Sunday, 19 April 2015

The Cat Puppet Saga - Second installment.

Greetings Everybody:

Cy Bear back again, as promised last time around - this time to tell you that, indeed, the Cat Puppet we were asked to do using the alternative Cat pattern did indeed prove possible.

Isobel set about cutting out the pattern using a similar fabric to the one used for the Ginger Sitting Cat in our previous post, and then did a lining.  Whilst having a lined  puppet might seem a little over the top, Isobel likes to do it because so often the canvas backings which are used in plush fabrics can be a bit scratchy.  So if the operator has his/her hands inside for too long, she feels it's very uncomfortable for a puppeteer to cope with.  Here's the prototype before it's stuffed.

Here, you see it  - from the other side,

And now on his back - with the Coldham Cuddlies label discreetly sewn  in place and before Isobel attached the felt pads to all the legs.  The back legs, tail, and head/neck will be stuffed, leaving the tail end open for the operator's hand to be inserted, and the front legs are left "as is", so that they can be manipulated by the puppeteer as required.

Isobel then went in search of one of her fellow residents to "borrow" his hand to demonstrate that a man's hand could fit in comfortably so that MrJS could rest easy on that score.  The puppet still needed to have his ears attached, as well as the pads for the back legs.  These deliberately had no pads on the back legs, because the stuffing of each was the next step.  

Normally, one would do the stuffing of such appendages AFTER the pads had been sewn on. However, as this project is a Puppet, Isobel decided to close the leg on the inside of the body, and stuff the legs from the feet upwards - and than attach the felt pads.  (That way, the stuffing can be kept in place while the operator moves the Toy around).

In the case of the tail, she did the thing - retaining the integrity of the inside of the puppet - and filled in the tail by stuffing it from its tip and then sewing the seam up with a ladder stitch.  The same thing happened in the case of the head - before the ears were attached.  (A cardboard tube, covered with calico fabric was inserted into the neck before that cavity was closed.  Then the head was stuffed, with the polyester fibre fill being carefully arranged around the tube so that it was held in place while the head gets moved around by the Puppeteer)

This is a better view of the almost completed puppet, waiting to have legs and tail filled in.

The rear view (seen here) with the required components in place and ready to be deployed as a Puppet.  

In this prototype's case, though Isobel discovered at this point that she'd made a mistake when cutting out the puppet, and on one side the fur pile is going in the opposite direction to the other!  It's not noticeable unless one knows about it, but if  - or when - it is posted to our Etsy shop (, it will not be offered at the full price a properly constructed Activity Toy would be.   While it won't affect the mobility of the puppet, the "look" will not be to the standard to which COLDHAMCUDDLIES aspires. 

Here is the finished Puppet, just waiting to have some whiskers added.  I can tell you, it's very difficult to take a photograph of a hand puppet - without the operator's hand inside it.  But, Isobel did her best here.

Lo and behold - the prototype Cat Puppet ready to be operated by whomever wants to do so! Having proved that the original Cat pattern can be converted, Isobel set out to make MrJS's version of his Cat Puppet - which has been completed satisfactorily, and I'll be telling you all about her, next time around.  (She's been packed up and is currently en route to Tulsa).

In the meantime, have a good week everybody.  It's turned mighty cold, and a bit threateningly grey this afternoon, after a week of lovely sunshine.  All the flowers are coming out in the garden which surrounds where we now live and if I look out of the windows in the flat, there are some lovely sights to be seen.  Hope you all have equally nice views.

Your friend, Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 12 April 2015

The Cat Puppet Saga

Hello again Everyone!

Cy Bear back again and hope you are all well and enjoying the kind of weather that you all like at this time of the year, wherever you are in the world.  It's been beautifully sunny and warm for early Springtime in the UK,but today, we're back to cold, windy and almost wintry conditions.  Fortunately I don't have to worry - sitting as I do on Isobel's bed. (It can be interesting to see what she's going to get dressed in when she leaves the flat each day - to do whatever it is that she does - when she's not making us Cuddlies in one form or another.)

Today, I'm here to tell you about what we're involved in making at this moment - Cat Puppets, destined for Tulsa, Oklahoma, U.S.A. to join my friends the Tiger Puppets who left us before Christmas last year.  MrJS, our Puppeteer Customer, has a very specific Puppet he wants to have in his collection, and Isobel is keen to see how she can help him achieve the ambition.  Originally, when the discussions started, she found pictures of two cat patterns we had in our Library which are these:

These were originally scanned (whatever that is...) and were taken from two different books.  The one on the left comes from a book Isobel has had in her Toy Library since the 1970's, when she found it in a second-hand bookshop just after she had decided to try to make toys as a business in 1971.  (That attempt did not work, because she was a very new Mum, and finding looking after a baby, a house and a husband a lot of work to do, after being a Secretary all her life previously).  However, she kept the book and used it, together with another one by the same author, to make Cuddlies for Philippa, Clare, and their cousins - and baby friends who came along from  the mid- 1970's onwards - until she opened in 2010, and we find ourselves where we are - HERE!

The Cat (Sitting Cat) on the right (the pattern for which is in a more recent book, given by Clare to her Mother a couple of years ago, though it was first published in the mid-1980's) was chosen by one of Isobel's Etsy Team Mates before Christmas 2014 to be made for her Grandmother - and we now have a a similar Toy  in our Shop looking like this (the white markings are a little different from the original Toy):


When Isobel and MrJS began discussing his specific requirements, they decided to see what might happen if only the head of the Sitting Cat was used.  It would then be sewn on to one of the bodies we made for MrJS to use for his own projects - where he'd had special heads made for him and needed bodies to make them proper puppets.  (He has now attached these heads to the bodies himself - and we'll be showing you them in future posts, I promise)

So, Isobel set off and created a bigger head than the one for Harry the Cat (which was the name our Etsy customer friend wanted to call the Cat she purchased), and we ended up with a prototype Black Cat Puppet, which can now be found in our shop and looks like this:

Black & White Cat  Made to Measure Arm Puppet Activity Toy Plush Fabric Head  Fleece Body Calico Lined  Party Activity Toy

Whilst Isobel had been experimenting, she introduced MrJS to our mohair fabric supplier (an introduction via the internet, because our supplier, Mohair Bear Supplies Limited (MBS), is based in Telford, Shropshire, England, UK) because he also was looking for a different fabric for the final Tiger Puppet he wants Isobel to make him - for which he has already sent us a specific Head Pattern, and which we will be doing for him shortly - once other commissions we have in hand are completed. 

While he was looking through the online shop, MrJS came across a fabric which he really wanted for his Cat Puppet, rather than the Plush fabric we have ourselves and  shown in the photograph above.  However, the Shop site indicated that the fabric was then out of stock for the Cat fabric he desperately wanted, but could meet the one he selected as being closest to his ideal, for the Tiger.
Isobel immediately contacted the shop with this response to see if the Cat Fabric was likely to be re-ordered, and how long it would take for it arrive, before ordering the Tiger choice, because that Puppet was further down the production schedule (while MrJS carried on fitting his Heads to his Bodies in his Puppet Theatre in Tulsa).  The response was that it was unlikely to be reordered, but that there was a small piece left - and not offered, because they did not think there was sufficient for a whole Teddy Bear.  (The Lady Owner of the Shop is a well-known UK Teddy Bear maker, but their fabrics can be used for any other Toys or projects.  Isobel loves dealing with them, because nothing is ever too much trouble).   Isobel quickly estimated that the amount of fabric available would be just enough to make a head and one body piece (which could be the back of the proposed Cat),  The front could be made up in the same White Plush fabric as in our photograph.  In any case, because the Cat Puppet  - when completed - would be dressed up,  the different fabrics would not be a major problem.

MrJS approved of that idea, so the purchase went through once Isobel had received the payment from Tulsa.  In the interim, MrJS spent time reviewing the now lengthy correspondence between Isobel and himself, and came across the first photograph in today's blog and wrote asking whether it would be feasible for the Standing Cat to be made with its head, back legs and tail stuffed, but the body and front feet left empty - so he could put his hand in the resulting void and operate the Puppet as a Hand, rather than Arm, Puppet.  

Isobel has never made this pattern, because the original called for wire to be placed in the legs (for stiffening) and then surrounded by stuffing.  (Even in the days before Health & Safety became the priority it now is, she did not like  the idea of wire in a Child's Toy).  However, the idea that it could be a Hand Puppet was appealing.  So, she agreed to make a Prototype Cat Hand Puppet to see if it was feasible.
The Black Cat - as an Arm Puppet
Whether or not it is will have to wait until next time - because this has gone on long enough today.  So, until the next post,  here's hoping you all have a great week and that all your plans are achieved.
Good Night and Good Bye - your Friend, Cy Bear.
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Bits and Pieces - A Cuddly has a Makeover and Welcome to a New One.

Greetings to one and all - Hope everyone is having/has had a Very Happy Easter.
Cy Bear is having a rest this week - and it's not because he's had too much chocolate.   It's a case of being easier for me to explain what has happened in these cases this week, than asking Cy Bear to do it - besides, he must not get the idea that he's the only one involved with this blog!  
As the title implies, we have a new Cuddly in our Family - a Blue Fleece Rabbit Toy, similar in shape and size to all the other Fleece Rabbits - but looking like this.

However, our original Blue Fleece Rabbit 
is made with the same fabric as many of our Blue Baby Rabbits (shown below) so my supply was running low. 


Thus when I went on line  to my fabric supplier for these fleeces, I found they had a different, darker blue example, and decided to go with it for a different Cuddly result.  After all, the Babies look good in the pastel shades - as proved by the number of times they get selected for Treasuries - and, with a big stretch of imagination - they COULD grow into big Blue Bunnies in later life! 

Rabbit Toy Blue Fleece Bunny White Fleece Chested Boy or Girl Gift Shower Present Easter Special Times Basket Filler
Etsy Listing #228531836

This new Rabbit was listed in our Shop on Etsy earlier this week, and here are a couple of other shots of him from different angles to give you an idea of his dimensions.

Now to move to the other Cuddly who received attention this week.  Our Light Brown Faux Fur Teddy Bears have proved popular Forever Friends for folks all over the US and UK.  I was delighted therefore to be contacted about the latest being shown in our Shop  by MsAB - who is a long-time COLDHAMCUDDLIES Friend.   (She is both a customer - she was our very First in 2011, and has adopted two other Coldham Teddies since - one of whom now resides with her Mother.  But she was also one of the first Followers of this blog).  A new family member has recently made their arrival into the World, and MsAB was keen to see if she could adopt the one on the right of this picture.

                                      Collectable Toy Furry Teddy Bear Light Brown Flecked Plush Cuddly   
She said she preferred the look of him from his companion, but alas, I was unable to meet her request, because that particular Cuddly was adopted in December 2014 and is called Arthur and living very happily with his Forever Friend (who bought him as a 50th Birthday Present to herselfin the Nottingham environs of the U.K.   So I  offered  to change Left Hand Bear's facial features, to see if I could make him look more like his fortunate friend.


The operation took place mid-week, and involved me cutting out the black double knitting yarn used to embroider Right Bear's nose and mouth.  If you look closely, his nose is squarer and his mouth looks a little grim.  Having removed the original sewing, I made his nose look more like Left Bear, and tried to get his mouth to look a bit happier.  (Remember, I find it difficult, if not impossible to absolutely replicate a look even when restoring Bears and other Toys when they become COLDHAMCUDDLIES Patients).  However, this is what Right Bear looks like now - after his makeover.

While I was doing the makeover, MsAB decided to go and have a look-see at my blog - which apparently she'd not visited for some time.  There she found the story of Hairy Bears No. 10 and 11, and read that No.10 (in our posts of 17th and 22nd February 2015) had been made with a slightly larger head than our Teddies are usually given. She wrote back asking if it would be possible for me to make a Custom Bear for her, using the Light Brown Faux Fur Arthur and his Companion are made with, but with a big head.  Apparently there is no hurry for him to reach Massachusetts, because the new arrival and MsAB are not expecting to see each other for some time.  So, a Custom Order is about to be raised for Arthur2, but with a happy face and a bigger head.

Thought this story might make interesting reading for our Followers - because it illustrates that it is possible for any Cuddly in the Shop ( to be changed if anyone would like to specify their wishes.

Right - that's it for this week:  am deep in the creation of a new Cat Puppet prototype, to prove that a pattern for a standing Cat Toy can be turned into a Hand Puppet.  So far it is going to plan - the outer part is readyNow I'm seeing if I can construct a lining - because the canvas through which the plush pile is fixed can be a bit "scratchy" and all previous Tulsa based Puppets and their Bodies have been lined.  I'm hoping that this will be accomplished later today, so that pictures showing the new Activity Toy can be emailed to Tulsa (how on earth did we manage before the internet, I wonder?).  If approved by JS, my friendly Tulsa-based Puppeteer, I will go ahead and make his Cat Puppet - in a specially chosen fabric, which I was not prepared to use until we were both sure the idea would work.

Either Cy Bear or I will report on progress next time.  In the interim, hope you all have a good week, as Spring shows the first signs of arriving here in the UK.  Winter seems to have been going on an awful long time this year.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 29 March 2015

A New patient flies in - from a long way away

Hello again, Everyone!

This week, I'm very excited to tell you that we've got a new Patient in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic.

 Meet Audrey Bear - from Portland, Oregon,  U.S.A.  

As you can see, Audrey is missing a leg - thanks to an altercation with the family dog.  That's not the first time I've heard that can happen.  When keeping my new Friends in the Clinic company as they wait for their treatment to happen, I am always very thankful that I don't share space with a Dog.  I believe they are very nice "people" - in their own way.  But I like being "king pin" in my own space in the flat with Isobel.  It's a lot less dangerous!

Audrey's Best Friend is one EthanC, and he sent Isobel a very nice hand-written message asking her to look after her for him.  He told us that she's been his "favourite since I was very young".  Hairy Bear No.11 and I are doing what we can to make sure she isn't homesick.  With permission from EthanC and his Mum, CS, we're going to do that for about 3 weeks, which is when Isobel thinks she'll be able to get round to her treatment.  

This picture was taken when she first arrived and had been unpacked from the wrapping in which she had travelled.  She very soon made herself at home with us

It's not going to take long once the therapy begins, because fortunately, we've got some Fleece Fabric in a colour quite similar to Audrey's frilly garland.  Isobel has discussed possible treatment with CS, and we'll be telling you all about it once Audrey is on her way home.  Meanwhile, here's a photo of Audrey sitting on the projected fabric which will be used to make her look almost as good as new. Given that Audrey is about 11 years' old, and obviously very much loved, we're delighted with the match.  

Meanwhile, the Foxes and Wolves I told you about in my last chat have all been listed and we hope they will find Adoptive Homes soon.  Isobel has cut out and sewn two Purple Fleece Rabbits and two Blue Fleece Rabbits (as mentioned last week too), and she is in the process of building them into playable Toys.  Then she's going to get working on the two remaining Puppets we're due to send to JS in Tulsa, OK.   

Until next time, then - do hope everyone has a good week.  Your friend, Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Monday, 23 March 2015

Completed Foxes and Wolves enter the Coldham Cuddlies World

Greetings Everyone!  

Your Friend, Cy Bear at the helm this evening - and delighted to be able to introduce four new COLDHAMCUDDLIES to the Shop -  

Literally, Isobel has only just finished them so they have not yet been listed on - that's a job for tomorrow.  However, because the last Fox was proving somewhat troublesome - the boots and coat were proving difficult to fit apparently - we missed our usual Sunday afternoon blogging session, so I'm being allowed to post something for you all to read tonight.

You saw two of the four in our post here two weeks ago.  Since then one more Fox and another Wolf have been completed, and they all now look like this:

Allow me to introduce you to them, starting with the Fox on the left of the picture.

Isobel has made them from the same template used for all our Foxes and Wolves, and they just differ in size, depending on the fabrics employed.  Instead of the White Felt for the jodhpur trousers, a beige corduroy fabric has been substituted here.  This Mr. Fox has a Buchanan tartan waistcoat, yellow cravat and a red jacket (or Hunting Pink as those who ride to hounds like to call it).  The jacket is fixed by a golden button, held in place with a hand made button loop.  The boots are made with brown glove quality leather, with tops ending in tassels.  His face, ears and paws are made with our usual chestnut plush fabric, with the ear linings made from polyester silky fabric.

He also has a black plastic nose.  We've taken to using plastic noses on some of the Toys, and Isobel can't make her mind up as to which look she prefers.  Two of the Toys being introduced this evening have these as facial features:  the other two have their noses embroidered with black double knitting yarn.  We'd be interested to hear what our Followers, Friends and new Readers prefer.

Next, on the second left, is Mr. Wolf, dressed in a plaid jacket, crushed strawberry pink tweed jodhpur trousers, with black suede leather boots, a mauve felt waistcoat and pink felt cravat.  His nose is embroidered and he has green plastic safety eyes, which we feel look more wolf like than the amber coloured eyes we've used for the Foxes.  His jacket is fastened with a silver button, held in place with a hand made button loop, which does undo to show off the waistcoat.  But that's as far as this, or any of the other three Boy Toys undress.  

This Wolf Toy has head, paws and ears made from a fabric called "Silver Fox" plush fur and his boots are a grey suede leather  with a blue streak through them. His nose is embroidered with the same black double knitting yarn used for Mr. Fox on the left.   (I'll let you into a secret here:  this is actually the "wrong" side of the piece of leather, but when Isobel came to make the boots, she felt that the blue, "right" side was a bit strong for the whole outfit and the grey went better with the outfit as a whole.  You can see the original blue colour since the tassels have been made by cutting the boot turnover to achieve the finished result.)

Then we come to the second Mr. Wolf, splendid in his aquamarine blue felt jacket - whom you have already met in our previous posting.  

His jodhpur trousers use the original white felt that Isobel's vintage pattern called for.   (This version was printed in the early 1970's) and underneath his jacket, Mr. Wolf has a pale blue linen waistcoat - lined in grey-brown satin, as are all the Toys' waistcoats.  He has a dark blue felt cravat and has green plastic safety eyes.  The jacket has a silver button with the usual handmade loop to hold the jack in place while he is on display

Finally, we come to another Mr. Fox and his jacket is a little different.  It's made with the same crushed strawberry pink tweet fabric as one of the Wolves has for trousers , but since the tweed is a very much thicker material, Isobel decided not to line this one.  It would have made the jacket far to bulky if she had done so.  The result was that when sewn together, the jacket was a lot larger than the other three Toys' coats (less seams involved - whatever they are) so instead of the loop fastening, Isobel made two button holes and purchased some lovely black buttons, which have a slight pattern on.  You can't see the pattern, unless you have a magnifying glass, but the buttons can be undone, so that you see Mr. Fox's magnificent waistcoat - which has a red background, with a Liberty print in a blue floral pattern. His trousers are made in a red heavily woven fabric, that has a basket weave effect.   His outfit is completed with a pair of black suede boots, and his nose is one of the embroidered variety.

As I said before, these four new Cuddlies will be listed during the week and thus be officially introduced to the World.  Meanwhile, they're occupying one of the chairs in the living-room here, because Isobel is hoping she will be able to take outdoor shots for the publicity photographs.  Clare's garden, three doors up the road from here, has apparently got some lovely places where Isobel thinks the Foxes and Wolves will show up well.  Now we've just got to wait for suitable weather for the shots to be taken.  At the moment, that looks as though it might happen on Wednesday.

Next on the production schedule are a couple of Fleece Rabbits, with their white chests - both destined for "The Artful Buttoner" - the craft shop where one Purple Rabbit has already been sold, together with one of the small  Rabbits Baby. (It's also where the new buttons came from Isobel has recently purchased more Blue Fleece, but it's a slightly different shade of blue from the pastel ones we currently have in the Shop, and she's interested to see what a Rabbit made from this new fabric will look like.  Pictures will of course appear when they're ready to be sold.

Then, it's back to the Puppet making for the Tulsa Puppeteer, JS.  Fabrics have now been selected, and the plan is to make a prototype of the Cat Puppet, as the pattern that has been chosen is not one Isobel has made before.  As you know, before launching any new Cuddly, she likes to have a dry-run, and the proposed Cat Puppet  is no exception.  

So, that's it for this week.  So nice to be back with you again.  Hope you're all well, and looking forward to the Spring.  Our clocks go forward this week-end, I've heard - which I think means we're supposed to be entering "Summer Time".  I'll believe that when I see some proper sunshine coming through the bed room windows onto my daytime sitting area!

Until then, this is your Friend, Cy Bear signing off.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Latest Weekly Bulletin from Coldham Cuddlies

Good afternoon Everyone:
Cy Bear is taking another week off from posting - or rather, I've decided  to do it today, so that I can get it posted and duly publicised (by posting everywhere I can think of - Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Etsy Team Chat Threads and so on) and then get on with finishing off the third of the Fox/Wolf replacements.
Two of them are now complete - waiting to be listed.  Have yet to decide whether they will have names, or just be listed as Fox or Wolf (as appropriate).  
It never ceases to amaze me how two Toys, made from the same pattern, and utilising similar weight fabrics, can end up looking so different from each other in size.  However, that I suppose is the point, and unique selling point, for Home Made cuddly toys.
The third (out of the four that Cy Bear posted about a couple of weeks ago  is almost there as you can see  -
This is the second wolf, and the pink felt - on which the tail is laid - is destined to be used as the fabric for Wolf 2's scarf, which will cover the white empty space you see in the unfinished Toy
With any luck, he should be complete by end of play today, or certainly tomorrow.  (When selecting fabrics for the Cuddlies, I fear gender trendy colours do not play a part.  I tend to select them on the basis of what goes best, from what I currently have in the fabric supply cupboard).
Meanwhile, as a follow-up to last week's post, when I  told you about our expansion into selling in "The Artfull Buttoner", the newly opened craft shop here in Kirkby-in-Ashfield, I learned on Friday - when I dropped in to see how things were going - that our Purple Fleece Rabbit
 has been successfully adopted, and was last seen departing the premises with his head looking out of a carrier bag borne by his new Best Friend.  (He will be replaced just as soon as Fox No2 is done and dusted, by the end of the week).  But, needless to say, I'm very excited by this unexpectedly fast development.  I've signed a three-month contract, and will be exhibiting the Rabbits I told you about last week, until the week after Easter.  Then, I think it will be a matter of taking a different selection of the other Cuddlies in - probably on a two-weekly basis.  
On the Tulsa Puppet front, some more photographs of how the Puppet Bodies have been transformed into useable Puppets by JS, and I hope, very soon, to be able to show them here in a series of posts illustrating how they are all now looking in their home surroundings.  I do like to keep up with my Toys and am looking forward to sharing the news with you all.
Then there was another unexpected development over the last week.  A lady from Portland, Oregon contacted me to see if I could repair her son's beloved Teddy Bear, who had come off badly in an encounter with the family dog, just before Christmas.  He now only has one leg!  (Alas, the relationship with dogs and Teddy Bears is a necessarily fraught one - especially these days with the tendency for folks to give their canine friends Cuddly Toys to play with.  How is a sensible dog to know the difference between his Teddy Bear and the one his Best Human Friend plays (and/or sleeps with) on a regular basis?)  Even though I pointed out that the distance between Oregon and Nottinghamshire could well render the idea uneconomic, we have come to a mutually satisfactory arrangement, and Audrey, the Forever Friend of this lady's eleven-year old son, is hopefully en route to the UK for treatment.  Description of her individual therapy programme will of course form a future post - as happens when a Patient arrives in the Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic
Meanwhile, with all the sewing ahead of me, together with  my Etsy duties for the day to accomplish as well,  I'll close now.  Cy Bear (and Hairy Bear11) are still comfortably ensconced in the bedroom, and send their good wishes to one and all.
Until the next post - hope everyone has a good week.  Isobel
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 8 March 2015

A Blog Anniversary - and the Cuddlies set off in a new direction.

Hello there Everyone:  
I'm giving Cy Bear a well-earned rest.  He's been doing his bit supervising the selection of a lot of the Coldham Cuddlies Rabbits Family prior to their leaving their Burrow in the hope of finding their respective Adoptive Homes - using a new medium.  They're off to be part of a real live Shop Display.  
Here are the selection of Baby Bunnies that have been on offer since the Christmas Carnival Craft Bazaar at Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire on December 5th last year.  These, and some duplicates, are off tomorrow (together with two Girl Dressed Rabbits and the two Dressed Men Rabbits shown below.  (There are still some Baby Bunnies left in the Burrow, too)
and they are all accompanied by the four Fleece Rabbits shown below:
Making up the contingent is a Snowy March Hare (which can also be made up in the Plush fabric used for the Brown Rabbit shown here..

Just a few weeks ago, a new shop, called The Artful Buttoner, opened in Kirkby-in-Ashfield to supply the crafters of the Town and it's surrounding areas.  It turns out that Claire, the Proprietor, lives just around the corner from both Clare and I and not only is she offering the usual haberdashery items (yarns for embroidery and knitting, plus all the attendant supplies), but she wants to provide shelf-space to local Crafters who might like to exhibit and sell their wares too.  As the name implies, there are buttons galore to pick one's way through, as well as some beautiful buttonwork at which Claire herself excels.  There are also "Knit and Natter" Sessions on offer during the week, and Clare is already a regular attendee.

Naturally, Clare and I weren't slow in calling in (separately) to see what it was like. Clare (accompanied by Alanbeat me to it and was full of praise for the site, the friendly proprietor and her equally friendly assistant, and urged me to follow up on both their visit and my own burgeoning idea to see if I could possibly sell some Cuddlies in the Shop (after all the usual discounts or other business arrangements had been discussed).  

During my visit - where the Cuddlies were welcomed with very kind words - and with Easter rapidly approaching, I arranged to take in a selection of the Rabbits we have in our shop at - and leave her to display them as and where she wanted.  Last week, I called in to warn them of our impending arrival, and this coming Monday (9th March), the Boys and Girls shown above are going to see how they might do in this new environment. 

The arrangement is for them (and others who will be substituted after Easter) to try the arrangement for a three- month period - after which, we shall see what happens next.  The business offer is most acceptable from my point of view - and it means I've got more space to put the new Boy Foxes
Wolves and Rabbits that I'm in the process of replacing, making for the first time, and so on.

I'm not the first local Crafter to take advantage of the space on offer and  I've given the Ladies plenty to choose from - and the way Claire operates is that Crafters leave their handicraft with her, and she and Maggie, her assistant, move the goods around the Shop - so that when Customers come into the Shop, they never see the same thing twice.  One pays a very reasonable some for the privilege and Claire takes an equally reasonable percentage of every sale that results.  (This is the first time I've ventured into this selling arena, so am somewhat apprehensive of the outcome.  But nothing ventured, nothing won!)

Now, the anniversary mentioned in the title of this post is the Fourth Anniversary of the my first post here - which took place on March 11, 2011. (So, not an inappropriate time to be trying out something new in the promotion of the Coldham Cuddlies family)   Since then, we've received 31,665 page views, attracted 367 confirmed Followers - not to mention all the lovely folk who comment, on Google+,, Facebook and Twitter.  When tentatively beginning this experiment in 2011, I never dreamed it would get like this:  thanks to you, I still have the energy and motivation to carry on!  Cy Bear joins me - in his own inimitable way - in saying thank you too.

Right, I've now got to get on with the new Foxes and Wolves mentioned by Cy Bear in his last contribution.  One Fox is complete.  Because it has been sometime since I last made the Dressed Boys, the first one has taken longer than thought it would - but the second one (a Wolf - just so I don't get bored!) is coming along well.  Two more to go, and then I shall have to make some more Boy Rabbits.  

Going through the Burrow today showed there are still got a selection of Girls on offer.  They are more fun to make, I have to say - largely because I've made a rod for my own back with the Boys: by going "off-pattern" and giving the coats their own lining (even though they aren't visible!) and making the boots from leather (rather than felt, as stipulated in the original patterns).  I just feel they aren't properly finished without those additions and above all, COLDHAMCUDDLIES do like to offer value for money!

Until the next post - thanks again for all your support.  We could NOT do this without you.  Isobel
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic