Wednesday 13 December 2023

A festive hiccup



I had planned several more festive teddy bears before Christmas arrives, but unfortunately was zapped with the 'head cold from hell' about a week ago, which proved far from conducive to creativity. I hope to finish one or two new bears over the next week, including a rather handsome Tweedy Ted, so all is not quite lost, although overseas shipping may prove a little late for the Big Day.

I have been creating my 2023 portfolio of teddy bear designs as they come to life and really wanted to include one more Tweedy Ted, after finding some glorious deep red and green Harris Tweed to work with, perfect for a Christmas Tweedy. 2023 has been a busy bear-making bear for me, with each new teddy quickly finding a lovely new owner... thank you all so much for wanting to share my bear-making world with me, I am so grateful to you.

Thankfully I feel better today, so am looking forward to a quiet afternoon with my sewing machine. As the song goes, 'The weather outside is frightful' (heavy rain laden skies as I write) so once my dog walk is done and the inevitable mud hosed away, I will pull up the drawbridge and settle to work. With luck, I may finish a sweet mohair teddy bear in time for Christmas too ... fingers crossed.  The other beautiful pieces of mohair I had planned to work on, including a very pretty rose pink fabric, perfect for a larger girly bear, will inspire me to begin my bear-making again in the New Year...

2024 we are heading your way!


Monday 27 November 2023

The Norwich Gang



Another collection of teddy bears soon be wending their merry way to The Bear Shop in Norwich. Donald 12", Duffy 18", Dooley 16", Dougie 18" and Dermot 14", have been keeping me very busy over the past few weeks!

I have two of their pals still in pieces on my worktable and they will be joining the Norwich gang in a few days' time ... after that, I promise faithfully to make a lovely new teddy bear to share here on my website!

Visit The Bear Shop on this link:

Wednesday 13 September 2023

The Laughing Bears




I was recently reminded of some of my more unusual teddy bear designs by a regular collector, who was thrilled to have located a teddy bear I made over twenty years ago and wrote to tell me about her find... a laughing bear with hugging arms, created from a beautiful animal print fur fabric.

The 'Laughing Bears' were a change of design direction for me at the start of the new millenium. By then I had become well known for creating large traditional mohair teddy bears but never one to rest on my laurels, wanted to expand my teddy bear designs with a range of more contemporary bears. I stumbled across a wonderful faux fur fabric produced by 'Tissavel' in France, a high end synthetic fur fabric used in clothing manufacture. This luxurious fabric was manufactured in a wonderful range of 'state of the art' faux fur, with an all-important stable woven backing... to my mind, perfect for creating showpiece teddy bears!

At the time, I knew there would be collectors loyal to my traditional teddy bears, who would perhaps frown upon this flamboyant change of design direction for 'All Bear', but to my mind, creative itches must be scratched, so I decided to be brave and forge ahead with my idea anyway. Beautiful 'Bisto', the teddy in the photo above, was one of my first Laughing Bear designs and still holds a very special place in my heart. Then one laughing bear led to another ... and another ... and another! Choosing names that reflected their personalities was fun ... Laughalot, Wotalot, VaVaVoom, Crazy for you, Happy-go-lucky, Tiger Feet, Beano, Bisto, Hullabulloo, Rumpus, Serendipity...  and so they went on... 

The Laughing Bears were a more complicated, time consuming design. I wanted them to retain the appeal of traditional teddy bears but also to stand proudly in their own right. I felt it was important to create an open-mouthed design which really brought the bear to life, lending him a truly happy personna, I didn't want a mouth that flopped, or worse still, grimaced!  After quite a bit of trial and error, I came up with a smiling mouth design that made me smile back... and when I added hand painted, twinkly glass eyes, it quickly became clear these new bears were going to be super fun characters! I also designed a new arm shape for my Laughing Bears, giving them arms to hug with and once I was happy with the overall design proportions, hey presto! I had created a blueprint to explore to my heart's content ... I couldn't resist creating Laughing Bears from leopard, cheetah, lynx, rabbit and bear furs ... the possibilities seemed endless. Sometimes I worked mohair, or alpaca muzzles and paws into my design with the faux fur and each design tweak brought a new character to life. 

Despite the teddy bear traditionalists among collectors, my 'Laughing Bears' quickly found their niche and were adopted around the globe, with many heading to the United States . I continued to create my much loved traditional teddy bears too and still do so today.

I made Laughing Bears for a good number of years, some in faux fur, others in mohair, or alpaca and some which incorporated a contrast of fabrics. Most Laughing Bears were around 19"/20" in height but there were also a few 25"/26" Laughing Bears... as you can imagine, those had especially huge personalities! 

Eventually, Tissavel faux fur became much harder to source (I was told the company went out of business) and once again, I began to feel a creative urge to take my designs into a new area, so I quietly retired my friendly Laughing Bears and headed off on my next teddy bear tangent.

Remembering the Laughing Bears this week has been fun, so who knows, perhaps I will think about creating one or two in the future, if I ever locate that glorious Tissavel faux fur again, for old time's sake!

Tuesday 5 September 2023

A bundle of cuddles



Meet little Alfie, our newest family member!

We collected this bundle of cuddles a few days ago and brought him home to fill the kitty-cat sized hole that our old girl Puddle left behind. I wasn't sure I wanted to adopt another kitten after so many years with Puddle, but I missed my little black shadow and so did Stan, our black and white cat... so after three weeks, I found myself scouring local kitten advertisements and late one night, spied a brand new kitten ad...

A day later, my daughter and I drove a few miles to view this tiny ginger scrap, who was very content to rest in my daughter's arm's and have his tummy stroked while we had a chat with the owner, a lovely lady, who told us that her cat had been engaged in an illicit affair with the neighbour's tomcat (!) producing a litter of five kittens and the rest, as they say is history...

Little Alfie is almost eleven weeks old and has settled into our furry family beautifully. He is a very sweet natured kitten, gentle, playful and affectionate... just perfect. After slow, careful introductions with the dogs, Alfie has been fully accepted as one of the furry family and I have a suspicion Cooper and Alfie are already becoming good friends, so it will be lovely to watch them grow up together.

Polly and Betty are old hands at kitten introductions and are very gentle with Alfie; Betty, the most gentle dog I have ever known, is just mildly curious, while ten year old Polly is happy to let Alfie do his kitten 'thing' around her, while she snoozes. As for Stan, he will take a little longer to warm up to his new baby brother, as is the way with cats. He is currently playing things cool to retain 'top cat' status in the house ... perching on the back of 'his' sofa and quietly watching kitten proceedings unfold from a close distance. Secretly I can see he is itching to play with all the new toys, so I have no doubt at all, that within the next couple of days, our Stanley will be racing around with little Alfie, just like a kitten himself! 

Friday 25 August 2023

The sound of silence


After a much needed change of scenery, I was able to add a lovely new traditional teddy bear to my website yesterday, aptly named 'Devon'...

My husband and I headed to Devon recently with our three dogs in the car, on the rainiest of August days. It was hard to believe it was mid Summer as the rain hammered heaven's hardest on our windscreen but fortunately, when we did eventually arrive at our holiday cottage about six soggy doggy hours later, the sun finally shone and my son and his family had already safely arrived and started unpacking. The scenery overlooking Dartmoor was absolutely beautiful, so we were eager to unpack the car, take the dogs and Grandchildren to the large meadow across the road for a good run ... and launch ourselves into full holiday mode, at last!

We spent a wonderful week exploring Dartmoor and Cornwall as a family. It was hard work but much fun. The dogs swam in the sea at Padstow and the children paddled and rock-pooled in Boscastle Harbour, traversing the scarily high bridge strung between the clifftops of Tintagel, in search of a statue of King Arthur at the castle ruins.

We walked miles with our dogs, meeting wild ponies, long horned cattle and sheep on Dartmoor, then listening to the sound of absolute silence far out on the moors. One evening we supped mugs of hot chocolate and ate marshmallows in the darkness by Harford Bridge while bats swooped around us and another day, we drove along barely used farm tracks lined with gorse and deep dark forest, to find the most beautiful hidden reservoir at the end of our white-knuckle ride ... and we all ate more pasties and ice-creams than were probably good for any self-respecting waistline!

It was a lovely week, full of laughter and family fun with my son, daughter-in-law and grandchildren but also full of happy summer holiday memories of my own children excitedly exploring Boscastle and Tintagel when we were still a young family just starting out in life, many years ago. It was very special to revisit some of the special places we had always enjoyed, with my Grandchildren this summer.

Many waters have since flowed beneath the harbour bridge you see in the photograph above... but over more than thirty years later, I can still picture my children posing there for photos snapped on my little Olympus point 'n shoot camera, hoping to be bought an ice-cream and taken to visit the gift shops further along the path, after scrambling over rocky cliff paths. They were such happy times. It is lovely to see my son now cementing his own special childhood memories by sharing them with his wife and children. Life it seems, always comes full circle. 

Wednesday 16 August 2023

A plum perfect farewell to Puddlecat



I love the way children deal with loss. They are able to accept gentle honesty, don't need fairytales and usually process emotion in a practical, heartfelt way...

After Puddle-cat sadly left us on the 2nd of August, my Grandchildren asked if they could create a memory tree for all the cats who had been part of our household over the years. We chatted about each of their life stories, then said a fond farewell to Puddle, Rodney, Daisy, Leo, Socksie, Toffee, Poppy and Sally, with a decorated heart each, carefully tied with ribbon to the branches of our little plum tree... and with plenty of smiles. 

My ever practical five year old Granddaughter made me chuckle when she offered to make a heart for Stanley too... 'for when he needs one Nana'. Hopefully that won't be for many years to come, as thankfully he is currently prowling around quite contentedly!


Puddle came to live with us on the 28th August 2007, sixteen years ago. You can read more of her story here:

Thursday 3 August 2023

Rainy Day Puddle



Yesterday was a rainy day... and a sad one. We said goodbye to our dear ol' Puddlecat, aged 16 years. Always the most gentle of girls, she left us peacefully and as was her way, without fuss.

Puddle came to us as a tiny scrappy kitten who had managed to tug at my daughter's heartstrings. She didn't have the best start to kitty life and Fay was keen to rescue her, so we brought her home and after a shaky start with her health, she soon blossomed into a beautiful glossy black cat with the sweetest nature and a penchant for playing with my knitting. She loved nothing more than to keep me company during the day, teasing me as I worked on my bears, or whenever I picked up my knitting needles.

As she grew older poor Puddle developed hyperthyroidism and gradually became very skinny and fussy about eating, although she never lost her love of cheese and I did manage to feed her a few tiny pieces yesterday. Her gentle nature never changed despite her health and she was always happiest to be close to us, especially in the evenings, when she liked to perch on the back of the sofa while we watched tv. Despite being quite a shy girl, she loved the children and always enjoyed a special fuss from my Grandson, who was very fond of her. She wasn't too keen on our other cats and dogs over the years, or so she would have us believe, preferring to remain aloof and distant with them. The only real exception was Daisy, a previous member of our long-standing cat family but yesterday morning, she allowed Cooper to approach and give her a very gentle kiss while she sat on my lap for a goodbye cuddle and despite her clear disapproval of young Stanley cat when he first joined us, I found them resting comfortably together in the sunshine on our conservatory sofa for one last time, yesterday afternoon.

So, yes a rainy day and of course a very sad day, but also a day to remember our gentle black Puddle-cat and to thank her for remaining faithfully by my side for so many long years.

Sleep tight sweet dear Puds. We will miss you. xxx

To read more about my cat family, please pop over to my full blog on this link:

A tale of nine cats 

Tuesday 18 July 2023


The older I become, the more I see that life is often about coincidence, each seemingly isolated incident, a piece of jigsaw linking to a greater story as years pass...

In my mid twenties as a young mum, I worked as a teaching assistant in a local school. The school was close to town and on lunchbreaks, I often enjoyed a short walk to the local bookshop to browse. One day I spied Pauline Cockrill's 'The Ultimate Teddy Bear Book' on a shelf and couldn't resist opening it... by some mysterious chance, it fell open to an image of my childhood bear 'Big Ted', a wonderful Chiltern Hugmee teddy bear gifted to me on my first birthday by my parents and still with me to this day, sixty years later. The coincidence made me smile and for some reason, I couldn't put the book back on the shelf and instead bought it, then read it from cover to cover that evening. From that day on, I was utterly entranced by the history of the teddy bear and I would say that particular book was the reason I began collecting teddy bears and ultimately, my inspiration for creating them too...

I began making teddy bears as a hobby. After a while, friends and family requested my bears and word soon spread beyond school that I was not only a teaching assistant but also a secret teddy bear maker! In the mid 1990's, before I had even heard of the internet, I came to realise that to keep up with what had quickly evolved into an ever growing demand for my teddy bears, I would need to set up a little homespun business to sell them.

In those days, my sister Fiona had also started to make teddy bears and one day, she took several of our bears to show the owners of 'The Rochester Teddy Bear Shop', a rather magical local teddy bear emporium. She returned home full of excitement because not only had the shop asked to stock our work, they had also invited us to exhibit our teddy bears at 'The Rochester Teddy Bear Show' held twice yearly in the Corn Exchange. I could hardly believe my ears and instantly forgave my sister for borrowing my bears!

And so 'Auntie Bears' was born, the prelude to 'Absolutely Bear by Fiona Smith' and my subsequent label, 'All Bear by Paula Carter' (now 'All Bear by Paula') which launched at the start of the new millenium. It was also the start of many more teddy bear show adventures throughout the country and the inception of our venture into selling to other teddy bear outlets, both in the UK and overseas. Wonderful shops such as 'Bears and Bunnies', 'The Rochester Teddy Bear Shop', 'Theodore's Bear Emporium', 'Growlies', 'Edwina's Friends', 'Sue Pearson's Dolls and Teddy Bears', 'Silly Bears' and 'The House of Bruin' among others, have sadly long ceased trading and are much missed by collectors and bearmakers alike. Over the years we made many long standing friends in the teddy bear world and will always be grateful to the shops who supported us during our early days as newly aspiring teddy bear makers. Other teddy bear shops thankfully survived the recent pandemic and are still selling artist bears to eager collectors. One such shop is 'The Bear Shop' in Norwich, trading since 1990 and as those of you who have followed my bears over the years will know, this shop still stocks my bears today (thank you so much Robert!) Oddly enough, it is 'The Bear Shop' which links neatly to my latest teddy bear book 'coincidence'...

As I mentioned earlier, in the 90's, before I had even considered making teddy bears myself, I had become somewhat of a teddy bear collector and eager reader of all things 'bear'. At the teddy bear fairs I visited, I would occasionally catch a reverent mention of a gentleman named 'Peter Bull', an English actor with a heart full of teddy bears. I learned that Mr Bull was the person responsible for bringing much-loved childhood teddy bears out of discreet and sometimes rather embarrassed hiding by sharing true life teddy bear stories in the wider world, with pride, gentle authority and a well-earned sense of place. He wrote and talked about teddy bears and their importance within our social history, with great fondness, humour and dedication, asking the world to understand that teddy bears were not only for children. In fact, many had provided a significant source of comfort to their grown-up owners during troubled times, including the war years and as such, earned their place in history, so we should be rightly proud of owning them in adulthood.

In my early days as a teddy bear collector, I don't mind admitting I didn't fully appreciate the impact Peter Bull made on the teddy bear collecting world. Born in 1912, he was of my Grandmother's generation, a generation that had lived through the horror of two World Wars. Originally a journalist, he served in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve, achieving the rank of Lieutenant-Commander and awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for service in the Mediterranean. Later he became an actor with films such as my Mum's old favourite 'The African Queen' and 'Dr. Strangelove' to his list of credits. He was also a Member of Parliament for Hammersmith for 29 years.

With a long and distinguished life established, Mr Bull subsequently became known as 'The father of teddy bear collecting' both in the UK and overseas, shining his bright light on the role of the teddy bear in the lives of men, women and children throughout the past century. He published his first book 'Bear with me' dedicated to sharing tales of real life teddy bears, in 1969. Mr Bull also appeared on television and became well known for championing the cause of teddy bear collecting as an acceptable adult hobby. 

Peter Bull passed away in 1984 aged 72, several years prior to the publication of Pauline Cockrill's 'The Ultimate Teddy Bear' in 1991 and just as excitement for teddy bear collecting and creating 'artist bears' was sweeping across the UK. On his passing, many of Mr Bull's own teddy bears were rehomed by the London Toy and Model Museum but 'Aloyssius', a famous actor teddy bear, best known for his role in the film 'Brideshead Revisited', was adopted by Ian Pout, owner of the famous Teddy Bears of Witney shop, first established in 1985 and still selling wonderful teddy bears to this day.   

My own little coincidence occurred recently, when I happened to be selling a teddy bear making book I no longer needed. I popped it on a well known auction site in the hope it might inspire another new maker and as I listed it, happened to notice another book for sale entitled 'The Teddy Bear Book', written by Peter Bull. It was offered by a charity for the deaf, so I put in a bid of a few £'s and promptly forgot all about it, until I received notification that I had in fact won the auction! I received this fabulous tome yesterday, first published in 1970 when I was only seven years old. It arrived in the original hard case and was in immaculate condition, clearly much cherished by the original owner. That alone was enough to delight this bearmaker, but to open the cover and discover this was one of the original 10,000 first printed and signed by the author's own hand, put a huge smile on my face. I began to read and was immediately drawn by the author's expressive style, then the joy of flicking through the pages as I supped my mug of coffee, only to find little treasures carefully placed within the pages by the original owner... a polite hand signed note of sale from the retailer, a bookmark detailing Peter Bull's biography with little annotations scribed in a neat hand, a list of teddy bears and books made available from 'The House of Nisbit', an address for a teddy bear restorer handwritten and noted 'a lovely lady'... and further on, a little round cardboard tag printed by 'The Bear Shop' and saved like a carefully pressed flower... the very same bear shop which has welcomed my teddy bears since my early days as a teddy bear maker!

Receiving this very special teddy bear book out of the ether yesterday, felt as though an invisible force somewhere had witnessed my teddy bear making journey over the past thirty years and brought the perfect gift to my door. I couldn't have been more touched, surprised and delighted... and for that I believe I may have Serendipity to thank!

To read a little more about Peter Bull please visit: 

Monday 17 July 2023

Huxley Bear

Huxley Bear

I made this 14" alpaca teddy bear last week and when he was finished, knitted him a smart vest top to wear. Then I spotted a pair of teddy bear spectacles in my box of accessories so thought I would add them, just for fun, fully intending to remove them after a moment or two but 'Huxley Bear' liked his new specs so much he asked to keep them on. He says he can now see clearly and even better, share storybooks just as soon as he finds his special person to read with...

I wonder what they will read together? Maybe Paddington, Winnie-the-Pooh or Rupert Bear? Or perhaps, Huxley Bear will prove to be an adventuring kind of bear... so maybe Treasure Island, The Famous Five, or my old favourite, Peter Pan? 

Whatever they choose to read, I do hope Huxley Bear and his new owner will share many special stories together.

Wednesday 12 July 2023

Hitting the right note


Summertime and the living is easy here in the UK!

I have been enjoying a lovely Summer full of sunshine, roses, walks with my dogs and a spot of live music (and touristing!) in London and at Rochester Castle with my daughter.

We recently visited the magnificent Royal Albert Hall to hear the soul melting velvet and honey baritone of the wonderful Mr Gregory Porter live on stage, together with his gifted musicians. His voice was so powerful it swept us all up to the tip of that beautiful domed roof, then floated us gently back to our seats as it broke our hearts then healed them, again and again. Just fabulous.

Last weekend, we headed to our local castle (yes we have one!) to sit in the sunshine among a large relaxed crowd, enjoying the mellow sound of Tunde from The Lighthouse Family, followed by a lively dance return to the 80's with Grammy winning group Soul to Soul, then forward to the late 90's and into the start of the millenium, with fiesty female hitmakers The Sugarbabes... and despite being one of the 'more mature' audience members (there were quite a few of us there!) I stayed awake til the end and was up on my feet with the best of them! 

The UK is alive with music this Summer, there are festivals and local gigs happening all across the country... hardworking musicians touring to share their passion for music over many years. It is so much fun to hear the songs you love played live, so good for the soul and it makes the years just fall away! If you get the chance, why not grab a ticket and head out somewhere to join in the fun... 

Monday 26 June 2023

101 Bears to make, a book by Nancy Tillberg



After almost thirty years in the teddy bear making industry, I find I have some great bear-making books, written by talented artists, gathering dust on my shelf. I collected them many years ago and as I am a nostalgic type of person, kept them because they held memories of my early days as a struggling teddy bear maker...

Back in those days, I was still finding my bearmaking direction and was eager to learn as much as possible about the art of teddy bear making from as many different sources as I could find. I loved reading bear-making books and was so grateful to authors such as Nancy, for taking the time and trouble to share methods and thoughts about this fascinating craft, with beginners such as myself. However, as I became more confident to find my own teddy bear making techniques, these books
gradually became redundant and now I find it is a long time since I last opened their pages...

Since the pandemic, I have heard of several well established teddy bear artists either retiring from our wonderful craft, or choosing to move into a new direction, so now seems to me, a good time to pass on some of the books which first inspired me in the early days, the days before teddy bears became my business... in the hope they will perhaps inspire fresh teddy bear making talent, into the future.

I have already passed on some of the books, but held '101 Bears to make' back because I wasn't quite ready to part with it. It was written by Nancy Tillberg, a lovely American teddy bear artist and member of 'The Guild of Master Bearcrafters', famed for her creative approach to teddy bear making, 'back in the day'.

This rare collectible book, first published in 2003, shares many inspiring ideas for developing your own unique style of teddy bear and is a fabulous resource for any budding bearmaker. I hope that by passing it on, a whole new generation of teddy bears may emerge into our wonderful artist bear world!

If you are interested in purchasing '101 Bears to make' by Nancy Tillberg from me, please visit my Ebay auction this week. Good luck!

Update: SOLD.

Thursday 25 May 2023

Teddy Bear Pals, where it began..


You may have spotted 'Jellybean' on my website yesterday, a bubblegum pink and yellow elephant-teddy I created earlier this week. I occasionally make a teddy bear pal and usually their design stems from somewhere deep in the mists of my childhood...

The original 'ellie' wasn't made by me, it was in fact given to me by an uncle in 1963, the year of my birth. Back in those distant days, my little pink ellie had floppy ears and felt eyes, but as is the way of much loved childhood toys, those were worn away with many hugs, over the passage of time.

Ellie was one of a select group of soft toys gifted to me as a baby... Big Ted, my first Chiltern Hugmee teddy bear, was given to me on my first birthday by my parents, Scotty was a handmade black dog made by my Nana's boarding house lodger, Sooty, a mohair glove puppet given to me by an auntie and my now earless ellie, managed to survive six long decades and are with me today... a little more careworn perhaps, but still much loved and importantly, still together.

Which brings me to the other pink ellie in the photograph created in 2007, an attempt to replicate my childhood elephant toy and my first ever elephant design. Since 2007, there have been other elephant designs along the way, Abe, Delilah, Starlight, Forget-me-not, Ma Cherie, Butterfly, Bluebell... and now, to celebrate Summer 2023, my latest ellie-bear, Jellybean.

Ma Cherie 2011

Bluebell 2021

Delilah 2008

Forget-me-not 2011

Butterfly 2013

Starlight 2009

Jellybean 2023

I still have quite a soft spot for an ellie it transpires!

Wednesday 3 May 2023

Purring Perfection



I ummed and ahhed for a while, asked a friend or two (thank you!) browsed, Googled and so on and so on, until a magic lightbulb moment struck... my trusty Pfaff Select 4.0, a decent hardworking machine, had been begging for rest and tlc recently after making many, many teddy bears over the years, my previous Pfaff Professional lay disgarded in the attic gathering dust, after being jammed solid by my daughter's attempt to alter a rather saucy Santa outfit a few years ago (!) and my prize and joy, my beautiful 1928 Singer handcrank, sat gleaming proudly in my living room, way too beautiful to be employed as a teddy bear making workhorse... so, I waited and waited, mulling over all things sewing, (including my budget, which was far from open ended!)

Eventually, as luck would have it, a 1986 Bernina 910 entered my radar, reminding me of school days back in the late 1970's, when I first learned to thread a sewing machine... by coincidence, also a sturdy Bernina. I remembered feeling safe with the machine, enjoying the reliable engine purr as I stitched pieces of colourful fabric together at an afterschool sewing class. The machine on my radar had clearly been loved, carefully maintained and regularly used, so I scraped up a little 'brave neck' to ask if the owner would accept an offer... and fortunately the stars aligned for us! The owner, although sad to part with her beloved Bernina, needed an industrial machine for her business, so had the Bernina serviced, given a clean bill of health and sent off to her new owner... me!

And here she is, sat on my desk, about to sew her very first teddy bear!  She came with a lovely selection of toys, (very few of which I know what to do with!) and despite her mature years (almost forty of them) still stitches like the pro she is, precisely, confidently and with purring perfection. She is a no nonsense gal, straightforward, mechanical and very obliging, with a super little heel tap drop needle function which is so useful. I couldn't be more pleased with her and am thrilled I decided to take the plunge and buy a vintage sewing machine!

Monday 24 April 2023

Catching Up



If you are keen to adopt a traditional teddy bear, I am happy to tell you there are three lovely mohair bears, sized between 12" and 18", en route to The Bear Shop in Norwich. Please keep an eye on the shop website for full details, or better still, why not pop in to visit if you happen to be in the area... what could be better than visiting a whole Aladdin's Cave bursting with wonderful teddy bears?!

Monday 17 April 2023

Magic Rainbow Buttons



After a busy Easter away from my bears, today I am back at my desk having a tidy up and looking forward to a (hopefully!) peaceful afternoon of gentle teddy bear making...

On Easter Saturday, life unexpectedly filled with challenges when my husband's father suffered a stroke and was admitted into hospital. We were also hosting my daughter's two dogs, one an extremely nervous rescue, while she travelled overseas and were up to our eyeballs in paint and wallpaper in an attempt to redecorate our living room/dining room ...  so as you will imagine, Easter hols have been rather a stressful time.

For sanity's sake, I set aside my bear-making and instead picked up my knitting needles whenever an opportunity for a quiet moment presented itself. I find the process of knitting, particularly aran knitting, very calming, so making the aran cardigan in the photo above for my granddaughter has been an ideal stressbuster... and little Izzy was delighted with her cosy new 'Nana' cardigan and 'magic rainbow buttons', which, according to Izzy, make all grumps disappear if you press them. If only adult life was so straightforward! I love Izzy's four-almost-five-year-old world, it is such a happy, sensible, place to live.

Please accept my sincere apologies if you have visited my website over the past three weeks in the hope of finding my latest teddy bears. My father-in-law is still in hospital but thankfully now recovering, the living room makeover is almost finished and our doggy visitors return home tomorrow... so with a little bit of luck, I will soon be back on an even bear-making keel again.

Friday 17 March 2023

Elizabeth Tweedy



After the very sad loss of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II on September 8th 2022, I was delighted to be invited to create a teddy bear memory from Harris Tweed, to celebrate the life of our dear Queen. My customer, a talented artist, sent me a beautiful sketch of the bear she had in mind, with helpful notes for me to work to...

With the Queen's dearest Balmoral Estate in mind, I decided to focus on the soft hues of Scottish heather against grey skies and, at my customer's suggestion, to incorporate the blue of Her Majesty's eyes in the bear.

My lasting memory of Queen Elizabeth is the final photograph taken of her in the elegant Drawing Room, at Balmoral Castle in Scotland. She was dressed in muted shades of soft grey, brightened with a smiling pink lipstick, the essence of which I hope to have captured in my Tweedy Ted's little brooch button.

Elizabeth Tweedy, a serene cloth bear, was created from Harris Tweed, woven by Royal Warrant, on the Outer Hebridean Isles of Scotland.

Wednesday 1 March 2023

Teddy bears, a British tradition



As a British teddy bear maker, no matter how many years of bear-making and design I tuck under my belt, I never cease to be inspired by the traditional teddy bear. He holds such a special place in my heart and of course, even more importantly, in the history of British toy-making...

The first teddy bear, manufactured in the United Kingdom at the turn of the twentieth century around 1906, was created by leading toy manufacturer of the time, JK Farnell, originally a silk merchant producer of small textile goods in the 1840's.

The family firm of J K Farnell Company Limited holds particular significance within the British soft toymaking history, not only because it was the very first British toy company to manufacture teddy bears but also because it created the actual teddy bear who inspired  A. A. Milne to write his famous Winnie the Pooh stories, first published in 1926. J.K. Farnell became the most respected and influential soft toy manufacturer in Britain and the superior quality of the company's products ensured it huge success internationally.

In 1908, the rival Chiltern Hygenic Toy Company, established a factory in the beautiful Chiltern Hills of Buckinghamshire and in 1915, produced its first teddy bear, a funny googly eyed fellow with dressed cotton body and mohair head and paws, boldly titled 'The Master Teddy'. He soon paved the way for a fabulous range of handsome mohair teddy bears named 'Chiltern Hugmees', sturdy teddies with distinctive large heads and drumstick legs, still very much sought after by collectors today, a century since the first Hugmee was created.

The British public fell head over heels in love with the teddy bear, which is probably why many were kept in attics when their owners grew up and are still found in dusty boxes today. In the first half of the 20th Century, mohair teddies were manufacturered throughout the United Kingdom in all manner of sizes and styles, by famous and lesser known companies such as Farnell, Chiltern, Merrythought, Deans, Omega, Terry, Chad Valley, Aneeta, Twyford, Pixie, Invicta, Hammond Manufacturing Company of Stoke on Trent, Harwin & Co... the list goes on. The teddy bear became an iconic toy, comforting generations of children through the difficult war years and beyond.

Sadly, by the end of the 20th Century, despite surviving challenging economic and supply problems presented by the war years, our toy making companies could not compete with cheap teddy bears imports from China, so almost all were forced to cease teddy bear production. Today, of the thirty or so teddy bear factories that once existed in twentieth century Britain, only one remains. The Merrythought Company Ltd, founded in 1930 still produces teddy bears in the traditional manner, from its factory in Ironbridge, at the heart of the Shropshire hills. 

Despite the dramatic change in fortune for teddy bear manufacturers from the 1960's onwards, the British teddy bear is still very much heralded as a treasured toy. Teddy bears produced throughout the past century have become significant collectibles and independent teddy bear designers such as myself, continue to create personal tributes to the traditional teddy, to help ensure the heritage of the British teddy bear for future generations to cherish.

If you are wondering who the traditional teddy bear in the photograph is, I am proud to tell you he is my latest traditional teddy bear creation, created as a special commission, to celebrate a collector's 50th birthday. I hope he is a fitting tribute to over a century of British teddy bears!

Wednesday 1 February 2023

The Bear Shop



I am delighted to tell you my next shipment of teddies, a trio of traditional gold teddy bears, will be wending their way to 'The Bear Shop' in Norwich this week. Bodie, Beau and Benson are very much looking forward to welcoming all the visitors to the shop and making friends with the other teddy bears!

For full details please contact 'The Bear Shop' in Norwich.

Tuesday 24 January 2023

A flying start



2023 is off to a flying start, but aside from the rather dashing Albert teddy bear I introduced at the start of the year, I am aware my website has had little to show for it!

There is plenty of bear-making activity happening behind scenes but nothing quite ready to share...

I am currently working on a group of traditional teddy bears for The Bear Shop in Norwich and will be finishing the final bear this week. I also have a big bear in progress, to share on my website shortly. Last week I received a fabulous piece of gold mohair for a very special birthday order and am very much looking forward to starting work in time for my collector's big day.

I also received another piece of the beautiful blue mohair I created Wynter teddy from at the tail end of last year and plan to use it to create a completely different style of bear from Wynter. The mohair was such a pretty blue I couldn't resist ordering it again when I saw it was available!

Lastly for now, I should receive a parcel of Harris Tweed in the next few days ... it is definitely time for some of my Tweedy Teds to make a return this year, as they were a little too quiet in 2022!

I think I made my very first teddy bear from a child's kit in 1992 and after making a couple of mohair teddy bears also from kits, attempted to design my own bears in 1994. I plucked up courage to begin selling a few locally in 1996. I would never have dreamed that almost thirty years later, my teddy bears would be living all around the world and I would be excited about yet another year of teddy bear making! 

Thursday 5 January 2023

Happy New Year!



Thanking you all hugely for 2022!  I couldn't have done it without you!

I am so grateful to my All Bear adopters and followers and would like to wish you all a very happy 2023.

I am delighted to report that all the bears I created for you in 2022, found lovely new homes around the world. I am now looking forward to beginning a fresh year of work creating beautiful new teddy bears to share with you and will be back among the mohair in my workroom later today. I look forward to introducing my first bear of 2023 very soon...

In the meantime, may 2023 be a year of peace, harmony and good fortune for all.

Happy New Year xxx


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