Wednesday, 9 January 2008

A bit of a yarn.

Nine days into 2008 and only now can I announce my first new design! It's not exactly the conscientious 'back to work' attitude I had hoped for, but given my recent sewing machine crisis and the fitting of my new gas fire this week (hallelujah!) I suppose it's not too bad of me really ... ish.

'Bobble' my first new bear of 2008!

I don't usually choose to play around with themes, but something started ticking quietly away in my grey matter once I decided I'd like to work with wool fabric, rather than my usual mohair. When the overall fabric choice has been decided upon, I felt drawn to using wool felt for this little bear's paws, it just seemed to complement his wool coat so well and then, as I came to finish him, it seemed only natural to knit a simple scarf ... and thus 'Bobble' came to life.

And the background to this design? Well, after spotting a beautiful, if somewhat grubby, vintage woollen teddy bear on an auction internet site, I started to think about the wool fabric I had tucked away in my stash and felt the urge to celebrate wool as a bear makers' fabric choice once more; after all, where would we all be without wool? I found myself scouring the internet for information about the history of wool and the craft of knitting and for me, as both a bear maker and a knitter, it was fascinating stuff ... Wickipedia in particular was great for background reading ... if you are interested, please take a moment to visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_knitting , if nothing else, it will give you an idea of the lengths bear designers sometimes take to research the background to their designs.

I would also recommend
http://www.bourtonbears.com/ This is a terrific source of historical teddy bear information. I have found the Bourton guys extremely informative when I've been researching in the past and so I popped over to see what they could tell me about early bears made from wool:

"During the years of World War 2, few bears were manufactured as factories were used to produce uniforms, blankets and other items needed in the war. When the war finished, materials were short and this gave us a period of interesting bears. As manufacturers started up again they used anything they could to get teddy bears back into production. Bears were made out of Sheepskin, cotton plush and even woollen blankets left over from the war were used. Bears were also produced dressed to save on using large amounts of plush."

Useful information indeed!
As I mentioned, I have occasionally come across elderly sheepskin teddy bears for sale on the secondary market and I think they hold great appeal. More humble perhaps than their vintage mohair counterparts, they are most endearing, inherently honest teddy bears.

On a broader note, I do think it's a shame our traditional crafting skills are so overlooked in today's schools. After all, in the absence of instruction, how will these wonderful skills continue to be handed down from generation to generation and how will our crafting heritage be appreciated and respected in the future? It also concerns me how are our children will be able to appreciate the beauty of handmade items when they aren't encouraged towards making them in their formative years? I'll get down from my soapbox now, but it's food for thought, don't you think?

4 comments:

  1. He's lovely Paula. No matter what the fabric your bears come from I always want to crawl right into their arms and sit in THEIR laps and let them tell ME a story. They just have that kind of huggability. Starbright definitely needs a sibiling :o)

    Warmest on a very cold day,
    Shantell

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hi Shantell! You sure do pay a lovely compliment ... thank you so much!

    Hugs to you,
    Paula.

    ReplyDelete
  3. That is a GORGEOUS bear. I adore the fabric!

    One thing I really, really love about your bears Paula is they all look so cuddly. I just want to hug them all. They are wonderful!!!

    Hugs,
    Lisa

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great to hear from you Lisa! I'm so pleased you are enjoying my bears - thank you!

    ReplyDelete

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