Never mind the stiff demeanour, dead eyes and diminutive stature — “Atlin Barbie” may just be northern B.C.’s most beloved online ambassador.
“She does have quite a following,” said Karyn Armour, who maintains the glamorous doll’s social media profile from her home in tiny Atlin, B.C.
Scroll through the online photos and you’ll see Barbie, decked out in stylish handmade clothes, taking in the sights and events around her scenic hometown. There she is posing with the MV Tarahne, or taking in movie night at the Globe Theatre, or waving at a Canada Day parade.
“My husband and I, we put Barbie in different outfits and we take the iPad and pose Barbie all over Atlin,” Armour said.
“So yes, we look like complete lunatics out there with a Barbie doll, and trying to get the poses just right so that she looks like she’s a real little human.”
The whole thing started a few years ago, when Armour’s nonagenarian mother Hazel Thompson decided to start knitting Barbie clothes at her home in southern B.C.
“She just had her second knee replacement … and had extra time on her hands. So she was knitting like crazy, and started doing Barbie clothes for her great-granddaughters and loved doing it — and just ended up with stacks of them,” Armour said.
When Armour was down visiting one time, Thompson asked if she might sell some of her little knitted outfits at her little store in Atlin.
Armour said she decided to humour her mom, and give it a go.
“I thought, ‘Oh my God, I can’t imagine anyone buys Barbie clothes,'” Armour recalled.
Turns out, people do. The outfits quickly started going out Armour’s door, and so Thompson kept making more.
“The little Hudson Bay dresses and coats are really the most popular. We sell scads of those,” Armour said.
“And I I send her clothes all over the place. There’s some collectors in Germany and Australia … and there’s a lot of people that come to Atlin every summer [and] specifically come to the shop just to add to their collection.”
At some point, Armour and her husband were inspired to start Atlin Barbie’s Facebook page. They’d seen similar things online and thought it might be fun.
It was a way for Atlin Barbie to showcase her hometown, and Thompson’s unique creations which Armour considers “little works of art.”
Armour says her mom, now 98, shows no signs of slowing down her production line. She’s still knitting up a storm.
“Several people, they know that she does the knitting so they save all of their little bits and pieces of wool for her …. and she keeps saying she’s going to quit when she uses up all the pieces of yarn — and then someone else will drop off a bagful,” Armour said.
“So … I don’t think she’s going to quit.”