummingbird designs.

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The monkey is adorned with 4 little hummingbirds made from glove fingers.


The monkey measures 13 inches (33 cm) tall. The hummingbirds measure about 1.5 inches (4 cm).

It makes for an excellent “talking stick” or talisman during circle dialogues.


My sock monkey creations are all about local and global art initiatives and craftivism.

The hummingbird holds deep meaning within my local restorative justice community as it illustrates that, though small, you can make a big difference, a small step at a time.

“I am doing what I can.” – Dukdukdiya, the hummingbird

You can read more about my craftivism and hummingbirds at:

This one of a kind sock monkey is on sale (and ready to ship) on my ETSY site:


Proceeds from this sock monkey helps me provide free sock monkey therapy for local at-risk youth.

#200sockmonkeysforNepal project by Vancouver craftivists and students and staff at Mountainside Secondary, North Vancouver!

Love, Kat

See you at:

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