BeastieBlog

Beastie Market Tales

Hello there everyone! It’s been another busy couple of weeks here in Beastie Towers… As I mentioned last time, the Beasties and I have been out hitting the market scene again, and it’s been such fun that I thought I would take a post to talk about it.

Unfortunately, I forgot to take ANY pictures of the first market at Dublin’s Richmond Barracks – yes, it turns out I was really out of practice with the whole “going to markets” thing! But if you’re interested, you can get a feel for this Dublin 8 gem from their website, here. And wow, what a great day! I’d only signed up for Sunday at the market (I was there as my alter-ego Knit With Helen to teach a workshop on the Saturday) but I’m not sure I would have had enough Beasties to go around if I’d been there for the whole weekend. And afterwards, that meant…

Frantic making of stock for the next one!

That leads to long queues at the Beastie Passport Office, plus a few late nights and early mornings for your friendly local monster maker.

But I managed to assemble an intrepid squad of Beasties juuuuust in time, and thanks to my buddy Deb at Deb’s Funky Sheepskins, who collected me from the train station, I was all set up by the time the doors opened on my second market in as many weeks.

And we had another knockout day! Again, a great venue, with an event hosted by the lovely folks at Greystones Community National School. I had some super chats with parents and kids alike, but there’s one story I particularly wanted to share with you all… And it involves this Beastie here:

Hey there, Artist Beastie!

Artist Beastie quickly caught the eye of an early visitor to my stall… A girl who came by regularly throughout the afternoon to check in on this painterly little monster. Unfortunately, the price tag for a Beastie like this one goes a bit beyond the average pocket money amount, and appeals for parental bridging loans early in the day had been unsuccessful.

But in the final hour, a lady who I recognised as the girl’s mum came over and said she’d like to buy Artist Beastie after all, as a special treat for her daughter. She said Cayla had until recently had very long hair… And the reason she was now sporting a short and super-trendy bob was because she’d volunteered to cut her ponytail and donate it to The Rapunzel Foundation. This organisation collects donated hair to make wigs for people living with alopecia, and because this condition affects children as well as adults, hair from younger donors is especially appreciated.

Better yet, before getting her hair cut, Cayla asked people to sponsor her, meaning her new ‘do also raised a hefty sum of money for the LauraLynn Children’s Hospice. Her mum was understandably incredibly proud, and it made me really happy to see Artist Beastie heading home with such a generous and thoughtful family.

And I think this is why I love doing markets. When you spend time making something, it’s really rewarding to step out of the studio, meet the people who get a kick out of your work, and hear their stories. Then you see how what you do fits into their world, and makes them happy. It’s a great feeling!

So, if you’ve stopped by my market stall recently and you have a Beastie tale of your own to share, don’t be shy! Leave a comment below, or use the Beastie contact form to drop me a line – I’d love to hear all about it!

A Very Beastie Engagement… Part 2

Hello there everyone! Wow, we had such a great weekend at the Richmond Barracks May Fair… So many Beasties headed off to new homes, and it was incredibly nice to get out and meet people again. If you were there and you’re checking out the BeastieBlog for the first time, welcome! Be sure to say hello in the comments.

And now, on with the Beastifications! Last time around, we met this pretty monster lady…

… But of course, it takes two to make an engagement work! Let’s meet the lucky fella, shall we?

Green Beastie Guy with beard, hair and beanie hat - Commissions by CrawCrafts Beasties

For this little monster guy, I took inspiration from the same engagement photo that I used as reference for his bride-to-be, and tried to capture the details of his outfit as closely as possible. So that started with his grey knitted beanie, and then I got to work on copying his outdoor jacket exactly.

Well, almost exactly. Wool, sheep and monster puns are not optional in the world of Beastie.

He also has a cosy handknitted scarf to complete his toasty outdoors ensemble.

And what about accessories? This Beastie’s human counterpart is a keen photographer, so a Kniton camera seemed like something he’d find useful.

Miniature Beastie camera made from felt with embroidered details - Commissions by CrawCrafts Beasties

It’s been a while since I last made one of these, so I was quite impressed that I was able to find the templates and that they still worked!

Beastie camera features - Miniature felt camera by CrawCrafts Beasties

As before, this Beastie-sized camera has a removable strap and lens, and details in felt appliqué or embroidery.

I think these two lil’ woolly monsters are ready to set out on their life together!

Wedding Beasties together - Wedding Gift Commission by CrawCrafts Beasties

But wait a sec… Who’s this?

It’s Mini-Tony!

Beastie-sized dog - Needle-felting by CrawCrafts Beasties

Mini-Tony mimics his full-size counterpart in every detail – I was lucky enough to find a video of Bigger Tony running around in the park, which made it easier to get his lovely markings just right.

Walkies, anyone?

Bespoke Beastie couple with dog - Wedding Commissions by CrawCrafts Beasties

That’s it for this Beastification… But there are more to come! I’ll see you for another one in a couple of weeks. And if you happen to be in and around Greystones next weekend, please drop in and say hi at my upcoming market…

Greystones CNS Summer Fair 12th June 2022

See you soon!

A Very Beastie Engagement

Well hello there, Beastie friends! I think it’s high time we started going over some of last year’s commissions, don’t you? There are so many new monster faces to meet! As I mentioned last time, 2021 was a bit of a mad one, and I was so busy making that I kinda forgot to do the polite thing and introduce those Beasties to the world!

So, where to start? How about something a bit special – a wedding commission! This project was requested by a regular customer of mine on behalf of her mum, whose best friend’s daughter (are you keeping up with all these connections?!) was planning to tie the knot last September. As it turned out, the bride is a well-known Irish influencer and travel consultant – check out her work, highly recommended if you’re planning to visit Ireland or book a staycation here. This made finding reference pictures an absolute breeze!

However, it also raised a little problem with the Beastie’s wardrobe. With so many photos to choose from, how could I be sure I was choosing an outfit that would still mean something in a few years, when fashions will surely have changed?

Luckily for me, a charming proposal story saved the day! The bride’s family now live on the Aran Islands, and it was during a visit there that the would-be groom popped the question. A photo taken just afterwards inspired the Beastified ensemble – a classic look of skinny jeans, slightly cropped sweater and a houndstooth check coat.

But, um, what are those in her pocket? Well, on the day of the proposal, the couple stepped out for a walk. The bride-to-be, completely unaware of what was brewing, had filled her coat pockets with carrots to feed to any horses they might meet along the way. Hard to resist a fun detail like that!

For the jacket, I wanted to match the fabric of the human-sized version as closely as possible… But alas, Dublin’s fabric shops were unable to oblige. All the checks were too big, and would swamp a little Beastie frame! When you’re making miniature clothes, EVERYTHING needs to shrink down, including any patterns or motifs on the material you use. But I wasn’t worried… When life hands you lemons, hit the charity shops! And sure enough, I found a skirt which fitted the bill perfectly. Better still, I’d bet my sewing machine that it had never even been worn – what a win!

The coat has carefully pattern-matched pockets (perfect for filling with carrots) and supporting wire in the collar so it sits open neatly.

And underneath…

… A little hand-knitted sweater! In the past year I’ve switched up my sweater design with new methods for casting on and casting off, plus the addition of a few strategic short rows to create a better neckline shape. This one also features slightly puffed sleeves – it was a delicate balance to make sure they weren’t too big for the jacket sleeves!

She’s also got a handy felt handbag, to carry any extra essentials.

And as we all know, Beastie bags usually have something hidden inside…

BRRRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNNG! BRRRRRRRIIIIIINNNNNNG!

“Oh, sorry! Is that me? It is! Hold on a sec…”

Well, if a person (or Beastie) makes their living online, they HAVE to have a phone, don’t they?

This new-style Beast-iPhone has a reflective screen and (you might juuuuust be able to see in the photo on the right) a double-lens camera for those handy snaps when you’re out and about. It’s also got a magnet inside so the Beastie can really hold it!

I had so much fun with this commission! But, I hear you ask, where’s the other half of this happy Beastie couple? Don’t worry, we’ll meet him next time… And there may be another important addition to this party too. Stay tuned!

Back to Beastie

Wow… It’s been a while, hasn’t it? I can’t believe it’s May already! And there have certainly been several times over the past few months when I thought “Hey, I should really do a blog post!” but there just always seemed to be about ten other things that needed to be done first.

Beasties at Work - CrawCrafts Beasties

On top of that, I really had to bounce back after 2021. 2021 was tough. I know that 2020 was no picnic for many people, especially those working in the creative and arts industries, but I was fortunate that the first lot of extended lockdowns paired quite nicely with my love of sitting down and making stuff with my hands. So I stayed home, crafted my way through the worst of it, and kept up with my knitting students as best I could via Zoom.

When things started to open up again though, it got tricky. It felt like the rules were always changing – I’d reopen for group classes one week, only to have to cut back to seeing people individually the next. Smaller groups and a lack of market opportunities meant that earning a living became a lot more difficult than it had been, and I found myself taking on every single project and promotional opportunity I could to try to keep things going. And finally, the yarn shop where I had been teaching closed. Yeouch! What a mess!

Upcoming Update Alert! CrawCrafts Beasties
(An old photo, but the mood is about right.)

So, the last few months have really been about tidying up and getting things back to some sort of order. That meant wrapping up any outstanding Beastie commissions…

… Setting up a new website for my knitting classes so that people can find me easily…

(You can check it out for yourself, here)

…And becoming my own yarn store!

I’ve also started knitting Aran pieces for an up-and-coming Irish knitwear designer… Because, you know, I’m not spending enough time knitting these days already.

And all this time away from blogging has one big upside – I have SO MANY Beasties to share with you all! So I’ll be diving into that in the next post, in two weeks’ time. In the meantime, you can keep up with the yarnier side of things on my new knitting blog. From now on, I’ll be alternating posts here with posts on the new website, so if wool, knitting and all that good stuff floats your boat, be sure to add the Knit With Helen blog to your Reader!

So, enough about me… What have you been up to since we last spoke? Be sure to let me know in the comments!

It’s Nearly New Year…

…So that means it’s nearly time for a new Beastie Calendar!

Now, I have to admit that 2021 and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. It’s even possible that I might do a little dance at midnight tomorrow when this year finally melts away into history! And one of the key features of 2021 has been a lack of opportunities to put together fun photos of Beasties gadding about in the world – the kind of photos that make for a decent Beastie Calendar.

However, that translates to a win for all of you! Since there are no new pictures, this year’s calendar is FREE! Grab yours here:

The icons in the bar along the top will let you print or download your copy… Or, if you don’t see those, click the two arrows in the top right hand corner to bring up the menu. And most importantly, have fun filling your days with plans, adventures and memories!

Here’s wishing you a happy new year, and all good things in 2022. And if you’ve any cool stuff waiting for you in the coming months, be sure to tell us about it in the comments!

Merry Beastmas!

Aaaah, it’s that time of year again… When Paddy swings from the branches of the Christmas tree like a small woolly Tarzan, and Plunkett watches anxiously from the sidelines.

And I couldn’t resist dropping by to wish you all a very happy holiday season… Merry Christmas from all of us here at Beastie Towers, and we’ll be back to hang out with you all again in the new year!

I’m Back! (Briefly!)

Hello everyone! I hope you’re all keeping well!

I’m still a liiiiittle bit busy here at Beastie Towers, and with Christmas on the horizon (eeeek! How did that happen?) it might be a while before I’m back to blogging with any kind of regularity.

However, I did want to stop in quickly and share some news… The Beastie Store is back!

Beastie Shopfront - CrawCrafts Beasties

Sumup, the company I use to process card payments for commissions and at markets, recently released their Online Store option in Ireland. I’ve always found their service to be great – easy to use, easy to track and with lower fees than a lot of their competitors. So, I thought I’d give the store a spin too!

You’ll find it here:

https://crawcrafts-beasties.sumup.link/

If you have a sec, I’d love for you to drop in and let me know what you think! I’ll be adding more Beasties and shipping options whenever I have a spare moment over the coming days too.

And now, gotta run… There’s monster-making to be done! I’m looking forward to hopefully catching up with you all again sometime soon, and WOWEE do I have some crazy commissions to share with you! In the meantime, here’s a quick taster of what I’ve been making lately to whet your appetites…

Take care and hopefully see you all soon!

Sleepy Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties

Monster Maker M.I.A.

Ooopsie!

In a change to the advertised programming here on the BeastieBlog, there will not be a new Beastie post this week… Or, unfortunately, for a couple more weeks, either. Between a growing heap of commissions, the reopening of knitting classes, a looming tax return deadline and a few new projects that have been bubbling away on the back burner, I’ve been finding myself spread a little thinly these past few weeks.

Explorer Beastie has too, apparently.

So, we’re going to take a short late summer break, get back on top of things, and return replenished with stories to share in the autumn!

Take care and see you then!

Helen and the Beasties x

Paddy and Plunkett in the Sunny South West

The boys are back in town… But which town?

The sunny seaside town of St Ives - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy is instantly sold.

“I like the look of this place – where are we, Plunkett?”

Fortunately, Plunkett remembered to bring along the travel guide.

“I think we’re in St Ives! Here, look.”

“The book says that St Ives has long been a popular place for artists to live and work, thanks to the special quality of the light here. I think I see what they mean…”

Paddy, as ever, is less concerned with the light and more interested in getting to the heart of the action.

“C’mon then! Let’s take a closer look!”

Harbour at St Ives, Cornwall - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Down at the harbour, Plunkett is enraptured. I think he might consider sticking around here and joining the St Ives School of artists himself at this rate.

“Wow, what a beautiful place! And look at that sky!”

Paddy’s eye is caught by something else.

“What beautiful boats! I wonder if…”

Oh no, Paddy. Let’s just nip that idea in the bud right now. We can’t have him attempting to commandeer any more vessels on this trip. Into town we go!

Paddy and Plunkett in St Ives - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

And the town doesn’t disappoint either, with its winding streets, pretty stone buildings, AND…

Plunkett at the Wool Shop, St Ives - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

… A WOOL SHOP!

Plunkett just had to stop and pick out some supplies for his next project. Or projects! He usually has a couple of things on the go.

Fortunately, someone was keeping an eye on the clock.

“Plunkett! PLUNKETT! The humans are going to leave without us! Hurry up!”

And that leaves ME wondering what weird parallel universe the boys have fallen into, where Paddy is the responsible one… Hopefully normal service will resume next week, with some new Beastie friends for you to meet! See you then!

Woof! Or, Another Visit to the Beastie Pet Shop

Hello everyone! I’ve another creature feature for you this week – and I’m surprised at how long it’s taken me to share this special Beastie pet with you! She’s a real cutie.

Hey there, Mini-Penelope!

Mini Penelope - Teeny needle-felted dog by CrawCrafts Beasties

This sweet little French bulldog pup was created to complete a Beastie family which I made a few years ago. Here’s the original trio…

Who's This? A Beastie Family, by CrawCrafts Beasties

They landed in their new home just in time to help their new human friends celebrate their wedding. However, that was ALLLLLL the way back in 2018! And with the arrival of Penelope (a cheeky lil’ French bulldog puppy) during last year’s lockdown, this family portrait needed an update!

So, I grabbed my needle-felting kit, and spent a good bit of time getting to know Penelope a little better. You can too! She and her sister Zoey have their own Instagram account.

And now here’s her Mini-Me!

* Waves magic Beastification wand *

Beastie-Sized French Bulldog - Commissions by CrawCrafts Beasties

And turn and smile for the camera, please.

Penelope the Frenh bulldog - CrawCrafts Beasties

Very nice.

Oh sorry, what’s that? You want to play Fetch?

Miniature Fetch - CrawCrafts Beasties

Maybe the pens and pencils might be a bit big for you, don’t you think?

Beastie Bulldog - CrawCrafts Beasties

Oh. She looks disappointed. Hey, you can still climb on them! Endless hours of fun.

Exploring my work table - Beastie Bulldog Commission by CrawCrafts Beasties

Who’s a good girl?

Good pup - CrawCrafts Beasties

Thanks to Kristen for requesting this fun addition to her little family of woolly monsters!

And be sure to join us again next week, when we’ll be catching up with Paddy and Plunkett. I wonder where they’ve been for the last couple of weeks? See you then!