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Artist’s knitted travel buddy piques interest in qathet region

Whimsical knitted characters can go anywhere

The idea of creating a portable teddy or travel buddy came to artist Laura Balducci while visiting the qathet region last winter.

“I was looking to have a little project to take in my bag while I was bouncing around, and I came up with this project,” said Balducci. “I wanted a little teddy to have in my bag or keep in my pocket while I’m walking around and doing my thing.” 

The fabric artist named her eight-inch, handmade creature “Poppy Nutella” and has created quite a stir in the community and on social media. Poppy Nutella has her own Instagram account.

Although she is familiar with the northern Sunshine Coast, she very recently relocated from Cortes Island. Balducci wants to share her skills once again (she has had numerous workshops and was artist-in-residence at Tidal Art Centre in February) using her hand-spun yarn and knitting skills.

“Poppy is made out of a sturdy yarn I sourced from Cortes Island, from a friend’s sheep farm,” said Balducci. “I hand-spun it on my spinning wheel.”

The yarn spinner will be giving a free workshop for those 11 years of age and up on May 27, from 10:30 am to 2:30 pm at Powell River Public Library.

“The make-a-travel-buddy workshop will be freestyle with knitting,” said Balducci, meaning, no pressure if an attendee’s knitting skills are not stellar. 

“I will show you how to cast on and demonstrate some super basic knitting skills,” she added.   

All of the supplies are provided but participants are welcome to bring any embellishments, needles, buttons or yarn.

“I’m going to guide the workshop, beginning with participants drawing out the teddy, then we will figure out how many stitches are needed,” said Balducci. “Next we will needle-felt the eyes, ears, mouth and nose, and make it flat so it can sit up.”

No matter the participants skill level, the artist said everyone should leave with their own knitted travel buddy. But if someone is stuck and time runs out, she won’t leave them in the lurch.

“I’ll also give people options for using either ribbon or yarn so that knitters can attach their creations to their bag, if they want to,” said Balducci. “The inspiration for having a travel buddy came to me while thinking ‘we spend a lot of time by ourselves,’ either walking our dog, waiting for the bus or sitting on a plane.”

Balducci also mentioned that youth and teens who go to the beach or camping with their parents, or adults travelling on their own, can always have their own buddy with them.” 

The artist also has fun with her own yarn buddy. 

“Poppy Nutella gets a photo shoot every day, showing all the places she goes,” said Balducci. “It’s really fun; it’s sweet.”

It can also be a great way to meet people, she added.

For more information about the Make a Travel Buddy workshop, go to