Getting crafty for Christmas

As I write this, there are only 8 more sleeps till Christmas, and only two more weekend days but as usual, I have only just begun the annual tradition of making a Christmas gift each for Miss Missy and the Young Lad.

Of course I left deciding what to make till the last minute. For the Young Lad, I finally settled on a Batman cape and cowl. And some gauntlets. And a utility belt too. But when I asked Uncle Google for patterns, I just wasn’t happy with any of the suggestions. They seemed to be either waaaaay too complex (how to’s for making a latex full-face Batman mask) or didn’t really look like Batman (why do so many people think that a Zorro-style mask will do the trick?) or waaaay too simple (I’m talking something that looked like a pillowcase with a couple of eyeholes).

This simply wouldn’t do.

What is a librarian to do? Why, look for a book, of course!

And this is what I found:

9781589239449Super Hero Sewing by Lane Huerta.  Although there isn’t an actual Batman costume, I felt like these ones could easily be adapted to what I had in mind. There are lots of really cool costumes and accessories, including pirates, butterfly wings, and cute animals.  And what do you know? the other day I came home to see the Young Lad wearing a Batman-T-shirt-Superman-cape combo, and Miss Missy told me he had said “I wish Mum could make me a Batman cape!”  That’s the way to melt your mother’s heart, Young Lad!

I also found How to Make a Onesie by Janelle Fischer.  I briefly considered switching from cape and cowl to a superhero onesie, but I think the Young Lad would rather look like real Batman, than like Batman-in-his-PJs.

9781440244476Now, if it wasn’t enough to make all those costume items, I then decided that of course Batman would also need his sidekick, and that a Robin soft toy was going to be essential. Last year, right in time for handmade gift madness, I discovered Happy Quilts! by Antonie Alexander, and used the robot quilt applique blocks to make a cushion for the Young Lad. At the time, I was torn between that, and one of the co-ordinating toys.

So, naturally, this year a bedtime superhero toy is a must. Giving the pattern a Robin look has actually been quite easy, and it’s coming along amazingly quickly! Just the cape and mask to go now! The book is really easy to follow, and all the patterns are included on a disc, so you can just print them out instead of having to trace them off a pattern sheet.

Robin toy at Matuku Takotako: Sumner Centre
Nearly finished Robin toy with Happy quilts book

9781617454332Of course, I also have a gift for Miss Missy to make… maybe she’d like a little bag…?

… How many days did I say there are till Christmas?

Phyllis Hartigan, born 1912: Picturing Canterbury

Phyllis Hartigan, born 1912. Kete Christchurch. Entry in the 2016 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

Photo of Phyllis in a Boer War uniform.

On the back of the photo:” Happy Returns Tom,  April 27th 1915, from sister Phyllis.”

Date: 7 April 1915.

Entry in the 2016 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt by Beverley Dickson.

About Photo Hunt

October is Photo Hunt month at Christchurch City Libraries. We invite you to share any of your photos and help grow the city’s photographic archive. All entries must be received by 31 October.

Share your photos and help us to create a true picture of our city’s rich history. Anyone can contribute.

Christmas in the backyard, 1958: Picturing Canterbury

Christmas in the backyard, 1958. Kete Christchurch. PH13-410. Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt. Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 New Zealand License.

“A family Christmas in our back yard in Opawa. I am showing off my new scooter, my sister Jenny has a cane dolls pram and my cousin Wayne has a carpentry set. I can’t see what his brother Chris has. My dad has obviously just painted the shed as I can see the ‘wet paint’ sign propped against it.”

Date: 1958

Entry in the 2013 Christchurch City Libraries Photo Hunt.

Do you have any photographs of Christmas in Canterbury? If so, feel free to contribute to our collection.

Kete Christchurch is a collection of photographs and stories about Christchurch and Canterbury, past and present. Anyone can join and contribute.

Barbie: The Icon

9781943876112Rightly or wrongly I was determined that my daughter was not going to have Barbie dolls, but by the time our daughter was 3 our house was awash with Barbie and all her paraphernalia. How did this happen?

To try to even things out I presented our son with Barbie – he proceeded to use her spiky limbs as a weapon! We had Malibu Barbie, Night and Day Barbie but best of all was Wedding Day Barbie! Tiny little handbags were lost as were multiple pairs of shoes … bits and pieces of Barbie limbs would appear in odd places. Thankfully all could be replaced by the neverending Barbie gravy train at the local toy store.

In my own way I became quite fond of Barbie, and I grudgingly admitted that she did provide hours of fun for my daughter and her friends.

When Barbie: The Icon arrived in the library I couldn’t help myself, and immediately borrowed it. Perhaps it’s the memories of times past, but I have had a lovely time browsing its full page photos of Barbie dressed in her finest, as well as enjoying the writing.

The focus of the early seventies was to make Barbie increasingly bendable…

and

Barbie has become the interpreter of aesthetic and cultural transformations that have distinguished more than half a century of history, but unlike other myths of contemporaneity, crushed by time passing, she has had the privilege, as a doll to be timeless.

Bendable and timeless! Oh how I envy her.

Some Barbie facts:

  • After a 43 year relationship Barbie and Ken break up in 2004. Barbie meets a new man, Blain – a surfer from Australia, however by 2011 Barbie and Ken are back together again. Phew.
  • Barbie has had more than 150 careers including being US President, watch out Hillary Clinton!
  • It wasn’t until 1980 that a black Barbie doll was created , called… ta da…Black Barbie.
  • Fashion designers who have created her outfits have included Donna Karan, Vivienne Westwood, Calvin Klein and Dior.
  • Her full name is Barbara Millicent Roberts.

Find more Barbie stuff – including movies – in our collection.

Okay, it’s school holidays. Now what? Get crafty!

Cover of Paper Scissors GlueIt’s school holidays and the weather is doubtful. What should you do after you have done your homework and tidied your room? One possibility is to borrow a stack of DVDs from the library and spend the day curled up in front of the TV.

A better solution to the “what can I do?” question is to borrow some craft books from the library and get creative. Check out our arts and crafts for kids page.

Paper scissors glue has fun craft ideas for younger children aged 3-10. Great ideas for busy fingers and the best part is, most of the materials needed to complete a project can be found at home. I really enjoy papier mâché. Old newspapers could be recycled here. The Chinese dragon would be fun to take outside on a windy day. The origami whales could live on my blue tablecloth.

Cover of The Lonely Sock ClubMaybe you found odd socks in you sock drawer – why not make a sock monkey? Or if you have found my lost glove, you could make a glove monster. There are lots of cool things you can do with your odd socks and it is likely that everything you need will be at home somewhere.

For those of you who like sewing, we have an excellent selection of books that will help you make toys, gifts and fashion accessories. Simple softies for the whole family has toys that older children (and adults) can make. Most of the toys are made from felt and all of them are hand sewn. I quite like the anti-spy Christmas tree and the cat-face cushion. If I were to make a dinosaur toy from floral material, would I end up with a flowersaur?

Cover of Simple SoftiesSo the weather is awful and you really don’t wan’t to visit the library. Go online with your library card and Password/PIN and check out World Book Online Craft Corner. Lots of crafts for all ages and abilities. Crafts that can be completed in a few minutes and crafts that take all day. Crafts that are free (or almost free) to make. Crafts that cost several dollars. Crafts for boys and crafts for girls.

So, are you game?
Are you game to turn your kitchen table into a craft space?
For a day?

 

Action Man action

When it comes to dolls, Barbie is the undisputed queen of the hot-pink castle. No question. And though over her career she’s taken on a lot of roles and occupations she’s still not a toy that boys gravitate to so much. Barbie may have an extensive wardrobe, having been clothed by everyone from Karen Walker to Diane von Furstenberg but I don’t remember a Barbie playset that ever featured hand grenades…or an M3 submachine gun. No way. When you absolutely, positively have to kill every invading army in your backyard, it’s gotta be Action man. Accept no substitute.

Unless of course it’s G.I. Joe, the American the “movable fighting man” upon which the UK version was based. Action Man was launched in Britain in 1966 and author N. G. Taylor acquired his first Action Man toy “Action Soldier” the same year. His book On land, at sea and in the air: Action Man is a lovingly pieced together homage to the British action toy and flicking through its pages you can really see the “bordering on obsessive” love that this avid collector has for his childhood toy.

The thing that gives this book added appeal is that, not only are there lists and pictures of all of Action Man’s uniforms and accessories, but in each case he is posed as he would be if he were real. Mountaineer Action Man leans against a rocky outcrop with his Primus stove. Wetsuit-clad Navy Frogman Set Action Man wields his knife at the water’s edge. Cricketer Action Man takes his stance at the crease, complete with shin-pads and wickets. He’s at least as animated as any of the blokes you’d see in a Farmers catalogue. My personal (and possibly controversial) favourite would have to be Panzer Captain Action Man, because that black outfit is rather chic.

For those with a love of Action Man (or other action figures) the following might interest –

Super Kyuuto!

Is the odd sock phenomenom endemic to my house, or does everybody have a drawer of single socks?  Happily, I came across Sock and glove : creating charming soft friends from cast off socks and gloves.  Now I can piece together a whole zoo from easy to follow instructions.  This is just one in a whole crop of new craft books around that draw heavily on the Japanese cute/weird aesthetic.  Others that have caught my eye lately include – Continue reading