Springtime Beastie Fun! CrawCrafts Beasties

Beastie Weekend Reads, Part 1

Well hello there, BeastieBuddies!

I did promise you a double dose of blogging this week, so here I am!

When I was celebrating welcoming my 500th victim follower into the fold a couple of weeks back, I really did underestimate the number of awesome bloggers I keep up with (or at least try to) on a regular basis. I started that post with the noble intention of namechecking all of my favourites. Can you believe my naivety? Halfway through, I realised that if I were to give them all their dues, I would be tapping away at the computer all day. And by the end of the list, no-one would still be reading anyway. So, in the name of delivering the best possible shout-outs, I’m dividing up my reading list into nice, bite-sized chunks, which I’ll be feeding to you every now and again on Fridays. I’m hoping you’ll find a spare minute over the weekend to dip in, and maybe stumble on a new must-read!

So, without further ado, here are my first three…

Knitting the Stash
Knitting the Stash - Beastie Reads - CrawCrafts Beasties
If you’re in any way craftily inclined, you’ll find so much to love on Melissa’s blog… Although her enthusiasm for all things woolly and yarny is really quite infectious, so even if you don’t know your knit from your purl, you might find yourself getting sucked in! What makes Melissa different from so many other craft bloggers out there is that she takes a look beyond her own works in progress, and taps into the growing community of people involved in producing the wool she knits and spins. This takes in everything from visiting farms (and getting involved in the sheep shearing!) to meeting indie dyers and pattern designers. One of my favourite recent posts was her interview with Kara Syvertsen of Second Cycle Yarn Co… It was so inspiring to learn how one woman is making a living (and saving heaps of usable high-quality fibre from ending up in landfill) by turning unwanted clothing back into beautifully presented skeins of yarn! Melissa has also been a huge supporter of me and the Beasties, so we’re happy to be able to return the favour at last!

And as if that wasn’t enough, Melissa is also responsible for producing one of my favourite podcasts. I have to admit that I’m usually more of a “reader” than a “watcher”, but I always try to make time for Knitting the Stash. The episodes are a good length (usually around the half-hour mark), and Melissa is a fun, interesting person to hang out with! Here’s the latest episode, if you’d like to meet her for yourself!

Handmade Habit
Handmade Habit - Beastie Reads - CrawCrafts BeastiesI love checking in with Shirley’s blog. I think it has a lot to do with the way she writes – her calm, warm voice just puts you at ease, and it’s like you’re meeting a good friend for coffee and a catchup. Shirley is another person who is all about handmade, and her posts are mostly about what she’s got on the go at the moment – she knits, weaves and is a super-talented illustrator. She also loves to read around her interests, and I’ve so enjoyed sharing in her library finds (or special orders)… Especially when she comes across something with a crafty theme! Lately, I’ve been avidly following her first foray into working with reclaimed yarn (the journey starts here, if you’re interested) and I also really enjoyed this post about why working slowly isn’t such a bad thing… Perfect reading for a chilled-out Saturday morning!

Daze + Weekes
Daze and Weekes - Beastie Reads - CrawCrafts BeastiesHistory was one of my least favourite subjects in school. For three years, we sifted through an apparently random selection of dry topics, in no particular order, and the classroom was always stupidly hot. I never regretted my decision to drop it at the very first opportunity – until I got hopelessly hooked on Daze + Weekes. This is history as it should be told, with high drama, tongue-in-cheek humour and frequent Game of Thrones references. It also helps that the subject matter is fascinating – there’s a strong focus on the interesting women of history here, and it really makes for great reading. I think Joan, Minx of Wales gets my vote for favourite recent feature, or if you will insist on remaining in the present day, why not join Weekes at that most hateful of modern inconveniences, The Group Interview? She will also, very considerately, provide the soundtrack for your weekend lounging – on her sister site, weekesmusic.com, you’ll find the first two luscious, dreamy tracks from her upcoming album, AND a link to a curated mixtape playlist on Spotify. That should keep you all out of mischief until my next post on Tuesday!

Have a great weekend, everybody!
Boozy Barfly Beasties - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

Paddy and Plunkett Inside the Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties

A College Fit For a King… Or a Beastie!

You might remember Paddy and Plunkett spotting this rather lovely place from their punt trip along the River Cam a couple of weeks back
King's College - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesPlunkett was especially taken with the beautiful buildings of King’s College, and decided to make it his first port of call the minute his paws were back on dry land!

On the way there, the Beasties passed the front gate of another of Cambridge’s many colleges…
Trinity College, Cambridge - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThis is Trinity College, which has the reputation of being the wealthiest of all the city’s educational establishments. It was founded by Henry VIII, who at that time was going around the country closing down monasteries and helping himself to the land they owned. The colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, being religious organisations and quite moneyed, were next in his sights. They appealed to Henry’s sixth wife, Catherine Parr, and managed to reach a compromise – instead of closing some of Cambridge’s existing colleges down, they were amalgamated as Trinity College AND given a nice little gift of some of the confiscated monastery lands to get them started! To this day, it remains one of the biggest landowners in Britain. Henry VIII is still here keeping an eye on things, too – that’s his statue standing guard over the entrance!

But this isn’t where we’re going… Onwards to King’s College! Nearly there now!

Plunkett couldn’t wait to get inside, but it seems that Paddy is dragging his paws a little…
Paddy's Delaying Tactics - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Please keep off the grass? But it’s such a beautiful day!”

Of course, Paddy has a knack for bending the rules to suit himself…
Paddy Walking on the Grass - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Ha! It’s still the same lawn, y’know!”

Rebellious impulses satisfied, it was finally time for Plunkett to get his history fix!

King’s College formerly went by the less snappy name of “The King’s College of Our Lady and Saint Nicholas in Cambridge”, and a good number of British monarchs were involved in its founding and construction. Henry VI got the ball rolling in 1441, and he also laid the first stone of the College’s famous chapel in 1446. His original plan for a modest establishment for “12 poor scholars” was abandoned when he learned about a bigger, fancier college that William of Wykeham had founded in Oxford (60 years earlier – I guess news travelled more slowly in those days), so he updated the charter of King’s College, calling for a superior institution with more grandiose buildings and a larger number of students. Unfortunately, he then got tied up in the Wars of the Roses, and work slowed due to lack of funds. It took another two generations of King Henrys to finish the chapel, which was the only part of Henry VI’s plan to actually be realised. Let’s go and take a look, shall we?
Chapel Entrance, King's College Cambridge - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Huh. I don’t get it, Plunkett… What’s the big deal?”

“Paddy, look up!”
Paddy and Plunkett Inside the Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd even Paddy’s breath was taken away by the fantastic fan-vaulted ceiling!
The Ceiling at King's College Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s the largest of its kind in the world, and Plunkett could have gazed at it all day.
Plunkett Mesmerised by the Ceiling at King's College Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesLuckily, Paddy was good enough to point out that the glorious stained glass windows were also worth a look!
Stained Glass at King's College Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesThis chapel is still very much in use, and is most famous for its choir, who perform in services almost every day during term time. But the biggest event in the King’s College Chapel calendar is the annual Carol Service on Christmas Eve, which has been broadcast on the BBC for decades, to a global audience!

There are also lots of beautiful little details to be spied, if you stop to look at things from a Beastie-eye point of view. Plunkett found this very fine door lock, although he was a little confused about which step he was supposed to be minding…
Around the King's College Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts Beasties“Step? What step? It’s been completely worn away by big stomping human feet!”

Meanwhile, Paddy had ended up somewhere far spookier… The Tomb Chapel!
Paddy in the Tomb Chapel - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesTrust him to find the most ghoulish thing on offer here! I expect he’ll be waiting in the shadows to jump out at Plunkett when he wanders in…

“Who, me? Never!”

Uh-huh. I’ll believe that when I see it, Paddy!

More from Paddy and Plunkett in a couple of weeks! And next Tuesday, look out for a new Explorer Beastie adventure – see you then!