Grim Reaper Beastie Sketch New - CrawCrafts Beasties

Flashback Friday – Beastie Sketches

Hello everyone! I’ve something a little different for you this Flashback Friday – a retrospective of Beastie sketches, or “Sketch-rospective”, if you will!

It occurred to me recently that the sketches I draw for custom Beasties very rarely see the light of day. I do them, I send them to the customer, we finesse the details. Then I put the originals in a folder, stash the electronic versions in with the photos of the finished Beastie… And that’s it! So, how about we take a peek in those archives?

I had to look waaay back through my old sketchbooks to find my very first Beastie commission drawing. Check it out!Diver Beastie Sketches - CrawCrafts BeastiesPretty rustic, eh? Back then I was using “graduate” sketchbooks – books with a thick paper cover that are stapled together in the middle like a magazine – and sending my customers photos of the pages. That’s why you can see shadows down some of the sides!

I was also outlining with my favourite fountain pen, and colouring in by hand with coloured pencils. It took FOREVER! Especially for large areas of black, like this Grim Reaper Beastie from the following year.
Grim Reaper Beastie Sketch New - CrawCrafts BeastiesThat said, I did keep on drawing by hand for a good while afterwards! Here are a couple from back in 2017 – do any of you recognise these Beasties?
Cyclist Beastie Sketches - CrawCrafts Beasties
Cyclist BeastieSimon's Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties
Slartibartfast, who now hangs out with Simon of Simon’s SpaceDublin Football Beastie Sketches - CrawCrafts BeastiesDublin Football Beastie

However, much as I love the hands-on approach, I was having trouble keeping up! A hectic pre-Christmas season in 2017 had me scouting around for new drawing options… Preferably ones that wouldn’t involve quite as much controlled shading with coloured pencils.

Enter GIMP and Inkscape, two open-source computer graphics programs. I won’t pretend that the learning curve with these has been speedy – I still feel like I’m figuring out the angles a bit – but the one-click colouring is a definite plus. This is my first attempt:
First Digital Sketches! CrawCrafts BeastiesThen when I figured out that I could scan in my fabric stash and show people the actual prints I’d be using for their Beastie’s outfits, I couldn’t have been happier!
Family Frame Beasties - Sketches - CrawCrafts BeastiesAnd although I can now type most of the text, I still like to throw the odd bit of my own hand-drawn lettering into the sketches too.
David and Tammie Beasties - CrawCrafts BeastiesHow about you? Will you be cracking out your pencils this weekend, or creating artwork on your computer? Be sure to tell us all about it in the comments!

We’ll be back next week to see what Paddy and Plunkett have been up to – see you then!

Beastie-Sized Photo Studio! CrawCrafts Beasties

What’s Goin’ On?

Beasties at Work - CrawCrafts BeastiesPhew! It feels like it’s been another busy old month here in Beastie Towers… but when I looked into my “Ready” box earlier, there didn’t seem to be a whole lot of little monsters living in there yet. So much for my master plan of getting ALL my Christmas market stock made in the first 2 months of the year, eh?

That left me wondering what on earth I’d been up to, so I thought it was high time I offered another sneaky peek into life as a maker of monsters – hopefully it will help us all to solve the oh-so-intriguing Mystery of the Vanishing February!

First off, I ventured Northwards… And many of you will already have seen the photos Explorer Beastie and I took of our whistle-stop tour of Donegal.
Donegal Days with Explorer Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties(If you haven’t, catch up with Part 1 and Part 2 now!)

But that wasn’t the only reason for my trip. I was also planning to catch up with my buddy Julie from Juleco, so that she could teach me some new skills! Loyal BeastieBlog readers might remember the super revamping she did on the humble Beastie Passport last year…
Hooray! New Passports! CrawCrafts Beasties… So I thought she might be able to help me figure out a better way to do my commission sketches as well. I spend a HEEEEUUUUUGE amount of time on these – time I’d really rather use for knitting! With Julie’s help, I’ve been taking my first steps with computer illustration using Adobe Illustrator, in the hope that I’ll be able to re-use elements across numerous sketches, colour-match better with the yarns from my stash and (best of all) colour in with a single click! I already feel that I’m making progress – I just hope I can get the basics down before my free trial runs out. I’ll keep you posted!

I’ve also been having fun playing with the new toy I mentioned in last week’s post. Ever since I went to an Etsy product photography evening last spring, I’ve been meaning to make a lightbox for myself… It’s so easy, and yet I never seemed to be able to scrape together the 20-odd minutes it would have taken to throw one together. I was tormented by questions of where on earth I was going to keep the thing once I’d made it, and how I would extricate it from its hiding place when I needed to use it. Fortunately for me, Boyfriend was taking notes – and look what showed up in my Christmas stocking!
Beastie-Sized Photo Studio! CrawCrafts BeastiesIt’s a Beastie-sized photography studio! It came complete with daylight lamps, backgrounds in 4 different colours and a tripod… And the best bit is that it folds down into an entirely portable (and stowable) 42cm  square carry case. Now even the gloomiest winter mornings can be photoshoot days… I can’t wait to share my new-style pictures with you all, starting next week! I’ve had a few commissions on the go over the last while, and before each Beastie shipped out, they all got a little time in the studio.

In fact, commissions are probably what’s been munching up most of the month – they really do take time! And sometimes they demand a little bit of extra focus. So a couple of weekends ago, I did something that I haven’t done in… eeek, I don’t know how long! I unhooked myself from the internet. It helped that Boyfriend and I were heading off to the farm for a couple of days – in my mind, it makes a lot more sense to be offline when surrounded by wild countryside. As I made my way to the bus station on Friday evening, I caught up with all the notifications on my phone and then switched off data and WiFi for two whole days. I didn’t even take any pictures… Apart from the odd one down at the lake.
Down at the Lake - CrawCrafts BeastiesIt was just the break I needed. Much as I love being part of this vast online community and meeting people I’d never have encountered otherwise, it was nice to spend time talking, reading and crafting without the distraction of a steady stream of beeps and flashing lights. I also couldn’t get over how much longer my battery lasted! It was like being back in 2005!

And when I switched my phone back on the following Monday morning, it didn’t explode with a sudden influx of unread notifications – catching up didn’t take that long at all, and I was excited to see what everyone had been up to while I’d been away. The world didn’t end because I tuned it out for a couple of days, and I didn’t miss out on a massive order, a life-changing opportunity or a genuine email from an exiled prince who needed me to hold onto his fortune for a short time in exchange for serious ca$h mon€y. In fact, I might be tempted to do this more often!
Paddy Admires the View - H Crawford/CrawCrafts BeastiesHow about you? Do you reckon you could go on an internet crash diet? Let me know in the comments! And normal service resumes next week, with another new Beastie for you to meet. See you then!


Vintage Singer Sewing Machine - CrawCrafts Beasties

Welcome to Beastie Towers!

Explorer Beastie and Sweetheart Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties
Yes, I know Tuesday is supposed to be New Beastie Day. But I thought it might be fun to mix things up a little… Plus I just spent a sizeable chunk of last week moving all my crafting goodies in here:
Crafting Command Centre at Beastie Towers - CrawCrafts Beasties
Behold, the Beastie Towers CCC (Crafting Command Centre)! Everything is so tidy and organised – probably for the first time since about 2013, when I was working entirely out of that clear plastic tub in the bottom left of the photo! And it wasn’t long before the Beasties came over to have a poke around…
A Thumbs-Up from Cheerleader Beastie! CrawCrafts BeastiesGaaaah! Beasties have Hijacked my Craft Supplies! CrawCrafts Beasties

…It looks like they’ve given it their seal of approval, anyway!


Although I can’t help but feel that there has to be an easier way for them to check the calendar…
Extreme Calendar Checking! CrawCrafts Beasties
All this extra space means that my sewing machine has finally been liberated from storage! Check it out – it’s a Singer one from the late 1960s. Can you believe someone was going to throw this away?
Explorer Beastie Checks the Sewing Machine - CrawCrafts BeastiesVintage Singer Sewing Machine - CrawCrafts Beasties

It’s been a while, so I’ve had to spend a bit of time this week reminding myself how to use it! Well, once Explorer Beastie had checked it over for me, of course.

And now that my various boxes, tins and bags have a home in the CCC, it frees up my crafting table for stuff like this:
Sketching Time! CrawCrafts BeastiesAll the Colours of the Felty Rainbow! CrawCrafts Beasties

As it happens, I’ve been doing a lot of sketching lately. For every commission, I sketch out my ideas first so people know what their Beastie will look like before I reach for my knitting needles. Here’s my latest project, which entered the Design Phase last week…
Beastie Beginnings - CrawCrafts Beasties
I also got around to tackling Tammie Painter’s second Sketchbook Saturday prompt! The theme last week was “Home”, so I used some old photos and a liberal dose of imagination to do some sketches of my childhood home. I did get a bit carried away with it… but since it was either that or back up my list of Beastie ID numbers, you can probably understand why.
Sketchbook Saturday Page 1 - CrawCrafts Beasties
Sketchbook Saturday Page 2 - CrawCrafts Beasties
Oh, and while we’re poking around in the library – let’s take a peek inside those notebooks again, shall we?
One of my Knitting Notebooks - CrawCrafts BeastiesI always have a knitting notebook on the go. I use them to record which yarns I’ve used for projects…

Yarns From My First Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties
Yarns From My First Beastie
Ingredients for a Crablet - CrawCrafts Beasties
Ingredients for a Crablet

…Essential knitting know-how…
Kitchener Stitch How-To - CrawCrafts Beasties
… Less essential non-knitting notes…

Shopping List - CrawCrafts Beasties
Shopping List
Mitten Thumbs and Cookie Recipes - CrawCrafts Beasties
Mitten Thumbs and Cookie Recipes

…Ideas and designs…

Some Early Beasties - CrawCrafts Beasties

Doodles for Garcia Beastie - CrawCrafts Beasties
Doodles for Garcia Beastie


Bumblebee Dress - CrawCrafts Beasties
Bumblebee Dress

…And complete, total, unapologetic failures.

A Mid-Project Frogging - CrawCrafts Beasties

I really enjoyed looking back through my old notebooks – hopefully you did too! And if any of you keep notebooks or journals of your craft, art or interests, tell me all about it in the comments!

We’ll be back on Friday with more from Paddy and Plunkett… See you then!

Explorer Beastie Holding My Colouring Pencils - CrawCrafts Beasties

An Arty Day Out!

Explorer Beastie at the RHA Gallery - CrawCrafts Beasties
In Ireland, it’s very tempting to hide yourself indoors at this time of the year… and remain there until dire necessity (buying food, going to work, zombie home invasion) forces you outside. I for one could happily spend February living on instant noodles and baked beans while binge-watching “Murder, She Wrote”, but fortunately Explorer Beastie is a more active fellow, who constantly demands entertainment, fresh air and brain food (surprising for one whose head is literally full of fluff). So yesterday, I put down my knitting needles and took the two of us off to another of our favourite destinations – the RHA (Royal Hibernian Academy) Gallery, a mere stone’s throw from St Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street in Dublin’s south city centre.

This great little gallery deserves more visitors than it seems to get – I suppose a lot of people overlook it, and head to the National Gallery a little further down the road instead. But while the majority of the National Gallery’s exhibitions remain static, the RHA always has something new on its walls. In fact, I’ve never seen the same thing there twice! It’s also small enough that you could see everything in a short visit, and it’s also FREE IN! What’s not to like?

When we were there yesterday, three artists had their work on display. We started out with Maeve McCarthy’s “The Return”, a collection of nightime landscapes in charcoal inspired by a visit to the farmhouse where she and her family spent summers as children.
Explorer Beastie at The Return, RHA CrawCrafts BeastiesExplorer Beastie Examines a Painting - CrawCrafts Beasties


The artist also collaborated with her brother, a filmmaker, to make a short film showing the decaying rooms of the abandoned house.
Watching the Film - CrawCrafts Beasties
2016 is an important year for Ireland – it’s the 100th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising, which was one of the most significant events in setting Ireland on its way towards independence from Great Britain. The other two exhibitions we saw drew their inspiration from this – Mick O’Dea’s “The Foggy Dew” included portraits of some of the key figures in the Rising…
"The Foggy Dew" at the RHA Gallery - CrawCrafts Beasties
…And in a separate gallery upstairs…
Upstairs at the RHA Gallery - CrawCrafts Beasties
… A combined installation of large-scale canvasses and sculptures.
The Foggy Dew at the RHA Gallery - CrawCrafts Beasties
Explorer Beastie at The Foggy Dew, RHA - CrawCrafts Beasties
Then our final port of call was “Before, During, After… Almost” – an exhibition of David Farrell’s photographs, which shows how much both Dublin and rural Ireland have changed since the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising, in 1966.
Explorer Beastie at "Before, During, After...Almost", RHA - CrawCrafts Beasties
Explorer Beastie, RHA Dublin - CrawCrafts BeastiesExplorer Beastie at the RHA Gallery, Dublin - CrawCrafts Beasties

And suitably inspired by our artistic wanderings, it seemed like a good time to tackle the first prompt in Tammie Painter’s Sketchbook Saturday. Yeah, I know I’m late. It’s my… um… artistic temperament.

Anyway, the theme was “Round and Around”, which made me think of all the circles and spheres that cropped up in my drawings and craftings when I was a kid.
Circles (Sketchbook Saturday) - CrawCrafts Beasties
…And in case you want to read the scribblings…
Circles Sketches Page 1 - CrawCrafts Beasties
Circles Sketches Page 2 - CrawCrafts Beasties
And of course, Crablet and Explorer Beastie were on hand to help out with the colouring in. Thanks, lads.
Explorer Beastie Holding My Colouring Pencils - CrawCrafts BeastiesCrablet is Helping! CrawCrafts Beasties

AND FINALLY… Eagle-eyed Noémie at FocalHeart spotted one of my knitting notebooks in the background of a photo I posted recently. Here it is up close!
One of my Knitting Notebooks - CrawCrafts Beasties
I use these books to record patterns, jot down ideas, count off rows and (as you can probably guess) keep track of the yarns I’ve used. And I had a great time going through past books today, snapping some of my favourite pages to share! So, since this post is already MASSIVE, here’s a taster for today…
Knitbook Extracts 1 - CrawCrafts Beasties
… And I’ll have more next week!

Hope you all enjoy the weekend – why not check out Sketchbook Saturday for yourself tomorrow?