Never Lie on a Lion…

Just a quick one to brighten up your Wednesday…

Our Story & Craft session at Kensal this month had a lion theme.  We read Never Lie on a Lion by Alan James Brown and A Tinga Tinga Tale – Why Lion Roars by Claudia Lloyd.

After these fabulous stories we made equally fabulous colourful lion faces and the roaring was so loud you’d be forgiven for thinking there were real lions in residence at Kensal Library!!

Work in progress...
Work in progress…

Kensington Central Library – January 2014

Hello to you all from the staff at Kensington Central Library and if it’s not too late to wish this on the last day of January- Happy New Year from us all! Despite January being a bit of a grim month – we’ve been busy and February will be even busier!

 From Princess Louise to smart cookery to stopping smoking

We’ve had some amazing events for adults and children this month. On a very cold night Lucinda Hawksley gave a very entertaining and informative talk about one of Queen Victoria’s daughters, Princess Louise. She was a remarkable woman who seemed to be ahead of her time. Lucinda is an excellent writer and speaker – we’re always happy to have her at the library as her events are excellent – entertaining, amusing and educational.

The Mystery of Princess Louise by Lucinda Hawksley
The Mystery of Princess Louise by Lucinda Hawksley
Lucinda Hawksley
Lucinda Hawksley

It’s been a healthy month for us too – Ooberkids Republic came to speak to a group of children about healthy eating, cooking, recipes and where our food comes from. Smokefree, the stop smoking service also had a stall in the library this month – a perfect time to help people keep their New Year’s Resolution perhaps?

Stop Smoking Service
Stop Smoking Service

From martial arts to fashion to Health Trainers

Don’t worry if you missed any of these events – we’ve got lots to offer you in February too!

On Tuesday 4 February at 6.30pm we’ve Spirit of the Martial Arts with Goran Powell. Goran is a martial arts author who holds a 5th Dan in karate. His first book Waking Dragons tells of his own mental, physical and spiritual preparation for the brutal 30 Man Kumite, one of karate’s toughest tests. His award-winning novels A Sudden Dawn and Chojun revolve around Zen and the traditional martial arts of Kung Fu and Karate. He will talk about and read from his new novel Matryoshka which touches on the fascinating link between Christianity and the newly-popular Russian martial arts. There are still a few tickets left so come along if you can.

Matryoshka by Goran Powell
Matryoshka by Goran Powell
Goran Powell
Goran Powell

To celebrate London Fashion Week in February for the Autumn /Winter 2014 collections, expert fashion management consultant David Jones and guest speakers will be speaking about the fashion industry. This is ideal for those that are thinking of starting a fashion business as a designer, retailer, importer or exporter. David Jones has worked in the clothing and fashion industry for 40 years and for the last 15 years has run his own consultancy, David Jones Fashion Management Services, specialising in fashion. This session is in partnership with Colin Rutt, Consultant and Business Advisor from Portobello Business Centre. This will take place on Thursday 27 February, 6 to 8pm, tickets are £10 and can be booked on Eventbrite.

London Fashion Week
London Fashion Week

We’re really pleased to announce that we’ll have Health Trainers at the library once a month. So whether you’d like to be fitter, change your eating habits, give up smoking or just feel a bit better about yourself, the Health Trainers can offer you guidance and information, in private, in person and for free. These drop-in sessions are the first Wednesday of every month, 11am to 1pm and the first session will be this Wednesday 5 February.

Health Trainers
Health Trainers

…And not forgetting the kids!

It’ll be half term in February so we’ve planned lots of exciting events to keep the kids entertained!

On Monday 17 February, 2 to 4pm we have a Fashion Design Workshop for children aged 10+. This workshop delivers a unique experience for budding fashionistas.

  • Take a crash course in the fashion design process
  • Experiment with drawing
  • Develop a colour palette 
  • Select fabrics for your designs
  • Formulate ideas through illustration

Sessions are led by Jennifer Sturrock, a graduate of London College of Fashion, who has worked in London-based fashion studios, gained experience in knitwear design with DKNY in New York City and developed sample designs for a luxury Parisian label. All materials will be provided. Places are free but strictly limited so do book a place soon so you’re not disappointed!

Are you a budding fashionista?
Are you a budding fashionista?

For younger kids (4 to 10) we’ll have a half term story and craft session Thursday 20 February, 3 to 4pm. These are great sessions – a chance to listen to a good story & then get crafty. No need to book a place – just turn up!

Oh and last but not least we’re really lucky to have Chickenshed Kensington and Chelsea at the library on Wednesday 19 February, 1 to 1.30pm.  This will be a fun interactive performing arts session which will include storytelling, puppetry, singing and movement. It’ll be suitable for children 0 to 7 years.

Chickenshed Theatre at Kensington & Chelsea
Chickenshed Theatre at Kensington & Chelsea

Something for everyone – we hope to see you soon!

Adult Learners’ Week 2013

Adult Learners’ Week – 18 to 24 May 2013

Adult Learners' Week 2013
Adult Learners’ Week 2013

Adult Learners’ Week is the UK’s largest annual festival of learning, inspiring thousands of people to discover how learning can change their lives.

It is the perfect opportunity to raise awareness of the benefits learning can bring, and to inspire adults of all ages to try something new. We have events in five of our libraries during Adult Learners’ Week -we hope to see you there!

What makes people happy?

Birkbeck University of London
Birkbeck University of London

Sharing the practical lessons from well-being research – Birkbeck academics have put together a series free of workshops which unpack cutting-edge research from a range of disciplines to help you better understand the science behind the smile, as well as giving you practical tips to increase your well-being.

  • Please book your free place for these sessions on Eventbrite.

 How to be happy: some quick wins (and losses)

  • Saturday 18 May, 10 to 11.30am, Brompton Library

This workshop will focus on what psychologists have learnt about the science of happiness, in particular the characteristics that allow people to remain hopeful and optimistic in the face of challenging and busy lives. We will also explore how this knowledge has been translated into practical interventions that increase hope and optimism. Participants should leave with ideas around how to translate this information into small and meaningful improvements to their own levels of hope and optimism and those in their care.

Using positive psychology to stay healthy and happy in your work

  • Monday 20 May, 10 to 11.30am, Brompton Library

Find out how to safeguard and improve your happiness and well-being in professional settings. This workshop will help you better understand the science behind the smile, as well as giving you practical tips and strategies to increase your well-being.

Crocheting Divas

  • Saturday 18 May, 10.30am to 1pm, Notting Hill Gate Library
  • Friday 24 May, 12 noon to 1.30pm, Brompton Library

Learn, chat and make with the Crocheting Divas. All materials and equipment will be provided – all you need to bring is your enthusiasm and creativity. There’s no need to book a place – just come along.

Online taster sessions

Computer training sessions
Computer training sessions

Want to do more online? Please book your free place for any of these sessions at Chelsea Reference Library.

Social media: how to make the most of Facebook, Twitter and more

  • Tuesday 21 May, 2 to 4pm, Chelsea Reference Library

Beyond Google: high quality learning materials available free from your library

  • Wednesday 22 May, 10am to 12 noon, Chelsea Reference Library

Career information online: finding the best career and training information for you

  • Thursday 23 May, 12 noon to 2pm, Chelsea Reference Library

Colville Community History slideshow and talk

Tom Vague
Tom Vague
  • Tuesday 21 May, 5.30 to 7.30pm, North Kensington Library

Colville Community History Project’s Tom Vague presents a slideshow and talk about the history of the area. Come along to join in the discussion, share your experiences and find out more about the Colville Community History Project. Please book a free place for this event at North Kensington Library.

Writing Creatively in Kensington – a creative writing workshop

Creative writing
Creative writing
  • Wednesday 22 May, 1.30 to 4.30pm, Kensington Central Library

Using photos and other artefacts from our Local Studies Library to inspire creativity participants will be encouraged to write their own pieces. Please book a free place for this event at Kensington Central Library.

Deep Recording Studios – information stall

Deep Recording Studios
Deep Recording Studios
  • Wednesday 22 May, 12 noon to 4.30pm, Chelsea Library

Want to find out more about music technology or sound engineering? Then come along to our information stall run by Deep Recording Studios in West London. They run Levels 1,2 and 3 City and Guilds accredited Music Technology and Sound Engineering Courses (no qualifications required). Deep has a fully operational recording studio facility near Ladbroke Grove tube station in West London, running Logic Pro and Pro Tools music software .

Hand Sewing Workshop – make a felt badge with Eithne Farry

Eithne Farry
Eithne Farry
  • Thursday 23 May, 2 to 4pm, Kensington Central Library

Are you passionate about clothes and accessories? Would love to create something of your own, but are unsure of how to get started? Then come along to our hand sewing workshop with Eithne Farry, where you will create your own badge out of felt.
Please book your free place for this workshop at Kensington Central Library.

How to Use Skype – over 50s session with Open Age

Open Age
Open Age
  • Friday 24 May, 10am to 12 noon, North Kensington Library

Are you over 50? Have you heard about Skype? Skype allows people to talk for free to friends and family around the world via a computer using the internet. Come along to this session to learn how to use Skype. Places are strictly limited for this class, so please book your place early at North Kensington Library.

More information

Knitting – The Beautiful Game?

OK, so knitting is not strictly a game more of a hobby. Saying that it is something that is done in your spare time, a skill that can be improved on and with lots of perseverance and imagination great things can be achieved.

I myself am an avid knitter and have been knitting on and off for many years…I won’t say how many, but more than four and less than 100.

Previously I wrote a piece on knitting, this time round I hope to elaborate more on the history of the craft. Hopefully it will inspire someone, who may have a glimmer of interest, to take it up.

Interesting facts about knitting

When I started writing this section, I thought it would be difficult to create this list, actually it was quite easy. I thought back to when I first started knitting and my hobby turned from an interest into an obsession. I collected hundreds of magazines for patterns from all decades. Along the way I learnt a lot about knitting and the people who knit, I thought I would share some of this with you.

Books of hand and traditional knitting
Books of hand and traditional knitting from our Costume collection

Below I have just touched on five things I found interesting about knitting, more indepth research can be done if I you find this interesting. At Chelsea Library we have many books in our Costume Collection, dating back many decades on the fashion, techniques and history of knitting.

1- It’s older than you think

One of the earliest known examples of knitting occurred in ancient Egypt around 400AD. Where members of the Christian sect known as Copts knitted sandal socks, bags and dolls.

Romano-Egyptian socks, made by nalbinding (Fifth century)
Romano-Egyptian socks, made by nalbinding (Fifth century)

Older examples of nalbinding which has often been confused with knitting, have been found including the famous Dura-Europos fragments, which is considered by many to be the oldest example of knitting in existence. Found in the Indus River Valley and dating back several thousand years, it is listed in many books and the original dig report as knitting.

Nalbinding fragment from Dura-Europos, Syria, dated to AD 256
Nalbinding fragment from Dura-Europos, Syria, dated to AD 256

2 – Do you know your knit from your purl?

All knitting consists of just two stitches?
Yes that’s right, all knitted garments, whether they are cabled, lace, or contain blocks of colour are all created using just the knit and purl stitch. Therefore if you can knit (and purl) you can create anything.

There are hundreds of knitting stitch patterns, which many may find daunting, but once the basics are mastered, the world as they say is your woollen oyster.

Knitted oyster, complete with pearl
Knitted oyster, complete with pearl, from the Captain Cook Memorial Museum

Knitting stitch patterns, or combinations of knitting stitches, are a wonderful way to expand your knitting skills. There are hundreds of ways to combine just knits and purls to form different designs. They have been in use since people first began to knit. All knitting uses stitch patterns…even garter stitch (only knitting) is considered to be a stitch pattern.

We have many books on knitting and stitch patterns in our library catalogue.

Books on knitting techniques and stitch patterns
Books on knitting techniques and stitch patterns

3 – Men are doing it too

Contrary to popular prejudice, men knitting used to be commonplace and was not exclusively a female occupation. Originally a male-only occupation, the first knitting trade guild was started in Paris in 1527. With the invention of the knitting machine, however, knitting “by hand” became a useful but non-essential craft. Similar to quilting, spinning, and needlepoint, knitting became a leisure activity.

In the Yorkshire Dales until the nineteenth century men and women alike knitted stockings as they walked about, which then sold for £2 a pair.

Edward Llwyd of Bala, photgraphed around 1875, believed to be on eof the last of the local stocking-knitters
Edward Llwyd of Bala, photgraphed around 1875, believed to be one of the last of the local stocking-knitters

Knitting for the troops
In a piece about the Knitting for Britain, knitting project written by Clinton W Trowbridge for the Christian Science Monitor in 1997. He tells a wonderful story of American schoolboys knitting squares to sew into blankets for British troops during World War Two.It highlights the normality of men knitting.

“…at boarding schools during World War II, however, everyone knitted – including the headmaster, the teachers, and the whole football team. We knitted 9-inch squares, which somebody else sewed together to make blankets and scarves for British soldiers…”

And once the boys had learned how to knit…

“…good many of us took up knitting seriously and made socks, sweaters, and woollen hats. We would knit in bed after lights out and, some of us, even more surreptitiously, in chapel.”

The project was seen by the boys as something of an escape from more serious work, but…

“… no one ever thought it odd that a school of 200 boys should be busily whiling away the hours in such an activity”.

4 – Tribal Markings

The guernsey or gansey came into being as a garment for fishermen who required a warm, hard wearing, yet comfortable item of clothing that would resist the sea spray. The hard twist given to the tightly packed wool fibres in the spinning process and the tightly knitted stitches, produced a finish that would “turn water” and is capable of repelling rain and spray.

Knitting on the quayside, Great Yarmouth
Knitting on the quayside, Great Yarmouth

It has also been said that the guernsey or gansey jumper patterns were for regional or local identification. It is said that the county, parish, or township of a sailor or a fisherman could be identified by his jumper pattern. Additionally, the wearer’s initials were traditionally knitted into the bottom of the garment, which would have been a far better indication of identity than the stitching pattern and also aid its return if a gansey was lost or stolen.

Inverness Guernsey, knitted in aran wool. A thick guernsey with an all over pattern on back and front, including flag and bar patterns on the body with chevron, diamond and double moss stitch panels on the yoke.
Inverness Guernsey, knitted in aran wool. A thick guernsey with an all over pattern on back and front, including flag and bar patterns on the body with chevron, diamond and double moss stitch panels on the yoke.

Each part of the design had a specific meaning. The rib at the top of the sleeve is said to represent a sailing ship’s rope ladder in the rigging, the raised seam across the shoulder a rope, and the garter stitch panel waves breaking upon the beach. Twenty-four principal patterns have been identified in Cornwall alone, each one again drawing inspiration from ropes, chains, waves, nets and sand-prints.

Pike fishing crew wearing plain working ganseys
Pike fishing crew wearing plain working ganseys

Worn as a source of pride and often knitted by prospective wives “to show the industrious nature of the woman he was about to marry”, the “finer” guernsey was more elaborately patterned than its working cousin. With the advent of the machine-knitted guernsey and the decline in the knitting industry, this type of elaborately knitted guernsey is a much rarer sight.

5 – Famous knitters

The original one, not the singer. Yes that’s true, The Virgin Mary knitted as we can see below.

Our Lady knitting, c 1325-75?
Our Lady knitting, c 1325-75

When you give this some thought it is not that surprising, what mother would not want to knit for her newborn? Below we can see Mary presenting Jesus with the finished garment.

Madonna and child, painted before 1400
Madonna and child, painted before 1400

Lord Kitchener

Your country needs you to sew up a sock.

Lord Kitchener, Your Country Needs You
Lord Kitchener, Your Country Needs You

The kitchener stitch, also called grafting or weaving, is the favourite knitting method for creating an invisible seam. It’s most used for closing the toes of socks, but can be used on other seams as long as the garment is not too bulky.

During the First World War the Red Cross held a campaign to encourage British, American and Canadian women to knit various ‘comforts’ for British troops, such as hats, gloves, mittens, scarves and socks.

Hand knitted socks with the seam running around the toes
Hand knitted socks with the seam running around the toes

Lord Kitchener, the British secretary of state for war, is said to have contributed his own sock design to the campaign. The design included an invisible grafted toe seam which made the socks more comfortable to wear, as the knitted sock patterns of the day used a seam up the toe, which could rub uncomfortably.

This finishing technique later became known as the Kitchener stitch.

Sex and the Knitty

Over the years many actors and actresses have picked up the needles, from Doris Day, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman and more recently serveral members of the cast of Sex and The City. While on the set Sarah Jessica Parker was heard to have said : “On the set of a movie. I could not think of a better way to pass the time between scenes…”

Sarah Jessica Parker knitting
Sarah Jessica Parker knitting
Kirsten Davis, on the set of Sex and the City knitting
Kirsten Davis, on the set of Sex and the City knitting

World record holder

The current holder of the Guinness World Record for Knitting with the Largest Knitting Needles is Julia Hopson of Penzance in Cornwall.

Guiness World Record kntting
Guiness World Record kntting

Julia knitted a square of ten stitches and ten rows in stockinette stitch using knitting needles that were 6.5 centimeters in diameter and 3.5 meters long.


If I have piqued your interest and you would love to learn more, why not join the groups that are hosted at our sister libraries of Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham libraries:

If you think you know something that is more interesting than I’ve listed, please feel free to post a comment and let us know. I may use it in my next blog.

Charmaigne Powell
Charmaigne Powell

Charmaigne Powell

The Chelsea Blog – January 2013

Chelsea Library
Chelsea Library

Happy New Year to you from us all at Chelsea. Welcome to our second blog post – hope you don’t think we’re crazy to write about Christmas in January but we wanted to share with you some amazing pictures.

Christmas at Chelsea Library

We had a very successful Christmas baby rhyme time with the children anticipating a special visitor.

Rhyme Time Father Christmas
Baby Rhyme Time with Father Christmas

We played jingle bells, with the children helping, by shaking their sleigh harness bells, all the while getting more and more excited. It looked as if the special vistor was delayed. When finally a staff member received a mobile call from his toboggan and told the waiting children that Father Christmas was stranded in traffic near Fulham Broadway. While the gathered crowd, which included nannies and carers  were anxiously looking at watches, the double doors from the Walker Room were burst open and in came Father Christmas with a huge white beard and a sack of gifts! The children were delighted and were handed small gifts wrapped in red tissue paper. Many thanks to Senior Customer Services Assistant, Huriy Ghirmai for dressing up!

Huiry as Father Christmas
Huiry as Father Christmas

The Christmas craft event combined story telling with making Christmas cards decorated with cut out collaged shapes and sequins. My colleague, Sue Couteux organized some fantastic shapes, Christmas trees, snowmen, fairies, stars, ginger bread men, reindeer……

Christmas tree card
Christmas tree card
Christmas card with angel
Christmas card with angel

We began the event by telling the Hans Christian Anderson story The Little Fir Tree about the tree’s endless desire to look towards a brighter future rather than live in the moment. I felt a bit uprooted after the story’s ending, waiting for the next big thing. Thank goodness we had the crafts to get stuck into, with glue flying everywhere, sticky fingers, children laughing, excited gleams in their eyes.

Child enjoying the Christmas craft event
This child made lots of Christmas crafts!
Christmas craft event - decorated star
Decorated star
Christmas craft - decorated man
Decorated gingerbread man

Some of the adults listening to the story had tears in their eyes – maybe The Little Fir Tree had reminded them of what Christmas is all about? Simple pleasures, snow, cold walks in the forest, log fires, log cabins, mothers at home baking, wolves. A world away from the hubbub of the Kings Road,  running for buses and runny noses.

Christmas craft events - Decorations
Christmas crafts in a row!
Christmas craft events - Children's drawings
Christmas drawings on display

Upcoming events

We are now planning our next events for children both with a Chinese New Year theme. On Saturday 9 February we have:

  • Our new Chatterbooks reading group for 8 to 12 year olds, 10am to 10.50am
  •  A craft event for younger children, 11am  to 12 noon

What do ladybirds eat?

 I was working in the library during Christmas and New Year. A little voice piped up behind the audio books: ‘Young man, I have been adopted by a ladybird.’ An elderly lady had spent her Christmas feeding a ladybird, black with red spots, discovered on her living room floor.  ‘It has taken up with me and I want to know what to feed it. Her mouth is much too small for cake crumbs.’ There we were studying a book on greenfly, making meaningful human contact, talking about bug feeding habits on this wintry afternoon.

We often get suggestions from members of the public about how to improve our service. One interesting idea was about how to best harness the power of the totem display. Would it be possible with the heat and light being emitted from the mighty monolith that it could double up as a vertical tanning station? 

Rob Symmons, Lending Librarian

Daniel Jeffreys, Customer Services Assistant

The Brompton Blog – December 2012

Brompton Library
Brompton Library

Welcome to our fourth blog post from Brompton Library!

Reading Aloud


A Little Loud book cover
A Little Loud

On Sunday I was preparing supper and listening to Radio 4. This group of Irish poets were reading out their poetry and discussing it amongst themselves. It immediately brought me into their environment, their history and above all, their imagination. I do hope that our display does offer something a little bit different to our reader’s here at Brompton Library.

Katie Collis
Katie Collis

Katie Collis

Senior Customer Services Assistant

Christmas plans at Brompton Library

With only a few days till Christmas you would think that the amount of people using the service would be reducing, but our lovely library is still full of users borrowing books for the Christmas holiday period (including Christmas themed cookbooks, fiction and audio books to curl up with on the cold winter evenings, Christmas themed children’s books and our selection of festive audio CDs and DVDs for all the family). There are also lots of people making use of our computer and study area, completing end of term coursework assignments, booking flights, and exchanging seasonal greetings with friends and family members via social networking sites and email.

So we will be running a full service until Christmas Eve when we will close for three days and open again the day after Boxing Day (27 December).

Brompton Chatterbooks


 Chatterbooks is a very popular reading group for children in Brompton Library. It is fun and free. The group focuses on reading and talking about books, but some sessions include word games, quizzes, plays or other book related activities. The children love reading and it is an ideal opportunity for them to enjoy books. The group meets once a month after school on Mondays. There are eight regular members of the group. There is generally a theme for each month. This month the group met on 17 December and the theme was Christmas.

Chatterbooks is an ideal way to promote a love of reading. Sessions are designed to give children confidence in speaking, writing and reading in a group, choosing books for themselves, and talking about what they like to read. It is fabulous to hear them enthusing over their reading and recommending books to other children.


Bitter Truths – Author Event

Bitter Truths author event at Brompton
Bitter Truths author event at Brompton

On a bitterly cold evening on 29 November Brompton hosted its first author event (in my living memory, anyway!). One of our reading group members has published her first trilogy of novels, collectively called the Samurai Revival, and gave a very professional presentation relating to the first in the series – Bitter Truths.

We had an audience of ten who were very appreciative and I think for our first venture into author events which was great.

Stephanie Webb
Stephanie Webb

Stephanie Webb

Lending Librarian

Christmas in London For Kids

This is a guest blog post from Kensington Mums – they’ve put together a list of some fantastic things you can do with your kids in London this festive season. Many thanks to them! They’ll be blogging for us again in the New Year – all about themselves and how they use our libraries.

A quick reminder about the free Christmas children’s activities we have in our libraries:

  • Making Christmas Cards and Tree Decorations, Thursday 13 December, 3 to 5pm at Chelsea Children’s Library.
  • Christmas Crafts, Thursday 20th December, 3.45 to 5pm at Brompton Library.
  • Winter Story Telling, Tuesday 2 January, 2 to 3pm at Kensington Central Children’s Library.

What’s on this Christmas for you and your little ones

 If you are staying in the capital this Christmas, you will find loads of things to keep little and older ones entertained and happy this festive season. Just wrap up warm and enjoy the fun! Here is a run down on what’s on. Wishing you all a lovely Christmas and a prosperous New Year!

Keep Calm logo

Christmas with the animals!

Meet Santa and London’s reindeer herd at London Zoo.
Running until 24 Dec 2012. Come and visit Santa at his winter lodge, a custom-designed grotto built in the fairytale setting of London Zoo’s memorial gardens –and also visit London’s very own reindeer herd! Suitable for children 10 years and under.
Visit the London Zoo website for more information.

Christmas festive fun at Battersea Park Children’s Zoo.
More information click to download a PDF of the event.

Meet Father Christmas!

Santa’s Grotto at the Duke of York Square, SW3. 23 December 2012. FREE

Meet Santa at Whole Foods Kensington
The grotto is open Saturdays 11am to 7pm and Sundays 10am to 6pm. There are only six family slots per hour so book early!
Email for more information.

Ice Skating!

Ice Skating
Ice Skating

If you and your kids fancy ice skating- there are lots of rinks in the capital for Christmas:

  • Westfield London (Shepherds Bush) and  Westfield Stratford City both have ice rinks and Santa’s Grotto.
  • Hampton Court Palace ice rink opens Saturday 1 December 2012 – until Sunday 13 January 2013. Great for a festive family gathering.
  • Skate at Somerset House. Celebrate the festive season in style at London’s most glamorous ice rink.
  • Natural History Museum’s Ice Rink is now open. Embrace winter in their 950-square-metre ice rink.
  • The Tower of London Ice Rink. London’s most dramatic open-air ice rink returns to this spectacular setting. Located in the moat, the ice rink is set against the magnificent fortress battlements!
  • Head to Canary Wharf  for their ice rink and during the festive season. They also have free festive activities for kids all weekends in December and Christmas Eve throughout Canary Wharf’s malls including art and craft workshops, festive face painting and a magical treasure hunt.  There’s also Santa’s Grotto.

Christmas in the Museums!

Winter Wonderland workshops at the National Gallery,
Friday 14 December. For more information visit the National Gallery website.

Horrible Histories Christmas Special at the National Portrait Gallery,
Saturday  15 December. Come and celebrate the festive season in Tudor style. Pop into the theatre to meet cast members from Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain and find out all about Tudor life.  For more information visit the Horrible Histories – Barmy Britain website.

Christmas workshops at Lauderdale House,
Saturdays 15, 18 20 and 21 December. Booking essential.
Visit the Lauderdale House website for more information.

Mirror Mirror’s Christmas Magic Lantern Show at the Museum of Childhood,
Saturday 29 and Sunday 30 December 2012. Join Victorian sisters Anna and Bea for their annual family magic lantern show – an atmospheric tale of mystery and adventure!
More information visit the Museum of Childhood website.

Jigsaw Japes at Bank of England Museum,
17  to 21, 24, 27, 28 and 31 December and 2 to 4 January.
Children of all ages can draw their favourite Museum object on a pre-cut jigsaw to take home. More information visit the Jigsaw Jape and the Bank of England website.

Santa vs. the Snowman 3D (U) at the IMAX, Science Museum.
Showing every weekend in December. For only £5 your little one will enjoy watching duck snowballs, elves and jet-propelled reindeers as Santa takes on a lonely snowman who wants nothing more than to take over Christmas and become the world’s most beloved festive character. For more information visit the Science Museum website.

Kids’ Zone at the National Army Museum.
Kids Zone is great for children aged 0-8 with forest and arctic themed climbing frames for kids to scale, slide and run through. There is also a soft play area for babies, toys, and arts and crafts. For only £2.50 per child this is a great way for little ones to let off some steam. Please note the Museum is not open on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day. Adults are FREE. For more information visit the National Army Museum website.

Christmas Crafts and Seasonal Stories at Museum of Childhood,
Saturdays 15, 22 December, Sundays 16, 23 December. Thursday 27 December to Sunday 6 January Excluding New Years Day 10.30am to 4pm. FREE Find out how families celebrated Christmas 100 years ago! Enjoy a creative re-telling of The Nutcracker and create seasonal crackers, baubles, retro decorations and cards with help from the Retired and Senior Service Volunteers. For more information visit the Museum of Childhood website.

Festive Performance at Victoria and Albert Museum,
Saturday 29 December 2012 to Sunday 6 January 2013. Watch the dance of ‘The Nutcracker’ on weekends or see a fun gallery play during the week.  Create imaginative Victorian Christmas decorations. Suitable for ages 4+. For more information visit the Victoria and Albert Museum website.

Christmas Storytime at the Museum of London Docklands,
Thursday 27 December, 10.30 to 11am, 11.30am to 12 noon and 2 to 2.30pm. FREE.  Enjoy a festive story together, told using puppets, museum objects and music – then come and play in the Mudlarks children’s gallery if you have energy to spare! For more information visit the Museum of London Docklands website.

And the rest….!

Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park
Winter Wonderland, Hyde Park

Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park.
This is probably one of my favourite winter events. It is absolutely wonderful, its got everything from roller coaster rides, circus, Santa’s land, Magical Ice Kingdom to name just a few and one of the best Christmas markets I have been to. This year’s ice ring is Ice Age 4. Just make sure you wrap up warm! Winter Wonderland is free to enter. However you will need to buy tickets for the attractions & rides. For more information visit the Winter Wonderland website.

Christmas at Kensington Palace,
1 to 23 December 2012. Prepare to be spellbound as Kensington Palace is transformed into a unique palace-sized Advent Calendar this December. For more information visit the Kensington Palace website.

LEGO’s countdown to Christmas with the LEGO advent calendar.
This is really impressive work. Head to South Hall of Covent Garden at 4 pm every day until Christmas to witness a special guest opening a door of the giant LEGO advent calendar.  While you are there, don’t forget to Meet a real life Rudolph every Saturday at Covent Garden Piazza from 12pm to 4pm. Kids will love to hand-feed and pet them.

London New Year’s Day Parade
This will be taking place on the 1st January 2013. The Parade starts at 11.45am on Piccadilly at the junction with Berkeley Street outside the Ritz Hotel and finishes around 3pm at Parliament Street. For more information visit the New Year’s Day Parade website.

Kensington Mums Christmas

To be kept in the loop with the local scoop with the latest in children activities, playgroup and family outings, join Kensington Mums where you get free updates with what’s on for you and your little one(s). You are welcome to connect with other Mums to share your tips and recommendation and capture all those invaluable word of mouth recommendations.  It’s a fantastic support network! Kensington Mums also organises Mummy and baby outings as well as Mums Night out and pamper events! Visit The Kensington Mums website for more information.

The Chelsea Blog – December 2012

Chelsea Library
Chelsea Library

Chelsea Library is no stranger to supernatural activity. A lady in crinolines has been spotted by one of the hall keepers, Patrick, floating between the stacks – she may be a normal reader but a clue to her identity is linked to the penny farthing propped up in the mind/body/spirit section. In keeping with the ghostly theme we held a Halloween craft event in the children’s library where children listened to scary stories and then made ghosts, bats and pumpkin face masks. Senior Customer Services Assistant Sue Couteux, came into her own adding straws to the models so the masks could be held up and waved in parents’ faces. The event was bustling and very well attended – twenty two adults and 37 children. It may have been 38 but I don’t think we can count the little boy in knickerbockers who was left behind. A member of staff called the number on his library card—it was only three digits— the house no longer existed.

Halloween craft
Halloween crafts

The children’s library was given an autumnal face lift with a display of tree, clouds and a particularly ferocious squirrel brilliantly designed by Customer Service Assistants, Ewis and Amy. The autumn craft event was an opportunity for children to release their inner pagan and design a green man style face mask. Sue designed plates decorated with cobwebs catching all the seasonal goodies (nuts, berries, mushrooms, squirrels – cut out, coloured in and collaged). We also made a leaf man out of leaves and twigs staff collected during their lunch hour in Battersea Park.  The Leaf Man proved very popular with both children and mums and dads. 52 people attended.

Chelsea Halloween wall
Chelsea Library’s Halloween wall

With the totem pole flashing on and off we erected an erotica display, In Between the Sheets in the main library. It has generated a lot of interest. One reader said ‘how disgusting’ and strode straight across to confirm her opinion. For some reason a book on badgers keeps appearing next to Nabokov’s Lolita notebook—no one has yet dared to check it out.

Chelsea - Between the Sheets shelf
Between the Sheets display

Rob Symmonds, Lending Librarian and Daniel Jeffreys, Customer Services Assistant

Chelsea Library

Knitting – The Answer to Your Problems?

Baby knits
Baby knits


  • A female colleague goes away on maternity leave, what do you give them?
  • What to give a relative that’s hard to buy for?
  • Winter’s coming and you want to look  fashionable but be warm…what to wear?

Unique handknitted garments, of course!

What’s it all about:
Knitting is a method by which thread or yarn is turned into cloth or other fine crafts, it may be done by hand or by machine and there exist numerous styles and methods of hand knitting.
Different yarns and knitting needles may be used to achieve different end products by giving the final piece a different colour, texture and weight.

Want to know more?

    • For inspiration, techniques and patterns come and browse our fantastic collection of knitting books in Kensington and Chelsea’s libraries.
Collection of knitting books
Collection of knitting books
  • Visit our Special Fashion Collection to find out more on how knitting has changed over time and the influence it has had on the fashion world.

Need help?

  • Don’t know how to turn a heel?
  • Don’t know the difference between intarsia, fair isle or slip stitch colour knitting?
  • Getting your purls mixed up with your knit?

If you need answers to the above questions and more or would love to learn a new skill, why not join the groups that are hosted at our sister libraries of Westminster and Hammersmith & Fulham libraries:

Think you could teach, guide or help?
If you are interested in knitting and would like to start a group here at any branch of Kensington and Chelsea library come in and talk to a member of staff or call the library for more information on: 0207 361 3010.

Charmaigne Powell
Charmaigne Powell

By Charmaigne Powell, Online Developer and Coordinater