myBearpaw Blog by Jo Avery

A very NEWSY post

I usually keep my personal life out of this blog as much as possible. I have always wanted it to be a happy, crafty place where I can go to escape real life.
But sometimes real life leaks into every part your life. And I guess this is how I feel at the moment and why I want to tell you that my father died suddenly 2 days before Christmas.
Though he was almost 90 he was still living independently at home and doing ok. But a cold quickly became pneumonia and then just  as we thought he was improving he had a massive heart attack in hospital and suddenly he was gone.
It was 6 days before his 90th birthday. We went ahead and had the party we’d planned, and it was wonderful to all be together and to celebrate his life. My eldest, Felix the travelling hippy, even came home from India for it. Unfortunately he missed seeing his Grandad.
I know everyone thinks their dad was the best ever, but my dad was such a loving and supportive father. I respected him more than anyone I’ve ever known and knew I could always rely on him totally. He was also wonderful company with a very dry, black sense of humour.
My dear mum died 2 and a half years ago, and since then I had spoken on the phone to my dad every other day for a good half hour at a time, and we had become closer than ever during this time. I am finding it really hard to accept that I will never speak to him or see him again.
I know this will be upsetting you all so I will end this part of the post on a more positive note. My father had wonderful full life, surrounded by people who he loved and who loved him back, he kept his dignity right to the end and had the death he wanted. What more could you ask for than that?

This photo was taken when he visited us in September. Felix was just getting ready to go off again on his travels, and was sharing his crystal collection with his Grandad.

And now the newsy bit:
I had this post already planned for the day he died so some of this ‘news’ is not so newsy now, but I need to tell you it all anyway.
The really cool, exciting, fabulous news is that I (yes little old me!) will be teaching at Fat Quarterly Retreat this summer!!!

And boy, am I in good company! I couldn’t believe it when I read this list on the FQ blog, and saw myself amongst them. I feel very honoured. And after hanging out there for the last 2 years I am really looking forward to bossing everyone around sharing my skills with you all this time round.

Here is a lovely little book called Home Make Me Happy, which has been produced to raise funds for The Prince’s Trust.

I was asked to donate a tutorial and I was more than happy to include my Liberty Pants Panda tute.

It’s a really nicely produced hardback book with 29 different tutorials including this cute pinocchio doll…

…and this EPP cushion, as well as cooking recipes, knitting patterns and jewellery making ideas.
The book costs £15 and 100% of the proceeds will go to The Prince’s Trust, a really worthwhile charity. You can read more about Home Make Me Happy book here and order your copy.

More book news. You will all remember the Great Tapestry of Scotland that I was involved in a year ago, and that was exhibited at the Scottish Parliament in September. They produced a small book to accompany the exhibition but now the full, large format book has been published. This is a really gorgeous book with a full page for each panel and the names of all the stitchers listed alongside.

Here is the page for the panel our group made.
The book costs £30 and is available in all good bookshops (Or £27 on Amazon – but much better to pay the extra £3 and support a local bookshop if you can!).

All of us volunteer stitchers have been nominated for an Epic award. If you have a moment could you please pop over to this website and vote for us please? You need to set up a quick account and then vote by clicking on the thumbs up sign. I think we really deserve to win!!

One more piece of news.

Congratulations to the Quilters Guild for securing funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund!
Talking Quilts: History in the Making, the UK’s rich quilting heritage is being captured for posterity.
The Quilters’ Guild of the British Isles has received £89,100 for an exciting three-year oral history project. Talking Quilts: Saving Quilters’ Stories will be led by volunteers and aims to document, preserve and share the UK’s rich and diverse quilting heritage and the stories of quilters. Whilst there are excellent sources of published information about our textile history, we lack an archive that captures the  memories and stories of everyday quilters.
The project is supported by The Quilters’ Guild and is inspired by the Save Our Stories (QSOS) project organised by Quilt Alliance in the USA, which, for 11 years has recorded more than 1,000 interviews across the country and archived these at the Library of Congress in Washington.
Anyone interested in finding out more about the project or helping with the gathering and documentation click on this link

Well that’s me up to date on the communication front. I have a quilt I finished before Christmas to share with you too. But I am just going to take my time over everything at the moment.


  1. I'm so sorry to hear about your father, Jo! I'm sure he must have been a wonderful man, he definitely raised a wonderful daughter.
    I'm very excited about the news that you're teaching at FQR. It would be lovely to end up in your class and be bossed around by you:-)
    Good luck! I hope you win the Epic award.

  2. Jo, I'm so very sorry to hear of you father's passing. It's great that he had so much of his family with him at the end and it's lovely to read that you celebrated his life on the day that would have been his 90th birthday. I'm sure there were tears but also a lot of fond memories and stories shared on that day. My thoughts are with you.
    It's great to see that you are a tutor at the FQ retreat this year – have fun.

  3. So sorry to hear about your dad, but especially pleased that he was wonderful for you and that you had a celebration party for him any way. xx
    Congrats on the books, I am clicking over now to look at the Prince's trust book.

  4. Oh dear girl! So sorry to hear about your beloved father. I wish I could give you a hug…please have Jonathan give you one for me…a great big bearpapa hug!:) Good for you having his birthday party. Sounds like exactly what he would have wanted. I think of you giving him that wonderful Forth River bridge quilt and him snuggling under it while talking to you on the phone. Awesome!:)

    Congrats on the teaching and the books…do you think our girl could find them in a bookstore in OX before she heads home next month?

  5. I am so sorry to hear about your Father, you will miss him more father than words can say. My Father is poorly at present and he won't be getting better, it is a matter of time (I just don't know how long) before I am in your position, although I still have my Mum.

    My son bought me 'The Great Tapestry of Scotland' book for Christmas. Is the tapestry still being displayed as I would love to see it next time I am in Scotland visiting my son.

  6. That is sad news to have your Dad pass on so suddenly. I'm glad you had a close and happy relationship with your father that you can look back on and cherish. My dad died back in November and I never had a great relationship with him so I have very mixed feelings about him as a Dad.

  7. A lovely post Jo, sorry to hear about your Dad but delighted that you will have lovely memories of him. Congrats on all the other stuff! I don't think I'll make it to FQ Retreat this year, too many other expenses but I look forward to hearing all about it!

  8. Thank you for sharing such a personal and important event. I too recently suffered terrible losses and find it hard to speak about. Thank you for sharing. My heart is full of empathy for you.

  9. Thank you for sharing such a personal and important event. I too recently suffered terrible losses and find it hard to speak about. Thank you for sharing. My heart is full of empathy for you.

  10. Thank you for sharing such a personal and important event. I too recently suffered terrible losses and find it hard to speak about. Thank you for sharing. My heart is full of empathy for you.

  11. I am so glad you had such a wonderful relationship with your dad, he sounds wonderful. I know you will miss him but I am guessing he would totally have approved of the party. I am coming to the retreat, maybe I will get to be in your class.

  12. Sad news about your dad. You are lucky to have had such a wonderful relationship that you can treasure. I like the idea of the little home book – I think I'll get that ordered today,

  13. Your father was obviously a big part of all of your family life- a life well lived too by the sound of it and to all get together and keep the party going sounds like it was the perfect thing to do and very positive.

  14. So sorry to hear about your Father Jo. But how wonderful that you had such a close relationship with him. I hope you can take time to grieve deeply.
    Many congratulations on the books – they look amazing xx

  15. Being a daddy's girl, my heart aches at your loss—but I am so happy that your father had such a good life and that you could share it with him right to the end.

    Congrats on the teaching—your dad would be so proud!

  16. So sorry for the loss of your Dad Jo, my heart aches for you and your family. And many congratulations on all your recent publications and FQR class x

  17. Oh Jo, he sounds like such a wonderful man – very special for you and the rest of the family. He will have left a big hole – taking your time over things must be a good plan for now. And your newsy bits are all very good, well done. Take care, Juliex

  18. Oh, Jo. I know how close you were to your Dad, what a terrible shock for you all. But I'm pleased he didn't suffer or linger, especially given your poor Mum's history.

    Fabulous newsy news all round! Always such a go-getter, our Bearpaw! X

  19. Aww {{Hugs}} about your dad. Chiefs father passed away last New Years Day seems harder around Christmas some how. But congratulations on the book and teaching news. It's unlikely I'll be at FQR this year though.

  20. Oh Jo! Sending you and your family huge hugs, and I'll save a real one for you for July too.

    So much for you to take in, grieve and celebrate all at once. I hope you have a calm January, and that 2014 is healing and wonderful for you xxx

  21. I'm so sorry to hear your news about your father Jo, but so glad you all had the party to celebrate his life. Congratulations on the book and looking forward to seeing you ( maybe in a class ?!!) in July.

  22. It always happens around Christmas. I lost my Dad (he was 47) in the fortnight before Christmas a few years back and it was also totally out of the blue, in fact he was watching TV waiting for his tea to finish cooking and then he was gone. He was off work feeling a bit ill that week and I am so glad I spoke to him on the phone the day before because I know he was happy. I am so sorry for your loss Jo, I can honestly sympathise. Great news on the books too, not decided if I am going or not t the retreat yet as there are so many other financial and work holiday commitments this year, but congrats on teaching a class!

  23. So sorry to hear the sad news about your Dad Jo, but as you say he had a good life, managed himself up to the end, loved and was loved, what more could he ask. I know it will be hard for you in the coming months, but remember you have some wonderful memories.

    Congrats on the teaching at the Retreat you and your group will have a ball x x

  24. I'm so very sorry to hear about your father but very happy that you say he went the way that he would have wanted. I'm sure that's a very small comfort to you right now but something that you should cling on to.

    Woo hoo on the FQR news! I'm hoping to buy my ticket out of this month's pay packet so hopefully I'll see you there x

  25. Hi Jo, so sorry to hear about your Dad. He was a lucky man to have had a life so filled with love and to be so close to you – and you were lucky to have had such a wonderful father. It's a hard time to lose someone you love; maybe though Christmas for you can become a time to celebrate the love you all have for him rather than too much sadness. sending some thoughts and love your way. Papiya xx ps congratulations on the FQR teaching 🙂

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