Saturday, 31 May 2014

Colin the Koala - the Next Step

Greetings Everyone - after a slightly longer interval than originally planned.  Isobel is now back home in Heytesbury but wasn't able to blog, as she had hoped;   because of all the things she wanted to do when she was staying with Clare and Alan.  (As well as not feeling like it for another).  She has to feel like writing a post, and I was too far away to be able to prod her into doing it!  Still better late than never.

It's a relatively short post this time around, but we thought you'd like to know that Colin, the Giant Koala, had a safe journey to Kirkby-in-Ashfield to his Forever Home, and is now safely ensconced in what will be the "Baby's Room" when that important person arrives.

Before leaving, however, we couldn't let him depart without the formal ColdhamCuddlies Farewell Ceremony - duly recorded in our traditional manner. I do have to admit to feeling somewhat dwarfed by Colin, and the Lloyd Loom Chair in which he resided until he left for his Forever Home now looks extremely empty!

Both of us can sit up without help!
Before he had this photograph taken, Colin had been wrapped up in a very big plastic bag - which is what the polyester fibre used to stuff us Cuddlies arrives in from our source in Frome, SomersetFine Quality Feather Company.  That was used to cover the back seat on which Colin travelled from here to Nottinghamshire - because the Clare's car had been heavily used during their recent move to their new home.  What with one thing and another, she didn't feel the back was clean enough for Colin, without him actually sitting on the bag all the way.

The plastic bag contained Isobel's various bits and pieces (not in her travelling case) - and as you can see, Clare's car is blue!  As for Colin, well he blends into his surroundings rather well, doesn't he?

Poor Clare had a very long day- spending nine and a half hours all together driving to and from her home and was delighted when the journey was over! (There was a short break between the journeys, when they had lunch with one of our neighbours.)  Colin now has a comfortable spot in the room that has been designated for the new arrival once the adoption process Clare and Alan are involved in has been completed:  the next important date is sometime in July.  

But, before she left, some photographs were taken of Colin getting to know Alan, Dotty the Dog and Clare in their sitting room.

Dotty is not unnaturally wondering exactly what, or indeed who, is sitting on top of her........  Oh,by the way - it is not planned that Colin will be treated in the same way as the toy that is on the floor between Alan and Clare! He is the currently much loved (a.k.a. chewed) "Santa" from whom Dotty is rarely separated.  (I'm told he still squeaks - a bit!)   Dotty's toys are always kept downstairs, where she reigns supreme.  The two cats, Mo and Alfie have the run of the first floor (together with their toys)  - and it's always a battle between Isobel and the cats as to who will occupy the spare bedroom!  This time around I gather the result was Isobel 7:  Cats 0.  However, they are still becoming accustomed to their new surroundings, so at a future date, the scores might not be so one-sided.  They do come downstairs to ensure that their food and well-being is maintained, but spend their days upstairs basking in the sunshine (when it appears!) and following the biggest sunbeams.

Normal service on this blog will be resumed shortly - as Isobel is rapidly "getting into the groove" once again. 

 Until then, this is Cy Bear signing off!

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 18 May 2014

Living with a Student - and more tales of the 2014 Shop Spring Clean

Hello again, Everyone.  After the Koalas Saga, its me, Cy Bear, here to have some fun with you all once more.
Let's clear one thing up though:  the "student" is not me!  Isobel has signed up for a month long course being run by (in case you'd forgotten, our Shop can be found there at which we're all hoping will result in her making the Shop more "relevant" to internet search engines (whatever they may be - as a Beaver Lamb Bear they don't mean much to me).  I believe the idea is that we're hoping it will mean more Cuddlies finding more Forever Homes - which means more work for me, saying goodbye to them all!  The Course is all part of the Spring Cleaning session in the shop apparently.
It's been sometime since we've told you about the renewal programme which involves lots of new photographs being taken of my COLDHAMCUDDLIES friends, and thus me being able to tell you some more about each of them, as they get renewed. 
Today, I'm going to concentrate on our Hedgehog Family -  here is  Daddy Hedgehog who, rather unusually, is made in an upright position.
Etsy Listing #95652141

This latest picture shows him in more natural surroundings than his previous picture did, and he looks as though he's enjoying the Spring sunshine too.  We're very fortunate here at the Hospital of St. John because we have a lovely big garden, where the residents are encouraged to sit, walk or otherwise enjoy their surroundings.  There is a resident Site Supervisor who looks after all the gardening, and fits light bulbs and things when they go wrong.   There are all sorts of flower beds (with not too many flowers in apparently - although there seem to be some nice bluebells for Daddy Hedgehog to smell) and other nooks, crannies, and ancient walls (some of which have been around since 1766-77) which Isobel can use to take some unusual shots of us Cuddlies.
Daddy Hedghog can be made to look more like Mommy - seen below - but we think he's an unusual Cuddly Plush Art Doll the way he is.
Etsy Listing # 95653310

Both Hedgehogs are made with some lovely fluffy Dark Brown Faux Fur fabric that we've got in our fabric cupboard.  The pile is quite long and there are black and cream flecks throughout, which makes them material look as though there are real hedgehog prickles.  At least our Cuddly Hedgehogs make soft, fluffy and safe Toys for anyone from birth upwards.
 (Isobel says it's awful to cut and sew, because it flies all over the room when she's making the Hedgehog Family - but that's the case with all the faux fur and plush fabrics used for us Cuddlies)

Etsy Listing #95653745
The picture showing the current Twin Baby Hedgehogs clearly illustrates the flecks in their dark brown fluffy pile.  These guys have proved very popular as first birthday presents since Isobel found the patterns for them.  Thereby hangs a story -

When she first picked up the fabric, she used them for our Hairy Bears - there were seven of them in total, but really was looking our for a pattern for hedgehogs.  She happened to mention her hunt to one of her Etsy customers (who bought one of our Panda Bears (Etsy Listing #55269914) and lives in Missouri, USA)  and learned that MrsVY was a real hedgehog lover. She'd had real ones when she was a child and really liked them, but by the time of their Etsy conversation, she was "into" Panda Bears 
(Not all Cuddlies go to children you know:  we think quite a lot of them are bought by adults for children, but they don't always reach their intended Forever Homes!).  
Hedgehog Twin One
Anyway, a couple of days after their Panda Bear conversation on the Etsy site, MrsVY sent us a link which was offering a vintage pattern for the Hedgehog Family.  Isobel purchased it - and then found that the Seller was actually based in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England, UK! (What a small world!) 
Anyway, once the pattern arrived, Isobel set to - and the rest, as they say, is history.  Isobel has since made cardboard templates for all versions, and now she's demonstrated she can make patterns  bigger, she'll have no trouble in enlarging the one for Mommy Hedgehog, should a Buyer prefer to have Daddy looking like her, instead of the way he is.
Hedgehog Twin Two
 Although we've shown each member of the Hedgehog Family separately, there have been several occasions when Mommy and Baby have gone to the same Forever Home together.  All three can also be bought at the same time - in which case there would be a discount offered.  Isobel would be absolutely delighted to hear from anyone wanting to do that - or indeed to buy just Mommy and Daddy (whichever way the latter was standing!).
 (We no longer have an example of a Hairy Bear in the Shop, because there isn't an unlimited supply of  the Hairy Faux Fur. The fabric really does look better as a Hedgehog, but if anyone fancies a Bear (shaped like me, but in this fluffy material, just get in touch with Isobel, and I'm sure she'll be happy to oblige!).
That's enough for this post I think.  Isobel is busy working on editing how the Shop looks when people visit it on line, so she's going to be quite busy.  She's also going away for a week, starting May 21, when she's going to Nottinghamshire to visit Clare and Alan.  She's taking the computer with her, but no sewing, so she'll probably be doing a post on my behalf while she's away.
In which case, I'll say Good Bye for this session - and look forward to being with you all again at the end of the month.  Until then, hope everyone is having a splendid time. 
Your Friend - Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Make way for the Coldham Koalas - Part 2: A Happy Ending in sight

Hello again Everyone - good to be back, after an eventful week (outside the Etsy world) which took more time than intended.  Isn't that always the case when one lays careful plans for maximum use of one's time?
Anyway, when we left the Coldham Koalas story last time, I promised you a photograph of the newly made Baby Koalas - with the newest additions all having new plastic noses, as opposed to the wool embroidered ones used to date.   like both versions - wonder what everyone else thinks?
Etsy Listing # 55190188
They're all sitting happily among the Aubretia plants edging a flower bed in one of the nooks and crannies that abound in the garden here at The Hospital of St. John.
Now to the saga of Colin the Giant Koala - the Cuddlies specimen that I was "persuaded" to produce by a customer who turned out to be what I believe is described a "spammer".  I returned to the conversation between him and I begun before Easter, when he told me he would pay the initial deposit when his pay cheque arrived (due on Good Friday - which is when my suspicions as to his real intent were definitely confirmed!).  When I attempted to renew the conversation on the Tuesday after the Bank Holiday, Etsy informed me that the person "did not exist" - even though there were some 15 or 16 messages between us on record!  So, the entire episode was reported as "Spam" to Etsy.... and life went on.
While I try to persuade myself I needn't have gone along with his suggestion, in my last post I described how I responded to the challenge posed by the buyer, because until then I had been quite positive I was incapable of altering an existing pattern.  I'm pleased to say that subsequent events have proved me wrong - which is what the rest of  this post is going to be all about!
The first step in creating Colin was, of course to create the paper pattern for him.  My normal patterns are made using discarded cardboard cereal packets. ( I do try to maintain ColdhamCuddlies' recycling credentials as much as possible.)  However, enlarging Big Koala's (BK) original template to become a 24 inches high Bear needed larger pieces of cardboard than was available, so a packet of 2" (5cms) square graph paper was acquired the next time I was in Warminster,  and BK's individual pieces fitted on it.  The difference in overall dimensions between the intended Toy and BK was about 5 inches so I drew the shapes an extra 2-1/2" bigger around all the shapes.  The finished article did look enormous, but the process had begun!  For those interested in vital statistics, these are Colin's  final ones:

                              Height: 27 inches.  Girth (around the base) 48 inches.  Weight: circa 4-5 lbs
The enlarged pattern pieces just fitted on to the Silver Grey Flecked Faux Fur fabric offcuts in my stash.  Making Colin was pretty straight forward - but being so much bigger than the standard ColdhamCuddlies toy it took just a bit longer.  Added to which the beautiful, furry fabric used has a tendency to fray, so every seam had to be over sewn to maintain the Toy's overall integrity.  Still, as it was the Easter week-end, once all the necessary Easter church celebrations were attended to, I had the time, the weather was not that good, and by the Tuesday after Easter I had got to the stage that the Body and Head were sewn together, and the mammoth task of stuffing him was the next step.

This picture shows his body - waiting for the head to be sewn on - sitting on what the family calls the ""Office Chair" (because that is what it used to be when we had an office!).  It  now serves as the place for the stuffing to sit waiting to be used in the toy-making process, as well as being somewhere some Cuddlies have been photographed in the past.   When completed, Colin took over 2 kilos of stuffing - because I wanted him to be a firm armful when completed.  (All stuffing, over a period of time, does relax, and the last thing one wants in a big toy like Colin is for him to go floppy when being played with.)
This is the first photograph  of Colin, perched (without being propped against the wall) on one of my pillows.  The next shows BK sitting just in front of him, to give you some idea of the size difference.  (BK's vital statistics being - Height - 14 ins (30.55cms):  Girth (at widest point) - 21 ins (50.35 cms):  Weight - 15.5 ozs (438 g). 
Both of them didn't fit on the pillow, so they were both placed on my mattress - which had been stripped for the weekly change of sheets!  Not the best shot of Colin, but for the purposes of this blog, it will have to do.
While stuffing was in process, it quickly became obvious that the single leather claws that look fine on BK were simply too fragile to look realistic for Colin.  So, I unpicked the end seams on arms and legs, cut out four more pieces and sewed the leather together - with button-hole stitching around the fingers.  Then each hand was lightly stuffed, and I attached the claws using ladder stitch.  The fluffy faux fur conveniently hides any of the stitching that was used, so no one is any the wiser - except those of you who are reading this post, of course!
In the meantime, my daughters were being kept apprised of the saga of the spamming buyer.  When the first picture of Colin was circulated to them, Clare - my younger daughter, who with her husband is currently negotiating the complicated process of adopting a child (or children - a sibling group could be accommodated) suggested that Colin would be the perfect candidate for the Nursery when it becomes a reality.  She reserved him on the spot!  
 So, later this month, when I am due to go for a week or so to stay with Clare and her husband, Alan, I am being picked up by Clare.  Colin will be strapped in with his own Safety Belt on one of the back seats of her car - together with all the other impedimenta I cannot seem to travel without!!!  (As I'm coming back to Heytesbury by train, that will of necessity have to be considerably restricted.  Because, no matter which way I travel - via London (which I prefer to avoid) or cross-country, there are at least two change of trains involved!!!)  Interestingly, there's not that much difference in the time it takes between a car or train!  It's a matter of convenience, and inevitably, cost!
So there is a happy ending.  Colin  will have a Forever Home after all.  His picture will remain in our Shop (  as a replacement could well be in the offing.  He was such fun to make, although the recent foray to replace the stuffing he "ate"  has indicated that its cost is sky-rocketing, and may necessitate some increases in charges for future Cuddlies.  My source is still considerably less expensive than purchasing from a normal haberdashery store, but even so - these things have to be taken into account!
Before leaving this post, here are some other pictures of Colin, frolicking - if someone of his size can do such a thing - in the garden.  Thank goodness the weather is enabling me to take lots of new photographs of the Cuddlies - which are appearing as each is renewed or re-listed.
Sitting sideways in the Coldham Bears' favourite mulberry tree
Trying to climb up the tree - not very successfully
A view from the rear
Colin sitting unaided - with a neighbour's azalea plant to show off his furry coat

And finally, a mug shot - if it should ever be needed!
With that, I'll love you all - and leave you for the present.  Hope to be back soon, probably with Cy Bear at the helm, with some more stories about recently renewed Cuddlies - and, maybe, a description and a few pictures of The Hospital of St. John and its lovely grounds (as requested by several of you lovely Followers).  
Until then - Good Night and Good Bless.  Isobel
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Monday, 5 May 2014

Make way for the Coldham Koalas! And a sad case of being taken for a ride.

Well it's now been some weeks since I was involved directly with this blog - other than in guiding Cy Bear, of course.  So, having been up to my eyes in Koalas just recently, I decided to write this next post, especially as it's a day or so later than intended.  (Blame email issues this time:  at least it makes a change from computer worries!).  Think they've been resolved, but I'm still somewhat wary!
However, back to the Koalas.  You wonderful Followers here will be familiar with our Baby Koalas (Etsy Listing #551901188), many of whom have found Forever Homes around the globe.  Some of you may recall an early patient in our Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic (Etsy Listing #79124185) who needed to be completely remade - as his original real Koala hide was about to disintegrate, and his owner wanted to preserve him - for old time's sake.  He ended up looking like this and for the purposes of the Clinic, was named Big Koala (not very original I know, but it described the situation as it was!):
When completed, Big Koala (BK for short) - together with a bunch of  Baby Koalas and our very first Big Teddy Bear Patient - Ed Ted - all went off  to live with their Forever Friend, MrRE in Sequals, Italy.  Here is a photograph of them waiting for their journey to begin, but minus Ed Ted.  There were actually another eight more Baby Koalas who joined the party later!  
You can see the difference in size between the two Coldham Cuddlies Koala versions.  I've always intended to make another  BK to replace the original model, and took precautions to ensure I had a template of the Patient while he was undergoing treatment.  However, it was not until earlier this year that I decided to go ahead and make him, this time using the same faux fur fabric used for our Koala Head Mens' Slippers (Etsy Listing #158098231) -
No sooner had that decision been taken,  than an enquiry landed in the convo section of our shop at from someone quoting the Etsy Listing for the Baby Koalas, but seeking a bigger version.  To begin with, the idea of  Big Koala in the new fabric seemed to suit his requirements, so I offered to make it and take pictures of the finished article - even though he seemed to be set on an even bigger version.  I was hoping that when completed, BK would melt his heart!!  It seemed unreal that there even could be a Buyer lined up before a Toy had actually been made!
To cut a fairly long story short, the new version was made - quite quickly as it happened, because there are not that many different component parts involved.  The new version BK now looks like this:
He's sitting very comfortably on top of a privet hedge in our garden at The Hospital of St. John where we all live and I think has turned out pretty well. (Have to confess though that the faux fur pile on his head is actually lying in the wrong direction, which gives him a somewhat different look to the original Big Koala, but the rest of him has his fur going the right way!)  He's a very cuddly armful, wrong pile direction or not!
Now back to the prospective client.  While he was very taken with the final outcome, even allowing for the look, the customer was still insistent that he'd like him double the size!  Now my Friends, I am not the adventurous type when it comes to patterns for my Cuddlies.  I like to stick with what I know and am familiar with.  However, I'm now three years into life with COLDHAMCUDDLIES in its current incarnation, I've made many more Animal Toys - in various sizes and descriptions - and the challenge was just too much for me.
I also was beginning to think that perhaps the customer was leading me on somewhat - and I suspected that this could be the basis of a classic spamming exercise.  Nevertheless, because I am blessed with quite a good stash of this particular faux fur, and because I was keen to see if  I could overcome my hesitation about enlarging a pattern, I agreed to go ahead and try to meet his  needs (and believe me - by this time,  he was talking in those terms!) and try to come up with a Koala which was as near as possible to the 24" in height the customer was literally yearning for!  Girth etc. was not mentioned, but that was the ideal height!  I suggested that a down payment of a third of the estimated cost would at least get me started and also stated categorically that I would not proceed until those funds were in my local bank account in Warminster.  The immdiate answer was that was fine, but his next wage cheque was not due until the end of the following week (Good Friday, as it turned out).  
However, by this time, my interest having been thoroughly piqued, I had purchased some graph paper with 2" squares and had actually enlarged all the BK pattern pieces - although the customer was not aware of this I hasten to add.  My mind was made up:    I was going to make a Giant Koala come what may.  If worst came to worst, and my suspicions got confirmed, then I'd try to find him a Forever Home - either via the Etsy Shop, or maybe by donating him as a Raffle Prize, or the reward for guessing his name, to one of the Charities I have connected with in the past.
I think this post has now gone on long enough:  so I'll complete the Koala Saga next time around. 
In the meantime, I've just received a picture of the latest Koala, Kili Whitestar as he is now known, sitting on the end of a table in his Forever Home in Maryland, USA
MsAW, Kili's new Forever Friend tells me that he is very comfortable perched just there - although he is constantly on the look out to avoid being knocked flying by her cats!  As I said to her in response - that's a very much more exciting life he's now leading.  (He had previously been living in a plastic bag with his other Baby Koala Friends)
 The last one of his batch has just been joined by three new Baby Koalas, all of which have got plastic noses, instead of the embroidered ones they've all had to date.  Having come across a local supply, I'm trying them out for size.  They were only completed last evening, and I've not yet had a chance to take photographs of them - but when I do, I'll provide them to illustrate the difference in outcome! 
 Probably, this will happen in the next installment of The Story of Colin, The Giant Koala - coming soon.
PS:  While searching in my photo files for Kili's picture, I came across this photograph of BK, Ed Ted, the four Baby Koalas and one of our Light Brown Teddy Bears (Etsy Listing #69778158) who formed the initial party en route to Sequals in 2011. (I'd forgotten that Light Brown Bear had formed part of the contingent!) They travelled across the English Channel and across mainland Europe from the UK  in a black garbage bag in the boot of MrRE's Blue Jaguar car, but this photo taken was before their epic journey across the Channel  began.  Followers of this blog can read all about these fellows in posts written in early 2011 by accessing our blog archives.
Meanwhile, until the next time - Good night and God Bless!  Isobel
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic