Sunday, 25 October 2020

The ups and downs of Life

It has been a few years since I wrote a blog.
We have moved back to my home town in South Lincolnshire, England and have a lovely little bungalow.
We are both now retired and I am enjoying being near to my family again.
Unfortunately both Sidney and Harry are no longer with us.  Sidney passed 3 years ago and Harry just last April, during lockdown.                                                                                                                                                                            
Foggy Puss really struggled without Harry and stopped eating.  At one point we thought we were going to lose him too.  He is much better now, eating normally and getting us up in the early hours of the morning - the joy's of owning a cat (or the cat owning you is more like it).
I have looked into getting another dog, but it is near impossible to get one atm.
In the meantime Foggy is loving all the attention that comes with being an only one.


Monday, 29 June 2015

Testing a Toy

It is a while since I have created a page here - no excuses, just not got around to it as I have been doing other things.
To bring everyone up to date on the PollyKay and Sidders life - we are all well, no major problems in the household.
I am still restoring the old timers and making the occasional mohair Pud Bear.
Also I have been attending local craft fairs with my varied collection of home made items.
I decided a few weeks ago that I wanted to design and make some knitted bears that would be CE marked and pass the regulations set out in the UK.
I made my first bear from Sirdar Snowflake Snuggly and Stylecraft DK, two yarns that I have the EN71-3 certificates for.  The stuffing has a CE mark.
Then came the 'torture' bit (the physical and flammability tests).
Testing the seams
Making sure the weight test hadn't weakened the seams or fabric
So far, so good - my sewing held up to the 7.5kg of weight in the bag and no damage was done to the fabric.  The leg and ears stayed firmly in place and no little fingers would be able to reach the stuffing and pull it out.

I found a stopwatch on my tablet as this part had to be timed
Now for the flammability test.  I decided to do this over the bath as the shower was handy to put it out if necessary.

The poor little bear ready for the flames :(

I hated this bit

25 seconds
40 seconds
60 seconds
I gave up after 60 seconds and put the shower on him
I was definitely not happy with this outcome.  Although in theory this passed the guidelines, there is no way I could sell this as suitable for children.  If it had smouldered and gone out on the leg that would have been ok, but by 30 seconds his whole leg was flaming and it fell of a few seconds later, then his body caught light and the flames were right to the top of his head.
At this point I dowsed him with the shower and the last picture shows the damage done in just one minute.  It seemed to be the knitting that was burning, as the stuffing is still there.
I think I may just carry on making my artist bears and find something else to knit instead of toys :(
I am hoping to get a certificate for some mohair and make a traditional mohair bear for children.
Maybe I will get more luck with that.
NB:  It has been pointed out to me that my calculations were wrong, and in fact the burn rate was 4-5mm per second which is well within the 30mm guidelines. I did a sample 'sausage' of just the DK and the results were the same, but this time I noted that it took a while for the flame to catch hold. 
It would give a child time to drop the toy (this is a reflex action) before the flames spread enough to do damage. 
It has also been pointed out to me that I did the tension test wrong and should have had the clamps equal distances apart from the seam, not actually on the seam.  Oh well, back to the drawing board - watch this space!

Thursday, 10 July 2014

Toy Restoration - A Poodle from France

I had a toy dog that came all the way from France with his Steiff bunny friend.  The dog was in a terrible state, with his head just about hanging off and various holes in his curly lambswool coat.
He arrived with his little friend in a small box, his coat covered in bits of stuffing. 
He arrived in a small box with his rabbit friend
 I carefully removed him from the box, and straight away realised what a mammoth task I had ahead of me.  The backing of the pretty curls was disintegrating to the point of falling apart.  I put him to one side until I could think of a method to use and felt brave enough to try it.  He was a handsome dog and deserved the best I could give him.

His head was nearly off
His tail wasn't much better!

Looking much happier now

One evening Alan was watching a film that I was not interested in so I decided to go into my sewing room and make a start on the Poodle.  Three hours later (after midnight) I was still stitching and gluing him together.  The larger holes, such as where his head had come off, had a piece of material put underneath the fur to give the thread something to hold onto.  The smaller holes, of which there were many, were sealed with special fabric glue.  This seemed to do the job, and by the time I went to bed he could stand with his head up.   There was still work to do on his back end though.

The patch at the top of his front leg after attaching his head
 Yesterday morning I set about finishing the pair of them.  The rabbit got his new ear, after some careful 'tea dying' (I now look as if I am a heavy smoker, with orange fingers).
I mended the hole at the base of the Poodle's tail, and various other smaller ones around his back legs.  Luckily the shorter sheepskin is much stronger, and is holding him together.  I put his red collar and lead back on and found a Daffodil in my bits and pieces box to brighten up his worn straw hat.
They are now safely packed in a large box and flying back to their owner in France.

Standing proud and ready for the journey home

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Pud Bears - New Artist Bears Born Recently

I have been busy getting my stock built up of Pud Bears.  I had neglected them over the winter in favour of making the vintage toys and craft fair items.
Now though, in the words of a famous action hero 'They are back'.
I have made a few larger bears than I was making last year - 10" and 12" as well as the popular 6" and 8".
Here is what I have got so far -

6" bears and pandas

6" Dillon

6" Gilbert

6" Burgundy and Tan Panda
6" Jackson

6" Roly and Baby Berry

 8" bears and pandas

8" Jade
8" Purple and Black Tip Panda

8" Lemon Panda and Blue Panda
10" and 12" bears and pandas

10" Ivan
10" Becky
12" Fuzz

12" Tan and Fawn Panda
12" Traditional Panda

12" Susie Panda
Some of these bears will be going to Alices Bear Shop in Lyme Regis, and House of Bears in Bath, Somerset.  The remainder will be available in my Etsy shop. 
There will be more to come in the next few weeks as I am trying to get enough stock made to do a Teddy Bear Fair later in the year.

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

My First Auction Bears

I have never purchased bears from an auction before, but thought I would try my hand when a collection of well worn bears were listed at a local one.
Most lots went well above my 'absentee' bids.  I couldn't attend in person as I was 100 miles away looking after my Grandsons.  However I managed to get 2 lots and this great hug of bears came home with me. :)
Pedigree mohair, Unkown plush, Lefray mohair

Lefray plush, Deans mohair, Chad Valley mohair
 The first to have a makeover was this little Pedigree bear.  He is not in bad condition, and just needed a good clean and brush.  He is available in my Etsy shop.

Next came this big English plush bear with a deep growl who I named Big Boy.

He was listed on Etsy and sold within 24 hours to a customer of mine who lives in Japan.  As we speak, he is winging his way overseas, as he was posted yesterday.  He caused a bit of amusement in the Post Office as every time his parcel was tipped over he complained in his deep growly voice.

The next to be mended and cleaned up was the Lefray plush bear.

His arm needed a new joint and while I was at it I took a look at his non working squeaker.  He can now make a little squeak with a poke in the tummy (not surprising, it would make me squeak if someone did that to me!).  He is listed in my Etsy shop.

I have started mending the paws of the Chad Valley bear, but his hand paws will need patches.

The 1930's Deans bear I looked at late one night and got so engrossed in sorting out his problems that it was past midnight before I got to bed!  He needs a new head joint, and new hand paws.  He only had one ear so I have found suitable mohair in my offcuts and dyed it as close as I can to the original.  The original two pieces of ear will form the fronts of his 2 new ears, with the dyed pieces at the back.  I think he will be a handsome bear when he is finished.
Finally, the Lefray mohair bear, who needs his arm joints mending.
So, between restoring these. and making up a stock of little Pud Bears, I will be busy for a few weeks. :)  If you would like to know when these bears and the new artist bears go on sale, go to my FB page and 'like' it to get updates on the bears' progress.

Friday, 6 June 2014

A Very Large Visitor in a Sorry State

I had a huge parcel delivered yesterday and absolutely loved the contents as soon as I saw him.

Meet Herbert, a 23" bear named after my Paternal Grandfather whom I never met.  Grandad French left the army with shrapnel war wounds from WW1. 
This old boy has many 'wounds' of his own and I will consider it an honour to restore him and hopefully give him many more years in a new home.
For a start there is this patched area around his leg joint.  It has been patched very badly with a piece of sheepskin!  I am not sure that it will need a patch once the leg has been re-attached correctly.
Then there is problems with his arms.  The joints are fine, but the wood wool filling has settled making it look as if he has a broken arm, and the joint is showing at the top seam.

His paw pads have been replaced/covered, quite neatly, but stitched on the outside with a very dark brown material.  I am planning to give him new pads in a slightly lighter ultrasuede.  I will wait to see how damaged his original foot pads are once I get the covering material off. 

His head has numerous darns, especially around his nose.  These will be staying as they are quite neatly sewn, and in my opinion it will do more harm than good if I unpick them.  They are part of his history and give him character.  His nose and mouth appear to be original.

For some reason he has holes in the back of his ears that will need closing. 
I may find other problems as I go through the restoration process, but as long as I can make him strong enough to last many more years, I will be happy.
Unfortunately he has had to have the obligatory few days in the freezer that all of the old timers get when they arrive.  This (hopefully) will get rid of any nasties that may be lurking in the wood wool or mohair.  
When he comes out of quarantine I will post on here as I go along, to show the work in progress.  In the meantime, my 12" Pud Bears Panda appears to like having a big brother to look up to.
I believe him to be a 1930's - 1940's Chiltern bear.