Sunday, 28 June 2015

More Coldham Cuddlies on the horizon.

Hello Everybody!

Cy Bear here and so glad to be back with you once more.  What a difference a week can make - in contrast to last week, we've had a lovely day, with a lot more sunshine and we've been promised a heatwave (all the way from Spain apparently - wherever that is), 

Also, having posted the parcel containing Daniel Tiger 2015 on Monday, Isobel has managed to get on with some much needed replacements for our shop (  She's still managed to do a stint each afternoon working on the latched wool rug project, and has cut out and sewn four different versions of foxy heads each evening after her night time meal.   They are now all at the stage of requiring eyes fixing in and being stuffed, and then the fun stuff (as far as Isobel is concerned, anyway) begins - that of dressing the Ladies.

Here is a selection of the fabrics that may, or may not be used in the fashion stakes.

The next two photos are a close up of these:

The fabric on the left here is actually purple and white poplin, but for some reason or another, whenever Isobel takes photos of any Cuddlies made with purple fabric, the colour always comes out looking a lot more blue than purple.

She'd already made three bodies for the Lady Foxes earlier this year - when she made the Gentleman Foxes and Wolves (which we wrote about in a post on 23/03/2015).  They've been sitting in a plastic bag waiting to be worked with since:  they are now looking like this.

She then cut out and completed sewing four sets of heads, tails and ears - they are all different colours, and three use plush fabric.  The fourth, an experiment, is made with a light brown chenille fabric, which Isobel found difficult to work with, since it frays very easily.  Also, because it doesn't have the "fluffy" look of the plush fabrics, the head, tail and ears all look smaller.  So, the body which will be made tomorrow, may have to be a bit smaller too, so that it doesn't look out of kilter.

Here are the chenille and chestnut brown pattern pieces ready for their individual treatments.  You will see the paw pieces still unsewn - because Isobel hasn't yet decided which fabrics will be used to dress which Cuddly and and the paws are sewn directly onto the arms before they are attached to the frock top.  When the  chenille toy is made, he will become a Coyote - all our previous ones have found homes over the past few months, so in a way, we are beginning again.   The Chestnut one will, obviously, become a Fox - and then we have two more (shown below).

The grey one will become a Lady Wolf, and the one on the far right will become another Coyote.

We've made Gentlemen Coyotes in the past - dressing them in straight trousers (as opposed to jodhpurs that we use for our other male dressed Foxes and Rabbits), and the chenille one will definitely become one I think.  Somehow, Isobel feels that Coyotes look better dressed in "country and western" outfits.   The Coyotes also don't have leather boots, although they do have leather shoes.   The head, tail etc of the one on the right, is made with a plush fabric described as "Oatmeal" which can look a little yellow in certain lights.

However, it's the nearest to a light brown plush fabric that Isobel could find locally, so we're going with this to see how it turns out.  When she saw it in our local haberdashery outlet on Saturday, she really liked the look of it.  She reasons that if it looks a bit odd when finished, the toy can always become a "Fantasy Fox" if worst comes to worst.  However, I think this one could look rather nice as a Lady Coyote, so we'll have to wait and see what happens when Isobel gets going with her sewing machine, needle and threads.

Hope the next time I'm with you, there will be some finished Fox, Wolf and Coyote Toys to show you.  It's great that using the same pattern, we can produce three different Animal Toys.   In the interim, here's wishing you all a great week - and hopefully some lovely warm weather for us all to enjoy.

Your Good Friend - Cy Bear.

Sunday, 21 June 2015

How the Final Member of the Tulsa Puppet Project arrived - meet Daniel Tiger - 2015 Version

Hello again Everyone

Cy Bear greeting you from what is still rather a chilly Nottinghamshire, especially as I'm told today is the Longest Day in the whole year.  We've seen the sun in small doses:  but mostly, this week it has been cold, windy and cloudy - which makes Isobel and her fellow humans far from happy. 
Last week, I told you that we'd received the pattern MrJS from Tulsa, Oklahoma wanted us to use to make his puppet Daniel Tiger - the last one in the series of  Puppets on which he and Isobel have been collaborating .  So, she first cut out and made the head.
The fabric that Daniel Tiger is made with is a type of mohair and was purchased from our supplier of such materials - Mohair Bear Supplies Limited, who are based in Telford, Shropshire, England, U.K.  They are reputed to have the largest supply of mohair and faux fur fabrics - for anyone who likes to use such materials - in the UK.  To date, Isobel has had no reason to doubt that claim.  The firm is behind a Teddy Bear Making Competition that is run each year, and this time, Isobel has entered my friend Light Brown Bear with a Yellow Ribbon, shown below:
His photograph and details have been entered, and we await confirmation of their having been received (deadline for entry is 30th June, 2015).  If that goes ahead, the decision will be announced in September or October - so keep your fingers crossed for my friend.  I'll let you know if he's lucky or not, I promise.
However, now back to the story of Daniel Tiger.  Using the body pattern MrJS also provided, which is slightly smaller than the one he sent us for the Puppet Bodies we told you about earlier this year, and which were used for the Puppet Royal Family that we also told you about in our posts in May 2015, Isobel cut out Daniel's body, as well as the calico lining which she likes to provide for all her arm puppets.  (Our Hand Puppets - being that much smaller, and usually made with felt - don't really need to be lined).
Now, I can hear folks muttering Tigers have stripes and all the other Tiger Puppets, whether for MrJS or the prototypes listed in our Shop ( have been made with animal print plushs - so why isn't Daniel?  
Well, among the many other things he knows, I am told MrJS was taught to paint on fabric by his Grandmother - who also taught him how to sew.  So, for Daniel Puppet 2015, he decided he'd like to paint Daniel's stripes on the fabric himself.  He actually chose the plain fabric on line, at the same time as he chose the fabric used for Henrietta Puppet (shown below).
Once he's done his artistic work, Isobel has asked him to let us have a photograph of the finished Daniel - and be sure, it will be included in a future post here.
Meanwhile, Isobel then stuffed Daniel's head and created the finger guide - with cardboard rolled into a small tube and covered with calico sheeting fabric - and attached it into the neck opening.  Having gathered it, she sewed Daniel's head on so that it looked like this.

Then, having fixed the two body pieces (lining and outer body) together, and added a "Coldham Cuddlies" label in the back of the body (sewn into the lining), she put the head on to the body.
She sent the photos to MrJS, making the point that (a) she'd realised she had put the head on back to front (something that could easily be rectified - and has been!) and also she was not happy with the way his mouth looked.  
Yesterday, we heard back from Tulsa, and received the suggestion that perhaps Isobel should move the nose (and surrounds) down a bit, so that the red pointed bit matched the head seams.  Overnight, Isobel had actually come to that conclusion too - so last night, scissors, needles and other relevant items were bought into play, and we now have a Daniel Puppet who looks like this:
The original Daniel Puppet, on which this one is based, always had a rather mournful expression, so hopefully this final look will be what he eventually looks like.  However, the double knit yarn is easily removed by anyone with expertise in sewing, so MrJS will be able to decide the final look - once the stripes have been painted on.  That final decoration will make all the difference.
Isobel has heard back from Tulsa overnight:  Daniel,  as he looks now, is acceptable.  So, he - together with the excess fabric ordered for both Henrietta Pussycat and Daniel, will accompany the latter when he is packaged and posted off tomorrow.  In the parcel, too, will be a leftover scrap of  the red fabric - which also came from Tulsa and was included in one of the many packages that flew between Nottinghamshire and the US  over the last few months. (Apparently, it is itself a left over from a much-loved shirt, which now no longer exists  as a wearable garment.)
On that frugal note, I shall end this post.  Isobel will now embark on the replacement schedule she started  (sometime in February if memory serves) as well as doing some rearranging of the Etsy Shop as well.  (During that time, she's been collecting some lovely fabrics for some new Lady Toys - which I'll be introducing you to as they appear.)
I'll be back sitting on Isobel's  bed - until allowed back to chat with you all here.  See you then. 
Your Very Good Friend - Cy Bear

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Sunday, 14 June 2015

The Puppet Saga is drawing to a close - with the Tiger and Cat Puppet prototypes now finished.

Good afternoon everyone (or at least it is here in the UK). 

Cy Bear back again, and this time to introduce you to the completed prototype for Daniel Tiger Puppet - which I wrote about in a post about the Tulsa Puppets and what they now look like a few bulletins ago.
This is what the prototype Tiger's head  looked like when Isobel originally made it (using the pattern received from Tulsa earlier)..  She has now made the mouth a bit bigger, so he doesn't look quite so severe.
Then, using the body pattern we were provided by MrJS from Tulsa and changing the arms in the way he showed he'd done for the Royal Family Puppets I told you about in our posts (dated 27/05/2015 and 24/05/2015), Isobel created Daniel Prototype Tiger so he now looks like this.
He's being modelled by the hand of one of  Isobel's fellow residents in the residential complex we now live in Kirkby in Ashfield, Nottinghamshire - and you can see part of the body of another lady friend behind the puppet.  It's a bit difficult taking these photographs sometimes, because we have to catch the residents when they're all together.  Our flats are very comfortable for one or two people at a time, but when they all want to get togther, it has to be in their Residents' Lounge, and then they all seem to sit together and Isobel doesn't like to get them to move once they are comfortable.  Some of them are a lot older than she is I gather - and she tells me that the lady in the picture is the oldest resident in the complex - 95 years young. 
Before Daniel's Prototype gets listed, Isobel is going to get either Clare or Alan to model the puppet, and hopefully the background will be plainer.  She has got to take some things round to Clare's house tomorrow, so hopefully she can get something done then - and then both the Cat Prototype Puppet and Daniel's shadow can be listed together in the shop at

Because the Cat Puppet is that much smaller, Isobel was able to get a better background for him/her, so this is a photo of the finished toy.  He'll have to remain a prototype puppet, because - as you can plainly see from this picture - Isobel made a mistake when cutting the pattern out.  His fur doesn't go the same way on each side of his back.  It won't make any difference to the person playing with it - but doesn't LOOK quite right if you are a perfectionist - as Isobel is.  
Before closing here are two more pictures of our Daniel  from the back and side views - just to give you an idea of his stripey markings:

That photo shows Daniel from the side - you can see his prominent orange nose  fairly clearly!
This one is his back with the background a slightly lighter colour than his front:

We've finally received the "proper" pattern MrJS wants the REAL DANIEL to be made with, and it's planned that the project will get started this week.  

Meanwhile, Isobel has been able to proceed with the latch hook rug project she told you about last week - and on Friday afternoon received a re-supply of the required wool which will hopefully enable her to finish it without any interruptions during the coming weeks. (The rug wool came in packets of roughly 161 strips each, and she calculated she needed 32 packets of the background colour to finish it!  Let's hope her calculations are accurate!)  She's trying to set aside a couple of hours a day to do it - in daylight - and so far, it's going well.  Working without a real pattern to follow - something she finds challenging at any time, apparently - is proving "interesting"!

With that coment, I'll end this post for this week.  Great to be back - hope everyone is well and that the weather is being summery with you all.  It  has still to get like that here where we are in the UK - but apparently there might be some warmer weather in the offing soon.

Your friend, Cy Bear.

Coldham Cuddlies Clinic

Monday, 8 June 2015

A different craft for Isobel: taking over from another crafter, who lost interest.

Hello there - a day late! 

Cy Bear here just to let you know that all is well, but to also apologise for not posting as usual yesterday.

Earlier this year, one of our Sleepy Koalas ( left us for its new Forever Home in Devon, UK, and it was followed shortly thereafter by its Adopting Friend, MsHG ordering first the Grey Baby Koala ( to keep Sleepy company, and then the Brown one - because we're no longer making them, to conserve the faux fur for our Big Light Brown Teddy Bears (

Because Isobel has got involved in another craft recently, we've not been doing quite as much on the Coldham  Cuddlies front that is new for us to post about.  So, as our computer has also been out of commission today as far as Isobel is concerned (it's been being cleaned out, because there was too much stored on the hard disc), we decided we'd show you this picture of a recent Farewell Ceremony to start with - and then Isobel can take over from here to tell you about the new craft project.

Thank you Cy Bear:  good to be back with everyone and my apologies too for the late post this week.  Yesterday saw me otherwise occupied in family oriented activities (the First Communion of Clare and Alan's godson, followed by a family party) and it was just too late for any blog composition to take place.  

However, I thought I'd let you see how my time is being taken up with a change of craft - which my fellow residents and I hope will result in an injection of funds for our future entertainment.  The Tenants Committee spend time organising outings for us and - naturally - they cost.  So, the Housing Association who runs our complex encourages its residents to undertake independent activities.  While they do contribute some funds towards the cost of such events, they also encourage their tenants to raise their own funds independently.

A few weeks ago, a former resident, who still visits at our regular weekly Coffee mornings, mentioned she had a half-finished latch hook rug that she wanted to get rid of (she had started spring cleaning a bit earlier and needed more space in her current dwelling).  Apparently, the project had been started some 10-15 years ago, when she was living in Cyprus - although she had purchased the wool and canvas here in Kirkby-in-Ashfield either before she moved there, or during a visit home while she was living abroad.  In the interim, she'd lost interest in the rug and still couldn't motivate herself to finish it off.  She offered it to anyone in the room at the time who might like to take it over - with the Residents deciding what to do with the finished item.

I was the only person who had either ever made such a rug (in the 1960's, when I made one for an Aunt and Uncle's 40th Wedding Anniversary!), and I still had the latch hook among my craft tool store.  So, I volunteered to take it over - and three weeks or so later, the package duly arrived, together with the wool supplies she could find in her home.

This is half the rug, and the original crafter had done one side up to the middle white row.  The opposite side was not level, so I started out by working the other side to match.  However, during that exercise,  it rapidly became clear that there was not going to be sufficient green or white yarn for the project to be completed.  (Now anyone with any knowledge of matching yarns when one is actually involved in a project knows that a total match is not always possible - whether one knits, crochets or, as in in this case, hooks rugs.  When there's a 10-15 year break in the mix, the problem is definitely intensified.)  

So I set about seeing  how to  replenish my wool supplies to the point the project could be completed.  Our benefactor told me where she'd got the wool in the first place, so as the market stall was still in existence (although not necessarily in the same hands) I started there.  A total blank - the current stall holder does not sell rug wool any more, and couldn't remember ever having done so.  A similar result was achieved by visiting every haberdashery supplier in the immediate neighbourhood. 

So an internet search was begun and I discovered five or six likely candidates and started approaching them.  One was particularly promising, because not only did they sell rug wools, but they appeared to have a green that might be a good match - (or near-match) - AND they also supply the polyester fibre stuffing needed for the Cuddlies.  My current stock is dwindling, and their prices are very competitive with those I have been accustomed to pay previously in Wiltshire.  

So, having levelled the two sides of the rug, I decided to use the white wool (it's actually a creamy pink, until one has hooked it onto the canvas) and edged the whole pattern as I decided to change the pattern and use up the brown, rust and red colours, as well as the mixed greens,  in a different way. 

 Provided  get a reasonable match, I'm going to get more cream wool like the sample already received.  Although it's a lot more creamy than the original one - once mixed up together and latched I don't think it will look too peculiar, especially as there's going to be a different pattern (which will be revealed when the project is completed!)

The independent square shown in the second picture, is the replacement cream wool, which is also a little shorter than the original wool piece.  I've made this up, so that I can created a template - it's  approximately 10 mm square (4 inches) - which  will then be used on the blank canvas to calculate how many more packets of the creamy white wool I will need to complete the project. You can see that when it's made up, the colours are not that different where the cream is concerned. 

The green does have more of a difference, but it has been agreed by one and all (the progress is monitored with interest by my fellow residents!) that when complete, it should not look too bad - because it will look as though the colours have been deliberately chosen to look like that!!  (I do profoundly hope that indeed it will be so!)   The intention is to use up the colours in squares alternating with the cream background until the hole in the middle is filled.  I managed to do two green squares this afternoon - I'm planning on spending up to a couple of hours each afternoon until the thing is finished - and it's not looking too bad so far.

Meanwhile, the other tenants are debating how best to use the finished rug as a fund-raising tool - the cost of the replacement wool is being met half from the existing Tenants funds and the rest from the Cuddlies.  We've been offered a 10% discount on any purchases I make from the firm I located after the internet trawl.  

You will be updated - and meanwhile, this evening, as a bit of a respite, I've managed to almost complete the Tiger Prototype Puppet I've been working on, while waiting for the new pattern for Daniel Tiger to arrive from Tulsa.  Am hoping that will come this week, so that I can get on and finish that contract, and then get on with replacement Cuddlies - have got a lovely supply of new poplin fabrics for Lady Toys that I can't wait to make up.

Until then - Cy Bear and I will sign off, while wishing everyone a good week.