Sunday, 16 February 2014

The story of Special Cuddlies - Nick and Agatha Buchanan Wolf : Introduction

Copernicus and Agatha Buchanan Wolf
The entire credit for these two Associate Cuddlies - who for reasons that will become obvious shortly - will not be listed in the shop at, begins with an Etsy convo received from J Anne Fullerton, a nom-de-plume for one MrsKN, with whom I liaised as the Wolves were created.  The enquiry was to the effect:  could I create some Wolves, that looked a little like my Lady and Gentlemen Foxes - specifically The Tartan Foxes (whose dresses were made with the Buchanan Tartan  ( and Beau Fox, a One of a Kind version of my Gentleman Foxes, with a Blue Velvet jacket,  and who sported Apricot Jodhpur type trousers ( ).

When the enquiry was received I was away from base - having a splendid holiday with daughter Clare and her husband, Alan in Nottinghamshire - but in principle I could see no reason for not being able to and replied to that effect.  My curiosity having been aroused, I requested more information and was directed to the following link:

Realising the significance of being asked to actually create in Cuddly form the main characters of "The Shepherds Moon Saga" - MrsKN's partially-published trilogy, I decided to take things slowly, especially as I  then was 185 miles away from my patterns, fabric and sewing materials.  MrsKN (whom I will refer to as J.Anne Fullerton (JAF) in future) was more than happy, as she too wanted to be sure of what she might be letting herself in for!  Thus, we agreed to keep in touch and I would revert upon returning to base in Heytesbury, Wiltshire.  That was in October 2013

Upon my return to The Hospital of St. John, I was still deep in Novelty Slipper production, with several Craft Shows scheduled, as well as creating/replacing the existing Cuddlies from the Shop. However, I decided that I should invest in the purchase of a copy of "Birthright", the first part of JAF'S planned trilogy,   I felt I really could not make intelligent suggestions as to how to proceed with JAF's commission unless I had an idea of whom or what  was involved.  

First version of Agatha - her ears were not quite right!
Now the subject of the Books is the history of some important werewolves and although not an afficionado of the genre, when the book arrived I have to say it was a rattling good read!  The main characters are Copernicus Buchanan (Nick to his friends) and Agatha Buchanan, his wife when in their human guises - hence the connection with the Tartan Foxes, dressed in Buchanan tartan.   Difficult to put down, I could become a fan of the genre and am looking forward with interest to see what happens next!  I'd recommend anyone wanting a fast-paced historical tale to while away some hours on a cold, windy, wet afternoon to dip into this book:  they won't be disappointed. 

 Although an avid reader in my time, these days I find that I fall asleep more often than not, and am better spending my time awake sewing toys, with the TV in the background!  However, "Birthright" did keep me awake for longer than many a book I've attempted since maturity dictated this change in my leisure habits.

Once I'd read the book, a selection of fabric swatches were airmailed to JAF to give her an idea of what was in stock, and two were selected.  However, by then I was deep into the Craft Bazaar season, as well as needing to fulfill Christmas 2013 orders (and their replacements), so it was not until the New Year that I was fully able to get down to Buchanan Wolf business.  By then, one of the selected fabrics had been used for another project and I was unable to replace it - but I was confident that a new faux fabric I had sourced from my fabric suppliers in Frome, Somerset - Fine Quality Feather Company - would more than satisfy JAF's requirements.  I didn't propose to send it to her, because she needed to have a surprise when the final product arrived!!

She was kind enough to agree to that modus operandi, so  I then made two Wolf Heads, using the Fox pattern. (The same pattern has been used to create our Coyotes, as well - Etsy Listings #61408931 and  #670390032). Now the Grey Faux Fur fabric selected has a considerably thicker pile than the Plush fabrics I use for the Foxes/Coyotes, and the initial effort looked incredibly like a Teddy Bear, but with pointed ears! That is, until I got clipping around the muzzle with my scissors.  That took some courage to begin with, because it's a rather final thing to do! And it's not something I'd ever done to this extent before, either. However, being careful in my clipping, the resulting face did indeed look like a Wolf - to my relief and excitement.

Photographs of my efforts were sent, and JAF gave me the go ahead. except she did not really like the green plastic eyes that I had given what eventually became Hector Hay Wolf - the subject of our last post earlier this week. JAF'S preference was for blue eyes for her male character, Nick,, and yellow/gold eyes for Agatha, his wife (something I was unable to definitely supply).  She asked if there would be problem if she looked around to see if she could find what she had in mind.

Obviously I had no problem with that - and a few days later, she came back with the link to another Etsy Shop, which specialises in hand-painted glass eyes for toys of all varieties.(   Now I did have blue eyes in stock and put them into the second Gentleman's head.  While waiting for the gold eyes to arrive, I got on with Agatha's body/head(s).  I made  two of her as well, so that JAF could decide which one of each character would eventually go to Tacoma, WA - their intended Forever Home.

When the golden eyes arrived, they were accompanied by some blue eyes - the quality of which were a better match for Nicks's head than the pair I'd already put in.  So, a pair of yellow eyes were fixed into the Agatha head, and the other one was fitted with my usual amber eyes and eventually became Hermione Hay Wolf  (also posted about here, recently).  So, I undid Nick's head (which  hadn't been attached to his body - as I had a feeling something like this might happen!), de-stuffed the head and managed to wrench off the plastic safety backing on the eyes, without damage to either (so they can be re-used somewhere else!).  The new blue eyes were attached, and the whole Nick and Agatha project could then proceed apace. (I was instructed by JAF to keep the other ones - for future requirements!!!!)

Hermione and Hector were completed first.  Then came Nick and Agatha - in exactly the same way all the dressed Cuddlies are created - so there's no point in repeating the production process here. However, instead of sewing Nick's finished jacket all the way around, the front was left open - so his Buchanan Tartan waistcoat could be displayed.  I did sew on a bronze button, and made a matching button hole - which will do up, but with difficulty - so it's to be hoped he will continue to be displayed "au casual", as it were!   The buttons on the waistcoat do actually line up in the finished version!  This picture was taken while Nick was in the production stages. 

Agatha's dress was made up in the Buchanan Tartan that had attracted JAF's  attention originally. As the Tartan Foxes all had bonnets, Agatha  also received one - even though JAF didn't request one.  Ladies of that generation (the Victorian era) never went anywhere outside without a hat on, and even if Agatha was unaccustomed to wearing such an accessory, I felt she would be incomplete without one.

Agatha with her bonnet, and also adjusted ears!
The Buchanan Tartan dress was decorated with two rows of green ric rac binding, sewn in place with yellow/gold French knots (to match her eyes), and to complete the outfit, her bloomers or pantaloons were made in pale green poplin, edged with white cotton trimming.

Once completed, Nick and Agatha were joined in the usual farewell photograph by Cy Bear - while I prepared the packaging that would, hopefully, ensure a comfortable journey to Tacoma, WA.

Their travel arrangements included an upgrade to the International Signed For Air Mail Package rate charged by UK Royal Mail - instead of the usual Standard Airmail Parcel rate most Cuddlies normally get sent to their Forever Homes. 

The latter, depending on where they are destined, can take as long as 4-5 weeks from date of posting.  Nick and Agatha arrived within 4 Days of leaving Warminster Post Office. (Royal Mail state that they try to deliver within 5 Working Days, anywhere in the World).   The cost of the upgrade was covered in this case,  because in ordering the two different Fox versions, rather than working with just one Custom Order (I was unfamiliar with how that worked on Etsy - although am now somewhat more conversant with it!) JAF had paid for two separate Toy's shipping charges.  Although JAF was quite prepared to take her chance with the slower method (and get the refund instead), she left the final decision to me.  

The Wolf Sisters - Hermione Hay and Agatha Buchanan
As the order process had taken from September 2013 until the date of dispatch on February 4, 2014, I really felt that JAF had been patient enough - so decided on the upgrade.  I'm so glad I did, because the following message from Tacoma, WA was waiting for me when I opened up my computer on Tuesday, February 11:

"Nick and Agatha arrived today. They are, in a word, astounding. I could not be more pleased with the quality of your craftsmanship. I'll be leaving great reviews for you. I will try to get good pics this weekend for you. Now I'm excited to see the rest of the family! I'll be in touch soon. Thank you again."

The Sisters, side by side - and one with hat and one, without!
Because they travelled so fast, the Etsy system does not allow for the Review that JAF promised to be written as yet.  So, I look forward to that - as well as hearing what "the family" is going to entail!  However, as the Reviews are not available to our  Followers on this blog, I thought I'd share the message!  Once the photographs of Nick and Agatha in their Forever Home are received, they'll be incorporated in another post,

So, for tonight - Good Bye and God Bless!   Isobel