So let us begin with wool.
For me, the best wool will forever be locally sourced, breed specific farm wool. Here in the French Pyrenees, there is almost as many individual sheep breeds to choose from as their are valleys.
Many folks consider this sort of wool to be far too itchy-scratchy to knit or wear, given that it is so “rustic”. But aside from spinning it into yarn to weave or knit (which I love to do), it is actually an ideal wool for stuffing and has been traditionally used for blanket weaving and mattress making given it’s natural insulation properties and inherent springy nature which expands to fill every corner of whatever casing it is pushed into.
It’s what I use to fill my bears, alongside my love and care.
Many commercially produced modern toys and filled with acrylic stuffing, derived from petrochemicals. Not only is wool a natural, renewable alternative, it also takes on my warmth when I hug one of my wool-filled bears. And believe me, gently washed and carded farm wool smells absolutely yummy, sheepy (but in a good way).
Many bear artists use wood wool or saw dust to stuff their creations. But in my bears, the wool in their tummies (or as I like to think, their hearts) makes my bears extra soft and squishy. Just perfect for hugs.
If you’ve ever wondered why my creative practice comes under the name of Woollen Hearted, it’s first and foremost for a deep held love of wool. For my wholehearted approach to my making practice and for the “woollen hearts” each of my bears receive as I finish stuffing their bodies and sew them up.
Working with local breed wool fills me up, with courage, hope and passion. I hope those same feelings get carried out into the world with every bear I send out.