Sunday, 22 February 2015

A Bear Beauty Parade - Meet Hairy Bears 10 and 11

Hello again, Everyone.  
Cy Bear back, this time at our usual time for posting news from the Coldham Cuddlies Shop (
Well, the two Hairy Bears are completed and now look like this (the cord hanging over my head is the light switch - very convenient for Isobel when she gets into bed.  She forgot to tie it up before taking the photograph!)
In our last post they were referred to as No10 (he's the one on the right of this photograph) and No11 and that's how I'll continue to call them, because although we've sent this picture and some others which will follow shortly to MrsTB in Glendale, Missouri, we've yet to receive a response as to which one she's going to want us to post to her.  It will make it easier to distinguish between them that Isobel has put different colour ribbons around their necks.
Also No11 (on the left of the picture) looks a little smaller.  Please believe me, he's been made from the same pattern from which both No10 and myself have been made.  But because No11 has the bigger head, we've had to lower his arms a bit.  Also, so that he didn't look too top heavy, Isobel also fixed his legs a little higher up his body.  That makes him look a little shorter when standing up. 
The ribbons around the Hairy Bears' necks are a recent purchase from the supermarket both Isobel and Clare go to get their weekly food shopping done.  From time to time they have fabulous offers for all things haberdashery, and Isobel takes advantage of them.  This time, she got five rolls of this satin ribbon, some plain, some with small polka dots (what ever they are?) and others with gingham pattern on.  All will come in handy when Isobel begins replacements and makes more new Cuddlies in the coming weeks - although we have a pretty good stash of ribbons, there's always room for more it would seem!
Here's No11 standing all on his own - putting the legs a little further up each side of his body makes him sturdier and he's doing it without needing to be propped up by the pillow.
This sitting down photograph shows that No11 is just as hairy as his brother, No10!
It's been great fun this week having both of them to sit between and I shall miss whichever one does eventually leave for Glendale, Missouri, U.S.A.  The remaining one will sit with me for a while - until we find space for him in the flat or Toy Store (a.k.a. The Body Bag).  

(When Isobel, Peter and the Girls returned from Canada in 1987, they packed all their clothes in four of these big canvas bags and the clothing travelled well given the distances involved.  We still have them, and one is used to house all the Cuddlies and it's reasonably easy to transport them to Craft Fairs when we attend them.)
Oh, and talking of  Stores - a new Craft Shop has opened in the last two weeks in Kirkby-in-Ashfield (where we now live) and there is a definite possibility that some of us Cuddlies will be exhibited on the shelves there.  With Easter coming up shortly, Isobel and the Shop Owner, Claire, have agreed that some of the Rabbit Family will be the first to appear.  I'll let you know how they all get on.   It may be that some of our Bears might be displayed there too - it will make a nice change from being in a chest of drawers.  Us Bears take up a lot more space than do the Rabbits, Foxes etc and my other Bear Friends currently lie in relative comfort in two of the drawers of the chest of drawers at the end of Isobel's bed.
Returning to the Hairy Bears, though, it's unusual for us not to have heard back from MrsTB, because when discussing the colour of the Hairy Bears' eyes and other details, the responses have been pretty immediate.  However, I believe that Missouri is in a part of the United States that is suffering some awful wintry weather, and it may just be that internet communication in that part of the world  has been affected.  
When we do hear back, the chosen one will be wrapped up - as usual - in chemical free tissue and then surrounded with bubble-wrap to give him some protection for the rough handling that I'm told does happen to parcels when they travel around the world. (I'm always glad that I've not had to face such difficult conditions!)
In my last post, I mentioned that we'd asked MrJS of Tulsa if we could tell you more about how he hopes to use the Tiger Puppets that have been made, as well as the Puppet Bodies.  Yesterday, Isobel received an email saying that he would be delighted for us to tell you all - as he'd be interested in hearing your reactions to what he is hoping to do with them.  So ......  watch this space.  I think it will be Isobel who will be writing about those things.  She understands such things better than me. 
But before I leave tonight, here is a final photograph of us three Bear Friends, sitting on Isobel's bed - enjoying each other's company and basking in the Spring sunshine coming through the bedroom window one day last week.
Good Night to you All.  Your Friend, Cy Bear
Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Tuesday, 17 February 2015

Production of the Hairy Bears in progress - Introducing Hairy Bear No10.

Hello Everyone!

Cy Bear back to tell you all about a new Friend of mine - Hairy Bear No10.  He's just been finished and is awaiting the completion of Hairy Bear No11 before we organise a Bear Catwalk Parade, so that MrsTB from Missouri, U.S.A   can decide which one she'd like to adopt.

This close-up makes it look as though he doesn't have a mouth:  but, because there's SO MUCH fur around his face, the black yarn Isobel uses to embroider noses and mouths doesn't really show up that much.

We managed to find the polyester hollowfibre stuffing Isobel was looking for in High Wycombe, and have just opened one of the bags she purchased to finish No10 off yesterday afternoon, after some hiccups along the way.  This is what the two Bears looked like before we started to stuff them.

One head is slightly bigger than the other, because MrsTB specifically requested that her Bear had a big head:  she finds that very appealing in a Teddy.  So, hopefully, that is what will end up happening.  I think, but cannot confirm, that the one on the left of the picture is No10.  As this post is being prepared, No11 has got all limbs attached to the body, and the arms have been sewn up.  Just the legs need to be finally stuffed and sewn, and then will come the inevitable battle involved in getting the head attached to the body.

(This post is being prepared while we have floor laying experts in our home re-laying the floors in our kitchen and bathroom - so everything in the flat is upside down and all about! Isobel cannot reach anything in the kitchen, and she's not sure she will have access to the bathroom this evening, so emergency arrangements are in hand for her to sleep over at Clare's.  She's dining there this evening at any rate!)

These Hairy Bears are so hairy, that when it comes to putting the limbs together and attaching them to the body, there can be a real problem deciding the right way they should be facing.  On this occasion, all four limbs were fixed on, but Isobel then found the arms were facing one way, and the legs the other!  So, as we need to make a fairly substantial  hole in the fabric to pass the plastic discs through, one leg had to be re-sewn entirely.  Whilst we could have got away with darning the hole and allowing the hairy fur to cover it in some cases, because there is so much fur involved, here we had to cut away the top layer of pile around the hole (on both the body and limb) so that they can move slightly when fully made. (To begin with, the limbs are very stiff - but as the years go by, and they become less firm - a natural maturing process for Teddy Bears - that stiffness will relax.)

These two pictures demonstrate just how hairy, No10 really is!  And you can see his mouth a bit better  in the one above, from this angle too!

He looks a lot bigger than me standing up, and he does it better than I do too - when he's not on the duvet on the bed!  But when both of us are sitting down, there's not that much of a difference - except in fluffiness!  But then, Beaver Lamb fur is not as fluffy as faux fur fabric can be - and my hide is nearly 100 years old to boot!

I'm very pleased to be able to tell you that the Tulsa-bound Puppet Bodies dispatched by Isobel before she left for High Wycombe actually arrived at the end of last week - their journey taking a few days longer than they were supposed to, but a jolly sight faster than the previous three packages did.  So, the result is that for the remaining two puppets we have to make and send, we will be using the Royal Mail International Tracker route.

That's about all for me to tell you today - we are both sorry for this post being a bit late, but until Isobel had managed to sort herself out after getting back from High Wycombe,   plus dealing with one or two other things that interrupted her planned life, in the end there was nothing much to tell you until, No10 was finished yesterday.

We think we're going to be able to tell and show you how some of the Puppet Bodies have been used too, as MrJS  has sent us photos as and when they've been completed, and Isobel has requested permission for us to post and talk about them here.  So that could account for a couple more posts here, at least.

See you all again soon.  Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Patience pays off - Little Ed Ted finds his Forever Home.

Good afternoon Everyone - just dropping in while staying away from base with daughter Philippa in High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire - which is not far from London, for those of you unfamiliar with the UK
Being driven here by daughter Clare last Thursday meant that I was able to bring more sewing paraphernalia with me that I would have been able to manage had I travelled by train, and so far one Hairy Bear is ready to be put together and stuffed, while the other one has two legs and two ears sewn together.  (The head, body and two arms remain to be produced (hopefully later this evening and tomorrow).  Plans call for me to be driven back to Nottinghamshire on Wednesday this week, and so far despite the weather forecasters' gloomy forecasters for biting cold etc. the temperatures have not be that bad - and we've managed to achieve everything we needed to outside without being uncomfortably chilled. 
I've brought some stuffing - but insufficient to fill two Bears of the Hairy Bear dimensions.  I'm researching the local haberdashery stores in this vicinity, but so far have not managed to get into the shop I'd identified.  When Philippa and I called at the shop this Friday, the proprietor was otherwise engaged - at Friday Prayers.  We'd intended to go in yesterday, but alas, some domestic upheavals required me to stay in so that the washing machine's hiccups could be checked.  Hopefully, on Monday or Tuesday, we'll be able to find sufficient polyester fibre for me to finish both Bears, and then one Hairy Bear will be off to somewhere in Missouri, USA  shortly after I return home.
Cy Bear remains in charge of the Cuddlies - sitting on my bed at Old Chapel Close in Nottinghamshire, but I did manage to take photographs of the latest farewell ceremony for a Cuddly en route to his Forever Home - Little Ed Ted.  (Now, of course, that is what he is called when he is with us:  his new Forever Friend may well choose to call him something quite different:  that is their privilege, and hopefully we will find out a bit more when they eventually meet).

Little Ed was posted to his Buyer who works at a Museum in Oxford, England, UK.  The lady wanted him as a gift for her Mother, so we hope that he will settle in well when they eventually meet.  He's been in our Shop ( waiting for a new home for quite a long time and has an unusual story as to how he came to be a member of the Cuddlies Family

The Steiff Schulte Mohair fabric with which he is made was left over from one of the first Patients  treated  in our Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic - Ed Ted.  Ed was  quite a big bear, and as I was still new at the restoration process, I over-estimated the amount of fabric needed for his extensive make-over.  Just before I treated Ed Ted, I'd been asked to give a small Bear some much-needed recovery treatment, and as he was a Red Bear,  and a small one, for the sake of my records, I christened him Little Red Ted.  (Incidentally, this little chap was the first Bear I'd ever treated - and became the inspiration for that part of the Coldham Cuddlies Shop services).

The mohair fabric left overs looked as though they could be used for a smaller Ed Ted version - so I used the template created for Red Ted after he'd had his usual restorative bath.  Little Red Ted had a somewhat longer neck than most Bears I've come across, so I decided to give Little Ed a scarf .  Digging through my yarn supplies produced pattern using royal blue for the main scarf , and providing light blue and white stripes at each end of the finished item.  There was a little yarn left over, which were made into tassels, which were added with a crochet hook.

Because he is made with Mohair - made from a cashmere goat - there is a significant difference in the cost of the fabric - when compared with either plush or faux fur equivalents.  Can't help but think that was one reason why he didn't find his Adoptive Home earlier.  We at Coldham Cuddlies are so pleased he has now found a Forever Friend for whom he can become a Cuddly Companion.

When ending our last post, I mentioned that I had yet to hear from MsHG regarding the safe arrival of the two Baby Koalas that left us the week before.  As is my wont, I had sent a copy of the blog post in which their departure from the Coldham Cuddlies Family home was described - and learned that the reason for that uncharacteristic omission was that MsHG had been away from her office all week.  Subsequently, a message arrived.  The parcel was indeed in her office, but with a birthday coming up in a couple of weeks, she was reserving the pleasure of actually meeting her two new Companion Toys until that anniversary arrived.  Watch this space, as I'm sure there will be some pictorial evidence to show the re-union with Sleepy Koala and the two Baby Koala Bears.

One final update on previous  blog posts.  The reason for the delays in arrival of parcels posted to Tulsa, Oklahoma from Kirkby-in-Ashfield could be that the address to which they have been posted to date includes a Post Box Number - rather than an actual brick-and-mortar address.  The Royal Mail route I had inadvertently selected doesn't "do" Post Box Numbers, so despite the higher postage paid, the parcels had travelled at the standard international airmail speed.  The last package sent to Tulsa this week, and written about in our post last week, was sent International Tracked Air Mail Parcel rate - guaranteed to arrive within 5 Working Days of departure, and capable of being tracked at both ends of the journey.  That fifth day is either Monday or Tuesday of this coming week - depending on when Royal Mail chooses to start counting!  So, watch this space for an update about this too.

Don't sit up and waiting all day or night though!  Because I'm now about to close down and get on with the manufacture of the Hairy Bears mentioned earlier in this chat.  Until next time then, when Cy Bear may well be posting, Good Night and Good Bye.


Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 1 February 2015

A little bit of this.... and a little bit of that ..... latest ColdhamCuddlies update

Hello everyone - I'm giving Cy Bear a rest, so he doesn't think he's going to take over the blog duties for good!  But really there's been so much happening in my world that is very exciting, as well as time-consuming, and I felt I should share it with you myself. 

February 10 is the fifth anniversary of the ColdhamCuddlies registration on - which amazes me, I have to say.  That was the date we officially signed up:  but as there was no stock in the shop, it didn't begin functioning until September, by which time we had about 10 different toys on offer - mainly Teddy Bears and the Dressed Rabbits (Ladies and Gents).  Prior to the Craft Fair at the beginning of December we had over 70 different Toys, but what with Craft Fairs and more recently a steady supply of orders we are now down to the mid-60's.  So, there's a replacement schedule that needs to be put in place - and I've got some lovely patterns for some new Cuddlies to join the Family!
Meanwhile, Cy Bear did tell you about the impending departure of two of our Baby Koalas, dispatched to join the Sleepy Koala that went to live in Torquay, Devon, UK a week or two ago.  Before they left, he insisted on supervising their departure - as is his wont - and here's the picture to prove it!

We have not heard if they did arrive, and I've been so busy with other things, that I've not yet checked.  Am pretty sure, given the speed at which we were contacted when Sleepy Koala arrived at his Forever Home, that had they not reached their destination, we would have been contacted.

Think they were pretty pleased to be travelling together, anyway.

The rest of the week has been spent cutting out, and sewing the second batch of Puppet Bodies for dispatch to Mr.JS of Tulsa, Okalahoma, as well as finishing the three pairs of felt hands that he required for some other members of his Puppet Theatre.

This time around, three more white fleece bodies - all lined with calico fabric - and a baby blue fleece body were needed.  (It was a black body and three further white ones that were dispatched at the beginning of January - and I was pleased to learn they finally arrived in Tulsa at the beginning of this week).  So the dispatch experiment that was discussed a couple of posts ago here didn't work - the parcel took as long to reach Tulsa this time around as did Grandpere, and this time around there wasn't  the excuse of the Christmas rush.  Before posting this second batch of bodies, am going consult with Royal Mail as to how I can ensure the package taking less time when the Buyer is paying for a faster delivery.  I don't think it would have gone much slower had I sent it by ordinary International Standard Airmail Parcel delivery - and would not have been as expensive for MrJS.

These are the three pairs of hands - and I've got so much felt left over from the two sheets I used, that I'm actually in the process of making three more pairs:  just in case they are needed when MrJS comes to sew them onto the puppets at the other end. (The felt was provided by MrJS - and is a much better flesh colour than anything I could source on this side of the Atlantic)  It's rather a long way for him to get replacements should they be needed fast!  The fingers have all been machined:  I just need to button hole stitch around the edges, and that can be done tomorrow evening, once I've cut out our next project - two versions of our Hairy Teddy Bears, one of which will be headed to Missouri in the next couple of weeks.

I'm off for a few days to stay with daughter, Philippa, in High Wycome at the end of the week.  At least one of the Hairy Bears will be accompanying me so I can keep my fingers from getting stiff - although I have to say, that even with the intense cold weather we are having at the moment, the arthritis does seem to be reasonably passive at the moment.  Long may that situation continue - it does make life easier.

Now before closing just some interesting statistics - at least they are for me!  I've told you about how many toys are now available in our shop at  this blog - started in March 2011, has now had 30,654 page views, over 287 posts (not counting this one).  That's really amazing considering the content is little more than descriptions of our Toys, and the patients in our Stuffed Animal Restoration Clinic - which might be getting a new patient shortly:  if it happens, this will be the first since I moved up from Heytesbury, Wiltshire, where I think all the Village Bears needing treatment had been welcomed at one time or another!!

 An unexpected enquiry, which reached me last week-end via the Royal Mail Redirection service came from a lady in Buckinghamshire - who had read about my Clinic when I'd written to The Lady Magazine about our services (just about a year ago).  Coincidentally, the Royal Mail had written to remind me the same day that my redirection arrangement was due to end on February 11 (which means we've been up in Nottinghamshire for 6 months from that date - my word the time flies).  Needless to say, I've extended my re-direction arrangements for another six months - just in case there are more letters looking for me, although I have to say, there are not that many now.  Most folk who are in regular contact now know where I now live.

Some further stats - which thrill me, I have to say, because being a gypsy at heart, it really gives me a charge  to think about where my blog is being read.  About nine months after I began posting regularly, early in 2012, I found a site called Flag Counter - you can see it on the right side of this post - and since joining, there have been 7,331 page views, of which 3,019 (or 61.7%) are based in the United States 84 different flags have been collected - from countries as widely dispersed as the Philipines, Turkey,  Brazil, Russia, as well as the United Kingdom (which account for 15.5%) and many of the other countries of the English speaking world, such as Australia and CanadaCy Bear and I are most grateful for your support - we like to think of our posts being treated as bedtime reading - and look forward to continuing and building on this amazing collection of friends.

Think I have waffled on long enough for tonight - must get ready to complete the other hands and then pack them up for posting to Tulsa on Tuesday morning. 

Awaiting the three other pairs of hands
Until next week - do hope everyone continues to keep well and that weather conditions - where ever you are based in the world - are not being overly out of kilter from the norm!  It is February  - and my late Mother always said the worst months of the British winter for her were either November or February.  Don't think she was really that far out!

All the best - and thanks again for all your support.  Isobel

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic