Goth Beastie Closeup - CrawCrafts Beasties

Weekly Photo Challenge – Creepy

Goth Beastie, by CrawCrafts Beasties

Oh wow, I’ve actually been looking for an excuse to get on board with the Weekly Photo Challenge for months… So today’s task on Blogging 101 couldn’t have come at a better time! Here’s my first ever entry… My original Goth Beastie, hanging out in a local graveyard. Don’t have nightmares, now!

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Creepy.”

Carrier Bags - CrawCrafts Beasties


My Craft Fair Stall - CrawCrafts Beasties
Today, I’m letting someone else do the driving.

Anyone who has been reading this blog for a while has probably noticed a pattern to what I post… especially in the last couple of months, since I’ve started posting twice a week. If you read my Tuesday post, you’ll usually find you’re being introduced to a new Beastie, while Friday is reserved for tales of Beastie adventures in the wider world, beyond the confines of Beastie Towers. However, taking the Blogging 101 course has meant that I’ve had the opportunity to pop in a couple of extra posts… and today I’m venturing even further outside my comfortable routine, by allowing them to dictate the content as well!

So today’s post is based on The Daily Post’s daily prompt, “First!“. I still wanted to keep things vaguely Beastie-related, so that’s why I chose this one, rather than talking about my love of F1 racing (“Fandom“), sharing the music I like through a playlist that sums up my life (“Mix Tape“) or inventing my own holiday, and telling you all why you should celebrate it (“Festivus for the Rest of Us“). However, if any of you are interested in this stuff, let me know in the comments and I’ll reconsider…

Anyway, let’s travel back in time a couple of years, and talk about my first day at the first market the Beasties and I went to together.
Craft Fair Stall - CrawCrafts Beasties
I heard about this market through a friend, and it seemed like a good choice for my first attempt – a 2-day event held not too far from home, with a manageable-sized downpayment on the table. So, I set about making more Beasties than I had ever made before!
Beastie Mum & Baby - CrawCrafts BeastiesPunk Beastie, by CrawCrafts BeastiesI even made some minature Beastie Christmas decorations…
Christmas Decorations - CrawCrafts Beasties
I took some time to photograph my work, and it was around this time that I set up the BeastieBlog! But my work rate was slow – at that time, I was still cutting out all the Beasties’ eyes by hand. That means I cut out squares of black and white felt, and trimmed them until I had two identically-sized circles… Looking back, I don’t know how I had the patience!

In the days leading up to the market, there were some fun times buying accessories to decorate my stall, and some less enjoyable experiences – trying to choose prices was a particularly irksome task, and one which I still don’t enjoy! But at last, market day dawned and I set off with my bag of monsters and a pocket full of change. I was wavering between excitement and nervousness the whole way there – what if I hadn’t made enough? What if I’d made too much? What if I sat there all day and no-one even looked at my table? This continued for about the first hour, until I sent the first of my Beasties off to a new home…
Vampire Beastie, by CrawCrafts Beasties
After that, I relaxed… and things just got easier! I got to know my fellow stallholders and their families, and I had a great time watching other people interact with the Beasties. This was the first time I had ever had the chance to see how kids respond to them, and I really enjoyed watching my creations walk across the table, dance and talk to each other!

By the end of the first day, more than half of the Beasties had gone home with their new families! Even now, I still get a boost thinking about it… and back then, this was massive. I had just quit a stable 9-5 job to move back to Dublin, and when I had told people that one of the main things I hoped to do post-move was to make little knitted monsters, I think more than a few of them questioned my sanity! To have my first market experience go so well really made me feel like I was on the right track, and gave me the confidence to keep on going. Yes, it was scary… but firsts always are. And I certainly didn’t have a fault-free first round – despite my agonising over prices, more than one person told me I’d gone far too low. Still, I learned so much, and made friends I’m still in touch with today!

Has anyone else a First Day story they’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!

Me at the Oslo Opera House - CrawCrafts Beasties

Revisting Oslo

View from the Oslo Opera House - CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s time for another between-the-numbers post, courtesy of Blogging 101!

Since I started this course last week, I’ve been making an effort to actively seek out the writings of my fellow bloggers, rather than simply waiting for them to come to me. One of my favourite finds has been travelmagnolia, whose blog I discovered while perusing the “Scandinavia” tag on the WordPress reader. I especially enjoyed her most recent post about Oslo, which reminded me of my own visit there a couple of years ago. Look, here I am hanging out on the roof of the Opera House!
Me at the Oslo Opera House - CrawCrafts BeastiesThis trip was one of many I made in 2012. I had applied for a sabbatical from my long-term job, and at the end of January that year, I walked out of my workplace with no intention of ever going back. Of course, I knew I would need to look for a new job eventually, but first I was going to have some fun with the savings I had accumulated after five years of working full time and living thriftily. A few days later, I was enjoying the sub-zero delights of winter in Berlin, with some friends who were based there at the time!
Berlin in Winter - CrawCrafts BeastiesMuseum Island, Berlin - CrawCrafts BeastiesI also went to Moscow…
Moscow - CrawCrafts Beasties
…And Tokyo!
Tokyo - CrawCrafts Beasties
But my trip to Norway and Sweden stands out for a couple of reasons. For starters, I celebrated my 30th birthday in Oslo – a hilariously low-key affair in the room I was sharing with my travelling companions, in a budget hotel that our Lonely Planet guide described as “barracks-like”. We picked up cake slices from the 7-11 down the street, and washed them down with drinks from the duty-free at Dublin Airport. We were tired after a long day’s travel, and had an early start in the morning, so the festivities were short-lived, but I don’t think I stopped laughing all evening.
Low-rent Birthday Party - CrawCrafts Beasties
I also finally had a chance to see “The Scream”, a painting which eluded me on my first visit to Oslo in 2001. I can’t remember if it had been stolen (again!) or if it was just on loan to another gallery, but I entered the Munch room that time to find a postcard from the gift shop in the space where the painting should have been. Seeing the real deal was, understandably, a much more enlightening experience.

Our travels took us outside the capital as well – we experienced some particularly Irish weather in Bergen…
Bergen - CrawCrafts Beasties
….Ventured north of the Arctic Circle to Tromsø…
Tromso - CrawCrafts Beasties…And even got to see the Northern Lights!

You will probably notice a surprising (for this blog) absence of Beasties from these photos. When I made this trip, there was only ONE Beastie in existence in the whole world – my prototype, Schnocks.
Schnocks, the very first Beastie - CrawCrafts BeastiesI’d love to say here that leaving my job and taking some lovely holidays to clear my mind was a miracle cure-all, and that when I got home I instantly dropped everything to start pursuing my long-held dream of making monsters full-time. But we all know real life isn’t so easy, so linear or so trite, and those of us who make things for a living are all too aware that it’s a long-term labour of love, not a get-rich-quick scheme. That said, making the break with my old, unsatisfying workaday life was a really important first step on a journey that’s still ongoing, and I relish every opportunity to remember the places I visited while I was trying to figure out a better, more interesting way to spend my days. So thank you, travelmagnolia, for letting me see Oslo through your eyes, and giving me the chance to share my own travel stories!

What about you, readers? Where in the world would you most like to revisit, and why?

Pint Beastie - Barróg Beasties, by CrawCrafts Beasties

A Lazy Summer Afternoon with Pint Beastie!

Summer Barróg Beasties, by CrawCrafts Beasties
Some of you may remember these little woolly faces from my summer colours post a couple of weeks ago! In between all the markets, days out and blogging challenges set by the nice folks at Blogging 101, I’ve been kitting these monsters out with some extra-special accessories!

I wanted to give all of them an Irish flavour, because these are Barróg Beasties – a local subspecies of Beastie grown from yarn that is harvested, spun and dyed right here in Ireland. Let’s meet one of them, shall we?
May I introduce… Pint Beastie!
Pint Beastie - Barróg Beasties, by CrawCrafts Beasties
Let’s face it, Ireland has a bit of a reputation when it comes to the old “demon drink”. Personally, I’m not so sure we deserve our worldwide notoriety as a nation of boozers – there are certainly plenty of other contenders for the crown – but it is fair to say that a lot of our social life here centres around the humble pub. I’m inclined to blame this on our weather… in a country where it can be rainy and cold at any time of the year, the pub will provide shelter from the elements, companionship, news and the possibility of consuming a little something to help you feel warmer.

Of course, during our brief, fleeting summer, everything changes. A balmy evening in Dublin sees pub patrons flooding outside to catch some sun, and any establishment with a beer garden, yard or quiet stretch of pavement outside will be absolutely packed. And on those days, even us hardened stout and ale drinkers might be tempted to switch things up and order a cold, crisp pint of lager instead.

With this in mind, I just had to take Pint Beastie out to the garden today!
Pint Beastie in the Garden - CrawCrafts Beasties
He really enjoyed having a quiet tipple and watching the world go by!

Cheers to that, I say!
Cheers! Pint Beastie, by CrawCrafts Beasties
While he was there, he bumped into another Summer Barróg Beastie – what’s he got in his paw?
Pint Beastie makes a friend! Barróg Beasties, by CrawCrafts BeastiesAll will be revealed next time!

What’s your favourite summertime drinkable? Let me know in the comments!

Paddy and Plunkett at the Glasgow Mausoleum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Bonny Beastie Scotland!

Paddy and Plunkett in Glasgow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Paddy and Plunkett are back!

Or, more correctly, they’ve gone on holiday again and sent me more tales of their adventures to use on the BeastieBlog. This time, they’re exploring the delights of Scotland!

Their journey begins in Glasgow, which is almost a homecoming for them – I’m a quarter Glaswegian myself, so there should be a teeny bit of Scottishness knitted into the genetic material of these otherwise Irish little monsters!

Their first photocall was at the Glasgow Necropolis…
Paddy and Plunkett at the Glasgow Mausoleum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
…What is it with Beasties and graveyards at the minute?!
Paddy at the Glasgow Mausoleum - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
They also visited the Transport Museum – Paddy has a bit of a thing for classic cars.
Paddy at the Transport Museum, Glasgow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
I think he’s going to have to find someone a little taller than him to help with the driving, though. Meanwhile, architecture buff Plunkett had stumbled on this incredible staircase at the Central Hotel, in the railway station!
Plunkett at the Central Hotel, Glasgow - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
Since they were in the station anyway, the two of them decided to hop on a train and head to Aberdeen on the north east coast… And look what they found when they arrived!
Paddy and Plunkett find some local yarnbombing! H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties
How nice of the locals to knit up a cosy Beastie hotel for them to stay in!
Paddy and Plunkett at the Aberdeen Yarn Bombing - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPaddy and Plunkett get cosy at the Yarn Bombing - H Crawford/Crawcrafts Beasties“We think we’ll stay here for a while… Check back with us in a week or so!”

About Paddy and Plunkett
Paddy and Plunkett are a special sub-species of Beastie called “Barróg Beasties”. “Barróg” is the Irish word for “hug”, which neatly sums up how friendly these little monsters are! They’re also special because they’re made from 100% Irish wool, which is spun and dyed in a family-owned mill in Co. Kilkenny.

Super-observant regular readers may also notice that further changes have been afoot on the BeastieBlog – after nearly two years with the same look, I was encouraged by Blogging 101 to consider overhauling my theme. I’d love to know what you think of our makeover… let me know in the comments!

Beastie T-shirts - CrawCrafts Beasties

Today on Blogging 101…

Beastie T-shirts - CrawCrafts Beasties
…It’s all about you, lovely readers!

Today, I’ve been asked to write something especially for my imagined ideal audience member. And the unspoken first part of the assignment is, I suppose, to have a bit of a think about who that person might be, and what makes them tick.

When I started this blog in (checks facts) November 2013, I had a very clear plan for it – the blog was here to support my embryonic Beastie business. I had just quit a job in a web design company in Northern Ireland to move back to Dublin and, coming from that background, the idea of attempting to start a business without some kind of online presence was completely unthinkable. So, I set up my blog, and went about filling it with photos of my work, in the hope of getting more people interested in what I was doing. Back then, I was writing for customers, and I was simply telling them what I was making, and where they could buy it.
My Craft Fair Stall - CrawCrafts Beasties

But somewhere along the line, it seems to me that something shifted. If I were to try to pin it down to a particular moment, I’d say it was the first time Explorer Beastie went out for an adventure.
Ampelmann and Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties
Having Explorer Beastie accompany me when I went out and about allowed me to start bringing some of my other passions onto the blog – travel, food and sharing my favourite places around Dublin. And then, as more Beasties went to new homes further afield, I started having even more material for these kinds of posts…
Climber Beastie by CrawCrafts BeastiesReader Beastie on the Bale Wagon - CrawCrafts Beasties/N Couture…So it began to feel like a real little community! The BeastieBlog might have started life as “the store”, but now it’s the fan club. And in my book, that’s a lot more worthwhile.

All this considered, how do I see my ideal reader now? Well, I imagine they’re quite similiar to me – people who grew up loving cartoons and hoping that their stuffed animals would come alive (although not in a “Child’s Play” kind of way). They still get a kick out of exploring new places, even if they’re only across town, and they’re constantly amazed by the bizarre array of creatures we share the planet with. They’re probably a bit kooky or nerdy, and have a penchant for cult movies and almost-forgotten music. They love to read, but were never too big on sports. And they always have time for a bit of silliness.

So to you, imaginary perfect reader, I want to say – RELAX. This isn’t just for kids. There is enough serious stuff going on the world, and you can get back to it in a few minutes – if you want to. For now, fix yourself a cup of tea and your favourite treat, and come and hang out with me and my little monsters.
Explorer Beastie Picking Haws - CrawCrafts Beasties
The second half of today’s project is to use a new element in my blog, to mix things up a little. Exciting! I didn’t actually realise that I was able to embed from Pinterest, so I’m going to share a couple of boards that I’ve been putting together recently. Enjoy!