I have just enough time to squeeze in one more Tweedy Ted before heading back to my mohair ...
Introducing 'McBlue', a very dapper fellow in soft grey, contrasted with a smart blue check Harris Tweed. I love the soft feel of this fabulous hand woven cloth; the colours and patterns blend so beautifully, they seem to have an essence of the beautiful Hebridean Isles, woven right through them!
McBlue is currently available to adopt from my website:
I find it's good to take a break from mohair to experiment with different fabrics now and again. This week, I have been having heaps of fun creating cloth bears from Harris Tweed. I absolutely love this beautiful hand woven, pure wool fabric, which is produced in the Scottish Isles.
This special Tweed is available in an unending array of fabulous colours and patterns, is strong enough to withstand the rigours of bear-making and produces wonderfully characterful, traditional bears, with a twist!
I daresay I'll introduce a few smaller bears along the way, but to start with, I've been making larger bears ... Thistle measures 21" and Lullaby 20". I was so thrilled when both bears sold within moments of making their appearance on my website!
I have several other gorgeous pieces of this fabulous fabric in my workroom and another couple of tweedy teds in the pipeline, so if you missed this pair of tweedy bears, please pop back again soon!
I must confess, I can't resist a royal wedding, least of a fairy tale wedding such as the one Prince Harry and Meghan Markle shared with us on Saturday ... but that wasn't the only important event that day, as early on Saturday morning, a very special little girl was brought safely into the world by her mummy and daddy and for the second time in my life, I was blessed to become a Nana!
The birth of a new baby into a family is an incredible blessing, reminding us all that life is to be celebrated and cherished, that family is all that matters and when everything is said and done, a new generation within a family offers us all happiness and hope for the future.
I couldn't be more delighted for my son, daughter-in-law and grandson, on the safe arrival of their beautiful baby girl.
For the past few weeks, my life has been a busy whirl of Mother's Day, Easter and birthday celebrations, the obligatory Easter Bank Holiday decorating project and of course, daily dog walks.
And on those dog walks, we have experienced every kind of weather from snow in early March, through to glorious Spring sunshine today!
Snow in March ...
Spring sunshine in April!
There's rarely a dull moment when it comes to the British weather as it never seems to hand around long enough to bore; although I must admit, I am tired of the endless swampy mud puddles and longing for dry earth to walk on!
We celebrated my son's 33rd birthday yesterday and my daughter's 35th birthday three weeks ago. My goodness, I know it's a cliché, but where on earth does the time go?! It only seems yesterday I was holding each of them in my arms for the very first time. I loved being a young mum and will always have a deep nostalgia for those happy days, but I am so proud of the adults my two have become ... independent, well respected, hard working and loyal, they quietly go about their daily business with good grace and a twinkle in their eyes their Granddad would have mirrored in his own, had he still been with us.
Celeste and Albert looked so perfect sat together on my bookcase, I decided to photograph them together. The pics came out really well and now I am considering whether to feature them on new teddy bear hang tags.
It has been a while since I ordered new tags, so I think now is a good time to update. It's always fun to freshen things up and Spring time is the perfect time for such things!
And on the subject of Spring, at last it seems to have arrived here in Kent, in the nick of time for Easter. Last week we were battling sub-zero temperatures, snow and icy blasts from the East for the second time this year and today, the snow has melted, the sun is shining, daffs are blooming everywhere and thankfully, my woolly hats and scarves are back in the drawer where they belong!
PS. Celeste has been adopted but if you are looking for a big, beautiful, traditional boy, Albert would be delighted to hear from you!
Five years ago I really had no idea bringing up a Goldie pup could be such hard work, but having Polly loyally by my side every day of those five years, has made every training challenge, wet walk and bark at the postie, worthwhile. She has worked so hard to become a good girl for me and my family and she is a super big sister to little Betty. I am immensely proud of all my very special girl has achieved and all that she has taught me.
Wishing my beautiful bossy 'Big Bird' a very Happy 5th Birthday today! xxx
It has been snowing heavily here in Kent today, so of course, there was nothing for it, but to go outside to play!
Polly and Betty had so much fun. I couldn't resist taking a few pics to share ...
The scenery was so beautiful as the snow fell heavily and it was a joy to watch my daft doggy girls playing together. The walk home was a bit slippery though and I landed on my bum rather heavily a couple of times (ouch!) but we're home in the warm again now and the girls are sleeping off their snowy excitement while I sip a mug of hot coffee.
There's more snow predicted this week, so we'll be wrapping up warmly to make the most of it!
Snow is falling here today. There I was hoping Spring was just around the corner but instead we have 'The Beast from the East' looming large and have been warned to batten down the hatches!
Inspired by snowdrops and other early Spring bulbs starting to bud on my walks last week, I painted a sweet teddy wearing her Spring bonnet, but now I'm thinking I should probably have given her a pair of furry snow boots and a cosy ski jacket to wear, like the bears in the sketch below!
Ah well, I suppose at least the cold weather means it will be a good week to stay warm indoors while I work on my latest mohair teddy bear!
It just so happens I am not the only one in my family to have an arty crafty leaning and this weekend, the arty crafty gene brought three of us together, along with my niece, to give us a lovely opportunity to share an afternoon of inky, painty, messy play around my dining room table. My sister Lynda packed up a small shop's worth of art materials from her extensive stash and drove all the way from Hampshire to my house in Kent, to share her hard earned creative wisdom with my youngest sister Laura, my niece Erin and I. My sister Fiona and her husband also popped in for a cuppa and a catch-up. I have four sisters and as we live far and wide across the South of England, we don't get to see each other often, so having four of us together in one house at the same time was a special occasion and definitely worthy of a quick snap for posterity!
Lyn has a wealth of knowledge about how different art materials work together and she makes fabulous craft items - in fact, she has even recently had her work featured on the telly! Laura, Erin and I were very excited to have an opportunity to receive some sisterly art tuition from our very own expert.
It was lovely to share sister time together. After growing up as the eldest sister of five sisters, through all the rough 'n tumble of a large and lively family, I must admit I have missed sister time as we've grown older and our lives have taken us in varying directions. Yesterday was proof though, that no matter how old we get, or how far apart life takes us, given half a chance, we all still love to play together!
Not that he is in the least bit bothered, as he'd rather be eating sardines and hunting for 'who-knows-what?' in the garden.
Young Rodders has grown into a mighty fine looking tiger-cat in his first year, although I am sure he believes he is a dog as wherever my dogs are, you'll usually find him either chasing their tails, claiming their bed, or just hanging out on the floor with them. He has definitely made himself 'one of the pack'.
He was such a tiny kitten when he first came home last April and was always getting into scrapes, but since then he has become an affectionate, cheeky fellow and is now very much one of the family.
Oh ... and as you can see, I am happy to report, he did eventually grow into those ears!
Happy First Birthday Rod xxx
I think ginger cats have huge personalities. Rod's predecessor Toffee sadly left us a few years ago. He too was a tiny scrap when we adopted him from a local farm, but he soon settled in and became a crafty, lovable rogue. He was a big part of our family for many years. I don't have many photos of him, but I found this picture of him enjoying his sunny spot recently and it made me smile, so I thought I'd pop it here to remember him on Rodney's birthday.
The sun shone yesterday and there was a hint of Spring in the air, so we took the dogs to White Horse Wood Country Park for some fresh air fun. Previously there have been cattle in the fields when we visited, but yesterday they were nowhere to be seen, so Polly and Betty had an absolute blast running through the hills and fields off lead.
The park is very steep in places and although it doesn't cover a wide expanse, it is a challenging walk and can be a wee bit hard on 'more mature' knees, depending on which paths you choose. The views over the Kent Downs are spectacular though, so it really is well worth the creaky joints! We opted to stroll along the North Downs Way as it runs along the edge of the park, then climbed back up a very steep hill to re-enter the park. The hill was so steep in fact, I needed to stop and catch my breath halfway up! I perched myself and my girls on the incline, then when my heart had stopped beating frantically, just sat and admired the fabulous view ... after all, there's no point in taking a walk with a view, if you don't stop to admire it is there?!
It's a rainy start to the week here in Kent and there is no hope of my being able to photograph my latest teddy bear in the garden. I put my thinking cap on and remembered my studio equipment, which has been gathering dust in the garage of late.
It's a bit of a long winded process setting it all up, but I did enjoy taking a few 'proper' studio photos of the teddy bears I currently have waiting to find for new homes - mind you, Rodney's 'assistance' wasn't in the least bit welcome, so he was unceremoniously packed off quick-smart to another room!
And the new teddy bear? Well, to my great surprise and delight, almost as soon has her studio photos were uploaded to my website a little earlier, she was adopted!
17" Memory has been adopted.
For anyone who missed her arrival on my website, this is 'Memory', a very traditional teddy bear in a pretty vintage pink shade of mohair.
My fingers and toes are now crossed for Albert, Lonnie and Whisper ... here's hoping they too will find special homes soon.
My youngest sister, like me, is learning to draw, so we have set up a little art group to encourage each other, together with a few close friends and family who also enjoy artistic endeavour. A couple of months ago, Laura challenged me to draw, paint or craft something, every day for a year - she's a hard taskmaster! So far I am on target, having completed something arty every single day since New Year's Day.
This was yesterday's quick sketch ...
The idea is to improve with practice, so hopefully this time next year I will be able to share a masterpiece!
Was tidying my workroom cupboard earlier and came across this lovely photograph of a past collection of big bears I created several years ago. I remember the photo was taken by my sister ... she did a great job and we had loads of fun together in her studio that day!
I'm not sure why the photo landed up in the back of my cupboard, but it made me smile today, so I have put it back out on display. I perched the pic behind my teddy bear trophies which were also gathering dust, but have today been washed so are now sparkling when the sun shines through the window.
All this organising and cleaning can only mean one thing .... surely Spring is just around the corner?!
Time is a funny old thing isn't it ... I was hunting through some old photographs for pictures of my biggest bears and came across this one taken about twenty years ago, with my huge 32" 'Miguel the Magnificent' alpaca teddy. We were perched on the steps outside my kitchen window while my then husband, snapped a quick photo to record the creation of this huge teddy bear, before he took a flight to meet his new owner in the USA.
Me and Miguel the Magnificent circa 1998.
So much in my life changed since those days. After this happy pic was taken, I became divorced, a single mum and eventually, left my home of twenty three years, to begin a new life with my now husband and two teenage children. Then my kids grew up and made careers for themselves, left home to build their own nests ... and joy of joys, my grandson was born!
Just before my son left home my Dad passed away unexpectedly, which took a great deal of coming to terms with, as I rattled in an empty house each day. I filled the silence with waggy tails, noisy barks and golden sunshine thanks to Polly and Betty, my two beautiful golden retrievers and more recently, added a cheeky ginger kitten into this rather lively mix - one thing is absolutely certain, the house is no longer too quiet and I have no time left to rattle any more!
Thinking about things further, it wasn't until after the photograph with Miguel was taken, I finally plucked up sufficient determination to learn to drive, passing my test on the second attempt, at the grand old age of 42! I also taught myself to use a computer properly, learned among a zillion other things, to create a website to showcase my bears, write a blog and to utilise social media effectively. I also joined the Open University to develop my writing skills, then surprised myself by passing well! And when a very boisterous Polly puppy arrived, I nervously signed up for dog obedience training classes and once again surprised myself by actually managing to teach not one, but two naughty puppies to become polite doggy citizens. I learned how to use a digital camera to photograph bears, to make cloth dollies and recently, to paint and draw.
Me and Lonnie, February 2018
Since the early 1990's, I have witnessed the ebb and flow of teddy bear collecting and watched it reshape dramatically with the birth of the internet ... it has been a fascinating period of historic teddy bear change, both in terms of design and collecting ... and one in which I have enjoyed a privileged view!
On a personal note, although my life has been full of ups and downs, twists and turns throughout those twenty something years, thankfully the one constant has been my teddy bears. The passion to create these gentle creatures has remained with me, during the best and the worst of times.
There must be many reasons people become teddy bear makers. Mine was simply that I always loved traditional bears, ever since I was child and I had an itch to create my own ... then once I'd started, I couldn't bear to stop!
Thank you so very much if you have been a part of my teddy bear history. I have met many lovely people from around the world during my time as a 'bear artist' and am eternally grateful for the kind homes shared with my teddy bears and the kindness shared with me.
Last week, I treated myself to a little art desk for my birthday, after realising that if I had a tidy up and organised myself properly, I would be able to free up enough space to transform a corner of my workroom into a cosy art corner.
I am thrilled with my new work space and looking forward to playing with my art materials safely away from Rodney's mischievous reach ... that naughty cat just can't resist stealing paintbrushes!
Now that I have my teddy bear work station on one side of the room and my art station on the other, I will be able to tuck myself away and create to my heart's content whenever the mood strikes - and best of all, can leave my work out on the desks and close the door in the knowledge it will stay safe until I am ready to return to finish it!
I am so very grateful to have such a lovely creative space to work in. It is full of my crafty bits 'n pieces, pictures of my kids, craft books and teddy bear materials. It has everything I could possibly need to hand. Until he bought his own house several years ago, this was my son's bedroom, but I claimed it back when he flew the nest, then, with the help of my husband, turned it into my creative sanctuary. It is a lovely bright sunny room, full of 'happy' creativity and the perfect space in which to create teddy bears ... and now also, to paint!
Just to let you know, I have opened a new Instagram account to share photos of my teddy bears. Instagram is a fun, simple way of sharing photos online quickly and I think it's the perfect way to show you what is happening in my sewing room.