Creator’s Corner: Bumble and Be

Oct 14, 2020

Posted by: Victoria Tomis


The live bats are flapping around the ceiling of the Great Hall, garden-shed sized pumpkins loom in the corridors, and Peeves’ pandemonium is even more outrageous than usual… October has come to Hogwarts and The Leaky Cauldron! 

Halloween may be on the 31st day of this glorious autumnal month, but like the witches, wizards, and magical people at Hogwarts, we celebrate the spirit of the Halloween season all month. . . . starting with an epic treat for you

It’s no trick. We’ve been hard at work, toiling away on a very secret, very exciting new project . . . and it’s finally time to spill the Bertie Bott’s Every Flavour Beans! 

Beginning this month we’re launching a brand new biweekly series that spotlights some of the most extraordinary, spirited, and imaginative independent artists in the Wizarding World: Creator’s Corner. 

Bumble and Be Co Free Beasties

This week’s Creator is the self-described herbivore, Ravenclaw, and Mother of Crochet Beasties– Sophie of Bumble And Be Co! 

The UK-based witchcrafter has stitched out a niche for herself in the Potterhead crochet and knitting community and become well known for her positivity, her willingness to be vulnerable, and her whimsical way with words! 

When Sophie first picked up her crochet hook she was in recovery from a life-shattering eating disorder. Inspired by the hope, love, and empowerment in the Harry Potter books — especially with the portrayal of magical creatures and beings like Dobby the Elf — Sophie began healing and creating. 

The kind-hearted artist has become well known for her comforting and inspiring words, her adorable crafts (like Pygmy Puffs!) and her advocacy and activism for mental health and eating disorders.

Sophie opened up to us about her early journey as a budding witchcrafter, little menagerie of “free beasties”,  and the power and love of the incredible Potterhead community. 

 But that’s enough talk from us. We’ll let Sophie take it from here. 

Trigger Warning: mentions of eating disorders.

BBC Mooncalves

What’s your Hogwarts House?

Ravenclaw! The Luna kind ?

What’s your wand made of? 

My wand is Phoenix feather (freely given, obviously) and alder wood! As a Ravenclaw, I obviously read into the symbolism of the wood and found that it signifies both protection (its roots are known to enrich the soil) and strength, as rather than rotting when it becomes waterlogged, it grows stronger! A bit like Basilisk venom and [Godric] Gryffindor’s sword!

What companion animal would you bring to Hogwarts with you? 

This is like trying to choose between my children! But I think I may have to go with an Owl. Not only are they so loyal and wise, I could start a protest by refusing to use him for post… unless he wanted to do so, in which case I would insist that he receive fair wages and a pension!

 What’s your Patronus?

My patronus is a bee!

Who is your favorite Harry Potter character?

My favourite Harry Potter character is Luna, for the simple reason that she is unashamedly herself. She refuses to let anyone question her resolve; what others see as whimsy is often incredible wisdom, you just have to find your inner Mooncalf eyes, open wide, and truly see it.

BBC Pygmy Puff Box

1. When did you start WitchCrafting?

I first picked up a crochet hook in 2016, while in treatment for anorexia. While here, I was encouraged to fill my day with things that spoke to SOPHIE – not anorexia – so that’s when I picked up my Harry Potter books again and learn[ed] to crochet!

I vividly recalled something that Evanna Lynch said in an interview, having herself recovered from anorexia in her teens: “I love the feeling of creating more than being to[o] perfect.” This one line was a guiding light for me, motivating me to embrace creativity. Several weeks later, I therefore decided to forgo pre-made [crochet] patterns, channel my inner Luna, and think outside the box!

This is how my first magical crochet creature – Sir Bumble – came to bee. I now call him my business CEO– “Chief Elf Operator”– and his name relates to the fact that he is far from “polished! 

This was in the very early days of my crochet journey, but to me he is all the more magical because of those dropped stitches!

In a KNUTshell, it’s no overestimation to say that crochet kept me from unravelling while in treatment. When I was diagnosed with type one diabetes at the age of seven, Hogwarts was the Patronus that helped me feel safe. 12 years later, as I fought the darkness of an eating disorder in hospital, Harry Potter once again cast a light… only this time with a crochet hook.

Sophie with Pygmy Puff

2. Could you tell us a little about your hashtag #TheSPEWCrew ?

As a former English literature student, I am a huge fan of finding meaning from stories and I use this to create “magical analogies” in recovery! Dobby the elf is central to this.

Like the domineering Malfoy family, an E[ating] D[isorder] pushes you around, punishes any attempt to defy it and convinces you that this is your life. . .

Within these moments, you never expect to find a silver lining… but I did. Over those three months, I learnt how to crochet. As cheesy as it may sound, crochet is my sock. 

Crochet gave me the means to tell my own story and “sock it” to . . . mental illness. With a hook in my hand and the Wizarding world in my heart, I found some light in the darkness. Again, I drew on something Evy Lynch said: “I would open those books and I was free.” This couldn’t resonate more powerful[ly] with me!

I was trying to think of a hashtag for my creatures that [could] encompass this underlying message of freedom and mental well-being. As the first ever creature I made was an Elf, it seemed only fitting that SPEW was involved, so the “SPEW Crew” felt like I was meant to bee!

BBC Nifflers

3. Could you tell us a little bit about your advocacy work?

My first fundraising project was in 2018, when I raised money for BEAT’s “Sock It To Eating Disorders” campaign. They are the UK’s leading eating disorder charity and, when I heard the name of [that] campaign, it couldn’t have felt more fitting.

Eating disorders are sadly still seen as a taboo topic in society, so with my growing business and social media platform I was determined to raise both sickles and social awareness. 

I made some “free elf sock” pins, decoupaging Dobby/SPEW related passages from secondhand Harry Potter books onto wooden sock shapes. 100% [of the] sales from each pin went straight to BEAT. 

I also did a giveaway for one of my elves in 2018 to raise awareness of the campaign.

The analogy was simple: just as Dobby “socked it” to the Malfoys with Harry’s smelly grey sock, crocheting socks for my own FREE elves was my way of “socking it” to the “mind Muggles” in recovery.

Since then, I have sought to do various charity projects throughout the year to raise awareness for things I feel passionately about. 

From the earliest days of my small business, I knew that I wanted to make it about more than stitches and sickles. While I treasure each and every beastie I make, social media has provided a unique opportunity: championing the issues that matter to me, namely the Environment and Mental Health.

Pygmy Puff Pile Bumble and Be Co

As Hermione says, “I hope to do some good in the world,” in 2019, I celebrated the launch of my first “House Pygmy Puffs” by donating £10 from each to a charity that corresponds with [Hogwarts] house values: 

For brave Gryffindors: Scotty’s Little Soldiers

For wise Ravenclaws: Booktrust

For compassionate Hufflepuffs: Young Minds

And for determined Slytherins: The Prince’s Trust

Other recent charities I have supported include Feed NHS with [the sales from] my Weasley twin inspired scarves, [and] The Protego Foundation with the sale of my first Fwooper– to help “break the silencing charm” as their first [motto] put it! 

4. What are your favorite magical creatures in the Wizarding World?

Oh this is a hard one, as it feels like trying to choose between my children! I also find my answer changes depending on what I’m currently making . . . nonetheless, I think  . . . it may have to be the Demiguise.

Not only are they the most majestic and compassionate creatures, I find that their ability to turn invisible is such a powerful metaphor for animal rights in the Muggle world. 

The antagonism of the human world means that so many feel unsafe. . .I solemnly swear I would never buy an invisibility cloak, as no Demiguise should be hunted for their fur. Just as Muggles can buy vegan shoes, so too can the magical community master a disillusionment charm. Dumbledore says as much!

5. When did you create Bumble and Be?

Before I opened my Etsy store, Bumble & Be was the name of my blog since 2016.

I have a long-standing affinity with bees, which largely emerged from its connection with two of my favourite literary characters: Miss Honey and Albus Dumbledore! 

The bee symbolises community, creativity and personal power, which is why I will always see it as my true patronus – no offence to Pottermore!

Yet as someone who, like Dahl and Rowling, loves to ask “what’s in a name?”  I adapted it to “Bumble & Be.” 

The first word signifies the importance of embracing imperfection. We all have our bumbles, even Miss Honey and Dumbledore, and letting go of perfectionism is such a central part to my mental health recovery.

6. Tell us about your Bumble and Be Co Etsy shop. 

I opened the Etsy store “Bumble and Be Co” at the end of 2017. It was a slow start, as I was doing it alongside recovery and returning to my university studies (having paused to enter IP treatment in 2016).

 Until summer 2019, all my items were one-off listings. I would simply list the creatures as I made them, depending on where my imagination took me that particular week! Each would come with a unique name and “beastie backstory”, which I would also share in posts on [Instagram]!

As all my patterns are self-designed, there have been numerous evolutions to get to where I am now! After the Elf, I made my first Niffler and this was quickly followed by bowtruckles, Pygmy puffs and the design I am possibly most proud of – the Mooncalf!

In July 2019, I switched to a “made-to-order” model, so rather than listing ready-made I teens, people could adopt one of these five beasties and have it customised to their heart’s desire!

This includes a bespoke adoption card and “book badge”. I make these in the same way as my free elf pins, by decoupaging secondhand Harry Potter books onto wooden shapes. I will often customise this around the beastie’s name or even the buyer’s name. For example, a customer’s daughter was called “Lily”, so I found a passage about Lily Potter for the badge!

It’s these little details that I just love, as it truly tells a story and is a way of bringing an extra smile to someone’s day. The use of secondhand materials and wood also connects to my passion for the environment, which has more recently seen me release wooden pins as an alternative to enamel, based on my own digital art drawings of my SPEW Crew.

7. What drives you as an independent artist and small business owner?

When I opened Bumble & Be as an Etsy Store, my main fear was sacrificing the “soul” of my Instagram account to sickles. With this in mind, I consciously avoid “business speak” in my posts. My overarching mantra is “storytelling over selling”.

This includes raising awareness of mental health and animal rights, sharing behind the scenes of my makes and opening up about my own “bumbles” along the way.

Every week, one or two posts are also taken over by my resident Niffler “Sir Nugget de Whimsy Pawpington”, who has an ego to rival Gilderoy [Lockhart] but a Hufflepuff heart deep down! 

I have found that this approach to being a small business, while not the most conventional, has allowed me to build a little community and stay true to my values.

In the end, that is worth more than all the gold in Gringotts –not even a Niffler could argue with that!

You can keep up with all of Sophie’s witchcrafting on her Instagram @bumble_and_be, watch her artsy adventures on her YouTube channel Beeing Sophie, and her read her blog Bumble & Be. You can adopt your own magical creatures like Hogwarts House inspired Pygmy Puffs, Nifflers, and Hippogriffs from her Etsy shop Bumble And Be Co

Stay tuned for our next Creator’s Corner, coming in the final week of October!

Let us know (via this form) if you or someone you know should be featured, and get bonus content from interviews via our Patreon (via Mischief Media). Feel free to also send us your thoughts and suggestions via FacebookInstagram and Twitter.

The Leaky Cauldron is not associated with J.K. Rowling, Warner Bros., or any of the individuals or companies associated with producing and publishing Harry Potter books and films.