Sunday, 23 July 2017

Replacements underway - plus some recent Cuddlies relisted in our Shop

Greetings everyone - Cy Bear back again!

After a busy week doing lots of retagging and retitling, ColdhamCuddlies due to be renewed during the week, have been re-listed - on a daily basis.   Isobel wants to find if regular, daily changes in our Shop will really attract the attention that "the experts" (whomever, and wherever, they are/come from) say is a "must do" activity when engaged in on-line selling.  We've got a batch of Toys in this twilight area at the moment, so we're going to be able give the statement a real try-out.

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/542358637/grey-plush-rabbit-dressed-rabbit
Graham Grey Rabbit (he's also listed as Graham GRAY Rabbit - to include the different spelling of the colour around the world) was one of the first to receive the new "treatment".  He's a cuddly toy with lovely soft furry plush fabric for head and paws, and a green velvet jacket.  When we first began selling toys in 2010, Isobel used to christen some of us Toys with human names.  Then she stopped doing it (have not got a clue why!) but she's decided to give it another go. Graham Grey Rabbit is now safely registered in the shop until 18th November, 2017 - unless or until he finds his Forever Home earlier!.   (Obviously, our Toys may have a name in our Shop - when they find their Forever Homes, it's entirely the choice of their new Friends whether or not to re-christen their new toy, or keep our name.)  


https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/528544324/yellow-plush-teddy-bear
One of my particular friends is this Yellow Plush Teddy Bear - although made with exactly the same pattern as all of us Coldham Cuddlies Bears, this young fellow looks a little smaller all around. That's because the rest of the Teddies in our Shop are made with faux fur and this chap uses Yellow Plush fabric - and there can be a distinct difference in pile thicknesses between the different materials. Both varieties are as soft and cuddly as each other - and I am proud to call them all my Friends.   (Not sure why, but Isobel doesn't give us Bears names:  all except me that is.  I'm told the reason I got mine, when I was first made, is because Peter decided I reminded him of one of their neighbour friends when they lived in West Lancashire.  We'd all moved to Wiltshire by that time!).  In the Shop, Yellow Ted has booked his place until 19th November, 2017.  Do hope he finds his Forever Home soon - he'll make someone a really good companion when they choose him.

Before showing off more relisted Toys, Isobel thought you'd like to see how the Baby Hedgehogs are made - because I did mention last week that some replacements were urgently needed.  She cut out two more on Monday afternoon - during what has become a weekly chatting session among our fellow residents. Since then, each evening, she has sewn and completed one new Toy, and today took some snap shots of the second one - before putting it together later this evening, or during tomorrow's Old Chapel Close crafters' meeting.

 (Originally, the gathering  was known as the "Knit and Natter" session:  but, alas, as months have passed, knitting has ceased to be the main focus, and nattering has gathered momentum.  This is largely because the former knitters have ceased to attend, or there is now no demand for their output:  but Isobel has always gone each week, because she found it a good time for her to concentrate on us Cuddlies, and she always gets useful tips whenever she talks to her fellow crafters.  Most are older than she is, and one is actually 97 - and still knits, when her particular items (fingerless mittens) are in demand.).


Here's the first replacement Baby Hedgehog - placed on the first page of the original Hedgehog pattern that Isobel uses to create these Toys.


Here's the face, and four legs, of the second Baby Hedgehog, with the latter items still waiting to be stuffed.  The face piece has had the eyes and nose fitted in place, and needs to be attached to the body when that has been sewn together and stuffed.

That is shown below - while it is still having the grey plush base being attached to the back/side pieces made with the "Laughing Owl" faux fur fabric.  It gives an idea of what the "wrong" side of the fabric looks like, before it is prepared for the Toy to be stuffed.



I'll finish off with the completed new Baby Hedgehog looking at his potential companion Toy:


With luck and a following wind (Sundays are always busy days for Isobel - especially having to fit in our weekly post into all her other activities for that day of the week), these Toys will be ready for listing in our Shop - actually just joining the one already listed to be really truthful - by end of play on Monday of this week.  (She might take some photos of the three of them together, too).




Here's our Unique item,Winston Wombat - 3-Way Pajama/Pyjama/Nightdress Case, Hot Water Bottle Cover or just a Wombat Toy Decoration for some one's Bedroom.  Thanks to the additional 5 pictures Isobel is now allowed for every listing in the Shop, she has been able to show pictures of what Winston looks like when he's acting as a Bed Adornment (this picture).  The pillow is made with the same calico sheeting fabric we use for the bodies of our Dressed Lady and Gentlemen Foxes, Wolves, Coyotes and Rabbits.


Then, Winston Wombat looks like this when he is acting as a Hot Water Bottle Cover:  (you can see the furry tail has a felt lining, and is ready for the Bottle Head to be placed into it before being placed in the bed.  The tail can also be faux fur on both sides - Buyers can let Isobel know which version they want, when they order their Winstons.)




Winston then could look like this when he's waiting to be used as a Nightdress Holder (or Pyjama/Pajama cover), without any stuffing in at all.



Or he could look like this, with the pillow inside.




Whichever way, Winston Wombat now looks forward to an undisturbed future in the Shop - until 21 November 2017.

(Now, to be strictly truthful, although we've shown you all these different views of Winston here, we actually don't have a model in stock.)  He only takes Isobel three to four days to make from scratch - and since space in our flat is limited, and the Toy storage bag even more so, as Winston takes up quite a lot of room whenever he's alive, he's now just listed in our Shop - and hopefully, we'll be called upon to make several more before too long!  The last version went to a gentleman in Lancashire earlier this year, who wanted one as a birthday present for his wife.  Winston has been given as Christmas presents to family friends' children too, as well as a present for the Mother of another client - so he's a gift for all ages, whenever he is chosen as a COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toy.

I think I've rattled on quite long enough for this week's installment.  I'll end with a wish to everyone for a really great week, and look forward to telling you next week - about what has happened in the intervening period.

Your Good Friend,

Cy Bear.

Sunday, 16 July 2017

A Major ColdhamCuddlies Milestone- here's our 400th Post.

Greetings Everyone - from both Cy Bear and Myself. 


 
(Isobel here)  I've given Cy Bear the task of presenting this post, because he's such an amazing contributor to both the blog and to the way in which COLDHAMCUDDLIES operates.   While co-author here,  he is also the Shop Mascot and as such, takes part (when I remember) in the ritual Farewell Ceremonies set up for Cuddlies as they prepare to leave for their Forever Homes.  When he's not doing that - he sits guard over the Cuddlies in store whenever I'm not at home.  (Not bad for a "reject" - because of sharp limb seams at the start of the Coldham enterprise, is it?) 

As befits milestones such as this, we've been reminiscing over the years since https://www.ColdhamCuddliescalling first began publishing about how our COLDHAMCUDDLIES Toys are made, stories about visits I've taken - when tales of the Toys are in short supply - and between us we've decided to highlight two lines we offer - Dressed Rabbits: and the subject of our main charitable enterprise - Hedgehogs.  (We have also supported branches of the Royal British Legion and the Royal Canadian Legion in the past - and will do so as and when appropriate conditions are met in future - such as sales to Canadian destinations when they occur!)

(Cy Bear taking over)  Starting with Rabbits - we are particularly proud of this one - Jubilee Rabbit -



We want to remind you (as we've reminded ourselves) about what happened in 2012 when Jubilee Rabbit became a slight celebrity among the Cuddlies  (if not elsewhere!).  She was made specially to represent the Heytesbury Branch of the Ladies Section of the Wiltshire Royal British Legion - and ended up with Isobel being awarded first prize for a "Handmade Toy - Knitted or Material" in the county-wide Handicraft and Produce Competitions. The Heytesbury Ladies often did well in these annual competitions, but in 2012 with Jubilee Rabbit's help, they won 1st Prize for the number of prizes they accumulated - but had to share the Cup awarded that year with another branch who won the same number, but not just in the handicraft sections!




Here's additional evidence of the prize awarded for Isobel's handiwork:




We've not made a duplicate of  Jubilee Rabbit - because even though she did so well for everyone,  it was  a condition of entering the competition, and understood, that after the competition she would be donated to raise funds for the Royal British Legion (who do immensely valuable work supporting disabled ex servicemen and women - and their families).  We didn't think it was appropriate for us to make another one exactly like her - especially as she was also made to celebrate the Diamond Jubilee of the Queen, which was also celebrated that year. 

(The nearest equivalent now on sale in our Shop, is Jemima Rabbit - who has been a popular Bunny and found Forever Homes in several place in the UK -

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/112432364
You can see the other Dressed Rabbits on sale in our Shop if you click on this link 
- https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/COLDHAMCUDDLIES?ref=seller-platform-mcnav&section_id=7940398

When Isobel began publishing and making Friends with all our Followers, in March 2011, we had a modest 25 different Cuddlies on offer - and the blog was started as a way to explain to you all, as well as anyone else interested, how us Cuddlies come into existence and become Handmade Cuddly Toys - suitable for anyone, at any age, no Upper Limits or Genders set!  Now we are proud to announce that we have 107 different versions of COLDHAM CUDDLIES, and we also produce Novelty Slippers and Golf Club Covers as well, so it is obviously not possible to tell you about everyone we want to find Forever Homes for.  We just happen to have a lot of Rabbits, in various formats, so they were an obvious choice for this particular post.

Over the years, since Isobel first acquired the pattern for our Family of Hedgehogs,

The current models of our Hedgehog Family

they too have been very popular COLDHAMCUDDLIES - and have found homes all over the UK, as well as in Alabama and Port Washington, USA to name some overseas destinations too. 


In 2015, Isobel became aware of the plight of UK Hedgehogs, who were disappearing at an alarming rate (and still are!).  She's always been a lover of these particularly endearing wild animals, so since 2015, we have supported two Hedgehog Rescue Hospitals in the UK and so hope we can help to save these prickly wild folk from complete extinction.  

So using the Hedgehog Toys we first started with - 

Original Mummy Hedgehog

Original Baby Hedgehog

Original Daddy Hedgehog

Isobel decided to donate 10% of every Hedgehog Toy sold (whether singly, or as a Family) to two Hedgehog Rescue Centres in the UK - so that they can continue with their important work.

One of these hospitals is Tiggywinkles Hedgehog Trust (www.Tiggywinkles.com), who are based in Haddenham, UK which is only about 10 miles from where daughter Philippa lives - so Isobel does try (if the weather is kind, and the crowded schedule permits) to visit that site whenever she can.   To begin with, the other selected entity has been West Midlands Hedgehog Rescue, which is based outside Birmingham, in the UK West Midlands - and was the first Hedgehog Hospital Isobel found on the internet, having been alerted to their work by a friend (and Hedgehog customer) - based in Mobile, Alabama!!  (Isn't it a small world!). To date, the two hospitals have shared approximately £75.00 each (approximately $98.00 USD).  

When we moved from Wiltshire in 2014 (where we had access to the furry fabric our original Hedgehogs were made with), we had to look for alternative supplies for future Hedgehog Toys. Incredibly, we found that the actual manufacturer of the original fabric (now no long produced by them alas) are actually located in the same Town we now live in.  Isobel went to see whether they could help us - when the original fabric ran out;   They suggested a line they currently produce called "Laughing Owl" and our current Hedgehog Toys now look like this:

The Hedgehog Family wondering if any food is about, maybe?
They don't look quite as authentic as did our original Toys, but they are equally as cuddly, and are as popular with our customers as were the brown ones.  People who have seen them in their current guise have no trouble in recognising them as Toy Hedgehogs (and Isobel tells me that other Toy Hedgehogs, can come in all sorts of different colours - and be knitted, as well as sewn - and be equally as acceptable as our original ones!).    

The above photograph is bang up to date - because it is among several taken just this afternoon in our garden, with this one using an authentic "Hedgehog Igloo" as background - which we've discovered to be unoccupied at the moment.  Isobel has recently joined another Hedgehog Rescue site via Facebook (what ever that is!) called Prickles Hedgehog Rescue (https://www.facebook.com/groups/381330938572946) and through that site has actually met two other ladies - who are equally obsessed with Hedgehogs (and have several Prickly visitors each evening - Hedgehogs only come out at night, I've been told) and they meet every two weeks for a cup of coffee and a chat - about Hedgehogs of course, but about lots of other things too!  (They have helped Isobel buy the products needed to create a Hedgehog Feeding Station and House, plus food and eating implements - which are shortly to be erected in daughter Clare's garden.  GrandsonE - whose recent birthday present from Granma these items were - and Isobel are going to see if they can attract a family of Hedgehogs into these houses.  It's never too early to learn how to look after wildlife!).

We currently have these 2 Daddy Hedgehogs in the Shop.

The West Midlands hospital is a bit difficult for Isobel to get to without a car, so in the past few days, she's decided that from henceforth, Tiggywinkles will continue to get their share of the 10% of Hedgehog Toy sales in future, and Prickles Hedgehog Rescue  receive the other half of the sales price.  Prickles is located in Cheddar, Somerset (yes - the same place where Cheddar Cheese originates from) which is only about 25 miles away from where we used to live in Wiltshire.  


So, earlier this week, using funds that have built up over recent months  in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES bank account (still based in Warminster, Wiltshire, incidentally!) cheques for another £40.00 (approx. $52.40 USD) were posted to both Hospitals.  


These three Mummy Hedgehogs - in stock now - are looking ever hopeful!
The donations Isobel collects don't all come just from the 10 percent  from sales of the Hedgehog Toys.  Customers often qualify for small refunds on shipping overcharges (Isobel likes to calculate those high:  then any unannounced increase in postal charges that occur between an order being received and the items being sent off, is covered).  Customers are  always offered  the choice of having the refund directly, or the funds being used towards Hedgehog rescue sites - and many are happy to go with the latter alternative, because they too like these delightful characters and the sums involved don't get more deleted as a result of bank and foreign exchange fees.


Real Hedgehogs are "in danger" if outside during the day.  Our Baby Hedgehog is quite safe though!
Isobel is going to have to get down to some Baby Hedgehog replacements, because during the photo shoot this afternoon (these are destined for use in our latest listings for these three COLDHAMCUDDLIES) she discovered this model is our ONLY one presently in stock!!  Not only is it time for our pictures to get an update, but because Etsy have given their Sellers another five more photo slots to be used in every listing in our Shops, Isobel needed some more up-to-date shots of these little fellows so that their re-listings (due in a couple of weeks' time) will also reflect the current situation for potential Buyers.  

Ooops, that hole isn't big enough for two Daddy Hedghogs at once!

With 107 separate listings for this to be done, Isobel is now very busy adding extra photographs to ALL our Shop listings.  She is finding the 399 posts before this one an extremely valuable resource for finding relevant shots (mainly showing HOW our Toys come to be made - which we feel will be of interest to our potential Customers.). 


That looks a long way to fall from:  think I'll stay where I am!!

Time will tell - and I've gone on long enough. However, one doesn't reach 400 posts every day- so I hope you will all forgive Isobel and I.

Until next week then - Your Friend, Cy Bear.


Exploring their surroundings.
PS:  That Hedgehog Igloo is currently unoccupied - and the Resident in whose garden it currently is located has said Isobel can have it for the site up the road, thus giving any potential new Hedgehog residents a choice of accommodation - if and when they appear.  Clare is fearful of attracting more Rats to their garden than already appear from time to time. So all concerned have agreed that if that happens, the Hedgehog residence(s) will be re-located, down the hill and 3 doors away, to somewhere near where our flat is located, because we already know there are at least 3 Live Hedgehogs who regularly visit one of our near neighbours.  You can see, we're all determined to do our bit for the UK Hedgehog population.  Currently these visitors pass through the bit of the garden near our flat and help clear the patios of spilled bird feed - thus ensuring that Rats aren't attracted to our premises!  They don't currently stop though:  but they might do so, if they find comfortable living premises on offer!!  Cy Bear or I will keep you all up-dated - promise!






Sunday, 9 July 2017

Some "Pearls of Wisdom" being considered for the Cuddlies' future.

Hello there Everyone:


Cy Bear being allowed to contact you this week - when there hasn't really been that much happening to tell you about.  As Isobel said, she was not well at the beginning of the week, but having recovered, we've now entered what Peter used call "the silly season" - a well-known journalistic term to describe the summer season, when "normal life" tends to go into "relaxation" mode, and nothing much happens.


COLDHAM CUDDLIES are no different, and it's a time that Isobel usually uses to do some administrative changes in the Shop, and this year is no different.  The next few bulletins may well feature non-Cuddlies items - such as descriptions of visits to nearby "visitor attractions" and holiday photos from trips taken in 2016.   This week, though, as Isobel has been somewhat less than active on line here (although she has kept up the usual daily routines on Teams/Groups) thanks to the cold, as well as working hard at losing weight (so that she doesn't find herself having to become a regular feature in the local doctor's surgery in the future) we thought we'd feature some of the Cuddlies who have been re-listed in recent days. 


Cuddlies get renewed or relisted every 3 months when they become part of Etsy life. There's no difference in the fees involved.  However, when they are renewed, the record for each Toy - number of visits, faves (likes in Etsy terms) and so on - is kept on file.  If they are re-listed, they start off once again - with a "clean" sheet.  As usual, it takes Isobel a long time to "catch on", but she's beginning to master the difference, and accordingly - from now on - Cuddlies will be re-listed each time, not renewed.  


In no particular order of listing, nor title, here are some that got a fresh airing this week: 


Monkey Baby Toys Toy Monkey Copper Monkey Toy Shower Basket Gift Copper Plush Toy Any Occasion Toy Cool Monkey Toy Unusual Childs Toy Gift
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/539029047


These little toys are relatively new to the COLDHAM CUDDLIES line-up, and so haven't accumulated too long a "record".  However, they too were re-listed although there's more work to be done on their Title and Tags.  (They had actually become eligible to be renewed, so Isobel decided to do the relisting and do the required changes later).  


There's always a lot of discussion on the Etsy team threads that listing at least one new item every day makes visitors looking for items to buy might find our Shop faster, so that's one aspect Isobel is trying to concentrate on.  We do now have 106 different items in our Shop, to it does give us a few more items to juggle with than we once did.  Accordingly, since we began this year's administrative exercises, we are going to try to follow this guideline. We shall see what difference - if any - it makes!!



Silver Grey Teddy Bear Faux Fur Bear Toy Furry Animal Toy Companion Keepsake Toy Collectible Toy Cuddly Toy Bear Toy Bear for All Occasions
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/539029527


This is my particular friend, Jasper Grey Teddy Bear.  He's been re-listed for the first time since Isobel learned the difference between the two activities, so we'll see what happens next to his chances of find a Forever Ever Home. Have to say, I'm a bit surprised he's not found one, because he's a clever chap - he can stand up WITHOUT needing to be propped up by a pillow (like I sometimes need) and his fur is particularly soft and cuddly.  However, I'm made with fabric that is ever so much older than Jasper is.  The Beaver Lamb coat from which I (and my twin, Peter Bear, are made was well over 95 years old when Isobel was given it - to "experiment" with).  Jasper is made with much more modern materials.








Peter Bear is on the left, and used to live with Isobel's sister-in-law, MmeIM (both Isobel and that lady share the same initials, so I differentiate between the ladies in this way!) in Normandy, France.  However, in the last year, he moved to live with MmeIM's grand daughter in Plymouth, Devon, UK so one day perhaps the two of us may get together again.  Isobel last saw Peter Bear when she last visited Normandy in May 2015.



Rabbit Baby Mobile Blue Fleece Bunnies God Parents' Gift Present from Grandma Shower Gift Every Occasion Gift Present for New Family Member


Nursery Mobiles became a feature of the COLDHAM CUDDLIES offer last year, and these Blue and White Baby Rabbits were among the last to be listed.  They've been renewed twice since they appeared in the Shop, so became "eligible" under Isobel's new thinking to be re-listed this time around.  We've got Baby Nursery Mobiles with Baby Monkeys, Fantasy Bears, Piglets as well as Polar Bears and Baby Foxes.   They don't all cost the same - because some of them are made with Fleece fabric (as these guys are) and others come in plush or poplin: also, they don't all have the same sized hoops from which they hang.  Readers can find out more about them by visiting our Shop (www.COLDHAMCUDDLIES.etsy.com) and clicking on  


 https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/COLDHAMCUDDLIES?ref=seller-platform-mcnav&section_id=18805745


Right folks, rather than "rabbit" on (pun not intended), I'll end this week's post by wishing you all a good week - and hope that you're all enjoying yourselves, whether you're on vacation or not!


All the best from 


Your Friend,  Cy Bear

Sunday, 2 July 2017

News about Grey Cat Puppets - Far Away and Near By

Another week has passed, and here we are once more.  Cy Bear is taking the day off, so I'm bringing you the final updates on the Grey Cat Puppet Saga.


Cy Bear having told you in last week's post that the first Grey Cat Puppet was en route to her Forever Home - and all of us finding out at the end of the bulletin that she had already got to Kennedy Airport, New York - I'm delighted to say that we got a snapshot on Friday afternoon, confirming that she had safely reached her Forever Home in 7 days after leaving us here in Kirkby in Ashfield.  (Really great when the international postal services actually do what they say they do!!)




Apparently, the "American brother and sister" already in situ are actually not that impressed with her arrival on the scene.  However, MsSD - our customer - whose views, after all, are what really matter is definitely satisfied!    Another satisfactory end to an enjoyable business relationship:  I really do enjoy these one on one contacts with my customers.


There are still a few more pictures to show you though:  you will recall that two Grey Cat Puppets were made in the end, and the second version had yet to be completed last week.  Well she has indeed been completed - and will be listed in our Etsy.com shop after this post has been published (and duly circulated over all the various sites on which I regularly post each bulletin as and when it is completed).  That can be in threads on the 9 Etsy Teams on which I work to try to sell the Cuddlies, some of which ONLY are used as sites for this blog.  There are also several Facebook groups and team pages on which I regularly participate.   


Before I completed Grey Cat Puppet Version 2, I did actually change her face.   In previous posts our version of the Grey Cat Puppet had appeared looking like the one on the left of this photograph:




 
She now looks like this:




She now has a black embroidered (using black double knit wool to achieve the look) and her mouth has also been slightly altered.  It's amazing what a few stitches, done differently, will do!!


The following shots are temporary photographs, for the purposes of getting our newest Cuddly into the Shop (www.COLDHAMCUDDLIES.etsy.com).   Any Arm/Hand Puppet really doesn't show well without a human hand inside it to give it a proper body.  However, I'm currently "nursing" an unexpected summer cold, have declared a self-imposed "home stay" (so I don't spread the germs) and have used what gadgets I have to hand.  






For instance, inside the puppet in this photograph is my new telephone (one of those you can walk around the flat with when chatting to friends and family!).  It works for this purpose, anyway.  I will be taking better pictures once I am again "in circulation", as I have plenty of friends' hands to call on by "talking nicely" to my fellow residents!  However, Grey Cat cannot find a new home for herself, if she isn't listed, so these temporary shots will hopefully start the sales process!




Here's a shot of the puppet without any human aids - showing her calico lining (and the COLDHAMCUDDLIES label, too).  This puppet was made with the same measurements provided by MsSD -  so she is really suitable for a lady operator's hand (rather than the other Coldham Cuddlies Arm/Hand Puppets - which were made using dimensions provided by my previous Puppeteer customer from Tulsa, Oklahoma.)






I then moved  the photo shoot into my bedroom - the normal scene for our Farewell Ceremony shots with Cy Bear - and took this one showing Grey Cat Puppet at full standing position.




We ended today's photo shoot with a rear view of Grey Cat standing - and really showing off just how fluffy he/she is!  Believe me, the second version was no easier to sew than was the South Carolina-based version (who has definitely been christened "Henrietta" by the way).


Now it's back to serious replacements once more - pleasantly interrupted by the need to do some Patient therapy to the likes of the Puffin Toy from Rhode Island, meeting the Grey Cat Puppet challenge and being diverted from these projects with trips around and about our local area - in search of likely outings for and on behalf of my fellow residents.  Now the month of  July has caught up with us, Etsy (and many of my Teams) are focussing on "Christmas in July" events  and  I'm involved with those too inevitably.  So, there's plenty for me to be doing- and keeping me out of mischief.


See you around soon, in company with Cy Bear, or allowing him free rein!  Will have to be thinking about our 400th post in a couple of weeks too!  So, until the next time.....


Your Friend, Isobel

Sunday, 25 June 2017

Grey Cat Puppet is on its way to a Forever Home.

Good afternoon, Everyone!


Cy Bear here once more - with the good news that the Grey Cat Puppet ordered by MsSD of Conway, South Carolina duly began its journey (as promised) on Friday morning.  The actual dispatch deadline was 23rd June - so we just made it, despite the problems encountered in the creative process!  (Having been kept updated along the way, we had been told by MsSD that Isobel was not "to worry about timings", but we do like to keep to our deadlines as much as we are able.)





This is one of the photographs taken by Isobel prior to the Grey Cat Puppet being wrapped up and posted to South Carolina.  This was taken on Thursday evening, just after the final stitches had been applied.

As described in last week's bulletin, it took rather longer than expected to be achieved:  not because the pattern is complicated, but the fabric - while lovely to feel - is so fluffy that Isobel had difficulty in undoing her sewing on the couple of occasions she DID have to unpick her work:  but because she had actually found a really good match when choosing the thread she used for the job! Also, she's forgotten to put "letters" on the cardboard templates used for cutting out the puppet (because the original pattern didn't have them on either! The missing information is duly in place NOW!). Normally, we always transfer such useful (and necessary, in this case!) information when we are doing the cutting out for the first time.


Anyway, between last week-end's post and the final preparations for the journey, Isobel finished the second puppet's head (you saw the first one in last week's post) and then took photographs of both before placing each over the finished body (hand/arm puppet).  These pictures were then emailed to MsSD - and they looked like this:





These photographs were taken of the Puppet Heads resting on the storage heater beside Isobel's arm chair - in which she sits while making up the Toys.  She then placed the Hand/Arm section of the puppet under each head, to give an impression of how they might look when completed.






MsSD decided on this head, which is the second version of  the Grey Cat Puppet heads.  Isobel decided not to include the felt nose shown on the first version last week  (and on the left of the first photo of the puppets here).  She decided to actually sew the nose on the second head, and agrees with MsSD that the "look" required is better achieved with the second version.  The second version also had shot silk ear linings, instead of the same fabric as the rest of the body, used for the first Puppet.  


When she completes the second Grey Cat Puppet later this week, she will therefore be sewing (using Black Double Knit wool) the nose on - and will then keep the mouth the way it is shown on the first photo in this post today.  Equally, when the nose is completed, she may decide to make it look like it's sad - as MsSD's version does.  The second puppet will then be listed as a new Coldham Cuddies Activity Toy once the work is complete.


Isobel has just checked on the Royal Mail Tracker Service website, and has discovered that Grey Cat Puppet 2 has arrived at Kennedy Airport, New York and is "being processed for delivery".  By posting it early on Friday morning in our local Post Office in Kirkby in Ashfield, she was evidently able to catch an aeroplane headed towards the USA as she had hoped.  Sometimes, if matters intervene at this end, and she can't deliver a parcel until the afternoon - it can take several days longer to get to its intended destination.  Whilst delivery is now entirely in the hands of the US Postal Service - hopefully, Grey Cat Puppet can reach its Forever Home by the end of next week.  Either Isobel or I will let you know as and when we can.


Meanwhile, here's another farewell photograph of Grey Cat Puppet 2 and I:




It's a bit difficult to have a Hand/Arm puppet straight without an actual finger in the finger guide that is provided!.  But the picture does show just how fluffy Grey Cat Puppet 2 is!!


See you all again soon.


Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 18 June 2017

Updates - for the Previous Week's developments.

Hello again -this time it's Isobel writing, since I've been undertaking most of the activities this week.


As for the Grey Cat Puppet: it has proved to be somewhat more difficult to create than I had originally anticipated.  The pattern template (copied from a book of Animal Patterns provided as a birthday present to me by daughter Clare - entitled "Soft Animals A to Z", by Carolyn Vosburg Hall and originally published in 2003 - so not as old as many of my other COLDHAMCUDDLIES) for some reason best known to its author does not include those magic LETTERS at specific points in any creation which allows a crafter to match template pieces together when actually making an object!  I had forgotten to add my own when originally making our Black Cat Puppet


Cat Arm Puppet Cat Activity Toy Cat Hand Puppet Black White Cat Toy Made to Measure Toy Toy for All Ages Activity Play Toy Present for Kids.
https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/218473996/cat-arm-puppet

Alas, when it came to making the Grey Cat Puppets, I've discovered that my memory for making this Toy previously is not quite as good as I'd like to think:  with the result that I've had several sessions of sewing seams around the muzzle together - and taking them apart - before reaching the eventual correct siting of the pieces to reach my intended final solution!!  Last night, I finally got somewhere - and already, the second head is almost done.  Progress forwards should now not be as prolonged as it has been this last week.


When going to bed last evening, the Cat Puppet project was looking like this.




The hand puppet pieces are pinned together with the top coat fabric on the left:   the calico lining is cut out, but requires a brief pressing with my iron before being put together and fitted to the body. The head of the first Cat has facial features, which I'm not entirely satisfied with, but it will do for this post.  There will be two versions, as I think Cy Bear told you last week, so I've got some wriggle room yet - although the dispatch deadline is growing close!





I know the lining is not visible when the puppet is put together, but I don't like presenting ANYTHING in a untidy state - whether it is ultimately visible or not!  I shall be machine-stitching the hand/arm areas on both pieces - which is less time-consuming than doing it all by hand. 






Here's the first Cat Puppet's head, upside down (you can just see the gap - waiting for the finger-tube to be inserted and sewn in:  with some of the polyester stuffing sticking out of the space.)  One of the problems I've also encountered in this project has been the actual fabric itself.  It's beautifully tactile to touch - but  a real "horror" to work with.  It's SO fluffy and SO thick and curly that at times I've had difficulty in picking out my stitching!  As already stated, I've needed to unpick my first (or even second attempts) and that's taken some time - because,  for once, I've been able to get a pretty good match between sewing thread and the actual fabric!  You can see (below) what I mean about the fluffiness and curly-ness, can't you! 





This is how far I've got with the second Cat Puppet - the back of the head is already sewn on, and I just need to sew round the muzzle and do the facial features, before sewing the front face to the head back - to create the finger tube gap for this Puppet too.  (The new scissor investment I made when buying this particular fabric a couple of week' ago is just what I needed:  they have slightly curved ends, and are very sharp - so "shaving" excess furry bits to create the ultimate face should be a lot easier than it has been recently!)


I'm almost at the end of this particular tunnel, and looking forward to being able to complete the project by midweek - or Thursday evening at the latest.  That will give me the chance to have selected Grey Cat Puppet on its way to its Forever Home on Friday - hopefully. 


MsSD is based in Conway, South Carolina - and previous experience of shipping to the US Eastern Seaboard has been that it pays to get a package onto a Saturday aeroplane - because it seems to avoid hold-ups once it reaches US territory.  However, all our Cuddlies travel via the Royal Mail International Airmail Tracked programme, so tabs can be kept on the Toys' journey quite easily. Thus, if there is an unexpected delay in travel arrangements, the intended recipients can be alerted - if they've not tracked the package for themselves, of course!  Have to say, I find it rather interesting to keep up with my Toys in any case.






Here's a close-up of the first Grey Cat Puppet's head - I think the face is not quite right, in that the vertical line is too long from the middle of the nose, and the mouth does not convey the look for the puppet MsSD is particularly attached to.  Now I'm not doing to create an exact replica of that model, so that there are no copyright or other issues involved.  But I think I can make it look a lot more like the original - and intend to do so, if the second one - which still needs facial work on it - doesn't get nearer the mark when it reaches the same stage as the first example.  As Cy Bear said earlier, the one MsSD rejects, will become the next New COLDHAM CUDDLIES Toy in our online shop - www.COLDHAMCUDDLIES.etsy.com).


Before updating you about our recent Railway Trip (as the heading here implies) - and resultant decisions made by my fellow residents - here's a final close-up of the two Puppets' heads:





They both have green glass cat-eyes, but the ones on the second puppet are still somewhat "buried" in the surrounding curly plush!  Also think the scissors need to be applied to our first example - just to tidy it up a bit.


Now to the proposed Railway trip:   a decision was taken by my fellow residents that we should indeed book a day-trip to include the Duffield-Wirksworth Ecclesbourne Heritage Railway. Uninterested fellow travellers were happy to consider the garden centre option, although one of two of them did feel the cost of that part might be a sticking point.  After discussion, it was suggested that I now get a price for the 16 seater mini-bus to take the entire party to Wirksworth (end of the journey described in our last postand for the railway enthusiasts to get off the 'bus and travel back to Duffield on the train.  (It won't be a steam engine pulling the party, but one of the two diesel locomotives, as the steam engine doesn't operate during weekday trips).  The 'bus would meet us at that end of the track - having given the remainder of the party a mystery tour around the beautiful Peak District countryside between the two villages.  (I've yet to do this bit of research - but I can't see a problem.  A decision will need to be taken as to whether "The Bridge Inn" visit takes place before or after the 'bus/train experience - and is obviously dependent on train trip timings!)


The decision to include a Rail journey among the Summer outside activities enabled me to go to the transport provider (a local council-supported outfit called "Our Centre" which provides these facilities for local residents of a "certain age" at slightly subsidised prices).  Having created a suggested programme - with a 6-week interval between outings - prices for the 'bus journey were obtained and the Residents given the suggested timetable.  Needless to say, changes were immediately needed (isn't that always the way, when one creates a "list" - for ANYTHING? Changes almost always are required ere long!!).  In this case, our Resident volunteer member of the Ecclesbourne Railway Company pointed out that the day I'd chosen for the October visit would not be practicable:  as the trains did not run during week-days after the end of September!!  I don't think that this is an insurmountable problem - which will be discussed with Our Centre - the transport provider - on Monday, as I am due to visit their premises in person (to pay our dues for our last outing, together with the Old Chapel Close Tenants' Association Treasurer -  two signatures being required for the payment.!!)


So with that, this somewhat lengthy blog comes to an end for this week.  Good to be back with you again:  hopefully, we'll have some photos of Cy Bear and the completed Grey Cat Puppets to show you this time next week.  Until then - here's wishing you all a really good week:  wherever you happen to be when you read this post.  


Thanks for being such loyal Followers!  We're nearly at the 400th post by the way!!


Your Friend, Isobel.  

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Update on the Grey Cat Puppet - and change of scene.

Greetings everyone - Cy Bear here with another post from the World of the Coldham Cuddlies.

The update mentioned in the title:  after a battle (on Isobel's part - because she'd forgotten passwords and user names she uses to get in touch with Mohair Bear Making Supplies) contact was established and the fabric for MsSD's Grey Cat Puppet ordered.  It arrived safely in a couple of days after the order was placed, and it has now been cut out.




This first picture shows all the items assembled ready for Isobel to start the sewing process:  pattern template (in the manilla envelope on the left of the chair) and the instructions for putting the Cat's Head together on the white sheet of paper.  Scissors, measuring tape - to cut the hand puppet bit to match the measurements given us by MsSD.  Both versions of the proposed Cat Puppet will be made to those criteria - and the all important stuffing needed for the Cat's Head.




The second photograph shows the two Puppets cut out and ready to sew - and shows the fabric required to make a COLDHAM CUDDLIES hand/arm puppet.  Calico for the lining of the arm area, the furry fabric for the Cat's Head and body pieces, and the light Grey plush fabric needed for the Cat's muzzle.  Isobel is hoping to get around to sewing it later tonight - or definitely tomorrow. The body of both puppets will be machined - making it a much quicker process than if it was all done by hand.  Then the Cat Heads will be sewn individually - and the facial features created.  (Isobel actually treated herself to some special scissors from Mohair Bear Making Supplies which she will keep for using when shaping future Toys' facial expressions.  They're slightly curved at the ends, and very sharp - and should be easier for her to use in making Bears, Monkeys and other Toys that need these special features).


Sewing operations have been interrupted a little this week because Isobel has had other things to attend to - outside the COLDHAMCUDDLIES' World, one of which is that she's found herself being asked to organise some outside visits for fellow residents and herself to various sites of interest in the surrounding Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire countryside.  The lady that did it previously is now no longer with us, and there was no one else prepared to do it. Also, there were problems with Banks not co-operating, and the need to change their arrangements, as well as coping with the departure of the previous Trip Organiser, resulting in no outings taking place for the whole of 2016. 

Thus, Isobel has been busy getting prices for hiring the motor vehicle to transport between 10-16 residents (and their families/friends), and on Saturday - together with three gentlemen residents, she went on a train ride.  The objective of this exercise being to see whether such an event would be practical - with some residents needing "walkers" to aid their movements, and two of them relying on wheelchairs for access to such trips.


The gentlemen involved had been keen to arrange a trip for themselves to sample (and revive) their long term interest in the Steam Railway era - and their youthful preoccupation with "train-spotting". But one or two other residents, including Isobel, had expressed an interest in going along too.   A short distance away, there is a Heritage  railway - the Ecclesborne Valley Railway - offering a trip through beautiful Derbyshire countryside which begins at the village of Duffield, a circa 35 minute-drive from our home.  So, off the four residents went yesterday - and fortunately, the rain held off, and although it was windy, otherwise conditions were good.  (The UK offers a number of these Heritage Railways, around the country, staffed mostly by volunteers - some are bigger and cover longer distances than others.  Apparently there are at least two others in the nearby vicinity to our home, but this one was selected, because one of the "scouters" is a member of the Ecclesborne Valley Railway, and so was able to guide us in this aspect of the proposed outing.  He also gets "special rates" himself, but they discovered rates for parties can be negotiated as and when required.  Isobel will need to get her bargaining skills honed as a result.)


The other objective of the day out yesterday was to find somewhere to have a "meal out". Everyone living here enjoys the prospect of eating a meal that they've not had to prepare for themselves.  One of the company had suggested The Bridge Inn at Duffield, so that was where the party headed to begin with, having decided to eat first and ride later.  However, the drive had taken less time than envisaged. The hostelry did not appear to be open to outside visitors when they arrived, so having scouted the outside area(s), the party decided to proceed to Duffield Station, and take the first morning trip scheduled to begin some 20 minutes later.


The intrepid travellers - outside The Bridge Inn, Duffield

Part of the outside eating area.
The Bridge Inn has the River Derwent flowing beside the outside eating area.

So, off to Duffield Station they went - and this was the sight that awaited them upon arrival. 



An empty station platform, but obviously with a train expected shortly, as people were walking from cars and gathering at the station office to get their tickets. This cost Isobel £12.00 ($15.30 USD) - and it enabled her to travel for as long as she liked all day Saturday.  


Very shortly after they'd got their tickets, the train arrived, and because it is largely a single-track facility, the engine was uncoupled and shunted backwards towards the day's arriving passengers, so that the points could be changed to enable the machine to travel back along the short piece of second track - to the other end of the train, where the process of point-changing could take place, and the engine be re-coupled to the other end of the 4-carriage train.


Engine being shunted back to enable the points to be changed.
Waiting for the point change to take place
Travelling back to re-join the train at the front end.
On the way to getting on the train prior to departure, Isobel and company were able to have a quick glance at a noticeboard with the history of the railway.






The Ecclesbourne Valley Railway is celebrating it's 150th year since it opened and they are holding a series of events to commemorate this landmark between April and October this year.  The map on the left of the board shows the stations en route  and the rail journey takes about 20 minutes.  In addition to the steam engines, they also have some diesel locomotives that are used to convey visitors during week-days.  Steam travel, given that the railway is entirely staffed by volunteers, takes place on Saturdays and Sundays - because, for obvious reasons, it takes more time to ready the engines to get sufficient steam to propel the trains using coal as fuel for the trips.


The Derbyshire countrywide was looking very spruce and green, since the trees have only recently acquired this year's leaves - and the party was particularly struck by the view between hedges of this field - absolutely covered with buttercups:  really a sight to be seen.




On the way to Wirksworth, this view caught Isobel slightly unawares, and the nearby hedge butted in before she'd had time to get her camera ready in time to show you the absolute carpet of buttercups on the scene.  However, on the way back, she managed to get it a bit better - it really is a wonderful sight, isn't it?





At the other end of the track, we found this little steam engine complete with it's own truck.





This enables those so inclined to pay a bit more and be transported to the top of a nearby land mark - where the Derbyshire countryside opens out looking towards the Higher Peak District westwards. The trip takes place during the time that the engine does the track-switching operation which delivers it to the rear of the train, for the journey back to Duffield - which also enables the other travellers to buy and enjoy a quick snack offered in a Buffet housed in converted old railway carriages.  Our party decided to leave these bits for another time, and just enjoyed breathing in the fresh Peak District air instead.


 On Saturdays and Sundays, there are three trips a day under steam, and there are a similar number of journeys on week-days - with choices of travel while being hauled by a Heritage Diesel Locomotive - pulling the steam rail cars, or days when the Diesel Locomotive hauls Rail  Cars of a similar vintage to itself.  


From their perspective, Isobel and her friends decided - while enjoying a light lunch back at The Bridge Inn after they'd arrived back in Duffield - that a visit could well be arranged for their walker-aided friends.  The wheel-chair travellers needed to be consulted (and appropriate arrangements laid on) about whether or not they'd be prepared to travel for the duration of the trip in the Guards Van, which does have access via a ramp provided.  (There is a window in the railcar).   The access via the normal doorways was definitely not wheelchair friendly.  If they were, Isobel would need to ensure that the rail car with the Guards Van was on hand on the day any trip were to be booked.


Isobel and Co. also discovered that there could be an alternative to offer those residents who might well enjoy seeing a Heritage Railway in operation, but not necessarily be that enthusiastic about participating in the journey itself.  There is a handy Garden Centre - complete with cafe and other shops, all under cover - which they could repair to, while the rail enthusiasts undertook the journey to Wirksworth and back.


The findings are to be offered to the Residents next week - and arrangements put in hand as a result of decisions taken at that time.  More of that anon - and of course, hopefully, finished photographs of the Cat Puppets too.


See you all next week, Folks.  Hope you all have a good one!


Your Friend, Cy Bear.