I have always had an affinity for stuffed animals, beginning with the two that slept in my crib with me when I was only a few weeks old. Lamby is a stuffed lamb that my Aunt Rose knitted for me; Kitty is a stuffed cat that was my dad’s when he was a baby and that he gave me when I was born (meaning that Kitty is, for all intents and purposes, 57 years old). I still have them both, hence the present tense—poor Kitty has lost both her ears and her eyes but is still maybe the most precious thing I own; Lamby has held up really well aside from some weight loss due to missing stuffing. They are both at the top of the very short list of things I would take with me if my house was on fire. I love both of them with an intensity that I can’t quite explain, almost as if they’re real pets; they are just so incredibly familiar and comforting. (Can you see why The Velveteen Rabbit is a favorite book?)
The love I have for Lamby and Kitty has extended to other stuffed animals throughout the years, notably a bunny rabbit and a large mouse (Mousey—gosh, I was a creative child!), and has made me a firm believer in the idea that every child should have at least one stuffed animal that they sleep with at night when they’re little and remember fondly (and maybe even keep) when they’re big. That’s why I was so thrilled to discover Walnut Animal Society, the brainchild of Lauren Bradshaw (she of the needle-felted birdies). Walnut Animal Society is made up of several heirloom-quality stuffed animals—including a fox, bear, raccoon and Magnolia the bunny, above—each with its own personality and each impeccably made. I don’t have kids but I have friends who do, and these would make a perfect gift that could be loved for years. Stuffed animals are such a big part of the fabric of childhood—at least they were for me—so I love seeing companies like Walnut Animal Society pop up and do well.
Here’s to happy memories.