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 😉
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…
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!
…So that means it’s nearly time for a new Beastie Calendar!
Now, I have to admit that 2021 and I haven’t always seen eye-to-eye. It’s even possible that I might do a little dance at midnight tomorrow when this year finally melts away into history! And one of the key features of 2021 has been a lack of opportunities to put together fun photos of Beasties gadding about in the world – the kind of photos that make for a decent Beastie Calendar.
However, that translates to a win for all of you! Since there are no new pictures, this year’s calendar is FREE! Grab yours here:
The icons in the bar along the top will let you print or download your copy… Or, if you don’t see those, click the two arrows in the top right hand corner to bring up the menu. And most importantly, have fun filling your days with plans, adventures and memories!
Here’s wishing you a happy new year, and all good things in 2022. And if you’ve any cool stuff waiting for you in the coming months, be sure to tell us about it in the comments!