How to Make a Neuron




About: I live with the world's best husband in small town Iowa. I am currently recovering from a long-term illness and trying to rebuild my artistic skills. I am driven by the belief that God stoked a passion in me...

Who doesn't need an extra brain cell from time to time? I mean with all the 'zombies' out there, it seems only right to contribute to the plus column. Enter: Hairy Bobb. He's a brain cell for needy adults. I began making these creatures after a debilitating movement disorder kept me in bed for 18 months. I needed something that was relatively "unmessy" but satisfied my deep need to MAKE stuff! (I come from fine maker stock!) I know these are really just sock dolls, but they seemed to be manifestations of what my brain was doing at the time, and my husband started calling them Neurons. I haven't been able to stop making them since and no two are alike, each having a distinct personality! Watch out, these are rebellious Neurons
(I have since made a miraculous recovery thanks to the Mayo Clinic.)

What you need to make a Neuron:
  - one polka dot sock (but most places make you buy them in pairs)
  - matching thread
  - ball of yarn
  - yarn needle
  - an old sock 
  - beans
  - poly stuffing

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Step 1: The Unsuspecting Sock

Any sock will do. As it turns out, most socks are not expecting to be snatched and cut up, so they are easy to nab (must be why a dryer can separate and out wit them). I lay it out flat, not like a boot (aka: not Christmas stocking-wise) but as if it were on my foot. Then I snip off the toe below the seam. I like my Neurons to have short legs (if any at all) and so will trim off the leg of this knee-high sock also. Leave around 5"-6" between the heel and the leg opening.

Step 2: Sewing the Head

Turn the sock inside-out and you are ready. Now for some creative leeway...I have photographed Hairy Bobb's head shape, but you can choose something else. I decided on three 'nobbys' on top. Simply sew them with enough space to cut between them with a bit of room to spare. I have used a marker to show you where my seams will go. I do this by hand, because I am usually in bed, but it can easily be done on a machine. When you are finished with the top seam, turn it back right-side out.

Step 3: Stuff the Thing

I use two kinds of stuffing, but you don't have to go to all that trouble. I use plush toy stuffing for the top 'nobbies' and the top of his head. I have found that the little fellows sit better if they are slightly weighted, so I take an old worn, but clean, sock and make a little "bean bag" out of it. Here you can see my up-cycled funnel that I use to cram the beans into the bag. After it's full, simply stitch it closed. It is easier to work with bagged beans than to fill the sock directly with beans, plus this keeps the Neuron from being lumpy. But lumpy could be a "look", too.

I take some quilt batting and wrap it around the bean bag before inserting into the body cavity. Work the stuffing and bag around in the sock so the bean bag fits nicely into the heel of the sock, forming a nice "butt" for Bobb to sit on.

Step 4: A Leg to Stand On

Set the little fellow on his butt and determine where the legs come out from the bottom. Because you use the heel of the sock it should be easy to match up the ends of the sock.

Cut the sock in half down the middle toward the body, leaving a little fabric for seam allowance. Now turn the fabric in, right sides together and hand sew the legs shut. The seam is not terribly noticeable if the stitches are small and the thread is a good match. Sock material hides a lot of mistakes.

Leave the end of the legs open so you can put stuffing in there. Don't stuff them completely up to the body because you will need room there for the bend so he will sit easily.

Once they are stuffed to your satisfaction, turn the ends in and sew them shut.

Step 5: Some Facial Features

This is where it gets fun for me. For a nose, I use the fingers from those cheap knit gloves that are available almost anywhere. Stuff it to the desired fullness, and stitch it shut.

Disclaimer: Sorry the photo is bad, I stepped into my light. Did I mention this is my FIRST Instructable?

Place the nose on the face of the neuron (here is where some of the character comes to life) and stitch it on. If you would like the nose to match the body of your Neuron, use some of the left over sock. Cut out a circle of fabric roughly twice the size you want the nose to be and stitch around the outside to gather it together. Leave your thread and needle in and gather it up, stuff it and sew it closed. Then attach it to the body. 

Arms are also a possibility here, but I opted out.

Step 6: Eyes!

I used a couple of buttons for eyes, sewing them on with black thread. Felt also works, if you are afraid you might bite off the buttons and choke on them, but I like to live on the edge.

Now that the Neuron can see, they are likely to get into mischief, so keep your eye on them. I'm serious.

Step 7: The MonoBROW!

Here's where the yarn comes in and things get even more fun. I come from monobrow country and so consider it natural to inflict this fellow with a similar fate.

Start by threading a yarn needle with your choice of yarn (about 5 or 6 feet doubled). If the sock fabric is thin, you will have to be more careful as it won't be forgiving later if you want to pull the yarn out and start over.

Make a series of loops (a bit longer than the final desired length) close to one another as illustrated in the photo. Going across the entire brow will take all of the 6 feet of yarn I have threaded here.

Next cut the loops with scissors. I have found that simply shaking the Neuron vigorously will help the yarn look natural and fall more randomly than using my fingers. I decided to trim up the brow after I shook him. I cut the middle "hairs" shorter so his eyes would be more visible.

Step 8: The Moustache

Repeat the previous step under the nose for a mustache. If you want it to be very bushy, make two rows of loops here. There is more room to work under the nose so you should have plenty of space. Be sure to check that the mustache extends an equal distance from the nose on each side, so he won't be lopsided. This is also an easy fix later if you notice he isn't  trimming his mustache evenly.

Cut the loops with scissors and shake into place. 

You can call if finished here, but I have plans for the polka dots.

Step 9: Connecting the Dots

I want "hair" coming out of every polka dot so I take another long piece of yarn and my yarn needle and thread it through each dot leaving a loop to trim later.

After filling them all (except the legs and the front of the "nobbies"), I cut each loop. He's a bit like a wooly mammoth at this point, and my personnal aesthetic pushed me to trim the "hair" very close to the body. Be careful not to pull the yarn during this step as it is likely you will pull it out of an adjacent polka dot since they are linked together. I use my hand to rub the surface to remove loose hair and fuzz the ends of the yarn.

Step 10: Final Photo Shoot

You're done! Time to take him into the Instructable photo light box for his final photo shoot.
Hairy Bobb Front
Hairy Bobb Back (ew, back hair!)

Hope you have fun. Hairy Bobb has been looking over my shoulder the whole time I worked on writing this (our first) Instructable. He has decided he likes his hair long and wants to grow it out again...Vive la resistance! 

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    13 Discussions


    8 years ago on Introduction

    You can buy socks in almost matching threes at


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, never enough brain cells in my house..head...thanks:) (Love the salt dough! That's what our mom made for us growing fancy pants store bought stuff! Thanks for the short trip down memory lane)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Yes, no problem, just had to master the mix of salt and flour.. Also, what size sock would you need for your project ( what size did you use?)


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    I use a ladies knee high sock. I've uses kid size white tube socks too as well as adult tube socks, not a lot of color there. Women's knee highs give me the most freedom to add extras and you need the length for legs that anklets don't provide.


    9 years ago on Introduction

     So Silly! Love it. I like the youthful/aged juxtaposition of polka dots and facial hair. This world needs more stuffed things.

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    Thanks! Love your stuffed fellows too! Getting compliments from the likes of you and other, makes me smile...a lot.

    Actually didn't get the juxtaposition till you pointed it out...smiling again.


    9 years ago on Introduction

     Nicely done.  I feel as if I have made one myself.  This excites my neurons delightfully. And, without any bloodshed.  Colorful technical terms are very helpful (nobbies!)

    Great pics, too!

    1 reply

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    You are too kind. Wow, tickling YOUR brilliant brain is quite a compliment! Thanks!

    Ditto on the absolutely adorable. Oh and yeah nice instructions too.
    Oh and my pompoms would be perfect on your Neuron creatures. Just click in to my parlor said the web spider to the cyber fly. ;)


    9 years ago on Introduction

     OH.MY.GOD! These are absolutely adorable. What a wonderfully clear instructable. Well done. Thanks so much.