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At the end of Chasing Dreams at Hedgehog Hollow, Lauren and Chloe discuss the possibility of joining forces to run a crafting school in the old stables at Hedgehog Hollow and, in Christmas Miracles at Hedgehog Hollow, readers find out what happens next.

I feature a lot of crafts in my books which might suggest I’m a big crafter myself but I’m not. I also feature cafés, cupcakes and chocolate-making but I don’t cook or bake either! Time is one of my biggest excuses although, to be fair, if I had more time, I still wouldn’t cook or bake. The kitchen is not my friend. I would craft, though, and I have dabbled a little in the past but I’m not a natural and that does put me off a bit.

When I started writing my debut novel, it was on quiet days in the teddy bear shop I’d set up from scratch. I attended an introductory and advanced workshop on how to make teddy bears – known as artist bears – at a specialist shop in Durham. My bear from the introductory workshop remains in my personal collection but I made another one using that pattern which I sold in my shop and I also sold the one from the advanced course. My real name is Julie and, as I was planning to move to Scarborough by the sea, I combined my name with my future home to create Ju-Sea Bears. Those who’ve read All You Need is Love will recognise this as the brand that Bear With Me owner, Julie Browne, uses for the bears she creates.

As a thank you gift on my wedding day, I made two more bears from a different pattern which I presented to my mum and mother-in-law. Each wears a pretty dress. Looking back, I have no idea where I found the time to make those in-between planning a wedding and honeymoon, closing down my shop and job hunting!

In a village local to me called Ebberston, there’s a crafting studio called Ebberston Studios where they run a wide range of one-off workshops and longer courses covering a multitude of crafts from upholstery to mosaics to pottery to art. I’d always fancied having a go at needlefelting so I enrolled on a pre-Christmas workshop to create a stag’s head several years back. I’m very proud of my stag and I thought he was brilliant… until I saw all the others! They were phenomenal.

I enrolled on another needlefelting workshop with the same tutor to make a teddy bear and decided to go for an unusual colour and quirky sized limbs. Hmm. Not quite as good as my stag!

Later that year, I went on a one-day workshop connected to a teddy bear show in Sheffield where I made my sixth mohair teddy bear. I’m very proud of the bear I made here but I haven’t touched crafting since. Again, it’s that old gem of time. With writing four books a year, there’s little time to squeeze in anything else. I have a couple of needlefelting kits at home – for a hedgehog and an owl – and I do hope to do them at some point. I also have lots of cross stitch kits which is something I used to love doing. Every year I think I’ll pick them up again … but it never quite happens.

If you’d like to explore Ebberston Studios (North Yorkshire, near Scarborough), you can find their website here: http://www.ebberstonstudios.co.uk

Big hugs
Jessica xx

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