Saturday, December 22, 2012

Craft yourself a merry little Christmas

Regular readers (and we understand that there are still two or three left) will no doubt be aware of this writer's fascination with the televisual opus of Kirstie Allsopp, Nigella Lawson and other domestic divas whose main role in life seems to be to make those of us who are unlucky enough to live in the real world all too aware of our own inadequacies.

Kirstie blows her own glass Christmas tree baubles. Nigella whips up a festive four-course meal from nothing but panettone and tomato paste. We watch, we marvel, we feel as though we can’t compete.

A lot of this DIY creativity plugs into a sort of fake nostalgia, a desire to go back to a simpler time before Xboxes, before 3DSXls, before Wii U’s, before other surreal and random alphabetic combinations.

Back to the time when you could make your own Christmas crackers from old loo rolls, a sheet of tin foil and a packet of Polos.

All right, they didn’t crack when you pulled them but they looked convincing, and gave your parents hope that you might have at least one creative bone in your body.

Or back to the time when you could even, in the case of Mrs D’s dad, fashion one large Christmas tree from the trunks and branches of two much smaller ones.

But if your nearest and dearest want the latest in technology for Christmas, and you still want to keep your crafting skills alive, there are a couple of swift projects you could just about complete in the brief time between now and the Big Day.

First, why not try knitting a pair of touchscreen mittens? It’s simple as anything: just buy yourself a couple of balls of conductive wool in the colours of your choice (like Kirstie, you should source yours from a chocolate-box wool shop in a tiny Cotswold village). Cast on, purl 3, plain 4, drop 2, round the back and tie the whole lot off with a bow.

Your iPad-toting relatives will be delighted – at least until they lose all feeling in the tips of their fingers.

Of course, this year’s must-have festive gadget is the radio-controlled helicopter with built-in webcam.

Which is not designed for spying on your neighbours, but for more mundane tasks like making spectacular videos of waterfalls, mountain crags and other inaccessible features. Like your guttering, for a start.

But why spend hundreds of pounds on off-the-shelf technology? Half the fun of this sort of thing is building it yourself from found objects.

A quick rummage in the loft should turn up all the parts you need: metal biscuit tins can easily be hammered into shape for the body of the chopper, a couple of wooden rulers can be pressed into service for the rotors, and the motor from that retired food processor will serve as the power plant.

Stick an old Polaroid camera in the nose and it’s chocks away!

And as for radio control, well who needs it? This baby can fly itself.

At least until your pride and joy starts making a noise like a Stuka dive-bomber, crashes into the cat and shakes itself into a million pieces. Happy Christmas everyone!

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