Sunday, 31 July 2016

News about a Special Day Trip, as well as our new Baby Mobile Project

Good afternoon Everyone - this week's bulletin is going to be a joint effort on Cy Bear and My part, and in two sections as it were.

Component parts for the New Baby Mobile Project - more below! 
Early in the week, Cy Bear was left  "on guard" in our flat while I joined Clare, Alan and GrandsonE on a day trip to a really special place - in our lives at any rate.  We drove nearly 300 miles - there and back in the day.  That distance for those of you in the States who are among our regular Followers - and other far flung places, is not that far.  Believe me, in the UK with our much narrower roads, and much heavier traffic (some of our motorways can resemble City Traffic in rush hour, all day at times) that distance is a TREK!

Our destination was the Shrine of St. Winefrede at Holywell, in Flintshire, North Wales.  So, not only did we do 300 miles, but we also visited another country at the same time!  St Winefrede has a well-deserved reputation for healing (in all its forms) and the Shrine is also known as the Lourdes of Wales.

St. Winefrede became a Saint by virtue of  being martyred - as most Saints are!  In her case, she had dedicated herself to God, but the son of the local Lord of the Manor at the time wanted her for himself.  She refused his advances, and in the presence of the local priest (who happened to be her Uncle) the thwarted young man cut off her head with his sword.  The priest picked up the separated head and placed it on the young maiden's neck, it "took", and St. Winefrede was saved.  She lived for at least another 25 years (in the 6th Century) becoming a well known and respected Abbess in the process.  Where the head fell, though, a spring appeared - and it has been "springing" ever since.

Over the years, people have visited the Shrine and it's one of the few religious sites in the UK  that survived the Dissolution of the Monasteries by Henry VIII  at the time of his argument with the Church in Rome.  The story goes that when the soldiers arrived to do their destructive best, they were warned "don't mess with St. Winefrede"- so they didn't!   A shelter was placed over the spring, which over the centuries has become what it is today - 

We went there on a coolish, Monday morning, and reached it in time to participate in the daily Prayers over a relic of St. Winefrede (not obligatory if one is seeking help of any kind, but one which we like to be able to attend when we go there). The congregation (numbering about 20 on the day we were there) stand around the Spring, which is clearly visible in both these photographs) and the services lasts about 10 minutes.  

The adults in our party all had their own  reasons for visiting the Shrine, and mine in particular was to repeat the experience of holding my increasingly arthritic hands under the tap which has been erected.  It saves one immersing oneself in the bathing pool one can see in this photograph (the water is very cold - as genuine spring water is, but it also enables visitors to take bottles of the water back home for use as and when needed.)  The tap is located just on the left of the photo below, and one can either pay for bottles from the Shrine's Shop - through which one enters the holy area - or one take's one's own bottles and fill them up (without charge) for use back home.

 This visit was the third time I had immersed my hands under the tap (having done it twice - at the beginning and end of our visit -  on the only other occasion I've been able to go three years ago).  The brave couple in the photograph were just attempting to put their feet in - and clearly weren't enjoying the experience.  Although when I showed them my improving hands, they were emboldened to carry on for a while more!

On both occasions I have experienced immediate relief from the swelling and discomfort associated with osteo arthritis, and look forward to a third visit ere long,  The story goes that if one goes three times, the sought-after cure can be permanent.  In between the two visits, though, I've been able to gain relief by sprinkling the contents of the bottled water collected on my first visit. (Clare and Alan and brought me back further supplies in the interim).  Not being too sure if one can say that two immersions in one trip equates to three different visits, I'll hope to be going back sometime in the future!.

This time too, though, I collected some small bottles from the Shop, filling them up to give to several of my fellow residents in Old Chapel Close.  Already one has told me she has had "the best night's sleep" she's had in months, so one does not have to be a Catholic - as my family and I are - to benefit from St. Winefrede's help.

Now over to Cy Bear for a brief update on matters pertaining to our Shop -

Hello there, Everyone!

Having completed the Blue Plush Monkeys we told you about in last weeks' bulletin, Isobel is now busy on another Baby Mobile project.  She's almost finished the four Toys which form the hanging bits:  she's still cogitating about the colour ribbon she will be using to cover the circular frame.  She's purchased some sea green satin ribbon to which the Fantasy Bears - as we're going to call them - will be attached.  Three of them are finished and ready for their ribbons:  the fourth just requires his/her second ear to be attached.  Allow me to introduce them to you.

Floral Print with a Apple Green background
Pink background with Blue and Red Floral print
White Backround, with Blue and Green Floral print
And here's the fourth Fantasy Bear - they've been made using the same pattern used for our Polar Bear Baby Mobile by the way. (

Another White Background, with  a Blue Floral print
Hopefully, we'll have the finished article to show you next week - so this is Cy Bear signing off on behalf of both of us.  Have a good week, Everyone!

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Blue Monkeys join the Coldham Cuddlies

Hello there Everyone - this is Cy Bear back again, with a relatively short post this week.

Isobel ended last week's bulletin with the news that we'd heard back from MsMH, who was interested in buying one of our Monkey Toys, as long as they were blue ones.  She indicated that she liked the look of what Isobel had done with the Blue Plush fabric we'd found in response to her enquiry.

It didn't take her long to finish off the third Blue Monkey toy and stuff all three of them.  She then picked the one she thought MsMH would like, embroidered a face on the head section, attached the ears  and then wrapped up the finished Toy.  However, before that final stage of preparation for the journey was done, one of our usual Farewell Pictures was taken, which can be seen below:

You can see just how small these little Toy critters are, in comparison with me!!!  Makes me look huge!  (Very different from when I sat beside Colin, the Giant Koala before he left for his Forever Home before Christmas last year!)

After being wrapped (first in chemical free tissue paper, and then with bubble wrap),  Blue Monkey was placed in a polyester mail envelope and Isobel posted it first thing on Tuesday morning - from the main Kirkby-in-Ashfield Post Office.  

The previous evening, the task of finishing the other two Blue Monkeys began, with the task being completed by mid-week.  While sewing these smaller Cuddlies takes Isobel about an hour and a half apiece, the finishing off can take at least another evening session when it comes to stuffing each toy and sewing the facial features.  Because they are small, their "fiddliness" makes it more difficult for Isobel's fingers to do them quickly these days.   (Ears still cause Isobel problems, and these Monkey versions are no exception).  

The two Blue Monkeys are going to be officially launched after this post is completed, when they will be listed for the first time in our Shop (  Here's what they will look like when that happens:

The two of them are standing on cushions in one of the chairs in the living room of our flat here at Old Chapel Close.

Because the blue plush fabric with which they are made is very shiny and soft, we were not able to get them to stand upright on the newly-found spot in the dining room (on top of the central heating radiator).  That has a gap between the back of the radiator and where it is fitted to the wall, and these guys kept slipping into the grove!!  (Not aided by the fact that the surface of the radiator is a shiny metallic one).

Here's what the rear view(s) look like, while here are a couple of shots showing each Monkey Toy individually:

As ever, although they've both been made using the same pattern as each other, they do look different, with one of them - the top one - being somewhat stouter than the other!  That's the point of a HAND MADE TOY - when compared with those that are mass-produced.  They are NEVER the same!

Isobel is now working on a new Baby Mobile offering - which hopefully we'll be able to reveal next time we meet.  Meanwhile, I'll close this week's blog by wishing every one a really great week - hope the weather is what you're wanting - wherever in the world you are reading this!

Till next time - your Friend, Cy Bear!

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Rabbit Head Shoe Ornaments - A New Product based on Old Friends

Hello there Everyone - Cy Bear beginning this edition:

Last week I believe Isobel did mention at the end of last week's bulletin, that she was experimenting like mad in making an ornamental rabbit clip-on for a lady's shoe.  She's been working on it all week, and finally got it done - and photographed fully - this afternoon.  So, I'll leave her to take over:

Thank you Cy Bear - and greetings to you all!

Here are the two rabbit heads awaiting their stuffing, having just had their eyes placed in situ - accompanied by the ears for each Head.  The pattern I used was that for all the Baby Rabbits (the Fleece variety can be viewed here  - .  By sewing  quarter-inch seams all around as opposed to the normal two-tenths I usually do, the heads are actually slightly smaller.  I cut off the pattern template at the under arm seams of the rabbit pattern - as well as leaving out the chest insert.  I felt there could be too much fabric to make a steady platform for the finished article.

We've moved on here to one of the Rabbits having had his head stuffed with our usual polyester fibre - meeting all international safety standards -  and then had the ears added, as well as the facial features (embroidered with black double knit yarn).

After a bit of research, I was advised that the hair clips originally purchased were not really what was needed.  They were too metallic and unforgiving for fitting on to a shoe - and I dread to think what the effect might have been had they come into direct contact with hosiery!  So, while wandering around our local department store, and chatting with an assistant in the craft area, I decided to go with these hair slides (barettes):  (Not unnaturally, they were to be found in a completely different section of the Shop - which is I why I'd not come across them before!!).

They were not expensive, and I decided to go with the ones on the far left.  They actually bend to open, and straighten out when fitted and are basically plastic on top with a very light metal clip on the bottom.  There doesn't seem to be that much of a problem if the clips do come into contact with bare skin  - or stockings for that matter.  If the customer does purchase these, I shall be enclosing the whole card with the Rabbit Head clip-ons - so the eventual user can ring the changes with whatever shoe colour she chooses.  (I do know it is intended for an adult  female - as opposed to a girl child!!).

Using one of my own slip-on shoes to demonstrate if they would attach satisfactorily, I took this snapshot to send to my potential Buyer - who still is "potential",  as opposed to being a definite customer! ( At the time this was taken, I was still working out how on earth I was going to fit the clip on under the head base!.)

Having slept on it, and fiddled about a bit, I eventually worked out the solution and we now have two heads, attached to a pair of my black court shoes (I don't have a brown pair at the moment) and have today sent the latest version to the client, with a request for a definite answer - Yay or Nay!!  Basically, I created a pocket (using seam binding) and sewed it on the underside of the neck area.  The plastic upper side of the Clip slides in and then the Head is attached to the shoe and the whole clip bent into the closed position. (It's not possible to permanently attach the head to the clip - doing so would prevent the clip performing it's clip-on activity.  NB: There are no guarantees as to how long the ornament will last!) 

(I'm beginning to think that this may end up as one of those wild goose chases that have occasionally happened to me in my Etsy journey since starting up in 2010 - but this time, unlike  Colin the Giant Koala - - at least the finished article is not as large or potentially costly to my "bottom line"!.  Good customer relations etiquette demands I follow through to the bitter end, however - and one never knows,  someone reading this post this afternoon might be interested - if the original Enquirer fails to materialise!)

Rabbit Head clip-ons - sans clips!

There seems to be a problem with my attempt to get in touch with MsMH as well.  She has actually ordered (and paid for) one of the Baby Monkeys - (last week, as you may recall, I was trying to find out if she really did want hers to be as depicted in our listing for the Monkey Nursery Mobiles - or in blue plush, as stipulated in the order itself)

Baby Mobile, Monkey Baby Toys, Animal Toy Mobile,  Monkey Mobile, Toy Animal Mobile, Childs Shower Gift, Cool Kids Mobile, Cool Cot Toy.

However, while I was browsing through the haberdashery department of our local store - looking for the clips -  I did find some rather pretty pale blue plush fabric (which had nearly run out!).

So I decided to purchase half a metre (leaving plenty of fabric for lots of baby monkeys, and other Pram or Cot Toy animals in future) and actually have cut out and sewn two models of a Pale Blue Plush Monkey version - which look like this at the moment.

(My apologies:  the quality of these last  photos are not up to normal, because I've just snapped them to illustrate this post).

 A third Blue Monkey needs to be given the same treatment, and then all will be stuffed and listed in time for next week's bulletin. The dispatch date for the order is actually 26th July, so I'm still well within the time-frame.  The Blue Monkey will be en route to Devon, UK by Tuesday of next week at the latest - having hopefully heard from MsMH!  It will be sent regardless, however, because that is what I have contracted to do!!

STOP PRESS:  This bulletin was actually drafted yesterday evening.  When I signed in this afternoon (Sunday), I received a message from MsMH, apologising for not "being on top of things"!  So, I've just sent her the snaps above, and asked her if she likes what she sees - saying her Baby Monkey  will be dispatched on Tuesday, 19th July.  Apparently, her friend's baby is due any day, and she is anxious to have something ready to present upon his arrival!!  So, after all this, it's now a question of who will arrive first- my Blue Baby Monkey (if the customer likes what she sees here) or her friend's Baby Son!!  Watch this space!!

Ah well -the ups and downs of Toy Making - and I  suspect much like the experience all us Crafters endure from time to time!!  However, lack of communication on the part of customers is definitely one of the frustrations with this pastime.  On this occasion, though, its especially so,  as both customers live somewhere in the UK and therefore might be contactable via telephone!

On the upside, though, if the Rabbits don't get accepted, by the end of next week, COLDHAM CUDDLIES will number 100 in total - the magic number towards which I have been working since 2012, when the Shop and this blog became a full time occupation for yours truly - after Peter died in the May of that year.  It will be great to have finally made it!!

So far, no joy on the Rabbit Head clip-on front though!!!

See you all next week, folks.  Your friend, Isobel - oh, and Cy Bear too!

Sunday, 10 July 2016

Two new ColdhamCuddlies Projects to be added to our Toy Shop

Hello there Everyone!  Good to be with you once more.

With Cy Bear enjoying a well-earned rest  from blogging duties, I've taken over to describe two more new Coldham Cuddlies projects which I've been working on recently.  They are due to be listed later today.

The first are some small Dark Blue and White Fleece Baby Rabbits - destined to join the existing Coldham Cuddlies Rabbit Burrow of Rabbit Pram or Cot Toys, all of them made in differing colours, and with either fleece or plush fabrics.

They've both been made in exactly the same way as all our previous Baby Rabbit Toys were, so no further descriptions are needed I feel.  Two of each version were made, because one each was intended to be included in our next Nursery Mobile project, which was completed last evening, while watching the highlights of this years' Ladies Finals at the Wimbledon Tennis Tournament

As this latest Mobile was intended to feature our Light Blue and White Fleece Baby Bunnies too, I made some extra self-colour versions and before embarking on putting the Mobile together, took this picture of the combined bunch of Blue Fleece Baby Rabbits.  My landlords have recently installed brand new, "whizzy" central heating radiators.  They are most convenient when it comes to providing a surface with a background that is not cluttered with books and other furniture to be found in my living-room.  

I know I've said previously that I am incapable of producing an exact copy of anything I make - and I think this last picture illustrates that pretty well!  All of Rabbit Toys are cut out from exactly the same pattern:  they just never turn out looking the same!  Despite the way they all slope in different directions here, if manipulated carefully, they will all sit straight.  I just "snapped" them in a line - so that I could make my point - and demonstrate the collection from which our new Nursery Mobile is created with.

There are not many protruding points in my apartment - general health and safety precautions see to that!  So, finding somewhere to use in order to illustrate the be-ribboned polystyrene circle used as the frame for the mobile can be difficult.  However, one of the living-room wall light brackets does fit the bill, as you can see from the picture above.  You're looking at the reverse side of the Mobile hanging loop, which actually looks like this.

The selected four rabbits then had yellow 3mm yellow satin ribbons attached around the neck.  

These ribbons are sewn in place, but should it be decided to detach the toys down the road, when their young person has out-grown their nursery decor, the ribbons can be easily removed.  The Nursery Mobile Project is enabling me to use up "left-overs" (from knitting baby clothes in yesteryear - when I did still knit) but it can mean that sometimes one has to improvise in order to get the right length of ribbon for the final mobile offering!  I happened to have short lengths of the yellow and some matching blue ribbon (to the frame), so decided to use both so that the finished article looks like this.

This afternoon, before I began this blog post, and while the sun made a brief appearance through the almost permanent cloud cover we are enduring for our summer this year, I took the finished Mobile outside to get a photo in daylight. Although it was particularly blustery, these two shots of the finished article were achieved.

So, that's it for this week folks.  The experimental Rabbit heads on clips is still that - but hopefully it will have been successfully concluded by the time next week's publishing session arrives. 

Meanwhile, the Baby Monkeys Cy Bear told you about last week are due to be en route sometime next week - once a clarification of exactly what our customer is seeking has been received.  The order is very plainly for a Monkey:  however, the client responded to my question last week, by saying that she was happy for me to choose which one to send her - as long as it was a blue toy.  (It's intended Forever Friend is still en route, but she wanted to give it a Blue toy!!)  I'm seeking to find out whether indeed she wants a customised Blue Monkey (quite possible, but it would have to be in fleece because I have no blue plush fabric in stock - although I'd be happy to look around to purchase some if that is indeed what is required.) There's time enough for both scenarios to be satisfied - as the suggested dispatch date for the order is not until 26th July).  I'll keep you posted!

Rabbit Mobile hanging from one of the hand rails in the garden of my home, in a less blustery spot!
Meanwhile, do hope everyone has a great week:  if you're on holiday, do trust the weather is co-operating.  Until next week -  when either of us (or indeed both of us) may be contributing to the next bulletin!


Sunday, 3 July 2016

New projects in the pipeline.

Hello Everyone!

Cy Bear back again, with apologies for absence last week-end.  However, you were warned that this might happen, so I'm not feeling as bad about it as I once would have done!

The family celebrations for Isobel's Grandson's 2nd Birthday and Baptism were fantastic - by report. Naturally, being a Beaver Lamb Bear, with duties to perform on the Coldham Cuddlies front, I do not get included in these events!  However, it did mean that not much sewing got done the previous week, so there was not much to write about either.

This week has not been that much better - but towards the end of it, Isobel did manage to begin new projects - largely as a result of two enquiries received during the week via our Shop  (  One is for an actual order for one of our recently produced Baby Monkeys:

One of the three pictured above will be travelling shortly to Buckfastleigh, Devon, UK shortly.  We're not sure which one - yet.  Isobel, when acknowledging the order, enquired whether our Customer would like to choose, or leave the selection to Isobel.  (We're doing this blog before checking if there has been a response, but in order to ensure no delays for sending the order from us this week, we decided to take a photograph - just in case the answer was in the affirmative).

The other enquiry is still just that - but as many Custom Orders begin in this way (but don't always finish with a firm order), we thought we'd tell you how we do these things - just in case anyone out there reading this post might be interested enough to follow through and maybe offer a Cuddly a new home as a result!!

MrAF (the Enquirer) wrote asking if we might be able to make a Rabbit Head small enough to go on a clip which could then be fixed to a shoe.   He phrased the question like this:

Are you able to make the head part as shoe clips at all even if made smaller so they are secure. I want the head to look like Peter Rabbit from the Beatrix Potter books let me know if possible. 

The example he used was this one:

Grey Rabbit Head Slipper,"Silver Fox" Unisex Plush Footwear,Made to Measure, Special Unisex Present,Unisex Footwear,Unusual Unisex slippers.

Now, as you know, Isobel is not much good without a specific pattern to work with, but it's obvious to anyone that the Rabbit Head on these Slippers would not be much good.  Also, using too small a pattern for a plush version like these Grey Rabbit Slippers might not be as successful as if they were made with fleece fabric, so she sent MrAF a link to these guys:

At the same time, she offered to experiment to see if it would be possible. (Her thinking is that by cutting the existing pattern a little smaller all round, together with the resulting seams, the head might not be too big for the final clip connection - especially where the ears are concerned.).   Current thinking involves cutting the pattern under the arms in an effort to create something resembling the photo sent back by MrAF , when he agreed that our Blue and White Baby Bunnies look promising, and providing a picture showing the colour he'd like.  

The pic sent to us by our Enquirer

Isobel responded by saying the her arthritic fingers might  not cope with trying to make such small clothing, but she'd like to experiment - not only to see if it would be possible, but also to be able to give MrAF an idea of the final cost involved.  The experiment has been sanctioned and we'e been given an idea of when the product is required (20th August, 2016).   

So, while Isobel continues with her next mobile project - using a mixture of  Blue Fleece Baby Rabbits this time around.  This means using the Baby Rabbits pictured above (and making some Dark Blue and White Baby Rabbits - shown here waiting to be stuffed)

Two versions of our proposed Dark Blue and White Baby Fleece Rabbits 
she's been cogitating the way forward for our Rabbit Head barettes (or hair slides as we know them in the UK).  Two of the hair clips shown on the card in this picture is one possible solution.  At least it's going to be attempted once the Rabbit Nursery Mobile is completed.  Isobel has cut out enough Dark Blue and White Rabbits so that they can not only be used for the new Mobile, but there will sufficient to list them as another member of the Coldham Cuddlies family (and get us nearer to the 100 Cuddlies target) at the same time.  (We're currently at 96!!). 

I'll end this now folks, so that Isobel can get down to brass tacks as soon as possible.  At least it's keeping her busy and out of mischief!!  See you next week - if Isobel can spare the time.  I'll try to make sure she does.

Your Friend, Cy Bear.

PS: Before I go - while editing this week's post Isobel has unwittingly found the solution to a problem that has eluded her to date - getting photographs that she has transferred from another site to remain in the centre of our post!  Hopefully, it will result in our future publications looking a whole lot tidier!!