Wednesday, 26 August 2015

A hint of Autumn

There's a hint of Autumn creeping into our days here in the UK, evenings are darker and farmers busy harvesting wheat.  Our local field was harvested a few days ago, much to the confusion of Polly and Betty ... one day the wheat was tall, waving gloriously in a warm Summer breeze, the next, stubby and prickly against their tummies!


It is such a lovely time of year to create teddy bears.  Inspiration comes easily as our countryside bears fruit and slips towards the spectacular golden tones which herald the change of season ... 


'Harvest' is my tribute to Autumn.  

Autumn is tinged with mixed emotion for me, as it embraces memories of both loss and happiness.  Nevertheless, I love the passion of this most golden season and its final dramatic flare before the dull grey of our English Winter.

:-)

Harvest is now available for adoption.
Please visit my website for further details:


Update: Harvest has been adopted!

Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Little Miss Betty Boo

My favourite kinda Sunday ... we took a walk down to the ancient megalith at Kits Coty with our girls at the weekend and it was so peaceful!


Betty, now 14 weeks old, has settled in beautifully and is fast becoming a superb companion dog.  She is a busy little pup, always sniffing, playing, exploring and stealing slippers.  She is also wonderfully obedient and eager to please, so  long may that continue!  I am constantly enchanted by how quick to learn and affectionate my new puppy girl is, completely true to the wonderfully 'biddable' reputation earned by this fabulous breed.  


Polly is proving herself to be an excellent big sister to Betty and a surprisingly calm teacher too.  We have started work on basic obedience training both in the garden and also on our daily walks and it seems that both girls appear to be learning from one another.  Polly taught Betty how to sit and lay down when asked and how to walk in a reasonably straight line on the lead without tripping Mum over, whereas Betty taught Polly to speed up her recall if she wants to share Mum's tasty treats!


They love to play together and even though she is still very small, Betty isn't in the least bit overwhelmed by her big sister ... in fact Betty is usually the instigator of  wrestling matches and daft games of 'bitey face'.


We are having so much fun now that Betty is old enough to come out on short walks with us.  It is a true joy to watch her and Polly dashing around so playfully together in the late Summer sunshine.


Welcome to our family little Betty Boo ... and by the way, where have you hidden my slipper this time?!

Monday, 24 August 2015

Quality time..

My daughter and I sat in static traffic on the M2 motorway during Saturday afternoon, thwarted in our attempt to reach the Marlowe Theatre in Canterbury in time to see 'Dirty Dancing'. Unfortunately, what should have taken no more than forty five minutes, instead took a bum numbing three and a half hours due to a serious road traffic accident.  The road ahead was closed by the police, so we passed time listening to music, whilst chatting about life, the universe and everything between, as mums and daughters are apt to do. We were shocked to watch as several less calm drivers bypassed the stationary traffic by slipping along the hard shoulder, seemingly unconcerned about the risk of blocking emergency vehicles.  How people can be so recklessly selfish, is totally beyond my comprehension.

My daughter, parked outside the Marlowe Theatre at last!

We eventually arrived in Canterbury, too late for the first half of the show and as Fay is diabetic and I was just plain ol' hungry, we needed to find an eatery rather urgently.  Instead of the restaurant meal we had planned, we were eternally grateful to a tiny branch of 'Subway' in Canterbury High Street, where a friendly chap served us tasty torpedo rolls, filled with spicy Italian sausage, gerkins and mayo. With only a few minutes until the show's second half, we camped out on the steps of the theatre like a pair of hobos to eat, just grateful we'd arrived safely at last, hunted down food and found a place to eat it.

As soon as we took our seats for the second half of the show, it became clear the row behind us was determined to be rowdy, but the iconic 'nobody puts Baby in the corner' finale was such great fun, it successfully drowned out their noise and we enjoyed a sparkling performance of Patrick Swayze's iconic final dance scene.

There is no doubt sometimes plans just don't work out.  Poor Fay had a nightmare train journey from her house to meet me and as the M2 was still snarled late into the evening, our journey both to and from Canterbury was dreadful, but absolutely none of that mattered because it was lovely to spend time with my daughter this weekend, simply doing our thing, in our own sweet, traffic encumbered way.  When your kids move out into their independent lives, quality time together becomes all the more precious.

NB: 

I can't help but think 'there but for the grace of God go I and my family' when I hear of a serious accident ahead on the road.  Traffic jams shouldn't be an excuse for impatience, or taking selfish chances on the road, they are a glaring reminder to all travelers that someone on the road ahead may not have been so lucky.  It's all too easy to forget what's really going on when travel plans are inconvenienced.

Take care all xxx

Thursday, 13 August 2015

1940's Glamour

My supplier described this mohair as looking like it walked straight out of a 1940's Hollywood movie ... how very apt!


I had a notion such stunning, sleek, stylish mohair would make a sophisticated girl teddy and hope I have proved my theory with 'Constance', a fabulous 22" girl, guaranteed to bring elegance to any room.


This lovely teddy bear girl has been a joy to make and it is now time now for her to seek new horizons with a special someone ...

Further details can be found on my website:


Update: Constance has been adopted.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Big Hugs

There will always be days when comfort from a teddy bear may be needed ... and of course, the bigger the hugs, the better.


Introducing Otto.

He's big.



Update: Otto has been adopted 

:-)

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

A new arrival!

The roses have been so beautiful this year ... a moment to enjoy these most radiant of flowers is perfume for the soul.  Sitting in my deckchair, with sun warming my skin as my dogs play tug together on the lawn, has been a joy since Polly's little sister Betty came to live with us just over a week ago. 


At nine weeks old, she is the prettiest and cheekiest of puppies, full of fun, mischief and love.  She and Polly have quickly become good friends, eating, sleeping and playing boisterously together.  As you can imagine, my bear crafting time has been considerably interrupted by this sweet new arrival, so for the time being, I will need to steal creative moments while she naps!


So, new teddy bears may be slow to appear in the weeks to come, but please bear with me ... I have succeeded in cutting out and pinning a big traditional boy bear from beautiful gold mohair this week, so progress is being made, albeit at a leisurely pace.  In fact, both my girls are fast asleep while I write, so I will sign off now and tiptoe up to my sewing machine ... 

Sssshhhhh!!!

Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Congratulations Mr & Mrs Winter!

My sister Fiona's marriage to her long term partner Simon, took place last Saturday.  The service was held in a quaint village church, which has stood fast for many centuries a few steps along the road from their home. The bride and groom opted for a relaxed stroll in the warm sunshine to Church, Fiona's designer heels carried chivalrously by husband-soon-to-be Simon, as she clomped elegantly alongside him in cheery red wellies, clasping a delightful bouquet of sunflowers and red roses.  They looked picture perfect as they arrived to the celebratory peal of St. Giles' church bells.  


The ancient church was filled to capacity with family and friends eager to help Fiona and Simon tie their knot and the congregation looked fabulous in bright, summery outfits, exactly as Fiona had requested. 

Guests arriving at St. Giles

The planning of Fo 'n Simon's wedding has been very much a family affair. One of my favourite pre-wedding tasks was to visit St Giles with my son, daughter-in-law-to-be and Grandson, on the day before the ceremony, to tie children's wellies planted with flowers to the end of each pew. The rows of brightly coloured boots looked absolutely gorgeous as bride and groom walked down the aisle together.  After the service, guests collected the wellies and carried them back to decorate the newlyweds' garden reception.

My son and his beautiful family

There were many 'Wormshill Wedding Committee' planning and preparation meetings during the months prior and no detail was overlooked. In truth, there were moments when we wondered if everything could possibly be achieved in the time available, but with a concerted family and friends' effort, no detail was overlooked. The result was a wonderfully colourful, crafted celebration, with hand painted signage leading guests to the event, hand made garden decorations, invitations, flower arrangements, order of service cards and of course, a hand made teddy bear guestbook. There were even hand decorated glitter champagne flutes with which to toast the happy couple! The official photography was provided courtesy of our sister Tina and garden lighting, marquee and gazebo construction and a superb hand crafted cocktail bar, were erected thanks to the combined building and electrical skills of the men in our family.  Stages designed and built by Groom Simon and his team of family helpers provided flooring for a live band to play our favourite 70's disco tunes and later, for my niece's DJ friend to ensure the music continued through to the wee small hours, so newlywed's and guests could continue to dance the night away on the smart black and white checked dance floor.

Pre-wedding drinks at the Ringlestone Inn, with Fay and Neil

My husband Stuart and I were asked to give readings during the wedding service - Stuart's from the 'Song of Solomon' and mine from AA Milne's 'Winnie the Pooh' (I think I had the easier part of that deal!) So on the day, we left early with my daughter and her boyfriend because traffic reports were threatening another nightmarish day of 'Operation Stack'.  Thankfully our journey was unexpectedly clear and we arrived in the village with plenty of time to spare, so put it to good use in the Ringlestone Inn's lovely garden. A little Dutch courage soon eased away my pre-reading nerves and I am relieved to say, our speeches to the congregation were surprisingly word perfect!

My boys, collecting up the wellies

Meandering back to the garden reception to celebrate

The Church service was a wonderful beginning to Fo 'n Simon's married life, reminding us all of the solemnity of marriage vows and the meaning behind them, but there was also laughter, song and an important sense of family togetherness throughout the ceremony.

The newlyweds wedding dance

After the solemnity of Church, a celebration into the wee small hours, the best way we knew how! So much colour, music, laughter and love, a garden blooming with happiness for the new Mr & Mrs Winter ... and as a thank you to their many guests, a fabulous first dance, in true Hollywood style!


Not only is Simon now my sister's husband, he is also Stepdad to my two nieces and Grandad to my Great niece Ella, on top of which he has been a great friend to me and my family over the past decade; so I would like to mention how delighted I am to have Simon as my official brother-in-law at last! Not so much a welcome to the family, more a recognition of all you have quietly done for our family over the years ... you have always been a part of it.


And my family pic above, for this post not about me, my kids and my little Grandson, instead a nod to Dad and his presence on my sister's special day. Dad loved their home in Wormshill and the candle and glass of red hanging from the tree branch at the bottom of the garden, was their wedding day tribute to him. He would have loved the celebrations and just like his daughters, would have danced the night away given half a chance, but more importantly, he would have been so happy to see his daughter Fiona, married to his good friend Simon.


So to bring this special post to a conclusion ...

Congratulations Mr & Mrs Winter!
Here's to your future together, 
may it be filled with everything your Wedding Day shared with us, 
colour, fun, happiness, family, friendship and love ... 
and in the words of Pooh bear,

“Oh, Bear!” said Christopher Robin. “How I do love you!” 
“So do I,” said Pooh.” 

AA Milne
Giles the Guestbook Bear

xxx

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Talkin' 'bout my generation

A while ago my daughter went to a gig with a girlfriend who commented how surprised she was by the more 'mature' audience - my daughter gently pointed out that just because years creep up on a person, their passion for live music and the right to enjoy it doesn't have to end ...

Sir Elton John
Detling Showground
31st May 2015

Before I became a mum my first job was in London, the heart of the 'Music Industry'.  I was responsible for typing anything from invoices to envelopes (yawn!) pouring tea for my bosses, sticking stamps on aforementioned envelopes and generally making myself useful, but the highlight of my daily trek from Kent to London on British Rail, wasn't to work in an office, it was to watch live music in the evenings.  The acts I saw were diverse: up and coming pop rock hopefuls on tiny stages in smokey London pubs, angry punks at Finsbury Park's famous Rainbow Theatre, a mellow yellow Donovan at The Royal Festival Hall ... whatever the act, if there was a ticket or pass available, I would be watching eagerly from the crowd.

Legends of Rock: 
Kaiser Chiefs, Paul Weller and The Who at Hyde Park.
26th June 2015

That was over thirty years and my now fully fledged family ago; if someone had told me then how fast the years fly, I would never have believed them ... back then, time was simply a moment to live in.

Youth!

After a great night out remembering when we were young with Elton John back in May, my husband and I, now creaking slightly into our fifties and prone to being overly organised and a little too responsible, dusted ourselves down on my daughter's orders and travelled by train to London's Hyde Park, to stand in a leg aching crowd of 65,000 beer and cider swilling fans for over five hours, for the sole purpose of listening to half-century legends of rock The Who talking 'bout their generation.  We also witnessed 'Changingman' Mr Paul Weller woo the crowd with his elite brand of uber cool and the fabulous 'I predict a riot' Kaiser Chiefs, rock it out above and beyond their call of duty. (Incidentally, let it be said if ever someone ought to still be rocking it out in fifty years' time, front man Ricky Wilson should be the man for that job ... what a performer!!!)


I love that age proves no barrier to great musicianship and I also love that crowds gather to share the music which first pounded their youthful hearts several decades ago, but after our Hyde Park excursion, I openly confess to shocked joints (and no I don't mean the kind wafting on the breeze!) screaming for hot baths and Epsom salts.  Next time we feel the urge to remember when we were young, our ticket criteria may well involve seating because young at heart or not, mid life aches are now the signature tune to 'my generation baby'!

;-)

Monday, 22 June 2015

Best Ever Dads

It was Father's Day yesterday and for the fifth year in a row, my four sisters and I either metaphorically, or actually, steered ourselves steadfastly past neat rows of 'Best ever Dad' cards displayed in local supermarkets, towards the relief of a more mundane challenge, that of selecting cold meats and cheese ...

The passage of time paints polite smiles on our faces, smiles which if you look closely, probably don't quite reach our eyes in the way they used to when you were here at the heart of us ... 

Dad, we miss you still xxx



But it's true, life does go on and for the first Father's Day in five years, I had a heartfelt smile in my eyes yesterday ...


My son's first Father's Day.
He is a super Daddy and I am so proud of him.

Happy First Father's Day Anthony.
With Much Love always,
Your Muva xxx

Friday, 19 June 2015

Memories of Summer

A fleeting memory of when I was a very young girl; waiting in the car with my sisters at the petrol station while Dad filled the tank and mum bought freesias for our Gran ... such a pretty scent!


Introducing 'Freesia', a Summer clown teddy bear, filled with the warmth of nostalgia.


Happily, 'Freesia' has been adopted.

Wishing you all a beautiful Summer, full of happy memories!

:-)

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Wavelengths

Creating a commission for a collector can be a fun process, but it can also be a bit nerve racking as it isn't always easy to tune into the same creative wavelength as a customer.  I find taking time to share ideas before committing to a project, is probably the most important step of the entire commission process.


Once ideas have been exchanged and fabric choices finalised (usually via email) it's then time to begin work ...


For this particular commission, my customer asked me to share work-in-progress photographs as her bear progressed.  It was a useful way of making certain we were both happy with the work ... and it only took a second to share snaps straight from my Iphone as I worked.


In fact, feedback from my customer during the bear making process was invaluable to me and it was fun to see how much she enjoyed watching her bear come to life step by step!


My customer's main directive was that her bear had to be BIG, a clown and created from only the most beautiful, luxury mohair. In other words, right up my creative street and a real pleasure for me to design!


My collector was also kind enough not to rush me to complete her bear, understanding instinctively that the best bears are never churned out quickly, rather they are better created with time built in for their creator to mull during the creative process.


For this bear, I hoped to achieve a  harmony of gentle Summer colour, so was delighted to stumble across Sirdar's lovely 'Crofter' yarn in perfect complementary shades for the scarf I had been asked to knit.


I decided to wait until teddy was completed before searching for his buttons because I needed them to be an ideal shade and texture. After spending several hours online, I settled on lovely chunky ceramics handcrafted by a seller in America.  She shipped them promptly and when I opened the packet a few days later, I was thrilled to see the time spent button hunting had been worthwhile - those buttons were absolutely perfect for my collector's very special Summer clown teddy bear!

Thursday, 14 May 2015

Long live the big bear!

When I first began to make bears, for some unfathomable reason, I was always drawn to design new patterns in BIG, then gradually scale them down to more manageable proportions.  I'm not sure how other bearcrafters went about designing their bears back in the mid 90's, but for me, big was and still is, always best.

Monty is a magnificent 25" in height!

There's something immensely satisfying about designing an enormous teddy bear.  A bear to sit proudly, confident of his place in the world and not afraid to make a statement.

Over the years I have found myself reluctantly reducing the stature of my biggest bears to fit with many collectors' requirements for less space hungry teddys, but no more!  Now it's time to bring back my BIG, 'Big 'uns'!

And on that rather defiant note in these space dictated times, I would like to introduce 'Monty', an unashamedly area consuming 25" alpaca teddy bear (shown with Max, an 8" Tiddler bear).  I am happy to tell you 'Monty' was adopted straightaway upon completion, thanks to a keen Twitter follower who had been closely watching work-in-progress pictures published daily from my workroom table, directly to my Twitter feed: 


I firmly believe we should take care not to lose our big bears in favour of more clinical, minimalist homes.  Big bears are such an important element of the teddy bear's heritage and I for one, am proud to do my bit to help keep his heritage secure ... 

Long live the BIG BEAR!!!!

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

A Spring break, then back to work..

Sorry my blog has been so quiet, but I've been enjoying a busy 'holiday-at-home' week while Stuart waits to start his new job.  Rather than holiday away, we decided to take long walks with Polly and between walks, finish redecorating the room that was my daughter's bedroom before she flew the nest a couple of months ago.



I can't lay claim to the decorating itself, Stuart makes a far better job of painting and wallpapering than I do, but I did enjoy blowing the budget to choose all the bits and pieces!

Hucking Woods

Leybourne Lakes

Riverside Country Park

We've been on some super walks with Polly each day; Spring has definitely sprung here in Kent with bluebells and baby lambs everywhere and the countryside as pretty as a picture! It's a beautiful time of year to don a pair of walking shoes and go exploring. 

My son Anthony, with his son Toby

And this year, my little Grandson came too - it was such a joy to share his excitement at being outdoors with us!  I am certain Toby will love walks every bit as much as his daddy always did when he was growing up.

Rainy visit to Emmetts Garden!

One of my favourite visits last week was to Emmetts Garden a National Trust property near Sevenoaks.  It was a rainy day, but that didn't dampen our enthusiasm, the garden was an absolute gem!  These rather whimsical tulips looked as though they had been transplanted straight from Alice in Wonderland ...


And the azeleas and rhododendrons were magnificent too!


Best of all though, were the bluebell woods, thickly carpeted with the most magical display of bluebells I have ever seen ...




There are some superb walks from Emmetts Garden, which are perfect if you are visiting with your dog.  We hopped onto a trail through the woods and needless to say, Stuart opted for the red route, the steepest of the circular walks.  It was worth the effort though, because the views across the Kent countryside were fabulous and after being on her best behaviour in the formal gardens, Polly loved being able to race through the woodland.


All in all, it has been a very busy week, but lots of fun!


So now Stuart has started his new job, I'm back in my workroom to finish the large alpaca bear I started a couple of weeks ago and Polly 's explorations will be restricted to local walks until the weekend.  Holidays never last quite long enough do they?  Ah well, such is life!


Back to bears: as soon as I've organised myself back into my workroom swivel chair, I will share some work-in-progress pics with you; that's a promise!

:-)

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