Something New(ish) on the BeastieBlog!

Beastie Group - CrawCrafts BeastiesHello everybody!

Today I’ve decided to launch a new regular feature on the BeastieBlog, inspired by one of the more recent arrivals to our ever-growing gang of monster enthusiasts – hey there, Lives in Stone! Take a bow!

A couple of days ago, Liv (sorry if this isn’t your real name! I’m just going by how you sign off your posts!) took a trip through some of my really, really early posts, and was good enough to comment on a few. And oh, the fun I had revisiting these past Beastie creations! So I thought I might make it easy for the rest of you – especially if you only just got here – to catch up on a slice of monster history. Plus it would be nice to take some time to revisit an old friend every once in a while!

I’ll be doing this once a month on Fridays, and as soon as I come up with a catchier name than “Throwback Friday”, I’ll set up a separate category on the blog so the posts are searchable.

Alrighty, let’s get started! Today’s Throwback Friday Beastie is… Ninja Beastie!
Ninja Beastie, by CrawCrafts BeastiesI’m actually a little disturbed by how far back I had to travel in my archives to find this guy! I made Ninja Beastie in early 2014… I was still buzzing from doing my first market, and I’d also survived my initial round of Christmas commissions. I had so many ideas, and I wanted to make ALL of them! It was such a fun time, and it’s strange to think that back then my craft stash occupied a single plastic IKEA storage box, and my accessory templates could all fit into a small sandwich bag – now I have to have them in themed, labelled file pockets, or I’d spend all day hunting for the one I needed!

Ninja Beastie was also one of the first Beastie projects where I took pleasure in going overboard with the details. I made sure he was positively bristling with weapons, and I researched them online to make sure they were as authentic as possible…
Ninja Weapons by Crawcrafts BeastiesOf course, it wasn’t long before Ninja Beastie stealthily stole out of Beastie Towers to make his own way in the world! Have any of you seen him in your travels? Let me know in the comments!

Oh, and we’ll be back with NEW Beasties as usual on Tuesday, so stay tuned! Have a great weekend!

How to Slay a Dragon

Dragon Slayer Beastie by CrawCrafts Beasties
Sometimes, projects take longer to come together than you expect. And sometimes they take a lot longer. I thought Beasties with dogs were my big crafting leap forward this year, but that was before I met Dragon Slayer Beastie! I first did the sketches for this commission back in April…
Dragon Slayer Beastie Sketches y CrawCrafts Beasties
…and back then I thought sketching up the dragon in the first place would be the hardest part!

Dragon Slayer Beastie was requested by a Beastie enthusiast who already has quite a family of little woolly monsters at home. They had attracted the attention of her young neighbour, and when the offer of a birthday Beastie was made, she decided (without any hesitation, apparently) that she’d like a Dragon Slayer Beastie, complete with dragon. As you can see from the sketch, the dragon had to have a golden body, and a silver head and wings. “Hmmm,” I thought. “Could be tricky, but I can probably manage it!”
I figured that seeing a few Shrek and Harry Potter films, plus my current enthusiasm for Game of Thrones, combined with more than a couple of years of experience in sewing my own critters from scratch, would all be ample preparation for the crafting challenges ahead.

You can probably tell where this is going.

It started out normally enough… Making the Beastie herself was a breeze!
Dragon Slayer Beastie, by CrawCrafts Beasties
As you can see, she’s ready to face down any dragon who dares to cross her path! She’s got a chain-mail top, and she’s armed with a lethal felt sword. Over her shoulder is a quiver of deadly felt arrows, to be used for long-range dragon-slaying missions…
Dragon Slayer Beastie's Quiver and Arrows, by CrawCrafts Beasties
So she had her outfit, and her weapons (in a range of suitably ladylike colours) were complete…
Dragon Slayer Beastie's Weapons, by CrawCrafts Beasties
…But where’s the dragon?

Uh-oh. Still stuck in what was proving to be a troublesome prototyping stage.
Rejected Dragon Body Templates - CrawCrafts Beasties

You see, the nature of the beast meant that I had to step out of my cosy felty comfort zone and use different, unfamiliar materials. And it was only when I started sewing pieces together that I found out how completely different and unfamiliar they were! Fortunately, I had the good sense to reject the gold and silver lycra I had originally planned to use – when I subjected them to the all-important stretchiness test in the shop, they proved themselves to be more suited to making eye-popping party clothes than dragons. If I’d gone with my first instinct, it’s more than likely that this post would be coming to you from within the padded walls of my nearest mental health facility.

So, I went for some less temperamental satin fabrics instead… but even these proved a far cry from the wholesome, homely materials I normally use. First of all, I had to allow for fraying – something you never have to deal with when you use felt! Another of their less charming characteristics is that they show up every little detail, meaning that any slight variations between component pieces are magnified tenfold. Even doing a “rough work” dragon with some leftover calico I had at home didn’t prepare me for making the real thing… Satin fabrics, I have discovered, are designed to drape elegantly, not hold in stuffing. If you’ve ever seen someone wearing a satin dress that was a size too small, you might have an idea of what I was up against. In my quest to tame this dragon, I took on lumpy body parts, misbehaving limbs that stood out at unnatural angles from their joints, twisted tails and floppy spines. I cut, trimmed and rejected heaps of templates…
More Rejected Dragon Templates - CrawCrafts Beasties
…Made a few false starts…
Test Run Dragons - CrawCrafts Beasties
…But at last (and we’re talking absolute eleventh hour, down to the wire, seconds-to-spare-before-the-deadline here) I managed to wrangle the various bits into something vaguely dragon-shaped. Here he is snacking on the remains of his vanquished predecessors.
A Beastie Dragon is Born - CrawCrafts Beasties
And here he is doing his nicest smile for the camera.
Beastie Dragon, by CrawCrafts Beasties
I’d be the first to admit that he’s not perfect. But it’s a long time since I’ve had a craft project flummox me so completely… Every spare moment I had (and some less spare moments… sorry, workplace!) was spent trying to figure out what was going wrong with the templates, or how I could force the wilful satin to do my bidding. The end result may not accurately reflect the late nights, early mornings, miles of unpicked and restitched seams and lungfuls of inhaled satin dust (seriously, that stuff gets EVERYWHERE) that went into making it, but as a learning experience it was hard to beat. I know I have a long way to go before I can claim to be anything other than a paddler in the vast ocean of sewing skills, but I figure that’s a great excuse to go back and perfect some of the basics with simple, fun projects. So, if you have any favourite sewing patterns that would be good practice, I’d love to hear from you! Please share them in the comments… especially if they’re for little critters! I’ll be sure to post the results on the BeastieBlog as I go 🙂

As for Dragon Slayer Beastie and her dragon… the last I saw of them, they were heading off into the sunset to find their new home!
Dragon Slayer Beastie Leaves Home! CrawCrafts Beasties

Wool! Needles! KNIVES!

Rambo Beastie's Knife

Anyone who keeps up with the Beasties through Facebook will already know that over the weekend, my Mum got in touch with me to tell me that she’s been having trouble visiting the BeastieBlog lately. Why? Because her ISP is blocking this site due to its references to (and I quote) “VIOLENCE and WEAPONS”.

I’ve been so tickled by this that I couldn’t resist mentioning it in my post today… and using it as an excuse to do a retrospective of some of my choicest armed-to-the-teeth Beasties. Those of a sensitive disposition should probably look away now… Here we go!

Guerrilla Woolfare

First up is one of my early creations – Guerrilla Woolfare Beastie, who left Beastie Towers more than a year ago. Although he isn’t armed, he is considered highly dangerous… Just look at that incendiary literature he’s carrying around with him!

Pirate Beastie

The new year ushered in a new crowd of bad-to-the-bone Beasties! We started out with Pirate Beastie, whose razor-sharp felt cutlass could probably do some serious damage…

Ninja Beastie

…Then Ninja Beastie made an appearance! He refused to settle for “just” having a sword, and insisted I make him a pair of sai and a shuriken (throwing star) as well!

Ninja Beastie SwordNinja Beastie Shuriken

Oh, and then he called for reinforcements.

Blue Ninja Beastie

You’d think that would be enough, but…

Rambo on the Rocks

…Soon afterwards, Rambo Beastie came to town. That’s a close-up of his knife in the picture at the top of this post – a lethal-looking piece of feltwork, I’m sure you’ll agree. And who could forget Viking Beastie, recently off the longship and ready for battle with his round shield and prestigious Ulfbeast sword?

Helmet and Shield

Hmmm… is it possible that the powers that be are right? Even my Chef Beastie is carrying a knife!

New Chef Beastie

I’d better keep an eye on these critters… if they weren’t so gosh-darn cute they could probably land me in some serious trouble!

Thanks for checking out BeastieBlog… officially the most violent knitting blog on the whole internet!


Viking Beastie Settles In

Viking Beastie Outside

Well, it’s been a week since I found Viking Beastie wandering the streets that once formed the heart of Viking-era Dublin, and he’s adapting surprisingly well to the 21st century. He’s even agreed to pose for some photos to show off all his spiffy Viking accessories, in the hope of starting his own ultra-retro fashion blog… What do you think?
Viking Beastie Full Ensemble
Let’s start off with a full-length portrait, showing all of Viking Beastie’s kit… horned helmet, round shield, woollen trousers, sword and EPIC beard. His magnificent face fuzz is naturally curly, and since it’s made from alpaca yarn it’s also surprisingly soft!
Helmet and Shield
Alas, there is no concrete historical evidence to support the popular image of Viking raiders in horned helmets… well, apart from the fact that Viking Beastie is wearing one. The shield, however, is an essential accessory – according to tradition, all free Norse men were required (yes, required) to own weapons, and they were permitted to carry them all the time. Although wealthier folks would flash their cash by accumulating status symbol weaponry such as helmets, swords or battle axes, even the average farmer would have owned a round wooden shield.Viking Beastie Sword
But Viking Beastie is most proud of his sword. Forged from the finest weapons-grade felt, it bears the maker’s mark “+ULFBEAS+T” on the blade – a striking parallel to the prestigious Ulfbehrt human-sized Viking swords which have been found across Europe. Ulfbehrt swords were made from high quality crucible steel – this means that the metal was produced at extremely high temperatures, which reduced impurities and upped its carbon content, giving a blade that was stronger, more flexible and less brittle than anything else available at the time. That, as well as their scarcity, made them highly desirable objects – the Rolls Royce or Birkin bag of Viking weaponry! So sought-after were Ulfbehrt swords that there may even have been a hearty trade in cheap(ish) knock-offs… archaeologists have found several similar-looking swords bearing the distinctive mark “+ULFBERH+T” that turned out to be made of inferior metal!

Viking Beastie will be continuing his travels around Dublin later this week, when he makes his way out to Dalkey to join some of the other Beasties who are currently holidaying in the Creative Collective shop. He should fit right in there, since Dalkey also has Viking history… in the early 900s, following a defeat at the hands of the locals, the Vikings were forced to retreat and regroup at Dalkey Island, which they also used as a holding place for slaves. In fact, in Victorian times, a hoard of Viking coins was found in Castle Street, which is where the shop is located! If you can, why not drop in and pay him a visit?


Pirates, Ninjas and… Skiing?

Pirate Beastie

At last!
I’ve had some new Beasties “in progress” for what feels like forever, and last week I finally got around to putting on the last of their accessories and taking them outside for a photoshoot.

First of the new recruits is Pirate Beastie… I took him down to the Docklands on a sunny weekday afternoon so that I could photograph him alongside the Jeanie Johnston, a replica tall ship which is permanently moored in the River Liffey.
Pirate Beastie and the Jeanie Johnston

When I was making Pirate Beastie, I really went overboard (ha! Pun totally intended) with the pirate stereotypes. So he has a lot going on – natty matching hat and belt, cutlass, eyepatch, peg leg and, of course, a cheeky knitted parrot to keep him company!
Pirate Beastie Full Length

After completing my scurvy sea dog, I moved on to a stealthier project… Ninja Beastie!

Ninja Beastie

Ninja Beastie wears a black jumpsuit to help him melt into the shadows, and is bristling with teeny ninja weapons! They may be made of felt, but that doesn’t make them any less deadly. I gave him a pair of sai, to hang from his belt…
Ninja Beastie Sai

… a sword…
Ninja Beastie Sword

… and a shuriken throwing star.
Ninja Beastie Shuriken

Then I brought him to the Chester Beatty Library, in the grounds of Dublin Castle, to take his photo. This museum houses a collection of artefacts from the Middle and Far East, so it seemed an appropriate setting!
Ninja Beastie Chester Beatty Library

And finally – only a few days after the closing ceremony at the Sochi Winter Olympics (I have to admit I became kind of addicted to winter sports these last few weeks), a specially-commissioned Skier Beastie (or should that be Beast-Ski? Ski-stie?) met his new owner!
Ski Beastie

His skis and ski poles are detachable, too… that way he doesn’t have to miss out on the apres-ski!

See you next time!