Sunday, 28 December 2014

Christmas Update - and Preliminary Plans for 2015


Greetings Everyone!  

Well, Christmas has passed - very quickly, as is it's wont. 

The celebrations were wonderful, with both daughters together, and Alan as well.  Dotty, the Dog 

Getting to know Pingou, the Penguin
and two cats - Mo and Alfie -

Not sure what Alfie was expecting:  Mo, an elderly puss,  did not grace us with her presence at this time
enjoyed themselves too, and the snow held off until Boxing Day, at which point here in the East Midlands (we are on the edge of the Peak  District, which as it's name implies is quite high by UK standards, anyway) six inches of the white stuff were dumped on us overnight. 

 We woke up on Saturday morning, with a blanket of snow (which meant it took me 30 minutes to get my daily paper, instead of the more normal 15-20 - depending if I meet folks en route with whom to pass the time of day!)  Actually, the need to concentrate on where one puts one's feet and the over-arching temperatures don't encourage too much of the chatting at the moment.

I'm pleased to be able to inform you that Grandpere Tiger Puppet did eventually make it to Tulsa, Okalahoma.  He was picked up by JS on Christmas Eve - when a packet containing a pattern for some puppet felt hands, and some actual felt fabric, was sent to me for transforming into three pairs.   I assume these will eventually end up on the bodies of some of the Puppets, I've already been booked to make.  

Samples of the fleece fabric I intended to use to make these items had been included in the same parcel in which Grandpere Tiger had been packed.  The pink fleece sample was, as feared, somewhat "too pink" for the purposes intended.  So at my suggestion, since dyes in the USA are obviously different to those readily available here in the UK, JS has found some felt more suited to his needs, and I shall attempt to produce his requirements once the package arrives from Tulsa.    (Both sides of the Atlantic sincerely hope that it will not take 22 days for the journey to be accomplished now that the Christmas Mail hurly-burly is over!)

In the interim, two other Cuddlies have found new homes - one is actually a custom order version of 

Sleepy Teddy Art Doll Yellow Plush Furry Bear Collectable Golden Plush Cuddly Safe Pram or Cot Toy
The Buyer, who lives in Torquay, Devon, England, UK wants to have her Sleepy Ted made in the same fabric as our Baby Koalas.

Toy  Koala Tree Bear Grey Fleck and White Plush  Coldham Cuddlies Shower Baby Gift
 This I will be happy to do, in between making the first batch of our Puppet Bodies for JS.  I intend to make the templates for these bodies later today, or sometime tomorrow, so that the production process can commence.  (Orders are met in strict order of receipt, and as JS's requirements have been ongoing since November, the current batch of 4 needed will get attention first).

Then on Christmas Eve, another order from Huron, South Dakota from someone looking for Ladies Size 5 Novelty Slippers arrived via the system.  (As these are already in stock, I shall be able to meet this order immediately and intend to ship them off by the end of the Year.)  The Christmas mail hold ups should by then be pretty well over, and South Dakota does suffer from cold temperatures at this time of year.  So, the Grey Rabbit Head Slippers ordered, which are similar to these 
Ladies Novelty  Slippers- Brown Plush Bunny-Lined Crm Poodle Fur or Mauve Fleece-Ladies UK Size 5-6-Xmas-Birthday-Easter-All Year-Gift Ideas
                                                   will definitely keep my customer's feet toasty warm once they arrive - for her, or a family member.  (As I currently am wearing a Size 7 version of our Panda Bear Slippers, I am in a position to attest to that claim!)

Ladies  Panda Slippers-Novelty Gift- Black and White-Soft Furry Plush- Poodle Fur lined-Ladies Size 6-7-Xmas-Birthday-Easter-All Year Gifts 
Thus, you can see my days are set to be very busy with replacements (currently there are 15 Cuddlies waiting to be remade, or reintroduced in a different form!) in the coming weeks, so I'd  better get on with planning them. 

 In addition, there are several Cuddlies due to be renewed by New Year's Day, so  a rolling programme of relisting/retagging has begun - which hopefully will result in them all meeting their respective deadlines, together with some new descriptions of each particular Cuddly Toy.  By the end of the week, therefore, should have a new look - in time to welcome in 2015

Do hope we'll be seeing lots of you there!  Until then, I'll close this week's post by wishing everyone a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous New Year.

Your friend.  Isobel.                                 


Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 21 December 2014

Cuddlies Update - and extending Good Wishes for Christmas and The New Year!

Good afternoon Everyone

Having allowed Cy Bear the chance to tell you all about the Tiger Puppets and the New Member of the Cuddlies Family, Harry the Sitting Cat, as the Shop ( is slowing down to cope with Christmas and the New Year,  I decided to use the opportunity of this week's post to wish everyone a thoroughly Blessed Christmas and a Prosperous New Year.  (Alas, "Happy" and "Merry" when applied to Christmas these days can have some unfortunate connotations - not that I am sure these could ever be applied to our Friends and Followers!! )

The plans for the Puppets remain on track, although Grandpere Tiger has yet to reach his destination.  The tracker on the parcel indicates that he reached the USA, but he has yet to reach his Forever Home with JS and his family in Tulsa, Okalahoma - a victim, doubtless, of the international Christmas mail rush, and super security at all Customs facilities thanks to the unsettling events which we keep hearing about on our news programmes these days.  JS has promised to let us know when Grandpere does reach him, and I'm praying (literally) that he'll make it before Christmas, even though he's not exactly a present as such.   As a result of this hiatus, it has been mutually agreed that even if completed, the Puppet bodies that have been ordered will not be consigned until after the Christmas/New Year period is over.  

Meanwhile, Cy Bear did mention last week that I was intending to make some curtains for the kitchen windows of my new home.  The mission  has been successfully accomplished  and now keep the draughts out, even though the room is somewhat darker than of yore.  


These provide an idea of what they look like - and I'm very pleased with the way they have turned out.  It's been nearly twenty years since I made any curtains - but I suppose, like the skill of riding a bicycle, once you've acquired it, the knowledge does not go away - merely reposes in the memory, and one hopes it can easily be resurrected when required!  This time around, having been asked to help daughter Clare recently when she made a pair for the first time, the memories were still relatively fresh!

Once the curtains were up, I also put up a new Christmas Tree, and decorated it with some baubles and lights that Clare and I had purchased a week or two ago.  For the last seven or eight years, Peter and I had had a fibre optic tree which had served our purposes brilliantly.  However, in the last two, it had begun to make peculiar, sparking noises when switched on, and last year the transformer had become very hot within a short period of being plugged in.  Elder daughter, Philippa, therefore decided that tree had come to the end of it's useful life, and although it accompanied me during the move from Wiltshire, I bowed to her insistence that a new tree should be purchased.  Accordingly, having arrived a few days ago, it is now up and lit - by two packs consisting of three AAA batteries. The interesting part will be to see how long the batteries last!  

Before any one enquires:  the picture on the wall is one that has been part of my life since the 1970's and was a gift from a Chinese priest friend from Hong Kong whom we'd had the pleasure of entertaining and helping after he'd trained in Italy, and had found himself - with no where to stay or any  means of getting back to Hong Kong.  He arrived on our doorstep one week-day morning and once we'd learned his story, Peter - who was at that time a Catholic journalist - used his connections to not only get an air-ticket home, but also to put his newly acquired priestly skills to good use.   He visited parishioners and when he wasn't doing that, he spent the whole time playing (and keeping entertained) daughter Philippa, who was then just over a year old.  (Peter was also in charge of a small rural Catholic parish in Suffolk, UK - because the incumbent priest was too ill to fulfill his duties. Part of his duties were to provide priests for the Sunday Masses each week, so, having a genuine priest on site was a great assistance to us at the time! ).

The picture is a silk screen painting of a Chinese Madonna and Child, and we used it as our family Christmas card several years ago.  It has travelled everywhere we've been since 1971 and has been joined by similar silk screen pictures of views of the Forbidden City in Beijing - one of which came from our Chinese guest, and the others from a Chinese professor's brother, whom we got to know when we were living in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada between 1975 and 1987!  It can be a small world sometimes!  All hang in my current living room, and are still referred to as "The Chinese Wall"!

Before we close for Christmas - here's a picture of Cy Bear taking part in a farewell photo session for one of the Dressed Coyotes in our Shop.  He's been adopted by a family in Cambridge, UK, and was duly dispatched on Tuesday of this week. 

His Forever Friend is a little boy and he's been wrapped up in Christmas paper, which we hope will still be appropriate by the time he arrives at his destination.  He too was launched into the turmoil that is known as Royal Mail at Christmas Time, but did travel via a route that should have ended up with him being signed for by 1300 GMT the following day.  We've not heard to the contrary, but we hope that it's a case of "no news, being good news"!  (However, if he does arrive late, I've been assured the New Forever Friend has a birthday in February, so Charlie Coyote will become the back-up present for that occasion!)

That means we've no Dressed Coyotes in stock at the moment - as Chuck Coyote found himself a Forever Home at the Craft Fair - which was part of the Kirkby in Ashfield Christmas Carnival on December 5th.

On that hopeful note, I'll close this post!  Please take it that Cy Bear is not only bidding Charlie Coyote farewell, but also wishing you all a lovely time with your Families and Friends in the upcoming festive season.  I do too!  


Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 14 December 2014

An Etsy Team Members Get Together - and A Ginger Sitting Cat joins the Coldham Cuddlies' Family.

Greetings to You All - from your Friendly Beaver Lamb Bear - Coldham Yogi (Cy to his friends).
Today, as a change from telling you about our Puppet adventures - Tigers, or otherwise - and as I intimated in my last post, I'm going to tell you about a new Friend who has come to join the Coldham Cuddlies Family - The Ginger Sitting Cat.
Prototype of the Ginger Sitting Cat
Sometime in June or July, we got a request from LucyF  a fellow member of one of the Etsy Teams that Isobel has joined.  She enquired whether Isobel might be able to make her a Cat because her Grandmother had lost her cat, Harry, earlier in the year, and she wanted to give her a Companion Toy for Christmas to help her get over her loss.  
Now regular Followers of this blog will recall that Isobel was involved organising a home move for herself and the Cuddlies - from Wiltshire to Nottinghamshire at that time.  So making toys was, frankly, the last thing she was thinking about at the time.  However, it was agreed that once things had settled  down, LucyF and Isobel would get together - after a pattern had been located.
In the meantime, one of the UK-based Team Leaders suggested - in one of the Daily Chats that go on (and where Isobel spends a lot of time) - that maybe some of them could get together for a meal and a chat - in real life.   (The team is the AAA Support Team on Etsy and Isobel says she's learned so much about social media (whatever that is!)  from being part of it, as well as making a lot of internet friends at the same time). 
The Leader is ValR (who is an Italian lady, who lives and runs a rural craft shop in the Lake District, as well as making beautiful clocks using driftwood and other natural materials - Very quickly LucyF ( ), and  Lagney (the username of a Shop, but whose real name is Elaine - ), who lives near Derby and Isobel decided they'd try and do it.  LucyF, lives in Crewe which is just about mid-way between everyone, so the rendezvous was arranged to take place on November 11th, with everyone travelling by trains from their respective homes.  It was a great success - and everyone agreed that they'd try and repeat it again next year.
(The regular chatterers on the AAA Support Team read on with great interest.  Although quite an undertaking - Isobel was travelling to and from for over 6 hours on various trains, and had the furthest to travel to the rendezvous.  It is a lot easier I believe to organise such gatherings in the UK,  than for those who live in the United States to get together.  I'm told there are vast distances involved on that Continent.)  
Early in October, Isobel was settled in and had found her pattern library.  She dug out two Cat patterns, one of which she's had since she first began making Toys in the 1950's and another in a book that Clare had given her as a present some four years' ago, shortly after had opened.  Whilst she'd always wanted to make a Cat, there had never been a request for one to be made, so she scanned the two photographs and emailed them to LucyF.  One Photo was of a Sitting Persian-type Cat and the other a Standing Cat. 
 Both are about the same size when completed,  and LucyF decided that the Sitting Cat had the "attitude" she recalled of her Grandmother's Harry - but wondered if it could be made in Ginger and White rather than the "all over" mottled Grey in the pattern picture (a look that we could duplicate with our faux fur fabrics, if required).  As Isobel had never made the pattern before, she decided to have a go and when the AAA Support Team UK Group met in November, she took along two swatches of  plush fabric for LucyF to choose from.  The lighter colour brown - called Honey - was chosen and Isobel agreed to make LucyF's commission just as soon as she had finished the Daniel Tiger Puppet and Grandpere.   (The subjects of our last two posts here on this blog!)
She decided to make two versions and leave the choice to LucyF when both were completed.  For the purposes of this story, therefore, the prototype (because of never having made a Cat of any sort before) was called Harry 1 and, not unnaturally, the second one was Harry 2.  Harry 1 gave Isobel quite a bit of grief to begin with - because the pattern pieces were not very clear.  However after several attempts, success was achieved and this was the outcome.
Harry 1 complete with Whiskers
He has green plastic pillar eyes, held firmly in place with a metal safety disc.  He's stuffed - like all Cuddlies are - with polyester fibre made to comply with all international safety standards, and his nose is a black felt one.  His ears are lined with brown felt.  His whiskers are made with slightly stiffened white cotton thread, and the other facial features provided with double knit black yarn.
Once Harry 1 was completed, photos were taken of him from all sides, and e-mailed to LucyF (what would we do without all this technology?  It's marvellous - when it works!) 
Both the Harrys' vital statistics are as follows:
9" (23 cms) from the tip of his ears to his front paws  
12"  (30 cms) from the middle of his head to the base of tail.  
circa 230 g (9.5 ounces) in weight.
The tail measures a further 8" (20cms) and can be arranged in whatever way you like.  
LucyF was quickly back with her answer.  She was delighted with the overall look of Harry 1, but wondered if there could be more ginger plush and less white plush for the body, and she thought that the real Harry had had amber colour eyes, rather than Harry 1's green ones.  Fortunately, we had got the eyes in stock, and Isobel just adjusted the pattern when cutting out Harry 2 - so that the finished product looked like this:

We've retained the patterns (for both versions, as well as the self-colour one)  and these Sitting Cats
(as opposed to our Sleeping Cats - ) can also be made with our faux fur fabric selection.  Cat's eyes can be supplied in green, yellow and amber, and we can also provide eyes with the round irises in amber as well. Anyone wanting Isobel to make a different version to the ones shown here is invited to get in touch with her via Etsy convo (via our Shop link) or the e-mail address - 
Before I go, here is another photo of Harry 2 - who is now on his way to LucyF in Crewe, and hopefully will be a nice surprise for LucyF's Grandmother for Christmas.
Harry 2's whiskers are more black and lifelike.  They, too, can also be easily removed if there is any possibility of Little People getting hurt by them.  
Isobel has just got some material to make herself some curtain for our kitchen window.  With the onset of the cold weather, the draughts that are making themselves felt need to be kept out and outweigh any possible benefits of her view while washing up - over the roof-tops of nearby houses.  They are cut out and pinned ready to be machined:  after that, Isobel will be returning to the Puppet body making front and starting to make the first four bodies ordered by JS from Tulsa, Okalahoma.
See you all again soon.  Your Friend, Cy Bear.
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Part 3 - Grandpere Tiger sets off: and further developments in the Puppet Saga

Hello again Everyone!  
Cy Bear back again, this time to tell you how the Smith Puppet called Grandpere Tiger, mentioned in our post last week-end, was completed and sent off to his Forever Home in Tulsa, Oklahoma last Tuesday.  
The actual creation process was the same as Isobel had done for Daniel Puppet, so there's no point in repeating it here.  This photograph shows Grandpere put together and waiting for his facial features and paws to have their claws embroidered on, as well as having the hem sewn neatly together.

Isobel is definitely not sure exactly what happens between Daniel and Grandpere in the grand scheme of things, but the latter was cut out with more of an orange background to his stripes - so that he does look quite a bit different from Daniel - who was made with more of the light cream fabric background.  (You can see him in our last blog - published here on 29/11/2014).  
As well as the background colour, Grandpere differed greatly in his facial "look".  He has a goatee beard and a distinguished curly moustache - which created some interesting dilemmas for Isobel in the production process. Using, Double Knit Wool yarn, the goatee beard looked very bushy and she "attacked" it with a pair of scissors - which turned out to be a bad mistake.  Her hands shook while she was trying to cut it into a point, and she wasn't sure the moustache was quite long enough either.  Her first efforts ended up looking like this:
Further photos of Grandpere - from one of his sides, as well as this one - were sent to JS for comment.
These snaps were taken with Grandpere perched on cushions which are on one of the armchairs in the living room here in Old Chapel Close, and were just designed to give JS   a "flavour" of the final product.  Encouraging emails were exchanged, to the effect that Isobel was not to worry too much about the moustache, because JS  was more than prepared to do use hairspray or any other substance that would result in the desired "Hercule Poirot" look for the finished puppet!
So the original facial features were withdrawn and were replaced with longer beard (uncut) and moustache stitched lightly in place.  Clare had been suggested that some gluey substance (PVA Glue) - used by crafters for decoupage (whatever that is - being a Beaver Lamb Bear I wouldn't know what either the substance or craft was all about of course) - but Isobel was reluctant to use it on Grandpere's unspoilt fabric.  (Nor, given the incident with the first goatee beard, was she sure she could control the gluey substance!)   JS said that he would take care of the final look at the other end!.  (It's great that there's such a good working relationship between Isobel and JS, isn't it?)

When the facial features were complete, claws were embroidered on to his paws, and Grandpere was readied for his journey to Tulsa, Oklahoma.  Before he got wrapped in our usual chemical free tissue paper, though, and bubblewrapped to shield him from the bumpy ride he was about to embark on, Grandpere joined me on The Bed for the traditional farewell ceremonial photograph.
Further developments in the business relationship between JS and the ColdhamCuddlies have taken place in the past few days though.  Isobel has now been asked to make bodies for 8 different puppets for which heads and faces have been delivered to JS.  He apparently is capable of sewing them himself but told us he prefers the way Isobel sews them.  He has provided a paper pattern for Isobel to follow - and the package travelled all the way from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire  in just 4 Working Days!  
In the same package was a pattern that Isobel has been asked to make for another version of Daniel - because JS's daughter felt that the original Daniel puppet looked more like another Tiger in the family, Colette.  
To prove it, a photograph of  our Daniel, dressed in a christening gown, was sent to Isobel and the puppet now looks like this!  Not sure exactly how else one can describe this change in appearance - but "interesting!".  There is sufficient light cream background tiger stripe fabric to accommodate the new version of the new Daniel - who will have a different look when he is completed - Watch This Space!
Picture provided by JS as illustration
While Isobel was waiting for the new patterns to arrive, she cut out and has now made the first version of a new Coldham Cuddlies Toy - Ginger Cat.  It is in response to a Custom Order from one of her Team Friends (one of the quartet who recently met face to face in Crewe).  Two different versions are being made, so that LF (our Friend from the AAA Support Team on Etsy) can choose which one she'd like to give to her Grandmother, whose real cat, Harry, died earlier this year.  Once  the Fluffy Harrys are completed and the selection made, we'll  return to the Smith Puppet Saga once more - but it may be interrupted with the story of how Harry, the Ginger Cat came to be made - as is the usual modus operandi on this blog.
Until then,  I'll close for this week.  Do hope everyone is thoroughly prepared for Christmas.  Isobel is off in search of a replacement Christmas Tree tomorrow, because the one she's used for the past 8 or 9 years has been deemed to be not acceptable by Philippa - who was concerned last year when it kept making funny noises when the LED lights were switched on.
Take good care of yourselves, now.  Your Friend, Cy Bear.
STOP PRESS:  In a message today we learn that the tracker on the package in which Grandpere is travelling indicates that he has now landed in the USA and is on his way to Tulsa.