Thursday, 27 September 2012

Now for the Rejuvenation of the Lop Earred Rabbit Arm Puppet

Good evening again Everyone:  Cy Bear being allowed to tell you about the treatment of the last Nottinghamshire-based Patient in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185)Isobel has been calling him Lop Eared Bunny Arm Puppet and he, too, has spent the last few decades living in PamL's Toy Box and being played with when Little People visit her.

Now in my view, that is a very  long name to repeat every time one speaks about a chap, so  I’ll call him Loppy Lugs. (Peter always used to refer to his hearing aids as his “Lugs”, and this Rabbit’s ears were certainly floppy when he arrived.  Isobel has given him some new velvety linings and although they don’t stay upright all the time, they are certainly firmer than they once were, so Loppy Lugs (or maybe even LL for a briefer reference) is how I’ll carry on referring to him for this post.

As with all the Patients in the Clinic, once he had been taken to pieces  he found himself immersed in lukewarm, soapy water and left there overnight.

The pieces had been rinsed at this point

Isobel had always intended to take a template from him, because he is the first Arm Puppet (as opposed to Hand Puppet) she has ever come across.  She feels there may be some customer interest in him when he gets listed in the shop at   So next morning, she hung LL up to dry out and once that result had been achieved, she drew round each piece on cardboard and cut out the pattern.  These are now in their special filing envelope and will be developed after the Craft Fairs that are coming in the next two weeks, and once Isobel has been to France for a few days at the beginning of October.

Then the sewing together began and here is a shot of the first stage - both ears put together, beside the original very faded lining used originally for LL.

 Isobel says that basically, LL is a pretty simple toy to make.  His body is a rectangular piece of material, folded over to have a front seam.  The sides have two holes cut in them at the top and bottom of the resulting fold.  These make what passes for LL’s limbs, which are basically two smaller rectangles of the same length, with one of the rectangles cut into two equal pieces.  The long, uncut one becomes his arms and the two shorter ones his legs.  The ends are then pulled through the side seam holes and sewn in.  Hopefully the pictures show this clearly.

When complete, the “arms” are looped over the playmate’s head and shoulders.

 Once the legs have had the same treatment, you can see that the legs are joined together with white elastic.

That's because these have to expand to go over the playmate’s lower body and allow sitting,  if necessary.  It is difficult to explain, which is why Isobel has decided to find a child model and photograph LL and playmate together - giving everyone an idea as to how he is made to work. (It may well be that the elastic will have to be shortened - the bit from which the length was measured had expanded and lost it's elasticity!)

It's great to be able to tell you that Isobel has been able to borrow a child from the Village.  He is actually the Best Friend of a Bear that was an earlier Patient in the Soft Toy Clinic.  The Patient was called Teddy, and Isobel just needed to give him some more stuffing - he’d been loved so much by AdamW (the Best Friend I’m talking about) that he’d got very scraggy.  Also the seam on Teddy's back had come adrift.  It only took Isobel about half an hour to mend him, so he was not a proper Patient.  

 However when Isobel was going to get her newspaper from the Village Shop yesterday, she met AdamW’s mother and asked if she would mind lending him.  No problems:  so the photographic session is set for Tuesday evening next week, and then we hope to write the “How To Use Loppy Lugs and Enjoy him properly” post - probably by Isobel, this time.  (Lucky encounter actually:  as getting just one model if Isobel had gone to the School might have been a problem:  lots of children might have wanted to be models, and making a choice could have been difficult!)

Isobel did find that LL had not really been sewn terribly well, and she has high standards - as you must by now realise!  So, she has neatened all the seams involved by using straight seam binding - which should mean LL can last for even longer once he returns to Nottinghamshire.

When the body was ready for attaching to the head, Isobel then had to sew the head together.  Here is LL - from different angles, and also showing LL’s neck, which is where the hand goes to manipulate his head when a Best Friend and LL get together.  

 LL now has more stuffing in his head then he had, which means there is not as much room for the hand to fit in if an adult is working LL, but Isobel hopes it will be fine as it is for when AdamW has a go during the modelling session next week.  (It's another reason for having this modelling session - so we can iron out any snags for future Arm Puppets).  As you can see, LL has a nose, but no mouth - so Isobel is going to add a mouth, which may not show up as well on LL as it does on our other toys - because, as you can see, his fur is very fluffy.

Once the head was complete, both bits of the Puppet were sewn together, and LL is now in a chair waiting for the final photos to be taken.  When he was originally introduced to you early in July, the photograph Isobel took of him was not very good -  because he is so floppy and there was no way to show him properly.  Which is the reason Isobel decided on the modelling route.  So, you’ll all have to wait until that session has taken place to see the completed Loppy Lugs!

The plan then is for Isobel to wrap up all the Nottinghamshire toys, place them in an envelope and send them home to their Toy Box.  Then, the next thing on the agenda, before Isobel begins on the Christmas commissions (6 of them so far), she is going to attend to Blue Bear - whom you may have forgotten about.   Must admit, I had:  because he’s been in another room all this time.  He’s a Big Bear - like my friend Tommy Teddy and Golden Teddy - so was sitting down in a big chair out of the way, while Isobel attended to the smaller toys' treatment.

Until the next time then:  hope you’ve enjoyed hearing about this new Friend of mine.   Cy  Bear.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Kittens Ahoy - Black and White Furry Kittens are looking for a New Home!

I've recently signed up for a Etsy Team Handmadeology e-course to help in marketing the Cuddlies.  Thus, from time to time, when listing new Members of the Cuddlies Family, I shall be immediately posting here - as suggested by the tutors on this course.  Be warned, there may be similar postings appearing shortly on my Facebook pages, as well as on Pinterest and other marketing sites - again, as recommended by the Course tutor(s).

Etsy Listing #110444487
These Black and White Furry  Kittens, jointly featured under the title  Kittens Ahoy, are both taken from the same template, which I created while the original Sleepy Kitten model was a Patient in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic (Listing #79124185).  He was one of four toys requiring treatment who have now also become models for Coldham Cuddlies in the last few weeks.   Sleepy Kitten’s original home is the Toy Box kept by my son-in-law’s Mother, PamL, for visiting Little People to play with:  as result  he had become somewhat care-worn before arriving for attention in the Clinic. 

Sleepy Kitten originally was only going to have a wash and brush-up:  however, while staying with the Cuddlies Family, he was seen by a neighbour looking for a present for her newly-arrived grandson and I have been asked to do a Black version - but with blue eyes.  The Black Furry Kitten here has brown ones - even though they are not as visible through the Black Plush as are the eyes on the White Furry  Kitten.  It may well be that the Blue eyes will continue to feature in future.  The Furry Kittens are easy to make and both versions together took  just two evenings’ work.  They will make ideal first toys and could feature at Baby Showers, as well as be Christening gifts - although older children will find them a comforting armful.

This is the Black Furry Kitten
and now, White Furry Kitten
If Buyers are interested in reading about Sleepy Kitten’s treatment regimen, before these two Cuddlies appeared on the scene, there is post about them on our blog at

Measuring 8 inches (20 cms) high (middle of head to base over nose) and 11 inches  (20.8 cms) round their backs to the junction of their tails, a further 7  inches (10.9 cms) can be added for their tails, which are not stuffed.  Using Black and White Plush fabric, with Crystal Safety Eyes, both versions are stuffed with polyester fibre meeting all international safety standards and have facial features sewn with Double Knitting yarn.  There are no sharp edges, so are fairly described as a safe toy.  Both Furry Kittens are made in a smoke free environment - as are all the Cuddlies.

The next photographs show each Kittens' rear views:

They weigh 5.5 ounces (165 g) and can therefore travel at the Standard Small Packet rate charged by United Kingdom Royal Mail, as they will fit easily into a medium-sized airmail envelope.  Buyers should be aware that I no longer have ready access to a car, and am dependent on public transport to reach the nearest Post Office willing to handle most of  the packages produced by the wrappings used to encase a travelling Cuddly.  I live equi-distant between two such Shops:  and usually travel on a Tuesday and or Thursday or Friday each week to one of them.  Customers with a deadline to meet should therefore take this arrangement into account when ordering.

This marketing lark certainly requires a lot of work!  But then, who says social media is easy?  It will be interesting to see if doing this each time one lists a new item in the shop at results in a higher sales figure!  Will keep you posted:  meanwhile, wish us luck, please.

All the best for this evening.  Cy Bear will be back soon - I'm hoping to borrow that elusive child model Cy Bear was talking about in his last post, tomorrow (unless we've all drowned in the downpours we suffering at the present time:  although I have to add we're not getting it as badly as some of the other parts of the United Kingdom are - thank Heaven!).

Good night:  and God bless.  Isobel

Monday, 24 September 2012

The Rejuvenation of Fred Bear - Part Two

Good evening everyone!  Cy Bear back once more - thought Isobel was never going to let me have another chat with you again:  but she has been busy sorting out the Clinic Patients, so there has been a reason.  Anyway, she did say last week that I could tell you about the rest of Fred Bear's treatment so here goes.

There has been quite a time lag between Part One and Part Two of Fred Bear's rejuvenation.  Isobel first told you about it in our post on August 8th this year.  Since then, Fred has been in a plastic bag keeping the dust off him, so this is how he looked as Isobel began to treat him about 10 days ago.  (He's been home for nearly a week now, but this is first time I've been allowed near the computer!).

On the ironing board, without any stuffing
 With no filling, Isobel found it easier to get to work on Fred's face to begin with.  His ears needed stitching in place, and Fred's Best Friend had requested that the "wonky ear" be sewn back where it was when he came to us - as she'd got used to how he looked with it that way.  Then there were several holes that had developed over the years all over his face, but principally around the muzzle area.  Isobel carefully darned these and filled in the gaps.  Then she got some fresh black Double Knitting yarn and sewed the eye area exactly as it was when Fred arrived, after she had taken out the existing black wool - which had faded and got rather threadbare.  Fred was also given a better nose and a mouth - which looks a little crooked, but the area where the stitch had to go was very thin, even though it had been darned, and the heavy black yarn sunk into the darned area.  PatC, Fred's Best Friend, said he'd always had a crooked smile, so she was quite prepared for that when she saw him again!

You can see the darned areas - a little!
Once the face was finished, Isobel stuffed the head, and sewed the seam at the back of Fred's head using ladder stitching.  That way, there was not too much of a seam to be seen.  Overall, it was Fred's head that had lost most of his fur over the years. We think he's nearly 100 years old, because he was not a new bear when he came to live with PatC and she's older than Isobel by quite a few years - or so I have been told!  (Us Bears are far too polite to mention our Best Friends' age, even if we know it.)

Then the paw pads were cut out, using the existing ones as a pattern, and Isobel very carefully removed any remaining vestiges of the last two variations on each paw.  She stuffed each limb from the end (she had left all the limbs attached to the body as the cotter pins used to fix them were so thick and stiff that she would have been unable to reuse them had she taken them off.  She did with some of our other Bear Patients, but did not want to damage Fred's existing coat in any way.  Here are some pictures showing the limb treatment in progress.

The pads were made with chapagne coloured chamoix leather
Then came the Growler.  This next picture shows Fred with his arms and legs stuffed and re-padded, and holding the growler before Isobel fixed it in his stomach, surrounding it with stuffing so that it cannot be felt from the outside. 
Growlers are "big" pieces to go inside a Bear's stomach!
It was fitted, again at PatC's request, so that Fred "spoke" when he was tilted forwards.  I'm told that you can have them fitted so that Bears talk when they lean backwards too!  Isobel just needed to position the growler in a special way to achieve the required result.

Once the growler was in place, Isobel stuffed Fred's body very firmly, to allow for the usual relaxing that happens after us toys get the polyester fibre inside us, and Fred was ready to be sent home.  Here are some more photographs of him before he was wrapped in chemical free tissue paper, and then had a covering of bubblewrap to keep everything in position when placed in the large polythene envelope for his journey home.  He was posted on a Tuesday - when Isobel goes to Zumba class, in the village where there is a Post Office that will handle parcels of Fred's size - and he arrived back home in Lincolnshire the next day.

So ends another successful treatment in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185).  I'll be back soon to tell you how Lop Eared Rabbit Arm Puppet got on with his treatment - but Isobel needs to find a child model so she can demonstrate how the puppet works.  It's slightly more complicated than the Glove Puppets I believe she is going to visit the Village School later this week - when it decides to stop raining - and ask if she can "borrow a pupil" for this purpose.  Who knows, she might get some orders for the ColdhamCuddlies version of the Puppet - because, of course, once the pictures are taken, Lop Eared Rabbit, Long Legged Tiger, Sleepy Kitten and Little Brown Ted can then return home to their Toy Box home with Pam L.

Good night.  I'll be back soon - promise!  All the best.  Cy Bear.

Thursday, 20 September 2012

Christmas Came Early, together with an update or two

March 9th, 2013:  While going through my Posts to refer to an old Post about Fred Bear, discovered I had somehow now posted the following draft.  Was absolutely sure I had.  So, just to boost the number of posts on file, here is a post that should have been published in September/October 2012.  Sorry about that!

Having got Bustards out of my system, the time has now come for me to bring some updated news of Cuddlies' friends, currently Patients in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) who  have recently featured in my daily activities here in Heytesbury.

Fred Bear - has been undergoing long-term treatment in the Clinic:  when his initial assessment and treatment were described on August 18, the post ended with his being de-stuffed ready for his new polyester fibre innards to be added and his paws replaced.  I had sent three sample fabrics which were in my stock for Fred’s Best Friend to  choose from. In a follow-up post, mention was made that Best Friend, PatC’s older sister was going to provide more suitable fabric, but there would be a time lag before that could be supplied.  He spent his time in a plastic bag, to keep off any fluff from my other projects, and once the chosen leather had arrived (last week just as I completed the treatment of Sleepy Kitten - September 12).  This is how Fred looked  prior to his treatment beginning again.

But before any further updates, I thought you’d like to see what I’ve recently received in the form of new fabrics for future Cuddlies.  Presumably, like me, you love the materials with which you craft in all your wondrous ways.  Yesterday, I had to replenish my polyester Fibrefill stocks and was kindly driven to my stockist, Fine Quality Feather Company in Frome by one of my fellow residents here at The Hospital of St. John.  There, together with four kilo bags (8.8lbs) of the fibre, I found an equally large bag of off-cuts ready for me to rifle through once I had got home.  This is what I mean by Christmas coming early!  There’s nothing more satisfying in my book than pulling out pieces of material, feeling their quality and imagining them as completed Cuddlies!

Here are some photographs of my haul from this quarter:

Velveteen and Tweed fabrics

Selection of Furs and Velvet, with Fat quarters of poplins

Rolls of Tweed and velveteen, with more Fat Quarters
But, it didn’t just finish there!

Daughter Clare had a birthday earlier in the week and decided, as part of her day, that she would like to have a wander around a Fabric Warehouse in a town where she went to school when we returned from Canada in 1987.  She’s developing a crafting business of her own, and is also in charge of a Memory Quilt project in which different versions will be recycled using Peter’s old shirts, ties, and pyjamas.  These are destined, when completed, for her sister, herself and me, and, depending on how the materials stretch, to other members of our extended family. 

In addition, her passion for crochet and knitting is going to form the basis of an Etsy business, which is in it’s infancy, but will be undertaken with a good friend of hers based in Nottingham itself.   But, I digress:  whilst the Warehouse did not come up to expectations on her behalf, she found some interesting fat-quarters of cotton poplin which she thought would make great dresses for the Lady ColdhamCuddlies - and they too arrived yesterday!  They can be seen on top of the Frome materials, pictures of which follow.

Then today, Fred Bear’s Best Friend, PatC sent me two semi-complete Pigs (requiring dresses - one a girl and the other a boy) which currently need to have their heads and bodies sewn together and their clothes made.  PatC is regrettably losing her ability to sew these days (without divulging her age, she is well over a decade ahead of me - and is, alas, suffering from  Macular Degeneration) so has donated the Pigs, and their cut-out apparel,  requesting they be treated as ColdhamCuddlies.  Of course they will be,  and PatC has provided the pattern for future editions as well. (She has just informed me that I can look forward to further supplies of leather and other suitable fabrics and edgings (from her sister), as well as similar goodies from her!  My - what to look forward to?  Just hope I have enough space to accommodate it all!)

Accompanying these two newbies, were bags of multi-coloured leather off-cuts (many sufficient for pairs of boots!) and felt pieces (suitable for Lady Cuddlies shoes) - which I have not photographed, but will appear as costumes for future members of the ColdhamCuddlies Family

I am now pleased to tell you that Fred’s treatment has been completed and he left Heytesbury on Tuesday, September 18 to travel back to his Forever Home in Sleaford, Lincolnshire.  A full description of his further treatment will form a blog shortly, which will be in the capable paws of Cy Bear, who has not had a look-in of late:  and is letting me know about it, as well!  (Fred has arrived home safely, is sitting happily in his favourite chair and has growled his satisfaction to have completed his treatment)

The Lop Eared Rabbit Arm Puppet has been taken to pieces, had a bath and is now almost re-sewn:  his treatment has been photographed too, and he too will feature as a full post shortly.  Cy Bear may well be in charge of that bulletin as well.  Meanwhile, here is a shot of him lying in his luke-warm bath!

So, no more for this evening!  Cy Bear will be with you shortly, and I’ll get back to my sewing.  Good night, and God Bless!  Isobel

Sunday, 16 September 2012

Following the Go Bustard Trail - A follow up post

Having recently waxed lyrical about Buttons, the Bustard (September 7, 2012 post), one day last week, when the autumnal weather was at it’s best - sunny, but not too warm, but above all - dry)  I decided to give the toy-making a rest for a few hours and set off, using my trusty Free ‘Bus Pass to get me to Warminster, in order to follow what is known as The Go Bustard Trail.

First place of call was to “Think Outside the Box”, where Buttons resides.  There I was given the official form which lists all twelve entrants in the competition - which I now find actually ends with the prize-winner being announced on Saturday, October 6 - the first day of the Warminster Festival.   The entrants all have their names in one column and their Post Code (Zip) in another.  Great, if one knows how to decipher Post Codes.

 (October 6 also happens to be the day that the ColdhamCuddlies will be exhibiting at the Craft Fair being organised as part of said Warminster Festival - the biggest event so far in which we’ve taken part ).  
Thus, once off the ‘bus from Heytesbury, my first port of call was to the local Tourist Information Centre.  Whilst very willing to help, they did not have as much information as my next port of call, the Warminster Library, conveniently located on the other side of the Central Car Park.  As I was one of the first people in that morning, the staff were not as rushed as they can be later, and one was kind enough to put all the 12 postcodes into her computer and I was thus given most of the likely spots where  the Great Bustard statues could be found.  Some are located outside Warminster itself, so I decided that all within walking distance might give me an idea about Buttons’ competition  - so off I set.

The first one did not require too much of a hike:  he was located just next to the computer from which the post code locations were spewing forth.  He is called Percy and looks like this.

Green and Gold  is the theme of this Great Bustard entry:  green background and signatures of library customers and their friends (for which a small fee was levied - this being the  Library’s fund-raising venture.)  Destination of the funds raised were not divulged, but could well be for the Bustards re-introduction project I mentioned in my previous post about Buttons.

Percy from a different angle
Just a few steps away, in one of the small shopping malls in Warminster, I came across “Jigsaw”.

His picture is somewhat blurred because he is located in an empty shop window, and the only way I could photograph him was through the glass window.  We all know what happens when one does that - and this is no exception.  However, you can get an idea of what he looks like - and there was a helpful notice placed nearby which says:

Jigsaw, The Great Bustard, is a result of a project involving Warminster Police Community Support Officers, Youth Development Centre (YDC) and W.A.V.E.   (Sorry, but I don't know what this acronmym stands for, but a Community Support Officer forms part of the local police force, but without the full powers of a qualified police officer).

The Warminster Area Board were approached for funds to purchase the bird and they readily approved the grant application.  Coates and Parker (publishers of The Warminster Journal, as well as the only Stationers in town) contributed some of the paint for the project and two local artists assisted in overseeing the painting. 

Members of W.A.V.E  and the YDC were asked to submit designs for Jigsaw and were then given the opportunity to paint their designs in the puzzle piece.  All designs are relevant to Warminster and the exciting year of 2012.” 

(In the UK, we’ve had the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations, as well as the Olympic and ParaOlympic Games in 2012, not to mention various local projects as well, so to call 2012 an exciting year is a fair enough description, methinks!)

Just a short distance from Jigsaw I came across Cordath.

He was placed on the pavement, outside the Town’s ironmonger (a wonderful shop  - a veritable Aladin's Cave - where one can get everything but the kitchen sink, including supplies for D.I.Y. and sugar craft, to name but two items).  He’s on the pavement, closely padlocked to a convenient lamp post  - which may be useful to keep him in place, but makes photography a somewhat difficult undertaking, especially when the lamp post is next-door to scaffolding.  However, I did manage to get a couple of pictures of him.

He, too, had a convenient notice giving some interesting facts about him -

Artist:  The Frostick Family.  Sponsors:  SL. Cordons (the ironmongers), Le CafĂ© Journal, Warminster and District Film Society, Athenaeum Limelight Players, Kumon Study Centre, Athaeum Masqueraders, Warminster Philatelic Society, The Athanaeum Friends and the Athenaeum Trust.

 (The Athanaeum is the local Theatre - a historic building - which is the venue for many town activities, some of whom are included as Cordath’s sponsors.)

The next port of call found me looking for the Minster (one of the four Anglican churches in Warminster) Primary School, which was somewhat further towards the “other end of town”.  Having remembered the location of the street where the school is situated, (The Tourist Centre had kindly shown me a town map) I eventually found it, and then had to find my way in.  Getting into schools can be quite difficult, if one does not have a connection, but fortunately my visit coincided with the morning break, and the children were haring about in the courtyard getting rid of surplus energy. (Wish I had some of it, these days!

Going up to one of the adults supervising this energy, I was told I’d have to ask the Head Mistress if a photograph could be taken, because Emwell spends all his time in the School Assembly Hall.  The helpful adult kindly took me towards the Head’s office, but we met  as she was on her way out.  Having established my credentials and requested her permission, she was kind enough not only to let me in to see Emwell, but was also prepared to have her photograph taken beside him.  (Is it just me, or are Head Mistresses getting to look more like their charges than I ever remember any of mine ever doing?)

Anyway, here is Emwell in all his glory - he will be returning to live in the Hall once the competition is over - and is the product of the childrens’ designs, which were converted into how this Great Bustard now appears by a local artist, Hilary Jackson - who often just happens to sit behind me in St. George's R.C. Church (so, perhaps this one could also be described as an Ecumenical project?)!  I think the children did a great job, as did Hilary in preparing Emwell for exhibition.  (The school is situated in Emwell Street, so, presumably, hence his name?)

By this time, it was getting rather close to the time for me to catch my ‘bus home to Heytesbury.  All the walking round town had got my appetite going and it was getting a bit close to lunch time!  However, the next destination was on my way to the ‘bus stop, so it was no hardship to call in at the Civic Hall and make the acquaintance of Bertie Bloomer, the Great Bustard.

He is the product of an artist named Maureen Lakey and he has been decorated to raise funds for MENCAP and Gateway - two mental health charities:  one national (the former) and the other, a local one.

Here are another two views of Bertie.

 I have to say, even though my support still remains firmly behind Buttons, Bertie Bloomer does run him a very close second. If there were to be a third place, I think it would go to Emwell.    I’m just glad I don’t have to make the ultimate judgement.

Buttons - just as a reminder!
Wonder what your thoughts are on these splendid artistic creations?  I’ve managed to find, and visit, six out of the twelve.  The others are either not visible at times that I am in Warminster, or are located in premises in the surrounding villages which are not accessible by my local ‘bus service, and thus require a car to reach them.  However, six out of twelve is a sufficiently representative selection for me to make up my mind, so I shall be submitting my vote before the September 30 deadline.  They have to be placed at either Coates & Parker (see above - in Jigsaw‘s descriptive paragraphs) or the Library, where Percy reigns supreme.  Indeed, if you look at Percy's portrait, there is a box on his plinth, where some folks have already deposited their votes.  There is also a prize for the member of the public who both picked the winner and saw the most entrants.  The actual prizes are a Family Day Out either at The Hawk Conservancy (as the name suggests, a local tourist attraction) and seeing the real, live Bustards in their habitat on the Salisbury Plain.  A "family" is defined as two adults and two children, so that rules me out!

The competition result will be reported after October 6 - and will probably feature in my post about the Craft Fair on that day at which, hopefully, some of the ColdhamCuddlies will be finding their Forever Homes.

This is a monster post - but it's difficult to see how it could be presented in serial form.   Normal service - latest on the toys, both old and new, and  less voluminous content - will be forthcoming shortly.  Meanwhile, cheerio for now!  Isobel

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Sleepy Kitten - latest Nottinghamshire Patient has had his/her treatment!

Sleepy Kitten (SK for short) was one of the five or six patients who travelled to Heytesbury with me earlier in the year, having spent their previous lives as residents in  PamL’s Toy Box.  (PamL is my son-in-law’s Mother).  Other residents have included Little Brown Ted and Long Legged Tiger, whose treatment - and subsequent phoenix-like emergence as Little Sleepy Teddy (Etsy Listing #107350815) and Tigger Long-Legs (Etsy Listing #108763404) - have recently featured in posts here at  It’s just been SK’s turn, and I thought you’d like to see how he’s turned out after undergoing therapy in the ColdhamCuddlies Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185).

Upon arrival, there was not much wrong with him, other than that he required a good wash and brush up, which involved him being de-stuffed, taken to pieces (so that I could then create a template for future use as a ColdhamCuddlies Family member - I’ve already got a commission for a Black Plush version, even before one has been made in White Plush fabric!)  Must confess, it was originally my intention to just wash and re-stuff Sleepy,  but when the order came through, I changed my mind pretty rapidly!

Here is SK fully made and ready for his journey back to Nottinghamshire:

Taking him apart was in the end not an option, because whoever had been responsible for making him in the first place - he was an original hand made Toy - had clearly got a little lost when finishing the body and sewing on the head.  The seams were all over the place, with the result that he had ended up somewhat smaller than he now is.  His seams are now under control and he actually does not look as tired as he did.  That resulted in my calling him Sleepy Kitten.  Any ideas as to what he should now be called? 

The head could only be taken to bits as far as the muzzle - because both eyes and the nose were original safety backed items, which once fitted, never come out.  However, even I could make a pattern with the head in its shape (seen in the right centre of the next picture) with both the fabric pieces and the cardboard template arranged on my ironing table, set up in my work room.  This also acts as the second bed-room when guests overnight with me.  The stripey background that has occasionally featured in my previous tutorials is the mattress of the fold-away bed!

Here is a close-up of SK in pieces

Once washed, SK is now a definite White, rather than a grey-white figure, and his stuffing has been thrown away.  It was nylon based material which was used to replace Kapok in the latter years of the 20th Century by toy-makers looking for a material which allowed toys to be washed.  Whilst Kapok did not allow such action, this nylon stuff seemed to be answer to all toymaker’s prayers (at least to me, anyway).  However, it was highly inflammable if exposed to heat, so thank goodness polyester fibre has now replaced it!  I don’t use anything else, and find the resulting firm, but soft, feel is a much more acceptable result than I was able to offer previously.  SK now is softly springy and really cuddly:  previously, he was rather rigid.  He is made in a wool fabric, rather than a plush one.  It's going to be interesting to see what he will look like made up in plush versions.

Here are the prepared cardboard templates, with instructions for me to follow the fabric nap, and the number of pieces required,  ready for use in future versions of SK, whether Black or White Plush, or even, White Fleece - which could well be another option for this little fellow.

This photograph shows SK with his newly sewn head, complete with floppy ears, stuffed and ready for attaching to the newly sewn up body, with its tail sewn in place, but waiting to be turned inside out.

Next, the head awaits the body being stuffed, prior to being attached firmly in place - on a slightly side-ways slant.

Now the head and body are together, and SK is ready to join the rest of the gang waiting to return home.

There are just two more Toys to be treated - Loppy Ears, the Arm Puppet, who is next on the list,, and Blue Teddy Bear, who will just get a wash and brush up (which means a complete re-stuff - as he has polystyrene balls inside him, and I’m not a fan of that kind of material either!). 

Blue Teddy Bear is not going back to Nottinghamshire.  Instead, when he has been treated, he is going to be a Raffle Prize - in support of The Journalists’ Charity.  Dear Peter was a life member, and we’ve been helped by them several times in the past.  So, he and another Cuddly (who that will be has yet to be decided) will be going to help raise funds in return - hopefully in time for various Christmas events being held for such purposes around the UK

I’ll keep you posted on both the upcoming treatments before the two toys go their separate ways, but meanwhile, must end so that I can get on with taking Loppy Ears to pieces.  Goodnight all - hope everyone is well, and look forward to our next meeting soon.  Isobel

Friday, 7 September 2012

Meet Buttons - The Great Bustard, a hand crafted masterpiece

This post is a departure from our usual format.  It is not about us Cuddlies for one!  However, it is about a handmade object - well sort of - which is too big to be called cuddly, but nevertheless is still relevant to us Cuddlies.

 Many of the ColdhamCuddlies' eyes are sourced  from this particular haberdashery shop in nearby Warminster, and - frankly - if it were not there, I’d probably not be toy-making, and posting about it, here.  It was as a result of stumbling upon this little family-run business when we first moved here in 2008 that I was emboldened to even think of setting up once again as a toy-maker.  Even though the internet can be a great source of raw materials, there is nothing like a hands-on approach coupled with the chance of personal interchange I feel.  So while I do buy on-line, as well as source my more unusual plush fabrics from The Fine Quality Feather Company in nearby Frome, I’m very dependent on this family run operation as well.  It’s so convenient when doing one’s weekly grocery run(s)!

I’ve mentioned them in various posts and their name is “Think Outside the Box”.  They sell everything anyone ever needs for knitting, quilting, toy-making - of course, crocheting and other crafty occupations - and it really is a crafter‘s dream place.  Originally set up by eldest daughter, SB during her final year at University seven years ago,  SB has been joined on a day-to-day basis by Mum, MrsG and younger sister DG.  Naturally, like all small businesses, they need to promote themselves, and as almost the only fully-stocked craft supplier in the Warminster (there are a couple of others who sell knitting yarns and sewing materials - but as a side line) they often appear in the local newspaper “The Warminster Journal”.

That publication has also been mentioned in previous posts in this blog, and even featured the Cuddlies when reporting on the Christmas Bazaar in Heytesbury Parish Church in December 2011, as well as the Adventures of Chuck Coyote I, the Official Mascot of the Wylie Coyotes After School Club.  So to include this item among our posts is not inappropriate!

Earlier this year, the Journal featured an item about the upcoming Warminster Festival, which takes place annually in October.  This year, as a special feature, there is a competition for the decoration of  statues of the Great Bustard12 Bird Models have been created and adopted by various schools, businesses and other interested parties around Warminster.  (More information about this competition, as well as photographs of what a Bustard actually looks like, can be found at for anyone wanting to know more.)

This UK version of Big Bird,  happens to be the County Bird of Wiltshire, and is the subject of  a huge effort to re-introduce the species into the UK after becoming extinct.  It’s size and shape remind me of the Dodo, but while that species died out long ago, it is still plentiful in other parts of the world, which is why it is being re-introduced.  Us Brits don’t like to be left out!!

The attempts are taking place at a secret location somewhere on the Salisbury Plain (which happens to be next door to Heytesbury);  which covers a large area of the County of Wiltshire, most of which is used by the Armed Services for warfare training. (Warminster  is a Garrison Town and the part of the Army unit currently in situ in the local barracks  is actually serving in Afganistan as this post is being written.) Indeed, we often have low-flying military aircraft over us and it is not unusual to hear (and sometimes feel) the thump of heavy artillery as tanks etc rumble over nearby terrain. Whilst the public are able to cross the Plain using the various main roads which criss-cross the area, military vehicles take precedence - but shooting ranges and such-like do make for excellent, secret areas in which to carry out species re-introduction activites!

So what does this have to do with “Think Outside the Box”, The Great Bustard and the Cuddlies?  Well, SB decided that her Shop would enter the Warminster Festival competition this year and the way in which their entry would  feature would be as Buttons, the Bustard.

Here is one view of Buttons - others will follow, but as you can see, he is a very big statue and the work involved in covering him has taken SB several months to achieve.  The example is actually larger than life - but the general shape is realistic - which may explain why the Great Bustard died out in the UK in the 19th Century!  It can, and does fly, which seems to defy all the laws of aero-dynamics!

Some statistics about Buttons are appropriate here I believe.

The statue required an investment in 38 kilos (83.6 pounds) of multi-coloured  buttons.  MrsG and the rest of the family got roped in for colour-coding operations and the results can be seen here.  About 28 kilos (61.6 lbs) were actually used to decorate Buttons.   Apparently, the remainder are still being colour-coded and packaged for sale in the Shop - which is thus unlikely to be acquiring any more buttons for some time to come!

Isn’t Buttons magnificent?  The time SB spent glueing every individual button, had to be fitted in to her busy life as a Mum to two Little People, as well as her own Shop duties.  SB did not keep count of every button stuck on, needless to say, but she has certainly produced a masterpiece in my view.

I’ve just found out - today - how to  cast my vote.  There is a prize on offer for the Best Decorated Bustard, and the winning voter gets a prize too.  However, it looks as though the voting opportunities are restricted to the Warminster area itself, so my first idea of opening up the voting opportunity to all my Followers does not look as though it is a flyer (if you'll pardon any pun!).  Whatever happens, I'll let you know if Buttons gets the nod - as I firmly believe he should.  But then, admittedly, I've not yet seen the other 11 finished models and perhaps I can be described as being already prejudiced in Buttons' favour.  Should there be a final line-up open to public scrutiny, I'll attempt to take photographs of them, and you can then make your own minds up - even if you don't have a chance to influence the results(s)! 

Incidentally, Bustards are but the latest animal statue to have been decorated and used to celebrate special events here in the UK South West .  A couple of years ago, nearby Longleat House & Safari Park celebrate 50 years of Lions roaming the green parklands.  The public were given the opportunity to view the competitiors when the completed statues were placed in various locations around the City of Bath (the owner of the Safari Park is the Marquess of Bath). 

(Incidentally, I have a tenuous connection with this gentleman’s family.  During the 1939-1944 War, my school The Royal School for Daughters of Officers of the Army was located to Longleat, so that the Admiralty could take over the school buildings for the duration of hostilities.  The School returned to Bath in 1947, and I joined in the junior school in 1951 - but when a pupil there, we were able to visit Longleat House (before the Safari Park was established in 1961) to marvel at the surroundings our predecessors were educated within.  The grounds themselves cover some 600 acres, in which the girls had free reign  - so they had plenty of room to roam!)

Then in 2011, Bristol Zoo celebrated 100 years of existence by decorating (and placing all round the City) Gorillas - they are participants in the global effort to preserve that species.  Large amounts of money were raised by both projects for local charities.  These statues can cost about £1,000.00 (USD 1.586.83) each, before the decoration expenses are considered, and the exhibitors are given the choice of donating the finished objects for sale or retaining them for their own objectives.  Buttons is destined to remain at “Think Outside the Box” and will be used in future marketing campaigns for the Shop and as a feature at future Craft events such as the bi-annual Wylie Valley Art Trail - the next one being due in 2013.

What is the Wylie Valley Art Trail?  The River Wylie is a small river, which eventually flows into the River Avon, near Salisbury and Heytesbury is one of many small villages through which it runs.  Warminster is one end of the Valley:  Salisbury is the other.  Every two years, the artists and crafters of Somerset, Dorset, and Wiltshire get together and exhibit their wares in local shops, studios and other suitable premises along the Valley.  The event takes place over one of the May Bank Holiday week-ends and is open to the general public - who are able to examine the craft work free of charge - but they are encouraged to purchase items that catch their interest.  The whole thing is a major feature of the local Tourist attractions for the year in question.

If folks want to learn more about The Great Bustard Project, there is a web-site for The Great Bustard Group (www.great then click on Great Bustard, and you’ll learn a lot about bustards in general and the UK re-introduction project in particular.

Normal service will resume shortly. This post has gone on longer than originally intended - but one thing led to another!  However,  I do hope you’ve still enjoyed this item.  As ever, God Bless!  Isobel

Thursday, 6 September 2012

The Tigger Long-Legs Threesome are Here!

Hello again Everyone!  Cy Bear here - being allowed to introduce the three newest members of the ColdamCuddlies Family.  They were finally listed earlier today, under Etsy Listing #108763404.

Towards the end of last month - 26th and 28th August respectively - Isobel posted here about how she had handled the Treatment of Long-Legged Tiger.  She (or it might have been myself) added that three new versions were in the process of being produced, after she'd created a template from Tiger himself.  This is the story of how they've managed to get into our Shop at

In the end, Isobel actually cut out and partially sewed four versions, because the original material she had selected for one version - although very handsome- actually turned out to be completely unsuitable.  It frayed unmercifully and no matter how she tried, Isobel was unable to turn the finished body inside out.  The material was just too thick and stubborn, and her arthritic fingers (compounded by the injured right hand she was carrying at the time) could not cope.  So, both the body and the rest of the material she had in her stock were dumped unceremoniously in the dustbin.

The resulting replacement version is Denim Tigger Long-Legs, made from a remnant Isobel found when she was scouting around in her haberdashery outlet in near-by Warminster, "Think Outside the Box".  She gets her felt for our collars and the boots for our Lady Toys from there, as well as other items she comes across (principally our eyes!).

Denim Tigger  in the middle of this picture:  the others are Rusty Tigger Long-Legs (on the left) and Beige Tigger Long-Legs on the right.

Three's Company!
 As all three of them were made in the same way, the description of the sewing process can cover all of them, so this post should not be too lengthy.  The next photograph shows the original three versions spread over Isobel's dining table before she began to put them all together.

This picture shows the discarded version on the left of the circle.  It was made of a velvety fabric, which Isobel had previously been able to use to make tea cosies.  However, the cosies were much bigger and easier to turn inside out, because the material was quite thick and Tigger Long-Legs' limbs were just too small to accommodate the seams etc.  As is the normal procedure when working with tweed and other items with a tendency to fray, Isobel has oversewn all the seams to preserve the integrity of the toys.

As you can see, they don't have as many different pieces as some of the rest of us ColdhamCuddlies do, so are relatively easy to put together.  The paws are sewn on to the arms and the body is sewn up and stuffed.  All three of the Tiggers are made to sit up - just like the model Long Legged Tiger - so, Isobel sews a double line at the top of each leg.  The legs are then stuffed from the bottom, sewn up and the paws stuffed and attached at the appropriate places on each Tigger toy.  The arms are stuffed and sewn at the top of each limb, and slotted into each side of the body.  Once attached, Isobel was able to stuff the body, and that left the head and ears.

This is Beige Tigger Long-Legs
 Isobel seems to have adopted a new routine when it comes to making some of the recent toys.  Once she had placed the eyes in the appropriate spots, she used to stuff the heads and then attach ears, embroider the noses and mouths of us toys and then attached them to the body itself.  She's discovered that it's easier - at least on the more recent toys (the two new Golden Plush Glove Puppets and the Golf Club Head Covers in particular) - to do the facial expressions and then stuff the heads.  The ears are then attached; (sometimes that can take some time!)

Here's Rusty Tigger Long-Legs to join the party!  

Then the head and body get sewed together and Isobel then attaches the white felt collars.  Then, just to add a finishing touch, a multi-coloured lace is tied round the neck and sewn firmly into place and the collar turned over to create a crisp, smart finish to the toys.  The lace is then tied to form a neat bow, which, in turn, is sewn into place.

Lastly - but by no means least - here is Denim Tigger Long-Legs.
They all have mouths embroidered in with Black Double Knitting yarn - matching their respective noses - but because of the black print on the plush fabric, some of them don't show up as well as they might. 

All three have been listed as Tigger Long-Legs Plush Toys in our shop at under their unique Etsy Listing #108763404.  This information has been posted on all the Etsy team forums that Isobel regularly monitors and posts on.  Let's hope they all find their Forever Homes before too long - they are a cheeky bunch of chappies, I can tell you!

Until the next time, hope everyone is well.  It's been nice to post again - and I'm pleased to tell you that Isobel's wonky little finger is beginning to feel like it belongs to her right hand.  It still has a tendency to hit the wrong keys on the computer key-board, but not as frequently!  Good night; Cy Bear