Make It Monday: Kokeshi Doll for Hinamatsuri

A belated but very happy Hinamatsuri to you all! I love Hinamatsuri and decided, now my daughter is a bit older, to make her a Kokeshi doll. Not quite as intricate as the stunning Hina (traditional dolls placed on the altar for Hinamatsuri) dolls from Japan but very adorable nonetheless. Keep reading to learn more about this fun festival.

I loved learning about all the different festivals from my Japanese friend whilst at university. The rich colours, beautiful fabric and ancient traditions seemed so far from my rather bland life (which, ironically, for my friend were fascinating). However, it wasn’t until we lived in Japan that I got to experience some of these festivals first hand.

Some of my students arranged for me to be dressed in a kimono.
Hinamatsuri (Girl’s Day)

One of my favourites was the Hinamatsuri, or Girl’s Day, festival which is celebrated on 3rd March. I loved seeing all the traditional alters, covered in red cloth with the Hina dolls placed with precision. Some of my students kindly showed me how to make some origami dolls (see below), which were certainly more practical when travelling!

A set of Hina dolls can be very expensive. We saw sets in Kyoto which were priced at well over £2,000 but other sets can be bought for less than £50 from Amazon. Many sets my students had were family heirlooms, carefully used by generations of girls.

Kokeshi dolls

I decided I wanted to make a Kokeshi Doll for my daughtervas a way to mark Hinamatsuri. Kokeshi dolls are a traditional doll, historically made from wood and with minimal features. They used to have straight bodies, with a round head but more recently they have been made more rounded.

There’s are loads on patterns online but I really liked the one by La Calle de la Abuela. However, I wanted to ensure she was a similar size to my other dolls. I tweaked the pattern in several places so my final doll was the same size as Medusa and the Wicked Witch. I chose a pale green wool because green is often associated with youth and vitality – in short, perfect for an energetic toddler!

The doll came together quickly and I loved the way a few adjustments or adornments give her her own personality. She’s one of the few crochet projects that I’ve finished and immediately want to make another, normally I like to move on to a new challenge but I’m planning on making more and will hopefully include some in my online shop.

What do you think? Have you got or made a Kokeshi Doll? Do you celebrate Hinamatsuri? Let me know in the comments below.

Origami dolls

As promised, here’s my origami ‘dolls’.

They’re very easy to make and a fun way to introduce little people to the art of paper folding.

For more information on the different styles of Hina dolls and the alters, check out this fascinating piece from the Kyoto Museum.

Make It Monday: Making Medusa

Crochet Medusa by @bluebeaglebaby

I remember seeing Medusa for the first time. It was a Sunday afternoon and ‘Clash of the Titans‘ was on. In his quest to save Andromeda, Perseus had to face the vicious Medusa. She was brought so beautifully to ‘life’ by the highly talented Ray Harryhausen. With her snake hair and highly accurate archery skills, along with her ability to turn anyone who looked upon her to stone, I was transfixed.

Ray Harryhausen with some of his creations

I read all I could about Greek myths and whilst I was interested in the different gods and goddesses, it was the ‘monsters’ which always appealed to me – probably a precursor for my future as a writer (certainly, the Guardian from my short story in the Fox Pockets book ‘Guardians’ could be right out of mythology).

Medusa the Icon

As part of my celebration for Women in Horror Month, I wanted to celebrate my love of Medusa. With the current ‘Me Too’ movement she seemed a good embodiment of both a victim (one retelling of her story has her raped by Poisoiden) and as a protector, with her visage being placed on Gorgoneion amulets. Assorted myths suggest that once Perseus beheaded her, Pegasus was born and that the snakes in the Sahara were created from drops of her blood. Even in death, she created life. More contemporary writers have suggested she’s a feminist symbol and the idea of Medusa continues to spark debate and research, such as this piece from The Dangerous Woman Project. Plus, she looks pretty cool!


To create my Medusa, I used my all-in-one dolls base to create her head and the top of her body. In ‘Clash of the Titans’ Medusa lives in a dark temple and I wanted to pay homage to that so I used overly large eyes, to allow her to see in the dark. Hubby bought me ‘Edwards Imaginarium‘ for Christmas and I’ve been desperate to create some of the monsters in it so I used the ‘horn’ pattern for her tail. I inserted a short piece of wire so that her tail can move, but also stay in position. Her snake hair was a simple chain followed by a slip stitch back and I added some red thread for the snake’s tongues. The finishing touch was a skull bead necklace – perhaps the head of one of her victims?

What do you think?

Crochet Medusa by @bluebeaglebaby

Make It Monday: Pipe Cleaner Monsters for Women In Horror Month

We love our arts and crafts here at Beagle HQ and as I’m celebrating Women In Horror Month, I was keen to get the toddler involved. We had painted a lot of ghosts for Halloween and I though it would be fun to do something a little more 3D.

Regular readers may remember the tissue box monster we made for Halloween and I was keen to use some of the materials again as I felt they gave a ‘monsterous’ look. Opening up her box of craft supplies we selected pipe cleaners, lolly sticks, feathers (because what monster isn’t scary when covered in feathers?), googly eyes and glue. I chose glue dots because nothing is more horrific (Sorry for the pun!) than trying to get PVA glue off the carpet (trust me on this. Also, acrylic paint which somehow made it UNDER the protective sheeting I had lain down).

Getting Monstrous

The toddler and I did a quick google for ‘pipe cleaner monsters’ and there are some great monsters out there! We were slightly stunned at others creativity (honestly, I never knew pipe cleaners could make such intricate and detailed creations!), but we weren’t intimidated. Drawing inspiration from her tiger and triceratops toys we got bendy, sticky and more than a little fluffy due to a feather explosion!

And here are our monsters! What do you think? There are no real instructions, we just folded, stuck, twisted and poked feathers in! I think they look really fun and the toddler was very engaged, happily sticking more feathers on to her tiger-monster. We looked at colours and had a little chat about how many eyes a monster needs, plus the important topic of what colour they should be! (The toddler sensibly opted for green, very monstrous, whilst I had a mix).

But still feeling ghostly….

I’ve also been desperate to try marking Pom Poms as I have fond memories of making them as a child. I was excited when I found ‘blue bear wood’s blog featuring these adorable Pom Pom monsters. There were loads of photos and the instructions were very clear. We”ve been feeling quite ghostly so I thought we’d try to make a ghost. Pom Pom duly wound, the toddler was in charge of cutting the wool, which she loved but rapidly lost interest when it came to tying and adding the eyes, although she did like the finished ‘ghost’.

So that’s it for this weeks craft. What are you working on?

I hope you liked our project and if so, check out our other Make It Monday posts.

Make it Monday: St Brigid’s Cross

Finished St Brigid's Cross

Saint Brigid is one of the patron saints of Ireland. There is speculation that she’s a continuation of the pagan goddess for spring and certainly, she is now associated with the protection of animals and her feast day falls on Imbolc, the start of spring. She is also the patron saint of poetry, arts and crafts which is one of the reasons I was interested in marking her feast day and making a Saint Brigid’s Cross.

Scissors, string and raffia to make St Brigid's Cross

The cross itself is traditionally made from straw, but because we didn’t have any we used paper raffia, which worked fairly well, although next time we would glue the pieces together once they were in place to stop them moving around so much.

Pieces of raffia

We measured  30cm pieces of raffia and the toddler was very excited that she was able to cut them. I then folded the strands in half, leaving us with sixteen strands of raffia measuring 15cm. Then it was on to weaving! This proved rather more fiddly than I had anticipated, probably due to the raffia not being as stiff as straw would be and the pieces kept moving. I found it helped if I placed the cross on the table and held the centre, twisting it as I added more layers. Unfortunately, because it was a little fiddly, the toddler did lose interest and I was left to weave on my own.

Weaving a St Brigids Cross

Most of the instructions I looked at were the same, with the central four straws woven together to form a square, then additional straws added to build up the cross. You can add as many ‘layers’ as you want, but I chose four, one for each member of the house. Here’s the link to Colorful Crafts whose instructions I used. I found them very clear and there were lots of photographs to follow. There are loads of different shapes which can be woven and next year we may try a triangle or star.

Did you celebrate Imbolc or make a St Brigid’s Cross? Let me know in the comments below.

How many scarves can I knit from one ball of wool?

Rowan wool

How beautiful is this Rowan alpaca wool? I bought a ball with my first royalty payment from Fox Spirit Books and if you can fall In love with wool, well that’s what happened. I decided I needed to find the perfect knitting project for such a pretty wool. However, I couldn’t settle on just one pattern and ended up trying several before finally creating my own pattern. Keep scrolling to see my different attempts and my final scarf.

Rowan wool
Look at the detail in the fibres!

The First Attempt

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

I was relatively new to knitting so started with this simple stitch (knit one, yarn over, knit two together, repeat) in order to make a scarf. But quickly realised one ball of wool would produce a very small scarf. Back to the drawing board!

The Gallatin

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

This is easily one of my favourite knitting patterns. From Kris Basta the Gallatin Scarf is fairly simple and quick to knit, I’ve even made some for gifts. Armed with my needles, I bought another ball of the alpaca wool and set to work. I was pleased with the final result as the detailing at the bottom was really pretty. However, unlike the pattern which uses a fine wool, the alpaca wool is chunky which meant it didn’t drop as nicely as the others I made. So I ripped it out and looked for a new pattern.

Learning to Knit Hearts

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Apologies for the photo from my Instagram feed (@bluebeaglebaby) but the house ghosts have moved the original. I kept seeing this heart scarf pattern and was very keen to try it. It’s a lovely pattern and I made a version in a chunky red wool for a friend but as you can see from the photo, the alpaca wool curled at the sides and refused to lay flat so it was once again ripped out.

Things Get Frilly

Knitted scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

This was my first attempt at writing my own pattern. Still relatively new to knitting so it was a very simple pattern but I wanted to try a new edging technique and create ‘waves’. I was pleased with the final result, although the edges curled in, as frequently happens with stockinette stitch and I also really liked the frilled bottom: it will be a technique I use again in future patterns. However, the finished scarf was shorter than I’d hoped which I was surprised about as it’s 150metres of wool! Due to the length and the curled edges, I decided to keep looking for another pattern and ripped it out again.

If you’d like to try the pattern, here it is:

  • Using your chosen wool and appropriate needles, cast on 60 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Stitch two stitches together for the entire row, leaving 30 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Knit one, yarn over, knit two together for the entire row
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Repeat to desired length
  • After your last set of knit one, yarn over, knit two together and ten rows of stockinette knit one, make one using your chosen method (I like the knit front to back method but yarn over would also work). You should now have 60 stitches
  • Stockinette stitch ten rows
  • Cast off and weave in all the ends.

Simple! Hope you like the pattern. It’s not been tested so if you have any queries, comment below and make sure you post photos here or tag me on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)

Then I Learned to Crochet

Crochet scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Over the summer I learned to crochet. For some reason, crochet was a skill which I struggled to learn, with most of my attempts looking like weirdly shaped clumps of wool or sort-of triangles. Luckily I found some really useful YouTube channels and the very helpful Planet June website which has helped me enormously.

I’ve quickly fallen in love with crochet and find the range of things I can make very inspiring, from appliqué which I use in creating greeting cards, hats and scarves (I made a Sarah and Duck inspired set for my daughter) and assorted Amigurumi. My daughter loves my creations and keeps asking me to make her different creatures, from a sea cow (another Sarah and Duck inspiration) to a wolf. I’m hoping to perfect my pattern, then more of my amigurami creatures will be offered for sale in my shop.

But back to the scarf. It’s worked completely in half double crochet stitch and you just need to know how to increase and decrease. As with my other patterns, it simple, quick to make and easily customisable. Below is the pattern for the headband but to make the scarf, simply add twenty stitches. Use chunky wool and a 6mm crochet hook.

  • Chain 10
  • HDC in second stitch from hook (9)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (11)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC increase in first and last stitches (13)
  • Chain 2. HDC into second stitch from the edge of your work, creating a gap. Chain one, then skip a stitch and HDC into the next stitch. Continue to the end of the row. You should have a row with 6 spaces
  • Chain two and HDC into the first space (ie. through the hole, not into the stitch). Chain 1 then HDC into the next space. Continue to the end of the row
  • Continue until the piece measures approximately 45cm but try the headband on and adjust to fit your head accordingly
  • When the piece of long enough, Chain 1 then HDC in each of the stitches (not the spaces this time)  (13)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (11)
  • Chain 1 and turn. HDC decrease in first and last stitches (9)
  • Bind off and leave a long tail for sewing the ends together
  • Sew the edges together and decorate with your favourite buttons.

For the scarf, the pattern is the same except the row after the increase or decreases I did a row of HDC. Hope you like the pattern. It’s untested but if you do make it, leave a photo below or tag me in on Instagram (@bluebeaglebaby)

Crochet scarf by @bluebeaglebaby

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water

I’m really enjoying learning to crochet. For some reason my brain didn’t ‘get it’ for ages, despite being shown by friends and associates, all I could make was uneven triangles.

I recently spent some time learning (thanks to a charity shop crochet kit and YouTube!) and have been experimenting a lot, writing my own patterns and learning to make appliqué as well as amigurami characters. I’ll be showcasing my makes here and welcome commissions. This little shark was made for my husband, a huge shark enthusiast. What do you think?

Comment below or email bluebeaglebaby (at) for more info or follow me on Instagram @bluebeaglebaby


Make it Monday: Monster Tissue Box

One of my favourite things to do on a lazy day with the Lamb is to look briefly at my ‘Toddler Craft’ board on Pintrest & see what project she chooses.

Last week she was really taken with this photo of ‘tissue box monsters’ (apologies, I’ve looked to see if there’s a link to a website but can’t see one). 

It was super simple and it was lovely to see the Lamb’s imagination run wild. Firstly we gathered our materials, and we were very lucky that it was the day before the recycling was collected so we had plenty of egg boxes and tissue boxes to use, plus some pipe cleaners, felt balls, paint, paper and glue.

The Lamb kept referring back to the original photo but her imagination really ran wild as she painted the mouth black, added fuzzy balls inside, wanted yellow horn and chose bobbly eyes for him. It was really fun, messy and creative. I was surprised at how long it took as the Lamb took a lot of care painting and considering what to add next. 

And now her monster is pride of place on the mantelpiece. 

Have you made a tissue box monster? What decorations are you making for Halloween? 

Make It Monday: Birthday Shenanigans Part 2 ‘Sarah & Duck’

I crocheted the Lamb a ‘Sarah’ doll and Sarah’s favourite animal, a sea cow.

We recently celebrated the Lamb’s third (THIRD!!) birthday. She’s heavily into dinosaurs at the moment so I had planned a dinosaur theme for her birthday. However, as always, the best laid plans for scuppered when two weeks before her birthday, she announced she wanted a ‘Sarah and Duck’ theme. For those of you who haven’t seen it, Sarah and Duck is a charming and quirky cartoon featuring a young girl ‘Sarah’, her friend ‘Duck’ who lives with her and a plethora (I really don’t use the word ‘plethora’ enough. Plethora. Love it) of interesting characters, from ‘Scarf Lady’ who is perpetually knitting and her grumpy knitting bag, Umbrella who doesn’t like the rain, Bug who collects buttons, Plate Girl, Ribbon Sisters, the list goes on.

Which luckily means there are a huge number of characters to draw inspiration from. As we do every birthday, we decorated our fireplace.

With help from the Lamb, we made pom-poms. Pom-poms are a craft I’d been looking forward to doing with the Lamb for a while. It’s very simple and mess-free, plus we loved throwing our pom-poms in the air. Their ‘bed’ was actually a cleaned out croissant tray and we shredded some brown packing paper to make soil. We stuck some eyes on the pom-poms, then it was a case of ‘Hello!’, ‘Hello!’, ‘Hello!’, ‘Ahoy!’

Duck was another toddler-friendly craft with lots of tissue paper stuck onto a cardboard duck. Sometimes the simple crafts are the most fun and effective.

Next up was the paper chains, because it’s not a birthday without paper chains. I found an umbrella shaped hole punch in Tiger (I’ve seen them in multiple stores) and set to work. ‘Umbrella’ in Sarah and Duck is red so I tried different methods of creating a red umbrella. Finally I opted to punch strips of yellow paper, then highlight the holes with red paper, which I think created a lovely effect. It was time consuming but looked pretty good, although I cut the red backing paper a little too narrow so from the back it looked a little messy. The Lamb didn’t mind though.

Another view of the paper chains and the paint blown ‘Moon’ to created a few weeks ago.

In one episode Sarah’s plant isn’t too well. It turns out that ‘Bug’ has been storing buttons in the flower pot. Sarah makes Bug a ‘Button’ bank so I filled a jar with my most colourful buttons and added a label. I think Bug would really like this little Bank, don’t you?

Some paper lanterns became ‘Moon’ and ‘Venus’ and more tissue paper helped create ‘Flamingo’ .

And of course, what would a birthday be without ‘Cake’. Fans of the show will know the talkative cake was make for Duck but ended up helping ‘Bread Man’ in his shop. And what flavour was the cake? Lemon drizzle of course!

Does your little one like Sarah and Duck? Have you thrown a Sarah and Duck themed party? Let me know!

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