Tuesday, 23 October 2012

New Career Opportunity for a Coldham Cuddy and ex Soft Toy Clinic Patient

Hello Everyone:  Cy Bear once more being allowed to tell you some splendid news.

The picture here gives you the explanation of today’s headline. (It looks a bit crumpled - because Royal Mail treated the envelope in which it was posted a little rough:  despite Isobel's efforts, we couldn't get the letter any smoother!)  

 The photograph shows Blue Bear (who once belonged to Alan, Isobel’s son-in-law - who never played with him, because he was too old when he arrived in his home) and William White Bear - one of the first Bears Isobel ever made for our shop at www.Etsy.com/shop/coldhamcuddlies.  They are shown sitting at the desk of the Director of the Journalists’ Charity - an organisation of which Peter was a Life Member, and which has helped  Peter and Isobel on several occasions in the past.  To say thank you, Isobel has given the Charity Blue Teddy and William so that they can be used as fund-raisers at future events which will take place throughout the year all over the United Kingdom (UK)- all aimed at attracting funds to look after retired journalists and their families when they face difficult circumstances.

Isobel’s cousins JohnD and RoyD took her out to lunch last week, and as they live only 10 miles away from the Journalists’ Charity HQ in Dorking, Surrey, England, UK, she asked if they would act as Couriers and give the Bears a lift there for her.  Today, we got a letter from the Director with this picture and the letter's contents were as follows:

“Dear Isobel

Our new members of staff…….   
 Many thanks and best wishes.  David (David Ilott, Director)”

How they will actually be used, we leave to the Journalists’ Charity:  but Isobel did suggest that maybe Blue Bear could feature in a year-round competition, visiting all the UK regional branches,  to find him a proper name.  Blue Bear is a bit unoriginal, isn’t it?  While William could be offered as a prize in a Raffle or Tombola at one of the important functions that get arranged by the various regions in the United Kingdom.  It will be interesting to find out sometime.  I’ll ask Isobel to see if we can be told - eventually.

William has attracted a lot of good attention when we’ve been to Craft  Fairs hereabouts, but, unlike our Light Brown Bears, Brown Bears like me, and Hairy Bears (now no longer available),  he has never been able to find a Forever Home, so Isobel decided something had to be done.  We can only think that being so completely White (except for his ear linings) potential Forever Friends and their families did not think he would be a PRACTICAL present for a Little Person.   I think he could, however, be a great companion to an Older Person, and be great company for them - without necessarily arguing with them!

 Blue Bear has been a patient in the Soft Toy Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) waiting for treatment while Isobel was busy with other  Cuddlies.  She’s treated them in the Clinic, taken templates so that she could introduce them fully into the ColdhamCuddlies family - I’m talking here about Little Sleepy Teddy (Etsy Listing #107350815), Tigger Long Legs (Etsy Listing #108763404), Loppy Lugs the Arm Puppet (who has yet to be listed - he's still waiting for a model to show how he works!) and the Kittens - but she eventually had no one else to treat in the Clinic, so she got to work on Blue Bear.  (Isobel here:  there are now three Bears lining up for renovation and rehabilitation, so the Clinic won't be empty for long!)

Remembering what happened when she treated Rusty, The Giant Bear (still the featured Patient in our Clinic listing to be found at www.Etsy.com/shop/coldhamcuddlies (#79124185)- when she took him apart,the polystyrene ball stuffing spread all over the flat and everywhere we looked was covered with them - Isobel was careful where she took Blue Bear apart.  This time, she undid his head only down as far as his shoulders and then tipped him up with his head in a big black garbage bag and shook as many of the polystrene balls as possible into it.  Then she had to revert to dust pan and brush to brush those that stubbornly clung to each piece of the body, arms and legs - and head. She also resorted to her hand held Dust Buster vacuum cleaner, but being made of plastic, the balls all flew about inside it and it didn't  really work.   Finally, she turned Blue Bear inside out and shook him - with the result that what was left inside the Bear went everywhere on the floor of the shed where the dustbins are kept here at The Hospital of St. John!   It also spread outside the shed when the door was opened.  It looked as if we'd had a snowstorm for a while, but there was a strong wind that day, so most got dispersed!

 Next came the obligatory overnight bath and soaking to get rid of the dust which had accumulated over the years of being stored in an attic.   Once he was thoroughly dry, Blue Bear then took almost 2.2 kilos (4.4lbs) of polyester fibre stuffing to appear as he does today!   He's a big, very cuddly armful - and should make someone a great Forever Friend.

 As Isobel now doesn't have a yard brush, she had to confess her untidyness to the Site Supervisor on the Monday morning (all this action took place one Sunday morning a few weeks ago).  There wasn't a problem, but Isobel doesn't like leaving a mess anywhere!  She also didn't want to give other residents here a reason to complain!!

I’m also pleased to be able to tell you that Isobel has also completed her entry for the Royal British LegionWomen’s Section Annual Competition.  Entries have to be in by the end of October, so at the week-end she handed over Jubilee Rabbit - because 2012 has seen our Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrated all over the country - and here she is.

She's perched on the arm of one of the comfortable chairs in the living room, and is being a bit cheeky, in my view, showing off her bloomers!  The decoration on her apron, dress and collar reflect the red, white and blue that appear in the United Kingdom flag, as do her dress itself and her felt boots!

 We do have  a series of photographs showing how she was created, but we will wait to let you see them - when we know the result of the competition. She will be returned once judging is complete, and she will be listed.  Once sold, ten per cent of the proceeds will be donated to the Royal British Legion Women's Section (the usual procedure for all our UK sales).  At this stage, we think it is just for the Western Region of the UK - which means winners might go to the National level!  So, keep your fingers crossed - and we’ll tell you what happens, when we know ourselves.

Finally, talking about competitions, Isobel posted a few weeks ago (16/09/2012)  about the Go Bustards Trail Art competition which took place in Warminster, our nearest Town.  The result of that competition was that Buttons - Isobel’s preferred candidate - was indeed chosen as the Favourite.  The second prize went to Bertie Bloomer, and we’re not sure who came third.  Isobel has been told to tell you that Buttons has now gone home to roost until the Spring, when he will re-appear as the centre piece for Think Outside the Box’s exhibit in the Wylye Valley Art Trail in May 2013. ( Folks will remember that Think Outside the Box is the haberdashery outlet that Isobel gets lots of her sewing materials from.)

That’s it for tonight.  Isobel is away for a few days, so blogging will be on hold - and I'll be left to hold the fort.  But when she returns, she’ll have lots to tell you about - so until then     ..........    Good Bye.  Cy Bear.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Announcing the Arrival of Jemima Bunny, a Limited Edition (One of 2) Brown Plush Rabbit

Jemima Brown Rabbit (Etsy Listing #112432364)  has taken longer to make than many of the ColdhamCuddlies Rabbits, because her production process was interrupted by the sudden death of my dearest husband.  I’ve made several old friends, and some new Cuddlies since May, but I’ve now finally managed to complete her and am pleased to introduce her as the latest member of the ColdhamCuddlies Family.

Etsy Listing #112432364
Made with in a very soft Brown Plush fabric, similar to the other Lady Dressed Rabbits in the Shop at www.Etsy.com/shop/coldhamcuddlies, Jemima measures  18“ (46 cms) from tip of ears to the soles of her feet, when lying down.  Like all my Dressed Lady Toys, Jemima is made to sit down - allowing her to look comfortable sitting on a dressing-table or a bed pillow, as well as being a cuddly armful for her Forever Best Friend.

I've found a new source for the Brown Plush Fabric.  It results in a more tactile feel and Jemima's new Best  Friend will find her a very soft, cuddly armful when they get together.  The dress is made from an unusual cotton-based fabric with a slightly elastic feature, and there is a background floral pattern which gives an embossed texture to the final product.

The various stages of Jemima’s production entailed sewing the various components separately before the sewing together could begin.

A calico body is first constructed, and before stuffing, is made so that she can sit comfortably.  Once stuffed, her shoes are sewn, stuffed and attached firmly to the end of each leg. Next comes the construction of her pale sea-green nylon pantaloons edged with white lace.  These are gathered and sewn in place over her shoes and at her waist.

Jemima’s skirt is then gathered, a ColdhamCuddlies label is attached (on the reverse side at the back seam) and then attached to the body waist line over her pantaloons.

The dress top, together with the arms - with paws attached - is arranged over the skirt at the waist .

Then her white muslin apron (decorated with dark blue ric-rac braiding) is sewn in place and finished off with a bow.

Her bushy white plush bob-tail is then sewn in place under the bow but firmly attached to her body (through all layers of material used in her dress to date).

Nearing completion, Jemima’s head - with ears and eyes in place is sewn onto the body and her blue collar (matching her shoes), decorated with white embroidered French Knots, is arranged and firmly sewn in place.

The final touch is the addition of her bright orange Felt Carrot, with juicy green felt leaf in just the right spot for her to nibble gently as she waits to be adopted to her Forever Home.

Please note:  the Carrot is a new, optional extra.  Without this addition, Jemima would cost USD43.40.  The Carrot itself is priced at USD4.10.

Dressed Lady Rabbits normally take me 5-7 Days to complete from cutting out the pattern pieces to achieving the final result.  All the ColdhamCuddlies are made in a smoke free environment and all meet international safety standards in terms of fillings, fabric  and other decorative features.

 Washing these toys is not a real option;  so the recommended age group for Jemima to find her Forever Friend would be from 3 years upwards. 

I no longer drive - so am dependent on public transport to reach the two local  Post Offices capable of handling Airmail Small Packets and Parcels near Heytesbury.  I access these Offices every Tuesday and Thursday or Friday each week.  Customers should bear this fact in mind if there is a deadline in their delivery requirements.

Jemima's weight means she can travel at the Standard  UK Royal Mail  Small Packet air mail postal rate, which varies according to the distance covered.  Normal delivery to the Eastern US Seaboard is anything between 5-10 Working Days and to the Western Seaboard it can take a further 7 Working Days.  It all depends on the aeroplane departure schedules!

Having finally listed Jemima, completed the Wombat Bunch Christmas order - a little ahead of schedule, the next item on the agenda will be the Royal British Legion Women's Section Competition entry - of another  Dressed Lady Rabbit.  Having already made three Calico Bodies for Lady Toys and a similar number for future Gentleman Toys, I've got the first stage done.  Tomorrow will see me cutting out pattern pieces and getting going with sewing machine (where appropriate), needles and thread and all the other associated implements. 

Be back again soon!  We've reached 220 Followers, by the way and the blog has now been viewed by over 8,500 people.  Thank you all so much for your support!  All the best.  Isobel

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Catching my Breath - having survived the English Channel crossings

Well, I'm back after three wonderful days with family and their friends in Normandy and whilst I didn't see too much of the surrounding countryside - the weather gods were not being friendly, and we were surrounded by sheets of rain until the morning we left - the unfamiliar shops and beautiful cheese and wines more than made up for it.  So much so that plans are afoot for a repeat visit - but not until the official Spring time - when,hopefully, the Sun will have re-discovered where both Normandy and South West UK are situated (because it was evidently not much better here in Heytesbury while I was away with Philippa.)

The Channel was benign - especially on the outward journey:  coming back there was a bit of a swell, but as I was concentrating hard on sewing calico bodies for future dressed Lady and Gentlemen Toys for the shop at www.Etsy.com/shop/coldhamcuddlies and the sensation was somewhat similar to aircraft turbulence (which has never worried me!) all's well that ends well.

Now, having caught up with all the social media tasks, read some of my favourite blogs and linked up with some of my favourite linky parties, I'm ready once more to start blogging here again, having caught my breath - and started to sample some of the cheeses purchased while I was away.  So, it's once again, somewhat of an update blog again today.

The Arts in the Park Craft Fair result was somewhat of a mixed bag.  At the moment, it looks like I have suffered a small loss - although two of my Fleece Baby Bunnies (Etsy Listing # 89020911 - a Purple/White and Pink/White one) found new Forever Homes.  Selling them did not quite cover the cost of the table on which the Cuddlies were displayed.

However, there were  two expressions of interest about possible purchases of Golf Club Head Covers - one already in stock and one using a Tiger Head based on the Tigger Long-Legs variations (Etsy Listing #108763404).

 Alas, I was not sufficiently fast on my feet to get a deposit from either potential buyer, so whilst expectant, I am not that hopeful.  Had I been a more persuasive seller, I would then have been able to claim that the event was a profitable exercise.  One lives and learns - and at least, I have been invited to attend a Primary School Christmas Bazaar in Codford, a nearby village, on December 1.  That is a direct result of my recent increased activity via Facebook, so all my social media blitzing is beginning to have some payback, it might seem.

In my last post (Now for a Miscellany Update -04/10/2012) I mentioned that ColdhamCuddlies had been selected to feature in an article in The Warminster Journal following the Slaters Barn Coffee Morning Craft Sale:  it's pleasing to tell you that apart from a photograph of the Organiser of the event, the only stall selected from that particular event was indeed our stall.  As ever, the scanner was unable to reproduce a legible copy of either picture or article, so you'll just have to take my word for it!  (Not my scanner's deficiency:  but the paper on which the publication is produced!)

The next items on the production list are the completion of the Wombat Christmas order - the two completed ones were taken home by Philippa yesterday,  (This saves me having to haul all four when I go to visit her at the end of October).

Two done:  two to go!
I have the third Wombat needing the addition of eyes, ears, nose and stuffing and the fourth still in pieces.  Then I've got to make a replacement Baby Hedgehog, as the latest one is destined for a  Forever Home in Chessington, Surrey as a First Birthday Present for a young lad who arrived in the World last December on Peter's birthday.   (So that's a very special present, as well as needing a replacement:   rumour has it one of my fellow resident neighbours has an eye on at least another one!).  I have also been asked to provide a Coyote for daughter Clare's best friend in Canada  She is expecting her first child early in December (where has this year gone?) and I've also said I'll make a dressed Rabbit for a competition entry from the Heytesbury Branch of the Royal British Legion Women's Section to the National Handicraft competition.

So I had just better close all this blogging down for now - and start sewing!  See you all soon.  Isobel

Thursday, 4 October 2012

Now for a Miscellany Update

One thing I've learned as I've gone down the blogging route is that one needs to be flexible.  The best laid plans of mice and men (as happened earlier this year) have a habit of interrupting mine - and this week has been no exception, other than that this latest hiccup was a minor one!

 The modelling session for Loppy Lugs the Arm Puppet (LL) did not take place - the models' Dad, who works from home, had double-booked and it was not convenient for them to come earlier (because I had indavertently forgotten I was due at the doctor's for a minor consultation and could not be sure when the 'bus would deliver me home!)  I'm still find my way around the time-table, which seems to have a habit of changing almost at the whim of the driver!  When challenged this time, the driver rapidly got out his laminated sheet - to prove that he was actually only 5 minutes later than scheduled (whereas I had got there at least 15 minutes too early!!).

Thus, as I am now not sure when, or if,  a modelling session can be re-scheduled,  I've taken this photograph of  LL which actually shows how the extensions work as arms and legs.

I'm keen to send the Nottinghamshire-based loaned toys back home to their Toy Box with PamL, so having shown you a picture of the rejuvenated Loppy Lugs, as promised by Cy Bear in his last post, they will probably be parcelled up and sent off before the week-end.  I badly need the space, so that I can make my versions of the Arm Puppet, as well as get on with replacing some items in the Shop at www.coldhamcuddlies.etsy.com!  Perhaps by that time, I may have found other models to show the Arm Puppets working.

Next, as the title for this post implies - being a miscellany means I'm taking the opportunity to introduce two potential new members of the ColdhamCuddlies Family - Percy and Petunia Pig!

 These two were actually made by Fred Bear's Best Friend, too long ago for her to remember exactly when!  She's having a major clear out of sewing items at the moment, because of failing eyesight, and it looks as though not only will I benefit from the addition of these two, but there's going to be a whole lot of decorative odds and ends coming my way too!  The hand-over will take place at the end of October when I am due to go and stay with Fred and Best Friend, PatC.  These guys, though stuffed, do need more filling in order to stay upright - they're presently lying flat on their backs, because after this picture was taken, their legs gave way under them.  That won't be a problem to fix though, and they also came complete with patterns for trousers and dress, respectively.

This project will have to wait until I return from a few days staying with Peter's brother, MartynM in Normandy, France (which happens to also be the home of Madame Lapin and Mons Reynard - both of whom featured in posts earlier this year during which their rejuvenation treatments in the Soft Toy Clinic were described in some detail). 

That jaunt takes place this Sunday, when elder daughter, Philippa and I take the Night Ferry from Portsmouth to Le Havre - returning the same way, but during the early evening, Thursday, October 11.  This will be the first time I've been to France, so it's quite exciting - or will be, once I've got off the Ferry.  As one who can suffer sea-sickness on the Serpentine (a lake in Hyde Park, London - for those who might not be familiar with this site) the prospect of 6 hours on the English Channel is daunting indeed.  Am just hoping that as I shall be lying down, hopefully lulled to sleep, I shall be OK - just keep your fingers crossed, please!  Coming back, it's only 5 hours, because of the time difference,  but we are expected to be sitting up .......hm!!  Enough said, methinks!

The final batch of photographs shows the Cuddlies Stall at last Friday's Greatest Coffee Morning in the World in aid of MacMillan Cancer.

Some official photographs were taken for submission to The Warminster Journal  and I've tonight received a note from the photographer that the picture of us she submitted has been published in this week's edition.  I shall be picking it up from our Post Office in the Village tomorrow morning.  It's quite a record appearance, actually:  items submitted to the publication can take up to 6 weeks to be mentioned!  To be in within the week must mean they are clearing the decks for stories about the upcoming Warminster Festival - which begins on Saturday for two weeks - or they have been short of suitable material!

The Coffee Morning was more productive than I had expected:  two more Bears have been booked in for renovation therapy  for later in October, with the deposit for one already in the BankBlack Gorilla found a new home, initially at one of the Village pubs, The Red Lion.  However, the landlord was having his own Coffee Morning for MacMillan Cancer (with the proceeds being added to the Slater's Barn event the previous day) and BG was the prize for a competition to give him a name! (I had not told him what BG had been labelled up till then)  He ended up being called Banana, and was won by the owner of Slater's Barn, who happens to have invited me to lunch just the other day!  Not sure what is going to happen to Banana, aka BG,  now!

I have also been commissioned to make a Frog for a gentleman who is anxious to give it to his sister-in-law (who is apparently "mad about Frogs" - she has at least 40 of them around her house!)  Not only that, she has friends who are equally enamoured.  So on the basis of there being a potential market for these toys, and my having confirmed that I do have a pattern for one, these too will be added to the Cuddlies Family.  (Must admit, Frogs have never featured on my radar - I just don't like them, and they cannot really be described as "cuddly", can they?  However, who am I to argue with a persistent customer - who has already paid a deposit for the estimated cost and is prepared to wait until mid-to-late November for delivery!)

By the way, the Coldham Cuddlies stall will be repeated at the Arts in the Park show this Saturday, which is one of the opening features of the Warminster Festival.  A report on that - which will also include the result of the Go Bustards competition (another recent feature in this blog) - will have to wait until I get back from France.  I just will not have the time before I leave.

Thus, there will be a short gap in sumissions here.  Do hope you will continue to read and Follow us.  We're certainly getting more views (over 8,000 at the last look) and the number of Followers has risen to 215. Thanks, as ever, for the support!

Bye for now - from both Cy Bear (who will be staying at home) and me.  Isobel