Thursday, 7 July 2016

Watch the birdy

I know there are many fantastic willow weavers who run courses in the Five Valleys including Susan Early (email:, Sheila Winter (write to: Sheila Winter, 4, Trinity Rd, Stroud, Glos. GL5 2HX) and Norah Kennedy ( but I was invited to join a group of friends at the Willow and Wetlands Visitor Centre (where they make the best Fortnum & Mason's hampers!) at Stoke St Gregory in Somerset for a willow sculpting workshop. I had seen Sarah Le Breton's leaping hares outside Linley's this year for the Chelsea Flower Show ( so I knew I was in for a treat and I was not disappointed. We all made different animal sculptures and, fearing making a complete numpty of myself, I chose what I thought would be the easiest option - a 5ft heron. I needn't have worried. With boundless enthusiasm Sarah was able to help everyone create a bespoke piece to take home. Besides wading herons there were sitting hares, leaping hares, a fox and even a dachshund! I'm already thinking about another workshop... maybe this time I'll be brave and go for the dancing hare.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Beary sweet

Introducing new boys on the block - teeny tiny needle felted jointed teddy bears. I'm hoping to do a one day workshop for these little fellows (if we get enough interest) at Mother Goose. Cost will be £35 plus materials (not a lot cos they're so little). Let me know if you're interested. I have to say this is the most therapeutic of all the crafts I've been doing. Frenetically stabbing a ball of wool has exponentially reduced my stress levels post Brexit (particularly as I gave them names from the get-go). Sooo...let me introduce you to BoJo and F'raj!

Thursday, 16 April 2015

Out of the Attic

It's been some time since I last posted anything...that's because I won't post unless I've found something really inspiring/interesting. But coming up fast is SIT Select Trail- an event that really shouldn't be missed. You can find their gorgeous free brochures in and around Stroud and Nailsworth or go on line for more information on events and dates. There are so many exhibitions to visit, but I'm definitely not going to miss one in particular - Beastly Magic which is on at Sofa & Stuff at Woodchester Mill from Saturday 2nd May - Monday 25th May. A host of exhibitors from ceramicists to basket makers, screen printers to wall paper designers will be displaying their skills. As a teddy bear maker I'm particularly keen to visit Karen Suzuki of Nameless Wonders - see one of her creations below.

Meanwhile there's our local toy workshop held at Mother Goose every Tuesday morning (10am til 12.30pm, £12 drop-in or £60 for a six week term) for those who'd like to make toys from a bygone era. Fully jointed and aged - they're supposed to look like they just came out of an old trunk in the attic! We make Stieff style teddies, bunnies and heffalumps. After learning the basics of jointed toy-making we always try and encourage people to design their own patterns. Come and join us now spring is sprung.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

The new arrival

Here's a cheeky chappie I made from lovely Schulte mohair fabric (the one used by Steiff to make their bears) from Mother Goose in Nailsworth. He's the bear we're making at the Teddy Bear workshop beginning next week (Tuesdays from 10 til 1). He's been deliberately 'aged' to match the style of bear - long arms, short legs and a hump! Such a sweet boy - who wouldn't want to make him?

Monday, 15 September 2014

Bear essentials

I am about to do the first bear making workshop with Sandy Young (another bear-maker). It's going to be a three week course run at Mother Goose on the 7th/14th/21st October from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The cost will be £75 per person plus materials and the bears range from contemporary to heritage, plain and jointed depending on your ability. It's suitable for beginners and more experienced sewers alike. Call Mother Goose on 01453 298725 for more information and to book. Workshops will be limited to 6 people so there will be plenty of one to one tuition. You'll also be required to do some 'homework'! Below are Gus the Grizzly, Arthur and Oliver - all traditional jointed bears.

Sea of pom poms

I'm starting to feel a certain numbness in my thumbs (RSI?) due to all the pom pom making that's been going on. I've made roughly 175 so I'm guessing I'm almost a third of the way through making a rug - it has to be packed really tightly to achieve the effect I'm after! Check this website for my inspiration:
Steffi ( ordered me some hessian backing so now I've GOT to finish it. This is an amazing way to use up all those odds and ends of wool I have left after knitting projects or following visits to charity shops where I pick up all sorts of yarns. It doesn't matter if it's wool or acrylic, 4-ply, double or Aran, just use what you've got. To make really firm pom poms overfill the pom pom makers, then tape the ends together with masking tape so they don't 'ping' open when you snip the yarn. Tie them with fine string (it's stronger than yarn and doesn't snap) using a surgeon's knot (add an extra twist when tying the first loop to form a double overhand knot) and leaving the two 'tails' to attach to the backing. I'll report back when I'm further along with the this space!

Monday, 30 June 2014

Felted flowery freaks

Whilst we were preparing to yarn bomb the Nailsworth Festival I started felting a couple of larg(ish) flowers to attach to the railings. Now I'm still something of a felt 'virgin' but I wasn't about to let that put me off. I started making a blue sweet pea and when that went wrong turned it into an iris. It still wasn't working but it WAS starting to resemble a viola. The upshot - a mega distorted pansy. I then decided to try a hibiscus. At least this time the finished piece does resemble a hibiscus flower. Am I put off by? Not likely - it has simply made me more determined than ever to experiment with shapes and colours. If you fancy having a go, Sophie Buckley does needle felting workshops at Mother Goose in Nailsworth  (01453 298725) and at Prema in Dursley (01453 860703).