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 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! 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!
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.
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!
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…
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!
Hey there everyone! And WOW, is it hot here! Well, for Ireland… I won’t invite eye-rolls and derisive laughter from those of you who have been experiencing actual heatwaves over the last couple of weeks by citing temperatures. Let’s just say it’s been a little warmer than usual, the sun is out, and it’s not so bad that we can’t travel because the weather is already lovely right here at home.
And THAT was a pretty roundabout way to introduce this week’s new Beastie… A little monster girl who has a distinctly summery, sunshiney vibe. Oh look, here she is now! Hello!
Oooh, I love your dress! The geometric print makes me think of cartoon sunshines, or maybe sunflowers… Give us a twirl, there.
Very nice! I modelled this vintage-style dress on one owned by this Beastie’s human counterpart. The fabric is different, but I copied the full collar and slightly puffed sleeves of the original.
You might also have noticed that there’s been a bit of a change to the usual Beastie layout for this project. No stripey legs here! This little monster lady is rocking a pair of cute white knee socks instead.
Now, what next? Sticking with the retro style of her dress, we’re going to add a pair of cool red-framed glasses.
As usual, they’re completely removable, so she can pop them on top of her head when they’re not needed.
… To help her hold on to all her awesome accessories…
… Like this Beastie-sized sunflower! My sources informed me that our Beastie’s human counterpart loves sunflowers, so I just had to include one in her accessory lineup.
It’s planted in a felt pot of 100% wool roving, which has helped it to grow nice and tall, with plenty of fresh green felt leaves.
And what else can she do? Well, I did mention a singalong, didn’t I? And good news – we get musical accompaniment!
Here you go, Miss Beastie – a teeny little ukulele for you, so you can play us a summery tune!
Has anyone any requests? Be sure to share your favourite summertime song in the comments!
And you might think that this haul would be plenty to keep a pair of Beastie sisters happy… But wait, there’s more! Join us next week to find out who joined them when they ventured forth from Beastie Towers into the wider world… See you then!
Hello everyone! As promised in last week’s post, I’ve a new Beastie for you to meet today… And she has so many cool accessories! Hey there, Miss Beastie!
I have to say, I really love this outfit. This Beastie is taking her stye cues from her human counterpart’s actual wardrobe, so including a stripey top and dungaree overalls was all part of the design brief.
I also personalised them by embroidering one of the littlest Totoros (a creature from the animé My Neighbour Totoro) on the front pocket!
This Beastie also has multi-toned dark brown wool hair, magic magnet paws (so she can really hold onto things) and the usual winsome Beastie smile.
And now, for some special personal touches… This Beastie’s new friend has a favourite hat, and I was asked if maybe I could have a go at copying it. Here’s the original (lifted from this website):
And here’s the Beastified version (slightly adjusted for shorter, broader woolly monster heads)!
Our model seems pretty happy with it, anyway!
Now, what else does she need? How about a sketch book and pen, perhaps?
Perfect! And with her magic magnetic paws, she can really hold them too!
And finally, maybe some refreshments are in order. Our human girl LOVES bubble tea (also called boba tea), so it only seemed right to send her new Beastie friend off with a cup of her own to enjoy on the journey. It’s even her favourite flavour – lychee. Yum!
This Beastie-sized boba drink is brewed from 100% wool roving, and is served in a hand-stitched clear cup with a felt straw.
Now, is that everything?
I think so!
Thanks to Miri for this fun Beastie project… Oh, and did I mention that this monster girl has a sister? No? Well, she does… And she’ll be dropping in to join us next week! See you then!
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a new Beastie!
And not just any new Beastie – this one is a SUPERHERO!
Last year during lockdown, a customer contacted me to ask if I’d be able to make a Christmas gift for her daughter. This girl LOVES superheroes, and even has a secret alter-ego herself… When danger looms, she transforms into Superhero Max! Not content with merely fighting crime, Superhero Max is also a dab hand at fixing electrical boxes – you know, those anonymous grey or green metal cases you see on pretty much every street.
Well, with material like that to work with, how could I refuse?
First of all, I thought I’d better provide this little monster lady with some tools. She’ll need those if she’s going to fix anything!
Normally I’d pop magnets inside these so the Beastie can hold them securely… But since her human counterpart is still quite young, I went for elastic loops on the handles instead, just to be on the safe side.
As you can see, they still fit snugly into her utility belt, ready for action.
She also has a cream-coloured super-suit, based on Superhero Max’s own favourite outfit. And this one comes complete with a special custom-designed hand-embroidered logo!
But of course, it’s oh-so-important that her identity remains a secret. Don’t worry, Miss Beastie! I’ve got you covered.
With a red felt mask and starry cape (inspired by her human counterpart’s passion for outer space), she’ll be able to head out completely incognito.
But wait a sec… Doesn’t every SuperBeastie need a super-sidekick?
Just as Superhero Max never goes anywhere without her trusted bunny friend Hop, this Beastie has a cuddly rabbit companion to join her on her adventures, too. He even has the same uniform, including a removable mini cape!
I also had fun adding in special bunny details, like a fluffy white tail and carrot-inspired sidekick logo.
Well, I think that’s all the angles covered! Just as well, because it looks like someone is ready for takeoff.
Up, up and… AWAAAAAY!
Yikes, she’s flown right out of the teeny photo studio! Um, can I ask everyone to please keep an eye out and report any low-flying Beasties in your neighbourhood directly to Beastie HQ? Thanks and see you next week!
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.
Roslyn 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.
Then, 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!
They 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.(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.
The knitting revival – you heard it here first, folks!
If 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.
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!