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If you caught our 2016 production of The Gentle Shepherd, you might have noticed a cute little sheep featured prominently both in the show and in our advertising. Affectionately known as Pepe the Sheep, our little stuffed friend became the face of the show in North America.

Well, we've decided that from now on, every project we offer will have a featured stuffed animal friend who will act as our ambassador and join us for each show. Better yet, we'll commission a new stuffed animal from local artists. 

So, for our 2017 program, A Gaelic Summer, we'd love to introduce to you BBEaver, the loveliest lady beaver in all Chicago! BBEaver - we hope you get the joke ;) - comes to us from the imagination of Holly Nastenko, a crochet artist based in Aurora, IL, right outside the city of Chicago. We found Holly via her Etsy site, DaisyJoyStore, and instantly fell in love with her work. Holly customized our crochet order, and voila! Our new friend! We asked Holly about her work below. 


Holly, tell us some tidbits about you.

- I've always had an interest in some sort of craft (cross-stitch, knitting, needlework, photography, etc.)
- I have a degree in Russian language and literature
- I love to read books a lot
- I enjoy traveling with my family, and last year we started a YouTube channel about it

Your creations are so cute! How did you get into crocheting?

I have been crafting for nearly 8 years. I started off when I became a stay at home mum to my newborn son. I wanted to create a toy for him that would be cute and unique. So I found a cute pattern and crocheted a turtle! And it was just the beginning. I fell in love with these adorable crocheted animals!  I found crocheting very relaxing. I crochet now as a hobby and as a business. The relaxation isn’t there so much now when I am working to order, but I still love to crochet!

Tell us about your process. How do you decide what you're going to create? Where do you crochet? How often do you get to do it?

I truly enjoy thinking of something new every time. I crochet for approximately 7 hours a day. I generally work when my sons are in school. Any free time is basically crochet time for me! My knitter's dream is a roomy attic as my studio - full of gorgeous handmade and vintage items and facing the ocean shore! (In reality, I do my work on the couch.)

What are your plans for your crocheting business?

I would love to have the time to commit to craft markets.

Do you have any other hidden artistic talents?

I love photography and singing.


Did you ever think a classical music ensemble would call you up asking you to make a beaver to be the "spokesBEAVER" for one of its programs?

I never thought about it, but it was a pleasure for me!

Be honest. Who's your favorite: Bach or Beethoven? (Or Beyonce?)

I choose Beethoven.

Anything else to add?

I love my small magical world full of colors. I am trying to bring joy in all my creations. I love handmade gifts; they're so personal and one of a kind and definitely makes people smile!

Do you love Holly's work as much as we do?

Check out her blogEtsy, and Facebook, and considering buying a customized plushee for your loved ones! We know we'll be back for a future program. Who knows what we'll cook up... although those octopuses are reeeeeally tempting! Thanks, Holly! You're the best!