Friday 27 January 2012

Happy Birthday Stuart xxx

It will be this bloke's birthday tomorrow and as I know he likes to keeps tabs on me by taking a sneaky peek at my blog from time to time, this post is especially for him.  

He looks rather contemplative in the pic above, which is rare.  More usually you'll find him laughing and joking, making silly faces, speaking in daft voices, or 'Dad dancing' in the lounge to entertain my daughter.  He likes a beer, is obsessed with dreadful football (has held a season ticket at Gillingham since he was seven years old, need I say more?!) and is never happier than when he's pottering about in our garden, or out yomping in the great wide yonder ... (mind you,  if you ask him, he'll always tell you he was even happier when the Gills went to Wembley; so it's best not to ask, or you'll get all the gory details ... and I do mean ALL the gory details, yawn!)

He's argumentative, stubborn, irritatingly organised, snores AND hogs the duvet, but on the plus side he's rarely grumpy and is always the first to say sorry, even when he's not really in the wrong .... (ahem!)

He'll tell you he drives me nuts with a grin on his face and I know he has no intention of ever changing his neanderthal ways, but for all that he's a great bathroom scrubber and my friend through thick and thin, so as fiance's go, he'll do for me.

Anyway, as I said, it will be the ol' devil's birthday tomorrow, so this is me, giving him a chuckle, making him blush a little and wishing him the happiest of birthdays.

With all my love to you always Stuart,
Happy Birthday you ol' arse,
From me xxx

Monday 23 January 2012

Wormshill Wanderings

Stuart and I were invited to stretch our legs in Wormshill with Fiona, her Simon and Bugsy yesterday.  I heard the words 'Ringlestone Arms' in the invite and thought a gentle stroll to the pub would be a lovely way to spend a Sunday afternoon ... silly me!

Striding out, with me bringing up the rear ... as you might expect!

With Simon at the helm, I should have guessed it was never going to be a girly totter!  By the time the pub came into sight, those muddy Wormshill hills had taken their toll and I was gasping ... I really should get out walking more often!

My little point 'n shoot camera gave me a handy excuse to stop and take a breather every so often - it's a beautiful rural farming area, as you can see.

Bugsy, Simon, Fo and Stuart

When we eventually arrived back, Simon had cake and coffee (beer for the boys!) on hand to revive us and Bugsy promptly fell asleep in front of their roaring log fire. We'd had loads of fun chatting and laughing out in the fresh air and after all the exercise, I slept like an absolute log last night ... Stuart however, didn't wait that long, he conked out on the couch not long after we arrived home!

Thanks heaps you two, we loved our Pink Welly Sunday in Wormshill ... (and I'm grateful I lived to tell the tale!) xxx

Friday 20 January 2012

One bearmaker's trash is another bearmaker's treasure!

Like many bear artists, I have a stash of mohair waiting to inspire me.  Occasionally though, I look through my mohair pile and wonder whether some of it will ever become a bear - perhaps the colours bore me, or the pile fails to fire my creative mojo, or the pieces have been used too often before.  Those offending pieces of mohair gradually filter their way to the bottom of my stash and over a period of time, are forgotten ...

So when I heard about a new Facebook group called 'Art/Craft/Bear Making Supplies for Sale or Swap' set up by a fellow bear artist, it set me thinking! 

With tape measure and digicam to hand, I delved deep into my storage boxes and hauled out a good few pieces of fabric which were never likely to see the light of day again.

I'm delighted to say, that with a little effort on my part, a great DIY idea on Clare Davis-Tedd's part and the enthusiastic support of other Facebook teddy bear artist friends, my discarded pieces of mohair raised a very welcome £300 and can now look forward to being put to far better use by other bear makers around the world!

Monday 16 January 2012

A note to self ...

You may remember when I moved into my new workroom at the start of last year, I bought a memo board ...

Back then I was more interested in which fabric to use for covering the cork pin board and how to make it look as pretty as possible, but when my sister Tina drove up from Hampshire to visit this weekend, she nipped upstairs to take a look at my new workroom and commented on my memo board, making me realise my pristine board had evolved somewhat during the months it has been hanging!

It's so much more than a pretty wall hanger now ... now it tells stories! 

There's a lovely thank you picture from my young niece, a pair of felt paw pads cut for a teddy who decided otherwise, little scented polka dot sacks given to me by Stuart's mum, photographs of my favourite rose blooms from 2010 and also one of a beautiful Camelia bloom - the camelia was a gift from my Dad many years ago and came with me from my old house when I moved ... I worried it might not survive transplantation, but it thrived and was heavily laden with the most gorgeous blooms last Spring.  There are also practice pieces of knitting, held by sweet little butterfly pegs given to me by my daughter.  On a more businesslike note, I've pinned reminders to order new wool felt for bear paws and cute bow ties in assorted colours hang, waiting to adorn new teddy bears.  There's a precious photograph of me with my kids, taken many years ago on a very windy visit to Brighton pier and my burgundy rosette congratulating me on my first ever Golden Teddy Award nomination.  The pegs beneath hold several lengths of  gorgeous hand dyed silk cord made by a lady in America and sitting under the memo board is the teddy bear tin given to me by my sister Fiona after a holiday; it contained Cornish fudge years ago, but now holds emboidery thread for new teddy bear noses ... oh and beside the tin sits one of my favourite china pigs collected years ago.

So, as you see, my memo board turned into a story board - it wasn't planned, it simply evolved in its own sweet way, which coincidentally, is pretty much the story of my entire life!

Thursday 12 January 2012

Showing Off ...

To show, or not to show, that is the question ...

20" Benedict

'The Winter Bearfest' in London is only a matter of weeks away and it's always so hard to know what to do for the best ... I mean, should I hide my new bears away and only reveal them on the big day, or should I just have fun making as many bears as I can until the big day, sharing them as and when they come to life?  I love to show off my bears and always struggle to keep them under wraps, so this time, I've decided to take option two, make the bears, enjoy making the bears, show the bears and ... worry about how many will be available for sale at the show, nearer to show time!

So, introducing 'Benedict', my very first clown bear of 2012!  He's a brand new design from top to toe. I wanted to create a very traditional clown bear with a slightly longer snout than my usual bears and I'm really pleased with him.  If he doesn't find a new home sooner, I'll be happy to introduce you to him in person at the Hugglets' show!

13th January update:
I am delighted to say Benedict has been adopted and will soon be living in Singapore!

Tuesday 10 January 2012

A Dad's Eye View

Today would have been Dad's 76th birthday, so we'd better begin his celebrations with a duck ...

One of the first things to put a smile on my face soon after Dad left our mortal coil, was his collection of duck photographs - I wonder if he ever realised exactly how many ducks had posed for him over the years?  It seems he could never resist pointing his lens towards an obliging duck!

'Brighton Pier'

I remember him telling me about this photograph of Brighton Pier.  He took the photo on a trip with my sister Tina and her partner Ian and was utterly thrilled to have captured the gulls swooping dramatically over the pier at twilight.  He was absolutely frozen too, as apparently it was a bitterly cold day!

'The Red Arrows'

And when he snapped the 'Red Arrows' in formation, I received an excited call ... Dad derived much pleasure from his camera and was always eager to share his photographic triumphs.

'Buckingham Palace'

Dad loved playing the tourist in London and knew the City like the back of his hand.  When I was a little girl, I remember being taken to see the 'Changing of the Guard' at Buckingham Palace, so it was lovely to hear the excitement in his voice when he called to tell me about his recent visit to London with two of his Granddaughters ... almost forty years after our visit.  Dad was feeling all of his seventy-plus years with two lively girls to manage, but nonetheless, had an absolute blast sharing his favourite sights with them.


Whenever possible, Dad would be working in his garden.  Being outdoors was his passion and if something interesting caught his eye, he would of course reach for his camera ...


He was so delighted with his border display of foxgloves in 2010, out came the camera to capture them in all their magnificent glory, closely followed by a phone call to describe to me in great detail, exactly how wonderful they were!

Dad, on the receiving end of Tina's camera lens!

I could, of course, share many more photographs and 'Dad' memories with you, but my abiding and most comforting thought about 2010, the year he died, is that he had enjoyed so many aspects of his life throughout that year ... family, friends, completing his building extension, his various hobbies, visits, the great outdoors, Winter, Spring, Summer and a beautiful early Autumn.  There is no doubt in my mind, Dad always made the most of his opportunities and relished living his life to the full.

Happy Birthday to you Dad xxx

Thursday 5 January 2012

An optimistic outlook ...

Here we are, five days into the new year and I am happy to be able to share my first bear of 2012 with you.  After many years of boy bears welcoming another fresh year of bear-making, this year the balance has shifted and my first bear of 2012 is a girl!


I loved reading 'Pollyanna' by Eleanor H. Porter when I was a young girl and think that with her eternal optimism, she is the perfect namesake for my first bear of this New Year!

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Tune out time

Despite a festive whirl of visits, parties and preparations, I was able to make time for quiet snuggling in an armchair with my trusty knitting needles, during the tinsel and sparkle season. I'm happy to say, my Kim Hargreaves scarf project provided much needed 'Paula time' during the Christmas madness ... clacking and counting makes it pretty easy to tune the rest of the world out!

My finished scarf

This week I started work on my first bear of 2012, a lovely new alpaca bear who will be ready to share with you shortly; but in the meantime, I must just tell you the sad tale of two naughty little kittens who thought the gorgeous Frank Webster bear below would be fun to play with - now poor ted needs new felt paws, hence the temporary plastic bag bandage on his foot.  He is waiting patiently on my comfy chair until I can find time to repair him.  This teddy bear is a very special patient, because he belongs to my grown up son.

'Anthony' created by Frank Webster

Those cute little kitties were in the doghouse after their antics, I can tell you!  Poor ol' bear ... (he looks so cute modelling my scarf!)

Books: 'Knitted lace of Estonia by Nancy Bush and 'Rowan Lace'

I recently bought a couple of lovely books about knitting lace, so I think my next knitting project will be a fine lace something or other ... but given the skinny yarn and needles required, it will probably be quite a while until I have anything of substance to show you!

Monday 2 January 2012

The Glad Game

Oh dear, I'm such a party pooper!  It's an undeniable fact of life that me and New Year's Eve don't sit well with one another, so in classic Paula fashion, I was in bed by ten and fast asleep as the clock struck midnight on Saturday. 

It's the 2nd of January and I have decided to begin my New Year today.  Yesterday was wet and gloomy, completely unbefitting the start of New Year, but today the sun is shining boldly and the sky is clear blue ... a far better start to my shiny New Year!

Some of my 2011 teddy bear designs

Despite my lack of enthusiasm for 2011, it was remiss of me to have overlooked the good stuff.  Last year may not have had me laughing in the aisles, but it did reward me with the love and loyalty of those closest to me, a raft of success with my teddy bear designs and another year's solid portfolio of work under my belt.  Also, the 'Guild of Master Bearcrafters' went from strength to strength, my bears found new homes despite the challenging economic climate and I learned that even when life does its utmost to stop us in our tracks, somehow we still manage to cope. 

See, what happens when I put my Pollyanna head on? Suddenly the world becomes a brighter place!

Wishing you all a very Happy New Year xxx


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