Sunday, 12 November 2017

Progress Report on WINTERFEST 2017 Preparations: and a Bit Aside Too

Hello Everyone!!

Cy Bear signing in once again and just glad he sits at home in a warm flat, on these occasions.  We've got Arctic air blowing over the British Isles today, and Isobel said she was QUITE cold this morning as she wended her way up the hill to get her weekly lift for Mass at St. Barnabas Cathedral, Nottingham. 




Today, too, is Remembrance Sunday in the UK (as it is all over the Commonwealth, too), and Isobel proudly displayed her late Father, Major Andrew Miller's medals - as she does every year on this special day.  (She worked out that in another 3 years, she will have been doing this for 70 years - as it was on the first Rembrance Day after she became 10, that her Uncle decided she was old enough to wear them for the very first time).  Although Major Miller, "joined up" in 1916  and first saw service with the Argyll & Sutherland Highland Regiment, during 1917 he was commissioned as an Officer and was actually undergoing Officer Training when the First World War ended.  He decided he couldn't afford to remain as an Officer in the British Army, so went instead to become an Officer in the British Indian Army - and spent the rest of his life serving in India (as it then was - although his Regiment (King George V Baluchistan Rifles - where he spent most of his time until his death in 1941, is now part of the Pakistan Army).  During that time, he also served in Mesopotamia (now Iran and Iraq) - as evidenced by one of his Medals, and also served in at least two major Campaigns on the North West Frontier (the area between what is now Afganistan and Pakistan - again confirmed by a medal - fourth from left - with 2 bars).  




This year, Isobel  remembered to take the Medals' Miniatures that she also has in her possession and so younger daughter Clare was able to wear those in memory of her Grandfather's service - during both World Wars.   (Elder Daughter, as the eldest child of the eldest son, is eligible to wear her Grandfather Morrell's medals - but as she has earned her own medal, after 17th years service with the Princess Royal's Volunteer Corps (FANY), she decided to wear that one this year:  it is also traditional, that if one already has earned one's own decoration, one does not display another's, even if you are entitled so to do.)  They are held by Philippa, so she can do so whenever she feels she wishes to - or it's more appropriate for her so to do, while Clare - and eventually GrandsonE - will do the same on behalf of "Grandad Miller" in future years, once Isobel is no longer able to.  Nevertheless, both girls are proud of the service provided to their Country by BOTH  their Grandfathers.

You will see that one medal is not attached to the bar:  that is the War Medal 1939-1945 which was awarded to every member of the British Army who had served during those years - but Isobel only realised Major Miller's was not where it ought to be in 2010.  Because of his early death, Isobel's Aunt and Uncle (with whom she lived as she grew up) had either not known how to apply for it on her behalf, or it had been one of those things they meant to do, but life got in the way and it somehow slipped everyone's mind!  She applied for it, and it arrived very quickly:  but so far, she has not been able to get it properly attached so that it hangs with all the others.  Today, she and the family - en route back home - found a Shop dealing in "Militaria", on the same road, and not far from the Cathedral, where this could be done:  so guess what?  One of the jobs Isobel will be doing (after WINTERFEST 2017 and probably not until the New Year now) is to take the medals in to the Shop, to see if they can assist.  I'll let you know what happens in due course.

Now, moving on to the present, I'm delighted to tell you that the Fleece Rabbit production line is flourishing.  Isobel actually laid out 5 different colour sets of 2 of these ColdhamCuddlies - and this is the situation currently:




The first Fleece Rabbit replenishments are the Pink ones:  the snapshot was taken just before Isobel went to bed on Tuesday evening and show BOTH versions with White Chests.  She had intended to make at least one each of  the latest batch showing what they could look like, if they were self-coloured!

That mistake has not happened since - because, there are the two new Pale Blue Fleece Rabbits:




And, this is where Isobel has got to with the third pair:


She is planning on completing both these Cuddlies today, and hoping to get the penultimate pair at least cut out before bed tonight, although the latter task may have to wait until tomorrow - what with the need for an evening meal to be prepared and other administrative tasks required of her in connection with her responsibilities as Secretary to the Old Chapel Close Tenant's Association - who have a meeting called for tomorrow morning!!  Life is, as ever, busy, busy, busy!!

See you all next week - when the count-down to WINTERFEST 2017 will then be in DAYS, rather than WEEKS!  How the time can fly!!

Your Friend, Cy Bear.





Sunday, 5 November 2017

This week's developments on the WINTERFEST2017 front.


Good afternoon Everyone!  

Cy Bear reporting, as is my wont - when permitted to do - so on a cool, autumnal Sunday afternoon.


Dressed Rabbits in the foreground:  Coyote (off-balance), Foxes and Wolves at the rear!
We thought you'd like to see this picture of me surrounded by all our Girl Dressed Toys (Rabbits, Coxes, Coyotes and all) as they were prepared by Isobel for the upcoming Christmas Fair at The Courtyard, Thoresby Hall, Nr Newark, Notts.   These preparations involved Isobel putting price tags on every one of the Toys we have in stock - a process which resulted in her becoming less concerned about our ability to serve potential customers.  While one can always have more, the numbers involved were not as low as Isobel had first thought, so she is more sanguine about how we will cope on November 25th.  The pricing took Isobel 3 days to complete, and based on the number of labels used (not including some that she made mistakes with when writing the information on!) there are over 200 different Toys, of varying sizes, available for display.  Each ticket has the Shop price listed in our Etsy Shop (coldhamcuddlies.etsy.com) tied through the "ColdhamCuddlies" label which every Toy comes with.  (Good exercise for Isobel's fingers, which is why it took her so long, I guess!  While so engaged, she discovered some of the toys hadn't got one actually:  that was remedied p.d.q!)

The Baby Owls I talked about are all completed and in their special carrier bag ready for the event. The next replacement "binge" consists of 8 different Fleece Rabbits - some with the existing white chests, and a few that will be all the same colour - a new departure, just to give people the choice.  The cutting out of the 5 different colour Rabbits - one seen below - took Isobel a couple of hours to do, 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/529259202/rabbit-stuffed-toy-brown-fleece-rabbit?ref=shop_home_active_4
during which time she de-camped to the Resident's Lounge.  There are large tables there, making it so much easier for her to layout the individual pieces of the the pattern involved - and it certainly roused the curiosity of residents' visitors who happened to pass by the picture windows beside the table Isobel was using!  Most know of our plans, and are kindly interested in developments!!  The 5 fleece colours involved are pale and dark blue, brown (like the one shown), pink, and purple - all of them can be seen in our COLDHAMCUDDLIES Etsy shop at

 https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/COLDHAMCUDDLIES?ref=seller-platform-mcnav&section_id=18772504

A "bonus" of sorts occurred while this preparation exercise was in progress.  While picking out the blue fleece from our fabric stash in one of the cupboards where it is stored, Isobel discovered that she had more of the blue fleece in stock than she had previously realised - and thinks we will have sufficient to meet the requirements for Hermy, the Whale, when she gets around to making him early in December.  So, no need for a visit to our fleece suppliers on-line - for the time being at least!  The need for more stuffing is a definite one though - but we're waiting until we've started our final 1.1 kilo bag (circa 3 lbs), so that the two bags Isobel will be ordering can be fitted into the "stuffing slot" in the flat bedroom!   Every move has to be "strategic" when it comes to the fulfillment of our COLDHAMCUDDLIES duties!

The "missing" business cards I spoke about last week turned up on Tuesday morning, having been re-directed by Isobel to Clare's home up the road - because she was out of the flat at the time the selected Couriers indicated they were due to deliver the package.  I promised I'd show you a photo of the two cards in existence:   the new one, which will be officially used on and after 25th November - the top example shown will be handed out until that date, and kept in the background in case our supplies run out.   



We're very happy with the new look, which was created by a proper card designer from that well known provider (or so I am told!),Vistaprint:  whereas our original ones were done by Isobel, who makes no claims to have any such skills. The originals (also printed by Vistaprint), though, have served us well, to date!


Isobel has been gathering the bits and pieces needed in the background for the Show (e.g. the paper bags, the cash holder aprons that she and Clare will wear on them during the Event, and so on), and putting them in a large carrier bag (obtained from our local Lidl Supermarket, whose hard-wearing bags are large, capacious, and capable of holding several Toy-filled bags at one time).  The bags  have good, strong handles on them, which should make moving the goods from our flat to Clare's car, and then into the exhibition space a whole lot easier.  After the show, the bags can be collapsed to a flat shape, and stored until they are next required - if that happens!


While the pricing exercise was in full spate, Isobel decided to admit two of the existing Cuddlies as Patients to the  Stuffed Toy Animal Restoration Clinic - https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/564713751/animal-toys-mended-toy-bear-special-care?ref=shop_home_active_1  for some minor facial treatments.  

Our current  Panda used to look like this:


He now looks like this:

He now has a new, larger nose, and a happier grin, we think!

The other Patient was George Ginger Cat, our Copper Brown Plush Sitting Cat.  Originally, it had looked like this:


https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/549385205/george-ginger-cat-copper-fluffy-cat?ref=shop_home_active_3

Now, this is George as he appeared in our Shop listing previously.  He looks a little startled we thought, and it was one of those jobs Isobel had meant to do for a long time, and decided that the pricing venture was the ideal time!


I think he looks a bit more appealing now:  how about you?

To achieve George's new look, Isobel managed to turn his green cat eyes so that the "pupils" were sideways when you look him in the face, and also changed his ears, which had not looked "right" ever since he was first made.  We're hoping this "look" will appeal to someone, so he can end up with a new home this Christmas.  He had originally been made at the same time that a customer wanted to give a Ginger Cat to her Grandmother, whose real cat had died shortly before the order came in.  George's friend was called Harry (so had the Grandmother's long time friend) and, so far as we know, he has made himself well and truly at home, and is doing the job for which he was intended.  George meanwhile has languished somewhat in our stock - so we hope this minor treatment will do the trick for him!

That's it for this week, Folks!  Next week looks like being as busy as the last, and I for one hope that Isobel will be a lot happier with the newly acquired smartphone - that appeared in our lives on Friday this week, after Isobel had, had a tutorial with Clare!  She's getting a bit less "frazzled" operating it, but life is not as calm as usual at the moment.  I'm keeping well out of the way - just in case!!!

See all next week - Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 29 October 2017

Latest News from the Coldham Cuddlies Production Line

Hello again EverybodyCy Bear here again with all this week's progress to report.




This photo shows Thoresby Hall, near Newark, Nottinghamshire, England, UK - in whose grounds, The Courtyard (and actual venue for the upcoming WINTERFEST2017) is located.  The Christmas Craft Fair/Bazaar is scheduled for 25/26th November, 2017, and Isobel, Clare and all The Cuddlies are expected to be displayed - over just the first day.

In the excitement of the visit to this lovely spot, Isobel forgot to take photos of The Courtyard, which is a separate facility nearby, with it's own separate entrance. (The Riding Hall is one of the Shops located in the Courtyard itself, together with a very nice restaurant, called The Bay Tree - where lunch was consumed by the the "Reconnaisanace Team"!)  Thoresby Hall is now a Hotel and Spa (formerly the headquarters of the National Coal Board of the UK), now owned and operated by a hotel chain - Warner Leisure - which operate separately, but in conjunction with  The Courtyard (if that makes sense!) .  Visitors to both are encouraged to visit the other, I suppose is the gist of it!!!  (She'll remember to take some photos when she and Clare go to set up the stall, the day before the event - Friday, 24th November:  that is, of course, weather permitting!!)


Clare drove Isobel and her GrandsonE  last Tuesday to check out The Riding Hall in which the event is going to be held - and are delighted to tell you that they are more than satisfied with the proposed location of the COLDHAMCUDDLIES Stall.  The room itself is rectangular in shape and in one corner (the top of the rectangle as it were) Santa's Grotto will be stationed.  On the opposite side of the room, on the outer wall of the room, and furthest away from the entrance (so Isobel and Clare will avoid draughts!), the WINTERFEST organiser, MsRB told them is where our Stall will be located.  There are going to be 20 stalls in all for the event, and ours is the ONLY Toy Stall!!  At the lower end of the rectangle, and on the same side as our stall will be, a Cake Stall.   So the likelihood is that many folk will go past our stall (and, hopefully, stop to look at all the Cuddlies on display!) more than once during their visit.  We're excited at the prospect especially with the lack of direct competition for our product.  So - roll on November 25th!!


That has inspired Isobel to get going on the sewing production lines!!  The Owls are all but completed.  One more needs to be stuffed, and the final Owl Toy Ornament just has a few more seams to be completed before all the replacements are in place.


The Completed Owl Quartet


The Baby Owl booked last Sunday by MrsEH - a family friend who attends St. BarnabasCathedral each week with Isobel and the Family - was purchased today (it was the second one in from the left of this photo!), and another good friend promptly booked another one of the four shown above, but didn't have the money available to complete the purchase today.  However, all parties to this latest transaction decided it always looks good at a Craft Fair/Bazaar to have notices saying "ITEM SOLD", and this Owl will remain with us (even if it's been paid for prior to November 25th!) just so Isobel and Clare can put such a notice in front of the selected Bird Toy on The Day!!


The components required for a Baby Owl Toy Ornament.

Other developments this week include:


The delayed new Business Cards had mistakenly not been sent, and after an emailed enquiry from Isobel, are now expected to be delivered on Monday, 30th October.  I'll show you the new design next week, together with the wrongly delivered old design we still have in stock.  We're going to hang on to the latter until after the event, in case the new version all get picked out by visitors to WINTERFEST2017 (wouldn't that be terrific?), because we only ordered 1,000 first time around, and with 2,000-4,000 visitors expected over the 2 days, that just could happen!!


The Baby Owl ready for the Head/Back seam to be done - NB:  all seams are over-sewn - to prevent fraying.

The purchase of the smartphone is scheduled to take place on Tuesday next week  - or at least, Isobel and Clare are going to investigate what is available, taking the Chip Card Reader with them, of course.  Then depending on their decision (or whether it might be a good plan to then investigate any bargains for the selected model being available elsewhere, on-line!) the deed will be done and the PayPal staff be contacted (once it has been received) so that the necessary credit checks can take place to verify Isobel, and the newly upgraded account between them. (Isobel has had a personal account with PayPal since the COLDHAMCUDDLIES began operations in 2010:  however, we now have an upgraded, business account in the name of COLDHAMCUDDLIES - which requires these checks).  I don't understand what this means, of course (being just a Beaver Lamb Bear) - but apparently, PayPal like to do them when their equipment is part of the equation and when multiple card transactions between Isobel and the public are involved.
.

Close up photo showing thread marking for wing placement on each Toy's fronts - wrong side of fabric
Same thread marking, but on the right side of one front

The wings are then sewn on each side of the face, where you can just about make out the orange silk thread marks,  and the entire body/wings etc are turned inside



out and the back of body/head sewn in one seam, with the resulting Owl looking like this:

With facial features showing
Sideways on, with the Base in place and stuffing gap in centre of the base seam.

These pics are the Toy before it is finally turned inside out prior to stuffing.  This can be quite challenging for Isobel, with her stiffening fingers, because the gap the pattern allows is not that big to allow both wings, feet and head to get through, although she's now developed a good modus operandi to achieve the end result, without too much of a struggle.


The final 2 Baby Owls awaiting completion.  Front - final seams required.  Back: Stuffing needed.

Just to change the subject slightly - to one of the projects awaiting Isobel once WINTERFEST 2017 is finished.  I told you about the Whale that had been ordered last week:  well, this Saturday, Isobel took one of the completed Owls, and one of our Blue and White Fleece Rabbits, to show MrsPA, who has asked us to make the Whale as a Christmas present.  



Two reasons for this action:  Isobel wanted to show MrsPA some of the actual Ornamental Toys we make and sell, and also for her to approve the projected Blue Fleece fabric that Hermy the Whale will probably be made with.  MrsPA was happy to approve of both!


Right, that's it for this week folks.  We're looking forward to another action packed week next time around.  But one decision has already been taken.  Once November arrives, Isobel has decided not to do as much Etsy Team-promoting until after WINTERFEST2017 is finished.  It seems a bit counter-productive for her to be sewing like mad to create more stock for the Christmas Craft Show, and still be trying to sell the self-same objects on line.  There will be plenty of time for her to carry on what she's been doing all these months and years, after November 25th, and meanwhile, she needs to have as many Cuddlies on display as she is able to produce in the final 5 weeks before WINTERFEST 2017 arrives!


See you all next week, folks - hopefully.


Your Friend, Cy Bear.


Sunday, 22 October 2017

This week's WINTERFEST2017 Developments - plus other news!

Hello again, Everyone.

Cy Bear back again with some updated items to share with you from the  COLDHAM CUDDLIES!


They are mostly connected with the upcoming Big Event in our lives - viz. WINTERFEST2017, the Christmas Craft Fair and Bazaar being held at Thoresby Hall, Newark, Nottinghamshire towards the end of November.

First of all, the Owl production line mentioned last week in our post here commenced early last week, and to date we have one Baby Owl (6 were cut out), one with sewing completed, but requiring final stuffing, and a third under way.   Here's the completed one - together with evidence of a major development in our WINTERFEST2017 preparations this week:



Baby Owl No.1, beside a sample of our proposed packaging for WINTERFEST2017

That's my Friend Yellow Plush Bear you can see standing in this special paper bag - one of a supply of seasonal paper bags (carrying on the Coldham Cuddlies environmentally friendly attitude - in not using extra plastic ones, as far as practicable) which were ordered early last week.


Isobel was checking on a supply of  Business Cards which she hadn't received from our supplier, when she noticed they supplied plastic bags like this, so decided to research the paper variety - just to see if they might be affordable.  It's always nice to be able to put a sold Cuddly in a bag for a Customer - because sometimes people feel embarrassed to be seen carrying a Toy, if they're a grown-up!  (I cannot think why - because, to me, that's the most natural thing for a person to be doing!!!)  She discovered a company who had lots to choose from, and decided that this particular variety would suit us admirably, and promptly ordered some:  that was Tuesday morning.  They arrived early on Wednesday morning.   (We're still waiting to hear about the Business Cards!!!).


Isobel tried out other samples of our existing stock, as well as Yellow Plush Bear, just to see how the packaging "works" for our purposes. 


Yellow Plush Bear fits in rather well!


Hairy Bear is somewhat cramped.

Isobel did find it was possible to use the handles with Hairy Bear in situ, but it wasn't comfortable for either my Bear Friend, nor her hands to carry him for a long time.   So, it may mean we'll need to take some of our plastic bag stock, to accommodate Hairy Bear-sized toys (or, maybe - if we're lucky - more than one big Toy).


Talking of Big Toys, although she's by no means as large as Hairy BearBetsy, our Yellow Dressed Rabbit, fits in quite well standing - even though she's actually made to sit.  So there would certainly be room for her - and a smaller Cuddly like an Owl or a Baby Koala (or even another Dressed Rabbit or Fox!!) at the same time - as you can see from this picture.





The Baby Owl and other Toys of his size -  and smaller -  will fit in easily, as you can see. So we hope that potential Buyers attending WINTERFEST2017 will agree, and give lots of COLDHAMCUDDLIES Forever Homes at the event.  THAT result would certainly echo the sentiments expressed in the message on the paper bag logo!


There's been no further major progress on the matter of the Card Reader authentication I told you about last week - largely because there was a bit of a family emergency early in the week, with Clare falling in their garden and damaging her right hand (she's right handed, of course) and although she can still use the limb, the injury is impeding her normal movements, so everything else is taking longer to do than normal.  We're hoping that some progress can be made with checking out suitable smart phone models next week, after we've done the planned recce of the Venue for WINTERFEST2017 (The Courtyard at Thoresby Hall).   Both ladies involved on behalf of the Cuddlies are great believers in the maxim "time spend on reconnaissance is never wasted"!!  (Isobel is "treating" Clare and GrandsonE to lunch out - as it's the Little Man's first half-term holiday all week - and it's also the day that she normally spends with him each week, too).


However, Isobel's son-in-law kindly showed her his "work" smart phone last evening, when she went around to be there for GrandsonE while his parents went to a concert in Nottingham.  She was able to handle it - as well as his own daily used equipment, to see some of the different shapes on offer on the market.  This one had a rounded back, which was very comfortable for her increasingly arthritic hand to hold easily.  (She hadn't realised that there WERE such differences - showing just how  technically illiterate she is, you see!).  I'm told that Alan followed up this helpful advice earlier today by showing her how the machines work.  (Isobel finds that other people on their 'phones move alarmingly fast, which could be one of the reasons she's not made this major step into the 21st century earlier!)  That demonstration was also re-assuring, so she's even more determined to become a "modern IT user" - if that's the technical term - so I'd hazard a guess that we'll be able to bring you up to date on that side of things soon, too.   I'm also given to understand it could be one of the reasons that we're not getting as many sales via the Etsy.com route these days - because folks use their 'phones more these days, rather than ordering by email via their computers!!  So - watch this space, as I often say to you all! 


(We seem to be spending quite a lot on this  WINTERFEST2017 gig, but we do want more people to learn about us:  and besides, our Order Book (off-Etsy anyway) is in not bad shape, so we feel justified in this outlay.  There is a saying I'm told which goes - you have to speculate, to accumulate!  That's just what Isobel is doing!!).

As a matter of fact, one of the Baby Owls under production has already been sold to a friend of the family who attends St.Barnabas Cathedral at the same time! That's due to be hand-delivered next week, and there's a further Ladies' Novelty Slipper order - not required until the New Year, however - so it's not ALL outgoings.  We remain very positive about the future of our Toy Shop business!  Although it has to be said, all sales off-Etsy, don't get reflected in our Etsy stats - which, in common with many of our Team Friends on that site - do remain in the doldrums presently - despite all our daily promoting activities!


Finally, when Isobel was chatting to a fellow Slimming World attendee yesterday, she was asked what else she did when she wasn't at the regular weekly weigh-in event!  She quickly established her credentials as a Toy Maker, and the lady then went on to enquire whether she might be able to make her a Whale.   Having visited South Africa recently with her husband, they had seen a major pod of such creatures off the south-west coast of that country (at a place called Hermanus), had enjoyed the experience very much, and she wanted to give him a "fun reminder" of the occasion as a Christmas present.  (Isobel knew exactly where she was talking about, incidentally, as she remembered the name of the location from her stay in that country in 1967 - although she hadn't actually been there herself.)


One thing led to another - Isobel  said she'd check our pattern library, and took the lady's telephone number, and so on.  The upshot of the exchange is that after WINTERFEST2017 is over, and Isobel has completed the order for two pairs of  Novelty Kids Slippers we already have on our Christmas Order Book, she will embark on creating a Whale for MrsPA to give her husband as a Christmas present - using this Simplicity pattern (which is one of the patterns we've purchased from various Etsy Shops since we've been on that site since 2010).






That is actually for a Dolphin:  but MrsPA agreed with Isobel, that for this purpose, if we don't use the nose as shown and perhaps move the eye position somewhat, we'll end up with a perfectly recognisable Whale Decorative Toy - albeit he'll still weigh in at roughly 2lbs (4.4 kilos), will be circa 30 inches long (76.2 cms)  and about 12" (30.48 cms) high!!   (I can see an order for more stuffing being made - to our usual supplier of that commodity, Fred Aldous & Sons of Manchester!!)  We've only got one more 1.1 kilo bag (3 lbs) in stock, plus about one-third of the bag Isobel is using for our current production purposes:  and we'll need at least one and half bags for Hermy  alone (MrsPA's name for her new friend:  we'll be listing him as a Custom Order in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES shop:  but for our purposes, Isobel thinks we'll call him Wally the Whale!).  

Right - that's it for this week.   Life is hectic, but fun.  Hope it stays that way, and we'll all see each other again next week.

Your FriendCy Bear.


Sunday, 15 October 2017

Progress Report - regarding latest COLDHAMCUDDLIES' Plans:

Greetings to One and All - Cy Bear back again:

It's seems to have been sometime since I was posting to you, but Isobel has been so busy what with one thing and another - a lot of which she told you about two weeks ago - that it's not been convenient for me to chat with you until today.




Last Sunday, it was also her birthday, and she found that daughter Clare had organised a surprise party for her, to be combined with a celebration of Canadian Thanksgiving - so she didn't return home until way after our normal posting time here, so we decided to wait until today to update you on what is currently happening/being arranged in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES world.  So, let me begin.


First of all, we have to introduce you to four new Baby Koala Toys - during the summer re-listing process, Isobel discovered that all but one of our previous 5 Baby Koalas had found Forever Homes - mostly off-Etsy, and with local friends and their families, and she needed to do some replacements.  With the proximity of the WINTERFEST 2017 getting ever closer, and because they often move fast at such events, she got down to cutting out 4 new ones, and was able to complete them all within 8 days of cutting them out - working,mainly, in the evenings, after her regular stint of Etsy Team duties had been done.  We still have to keep doing those, in order to keep a presence for the Shop on line you see.


Here are the new Koalas - sitting on top of the Brother Printer - in our living room, before being ticketted (priced!) and put into their storage bags ready for November 25th!




It's a convenient spot for Isobel to photograph them - as the computer is just in front of the printer, and the lighting is not too bad during the evenings!  She'll take some better ones soon - when she gets the time to set them up properly, but this will have to do for the time being.  To create the faces, she used a new pair of scissors, purchased from our friendly Mohair supplier - Mohair Bear Supplies of Telford, Shropshire, England, UK - when we got the curly plush fabric for our Grey Cat Puppet (see belowearlier in the year.




The booking for the Christmas Craft Fair at Thoresby Hall is now confirmed.  Isobel had quite a battle to find an insurance company who was prepared to give us a quotation for the one-off event, but it was eventually successful and we got confirmation that we have been accepted towards the end of last week.




So, it's now all systems go, to get replacement Baby Owls in sufficient numbers to make a decent display for November 25thIsobel rooted out the faux fur fabric from our stocks yesterday, and now has it ready in a big plastic bag - together with the white plush (for the Baby Owl faces) and the leatherette fabric- for the feet and beaks of 4 new Toys.  When we took the pattern template out of our library yesterday, we discovered that we still had sufficient of the latter fabric with patterns already drawn for 2 Baby Owls, so we're already a little ahead of ourselves.  We hope to get the other pieces all cut out and ready for sewing - to start sometime Tuesday of this week.




We're also planning to make a couple of new additions to the COLDHAMCUDDLIES Family - in the shape of Small Mohair Bears.  We keep forgetting we have some smaller pieces of Mohair in stock - left over from the Treatment of Ed Ted (way back in 2011, shortly after our  Animal Toy Restoration Clinic was first set up).  We did make a Little Ed Ted (who found a home in the USA in 2016) but have never replaced him.   As smaller Toys often get chosen quicker at Craft Fairs in our past, we hope we'll be able to find Forever Homes for them just before this Christmas.  We think we have sufficient fabric for one more Little Ed type Bear, and a similar sized Red Mohair Bear - who will be a whole new addition to the COLDHAMCUDDLIES family.


Little Red Ted and Me in our Garden in Wiltshire just after he was made.

In the past, Isobel and Clare (who helped us when we last had a major Christmas Fair attendance during our first Christmas in Kirkby in 2014, and will be doing so again, this time around) are convinced that we have lost sales for our Toys in the past because we didn't take Credit or Debit cards - preferring only to deal in cash and/or cheques.  This time around, because Isobel found a "special deal" on line from PayPal, one of the routes by which we accept payment through our Etsy.com Shop, Isobel has bought a Chip Card Reader.  At the moment though, use of it is limited because there are two more hoops for Isobel to get through before that will be an option for COLDHAMCUDDLIES.  Isobel has to "join the 21st Century" and get herself an Android Smartphone so the Reader can be attached to it: and then she has to undergo a credit check by PayPal (even though she has been a PayPal account holder since we set up in 2010) because we've had to upgrade our account from a Personal one in Isobel's name to a business account in the COLDHAMCUDDLIES name!  That cannot happen until we've decided on the exact model of smartphone we're going with, and the type of programme we're going to purchase once that decision is made.  Isobel hopes to be able to go to our local supplier (in nearby Mansfield) sometime later this coming week - or during the following week, together with Clare and GrandsonE - whose half-term will be happening at that time.  So, more anon.


Then Isobel spent most of  Friday this week in St. Barnabas Cathedral, Nottingham where she was helping out a Friend at an Exhibition of Clerical Embroidery.  She took lots of photographs, and intends to show them to you in a future blog - which could well occupy this space in the coming weeks, as we prepare for the WINTERFEST 2017 show in November.  So, folks, just watch this space.


Meanwhile, all the best for this coming week to you all.  We're thinking of everyone who might be affected by natural events who read this blog - such as those living in California, and possibly near to the wild fires, and, even, in this country, as we await the after effects of an incoming storm expected to hit the west coast of the UK early next week.  We're not located there, but the island of the United Kingdom is not that big, and winds of 80 miles an hour don't take that long to cross the landmass here!  So - hoping to be back in touch with you all very soon, I'll now say Good Bye for this post.

Your Friend, Cy Bear.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

New Ways Forward - and Celebrating a Successful Week.

Hello FolksIsobel here (with Cy Bear in the background).

Once again, apologies for the break in posts last week.  All sorts of things have been happening, which, hopefully, will result in COLDHAMCUDDLIES getting a form of re-boot and a firmer foothold on reality!!  That meant that I spent a lot more time than expected on the background to the Shop (COLDHAMCUDDLIES.etsy.com) than originally intended.

The latest representation on the Shop Site, of the Cuddlies, most of whom have found their Forever Homes
We've just got two more items - both Fox-related, as it happens - that need to be updated and re-listed - thus completing the annual re-list programme.  They have to take their place in the Shop by end of play tomorrow (BST) - which as most of you know is 4 hours ahead of the earliest time slots in the U.S.A. (Eastern Standard Time for most of the world:  but Etsy Time for those of us involved in that world!!)  

This has involved some re-writing of descriptions, finding more photographs for items that will benefit from better pictorial descriptions to back up existing ones.  That's thanks to Etsy providing Shop Owners with 5 more photographic slots for each item - if one wants to use them.   (Apparently, it's not OBLIGATORY, but experience - over the 7 years COLDHAMCUDDLIES have been operating - indicates that it's actually better that one does take up all the options, rather than not!!!)  However, when that means doing it, individually, for 107 different items - it can take a lot of time, which has to be shared with the daily promoting regimen that is Etsy Team Thread participation.  Oh for another 24 hours to each day!!!!!

Nearly at the end of this operation, daughter Clare - who like elder daughter Philippa - is a very supportive and helpful person(s) in my life - telephoned'  She'd just read in a super market magazine she had recently picked up that Toys - whether dressed or not - are now VERY TRENDING ITEMS in the Internal Decor Field.  She suggested I consider changing the Category in which the Cuddlies appear on the Etsy Market Site.  Accordingly, I decided to explore - and it hasn't taken me long to realise the move could potentially be helpful - in all sorts of areas - too numerous, and complicated, to list here.

One of the recent photographs of  our Grandma White Rabbits
To begin with, there are several more categories into which Cuddlies, dressed or otherwise, actually fit a lot better than just being in the Toy category.  Accordingly, henceforth, all Dressed Rabbits (two shown above), Foxes - and related cousins (Wolves and Coyotes) and most of the larger Bears have been switched to the Home & Living category (with several more sub-categories into which these Toys fit better).   I have yet to discover (since it's still a new "world" for the Cuddlies) whether this will be "easier" or "harder" for potential buyers to find us:  however, my Stats (to which, as most of you know, I rarely take too much notice) do seem to show that more Visitors are appearing for a "look-see":  which might suggest more likelihood of Buyers arriving on the scene shortly!!  That would be REALLY nice:  they've been less visible than usual this year, even though Summer/Vacation times have regularly been similarly less populated since we started in 2010.  This year, largely because I've been bogged down with the re-listing process, it's seemed to be emptier than normal!!!  (The more I've re-done the placings listed earlier, the more I think that most of the animal toys - as opposed to the Slippers and Golf Club Covers we offer - are more appropriately placed in the Home & Living category - so this change will take place during the coming days).

A Group photograph of COLDHAM Bears - on a sunny day
This apparent lack of outside-Etsy on-line interest has been similarly matched with the feeling that the Cuddlies have exhausted their potential for the immediate locality.  While there have been sales, they haven't been as frequent, nor as fruitful from the Ashfield District area, as they were when we were all based in Wiltshire.  Thus, when I was approached by a member of the Nottingham Etsy team with news of an upcoming Christmas Arts and Crafts Bazaar -  WINTERFEST2017 - being held at  a well known local Hotel/Spa complex this coming November, I asked for further details.  Plans are still being made, but it certainly looks like COLDHAMCUDDLIES will be participating - so more of this anon.

Last Tuesday, the CUDDLIES were on display at this year's MacMillan Cancer Coffee morning held in the Residents' Lounge where we live these days.  During the event, a Family of Hedgehogs went to a fellow Resident, MrsTD-S who, like me, is a real Hedgehog afficianado. 

The Hedgehog Home was in MrsTD-S's garden, where it was empty:  it now resides in part of Clare's garden and is occupied!
Her daughter, MsKD-S (I'm not aware of her official status, so will continue to refer to her in this manner) not only bought Graham Grey Rabbit,

Graham Grey Rabbit
but has also ordered a pair of Novelty Slippers for her young daughter.  I think, they're going to be made in Hedgehog format, but that will be decided when the young lady's vital feet statistics are provided.  (In future, ALL Novelty Slippers, in whatever size, will be Made to Order:  as well as Made to Measure) - thus saving me storage space in my living quarters.  In the past it was easier to store the Cuddlies, but since numbers have increased to over the century mark, space has definitely been real limiting factor!

Mummy Buchanan Fox on the Right is the one that left us on Tuesday
Another Cuddly also found herself en route to her Forever Home- a Buchanan Fox (illustrated Right) was bought by a regular visitor to the complex - for his Grand Daughter, and he, too, has ordered a pair of Novelty Slippers for the same Little Person for Christmas.  This time, it's going to be based on our Panda Slippers - looking something like this pair:


 The Novelty Slippers on which the latest order is to be based
I'm waiting for the requisite measurements for the proposed wearer of these Slippers too:  it has been suggested that they should be more "dog like", if possible - because the intended recipient is currently very "into" Dogs!!
Then later in the week, when visiting MrsTD-S to provide a requested business card, she too ordered a pair of Slippers - for herself.  She, too, will be providing me with the requisite measurements for her new Winter Footwear - so, I'm going to be even busier immediately, followed closely by the need to stock up on smaller Cuddlies - such as Baby Koalas and Baby Owls, both of which have been reduced by sales over the past year.  

One of our Baby Owls - both of which have recently taken flight
There are none left of the latter, and only one of the Koalas (pictured at the end of this post) - and they've always proved fast-movers when we attended Craft Sales in the past.  The WINTERFEST2017 organiser with whom I am liaising presently did mention they'd had 3,000 in attendance last year (that's over two days, and I'll only be going for one day).    With the addition this year of a Santa's Grotto at the event, they are hopeful of getting nearer 4,000 visitors to the event.  That's a whole heap more people for the Cuddlies to meet than has ever been the case in the past!!

Then, this morning, a good friend, Mrs EH asked me to reserve one of the potential new Baby Owls so she could give it as a Christmas present to the latest addition in her family.  Thus, another Cuddly has a Forever Home to look forward to.  Her son bought our last Baby Owl early in the summer as a Christening Present!  So, our Cuddlies fulfill several useful functions when meeting their Forever Friends.

Finally - and another reason for the lack of posts recently - is the fact that I'm having another attempt at becoming a Childrens' author.  I've signed up for a 5 week Creative Writing Course (alas, I missed the first one, as I was travelling back from High Wycombe at the same time!) and have to say - not only is it most enjoyable, but I actually feel I might just be "onto something"!   Again - more anon, when I have the time, that is!!

As the title for this post says - it's been a good week for us in Nottinghamshire (with the potential for a great deal more fun!)  But there's a lot of sewing going to be required.....thus a lot of time required in an already busy schedule .......so I'll stop this now.

Cy Bear (or I) will be back next week - current schedule permitting, of course!

Your Friend,

Isobel - and Cy Bear, too, of course!


With the last batch of Baby Koalas - now reduced to a Singleton!







Sunday, 17 September 2017

A return to "Normal" - with news of more re-listings


Hello once again, everyone.  Isobel here.

My apologies for omitting last week's post, but even though the computer came with me, it wan't convenient for me to post another bulletin last Sunday.  When one is in someone else's home, one cannot really carry on as one would under one's own regimen - and that was the case while I was away in Buckinghamshire, staying with Philippa in High Wycombe.  I did carry on with the re-listing processes, though, and several more Cuddlies have had their Etsy.com lives extended by a further 4 months, accompanied by more new photographs (some of themselves - taken from earlier versions of each relevant Toy or Novelty item, some with pictures of similar Toys dressed with, or made from, different fabrics). 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/554371145/polar-bear-slipper - 1 pair in stock
Our Polar Bear Baby Slippers have been re-photographed - with a Christmassy touch - and include shots of how they are made (in particular, showing, the soles of each slipper made with the leatherette fabric all COLDHAMCUDDLIES Novelty Slippers have).  You find these additional shots by clicking on the link above, and then on the 12 different photographs underneath the main photograph.

It's amazing to realise, but our Puffin Friends have come up for their first re-listing opportunity 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/554134569/puffin-stuffed-toy - 2 are in stock

(four months after they first appeared in the Shop following the arrival of PuffinR as a Patient in the Stuffed Toy Animal Restoration Clinic). 

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/539024767/animal-toys-mended-toy-bear-special-care

There are vacancies in the Clinic should anyone have an Animal Toy needing restoration - and we welcome them from anywhere in the world.  You might think shipping costs could be a barrier - but in fact, PuffinR proved they are not.  He arrived in an unstuffed condition:  so travelled as a small packet from Rhode Island, New York, U.S.A.  So, in a "light bulb moment" I realised this could happen to any toy from anywhere in the world - no matter it's original size.  Unless the toys are bigger than Cy Bear (and most of them are not, as you can see from this photograph), even the shipping home charge is within the most expensive quoted in our Etsy.com Shop (COLDHAMCUDDLIES.etsy.com).  So, if you've spent the summer months clearing out attics and come across an old childhood friend, please do consider giving them a new life, to become a New Friend to a younger member of your own, or extended Families.  Cy Bear and I would love to meet them, and provide them with a new opportunity to thrill and comfort a new generation - and such a gift would be VERY SPECIAL to the Little Person (or slightly Bigger Little Person, perhaps!).

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/539024767/animal-toys-mended-toy-bear-special-care
The re-listing process has also involved me having to check every single listing - because as a result of the recent Etsy Shop Manager changed format(s), new items have had to be added to each listing, and I had thought I'd complied with them when they were originally introduced.  Alas, once the new format was officially rolled out, one of the two additional items allowed "disappeared" from every listing to which they had been added!!!  So, with 107 individual listings in the shop, the re-tagging process has been more prolonged than originally envisaged, and there's still quite a few more items to be checked, and corrected.  

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/556937741/brenda-bunny-brown-plush-rabbit - Brenda is in stock as well
Still, it's keeping me out of mischief - while I prepare for this year's MacMillan Cancer Coffee Morning here at Old Chapel Close, Kirkby in Ashfield - where my flat is now located.  The event takes place on Tuesday, 26th September - from 1000 to 1400 hours BST:  and I will be taking a table from which I  hope several Cuddlies will be purchased for this year's Christmas and other Family Presents.  Sometimes wonder if going away is a good idea - although I did have fun staying with Philippa and enjoyed my break enormously!

(I'm also repeating last year's experiment of Crab Apple Butter - by popular request! That's got to be prepared sometime this week, in between all the other things that are scheduled already. Before leaving for my holiday, the Gardener kindly picked both Crab Apples, as well as Damsons, from trees that can be found directly under my kitchen window.  They've been in a freezer since that happened, and I'm hoping to find them in a good condition tomorrow (Monday).  It was pouring with rain when the harvesting took place:  so am not anticipating that I'll need to add too much liquid for the "magic" to commence!  I'm going to also produce Damson Butter this year.  More anon!!) 


https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/544171542/gentleman-jim-fox-stuffed-plush-toy-fox
Gentleman Jim has reverted to his original name - as Cy Bear told you was going to happen to many of our Toys in his last post to you.  We still have one version of him in stock - so hope that there is someone out there looking for a colourful, unusual, dressed Toy to give away at Christmas time this year.

Our most recent listing is Jemima Brown Bunny - and currently, she's just listed - as the last version of her departed earlier this year.  

https://www.etsy.com/uk/listing/544172264/jemima-bunny-plush-dressed-rabbit
As Cy Bear told you though,  I can make another Dressed Rabbit like her within 8-10 days from receipt of order, through cutting out and creating, to being ready to ship.  However,  BE WARNED        there is only sufficient fabric of her unusual, patterned aquamarine dress fabric for ONE MORE Jemima!  So, she's really now a Limited Edition Toy!

Cy Bear and I hope to be back with you again next week, hopefully nearer the end of this year's re-tagging exercised.  Until then, have a good week everyone - and hope the weather is being more benign for those of you in the U.S.A.  who have survived the recent Hurricanes and other storms that have wreaked havoc with you.

Good Bye for now.  Isobel