Early Spring at Beastie Towers!

Did you know that, according to the Celtic calendar, Spring in Ireland begins at the start of February? Most of the time, it doesn’t feel particularly Spring-like until well into March (especially last year!) but 2019 has been so mild. Explorer Beastie’s miniature daffodils have been blooming for a couple of weeks already!
Explorer Beastie with Spring Daffodils - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd with the warming temperatures and gradually lengthening days, activity levels have been picking up a little too! Today I wanted to share some of the extra-curricular activities that have been keeping me and the Beasties busy this past while.

A Spring Clean… For My Skills!

Aaaah, the sewing machine! My old nemesis. For too long, your ways have eluded me… In fact, slow as it is to stitch seams by hand, it has often seemed quicker than the usual sew it-rip it-resew it-rip it process that usually accompanies a stint on the machine.
Vintage Singer Sewing Machine - CrawCrafts BeastiesBut this year, I decided enough was enough. Let’s master those sewing machine demons! So I signed up for a class with The City Seamstress. I’ve already picked up some valuable tips that have made my work better (and helped my confidence, too) and right now I’m working on a project which is neeeearly finished, so I should hopefully be able to share pics very soon!

And as well as learning, I’ve been teaching too! January was a really busy time for my knitting classes – it’s like half of Dublin decided to put “learn to knit” at the top of their New Year’s Resolutions list! This spurred me on to tackle something I’ve been meaning to do for a while… Make up a really easy sweater pattern.
A Super-Easy Srping Sweater - CrawCrafts BeastiesYou see, a lot of students want to take on the challenge of making a jumper quite early on… But even the simplest-looking designs often have next-level knitting skills lurking in the pattern. And while some new knitters thrive on being thrown in at the deep end, more than a few are put off by the idea of fancy shaping techniques, decorative seams and the alphabet soup of abbreviations that crop up in many “beginner” patterns.

So, what you see in the picture is sleeve #2 of an almost-finished sweater of… Just rectangles! And yes, the design is probably far from original, but this version is mine! That makes it easier to guide people through all the pre-knitting preparations, like sizing and choosing yarn, and also to suggest tweaks if anyone wants to put their own stamp on it.

Also, I get a new sweater.

But it can’t be all work and no play, of course. There has to be time for a…

Spring Breaaaaaaaak!

That means a quick trip out to Donegal with my brother, now pretty much a February tradition. This is the third year we’ve hit the road and headed about as far north-west as it’s possible to go in Ireland without falling into the sea. You can catch up with the epic 2017 and 2018 travelogues if you missed them!

Explorer Beastie sat this one out – well, he had to look after his garden, and I really think he should agree to take a bath before he goes on any more location photoshoots – but we did have company for the trip…
A Furry Friend for Our Road Trip - CrawCrafts Beasties… And I couldn’t resist leaving a monster behind on one of the beaches, just to prove I’d passed through!
Rock Monster in Donegal - CrawCrafts BeastiesWe also had a delicious lunch at Nancy’s Barn in Ballyliffin… Well worth a visit if you find yourself in this part of the world!

And Finally…

A few Beasties have been helping author (and Beastie Buddy) Tammie Painter to celebrate the launch of her latest book, Domna Part Two: The Solon’s Son!


This novel is the second in a series of six about ambitious, resourceful Sofia Domna, whose plans are knocked sideways by a chance encounter in her local marketplace. If you haven’t discovered this series yet, you really should… And the best bit is that Tammie (generous to a fault) is giving away the first novel, The Sun God’s Daughter, to anyone who signs up to her mailing list. Go on, you know you want to!

Well, that’s all the news from here… What have you all been up to? Is Spring springing where you are? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments!

20 thoughts on “Early Spring at Beastie Towers!

  1. I love the monster rock art! How fun to holiday with your brother at the beach (and an adorable dog in the photo!) Wow Spring starts in February? The Irish are very positive – I like it!
    Your sewing machine can be your friend! Of course that might be like you telling me that my knitting needles are my friend – I have yet to finish a scarf I blogged about last winter – ha!

    1. Hmmm… Sounds like we might need to do a trade here! I’ll send you my projects from sewing class to finish, and you can mail me your scarf! πŸ˜† And most years I’d be inclined to agree with you on the over-optimistic “spring begins in February” line, but this year it’s been just lovely! It’s perfect weather to run around on the beach with a dog… But then, is there ever a time when that’s NOT good? 🐢 Cheers for popping in, Tierney!

        1. Hahaha! I think I’d HAVE to knit your scarf in my sleep… It’s the only free time I have just now πŸ˜† Allegedly I have fallen asleep over my knitting before, so perhaps it is indeed time I could be using more productively… πŸ€”

  2. WordPress still refusing to let me like your posts… although I do.
    Is there a hint there that you are now feeling happier using your sewing machine? I’m pretty certain that most beastie things will be easier to sew by hand as it’s the fiddly stuff that’s most difficult on a machine.
    I really must encourage Mr Snail to photograph his beasties more, but I suspect that all trips out are currently to the pub and who wants to see an inebriated beastie?

    1. Ummm… Everybody? 😁 More than a few of my own Beastie pics end up being pub-centric, so Jon is welcome to snap away!

      And yes, I AM feeling a bit more at home with my sewing machine, thank you! A lot of it comes down to just relaxing… And not doing my practice 2 hours before I dash out to class helps too. Who knew? πŸ˜‚

      Thanks for swinging by, Dr Snail, and persevering with the WordPress gremlins long enough to leave a comment! I think I might need to have a chat with them and see what’s going on there!

  3. What!? I got a shout out and came late to the party? Call me red in the face! This is what happens when I change Blog Reading Day to Thursdays instead of Tuesdays. THANKS!!!!

    Anyway, after our non-existent winter, when February rolled around winter decided to show up so all my blooms are on hold (or withered by icy temps). I have a beginner sweater pattern that is basically two squares seamed together…even on the model it looks horrible. I’ve no doubt yours will be much better :))

    And, is that a new/different dog…or am I getting my blog dogs mixed up?

    1. Hahaha! Don’t worry, I’ve been late to several blog parties already this year πŸ˜† Heck, I’m even late replying to this comment! Hopefully by this stage the Portland weather has stopped wreaking havoc with your blooms and you’re getting to enjoy the first signs of spring!

      Also… Yes, that IS a different blog dog! You win the eagle eyes prize. This lovely lady belongs to a friend of my brother’s, who was more than happy to let her have a day out at the beach while he was at work.

      Now, tell me more about that ugly sweater… From the sounds of it, you might as well cut arm holes in a sack and wear that! πŸ˜† At least I now feel better about my own design ambitions though… Cheers Tammie!

      1. You need to hope harder!! Old Man Winter showed up late to the party and now he won’t leave. Snow, ice, miserable temps, that stupid groundhog is a lying jerk! Never trust a rodent. Never. At least as far as meteorology is concerned.

        1. Ha! Yeah, who put the rodent in charge? Although I suppose they are cheaper to employ than your average news anchor, and so much cuter… Now, be nice and keep those frosty climes on your side of the Atlantic! Clearly my spring-bringing powers are not as strong as I thought! πŸ˜†

  4. What an exciting life you live! πŸ™‚
    I, myself haven’t buried the hatchet with my sewing machine, yet. But this post convinced me that maybe not all hope is lost. I shall look for a sewing class … even if it’s only to find out that I can’t do it. As a sideline, I recently found out that you can actually sew paper and with this technique you can make some really nice cards. Even I could do it. HaHa!

    1. Oooh, maybe I should give that a go! Right now I’m in the market for anything that’s easy πŸ˜† Although I think I might have managed a passable lined purse the other day, so I figure if I can do that, there’s hope for everybody! Classes do help as well, even if it’s just to get you into the habit of practicing more regularly. Good luck!

      1. I need to figure out how to sew a straight line. For some reason my seams always look like a creative mess curving here and there over the hills and everywhere. πŸ˜€

    1. Yay! Thanks for catching up with all our recent adventures… It’s only now that I see your comments that I realise how busy we’ve been! Might be time to kick back and make some monsters for a change πŸ˜‰

  5. I can see archaeologists of the future speculating about the cultural significance of what will be known as “The Donegal Rock Monster.” πŸ˜„ Happy to read that the sewing-machine is getting another go this year, too. I hear you – I loved to sew in high school, but when my Singer got finicky and started tangling my seams for no good reason, I had to put it back in the box. Expert intervention is a wise course! And looking forward to hearing more about the DIY sweater pattern. As master tailor to the Beasties, I’m sure your basic jumper will be a hit with the students. Plus, there is nothing quite like donning your own handiwork!

    1. That’s true! Although I’d forgotten how much less speedy knitting for humans is… Even with bigger needles and a simple shape, this sweater is taking a while! I’m excited for it to be done though!

      As for the sewing machine, I’m definitely seeing an improvement in relations with mine… Could it be that yours needs a service? My teacher recommended that some of the “quirks” of mine could be ironed out by a visit to the doctor, something I will definitely do when I figure out how to carry my weighty vintage machine across town to the Singer shop!

      Glad you liked the rock monster too – I hope he manages to hold together in Donegal’s somewhat wild climate, so that he can puzzle those future archaeologists πŸ˜‚ Cheers for stopping in, Shirley!

  6. How’s the sewing going? (I love that that rhymes, isn’t English brilliant!)
    I was scared of my sewing machine for so long that when I finally decided to tackle it head-on, the stupid thing didn’t work any more. I’m hoping to get a new one soon and then I’m determined to become a proper sewist.

    1. Hahaha! I love me some rhyme 😁 It’s definitely much better, thanks… I finished a couple of simple projects in my last session, so I felt confident enough to try sewing the fleece fabric I use to make plushies for markets. I’m hoping to become a regular sweatshop before long πŸ˜‚
      Also, if you still have your old sewing machine, it might just be in need of a service… See if any of your local suppliers will check it over for you!

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