Sunday, 31 January 2016

Two Cuddlies have new Forever Homes and there are Two Cuddlies to Introduce.

Hello Everyone!-

This is coming from Kirkby in Ashfield in Nottinghamshire, England, UK on a very wet and - so far at any rate - less windy afternoon.  We've had some terrible winds here in the UK (not not that bad around our flat fortunately.  When it does blow, the living room window rattles, and being on the top floor of the building, the effect is even more pronounced).  We're expecting another storm to blow in across the Atlantic Ocean tomorrow, so we're all hunkering down and keeping our heads down.

MrsPB from Warrington, Lancashire was as good as her word and earlier this week sent us several shots of our Yellow Plush Dressed Rabbit  the subject of the last two week's blog posts.  Here is our Rabbit getting to know her new friends, Daddy and Mummy Gingham Rabbit:

We were actually sent three pictures in all, but this one was the clearest when all the transferring photographs from Etsy,com. to Download file on this computer,  and then to here was accomplished. (The other two were a little out of focus).  It's interesting to see the difference in how they've come out - because our Yellow Rabbit is actually smaller - although all three are obviously based on a similar original pattern.  MrsPB said that so far she's not got a name but that "that will come in time"!

There's some great news to report about Barny Barn Owl - who, together with Ollie Owlet, a bunch of Hedgehogs and the other Yellow Plush Bunny were taken to be displayed at The Ark Book Shop in Kirkby for the first time at the end of last week.  Isobel had about 10 minutes to spare on Wednesday morning - after doing some of her weekly shopping in the local supermarket - and dropped in to see how things were going (and to check that the Cuddlies had been behaving themselves, too!)  She was delighted to learn that Barny was purchased and taken home on Saturday (the day after he'd arrived).

Barney Barn Owl,Stuffed Toy Owl,Beige Faux Fur Cuddlie,Cool Toddlers Toy,Collectable Adult Toy,Cool Toy for Tots,Easter Present or Gift.

We're not sure which of these two pictured is the one who is in his new home, but I'm delighted to be telling you about his good luck.  Isobel's arrangement with MrsSQ, our contact in The Ark Bookshop, is that she'll keep dropping in, and once a month, they'll meet.  The money from any sales will then be given to Isobel -minus the agreed 20% commission for the display space.  When visiting the Cuddlies on Wednesday last week, they'd already been moved from the back of the Shop to a shelf in one of the Shop's front windows!  (So,..... watch this space!).  None of us expected quite such a fast result.  (In case you were wondering:  a branch of the Cuddlies bank is situated just across from The Ark Bookshop, so it's just a hop, skip and a jump for Isobel to be able to pay any funds in straight away!)

Isobel has not been feeling as well as normal this week, and hasn't ventured outside the flat too much as a result.  But it has meant that she's been able to do quite a lot of sewing - as well as doing a lot of admin. work for the Shop.  All 89 items in it are having their tags(labels) changed - from references to Christmas (which is now over, of course) to some new ones referring to Easter - be it gifts, presents, bunnies/rabbits or eggs (although to date, we don't feature the last item - though one never knows!).  She's about a third of the way through, and is re-reading the descriptions for each Toy as she checks the item, so it's something that cannot be rushed.

However, we now have two examples of two new Cuddlies - listed last week-end, but yet to be described to you.  They are currently sitting in one of the chairs in the Living room, waiting for the third member of the trio to be completed.  So, meet Sybil Grey Squirrel
and her cousins, Cyril Red Squirrel
The felt acorns are currently "fixed" in place with velcro and are a little fragile.  However, as they are an "additional" item, and not really part of the Toy, when they go to their Forever Homes - hopefully before too long - the"decorative items" can easily be removed and each toy then becomes a cuddly armful for a new Forever Friend.  (Mind you, that might change ere long:  the acorns keep becoming unstuck from one or other Squirrels'  front paws, and Isobel could well get fed up with putting them back in place - before that happens!)

There is already one Black version made (to be called Basil Black Squirrel ) but waiting for his nut to be fashioned, and to have some facial features added.  Isobel normally uses black double knitting wool to produce these facial features on all us Cuddlies, but when one has a completely Black Squirrel, she's debating how to sew them in such a way that they can be seen, but not stand out too much.  By next week, hopefully, the problem will have been satisfactorily solved.

So, until then - this is Cy Bear (Cy does stand for Cyril, too - but as you all know I'm Cy Bear to all of you, My Very Good Friends).  In our Red Squirrel's case, not only was Sybil named first (by a lady who attends the same Mass at St.Barnabas Cathedral in Nottingham as do Isobel and The Family, but she also suggested Cyril - because "he looks like a Cyril"!  Who am I to argue? (Basil Black Squirrel has got his name, because it goes well with the other two!)

See you all next week - Cy Bear signing off:

Sunday, 24 January 2016

Moving onwards - in all directions.

Hello again, Everyone.

I am very pleased to be able to tell you that the Yellow Plush Rabbit we spoke about last week as being en route to St. Helens, Lancashire  duly arrived, because we got a message back from MrsPB that the Traveller had arrived and was "already becoming a favourite".  We've been promised a picture for this blog, hopefully being taken some time this week-end.  When it arrives, we'll include it in a future post.

Now back to the production of our Yellow Plush Rabbits - with their new feature:  ear linings that match the fabrics of their dresses.  The idea is taken from the two sample Rabbit photos provided by MrsPB when she gave us her Order in December, 2015, and it's one that may well become a regular feature in future Coldham Dressed Rabbits - (does make a bit of a change from the usual brown satin linings, don't you think?)

Anyway, having made the pantaloons for both Girls - and added a white lace edging to each pair of legs - Isobel then went on to make the two dresses.  This is done by gathering up the fabric and arranging the pleats evenly around the Toys' waists and then sewing the skirt in place.  Before she does that though, we attach a "Coldham Cuddlies" embroidered label to the back seam of the skirt.  It gives our Toys some provenance, and putting it inside the skirt is a discreet spot to do it. 

To give the skirts their individual look(s), Isobel attaches two rows of ric rac trim to each dress, by embroidering them to the fabric with individual French knots.  The skirts then look like this.

Then we fit the bodice on to the Rabbits' bodies (to which each Toys' arms have already been sewn in).  The combined bodice/arm structure is then fitted over the gathered dress waistlines and attached to the skirt with invisible hem stitching, so that they now appear like this:

Having completed the front of the dress, we must not forget the all important Rabbits' bobtails. These are placed at the back of each frock, just under the waistline and sewn on firmly,  They have to withstand a fair bit of pulling, as being fluffy, it's understandable that the Forever Friends of our Rabbits are drawn to playing with them - they are so soft to touch!

Then we cut out and make the aprons, this time made with polyester fabric, which proved to be a little tricky for Isobel's fingers to handle easily.  We only got a small supply of the fabric this time around, and she doesn't think she will be using it again, because it's very slippery to handle, and doesn't really like being stitched with anything.  Putting on the individual patch pockets (which match each dress) was quite an undertaking.  (Next time around, she'll be looking out for organdie - or some similar material, which isn't quite so slippery).

The the final touches include sewing on the Heads - which have already been made with ears attached, and the eyes and facial features added,

and then, last, but by no means least, the apron is made,   Isobel created a waistband for both Rabbit Girls using blue satin ribbon and tied it to fit under the Rabbits' tails.  Previously, we used to sew the apron in place, but this time around - with a firm, juicy-look carrot in the pocket of each Toy - Isobel decided to allow the Forever Friend (or Mum) to untie it (a sort of undress feature) so that the Toy is more cuddlesome.  They thus ended up looking like this, minus the carrot:

and then finally ended up looking like this (as you all saw, if you read our post last week!)

So, what has happened to the remaining Yellow Rabbit you may be wondering.  Well she is now displayed on a high shelf at the back of another small shop in Kirkby in Ashfield.  A couple of weeks ago, Isobel was approached by a lady called MrsSQ, who works in a bookshop, which specialises in selling books - mainly childrens' religious material, and also music videos and odds and ends.  She is anxious to increase the shop's footfall, and while both Isobel and MrsSQ were having their hair done two weeks ago, she learned about us Cuddlies (as ladies apparently do when they're doing such activitiesand asked if she could have some to use in her shop windows and on shelves too.  

Now, our arrangement with "The Artful Buttoner" is due to come to an end in a couple of months, and although Isobel has been happy to be associated with them - and may well continue to be in future (but only for the smaller Cuddlies - like the Baby Bunnies, and Baby Koalas - and any other small toys that may appear in our online Shop, we're going to see what happens when some of us Bigger Cuddlies - like the Foxes, Big Koalas and Frogs - and our new Red and Grey Squirrels (as well as the Black ones, when they're made) grace the shelves of "The Ark Bookshop".  Over the coming weeks, the bigger Cuddlies still on display in "The Artful Buttoner" will be coming back (Isobel will be bringing them back in the shopping trolley each time she is in Kirkby). 

We now have no Baby Bunnies  in stock here at home in the flat.  Those we did have were taken to "The Artful Buttoner" during the week, as the basket in which they tend to stand was literally down to the last four!  So guess what Isobel will be doing in the coming weeks - making lots of Baby Bunnies of one colour variant or another.  That's after she's made some Black Squirrels, to join the Red and Grey Squirrels that have just been listed in our Shop earlier this afternoon, together with Yellow Plush Rabbit we've talked about here. (I'll  post about them next week, maybe - or very soon, anyway).   She's also got to make another Daddy Hedgehog to replace the one sold from "The Artful Buttoner" in December - so there's no excuse for her to be sitting idly in her arm chair each evening - whether watching TV (not often these days, because there's not much to interest her at the moment) or listening to Classic FM on the radio - which she thoroughly enjoys. 

Not only does "The Ark" sell books, but there is space in the Shop for three or four tables, where coffee and biscuits can be consumed - and it's very conveniently situated not far from the 'bus stop Isobel uses to get to and from Kirkby on a very regular basis.  Although the service is very good (normally), there can be times when there is a bit of a wait before the next vehicle arrives, so it's good to be able to drop in, keep warm and meet more local customers in comfortable surroundings.  A group of Hedgehogs, Yellow Plush Rabbit on the Left, and our two Owls, Barny, the Barn Owl  and Ollie the Owlet are now sitting on the shelf overlooking the counter at the back of "The Ark," and I'll keep you posted as to how things happen (or not!) as the case may be.

Hopefully, there will be something more to tell you about the Hedgehogs soon - although we did send off the two cheques I mentioned last week, on Friday of this week.  We actually managed to send even more than the £10-£15.00  each I mentioned last week - I'll tell you more next time around.

Until then, have a great week Everybody.  

Your Friend.  Cy Bear.

Sunday, 17 January 2016

Apologies for Absence - Computer Malfunction the Cause

Greetings once again, Folks.

Cy Bear back again, after a couple of weeks of enforced silence.

 After the trip to Buckinghamshire, the computer on which Isobel communicates with the outside world - both on behalf of us Cuddlies and herself - began to stick (or rather the space bar - whatever that is - did).  Apparently that impaired her ability to type as fast as she is wont, so a trip to the nearest Supplier's shop was organised.

 It also coincided with the fact that the machine hadn't had its regular annual Health Check since it arrived with us almost 3 years ago, and with the warranty on it being due to run out in March 2016, Isobel decided that if that fault, and one with the microphone (which hasn't worked for ages) were non-repairable, she'd be more than happy to consider a completely new machine (having had a lot of trouble with the current implement since its arrival).  Following a visit (enabled by daughter Clare giving Isobel and the machine a lift to and from the shop premises), the computer duly spent 8 days being checked over and repaired and was duly returned with a full functioning Bill of Good Health.

Isobel,  while delighted to be re-united with the machine, (she'd had time-limited access to the internet via the local library computers in the interim, but was inhibited from doing EVERYTHING  she normally does each day for us Cuddlies) she does admit to being a teeny bit disappointed that the delinquent machine does seem to be behaving itself - AT THE MOMENT!  She has yet to test the microphone - and there's still 2 months left on the warranty if it doesn't!!!

Now when I left this blog on 3rd January, I'd been telling you about the new Yellow Dressed Rabbit girls Isobel was working on:  it's great to be able to tell you that today's bulletin is going to carry on the story - and may well take a couple of posts to do so.

The Yellow Rabbit story is now complete with the chosen Rabbit dispatched yesterday to St. Helens in Lancashire, UK.  The Rabbit shown on the right of the picture below is the one that is en route:

That's not where Yellow Rabbit (YR) will actually live - which is in Warrington, Cheshire.  The destination address is presumed to be where her Daddy works and where a signature can be obtained when the parcel arrives - allegedly on Monday this week.

This what these two Lady Rabbits look like from the rear:

This time around, (because there was some discussion when the project was under discussion at the beginning of our conversation with MrsPB), Isobel has made the apron so that it can be easily detached should YR's Forever Friend find the carrot in the apron pocket impedes full "cuddle access". The carrot itself is only sewn in lightly, so that could be removed if it is decided to leave the apron in situ.

So, how did the process proceed:   to get from the pictures at the end of our last post on 3rd January - to the finished items shown here?

Well, first of all, the bodies of both Rabbit Toys were stuffed:

All Coldham Cuddlies Lady Dressed Toys (be they Rabbits, Foxes, Coyotes or what have you) are made to sit down.  However, if the fabric used for their dresses is strong enough, and there's a convenient cushion, wall or background against which they can be propped, they can be made to stand - for photography purposes, anyway.

The next stage in production is to attach the shoes - from the photographs of MrsPB's two Rabbit Toys,  (also included in our earlier post) it appears that who ever made them, used the shoe pattern to make plush feet to match the head, paws and legs for those two Toys.  This is what the 2016 Coldham YR versions now look like.

Following the provision of  shoes, the next stage was to make the pantaloons for both Toys.  This time around, Isobel used some pale blue shiny poplin fabric she had in stock, and added white lace trimming to the bottom of each leg on both Toys.  The pants were then gathered and fitted around the "ankles" of each Rabbit, using pale blue embroidery yarn, with all six strands, to achieve the gathered finish.

Then the next stage is to start making the individual dresses........

I'm going to leave you all in suspense for another week - just in case, the negotiations regarding the Tiggywinkles blog project take longer to complete than we hope (or indeed, if permission to use our pictures is refused).  That outcome is not really expected - because Isobel intends to write about Tiggywinkles in exactly the same way as she does here (and helps me to do as well, of course).  But. these matters can never be taken for granted, and we have to be prepared for that outcome.

We've yet to get in touch with our contact at Tiggywinkles about being able to describe what it's like at that establishment - and to use the pictures in our camera to do so.  There didn't seem to be much point  - without a functioning computer for one thing:  also, each time we'd attempted to telephone our contact there, she was not in the office.  So, that is one of the first things we're hoping to get done this coming week.

Meanwhile, I can tell you that Isobel has amassed another £10-15.00 GBP for both Tiggywinkles and West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue since we sent our initial £25.00 each in November.  Not that we have sold THAT many Hedgehog Toys since then, although we've found new homes for several in that time.  But, we've been generously supported by those who have purchased any COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toys over the Christmas period as well.

In the Shop's shipping policies, Isobel tells would-be Buyers that she does over-estimate the possible shipping costs.  She'd much prefer to send a refund if the payment exceeds the actual cost - and it's a modus operandi that has proved acceptable to ALL our customers.   Now, the news of our effort to try to save the UK Hedgehog population is spreading - via the Etsy Teams Isobel works with as well. Since the Hedgehog Project began therefore, Isobel has suggested that our customers, together with Friends and Followers  - ALL of whom have given written support for her attempts to date - that instead of the refunds being sent back, they consider allowing Isobel to add the surplus shipping charges to the ColdhamCuddlies Hedgehog fund raising scheme.   (Naturally, if they'd prefer not to do so, the refunds will be returned - as in the past).

To date not one of our customers has refused - which is why, when Isobel gets around to adding up the funds, there could well be even more than £10-15.00 GBP winging its way to each Hedgehog Hospital.  I'll let you know next week!

Early in the New Year, our original Brown Daddy Hedgehog was offered a new home by Mrs LH of Marshall, North Carolina, U.S.A.  Before he left, the usual Farewell photographing ceremony took place -

Yesterday, we learned that he had arrived safely - and that he is currently sitting in MrsLH's work room, supervising her production efforts.  She is considering allowing her young grandson to play with him when they next get together!  (MrsLH is a fellow member on one of  Isobel's Etsy Teams - and her work can be seen by clicking here

The news of our effort to try to save the UK Hedgehog population is spreading - via the Etsy Teams Isobel works with as well.

Until then - have a great week Everybody.  Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Happy New Year = New Beginnings and New Cuddlies

Hello Everyone!

Cy Bear back once again, and delighted to be with you all. Sitting on Isobel's bed while she gallivants about the country gets a bit boring,   However 2016 is looking like being an a exciting time to be involved with the Coldham Cuddlies - and I'm looking forward to sharing it with you all.

First off,  we're in the process of making a completely new version of our Lady Rabbit Dressed Toy.  Just before Christmas, we received an enquiry from MrsPB asking if we could make a Rabbit like Jemima Rabbit, shown below

Stuffed Jemima Brown Bunny Toy Plush Rabbit Girl Toy Collectable Gift Sea Green Poplin  Frock Orange Carrot (opt) Christmas Present
She actually wanted a finished Toy to resemble an existing Family Rabbit Toy and sent us this picture.

Now you can all see that this Boy Dressed Rabbit closely resembles the pattern for our own Gentleman Rabbits, so Isobel responded that she'd be happy to do so.  As the Rabbit she was enquiring about was due to be a Christmas Present for her daughter, Isobel sent links to three of our existing dressed girl rabbits, including Jemima, who was MrsPB's ultimate choice because the short time period left between our original contact and  approaching Christmas postal deadlines were almost non-existent. Getting a brand new Toy, which didn't have a yellow plush head and paws was not a viable Christmas option - given that Isobel normally seeks between 3-4 weeks from receipt of order to the date of it being dispatched.

We were not optimistic that we would keep the order as a result, but were delighted to hear back from MrsPB she had decided to go with a new Lady yellow plush version, and with the convo came this picture of her version, called Mummy Rabbit.

Now that just confirmed to Isobel that indeed the same basic pattern for both MrsPB's rabbits and ours had been used - with the maker's changes incorporated. 

So when Christmas was over, and Philippa had delivered Isobel back home at the beginning of last week, preparations started which hopefully will result in not one, but two new versions of the Yellow Lady Rabbits coming to fruition.  Isobel had some blue gingham in stock (which matched the Boy Rabbit's shirt and Mummy Rabbit's dress) and suggested MrsPB might also like to consider a version using a rather pretty blue floral fabric\(as children don't normally like to look exactly like their parents, do they?), which we had used for one of our recent Dressed Lady Wolves - shown below

Stuffed Wolf Toy Called Betty Cuddly Grey Plush Blue Floral Poplin Frock Ltd Edition Child or Adult Companion Gift Christmas Present

The final decision has yet to be made, of course, but starting last Wednesday, Isobel has cut out two sets of Lady Rabbits, together with most of their respective clothing items.  We've still got to cut out and sew the pantaloons and aprons for the Rabbit toys, but so far this is what they are likely to look like.

The Floral Fabric version

The Gingham check version.
This afternoon, when preparing to do this post, while she was fiddling around in order to transfer these pictures from the Etsy convo site (which is different from the Etsy Shop listing site), she noticed that the MrsPB's rabbit's legs have the same plush pattern as head and front paws, whereas, of course, Isobel has cut out and made shoes to match the dress at the moment. 

 She's already sent copies of the progress to date to MrsPB, so when we've finished this post today, she will naturally be contacting her to see if she want paws or shoes on the final version of 2016 Yellow Plush Rabbit.  Whichever one doesn't get sent to Lancashire, England, UK will be joining the rest of the Coldham Cuddlies Rabbit population - and probably will be listed as our 2016 Easter Bunny!

I know:  we've only just finished with Christmas, but like all the other outlets, we cannot be left behind.  Easter is early this year, so Isobel tells me, so the quicker we get on and get some more Rabbits - in stock, as well as for replacements at "The Artful Buttoner" - the better.

We've not forgotten our Hedgehogs - but we've still got to get official clearance to be able to use the photographs Isobel took when visiting StTiggywinkles Hospital while she was staying with Philippa.  We've decided to wait until this week - when everyone gets back to normal working schedules - before we send a draft of post about the visit, as it is unlikely that anyone who could give us that permission would be back at work before January 4th.  (So it's a good thing we've had the new Rabbits to post about, because we'd have struggled to produce a bulletin this week otherwise!)

So, with that, I'll leave you for this week.  Hope you're all well and ready for a New Year - doing whatever you do, where ever you live and work.   See you all soon. 

Your Friend - Cy Bear.

PS:  The differing positions for pictures here also illustrates the differences between the two Etsy sites!  Isobel still has difficulty with some technical issues when posting on this blog.  Hope it doesn't irritate you - as much as it irritates her!