Tuesday 26 June 2012

Summer Breeze makes me feel fine!

One of the challenges facing all bear artists, is that of knowing when to diversify and when to return to creative roots.  Most good bear designers love to try new techniques and relish taking a wander off course from time to time, but there's also much to be said for refining the hard earned skills which are truest to your bear-making heart.

21" Summer Breeze

For those of you who have followed my work for any length of time, I hope you will agree, my latest bear 'Summer Breeze', (hot off the press today!) proudly bears my creative signature, big, bold and although I probably shouldn't say so myself, really rather beautiful!

Friday 22 June 2012

From novice to not-quite-know-it-all!

Thought you might enjoy my latest craft book find ...
 by Frederica Patmore & Vikki Haffenden
Published by Dorling Kindersley
I bought this book as a gift for my niece, who has recently been teaching herself to knit, but on closer inspection, couldn't resist buying myself a copy too.  I've been knitting for over thirty years, so as you will see, between novice niece and not-quite-know-it-all, this book has plenty to offer!  It covers everything from yarn choices, tools & materials, techniques, a great stitch pattern gallery and a variety of fun projects to knit.  It's easy to follow, very colourful and  quite simply, a great all-round reference book for anyone with an interest in knitting!

Monday 18 June 2012

The Guild and Charles Dickens ...

A little plug for my favourite teddy bear magazine!  

'The Teddy Bear' magazine

'The Teddy Bear' magazine is only published bi-annually so as you can imagine, each issue is eagerly awaited by bear artists and collectors alike.  I particularly enjoy this mag because it is always interesting and never patronises the reader.  So when the editor contacted me to ask if the Guild of Master Bearcrafters might be interested in creating Dickensian character bears for a forthcoming feature to commemorate the bi-centenary of the birth of Charles Dickens, I was delighted and quickly threw down the challenge to our members!

Eleven talented Guild members from around the world, set to work on submissions and between them achieved a very handsome Charles Dickens, two adorable Oliver Twists, an ethereal Miss Haversham, three dainty Amy Dorrits, a contemporary interpretation of Pip & Estella, a miniature Marley's Ghost and two rather dashing Mr Pickwicks!  I collated all the information on their behalf, formatted it, then sent it to the editor and I am thrilled to announce the outcome is the Guild of Master Bearcrafters has four splendid pages of  members' Dickensian creations published in this issue!

If you would like to purchase a copy of 'The Teddy Bear' to enjoy all that it has to offer, please visit the publisher's website below:

Happy Bear Reading!

Friday 15 June 2012

Raising a glass to my Dad

Father's Day will be celebrated throughout the UK on Sunday and hopefully great Dads everywhere will be reminded of how special they are to their kids and how much their kids appreciate all they do.

This year will be my second Father's Day without Dad and naturally, that makes me a wee bit sad ... perhaps no longer a weepy wreck like the first, but I guess when you find yourself sat alone on your little stone bench, raising a glass of chilled white wine to the camelia in the corner flower bed, you can safely say, Dad may be gone, but he's far from forgotten ...

Me and my Dad

I miss you Dad xxx

Thursday 14 June 2012

A little thank you ...

This is a little thank you to Elanor's Mum ... 

Much as I'd love to, I don't always have time to knit for my bears, so lovely Elanor's mum (Shantock Bears) has made me these smart bear waistcoats ... I'm really chuffed with them!

Thank you Elanor's Mum!

Wednesday 13 June 2012

The New Bears!

I've been so busy with all kinds of admin and household chores since the weekend, I almost forgot to show you the other bears I made for the Stratford show!  Let's put that to rights before I haul out the lawn mower and take advantage of the first hint of sunshine we've had all week ... after heavy rain, howling wind and temperatures cold enough to warrant me turning the heating back on, I would really love to know when exactly is Summer coming back to the UK?!

20" Big Mac

Big Mac quickly found a new home.  He was a lovely armful and what I'd call a modern classic.  Gorgeous dense curly mohair, a growler in his tum ... yep, this fella was definitely a head turner!

11" Jubilee

I couldn't let the Queen's Diamond Jubilee go unmarked could I?!  Little Jubilee was my tribute to Her Majesty's 60 years on the throne and he was snapped up fast ... aw!

12" Little Ted

Little Ted tugged at a few heartstrings and I'm sure he will look lovely sitting among his new owner's bigger bears ... he's a real cutie!

11" Junot

I designed my clown bear 'Junot' to celebrate Summer, so hopefully said season will arrive shortly!  Junot came home with me on show day and is still searching for his perfect new owner; fingers crossed they find one another very soon.

17" Jake

I'm happy to say the handsome 'Jake' also found a new home, but his lady friend 'Mavis' is now a little forlorn without him, as she waits patiently to be adopted from my website www.allbear.co.uk ... 

17" Mavis

Never mind Mavis, your turn will come!

Monday 11 June 2012

In search of hidden treasure!

Well, that's Stratford done for another year!  Once again Stuart and I enjoyed a lovely weekend there and this year thankfully, it didn't rain.

Boats on the River Avon

A change of scenery is always a breath of fresh of air to flagging spirits and Stratford with its cultural hustle and bustle, great restaurants and generally 'interesting things to do', never fails to capture our interest.

Late afternoon sunshine on the Guild Hall

We love to mooch along the river Avon and potter around the town's medieval streets and of course, I always have my faithful camera close to hand ...

The Holy Trinity Church

The Bard himself is interred within Holy Trinity Church, but aside from that cultural claim to fame, I think the Church is an absolutely beautiful building and I love its tranquil churchyard, set back from the riverbank.

We strolled along the river for a while before heading back into town to our favourite eatery 'The Garrick Inn', which claims to be the oldest public house in town, dating back as far as the fourteenth century.  

After imbibing several glasses of beer, a very tasty meal of sea bass cooked in a delicious dill and butter sauce and a large Irish coffee (yes Dad, made with Jamiesons Irish whisky, just as you taught me!) in the candlelit restaurant, it was still light outside, so feeling rather mellow (!) we decided to continue our walk, with the intention of finding Anne Hathaway's Cottage for the first time ... 

Anne Hathaway's Cottage!

And after a long walk through several inter-connecting lanes, there it was, a signpost to Hathaway cottage!  Other day trippers had long since retreated to their coaches and departed for evening meals, so we were delighted to be alone, peeking over the garden gate to see this picturesque thatched cottage where Shakespeare's wife once lived, with its quintessentially English flower gardens blooming with lupins and poppies ... it felt just like finding hidden treasure!

Thatched cottages off Tannery Lane

Failing light reminded us we had a long walk ahead, so happy with our lovely historical find, we headed back along Tannery Lane as dusk fell, for a well-earned brandy night cap back in the hotel bar.

The Clock Tower at twilight

Needless to say, waking in time to exhibit at a teddy bear show in the Civic Hall on Sunday morning after the Saturday night before, wasn't easy!  However, one of the perks of staying away overnight is a full English breakfast and there was no way Stuart was going to miss ours!  He chivvied me out of bed and down to the restaurant, before plying me with sausage, bacon, eggs, mushrooms and tomatoes, setting me up for the bear-filled day ahead.

All set up, just in the nick of time!

After breakfast, we set up my stand, fluffed the bears and waited for the show to begin ...

A pre-show peek inside the Teddy Bear Artist Event show

Although it could have been busier, it was a lovely, well organised, very friendly show (with fabulous home made cake!)  The day passed in a gentle hubbub and I was thrilled to see my little 'Pops' bear go home with a very happy raffle supporter.  At four o'clock we packed everything back into the car and were safely home in Kent again, four hours later.  Today I'm as tired as a tired thing can be ... but no matter, we've had a lovely weekend!

Friday 8 June 2012

A raffle for Pops

I was lucky enough to win 'The Teddy Bear Artist Event' Organiser's Award with my show competition entry 'Felicity' last year, which guaranteed me a free table this year, so I made a mental note to say thank you by donating a bear to this year's show raffle ...


The Teddy Bear Artist Event Show is very special, non-profit show, organised by Samantha Potter and her family to raise funds for 'The British Heart Foundation' and in doing so, to support the work of teddy bear artists.  After losing my dear Dad to a sudden heart attack in 2010, it feels very appropriate for me to offer a bear to the raffle this year and so I have created 'Pops' especially.  I hope if you are able to visit the show on Sunday, you will help me to support this important charity by purchasing a few raffle tickets ... and who knows, maybe you'll be the lucky person who gets to take my little 'Pops' home!

Wednesday 6 June 2012

A Diamond Jubilee Weekend!

The Royal Jubilee River Pageant on Sunday was a splendid spectacle which even the heaviest of rain couldn't wash out and although I was grateful for the comfort of my armchair and the television on such a soggy day, there was a tiny part of me envying those brave, flag waving souls, clad in multi-coloured cagoules on the banks of the River Thames!

Jubilee Picnicking, Wormshill style!

We were extremely grateful the rain held off for our Diamond Jubilee celebration with my sister and her family on Bank Holiday Monday.  The weather may have been a little more British than we would have preferred, but we certainly weren't going to allow it to spoil our plans! 

 Struggling to push Simon's heavily laden Jubilee wheelbarrow picnic

Simon's wheelbarrow became a rather magnificent 'Jubilee Picnic Barrow' and we set off along the road laden with grub, booze and Union Jack flags, towards Wormshill Village Hall.

Wormshill Village Hall Jubilee Celebrations

Once there, we spread picnic blankets and settled down to enjoy our al fresco evening ...

Hannah's Jubilee cupcakes!

Hannah made some fabulous Jubilee cupcakes which went down very well with a few beers ... 

Bottoms up!

... and the odd glass of wine or two ... or three ... or ...?!

Tucking in!

We played Petanque ...

Made a rowdy attempt at singing along with the villagers ...

Sing-a-long Stuart!

And generally had family fun in the fresh air!

When the sun finally set on our picnic, Simon wheeled his barrow to a field across the road, joining the Wormshill villagers around a huge bonfire to watch fireworks and Chinese lanterns light up the night sky - I'm afraid you'll have to imagine those though, as the battery on my camera ran out!  

After the outdoor fun, not to mention the late night (!) I was pretty tired by day four of our national celebrations, so yesterday spent the afternoon parked comfortably in front of the box with my daughter, watching the likes of Robbie Williams, the magnificent Sir Tom Jones, Stevie Wonder, my personal favourites Jools Holland and Ruby Turner, Alfie Boe, Sir Paul McCartney, Dame Shirley Bassey, Elton John, Kylie Minogue and Madness (who performed a right royal rolickingly fun set on the roof of the Palace!) among others. It was a breathtaking Jubilee concert performed to the flag waving thousands stood outside Buckingham Palace and along The Mall ... and one which Fay and I absolutely loved watching on tv in the comfort and warmth of our living room.

All in all, I'd say we have enjoyed a right royal Diamond of a Jubilee weekend ...

Thank you Your Majesty!

Friday 1 June 2012

Our Diamond Queen

I've been watching the excitement build for the Queen's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London while I've been sewing today and don't mind admitting I would love to be able to wave back from The Mall when the Queen waves to the crowds from her balcony on Tuesday!  We'll be having our own little celebration locally to raise a toast to our Queen because after reigning over us for sixty years, I think she's earned it!

'Jake' will make his debut at the 'Teddy Bear Artist Event'

 In the meantime, just to prove I have been working while London and much of the UK turns red, white and blue to show the world how very proud we are to be British, here is a quick peek at a few of my very British teddy bears, all ready for the Stratford Upon Avon show next week ...

'Mavis' will be there too!

And so will 'Little Ted'!

Wishing you all a bunting and flag waving weekend, full to bursting with Jubilee fun!

Hip hip horaay!
Hip hip horaay!
Hip hip horaay!


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