Thursday, 26 January 2012

Beauty Parade of Bears, its results + updates

Did not intend to post this evening, but so much is happening, that if I don't, I'll forget! goes!

The Beauty Parade of Bears, referred to in this post title,  took place yesterday afternoon following a request from one of my fellow residents at The Hospital of St. John who asked to be shown my current Bear Collection.  She has a grandson living in Australia who is dying to have a furry friend - preferably a dog or cat - but whose parents feel he's not yet old enough to look after one.  Granny has  been deputed to find a substitute, and just before Christmas (during one of the Tea Parties organised for us residents) we chatted and agreed to meet in the New Year to discuss matters further.  Yesterday was the culmination of that chat!
Four Bears awaiting inspection and selection

Prior to Mrs. JS's arrival, I arranged the four current members of the Cuddlies Bear Clan on our bed, and laid a selection of the plush fur fabrics in front of them - in case she decided to choose a completely new specimen instead. (With the light on them,  and at that angle, the new fur fabrics - on the centre and right front of the photograph do show their colours a bit better than in my last post!)  The inspection duly took place, and after wavering between Hairy Bear with a Felt Muzzle and Hairy Bear 4, the latter was selected, paid for and removed from the line-up!  (William White Bear was deemed an unsuitable colour  for a six-year old boy and Light Brown Furry Bear was "too like a Koala"!  Hairy Bear 4 will therefore be accompanying Mrs. JS to Sydney, Australia when she leaves on February 29, and we've been promised a picture of the meeting between grandson, O and his Hairy Bear at an appropriate moment.

Speaking of arrivals, I received telephone call this afternoon from MrsPW (who recently purchased Ferdinand Fox for her Victoria, British Columbia-based daughter's birthday).  Ferdy is now happily ensconced in Canada, having had a very speedy journey.  He left Warminster one Saturday morning and arrived in Victoria the following Tuesday!  Now that is very fast travel - Mrs. PW must have timed her postal arrangements to coincide exactly with the airmail 'plane departing from London Heathrow!  Another happy ending to report, I am pleased to say.

Another view of Ferdy in the Spring sunshine
Updates on the Toy pattern search are due - the Beaver pattern I was urgently seeking was downloaded on Monday afternoon - a testament to the speed of the internet!  After all, it was only Saturday evening last week that the possibility of my making a Beaver was even mooted.  I have now printed it off - and have all the instructions as to how to proceed as well.

Incidentally, I have picked up a very helpful tip from this venture - how to cut plush fabric without creating a shower of loose fur in the process!  Am sure everyone else who works with the fabric knew it already, but by following the instructions for Barry Beaver (as he will be called for the purposes of his eventual appearance in the Shop) for the two replacement Brown Rabbit Glove Puppets  last night, I have managed it without having any spare fur on the bedroom floor or flying about in the air either!  One lives and learns - every day!  Barry can be created as either a Glove Puppet or a Stuffed Toy using the same pattern - truly a good fit for proposed new members of the ColdhamCuddlies Family

Am pleased to say that my younger daughter, Clare - the really crafty member in the Morrell family (she can crochet, knit, stitch, dress-make, weave - just for starters!) - together with her husband, Alan, have kindly been searching on my behalf.  They have come up with a vintage toy pattern for a Raccoon.  Thanks to their efforts, it is apparently on its way - but has yet to reach me.

Clare has also found several vintage toy pattern books (circa 1960's - the very era when I first began this toy-making lark!) which she intends to present to me for this year's Mother's Day present!  (We celebrate this festival earlier here in the UK - during Lent, rather than in May as you do in the USA and Canada).  Apparently there are a huge number of animals available - but whether they include the Hedgehog, Badger and Guinea Pig I am still looking for remains to be seen.  Roll on Mother's Day! 

Incidentally, I have also been challenging my fellow bloggers with artistic tendencies, particularly those with the ability to create the custom made patterns I need.  You never know someone may emerge from this source as well.

Meanwhile, I'm pleased to announce that Madame Lapin has returned, safe and sound, from  her St. Albans 360 degree imaging adventure and is settling in once more to await her rejuvenation treatment.  She travelled in enormous comfort, well wrapped in tissue paper, enormous bubble-wrap - which must have protected her from all the inevitable bumps involved in postal travel and I've suggested that I hope her return trip - for the "AFTER" pictures - should take place in 2-3 weeks time.

Having said that - I'd now better get on with editing this post and settling into sewing up the two new Rabbit Glove Puppets.  So....Cheerio for the time being.  Isobel

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

New Additions to the Cuddlies - as promised

Hello there Everyone!

Cy Bear and I have been mentioning recently the fact that I've been busy replacing the Glove Puppets who have found themselves Forever Homes over the recent Christmas period.  I've now listed four new puppets in our shop at and here they are.  There are pictures taken at different stages of their development to be seen at their individual listing sites at

Etsy Listing #91353160 - Green Plush Glove Puppet with Golden Bear Head
He's a one-off, because I only had enough of this particular golden plush fabric left in stock to make two Golden Bear Glove Puppets.  So as I'd found some vintage Green Velvet fabric in my donated stock collection, I used that to use up the golden plush fur for a second puppet.  Here is the other Golden Bear Puppet, this time with  a yellow braid decoration around the glove edges - giving a more feminine look, perhaps?  Both have been listed at this evening as OOAK toys.

Etsy Listing #91354899 - Green Velvet Glove Puppet with Golden Bear Head

This evening was a good one for the sewing session and listing, because I was  also able to finish off the replacement Panda Bear Glove Puppets as well.  They, too, have been listed and here is a picture of them.

Etsy Listing #91356474 - Black & White Panda Bear Glove Puppets
These guys were taken in my new Mini Photo Studio - which has not really been set up properly yet, but it worked for me at this time.  I've finally found the instructions sheet for setting the Studio up and will be using it in future - especially for the smaller toys.  The Teddy Bears and Dressed Toys will just fit, I think:  obviously the bigger items, such as Tommy Teddy and Rusty Bear are just a tad too big to fit in!

What is keeping the Puppets upright, if there is no hand inside to do the job? - I think I can hear some folks ask!  Well in this case, I took two glass jars (which currently hold dried herbs!) and placed them inside each Puppet as their turn arrived for the picture session.  Works quite well, I think - and I will be repeating it with the others in future.  Saves me having to twist myself in contortions to do it on my own - or try to get fellow residents to provide their hands for the purpose.  It can be difficult to get enough of them all together at the same time!  They're an active and busy bunch of ladies and gentlemen that I find myself living with here in Heytesbury!

The Mini Photo Studio is a nifty little thing, though - isn't it?  I used the red background provided in the pack for the Pandas - the others stood out quite well without the studio background.  There are also black, dark blue and white sheets, with velcro edges which have their partner velcro fitments somewhere in the package - plus the special spotlights. (Have not used the lights here, because I've been able to get sufficient lighting from the existing bulb in the room.  When I get round to re-photographing ALL the ColdhamCuddlies, then I'll put the whole thing up properly - at the moment, in the flat, there simply is not the room for everything in its proper place!  We have a lovely, large, light Resident's Hall, which is available to us for just such eventualities, and I think that's where future photographic events will take place!

Finally, while I'm in the mode for providing listing information, I don't think I have provided the Etsy Listing for Big Koala.  I posted about him before listing him, and don't remember if I provided that vital item!  So, in case I did not, here it is:

Etsy Listing #90782660 - Big Koala Close-up
Now for replacing the Brown Bear Glove Puppet and the Rabbit Puppet - which I hope to do before starting to rejuvenate the French Connection patients in the Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185).  PaulN of Outsphere UK & Ireland emailed me today to say that Madame Lapin is on her way back from St. Albans - so I'd better get a move on!

Goodnight to you all - and God Bless!  Isobel

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Looking for Patterns for new animals + other matters

Cy Bear looking in - with some interesting items for all of our followers!

The link below is from the company that Isobel is dealing with in getting the 360 degree pictures of Madame Lapin (mentioned in our recent post dated January 13 - when we told you that she was on her way.  This picture is already on the Outsphere website, but under their logo.  Isobel has told PaulN that she'll send the ColdhamCuddlies logo, as he requests, when the whole treatment is complete!  Exciting isn't it?

Now to the title of this post in particular.  When Isobel was in Warminster, going to St. George's Catholic Church this week-end - as she got to the door, a lady who was handing out the service sheets asked if she was "the lady who made soft toys"!  Could this be a direct result of the recent Warminster Journal article she quoted in another of our recent posts ("Pre-Christmas publicity":  11/01/2012)?  Needless to say, she responded in the affirmative.

The lady, MrsM asked if we could make a Beaver - for her young grand-daughter, who has been "into Beavers" since she was three years' old.  We're not sure how old she is now, but Mrs. M and her husband are due to visit Denmark, where the young lady resides, in April.  Now Beavers have not featured large in our Cuddlies Family to date, but it looks as though they just might in future.  When Isobel got back home, after she'd had supper with Peter, she sent out an APD (All Points Broadcast) to everyone she thought might be able to give us a lead to a Beaver pattern. 

We've been very lucky - thanks to Isobel and Peter's neice, AnaliseS - who lives in British Columbia, Canada and whom we supplied The Lacey  Foxes, and a Koala and Baby Rabbit to date.  She gave Isobel a link - and behold, we now have access not only to a Beaver pattern, but one that can be used as a stuffed toy or a glove puppet!  Isn't that exciting?  While on the site, she also purchased a pattern for a baby Penguin!

This is specially good news, as on Friday morning, Isobel went round to Fine Quality Feather Company in Frome to purchase some more polyester fibre.  She'd run out and was unable to finish the two new Golden Bear Plush Puppets she's made (replacing our original one, who is on his way to Liberty Township, Ohio, USA by the way - my farewell picture with him is below).

Getting ready for the journey to the USA
While she was at the factory in Frome, Isobel also picked up the off cut plush fur fabrics they'd put aside for her and here are pictures of what she's come back with!

The actual colour of this fur is darker than it shows in this picture.  Isobel thinks this will become the replacement brown fur for Brown Bears - because she doesn't think there will be any more Hairy Bear fabric after she has done two more Bears.  Then the other new plush looks like this:

 We're not sure what we will make with this, but badgers are a possibility
Isobel is also thinking of Chipmunks and Racoons, as she seems to remember they have stripes in their fur, too.  So, they were added to the list of patterns needed in the APB I've already mentioned, as well as Badgers and Hedgehogs.  If any of our Followers know where we might find patterns for these other four contenders for places in the Cuddlies Family, we'd be very grateful to be told.  Alternatively, if you know of any old toys, in yours or some else's attics or basements Isobel would be equally interested.  If you wouldn't mind, she would take it to pieces (rejuvenate them - if necessary) and make templates from them and return the toys to the senders.  Costs of getting them us would of course be met by

Then, finally, for this post anyway, Isobel and Peter were speaking to their France-based sister-in-law, IvyM mid-week.  She is the Forever Friend of Madame Lapin and Mons. Reynard and was interested to hear about developments on that front obviously;   but just guess what?  When she was visiting us just before Christmas, she was very complimentary about MEIsobel happened to mention that she still had enough Beaver Lamb Fur to make another version of me, and IvyM has asked Isobel to make it for her, with all costs of the production met by her!  So.....add that to Isobel's list of To Do's!  Mind you, I'm not so sure about another real Beaver Lamb Fur Bear:  but, if it's going to be living in France, then our paths are not likely to cross that often.  I do rather enjoy the status of being a Unique Bear.

By the way, two replacement Golden Bear Plush Glove Puppets will be listed on the Shop site ( very soon and will form the content of the next post here shortly.  The replacement Panda Bear Puppets are well on the way to completion.  Then, Isobel will probably be undertaking the treatment for the French Rabbit and Fox toys.  They have been patients in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) since November last year.  They have been very patient (pun not intended!).   It's all go in this household!

With that comment, I'll end this post!  Good night for now!  Cy Bear.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Rejuvenation of Big Koala

This looks like being a joint production between Cy Bear and myself - since he mentioned my involvement in the various stages of rejuvenating Big Koala (as opposed to the Little Koalas (Etsy Listing #55190188) already in the ColdhamCuddlies shop at  This turned out to be a much more involved job than I had originally anticipated.

When Big Koala arrived as an in-patient at the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) in mid-summer 2011, he was a very heavy toy indeed and really could not be described as either cuddly or soft.  He was very heavy and hard and as his Best Friend, RE told us, had sat on a bed for all the time he could remember - never having been played with at all.  He really did not encourage cuddling or playing.  He just SAT - as this picture of him shows:

In the garden, with his friend Ed Ted
When I began to assess him, it became obvious that he was not going to be able to get the same treatment that Ed Ted had received for example.  Although looking in a lot better shape than Ed Ted had on his arrival, once I began to unpick the stitching, I found that his skin was actually real hide, very tough (through being over 40 years old) and quite unsuitable for recovering with a new fabric coat.  So, while still being careful to keep all the pieces in the same order, I resolved to create a new template, and once that had been achieved to discard the skin all together.

Koala's back pieces ready for a template to be drawn

The rest of Big Koala's bits and pieces, with his base on the right

I then separated the skin from the stuffing - which was absolutely rock solid, felt somewhat sticky to the touch and had a very faint whiff of eucalyptus or some such odour.  This caused me to conclude that the stuffing could well have been eucalyptus bark.  I had to use my hand-held "Dust Buster" vacuum to clear it from the hide and collected some of it in a plastic bag - shown below - prior to discarding everything to do with the original Koala toy.

Koala's original stuffing
Once this process had been completed, the cardboard templates of New Big Koala were put in my usual envelope filing system to await his reconstruction.  The Christmas Bazaar, Christmas itself and other family events intervened, so it was only last week that I was able to get down to cutting out the new member of the ColdhamCuddlies family, and start the sewing process.

Cy Bear taking over from here - at Isobel's insistence!  She found the reconstruction process a lot easier than taking Big Koala apart had been.  The sequence of putting the parts together is also completely different, apparently, to the way she does the rest of us Bears, but in the end a lot easier.  There are a lot fewer seams involved and, of course, no joints to be taken into consideration.  His eyes went in much easier than Isobel has found to be the case when making some of the other Cuddlies, so she is very pleased with the new pattern she now has to offer friends, family and visitors to our Etsy shop at www,

She made the head first - and to begin with wasn't too sure that she had got the seams in the right order.

As it looks here, his muzzle is far too long and pointed, and she was somewhat concerned that the leather nose would not show up properly.  When she came to put the head on the body (shown below), she realised her mistake - she had not sewn up enough of the neck area, apparently! - quickly corrected it and the result was much more satisfactory.

Body, without stuffing, but with claws in place
Big Koala's claws are made from some of the dark brown leather off-cuts Isobel has been able to source from the Dents' Glove Factory in Warminster, Wiltshire, and taken from one of the only original claws on Big Koala in his previous guise.

Isobel then had to stuff both pieces of the new Koala frame.  His eyes were put in before she began stuffing the head and ears - the other Bears' ears do not need that treatment, but Big Koala's do.  Then the two bits were sewn together, leaving an opening at the top of Koala's back through which the stuffing has to be  pushed.

Please ignore the electric tooth brush, and broadband connection hub in the background, if you can!
This picture shows Big Koala with his two pieces in place, but minus any stuffing.  Once that had been done, Isobel closed the gap, and hey "voila" (as the French would say), there was the new, modern Big Koala ready to be introduced to the world, once Isobel had embroidered in his mouth.

When measured up against Hairy Bear 4 and me, he is just about the same size in height  - 36cms  from his base to the middle of his forehead over his nose (14-1/4 inches).  He is actually fatter than any of us Bears, but doesn't have the separate arms and legs like us.  However, his girth is 58 cms, if he is measured between his arms and legs (22-3/4 inches) and Isobel says he took as much, if not a little more, polyester fibre to complete.

Showing the different shape that Big Koala is
So, when she's done this blog tonight, Isobel  is going to list him in the Etsy Shop ( at the same price as she charges for all of us Bears (except me, of course). As the Official Mascot to ColdhamCuddlies, I'm not for sale!).

As a final picture - here is one of  the ColdhamCuddlies' Koalas all together. 

Good night to you all - Cy Bear and Isobel.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Decorations for All Seasons

The Boosting Etsy Shops Team's goal is to offer support
and promotion of one another's Etsy shops primarily through our
personal Blogs, and also through our Twitter Accounts and Facebook Fan pages.
Commitment to this common goal is what makes our team the BEST! 

 Having now had a chance to visit some of my fellow team members since my first, tentative steps within the BESTeam fold, I am going to have another attempt to feature some of their shops which have taken my eye.

 I've noticed many of their blog posts have a theme or thread running through their features, so am taking Decorations as mine for this essay.  The first three sites I hovered over had samples of flowers used to decorate different items/sites that really appealed - to the extent that they are going to feature today.

Autumn (as we call it in the UK) or Fall as it is known in Canada (where I lived for 12 years) and the US could be described as my favourite time of the year.  Whilst it does herald the onset of winter shortly, the colours are so bright and warm, and the hot summer temperatures have been lessened by the cooler winds and shorter days, that one tends to concentrate on enjoying them - and let's forget about winter, until it actually arrives!  So, when I saw the Fall Silk Flowers in a Scarecrow Basket, I couldn't resist including it in my selection.  This is an offering from Debbi and Amanda, a mother-and-daughter team specialising in vintage, jewellery and other enticing products, of which this is a prime example.

Debbi and Amanda's work can also be seen at their Facebook, Twitter and Flickr sites, as well as at  They suggest this as a home decoration.  However,  I can't help but feel that it should have a wider audience.  I could see it gracing a church window or sitting on the step below an altar or lectern as a Harvest Festival decoration as well.  It's dimensions (22"wide x 182 high x 14" deep)  would not be drowned by a medieval church window, of which we have a considerable number here in the Heytesbury area of Wiltshire, England, UK.  You could say, we are spoilt for choice!

My next selection is a great deal smaller - still a decorative object -  but this time balancing delicately on someone's head.  I can see an auburn headed lady going for this - although brunettes and those with raven black hair could also find a use for this lovely head-band.  How about calling it a "fascinator" though?  These do seem to be the latest "must-have" headgear these days.

This comes from the KnitfulDezigns Shop owned and operated by Veronica Grace - whose range of decorative headwear knows few bounds.  There are some delightful children's headwear that will definitely feature in a future post, but for today, I'm going to be satisfied with highlighting this delightful floral object.

My final selection for this feature is this beautiful Charmeuse Silk Hand-Painted Scarf.  Measuring 45" square, it is surely far too attractive to end up draping someones neck - however gracefully it is arranged (and Joy Silk who is responsible for this lovely object - as well as some equally decorative jewellery - actually provides the requisite instructions for achieving a satisfactory result with each sale.

Left to me, I'd mount it and frame it behind chemical free glass and have it as a well-hanging.  It has already been a featured item during Breast Cancer Awareness week in Joy's locality and I think it deserves more publicity than just being an adornment in someone's wardrobe.

I'm blown away by this partiicular item (although all her products look lovely).  Painting on paper is hard enough:  painting on silk is a whole new ballgame!  Joy's work can be seen at her Etsy Shop  (,  Twitter:  @JoySilk;  Her blog can be read at and her email is

As a newcomer to the Etsy BESTeam, I've been made very welcome.  There must be many other Etsy bloggers/shopowners around who would be similarly welcomed and helped - while simultaneously promoting your own Etsy shop.  Why not give the Etsy BESTeam forum site on Etsy a visit and give it a try?  If they've invited me, they'll surely give you a berth!

Friday, 13 January 2012

Further Developments in the Cuddlies' lives

Hello there folks - Cy Bear being allowed to put his oar in for a moment!  Isobel seems to have been posting quite a lot recently, and I feel I'm being eased out!  I mean, there she went - allowing Ferdy Fox to go to his Forever Home without my having a farewell photograph with him before he went!  He's one of the most colourful toys in the ColdhamCuddlies Family, and I think we would have looked good together in a picture!  Still, despite, that mishap, I'm quite sure Ferdinand Fox, The Hunting Gentleman is going to be very happy in his Forever Home in Canada.

Now, Isobel tells me that the Golden Bear Glove Puppet  (Etsy Listing #82953359) has been ordered this afternoon, and sometime in the next week will be flying off to his Forever Home in Liberty Township, Ohio, US!  That means there are now only two Glove Puppets living here with me in HeytesburyIsobel really does have to get her fingers working and replace the others.  They are the Fox Lady Glove Puppet (Etsy Listing #82957532) and the Brown Rabbit Glove Puppet (Etsy Listing #83387217):  replacements for the Panda, Brown Bear and White Rabbit Glove Puppets are awaited!  I'll definitely make certain there is a farewell picture taken with Golden Bear Puppet and me before he leaves!

Awaiting dispatch to his Forever Home

Madame Lapin is on her way for the first part of her special, experimental photography session.  She was posted to a firm in St. Albans, Hertfordshire called Outsphere UK & Ireland today.  From what I gather (and I'm not a very technical Bear you must understand) the company specialises in taking photographs of objects and creating a 360 degree image as a final result.  This is the first time they've had a Toy as a model - they usually specialise in things like filing cabinets, and specialist engineering items.

They're quite excited by this exercise - as much as Isobel is.   When they've taken the "Before" pictures, Madame Lapin will come back to the Soft Toy Clinic for her treatment.  Once that has finished, she will again go back to St. Albans for the "After" set of pictures to be taken.  Then the whole exercise is going to be posted to the Outsphere website.  PaulN, the person who is dealing with Isobel, told her yesterday that he just got some feedback from a recent client (the filing cabinet manufacture mentioned earllier) who says that they've sold more cabinets since the pictures were taken than they had ever done in the past!    Isobel had better get her skates on then, because if that means more Rabbits are going to find Forever Homes as a result of Madame Lapin's experience, there will soon be none in the shop for us to sell!

There was also another piece of good news for Isobel today.  When she visited The Fine Quality Feather Company earlier this week - to get the new polyester fibre which will be used to stuff my Big Friend, Rusty Bear, she was a little disappointed that there was no plush fur off-cuts to be sorted through.  She was told that the Factory store-room had been cleared out before Christmas (whereas, apparently, last year, that did not happen until after the Festivities).

However, she was philosophical about it, picked up the 6 kilos of stuffing material and headed for our Storage Unit - where stuff that cannot be fitted into our flat is stored.  When Isobel saw the dimension of the six bags, it was obvious that there was not room here for both the stuffing and Rusty at the same time!  So, when Rusty is de-stuffed and sent to the Dry Cleaners, then Isobel will bring the stuffing back here.  Once Rusty returns, he can then be filled with his new stuffing and returned to Philippa, in High Wycombe.

However, the good news is that The Fine Quality Feather Company rang us this afternoon, they've found a whole lot of fur off-cuts after all - and, in addition, have put aside some "silk off cuts" (a new offering!).  They've been bagged up and can be collected from their Frome factory the next time Isobel is in the vicinity.  That would not have been for another five or six weeks - but I bet Isobel will find some excuse to drive to Frome before that, because I know she (and Peter, too - because he enjoys rootling through materials as much as Isobel does!) is itching to see what they've found for her.  That, too, will have to stay in the storage unit, because the cupboards here in the flat are stuffed to the brim with materials - to be used when needed.

While all this was going on, Isobel has been sewing the first edition of Big Koala - who started off as a patient in the Soft Toy Clinic, you will remember.

Big Koala between Ed Ted (still with us!) and me

Isobel de-stuffed him, and will be posting about his treatment when he is completed.  Suffice to say that, so far, she is satisfied that she has been able to resurrect him from where he ended up - in the garbage bin, because he was actually made of real hide, which was far too hard to do anything with once she had undone the stitches!  She's still not sure whether he will be recognisable - but  I've seen his body, and he certainly reminds me of Big Koala, so ..... watch this space.

Right - that's it from me for this post. I've enjoyed being able to tell you all this!  Bye!  Cy Bear

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Pre-christmas Publicity for the Cuddlies - plus additional information

This article actually appeared on the Thursday before Christmas week (December 16) and I've been trying to scan it into the computer in a legible form ever since.  I gave up today, because the combination of the newsprint and inks used simply do not provide a good enough result for you good folks to decipher.  A pity, really, because it included a really good picture of all the toys (similar to the my post of December 20) but with the addition of myself as well - and it wasn't a bad one either!  I did promise to post any article that might appear, so true to my word,  here it is - coupled with a repeat of my own photograph of the event, but minus yours truly - have not yet worked out how to self-photograph as yet!
Repeating the previously posted picture
                               "HEYTESBURY CHURCH CHRISTMAS FAYRE

"The Heytesbury Church Christmas Fayre took place earlier this month at Saint Peter and Saint Paul Church (December 10, actually).

In spite of a chilly day the event was very well attended with visitors able to browse stalls selling everything from cuddly toys, organic therapy products to novelty clocks and much more.

Organiser, Ali Tebbs said, "I felt that the Christmas Fayre has been a great success today.  We have had everything from home-made produce and craft to exotic olive oil and soft toys.  The tea, coffee and mince pies have been very popular.

Ali's husband Mike added, "The village has pulled together to raise money for the church.  It's great to see the church so full of people."

There was a stall with all kinds of soft and cuddly toys available for visitors to hold, stroke and buy.  Isobel Morrell who was running the stall said, "I've been selling soft toys - rabbits, foxes and bears of all sizes.  I make them all myself and I have been doing it for nearly 50 years;  they are made to last.

I renovate soft toys - not dolls.  Some of those I have restored recently have been up to 85 years old and I give them another 30 or more years of life.

I also run Coldham Cuddlies soft toy clinic and two current patients are 35 plus years old.  I made them and they've come back for re-stuffing and rejuvenation." "

The article then went on to describe and quote some of  the other stall holders' views on their individual successes and views on the event.  However, it is gratifying that my picture was at the top of the three others included.  Apart from the obvious repetitive nature of the report, (I don't think I spoke in that manner!) it's my best publicity yet locally, so I was very pleased.

However, one must not get too excited.  "The Warminster Journal" despite being the local weekly newspaper hereabouts does not have a great reputation within its readership!  Earlier in our sojourn in the vicinity (we've been here over 3 years now), one of my neighbours said that she used it to line the bottom of her budgie's cage!   Hmmm.....  still at least it's some publicity! 

Now, just a further piece of information (as promised in my last post) about Ferdy Fox's Forever Home location.  Mrs.PW kindly telephoned to enquire about Peter's health earlier today - he's suffering the chest bug that is making the rounds in the village and The Hospital of St. John - so I took the opportunity to ask her where Ferdy is going to live.  It is, as I suspected, British Columbia and Vancouver Island specifically.

However - and this blew both Peter and I away - Mrs. PW is actually Victoria, BC born and bred, she knows the location of the acreage on the island to which we originally emigrated to stay with Peter's sister in Metchosin (just outside Victoria itself) and also knows where a couple of our friends currently live.  But, the final co-incidence - believe it or not - is that her father's accountants in Victoria were the same company that I worked for when we first landed in Canada  in 1975.   Now if that doesn't illustrate just how small this world of ours is, I don't know what will!!

On that note, I'll end this post - just two more and the magic centenary post will be upon  me.  Not sure how I'll celebrate that one!  Goodnight .  Isobel


Monday, 9 January 2012

BESTeam Featured Shop blog - my first for the team

The Boosting Etsy Shops Team's goal is to offer support
and promotion of one another's Etsy shops primarily through our
personal Blogs, and also through our Twitter Accounts and Facebook Fanpages.
Commitment to this common goal is what makes our team the BEST! 

Right, that defines the objective - but even so, this is definitely an experimental blog.  Hopefully there will be no major hiccups and what I'm trying to do - boost the Team's shops - actually works.  So here goes.

My first contact with the BESTeam was a suggestion I join from Annie Oliverio, whose Etsy Shop is known as Empty On The Inside - describing her hand-painted, original Greetings Cards that she designs and sells (not only in her shop, but off line as well).  I feel it fitting therefore that the first featured BESTeam Shop from this blog should be hers - especially as I've been lucky enough to receive two samples of her work myself.

The illustration below is one of her recent Christmas cards - send to my husband, Peter and myself;


 It is such a lovely, festive picture and makes a great card for the Christmas season, and would have looked great alongside all the other cards Peter and I were fortunate enough to receive.  Alas, thanks to the vagaries of the respective postal services on either side of the Atlantic Ocean, Annie's greetings only arrived last Thursday, January 5 - just the day I'd decided to take all the cards down!  However, that did not detract from Peter's and my appreciation of the seasonal greetings from Annie, Kel and naturally, Ike - their wise dog!

Folks can see all the other cards she has designed recently at her Etsy Shop - /EmptyOnTheInside.  She can also be contacted at and her regular postings on her blog are not to be missed.  If she wasn't already a gifted artist, she really should be a writer!

Now you're in for a treat - because this is My SPECIAL card.  Annie signed up for the Etsy Greetings Team Special Event - 52 weeks of Mail - whereby she committed herself to writing a traditional "snail mail" greeting every week to someone she knows for 52 weeks of the year, and I was honoured to be selected as one of the 52.  Her note of friendship was very much appreciated and it was accompanied by my own EmptyOnTheInside Greeting Card - very appropriate one too, given my toy-making proclivities and actually rather prophetic as to how one of  the recent patients in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic actually turned out!  Let me show you:

The title is "Teddy Bear" 2011 - has Annie's autograph as well (wonder how valuable it will become in future?) and is absolutely delightful, to my way of thinking.  Sums up a Teddy Bear to a tee!

How here's the final picture of Tommy Teddy - my daughter Philippa's bear - as he appeared at the end of his treatment (which was covered in the post written by my  co-author, Cy BearOfficial Mascot to ColdhamCuddlies on November 27, 2011 and entitled "Tommy Teddy's Rejuvenation Therapy").

Amazingly coincidental aren't they - and I promise, there was absolutely no collusion between Annie and Cy Bear and I!  Her artistic production preceded Tommy Teddy's rejuvenation by several weeks!

Here's to the next time!  Isobel

As part of my BESTeam commitment, throughout the coming months (provided they accept me as a full time member) I hope to  be posting short features of each of the fabulous shops and talented craftspersons representing the team.  What is BESTeam?  It's The Boosting Etsy Shops Team and our goal is to give support to each other and to help promote each others' Etsy shops through blogging, Facebook and other social networks.  If you are an Etsy shopowner and are interested in learning more about BESTeam, please visit the team page on Etsy or have a look at the BESTeam blog.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

Spreading the net wider

ColdhamCuddliescalling is about to seek a wider public.  Just a quick line to update folks on what's been happening this week in the ColdhamCuddlies family scenario, as well as mine!

Beginning with me - because it has potential to grow the Cuddlies line - is that I have finally accepted an invitation from the Etsy BESTeam to join them in their endeavours to Boost Etsy Shops through their blogs.  Am still finding my way around, and feel it's a bit daunting - never seem to be able to find my way back twice to the same site(s), but I guess it will all make sense soon!  Hope so, anyway.  Debbi, the Administrator and Team Leader invited me before Christmas, but I've been dithering about it for a week or so and finally took the plunge as of January 3.  Am on two weeks' probation - which is just as well, methinks (for everyone concerned) - and have yet to do my first featured blog, but hope to correct that tomorrow - just in time for the first week anniversary.

Not sure whether it is connected, but after week - if not months - of trying, I seem to have finally sussed how to grab buttons!  The New Katney - a prominent Blogger Help person - has been tearing her hair out (metaphorically speaking, I hope) trying to explain how to do it, but in the end although I followed her instructions, after weeks of non-success, all of a sudden - with a link from the BESTeam site as it happens -  I managed to get a five-button scenario;  and all at the same time, too.  Since then, there have been some additions, and now I've got the hang of it more will follow - so, please, watch this blog space!

Next week, after consultation with my new team mates, I hope to be announcing the beginning of the ColdhamCuddlies Guest Blogger sessions.  I've been mulling over how I can invite folks to guest blog about their shops and products, while at the same time maintaining the toy theme that is the thread of  this whole ColdhamCuddliescalling blog.  Think I've hit on the right format - but will trial it via BESTeam before opening it out to those who've included me as a Guest  first, and then to the wider Etsy family.  Again, watch this space.

Hairy Bear 4 is now complete.  He will be listed tomorrow - after I've taken pictures using our new Mini Instant Photo Studio (mentioned in our post "Resolutions for 2012 + Future Plans/31.12.11), but I've taken a series of the usual snapshot pics I've used to date to illustrate my posts to date - just to whet your appetites.

Provided the surface is level, Hairy Bear 4 stands by himself!
 I'm seriously considering listing these Bears as Limited Editions. The popularity of this particular Bear means I'm rapidly running out of the Hairy Bear fabric from which they are made.  As you may recall (either from previous posts, or from the individual descriptions of the toys in our shop at many of the toys are made with off-cuts obtained from the same source as the polyester fibre. - where I'm off to tomorrow (for Rusty's further treatment in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic - described in my last two posts).  I visit them twice a year - with extra calls when more stuffing is needed - to collect off-cuts they would otherwise take to the dump, and on the last two occasions, they have not had any Hairy Bear material for me. I'm hoping they may have some when I see them tomorrow - but if not, Hairy Bear 4 will have an added tag - "Limited Edition Bear - 4/7 or 8.  I think I have enough fabric in store for another 3 or maybe 4 more Hairys.

Then, earlier this week, Ferdinand Fox - the Hunting Gentleman, was sold to a Heytesbury Resident, who has had her eye on him ever since meeting him at the Craft Fair held at St. George's RC Church in Warminster earlier this year.  Although resident in Heytesbury for some years, MrsPW is in fact a Canadian-born lady, with a daughter - who is a keen rider - still living there.  Now Canada, as I know, is a big country, and I'm not sure exactly where MrsPW's lass resides (think it could be British Columbia), but I will, of course, discover (and report) where Ferdy's new Forever Home will be.   However,  I'm going to be in trouble with Cy Bear though:  Ferdy left before I remembered to allow  Cy Bear to perform his official Farewell duties, so he missed his opportunity for another photo-call!  Oops!

That means I shall be de-activating Ferdinand Fox from the Shop for the moment, while I get round to replacing him.  Still, selling Ferdy last week, means that  I've got cash in hand to purchase the polyester fibre from Fine Quality Feather Company (my Frome, Somerset supplier) and saves me a trip to the Bank.  Helpful, because if I paid them with a cheque, I'd have to pay Value Added Tax) (VAT)  at 20%:   this way, as a cash transaction, I don't and that's a saving!!  All goes towards the bottom line, as they say!

On that mercenary note, I'll close - with some further illustrations of Hairy Bear 4:

A rear-view of Hairy Bear 4

Hairy Bear 4 sitting on the Printer!

Head and shoulders - Hairy Bear 4
Until the next time - wish me luck with the BESTeam, please.  Isobel

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Stop Press - Latest bulletin about Hairy Bear 3 and Rusty!

Greetings everyone!

Cy Bear and I are pleased to announce that Hairy Bear was  acceptable to Mr.TG.    So,  having been safely wrapped in chemical free tissue paper, bubble-wrapped to save him from some of the inevitable rough-handling that is part and parcel (pun intended!) of travel via the UK's  Royal Mail First Class Small Packet service, and slipped into a polythene envelope (dimensions 420 x 500 mm), he was dispatched to Leeds, West Yorkshire, England, UK early Tuesday morning.

This afternoon (Wednesday, January 4) I received the following message from M. TG:

"Received Hairy Bear (or Hairy, as he is now known) this morning! L was delighted with him. Very soft and cuddly, and also, very well made! He will fit in well with all the other bears that take up most of the room on our bed.

Thank you so much for all your hard work, it has definitely been worth the wait. You couldn't have been a more helpful, interesting and fun person to communicate with and buy from.  I will leave feedback on the Etsy website today (positive, of course)
Attached is a photo of Hairy, with all his new friends. Feel free to use it on your blog, if you want."
Not one to refuse such an offer, here is the picture!

Hairy will not be lonely will he?
Mr. TG had earlier said he was "honoured" to have been included in our blog - all of his comments are much appreciated by both Cy Bear and myself!  It was a real pleasure doing business with him from our viewpoint.

As for the latest on Rusty.  I've started the research into his possible dry-cleaning treatment.  When in Warminster this afternoon (picking up our monthly medication supplies - such an exciting life I lead, eh?) I visited a dry-cleaning outlet and discussed the matter with them (without taking Rusty!)  It was pouring with rain and thus not conducive to lugging a big Bear like him around - not to mention the attention he would likely attract among the passers-by!  The upshot is that such therapy is not such an outlandish thought!  Provided he is thoroughly de-stuffed and his eyes and nose removed before presentation (they could melt during the process!), he could be treated either as a "Jacket" or a "Coat".

(Philippa informs me - because I've not dared to check, as yet - that they are "stuck on".  After 25+ years, they should therefore not be too difficult to unstick, be cleaned up (and maybe repainted), so that should not present a problem).

The price charged for Rusty's clean-up would depend on the final decision of the dry-cleaning operative!  That seems a reasonable suggestion, and although there might be some risk of shrinkage, it's not as likely as it would be if I were to wash him and try to pull him back into shape myself!  

Action will not take place for a week or two yet - but watch this space!

Must be off to carry on creating Hairy Bear 4 - so he can take his place in the shop at!  Other things being equal, that could be by the end of this week.  Still waiting to make contact with the 3D imaging experts - but being Scots, they will probably still be celebrating Hogmanay so it's likely to be early next week before a further bulletin can be issued about Madame Lapin.
All the best for the time being!  Isobel and Cy Bear.

Monday, 2 January 2012

New Arrival - and a new Farewell

Happy New Year to all!  This is Cy Bear entering 2012 with a new post about two new Friends involved with the ColdhamCuddlies Family.

In her post titled "Happy Endings;  new Beginnings" on December 10 last year, Isobel mentioned the biggest bear in the whole world (or at least my world, anyway) Rusty!  Well as arranged, he duly arrived with my friend, Philippa just before Christmas.  She put him in the passenger seat of her car and strapped him in with the seat belt (so he was a legal bear) and he seemed to enjoy the trip!  Philippa said that she was only aware of one other car's passengers taking note of her unusual driving companion, unlike the occasion when Isobel introduced Rusty originally - when the Morrell family were still Canadian residents.  A little girl travelling with her parents caught sight of Rusty in Philippa's car, and after a bit of careful passing, her father was able to position their car for the little girl to see who it was!   Discussions during  Christmas  established that auspicious event took place in either 1984 or 1985 - so, although Rusty does look a somewhat dirty colour, he is in very good condition for a 25+ year old Bear, otherwise.   Here is a picture of him in the only place he can currently stay in our apartment here in Heytesbury, Wiltshire, England, UK.

Rusty sitting in  a wicker chair - and only just fitting in!
You can't see it in the picture, but if you flip his ears up, that's the colour White that Rusty should be - so that's going to be our aim:  to restore all the white bits to that colour, and brighten up the russet ones!  He's also a very floppy Giant Bear at the moment, so Isobel is going to take out his existing stuffing and replace it with the polyester fibre with which I am stuffed.  We're not quite sure how many bags of that Rusty is going to need, but Isobel is guessing it won't be less than 6 kilo bags of the stuff!  She's going to order it from our supplier in Frome, Somerset (about 10 miles from here) next week, once she's found somewhere to store it until she can use it!  There's not enough room for both Rusty and the stuffing - as well as Peter, Isobel and I (plus all the toys to be found at!

Isobel is also considering having him dry-cleaned, rather than try to wash him by hand.  He's a bit big for her to handle - with her arthritic hands and fingers - and she's fearful that no matter how carefully he is washed, he might shrink in the process.  Dry-cleaning seems to be a good possible option, and she is going to meet (she hopes) the dry cleaning man who visits Heytesbury twice a week.  The first opportunity for a chat is going to be on Tuesday but the timings may not be right.  Isobel will probably get his telephone number and try to set up a meeting later in January for Rusty and him to meet.  Don't suppose he gets many Giant Bears to dry-clean normally!

Now to the New Farewell:  Hairy Bear 3 will be on his way on Tuesday to his Forever Home somewhere in Leeds, Yorkshire, England.  He was ordered by Mr. TG the week-end before the Christmas Holiday, and because Isobel was in the middle of completing all the Fleece Baby Bunnies, she could not fulfill the order in time for Mr. TG to give it to his partner as a Christmas present - since it takes her at least 6 days to make a Hairy Bear from cutting out the pattern to embroidering the facial features and claws.  As we'd still not replaced Hairy Bear who left us for Portsmouth, England in September, 2011, Hairy Bear 3 is not even going to be introduced to our Family, really.  But - as Official Mascot to ColdhamCuddlies, I insisted on having our usual farewell picture taken before he gets packed up tomorrow prior to posting on Tuesday morning.  The photograph also shows just how big Rusty is - because I am considered quite a Big Bear in the normal course of things, and Hairy Bear is about the same size as me too!  (Isobel here: Hairy  Bear should be:  he's made from the same pattern as you!)

Hairy Bear 3 and Me, sitting on Rusty's lap!
 Mr. TG requested that if possible, he would like Hairy Bear to have a "mournful" expression, rather than the more usual cheery look that Isobel tries to achieve with us Bears.  Here is a snapshot Isobel took of him earlier this evening.  
Hairy Bear 3 awaiting approval
 There were two pictures taken and sent to Mr.TG this evening, before I was allowed to post this blog, and we're hoping his expression will be acceptable.  Isobel really had a lot of difficulty in embroidering Hairy Bear's mouth this time - she is hoping the solemn look he is exhibiting will meet the "mournful" look.

 We'll keep you posted on the result.  Keep your fingers crossed.....meanwhile, Bye for now.  Cy Bear