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?


Viking Beastie has Landed!

Viking BeastieYesterday my wanderings took me along Fishamble Street, in Dublin city centre.
Fishamble StreetFishamble Street 2

Looks pretty ordinary, doesn’t it? But Fishamble Street has quite the historical backstory! Its origins can be traced back to the 10th century, when it was used by the Vikings as a thoroughfare connecting the riverfront to the main market centre in what is now High Street. In fact, its distinctive curved shape is a deliberate design feature – it’s to make it easier to pull carts up the steep hill!
Curve in Fishamble StreetFishamble Street’s varied history also includes a spell as a fish market (“Fishamble” is a running-together of “fish shambles”, “shambles” being an old word for open-air meat markets and slaughterhouses) and it was the site of the first ever performance of Handel’s “Messiah” in 1742. However, I will always associate this street with the people who put it there in the first place. The majority of the Viking artefacts currently on display in the National Museum of Ireland were found right here in Fishamble Street – they were excavated when Dublin City Council built their civic offices here in the 1970s. If you know where to look, you’ll see plaques in the pavement showing which items were found there.
Plaque in Fishamble Street Plaque in Fishamble Street 2

So, given all that history, I was hardly surprised when I came across a very confused Viking Beastie. He was all at sea amongst the trappings of 21st century Dublin.
Confused Viking Beastie
And you can’t blame him. I’m sure the view has changed a bit since the Vikings first sailed up the Liffey more than a thousand years ago!
Not-so-Viking Dublin

Fortunately, I knew a place where he’d feel right at home. We walked around the side of Christ Church Cathedral…
Christ Church Cathedral

…To Dublinia, where you can experience life in Viking Dublin for yourself!
Viking Beastie with Longboat 066

We even found a longship! Feeling a little more at ease, Viking Beastie agreed to come back to Beastie Towers for a cup of tea. And on the way there…
A Longship... in the Park!

What’s that? A longship… in the PARK?
Viking Beastie in the Park
Nope, just a children’s playground. All the same, the apparently thriving Viking community in modern-day Dublin has helped this Beastie to feel right at home! I think he’s going to stick around for a while!