Wednesday 30 January 2008
Tuesday 29 January 2008
Thursday 24 January 2008
2008 Pedrolino 13"
1999 Pazazz 28"
NB: It has just dawned on me that I'm having a lilac week, what with my new clown bear and my little cardigan ... maybe it's a sign that Spring is just around the next corner! I do hope so!
Monday 21 January 2008
Friday 18 January 2008
I mentioned a while ago I wanted to work on some smaller designs and at 13", Philbert is quite little by my gargantuan standards! I'm hoping to create even smaller designs eventually, but first things first, I need to get comfortable with these little fellas gradually, rather than suddenly plunging my sizing down from 20 inches plus, to under ten inches! It's important to me that whatever size of bear I make, it doesn't compromise the 'ALL BEAR' identity.
I'm so used to making big bears after creating them for such a long time, that I wanted to make sure I had adapted my bear-making techniques sufficiently, so the small bears look as beautifully made and as well proportioned as their much larger counterparts. As well as exploring an entirely different range of fabrics than I usually use to ensure correct pile lengths and density, this project has meant reconsidering the sizing of component parts too .. joints, eyes etc.
It has also been necessary for me to change from using my usual sturdy stuffing tool, to using a far smaller doll maker's stuffing tool instead, so that the bears feel perfectly stuffed (I found the ideal tool for this at http://www.joggles.com/ one of my favourite online stores! It's a 'Barbara Willis' stuffing stick and I must say, it works brilliantly). When it came to stitching my nose and closing seams, I found it worked most successfully if I used finer embroidery and extra-strong threads, than I would normally use.
Compared to the art of making big bears, there certainly seem to be many subtle changes necessary when making smaller bears. I am certain that the smaller the bear, the more things there are to be considered in the making and design processes and although I can't ever see me getting as small as miniature, I would love to eventually create a successful little bear of about eight inches ... I think it's time I challenged myself!
So, to summarise, this is 'Philbert' and at 13", I think he's a lovely size. I am very pleased with how this new design has turned out and I am looking forward to developing it further. Mind you, I won't be giving up on my big bears, oh no! I love them way too much for that!
Wednesday 16 January 2008
'Posy Panda' 17"
I wonder if those of you living outside the UK have heard of Coronation Street, our favourite soap? It was first launched on our screens in 1960, three years before I was born and it has been a British instituation ever since. I remember watching it on a black and white television set with my mother when I was a little girl and I'm sure my own daughter will remember growing up with it in years to come too!
If you are curious to know more about dear old Corrie, this link should help enlighten you: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coronation_Street
Monday 14 January 2008
Naturally, I didn't want to start knitting until I knew what flavour the baby was and my sister didn't want to spoil her surprise by finding out early, so it's been a guessing game for quite some time!
I selected some delicate lilac 4ply and some pretty double knit in white with a little sparkly thread running through ... oh and the buttons! They are so cute too! Dainty lilac flower buttons and for the white cardigan, little pink buttons with bumble bees in the centre! Such fun!
Thursday 10 January 2008
So, here's to you Dad, sending many happy returns and much love on your special day. I hope you enjoy the 'Showdown' CD; it's one of my absolute favourites, guaranteed to get you jigging ... just the way you've always liked it! xxx
Wednesday 9 January 2008
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?
Thursday 3 January 2008
I think it's just right for a simple teddy bear scarf in stocking stitch and with luck, I might even squeeze a matching hat from the three balls I've found. I really like the idea of making little ear holes in the hat ... we'll see! No, I don't have a bear ready to wear this knitting, but never mind, it's so pretty and snuggly, it will no doubt inspire me to create the perfect bear especially for it!
Wednesday 2 January 2008
'Miss S. Claus 2007'
Mummy Claus (me!) is dutifully visiting family, so can't give helpful advice and in the giddy whirl of tinsel topped Christmas preparations, thinks no more of it.
In true Time Machine fashion, we now switch to the day before yesterday ... with the festivites over for another year, Mummy Claus can now be found back in her workroom, like the good little bear maker she is. She decides to sew up her latest teddy bear design, using her trusty sewing machine. She threads it, flicks the lightbulb switch and firmly presses the foot pedal ... Calamity! The machine jams more solidly than fast drying cement. Upon further close examination a tell tale thread in festive red (!) is exposed and the maternal finger of accusation points squarely at Miss Claus (Oh She of the daft penguin slippers), who is out celebrating the New Year in tried and tested fashion.
A nail bitingly frustrating two days pass before Mummy Claus manages to locate her son and begs him shamelessly to don his 'surgical whites'. He agrees readily (never one to cope well with womanly whining) and spends several painful hours shaking his head meaningfully, whilst attempting to breath life back into the desperately defunct Pfaff. One exhausted toolbox hopelessly bursting with surgical instruments later, Mummy Claus is firmly told she should face facts, the Pfaff's condition may well be terminal.
Doctor A. Carter
So, the prognosis being what it is, I've been forced (!) to order a shiny new Pfaff sewing machine so that I can work on my new bears this week.
What a start to my New Year!
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