Oh, The Places You've Gone!

The marvelous misadventures of wee little sock critters in a great big world

And another one mailed off today…. January 28, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hilary Emerson Lay @ 2:05 am

Another one is off!  This crazy little fellow is en route to the welcoming arms of Kristin, who lives on Cape Cod. (Kristin: He’s due to arrive Monday!).

Kristin was one of my sister’s best friends growing up, and is now one of my close friends, too.  I have known her a long time.   She is an artist; she’s playful and adventurous; she has a smelly coon hound named Ella (who, according to my dad, has “nice ticking”); she collects arrowheads; she’s mind-bogglingly funny; she’s so-bad-she’s-good at Pictionary; she’s always smiling.  And she has the most infectious laugh I’ve ever heard.  She might have my favorite laugh ever.  You can’t not be laughing when you’re hanging out with her.  If she doesn’t make you crack up laughing, you have no soul.

I chose a very special critter for her.  His eyes are a little crazy (he constantly looks like he’s about to pull a prank); he has a tongue (*NOT a cigarette, as my coworker thought); he likes shiny objects (*warning, Kristin: he MAY be a klepto) and he comes with a special backpack made from mustache material.  Yes: mustache material.  Because like both Kristin and the critter, mustache material is absurd.

Today I sent her a picture of her soon-to-be-houseguest and her response was this: “OHMYGOD.  Does he have a tongue?!  I’m so excited.  I’ve already started compiling a list of adventures.  There aren’t enough hours in the day for all of the things I want to do!”

There’s a chance that this critter may have so much fun playing around with Kristin, and vice-versa, that they won’t want to part ways.  Whatever; Kristin’s adventures will be so funny and ridiculous, she could probably carry her own portion of this blog without ever passing him along to anyone.

Have fun, you two!



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TWO critters launched today! January 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hilary Emerson Lay @ 12:18 am

So clearly my first, naive attempt at setting a sock critter free in the world has flopped.  He was either lost, kidnapped, or he ran off with one of the stray socks at the laundromat one block over.  Rather than get upset about the immediate letdown (*ok, I got a little upset, but I’m over it) it gave me a chance to rethink the project.  Clearly, leaving critters for random strangers to take is a real gamble.  So why not start with friends?

So I chose five of my quirkiest, funniest, artsy-est friends, and I will be sending them each a sock critter, complete with backpack and letter.  These five friends will name their little charges, send me stories and pictures, and then pass them along to their friends….who will pass them along to their friends, and so on.  THIS should get some momentum going!

Today I carefully packaged two critters into two little boxes, and sent one to my friend Lacy in Chicago and one to my friend Louise in Dorset, England.

Lacy was my college roommate.  She is one of the funniest, smartest and most beautiful people I know.  She is a professional theater-everything: she acts, she does voice-overs, she directs, she does commercials, she climbs into holes in the centers of round tables covered in giant renaissance dresses and walks around serving dessert plates off of her skirts.  The woman’s done more weird and wonderful stuff than I can even wrap my mind around.  And get this: she also makes puppets for her shows.  What are the chances that two college roommates would both grow up to make puppets?!  Take that, Al Gore and Tommy Lee Jones!  (<—-Just googled “famous college roommates”).  Please take a moment to check out Lacy’s current project, The Story Story, an original, wordless play that brings together visual artists and musicians.  Her creativity knows no bounds.

Lacy will be receiving the handsome, solid-blue critter with three buttons down his front and a look of perpetual confusion.  The only thing I know about him is that he reaaaally, really loves dogs.  I did not inform him that Lacy has a cat.

Louise is the genius behind Odd Sox.  Yes, that’s right: she also makes critters out of socks.  We found each other on Facebook about a week ago and have fallen bum-over-noggin for each other (*she’s British; I’m trying to work in some of her native tongue here).  The most amazing thing to me is that we both use socks and stuffing to make wonky little sock guys, and yet our outcomes could not be more different.  Proving, I suppose, that socks are possibly the most versatile art medium out there.  You should become a fan of Odd Sox on Facebook.  She does giveaways!  And she’s hysterical!

Louise will be receiving the spotted, lint-covered critter whose only claim to fame (thus far) is that he knows how to say “I LOVE YOU!” in 27 different languages.  His backpack straps are even made out of ribbon that says I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU all over it.  He seems a bit wild, which is why I decided to send him to someone with sock-critter-wrangling experience.  Louise, I wish you luck.  I hope he doesn’t I-LOVE-YOU to death.  I also hope you can properly pass him along without him coming back to boil bunnies in your kitchen.

Within the next few days, I will be sending out three more critters to three more friends (look for a new blog post!).  Please stay tuned for updates.  And thank you all, truly, for following this!



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OK, so no word yet…. January 21, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hilary Emerson Lay @ 3:05 am

….but next week, I am mailing off four critters to five friends in various locales: Chicago (thanks, Lacy!), Cape Cod (thanks, Kristin!), California (thanks, Mita!), Oxford, England (thanks, Caroline!) and Dorset, England (thanks, Louise!).  These five friends have agreed to start these critters off on the right foot and get the ball rolling on the Great Critter Caper.  I’ll post pictures of the critters before I mail them so that we can all say a proper bon voyage!

By the way, my mom suggested that I post about how I heard from sock critter #1, and that he was tossed into the back of a Winter Hill Gang van and that’s why he hasn’t written.

Thanks, mom…..?


Update…… January 19, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hilary Emerson Lay @ 7:35 pm

I checked in at Atomic Cafe this morning: he has been taken!  They’re not sure who took him or when, but sometime over the course of the last 24 hours, he disappeared with someone!

No email yet from said critter-taker; I will post as soon as I hear from them!



Today’s the day! January 18, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hilary Emerson Lay @ 10:59 pm

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At approximately 10:07 a.m. today, I brought the little guy into the Atomic Cafe in Beverly and propped him up against the napkin dispenser in the last booth.  I told the barista what the deal was (that is, if someone tries to bring him to the counter, he’s supposed to tell them to read the note in his backpack), and mentioned that if the critter went unclaimed, perhaps he could take him home and start the project.  Although, seriously, who wouldn’t want to take this handsome little fellow home with them?!

I took some last pictures of my friend on the table, patted his little head goodbye, and left.

I haven’t received an email about him being found yet, but one of my boyfriend’s former students contacted me to say that she’d love to bring a critter with her to Germany in March, leaving him somewhere random and giving the project international legs.  Now we’ll have two sock critters to follow!  I will have to make sure the second one at least speaks passing German…..

Stay tuned.  I wait with bated breath for contact.


World, meet sock critter…..Sock critter, meet the WORLD!

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hilary Emerson Lay @ 1:09 am

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Everyone, I’d like you to meet the chipper little sock fellow that I am about to set loose into the big, wide world.  Tomorrow morning, I’m going to set him up in a public place near and dear to my heart, and then spend the rest of the day (week?) refreshing my email in hopes of hearing from the very first person who finds him.

I sewed him a little backpack (my first backpack-making venture!) which has inside of it a little laminated note.  Here is what the note says:

“Hello there!

I am a sock critter made by an artist named Hilary.  In a sort of “gift that keeps giving” project, Hilary has set me loose into the world.  She asks that the people who encounter me take me home for a little while (up to a week) and then pass me along to someone else.  I’m going to couch-surf my way across the country…and maybe even the world!

If I have made way into your life, and would like to help me make my way in the world, please email Hilary at

hilary@hilaryemersonlay.com.  She is chronicling my adventures, including pictures, funny stories, and what you

decide to name me for the time that I am with you!

To follow my journey, visit www.ohtheplacesyouvegone.wordpress.com.  To find out more about Hilary, visit www.hilaryemersonlay.com.

Thank you!  I will try to behave while I am visiting with you.

PS: If you do not feel up to participating in this project, no worries.

But please so pass me along to someone else so that I can

continue my journey!

PPS: I am allergic to lima beans.”


Hi there! January 14, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — Hilary Emerson Lay @ 9:00 pm

Hi there!

My name is Hilary.  I am an artist.  I love writing letters, doing funky things to my hair, coming up with increasingly creative excuses for not going to the gym, embarking on road trips, and putting hot sauce on almost everything that I eat.  And, of course, I love making art.

But most of all, I like making people smile.  For years now, I’ve given away many, many sock critters to friends as well as virtual strangers, especially people who are sad or sick or going through a hard time.  Because you can’t *not* feel a little better when you have a sock critter in your life.

I got the idea for this project while reading Lewis Hyde’s The Gift, which dissects the idea that the oldest meaning of the word ‘gift’ was something which you were given, that you hung on to and appreciated for a while, and that you then passed along to someone else.  Literally, a gift that kept giving.  This concept gave me the idea to loose a gaggle of my sock critters out into the world and see what happens.  This blog will hopefully chronicle their journeys as they travel to new places, meet new people, and have new adventures.

So without further ado, I am letting them loose on the world.  Safe travels, my dear friends!