There’s something about that slight cooling of the air, the change in the light and all those Autumn colours that gets me every time. It’s a time of year when I just have to get out, stroll around Dublin’s parks and soak it all up!
And the Beasties like to get in on the Fall fun too, of course.
This year, we’re extra excited to be able to celebrate the arrival of Autumn by… Going to a seasonal market!
We had a great time selling at the Richmond Barracks May Fair back at the beginning of the summer. It’s such a brilliant venue, and right on my doorstep too! I’ll be there for the whole weekend, and I’ll be joined by a gang of seasonal Beasties…. So expect to see plenty of monsters with food, drinks and cosy woollies.
And if you’re not local and can’t join us on the day, don’t despair! I’m sure some of those Fall-themed Beasties will be popping up on our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter feeds over the coming days 😉
It’s been a while since we’ve seen Paddy and Plunkett, hasn’t it? But that doesn’t mean they haven’t been out and about… In fact, an email from them landed in just recently! Let’s find out what they’ve been up to, shall we?
Aha! There’s Paddy now… With a sundial. What time is it showing, Paddy?
Fair enough. A sundial in Ireland has a pretty limited operating window, even in summer! I wonder where Plunkett has got to?
Oh, there he is. With… Another sundial!
“Look at this, Paddy! This multi-dial sundial can be used at any time of the year, with one dial for British Summer Time and a second to use in the winter. I think summer time is on the side where you’re standing – what time is it?”
“Ummmm… Still cloudy!”
Oh well, at least they can appreciate the different designs and shapes. And it turns out that this place is full of ever more intricate sundials… We’re in The Time Garden at Carnfunnock Country Park, right here:
“The Cut Cube Dial has angles cut into its sides, and the shadows cast by these allow you to read the time on a series of diagonal markings on the cube’s faces.”
“Plunkett, this is all getting very complicated!”
But it doesn’t stop there. Look at this one!
Neither of the Beasties is sure where to even begin telling the time on this one, the Armillary Sphere. Plunkett goes to have another look at the information board.
“Okay! To read the time, we look at the shadow on the numbered ring created by the gnomon…”
“The metal bar across the middle.”
“Right. I’ll go up and see if that helps.”
“Make sure you’re reading the gnomon’s shadow, Paddy, not the shadow of one of the rings! Then we can find today’s date on the outer zodiac ring, add or subtract the number of minutes it says there, and then…”
“Plunkett, I think I finally know what time it is!”
“Yep! It’s LUNCHTIME!”
Well, at least Paddy’s stomach can be relied upon to keep time, even on the cloudiest of days. Bon appetit, Beasties, and we’ll see you again soon!
Hello there everyone! I have a commission story to share with you all today… Yes, I’m still catching up with all those custom orders from last year!
So, this time our tale begins at the Dublin Cat Fair, in 2019. My customer adopted this Beastie, in a rather fetching feline-themed blue sweater…
However, she had been hoping to pick up one of my Cat Owner Beasties, like this one:
These take a lot longer to make, and I tend to bring fewer of them along to markets… So by the time she and her partner reached my stall that day, they were all gone.
But fast forward a year and a bit, and there was a birthday on the horizon! My customer wanted to celebrate in the Beastiest way possible, and asked me to combine two of her boyfriend’s great loves – cats and unicorns!
First, she selected a Unicorn Beastie who was already available in my online store…
… And then I added a feline twist!
And so that their original Beastie friend didn’t feel left out… They got a kitty too!
By the way, calico cats (with ginger, black and white patches) are the intended recipient’s favourite, so I made two… Each with slightly different markings.
Here you go, Unicorn Beastie. You’re in charge of making sure both cats arrive safely in their new home!
But the story doesn’t end there.
When birthday time rolled around again, another email popped into my inbox. As it turns out, since we’d last spoken, some full-size, non-Beastie cats had joined this family – two calico cats, just like the ones I’d made, and one little fuzzy black kitty.
So, my mission was… Could I bring the Beastie family up to date with a miniature black cat? Sure I could!
This teeny felted feline was super friendly, and loved prowling over my hand and getting chin scratchies!
And this little critter is all the more important today, because it’s National Black Cat Appreciation Day! Black cats get kind of a rough deal – the old superstition that they bring bad luck is hard to shake off, and it’s been reported that they’re less likely to be adopted from shelters than cats of any other colour. So, if you see a black cat today, or if you happen to be heading out to adopt a feline friend of your own, be sure to show them some love!
That’s all from us for this week – see you next time, when we’ll be catching up with Paddy and Plunkett!
Hello there, Beastie friends! And ooops, my new blogging schedule went completely out the window last week… Covid finally found its way to Beastie Towers, and forced me to spend a week knitting on the couch and watching bad scripted reality shows on Netflix. Life is tough, eh?
Fortunately, my encounter with the dread virus isn’t the special visit I mentioned in the title. The actual visit we’re talking about today was a lot more fun! And it all began with the arrival of a mysterious letter…
My correspondent’s mum had actually reached out to me a week or two earlier to see if I had any Cosy Scarf Beasties in need of a new home, and at the time I didn’t… But I’d said that I’d be happy to make one in Aisling’s favourite colours if she’d let me know what those were. I looked out for an email or text… But I was delighted to get my answer by post instead, complete with drawing!
So, I set to work. And soon…
… A Beastie appeared!
And once the Beastie had approved their passport photo, they were ready to ship out.
However, this journey wasn’t going to involve the usual trip to the Post Office! This Beastie had the honour of being picked up in person from my workshop, and hey, I thought we could have a bit of extra fun.
First of all, a quick comparison between the original sketch and the Beastie to make sure I’d done my job properly…
…Followed by a photoshoot in the Beastie-Sized Photo Studio with the big fancy camera!
I liked this picture the best – it looks like the Beastie’s scarf is fluttering in the breeze!
Then we did a quick tour of the rest of the studio building, and had a chat with a few of the other artists who work here.
Since my Beastie’s new human friend is a keen artist herself (rumour has it that there is a Beastie comic book in the works as we speak) I really hope she enjoyed seeing around our studio home.
And if you’d like to adopt a little woolly friend of your own, take a peek in our freshly-updated online store! I’ll be adding more Beasties over the coming weeks too, so stay tuned!
Hello there, Beastie readers! Now, any of you who tuned in to my previous post would be forgiven for thinking that all the accessories I showed off last time around would be plenty to keep even the most active Beastie occupied. But as the title says – there’s more!
Much, much more.
First of all, let’s get a proper introduction to this little felted sweetie who made a brief appearance at the campfire cookout a couple of weeks back:
Hello there, Mini-Sadie!
Mini-Sadie is a needle-felted miniature of Cindy Beastie’s human’s own canine companion. She’s a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and she has a penchant for dressing up, as you can see.
Unfortunately, she doesn’t walk so well… But that’s ok, because she has THIS!
Hop right in, Mini-Sadie! Let’s take a stroll together.
Good girl! And awaaaaaay we go!
Mini-Sadie’s “tail wagon” is made from felt, and features net windows so she doesn’t get too hot.
For extra realism, those wagon wheels really turn, too… And that ended up being the trickiest part of the design! I raided Dublin’s toy and charity shops in search of suitable pre-made wheels, but they were all the wrong size. After much experimenting, the winning solution turned out to be home-made – a thick wire axle, with button wheels held in place with tubular beads. And I think the embroidered felt “spokes” fit in better with the woolly, fuzzy Beastie design aesthetic as well!
So, that’s walkies done for the day… What’s next?
How about a spot of sewing?
Cindy Beastie’s human counterpart is a quilter and fibre artist, so obviously only a top-of-the-range Beastnina sewing machine would do! Let’s get it set up…
…And then she’s ready to stitch!
Human Cindy’s artwork also inspired an extra addition to her Beastie’s wardrobe. When I began her Beastification, she was creating a series of miniature art pieces, using small segments of fabric embellished with embroidery. You can see some of them on her website, here. Miniaturising already-miniature artworks seemed like a non-starter, but incorporating this idea into an item of clothing for a little monster? That might just work!
I used pieces of felt, printed cotton and ribbon, and the design continues across the back and over the sleeves!
The jacket fastens with snaps in the front, so it’s removable as well.
Surely that’s everything now though, right? Nope! Not quite. I’ve one more final touch to add to Cindy Beastie, as requested by Human Cindy.
Snazzy yellow specs!
I love how fun and bright these are… Don’t they complement her lovely pale blue complexion beautifully?
And phew! That’s everything accounted for! Thanks to Cindy for this awesome and challenging Beastification project – it really expanded my monster-making skills in all kinds of new directions. And cheers to all you readers if you made it this far… Next time, I’ll be introducing you all to a simpler (but no less special) Beastie friend. See you in a couple of weeks!
You may have noticed that my Beastie store is looking a little empty these days.
But fear not! A fresh crop of woolly monster friends is assembling as we speak, and will be landing on the 22nd of this month at 10m Irish time. Set your alarms… Or, better yet, head to the Store and sign up for restock updates!
Hello again, Beastie friends! And wow, do I have a commission to share with you today… In fact, it’ll be today and another future post, because this little monster lady really does have it all!
Let’s meet her, shall we?
Hi there, Cindy Beastie!
This project is another one from the lockdown era, and that certainly seemed to be the time of the GME (“Give me everything”)! I started by sketching up a heap of ideas for Cindy, a fellow maker, fibre artist and blogger, which I hoped would celebrate her work, her interests and her personal style. And she decided to take the lot!
So, let’s start at the top… Cindy Beastie’s main outfit, shown above, is a short-sleeved shirt made from a cool hexagon-print fabric. I’m such a magpie when it comes to prints – just try and walk me past a display of fat quarter quilting cottons in a fabric store and see what happens – and I was delighted to have a chance to use this one at last! Give us a twirl there, Cindy Beastie.
Lovely! Perfect for summer, too. And oh, look at her hair!
Cindy Beastie’s human counterpart rocks a stylish short hairdo, with a bit of extra fullness in the top. This style works great on a human head, but it took a little work to transfer successfully onto a Beastie! The yarn I used initially lacked the texture I was going for, and looked a bit flat and sad. So I dived back into my yarn supplies and turned up this one for a second go-around – the richer colour and slight curl makes for a livelier, more luxuriant Beastie barnet.
Next, it was time to raid the jewellery box!
Behold! A little gold chain necklace, with personalised initial tiles. And this piece actually took some making! I was sure I’d seen miniature golden letter beads in my local jewellery supply store, and that’s what I’d included in my design sketch. But when I went along to buy them, the owner said he hadn’t stocked them in more than a decade, and the internet didn’t have much in the way of viable solutions either. Buy a pack of 200 random letters in the hope I’ll get the three I need? I think not! Sometimes, if you want something done, it’s better to do it yourself. So I made multiple beads of each letter (to help with consistency and to allow for breakages) and selected the best three to attach to a slender golden chain for Cindy Beastie’s bespoke necklace.
After that, it was time to make sure Ms Beastie has plenty of monster-sized pastimes to keep her paws busy. Since her human counterpart enjoys both painting and knitting, equipment for both activities seemed like a safe bet.
And so that she can grip all these goodies securely…
… She has magic magnet paws! That means she can paint…
… And knit…
… To her heart’s content!
And so that she can take her favourite things with her wherever she goes, I also made her a Beastie-sized backpack.
Where ARE you going, Cindy Beastie?
“I think I’ll head out to the countryside for a day or two!”
Right enough, she loves the great outdoors. And look, we’re here already… She’s even got the campfire going!
This campfire is extra cosy, since every log and crackling flame is made from 100% needle-felted wool. And now that it’s heated up properly, how about we cook ourselves up a snack?
And it looks like I’m not the only one who’s enjoying those delicious cooking aromas… Who’s this, I wonder?
I guess you’ll have to rejoin us in a couple of weeks to find out a little more about this mysterious canine visitor to the campsite! See you then…
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!
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?
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.
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!
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!
But wait a sec… Who’s this?
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.
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…
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.
… 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…
“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!