Part of our family's christmas tradition is to decorate the house, and to actively involve the children in doing this ~ easier said than done! One thing that we started several years ago was making paper chains. Even though Smiler, Noah and Petal were too little at the time to cope with the paper, Mr Manley and I sat on the floor surrounded by packets of 'lick and stick' type chains, and got them to stick their tongues out . . . hey presto, automatic licking devices! As their motor skills developed, we let them make their chains by themselves, and it was lovely to see how differently they approached the task. Smiler preferred the shiny paper, and would suck (and chew . . . and swallow . . .) the ends of the strips, so needed gentle persuasion to stay on task. Petal focused on colour combinations, making sure she repeated the order of the first few. Noah wanted his chain to be the longest and 'the best', so would surreptitiously slide entire stacks of the least plentiful colours or patterns closer to him, and put a cushion or something on top to keep them away from his siblings!
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Much as we liked the look of the paper~chains and the amount of colour they brought to the house, there were a couple of ongoing problems. The most irritating of these was the non~sticky sticky. All the chains would be up, and look lovely, with an hour links would start to come apart ~ the sticky wouldn't hold! Instead of zig~zaggy chains we had sorry looking four or five link pieces hanging down like stalactites from the ceiling, and mini mountains of brightly coloured paper all around. Poor Mr Manley, his height (a little over six feet) compared to mine (five foot four if you don't let me stand on my tip toes) meant that fixing them was his job, using either sticky tape or staples. Every time the poor guy went through a doorway into another room he had three or for new links to fix. We tried holding the links after they'd been licked ~ no difference. Reinforced with glue~sticks ~ no difference. The christmas just gone Mr Manley bit the proverbial bullet and each of our own little paper~chain sweatshop workers was issued with a stapler, and strict instructions to ignore the whole lick stick thing.
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This faffing, in combination with the fact that the stapled paper chains can't go into the compost, led me to ponder the logistics of making fabric chains instead. Initially I thought it would be really straightforward, but then realised there was definitely more thinking and researching to do, mainly focusing on how to do~up and un~do each link so the chains could then be re~made the next December. I could make them fixed, but for us, Smiler, Noah and Petal making the chains was a big part of the fun ~ singing along to a christmas cd, a tin of chocolates open next to us on the floor . . . Anyway, in typical abstract fashion, I've galloped ahead and bought christmas~y fabric (thank you again Fabric HQ!) before I've finished formulating a plan. I know, I know, putting the cart before the horse and all that (galloping and horse and cart ~ how long can I keep the analogy going?) ~ how very unlike me. Justification ~ if I waited til the prep was done, it might be May, and I'm pretty sure there wouldn't be much christmas~y fabric around in May.
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For the do~up and undo~able aspect (creature comforts anyone? The plasticine turtle and his 'easily turn off and on~able' heating? Nick Parks = Aardman = Bristol, woo hoo! Sorry, slight tangent there. Please let me know if you remember the turtle, or am I all alone in this?) . . . okay, un~do~ability. I considered buttons, but they would be too difficult for Smiler to do, even with support, and I'm not sure my sewing skills are up to all those button holes! There's Velcro, but that tends to pick up fluff over time, and I'm not certain that it would hold the weight ~ it would be utterly soul~destroying to make them and then have them all un~do from one another and fall to the floor! Right now I'm thinking poppers . . . And I need to find out about interfacing. Let's get googling.