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!

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!

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

Beasties on TV - R Moore/CrawCrafts Beasties

Beastie TV!

Hey there everyone! And wow, what an exciting week it’s been… Yesterday morning, bright and early, we arrived at the door of Virgin Media TV studios to appear on their breakfast show, Ireland AM! They wanted someone to talk about how knitting has really taken off again during the Covid-19 lockdowns… And you know, I do love to chat about all things knitting!

Plus, as we are all aware, the Beasties are incorrigible attention hounds.

So, soon after arrival, they fitted me up with a microphone. Then I helped to set up a table display of tasty yarn and surprisingly well-behaved Beasties.
Beasties on TV - R Moore/CrawCrafts BeastiesRoslyn from the Ireland AM crew had the presence of mind to take a few photos of the setup, thankfully… I completely forgot! She also took this picture, which some of you might have already seen on social media.
Me on Ireland AM - R Moore/CrawCrafts BeastiesThen, what seemed like microseconds later, we were live! My Dad very kindly photographed the TV at home while the segment was on and sent me these stills… Here I am, teaching the hosts Karen and Tommy how to knit!
Teaching Knitting on live TV! B Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThey both picked it up incredibly quickly, I was super impressed!

I also brought along a few samples of easy projects that I recommend for beginners, like these little fingerless mitts.Fingerless Mitts for Beginners - B Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties(These are very easy, by the way… And so much quicker than knitting a scarf!)

Here we are finishing up. I was so proud of my new pupils… And of the Beasties. Honestly, I’ve never seen them so quiet.
Knitting on TV - B Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThe knitting revival – you heard it here first, folks!
Beasties behaving for the TV cameras - B Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIf you’d like to see the complete piece, it’s currently up on the Virgin Media Player, here:
https://www.virginmediatelevision.ie/player/show/809/185364/0/

You can access the show from this link for the next 29 days. Some friends of mine in Europe have already watched it without a hitch, but if it’s not available in your country, please let me know! I might be able to send it to you a different way.

Also…

Commissions are officially open again as of today! So if you’ve an idea for a little woolly monster of your own, now is the time to get in touch!

We’ll be back next week with the second part of Explorer Beastie’s countryside adventure – sorry for bumping you this week, E.B.!

Plunkett Discovers Some Greenery in Sligo - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Happy St Patrick’s Day, Everyone!

Hey there Beastie friends! Yes, it’s that time again… Can you believe that it’s St Patrick’s Day already?

This year, it’s going to be a pretty quiet Paddy’s Day in Dublin. But the Beasties have had me look out some old photos of past festivities, to give you all a feel for what would normally be going on in the city. Aren’t they thoughtful?

First of all, the big St Patrick’s Day parade! Many years ago, I lived in an apartment that overlooked part of the parade route… And that meant we got a privileged view of the performers in the closing stages of their journey from the other side of the river Liffey.

In my first year of Beastie-making, a little green monster joined me to watch the fun!
St Patrick's Day ParadeYou can see more pictures from this parade in the original post, here.

And if parades aren’t really your thing, how about a quiet stroll around St Patrick’s Park instead?
Explorer Beastie at the Fountain - CrawCrafts BeastiesThis pretty city centre park is the perfect place for a springtime stroll… And you can admire St Patrick’s Cathedral as you wander! It’s right next door.
Explorer Beastie Goes for a Closer Look - CrawCrafts BeastiesOf course, a St Patrick’s Day party is probably on the cards for a lot of people. Paddy Beastie will certainly be celebrating…
Paddy Samples some Buckfast - CrawCrafts Beasties(Please enjoy your Paddy’s Day drinkies responsibly)

And look, Plunkett has found some nice seasonal shamrocks for us all to enjoy!
Plunkett's Moss Photo - Sligo Staycation - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesYou’re also all invited to the annual monster celebration at Beastie Towers – remember last year’s festivities?

That party started out fairly sedately…
St Patrick's Day Beastie Takeover - CrawCrafts Beasties… But went off the rails shortly afterwards.
Beastie Party - CrawCrafts BeastiesSo, will you be raising a glass to St Patrick today too? Be sure to share your party plans with us in the comments!

Happy St Patrick’s Day!

Techie Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Adventuring in Lockdown

Hello there Beastie friends! And welcome to February… Spring is now juuuust around the corner, right? And with days lengthening and daffodils and snowdrops starting to poke their way through the earth, is it possible that the lockdown is thawing out a bit too?

Paddy certainly thinks so.
“Camera, car keys, a box of travel sweeties – I think the humans are going somewhere!”

But Plunkett isn’t so sure. He suggests they check the news before they start making travel plans.Going Somewhere? Paddy and Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Ah. Oh dear.

“Sorry, Paddy. Lockdown continues… It looks like we’re staying home for the time being.”
But Paddy, as we know, is an optimistic creature. And lockdown or no lockdown, he’s still happy to tuck into the humans’ travel sweets. Except…

“Gaaaah! Plunkett! WHAT ARE THESE? They don’t look like sweeties!”
Isn’t it lucky that tech-savvy Plunkett is on hand?
“It’s a memory stick, Paddy.”
“Huh?”
“Come on, I’ll show you. It’ll help us put in the time until lunch.”

He selects a nice bright green one, to match his lovely mossy complexion, and…

“Pop it in the side of the computer here… We’re on our way! Look at all those photos.”

“So, where would you like to go, Paddy?”
“Oooh… How about those ones there?”
“Carlingford? Good choice!”

He’s right! It looks beautiful there.
Carlingford Lough - Lockdown Travel - B Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesLet’s swing in for a closer look.
Carlingford Lough - B Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesI don’t know about you, but this is EXACTLY the kind of view I needed to see today! And the boys’ tour isn’t finished yet… Now they’re off to Carlingford town.

“Oh cool, a castle!”
King John's Castle - Lockdown Adventures - B Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Yes, Paddy! Carlingford Castle was built by King John of England, and has been here on the shores of the Lough since the 12th century.”

And it’s not the only castle in town, either.
Castles in Carlingford - Lockdown Adventures - B Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThere’s a medieval church too. Plunkett is in raptures over all that lovely stonework.
Medieval Church in Carlingford - B Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“I’ll just zoom in here, for a closer look…”
“Do you see any leprechauns, Plunkett?”
“Noooo… Why would I?”
“Carlingford is the leprechaun capital of Ireland, of course!”

It really is, you know. Paddy pulled up this website to prove it! And if you want to capture your very own leprechaun, you can join the annual Leprechaun Hunt. It takes place in the Cooley Mountains, up behind the town.
Cooley Mountains - B Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesI can think of worse places to spend a day looking for the “little people”! The Mourne mountains are also nearby.
Mourne Mountains - Lockdown Adventures - B Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“And there are some incredible beaches, too.”
Beach at Carlingford - B Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“I’d love to go there sometime, Plunkett!”
“Well, with a little technical wizardry…”
Boys on the Beach - Lockdown Travel - CrawCrafts Beasties“… We can!”
“Cool! Hey, if we travel like this, just imagine the places we could go!”

Good thinking, Paddy. So, is there anywhere you’d like Paddy and Plunkett to virtually visit over the coming months? Be sure to let us know in the comments!

Makeshift Gate - Countryside Christmas - CrawCrafts Beasties

Countryside Christmas

Hello there Beastie friends! I hope you’re all staying safe and keeping well in these strange times. I thought I’d do something a little different today, and share a behind-the-scenes story… My Christmas in the countryside!

I usually head north of the border to spend the festive season with my family in Northern Ireland. Unfortunately, Coronavirus laughed in the face of my holiday plans. But luckily, Boyfriend’s family stepped in and “adopted” me for a couple of days, and Christmas Eve saw us both scooting westwards on the train to the peace and quiet of County Roscommon.

It was so nice to leave the city behind for a couple of days, and I made sure to head out for a walk every day to enjoy the sights and sounds of the countryside! Care to join me?

Now, we are in Ireland here, so it rained A LOT. Can you tell?
Rainy Ireland - Countryside Christmas - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd while some shadowy thickets retained a feeling of chilly mystery when the clouds parted…
Thicket - Countryside Christmas - CrawCrafts Beasties… In some places the winter sun broke through the trees and made the empty fields glow.
Willows - Countryside Christmas - CrawCrafts Beasties

Gotta love those quiet roads and wide open skies.Countryside Christmas Wander - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd there are wonders right at your feet in the undergrowth, too.
Earthstars - CrawCrafts BeastiesThese alien-looking marvels are fungi called earthstars. They pop up in the same place every year, so I always make sure to check in on them when I’m in the neighbourhood.

Then as the sun slipped below the horizon, I headed for home… Just as the moon started to rise over the fields.
The Moon & the Fields - CrawCrafts BeastiesBut where was Explorer Beastie while all this was going on? Ummm…
Sleepy Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts BeastiesWell, I suppose the holidays are a time to rest up and recharge your batteries.

So, did the pandemic throw a spanner in the works of your usual end-of-year activities? And did you end up doing something different but equally fun? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments!

View From Beastie Towers in the Snow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

New Year? Snow Way!

It’s the first BeastieBlog of 2021… Happy new year, everybody! And although this first week of January didn’t bring a whole lot of good news on the pandemic front, in some parts of the island of Ireland it did bring something a little unusual – SNOW!

And some of it fell in the back garden of a pair of familiar Beastie friends.
Paddy Spots the Snow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy was up nice and early, so he spotted it first. And of course, the very next thing he did was…

Paddy Wakes Plunkett - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

… To go and wake up Plunkett.

Poor Plunkett. He was having a lovely dream about igneous rock formations.
Plunkett Wakes Up - Snow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“What IS it, Paddy?”
“SNOW! It’s been snowing, Plunkett! Get up get up get up!”

View From Beastie Towers in the Snow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Look at that!”

It really is rather lovely. And every window revealed a fresh, snow-dusted view.
Snow at Beastie Towers - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesBut just looking at the snow was never going to be enough for Paddy. I think it’s time to head outside and play in it, don’t you?

Paddy Builds a Snow Beastie - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt looks like he already has a project in mind, too. Look at him go!

“Ta-daaaaah!”
Paddy's Snow Beastie - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“It’s a SnowBeastie, Plunkett! What do you think?”
“I think it’s not quite finished yet… Hang on a sec!”

And with a few finishing touches from Plunkett…
The Finished Snow Beastie - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesMuch better! It’s almost as cute as you are, boys.
“Almost!”

But even little woolly monsters start to feel the cold eventually. With their SnowBeastie finished, the lads decided it was time to head back indoors…
Warming up by the Stove - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties… And get toasty again by the stove!

So, how have you all been spending the first few days of 2021? Did you get any snow? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments!

Also…

Don’t forget that a new year means a new Beastie Calendar! This link will take you to the listing in our store… Download once, print off as many copies as you like, and be monstrously organised all year!
Beastie Calendar 2021 - Cover - CrawCrafts Beasties

New Year, New Calendar!

Hurrah! 2020 has been a heckuva year, but we’re down to the last couple of days now AT LAST! So might it maybe be a good time to start looking to the future? I thought so, and that’s why I sat down today to comb through my Beastie photo archives and put together an all-new Beastie Calendar for 2021!

Beastie Calendar 2021 - Cover - CrawCrafts Beasties

Hello, new year!

Because I didn’t make a new calendar last year (some pretty good foresight there, I thought) I had two years of Beastie pics to use. Hopefully you’ll like my selection! I’ve also changed the fonts and layout a bit…
… While still preserving the useful key features (a Monday-Sunday week and note space at the bottom) that help keep me on track.

A year’s worth of monster mayhem will set you back a mere ONE Euro, and you can download your calendar instantly from the order confirmation page on the website, or pick it up in your email. Then print off as many copies as you like… I’ve already got one set aside for home, one for the studio and one to keep track of my knitting classes!

You can grab your copy of the 2021 downloadable calendar in the Beasties’ online store, here… And don’t forget to tell us all about the events you’re most looking forward to in the comments!