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?