Sunday, 2 August 2015

A salutary lesson learned - BEWARE of new computer programmes

Hello Everybody  - as Cy Bear is taking a well-earned rest this week (I mean two weeks on the trot could be described as hard work for this Beaver Lamb Ted), the post this week has been deemed to be my responsibility - with reason, perhaps.

After a potentially disastrous week vis a vis my computer (yes - yet again, I have had issues, but this time it's probably mostly my own fault - more later), I have spent most of this afternoon (when I normally work on the blog - with or without Cy Bear) trying to get re-organised,  So, while telling you about my computer woes, I'll illustrate this post with some photographs of the two Foxy Critters that didn't get shown last week. You may recall, there were four Cy Bear spoke about.  Three have been listed in our shop (  There is still one in draft format and the other has yet to be uploaded.  I promise that next week, I'll tell you about my recent Wiltshire trip, and include some photos of my canine and feline friends who have all grown up since I left just about a year ago!! That could account for two future posts - enabling me to get some Cuddlies replaced or newly made in the interim!

I am somewhat relieved to find that, actually, the disaster is perhaps not as bad as it could have been. It is all down to my ability to click on buttons without always realising the consequences - and it's time lessons were learned.

Our new Wolf dressed in Blue and White Printed Poplin
Thanks to an invitation to upload Windows 10,  I followed through - and now live to regret it!  SO BE WARNED EVERYONE!  Be very, very careful before you go down the route.  Admittedly, the programme is so new (having only been made available July 29) that the usual gremlins in any new computer software have still ALL to be ironed out.  But on the basis of thinking that having reserved my place in the waiting list, and the invitation having arrived (the day after the programme was offered to the public) the time was right, I went ahead on the basis that in the normal course of events, the current Windows 8.1 will eventually become unsupported by the great Microsoft engineers, so I might as well do it now rather than later.  BIG MISTAKE.

The installation began early evening, just as everyone in the UK was closing down - and since I don't know from which continent the actual process was being carried out from, it hadn't occurred to me that the techy guys I contact in times of crisis would not be available when needed.  All went well to begin with - and the evening meal was started

That was speedily curtailed (I'd almost finished) when what looked like the final stage was obviously not going to plan. My usual desk top picture on the screen began to behave like a mad thing - flashing on an off and when I tried to control it with mouse, cursor or any other thing that USUALLY works, nothing happened - except the flashing screen.  Alas, the computer's Help Desk had closed for the evening - so........

A speedy telephone call to my local Help Desk - also known as Son in Law - (who had advised me - though not as strongly as usual in such circumstances -  NOT to go with Windows 10) indicated that the computer was in for a long night (not to mention yours truly!).  Apparently one does NOT close down a madly performing computer in the middle of an upload, and so it wasn't until 0830 BST on Friday morning - on the dot - that contact was made with Hewlett Packard who made the computer (an HP Sleekback laptop, if any one is interested) and got the bad news that because the programme is so new, they hadn't yet developed reliable counter measures for such disasters!  A complete "Restore to Factory Default" setting was therefore prescribed - and needless to say, I hadn't backed up EVERYTHING to do with my personal settings - so have lost most of them.

Our new Coyote (the first Lady version) made with Chenille (new too)
Once the Restore mechanism had done it's stuff, I had to reapply as much as I could remember I usually use to operate the darn machine.  You know Browser(s), Skype (yet to be done), and so on. 

The computer was still having sporadic hissy fits, because it kept saying that I wasn't connected to the internet - although I'd already done that and got things done before it decided on that route - so I rang my reliable OnLineTechyGuyz and asked them to get me sorted with such important things.  By Friday evening operations were approaching "normal", although not at full speed - that's going to take some time to achieve, because I've got to find out what I was doing before this all happened!!  Technology is so fast and I'm getting increasingly slower - that alas I fear such hiccups are going to recur with increasing frequency.

Saturday was spent with the family (Philippa having joined us for the week-end) visiting a long time family friend, so not much computing was done yesterday. 

Our Fantasy Fox (listed already) from the rear view
Having spent this afternoon loading my devices back on and uploading pictures that were still on my camera (normally, they get deleted once I've uploaded them to the computer) I did find there were some for the Foxy Critters Cy Bear wrote about last week,  as well as the photographs taken when I was away in Wiltshire, so at least there will be something with which to illustrate this, while I'm on line at the moment.  

I wish I could say I've finally learned my lesson - but I THINK I've realised one doesn't upload a NEW piece of software when it is barely 24 hours old!!  There will undoubtedly be more mistakes to make as life goes on!!!

I'll end this post with another photograph of our latest, more traditional, Lady Fox Toy and - as mentioned before, I'll look forward to telling you about my trip to Wiltshire (and other news that will be happening last this week) at our normal posting time next Sunday.

This Toy was listed on Thursday - before the problems set in
Hope everyone has a really good week - and I'll try to keep on the straight and narrow internet path from now on.


Sunday, 26 July 2015

Follow up description of the latest Fox creations.

This is Cy Bear back again for the promised follow up on our new Foxy characters - even though I did suggest in the post last week that may be Isobel would tell you about her trip to Wiltshire.  However, we both felt that it made more sense for us to finish telling you about the latest Coldham Cuddlies additions before that happens.  So, here goes:

Having finished the under wear for the new Ladies, Isobel began creating the dresses - beginning with the skirts - which are essentially pieces of fabric 36 inches long (91.4 centimetres) and 10 inches wide (25.4 centimetres).  The bottom is turned up to make a hem, and Isobel - who actually doesn't like hemming that much - then tacks the seam and adds ric rac trim which she sews on with embroidered french knots.  (Before proceeding, one of our "COLDHAMCUDDLIES" labels are fixed onto the back seam of the skirt, on the underside of the dress).  The top of the skirts are then gathered and fitted over the body and sewn into the "waist" of each toy.  Then having sewn up the fabric paws, she stuffs the arms and sews them into the bodice and then fits it over the skirt top - to create a look like this:

Fitting  - or nearly - on to a pillow
Then her creativity is allowed to let rip - this time on the white felt collars with which most of our lady toys are provided.  Here is what she did for use with the yellow dressed toy:

Followed by the one for the Light Brown Chenille Coyote:

The Grey Plush Lady Wolf:

Last - but by no means least, our more familiar Chestnut Plush Lady Fox:

This results in our reaching the final stages of each Lady Toy - whether it be a Fantasy Fox (the yellow version), the Coyote, Wolf or Fox.  The order in which Isobel tends to do this is to add the tails on first, followed by adding the Head.  Finally, the collar is attached  - and here is how the Coyote and the Fantasy Fox now appear:

By the time Isobel had done everything described here last night, she only had time to do these two. The other two will be done later today, and then she proposes to list them in our Shop ( over the next week. 

 Some of them, together with other Cuddlies, are going to be taken for display on the shelves of "The Artful Buttoner" - the haberdashery outlet in our local town, Kirkby-in-Ashfield.  Several Cuddlies have been on show there since just before Easter, and we've decided that it's time they came home, and other Cuddlies had a chance to be seen in the "outside world" - and possibly find Forever Homes for themselves!  Several Cuddlies have been adopted from this venue - and who knows what will happen to the selected ones this time around.  (Should any one of these four find a Forever Home while on show in the Town, it's not difficult for Isobel to pick it up and bring it home for me to participate in the Farewell Ceremony that happens whenever a Cuddly leaves us, and then for it to be packed up and mailed off to wherever it is destined).

I'll keep you posted, of course - and show you what the Wolf and Traditional Fox end up looking like next week.  Meanwhile, wishing everyone a good one - and here's hoping our weather will improve somewhat.  We're all feeling as though Summer will never arrive in this country!

Until the next time - your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Good to be Home Again - with updates on our last posts.

Greetings Everyone 

Cy Bear  back again, and able to update everyone now that Isobel is back from her travels.  By the time she got back last week, she was a bit tired.  So neither did she attend her Zumba class on Tuesday (having only arrived back early evening the night before), but there was so much to catch up with - in the Shop (, and on other social media sites - that no blog was forthcoming from either of us. 

However:  it's good to be able to tell you that the latch hook rug is now complete - except for some tidying up of the edging.  If you refer to our post about it (08/06/2015 - "A Different Craft for Isobel.....") you'll see how the project started and now here is how it looks today.

The current edging is a plastic tape and was put on to keep the canvas backing from fraying on each edge.  Isobel put it on by herself, which did not work very neatly.  So she got another reel, and is hoping to do a better job tomorrow - hoping that some of the other residents will be able to help her during the weekly handicraft get together. 

Entitled "Busy Bees", most of the partcipants busy themselves knitting (toys, baby wear - hats and matinee sets mainly),  These are then sold via a Womens' Institute Market in a nearby town, with proceeds going to a local charity - chosen each year by the residents.  

 Isobel normally gets on with the latest Cuddly project.  But since the beginning of June, every afternoon - for about two hours - has seen her hooking the rug, and it's eaten into her normal activity on the internet on behalf of us  Coldham Cuddlies.  However, after tomorrow, she'll be back - and has a long "To Do" List to work through for the rest of the summer.  (She'll also be exploring how the rug can be raffled to raise the maximum amount of funds of other charitable enterprises, as well as some of the proceeds coming into the Residents' own funds - so that we can organise outings for ourselves around the beautiful countryside that surrounds us here in Kirkby-in-Ashfield). 

In the evenings, since she returned from her travels to the South West of the UK (to where we lived until August last year) - she'll blog about that, probably next week - she's got on with the Foxes I told you about in our last post a couple of week-ends ago (05/07/2015 - "More news from the Foxy Production line").

The first stage at the beginning of this week comprised the attachment of shoes to each of the bodies and making the pantaloons with which all our Lady Dressed Toys are provided.  (Our Lady Dressed Toys have shoes made with felt, or similar fabric:  whereas, most of our Gentleman Toys are given Boots or Shoes made with real Leather).  

Then, over the last two evenings, the bodices and arms have been sewn together.

As you can see, Isobel has had yet another change of mind with regard to the fabrics that will be used for each Fox, Wolf, Fantasy Creature or Coyote.  (That's the beauty of making lots of toys all at the same time - she can change her mind as she goes along! ) 

Now all the arms need to be stuffed, and the bodices fixed onto the bodies.  However, Isobel needs to do the skirts before the latter actions take place.  So - she's off to begin that later this evening.  

Meanwhile, it is good be back telling you about our activities in the Coldham Cuddlies world.  See you all next week-end.  

Your friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

More news from the Foxy Family production line

Hello again, Everyone:

As Isobel is busy getting ready for a short visit back to Wiltshire, starting mid-week she's been busy trying to finish the latch-hook rug we wrote about earlier  (our post on 08/08/2015 told you all about it).  That's likely to be an objective to be completed AFTER her return, as well as getting on with the Foxy Family I wrote about last week.  What with creating a hostess gift  to take away with her - pictures of  their family dog, whom Isobel used to look after when they went on holiday - and deciding what she's going to wear when she's away, time has been pretty scarce this last week.

(Alas, the little dog went to Doggy Heaven before we left Wiltshire, but Isobel came across some photos she took of Widget while she was staying with us one time.  Two of them have been made into a collage, and Isobel intends to find a frame to put it into tomorrow).

Nevertheless, some progress has been made with the Foxy creatures that we will be introducing into our shop at soon (but definitely only after Isobel has come back from her holiday).  So there won't be a post from either of us next week, although Isobel might bring back some photographs of  her trip away to share in a post with you sometime after she gets back.  Meanwhile, here are some Foxy photos for you to be going on with.

In our last post, I showed you their heads and tails unstuffed, together with a selection of fabrics that might be used for their frocks.

Here are the Foxy bunch - as they now look:

They are bit closely packed together here, but they just fitted onto one of our side tables so Isobel decided to photograph them like this.

However, the more Isobel looks at the Yellow face on the left of this picture, the more she thinks she will not become a Coyote - as I mentioned might happen last week - but she will become a Fantasy Fox, because the plush fabric is definitely a yellow (and not a light brown - and Isobel thinks she might be able to create a nice story about her sometime in the future too).  

The Grey Plush Head will definitely become a Girl Wolf, and the Chestnut one will obviously become a Fox.  The Brown Chenille head will be the Coyote, and Isobel is particularly pleased with the way she looks - as to begin with, this head was viewed as an experiment.  It's a fabric that is prone to fray, though, so all the seams have to be over sewn to preserve their integrity.  Nevertheless, I think there will certainly be more Coyotes made with this material.  They look more like the original, apparently!!  (Or at least Isobel thinks so - but then she's never seen a real one I'm told!).

At the time of writing this post, the selection of fabric to go with each head looks like this:

On the other hand, Isobel may well change the Fantasy Fox and Coyote fabrics,  so that the former has her frock made with the plain yellow material, and the Coyote is made with the green floral patterned one.  She is also dithering between giving the Fox a purple frock, and giving the proposed Wolf the blue one, so that she can be matched with our Gentleman Wolf already in our shop, which can be seen by using this link -

All will become clear once Isobel comes back from her travels.  Meanwhile, I'll end this post for this week, by wishing all my American friends a belated Happy 4th of July - I'm told it's a great excuse for tremendous celebrations, but being a Beaver Lamb Bear, they doesn't mean as much to me as they will do to you.  Anyway, I just hope you all had a great time - and look forward to seeing you all again soon.

Your Friend - Cy Bear.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

More Coldham Cuddlies on the horizon.

Hello Everybody!

Cy Bear here and so glad to be back with you once more.  What a difference a week can make - in contrast to last week, we've had a lovely day, with a lot more sunshine and we've been promised a heatwave (all the way from Spain apparently - wherever that is), 

Also, having posted the parcel containing Daniel Tiger 2015 on Monday, Isobel has managed to get on with some much needed replacements for our shop (  She's still managed to do a stint each afternoon working on the latched wool rug project, and has cut out and sewn four different versions of foxy heads each evening after her night time meal.   They are now all at the stage of requiring eyes fixing in and being stuffed, and then the fun stuff (as far as Isobel is concerned, anyway) begins - that of dressing the Ladies.

Here is a selection of the fabrics that may, or may not be used in the fashion stakes.

The next two photos are a close up of these:

The fabric on the left here is actually purple and white poplin, but for some reason or another, whenever Isobel takes photos of any Cuddlies made with purple fabric, the colour always comes out looking a lot more blue than purple.

She'd already made three bodies for the Lady Foxes earlier this year - when she made the Gentleman Foxes and Wolves (which we wrote about in a post on 23/03/2015).  They've been sitting in a plastic bag waiting to be worked with since:  they are now looking like this.

She then cut out and completed sewing four sets of heads, tails and ears - they are all different colours, and three use plush fabric.  The fourth, an experiment, is made with a light brown chenille fabric, which Isobel found difficult to work with, since it frays very easily.  Also, because it doesn't have the "fluffy" look of the plush fabrics, the head, tail and ears all look smaller.  So, the body which will be made tomorrow, may have to be a bit smaller too, so that it doesn't look out of kilter.

Here are the chenille and chestnut brown pattern pieces ready for their individual treatments.  You will see the paw pieces still unsewn - because Isobel hasn't yet decided which fabrics will be used to dress which Cuddly and and the paws are sewn directly onto the arms before they are attached to the frock top.  When the  chenille toy is made, he will become a Coyote - all our previous ones have found homes over the past few months, so in a way, we are beginning again.   The Chestnut one will, obviously, become a Fox - and then we have two more (shown below).

The grey one will become a Lady Wolf, and the one on the far right will become another Coyote.

We've made Gentlemen Coyotes in the past - dressing them in straight trousers (as opposed to jodhpurs that we use for our other male dressed Foxes and Rabbits), and the chenille one will definitely become one I think.  Somehow, Isobel feels that Coyotes look better dressed in "country and western" outfits.   The Coyotes also don't have leather boots, although they do have leather shoes.   The head, tail etc of the one on the right, is made with a plush fabric described as "Oatmeal" which can look a little yellow in certain lights.

However, it's the nearest to a light brown plush fabric that Isobel could find locally, so we're going with this to see how it turns out.  When she saw it in our local haberdashery outlet on Saturday, she really liked the look of it.  She reasons that if it looks a bit odd when finished, the toy can always become a "Fantasy Fox" if worst comes to worst.  However, I think this one could look rather nice as a Lady Coyote, so we'll have to wait and see what happens when Isobel gets going with her sewing machine, needle and threads.

Hope the next time I'm with you, there will be some finished Fox, Wolf and Coyote Toys to show you.  It's great that using the same pattern, we can produce three different Animal Toys.   In the interim, here's wishing you all a great week - and hopefully some lovely warm weather for us all to enjoy.

Your Good Friend - Cy Bear.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

How the Final Member of the Tulsa Puppet Project arrived - meet Daniel Tiger - 2015 Version

Hello again Everyone

Cy Bear greeting you from what is still rather a chilly Nottinghamshire, especially as I'm told today is the Longest Day in the whole year.  We've seen the sun in small doses:  but mostly, this week it has been cold, windy and cloudy - which makes Isobel and her fellow humans far from happy. 
Last week, I told you that we'd received the pattern MrJS from Tulsa, Oklahoma wanted us to use to make his puppet Daniel Tiger - the last one in the series of  Puppets on which he and Isobel have been collaborating .  So, she first cut out and made the head.
The fabric that Daniel Tiger is made with is a type of mohair and was purchased from our supplier of such materials - Mohair Bear Supplies Limited, who are based in Telford, Shropshire, England, U.K.  They are reputed to have the largest supply of mohair and faux fur fabrics - for anyone who likes to use such materials - in the UK.  To date, Isobel has had no reason to doubt that claim.  The firm is behind a Teddy Bear Making Competition that is run each year, and this time, Isobel has entered my friend Light Brown Bear with a Yellow Ribbon, shown below:
His photograph and details have been entered, and we await confirmation of their having been received (deadline for entry is 30th June, 2015).  If that goes ahead, the decision will be announced in September or October - so keep your fingers crossed for my friend.  I'll let you know if he's lucky or not, I promise.
However, now back to the story of Daniel Tiger.  Using the body pattern MrJS also provided, which is slightly smaller than the one he sent us for the Puppet Bodies we told you about earlier this year, and which were used for the Puppet Royal Family that we also told you about in our posts in May 2015, Isobel cut out Daniel's body, as well as the calico lining which she likes to provide for all her arm puppets.  (Our Hand Puppets - being that much smaller, and usually made with felt - don't really need to be lined).
Now, I can hear folks muttering Tigers have stripes and all the other Tiger Puppets, whether for MrJS or the prototypes listed in our Shop ( have been made with animal print plushs - so why isn't Daniel?  
Well, among the many other things he knows, I am told MrJS was taught to paint on fabric by his Grandmother - who also taught him how to sew.  So, for Daniel Puppet 2015, he decided he'd like to paint Daniel's stripes on the fabric himself.  He actually chose the plain fabric on line, at the same time as he chose the fabric used for Henrietta Puppet (shown below).
Once he's done his artistic work, Isobel has asked him to let us have a photograph of the finished Daniel - and be sure, it will be included in a future post here.
Meanwhile, Isobel then stuffed Daniel's head and created the finger guide - with cardboard rolled into a small tube and covered with calico sheeting fabric - and attached it into the neck opening.  Having gathered it, she sewed Daniel's head on so that it looked like this.

Then, having fixed the two body pieces (lining and outer body) together, and added a "Coldham Cuddlies" label in the back of the body (sewn into the lining), she put the head on to the body.
She sent the photos to MrJS, making the point that (a) she'd realised she had put the head on back to front (something that could easily be rectified - and has been!) and also she was not happy with the way his mouth looked.  
Yesterday, we heard back from Tulsa, and received the suggestion that perhaps Isobel should move the nose (and surrounds) down a bit, so that the red pointed bit matched the head seams.  Overnight, Isobel had actually come to that conclusion too - so last night, scissors, needles and other relevant items were bought into play, and we now have a Daniel Puppet who looks like this:
The original Daniel Puppet, on which this one is based, always had a rather mournful expression, so hopefully this final look will be what he eventually looks like.  However, the double knit yarn is easily removed by anyone with expertise in sewing, so MrJS will be able to decide the final look - once the stripes have been painted on.  That final decoration will make all the difference.
Isobel has heard back from Tulsa overnight:  Daniel,  as he looks now, is acceptable.  So, he - together with the excess fabric ordered for both Henrietta Pussycat and Daniel, will accompany the latter when he is packaged and posted off tomorrow.  In the parcel, too, will be a leftover scrap of  the red fabric - which also came from Tulsa and was included in one of the many packages that flew between Nottinghamshire and the US  over the last few months. (Apparently, it is itself a left over from a much-loved shirt, which now no longer exists  as a wearable garment.)
On that frugal note, I shall end this post.  Isobel will now embark on the replacement schedule she started  (sometime in February if memory serves) as well as doing some rearranging of the Etsy Shop as well.  (During that time, she's been collecting some lovely fabrics for some new Lady Toys - which I'll be introducing you to as they appear.)
I'll be back sitting on Isobel's  bed - until allowed back to chat with you all here.  See you then. 
Your Very Good Friend - Cy Bear

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Puppet Saga is drawing to a close - with the Tiger and Cat Puppet prototypes now finished.

Good afternoon everyone (or at least it is here in the UK). 

Cy Bear back again, and this time to introduce you to the completed prototype for Daniel Tiger Puppet - which I wrote about in a post about the Tulsa Puppets and what they now look like a few bulletins ago.
This is what the prototype Tiger's head  looked like when Isobel originally made it (using the pattern received from Tulsa earlier)..  She has now made the mouth a bit bigger, so he doesn't look quite so severe.
Then, using the body pattern we were provided by MrJS from Tulsa and changing the arms in the way he showed he'd done for the Royal Family Puppets I told you about in our posts (dated 27/05/2015 and 24/05/2015), Isobel created Daniel Prototype Tiger so he now looks like this.
He's being modelled by the hand of one of  Isobel's fellow residents in the residential complex we now live in Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire - and you can see part of the body of another lady friend behind the puppet.  It's a bit difficult taking these photographs sometimes, because we have to catch the residents when they're all together.  Our flats are very comfortable for one or two people at a time, but when they all want to get togther, it has to be in their Residents' Lounge, and then they all seem to sit together and Isobel doesn't like to get them to move once they are comfortable.  Some of them are a lot older than she is I gather - and she tells me that the lady in the picture is the oldest resident in the complex - 95 years young. 
Before Daniel's Prototype gets listed, Isobel is going to get either Clare or Alan to model the puppet, and hopefully the background will be plainer.  She has got to take some things round to Clare's house tomorrow, so hopefully she can get something done then - and then both the Cat Prototype Puppet and Daniel's shadow can be listed together in the shop at

Because the Cat Puppet is that much smaller, Isobel was able to get a better background for him/her, so this is a photo of the finished toy.  He'll have to remain a prototype puppet, because - as you can plainly see from this picture - Isobel made a mistake when cutting the pattern out.  His fur doesn't go the same way on each side of his back.  It won't make any difference to the person playing with it - but doesn't LOOK quite right if you are a perfectionist - as Isobel is.  
Before closing here are two more pictures of our Daniel  from the back and side views - just to give you an idea of his stripey markings:

That photo shows Daniel from the side - you can see his prominent orange nose  fairly clearly!
This one is his back with the background a slightly lighter colour than his front:

We've finally received the "proper" pattern MrJS wants the REAL DANIEL to be made with, and it's planned that the project will get started this week.  

Meanwhile, Isobel has been able to proceed with the latch hook rug project she told you about last week - and on Friday afternoon received a re-supply of the required wool which will hopefully enable her to finish it without any interruptions during the coming weeks. (The rug wool came in packets of roughly 161 strips each, and she calculated she needed 32 packets of the background colour to finish it!  Let's hope her calculations are accurate!)  She's trying to set aside a couple of hours a day to do it - in daylight - and so far, it's going well.  Working without a real pattern to follow - something she finds challenging at any time, apparently - is proving "interesting"!

With that coment, I'll end this post for this week.  Great to be back - hope everyone is well and that the weather is being summery with you all.  It  has still to get like that here where we are in the UK - but apparently there might be some warmer weather in the offing soon.

Your friend, Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic