Monday, 7 April 2014

Doddington, a birthday treat!

I've had a busy weekend!  First, a lovely, unexpected visit from my son on Saturday which always makes me happy, then yesterday, a surprise birthday gathering with my sisters at beautiful Doddington Place Gardens near Sittingbourne in Kent, to celebrate our 'seventy-something-young' mum.

The five of us, with our mum

As we live spread wide across the South East of England and all have busy lives, gathering together to share a Sunday afternoon is no mean feat, so many thanks to Fiona and her fiance Simon for making this happen.

A variety of granddaughters and a great granddaughter

All in all, we scored one Grandmother, her five daughters, three of her five son-in-laws, five of her ten grandchildren, one great granddaughter, one grandson-in-law and four out of nine of the family dogs for this special get together ... 
not bad going eh?!

Mum's great granddaughter Ella, enjoying the daffodils

Doddington's gardens are absolutely beautiful; I can't begin to imagine how much work must have gone into their creation over many, many years to bring such magic to life.  Walking through the grand formal gardens transports you to a time usually only enjoyed in historical drama and at this time of year, the beds and lawns are bursting with primroses, camelias, daffodils, tulips, blossom trees and so on ... it's really is absolutely enchanting!

The dogs!
Left to right: Marley, Bugsy, Polly and cheeky little Jessie

These are dog friendly gardens, so rather than leave ours at home, we popped them on leads and brought them along to join in the fun.  Thankfully, they didn't disgrace us!

The younger grandchildren delighted in exploring the gardens; playing hide and seek through the trees, racing along woodland paths and spending the afternoon laughing together.

It was a lovely visit and the perfect place to bring us together to wish a 'Happy Birthday' to our mum and also to remind us all of how special it is to be part of a large family.

Below are a few of the many snaps I took of the gardens. 
I hope they capture the tranquility of this perfect 'English Country Garden' ...

There are many hidden treasures to discover in Doddington's gardens (not least of which are the home baked treats in the tea room!) so do visit if you are able ... I don't think you will be disappointed!

Friday, 4 April 2014

Knit one ..

A little raglan sleeved knitting project I've been working on.
I just need to hunt out a few more buttons, then it will be ready for someone to wear ...

I first taught myself to knit when I was expecting my daughter over thirty years ago and after all these years, still love to curl up in an armchair with my knitting needles of an evening ... makes me feel all cosy inside!

Thursday, 27 March 2014

Point 'n shooting

I try not to work on my bears at weekends, to recharge my batteries and  I love to pop a camera in my pocket and go out walking with Polly whenever possible.  There's something very therapeutic about a walk close to water, so we took Polly for a tromp round Leybourne Lakes in the sunshine on Sunday afternoon.

Much as it would have delighted her inner retriever to be allowed to splosh, I decided it would be less messy and kinder on my car's upholstery, to have a dry lead walk instead. Polly gazed at the lakes longingly a couple of times, but she was a good girl, trotting along beside us, just happy to be outdoors with her people.

With low cloud reflected, the lakes looked stunning in the sunshine. I only had my little 'point 'n shoot' camera with me, but did my best to capture a few pics.

Polly met a group of three sweet little dogs as we walked along, taking a particular shine to a cheeky young spaniel.  As we chatted to the owners, the little spaniel was in danger of becoming tangled in Polly's lead, so I dropped it and they raced across the grass together, enjoying a wonderful game of chase.  Despite Polly being much larger, it was plain to see the spaniel pup was leading the game, especially when he grabbed Polly's lead in his mouth and led her in large circles for a jolly good run ... they had such a fun time together!

Back home, I couldn't resist tweaking the above photo to give it a more arty, dramatic look; there's plenty of fun to be had with even a simple pocket sized compact camera, which is just as well, as it's very convenient when we're out dog walking!

Monday, 24 March 2014

Speaking of celebrations ...

It was my daughter's 31st birthday on Saturday ... it never ceases to amaze me that both my children are now adult, it seems I blinked and my babies grew up overnight!

Birthday cake time!

Much as I would prefer time to linger a little longer than it does, I can't fail to be proud of my clever daughter's achievements over the years, but most of all, I am proud of who she has become ... a beautiful, loyal, caring, generous girl, who deserves only the best to happen in her life.

Happy Birthday Fay Anne,
With all my love to you always, 
Mum xxx

Tuesday, 18 March 2014

Coming soon ..

Weeks seem to be flying past me lately and I have so much to do - not least of which is to build myself a brand new website and work out how to set it up on my current domain after losing all my graphics on my defunct hard drive.  It's good to have a new challenge, but goodness me, I sure could do with more days in my weeks!

I've been meaning to finish this bear for the past week, so without further ado, I am about to plonk my bum in the armchair, switch on the TV and pick up my knitting needles, so hopefully, tomorrow I should be able to squeeze some time to photograph him properly and show him off on my website ...

New website, new bears, coming soon!

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Creative Energy!

With daffodils cheerfully brightening virtually every verge, it's hard not to feel a burst of creative energy at the moment. 

This week, I have been working on a gorgeous new bear, in an unusual shade of lavendar, or dove grey, depending on your view ... either way, it is very pretty and silky soft too!

Now my new bear is completed, I plan to spend a pleasant afternoon sharing my conservatory couch with my cats and Polly, while I knit him a vest top.

Peaceful days spent crafting in the Spring sunshine, are definitely some of my most favourite days!

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

New bears available to adopt!

The All Bear stand

With four large halls full of visitors and exhibitors at the Winter Bearfest show in London on Sunday, it was a good day for teddy bears, thanks to the Hugglets team.  People were immersed in the serious subject of bears everywhere, eager to chat, inspect and adopt.

Unfortunately my day didn't start well after spending the first couple of hours at the show trying to connect a new card reader to my mobile phone to take payments, but then being unable to establish a wifi connection ... so much for modern technology!  Maybe I should have stayed with my old paper voucher/swipe machine system after all?!  By lunchtime I'd given up all hope of making the wretched thing work and abandoned it before it spoiled my day entirely. The bears behaved impeccably despite the card reader hiccup.  They sat smartly on the stand, welcoming visitors and lapping up compliments, while I fussed and flapped ... I don't think there's a bear maker in the business who would be able to honestly say show days are never stressful!

Happily as the day wore on, five of my bears found lovely new owners.  The bears below came home with me after the show, despite being much admired; sometimes that's just the way shows go.  I am now free to offer these fine teddy bears for purchase online ...


Handsome Beau is a 20" mohair bear, created in traditional clown/jester style.
I have used a lovely dense wavy gold mohair for his head/paws and beautiful silky plum and sky blue for his body.Beau has black glass eyes, a professionally embroidered black nose and wool felt paw pads, which I have shaded. He wears a cotton lace collar tied with hand dyed ribbon and has vintage buttons stitched to his front. Inside this lovely bear's tummy is a growler.

Beau is priced at £325 plus shipping.
Update: Beau has now been adopted.


Cutie-pie Crumpet is an 18" mohair bear, created from the same lovely dense wavy gold mohair I used for Beau. He has vintage black boot button eyes, a professionally embroidered black nose and wool felt paw pads, which I have shaded.  Crumpet wears an old fashioned key tied with hand dyed ribbon, around his neck.

Crumpet is priced at £250 plus shipping.


Dear Rhett is a wonderfully chunky 20" teddy bear, created in a soft, mid-brown mohair. He has black glass eyes, a professionally embroidered black nose and wool felt paw pads, which I have shaded. Rhett wears a cheerful multi-coloured, hand knit waistcoat and like his companions, has a growler in his tummy.

Rhett is priced at £295 plus shipping.

Do any of these bears tug at your heartstrings?  If so, I would be delighted to hear from you and to help facilitate your investment in my special statement teddy bears, I am able to offer a layway instalment opportunity spread over three monthly instalments, if required. 

To arrange a purchase, simply email me at: 
Thank you!

Saturday, 22 February 2014

Cutting it fine!

Talk about cutting it fine!  I am ploughing on with show preparations and there is still so much do, so please forgive me for keeping this post brief!

Introducing my 'New Romantics' show collection

18" Romeo

20" Beau

18" Lancelot'

20" Rhett

18" Crumpet

8" Patootie

This collection of teddy bears has been created especially for 'The Winter Bearfest' show in London and will be making their official debut in Hall 2 of Kensington Town Hall tomorrow. I will also be bringing along 'Gentle Star', a beautiful white bear I created at the end of 2013.

15" Gentle Star

I hope you will be able to come along and share in the fun.  I am looking forward to introducing my latest one-of-a-kind bears to you in person!

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Countdown to The Winter Bearfest!

Only a few more days until my trip up to the 'Big Smoke' with my first bears of 2014 ... the days are flying past.

For this show, I have created a select collection of beautiful traditional bears (sizes 8" to 20") from classic shades of gold/cinnamon, wearing scarves or knitted waistcoats.  I will also be bringing along a gorgeous plum/pale blue traditional clown bear, wearing a cotton lace collar tied with hand dyed ribbon.


There is plenty more to do before I load my little car with stand paraphernalia at the weekend, not least of which will be to set up my studio and take formal photographs of each of the new bears ... but before I do that, I really must get my skates on and finish my final two big bears!

I will post studio pics of my completed show bears later this week for those who aren't able to visit the show, but if you are coming to Kensington Town Hall on Sunday, please pop over to stand 75 in Hall 2 to say hello and see the bears in the fur ... we bearmakers love to escape from our workrooms to share our bears with you in person on show days!

For details of 'The Winter Bearfest' including a full list of all the famous bear makers from both the UK and overseas who will be exhibiting, please visit the promoter's website: 

Monday, 17 February 2014

Bon voyage!

I have called this young cub 'Sebastien' ... he will be travelling to meet his new owner in France later today.

Bon voyage Sebastien!

If you would like to see how I made Sebastien, you are welcome to visit me on Twitter to see my impromptu photos:

I will be adding further 'from my workshop' updates to my Twitter feed from time to time, so please keep in touch and pop in to join me for a tweet now and again!

Monday, 10 February 2014

A pathway to design

I was just thinking about my previous post and realised I hadn't concluded it properly ... there should have been photographs!  So, for those who would like to wander briefly through my long teddy bear design journey, here we go ...

1996ish The early years
 Traditional centre seam large head, short body, drumstick legs, long arms,

2003 My crazy contemporary phase
Shaped arms, sculpted feet, free standing, inset muzzle, additional poseable neck joint, open mouth, coloured nose, wild prints! 
'The Lynx Effect' 

2007 Developing my 'Modern Classics'
Chunky limbs and tummies, largish heads, hand painted glass eyes, subtle shading, 
luxury fabrics
'Gorgeous George'

2010 My so-very vintage phase
Hand dyed sparse mohair, distressing, vintage boot button eyes, saggy stuffing, wobble heads, patching, staining, waxed nose, slender straight limbs

2011 Doing the Shabby Chic thing
Incorporating dainty prints and pastel colour with vintage appeal
'Lavendar-Lou, Merryweather and Pippin'

2011 Continuing with contemporary
Poseable limbs, hand painted twinkly eyes, eyelashes, sculpted feet, inset muzzle, 
open mouth
'Felicity and her bunny'

2012 Heading back to traditional
Slim limbs, upright posture, smaller heads, long snouts, slim bodies, waxed noses, boot button eyes, felt paws
'Jake and Mavis'

2013 Traditional Luxury
Dense curly golden mohair, black glass eyes, waxed nose, velvet paws

... and for 2014?  

Well, as I mentioned in my previous post, I started this year true to my traditional roots, so will see where they lead me.  I look forward to sharing my continuing bear design journey with you!

No shakin' 'em off!

It's funny how twenty years of bear-making works ... I started out mastering traditional teddy bears, then discovered new techniques so slipped towards creating contemporary bears for a good long while, when eventually the urge to try out a new take on a vintage twist grabbed me and my 'shabby chic' bears evolved ... but finally I'm facing facts, me and traditional bears are destined to stay together; this bearmaker is happy to tell you, there is just no shaking 'em off !

I am currently working towards the Hugglets' show in Kensington Town Hall in London, which takes place on the 23rd February.  I will be bringing along my latest traditional teddies to sit loud and proud on my stand, so I hope you will be able to come along to this very special show and meet us in person!

For full details of 'The Winter Bearfest Show' please visit the organiser's website:

Thursday, 6 February 2014

A significant birthday

With a full half century officially under my belt as of yesterday and a new decade ahead, I have come to recognise that my approach to life thus far, has usually been far more fatalistic than forward planned.  Like many of us of similar age, I have had to roll with a few heavy punches over the years, but all in all, I don't feel much different than I did twenty, or even thirty years ago ... a little more battered and bruised by life perhaps, but still standing, still smiling and of course, still caring.  

Yes, fifty one is a significant number, too old to be passed over lightly, yet too young to hold the true wisdom of age.  Five decades teaches much about life, love and family, but also leaves a few important questions unanswered.  Maybe the life lesson to-date, is to accept that some questions quite simply have no answer?  Only time will tell.

That said, I have drawn a rather philosophical conclusion on this, my significant birthday ...

Unconditional love, trust, loyalty, kindness and friendship, are all we truly need in life.  They are the key elements to understanding.

Sending the best of my love to those who have always tried to understand me and who freely share their lives with me.  

I probably don't say this often enough ...

Thank you all,
from the bottom of my heart 

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Hey, I'm a bearmaker not an accountant!

Silly me turned a blind eye to my Tax Return until the very last minute (as usual!) then had to put my show bears on hold to plough through my paperwork right at the last minute to meet Friday's filing deadline on time.  I know these things need doing, but oh how I hate filling in my Tax Return ... I'm a bearmaker, not a flippin' accountant!  

Anyway, now that nasty job is done and dusted, it's time for me to get back to work on my show bears.  I already have a couple ready for the Winter Bearfest: the one in the picture above is called 'Crumpet' and the one below has yet to be named.  I think they make a really cute pair ... I hope you like them too.

I will take formal studio photographs on my posh camera when I have a few more bears finished, but in the meantime, thought you might enjoy seeing the bears exactly as I see them, after I have stitched the final stitch and they are sitting looking back at me from my workroom desk.

Besides show bears, I have several other projects to complete in February, not least of which will be a special limited edition of four splendid big bears for The Bear Shop's forthcoming catalogue.  I selected the fabric for these bears this morning and let me tell you, it is absolutely gorgeous - I am so looking forward to making them and it is a great compliment to have been invited to do so.

First things first though, today I have a sweet dark brown bear to work on for a lady in France and I need to paint a pair of twinkly eyes for him.  So that's enough blogging for now - back to work Paula!


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