Friday, 31 May 2013

My Creative Space

image smoothfox starburst square 12 inch crochet

Yes, the crochet blog posts continue because crazy old me decided to crochet a blanket made up of twelve inch crochet squares!  It seemed like a really good idea at the time, but fifteen squares into my required twenty (and I am SERIOUSLY hoping I don't need more) and I am getting a little bored with the project and my muscles are aching from me hunching over my crochet square and pattern instructions.  For those who love to crochet and are looking for more pattern ideas, most of my patterns were found at the following sites: SmoothFox Crochet and Knit, Dayna's Crochet and MoCrochet.  And if you are interested in smaller squares (say six inch), my friend Shelley has been kindly sharing crochet square patterns over on her blog Spincushions.

image 12 twelve inch crochet square rose flower nicki trench cute and easy crochet

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Things I Love - Non-Perishable Bridal Bouquets

Heirloom Bridal Bouquet Using Vintage Brooches image tutorial diy

If there is one thing I wish I could have done differently about my wedding, it would have been including more handmade elements on my "big day".  With both of us busy studying for exams, Mr Cheeky Monkeys applying for jobs and me applying for a PhD position, we were hardpressed for time to plan the wedding itself, let alone sort out a handmade touch to the day.  While we did include several handmade elements in our wedding, I do think there is a certain charm to the many handmade and non-perishable, or "heirloom", bridal bouquets I have been seeing in recent years.

And when I found this simple tutorial on craft tuts+, I knew I had to share it with my readers!  The tutorial really is quite easy to follow, and I think this bouquet would be a great gift to make for anyone who loves vintage things, not just a bride.  If you have made something like this, I would love to know!  And I'd also love to know if you had a traditional floral bouquet (like I did) at your wedding, or did you go for something a little different?

Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Birthday Giveaway Winners

Apologies for the delay in announcing the winner of my birthday giveaway!  Without further ado, the winner of the Mr Darcy cufflinks is:

Comment #114 by Christabel who loved the Mr Rochester brooch.

Our second place winner is:

Comment #40 by Karen who loved the Wendy cocktail napkins!
The two winners have 48 hours to contact me before I draw another winner.

For everyone else, thank you for your entries, I like to know what my readers love in my stores.   :)
Let me remind you also to keep an eye out on my Two Cheeky Monkeys store on Etsy as I am clearing out all jewellery designs which do not fit into my three main categories of literary, vintage glam or cabochon styles.  There are some absolute bargains to be had as I work to streamline the creations in my store.

Monday, 27 May 2013

Geek Chic Crochet - Book Review

image geek chic crochet nicki trench patterns

After successfully teaching me how to knit when I was about eight or nine years old, my mum tried, with limited success, to teach me how to crochet.  In fact it has only been in the last year or so that I have rekindled my desire to learn to crochet and have since been scanning the shelves of my local library and newsagents for books or magazines about crocheting (as well as pretty much stalking several crochet-themed blogs).  So it won't surprise you when you see that today's book for review is Geek Chic Crochet by Nicki Trench, the author of quite a few exciting-looking books on handmade.

image geek chic crochet nicki trench patterns granny square bag felted

This book is filled with retro-inspired crochet projects for bags, clothing, hats and more.  It has a very helpful tehniques and crochet stitch section, made all the better by the fact that there are accompanying illustrations.  As a relative crochet novice, I love that the projects in the book have been graded into three skill levels, named "beginner", "improver" and "experienced".  The pattern instructions are very well written and easy enough to follow and the photography and styling are wonderfully done to add to the retro and "geeky" feel of the patterns.

image geek chic crochet nicki trench patterns top jumper sweater

There are so many great aspects of this book that it is hard to find anything wrong with it.  This is a book which would be great for novice crocheters as they can tackle harder projects as they improve and gain confidence.  There are also enough "experienced" patterns to make this book suitable for those who have been crocheting for a while too.  Unlike some books I have read, there is a good variety of patterns in Geek Chic Crochet and harder patterns can still be tackled by more inexperienced crocheters with the help of the "techniques" section of the book and a little patience.  Really, about the only thing I can find to say against this book is that those who only want to tackle the simpler patterns would probably do better to search online for a free pattern an experienced crocheter has written up on their blog.

image geek chic crochet nicki trench patterns crocodile stitch shawl

Overall I would recommend this book to those who love to crochet, no matter what their experience level.  The fun collection of retro-style as well as more "timeless" and modern patterns is sure to have something for most lovers of crochet and/or handmade.  If you are on the lookout for more crochet patterns to work on, then I would recommend adding Geek Chic Crochet to your wish list!

Friday, 24 May 2013

My Creative Space - More Magnets

image wuthering heights magnet set heathcliff earnshaw catherine hindley emily bronte words text glass domum vindemia

You may remember me showing off my new range of literature magnets last month.  Well, I have been busily making more, this time featuring characters from Charlotte Bronte's Wuthering Heights.  I have to admit that I find the story a little on the depressing side (but then, many of the classics from that era were a bit depressing care of the standards in which people lived), but I couldn't let that stop me creating items for all my fans who have been asking for some Wuthering Heights goodies!  So what do you think of these latest magnets?  Are you a fan, or do you prefer the more comical and upbeat stories written by Jane Austen?  Or are you a fan of a different genre of writing?

Monday, 20 May 2013

Birthday Celebration Giveaway

image birthday cake candles tea cup set teapot afternoon tea flowers vintage

This week I celebrate my birthday and come to terms with the fact that yes, I am getting older and starting to look it too!  But I do love a good birthday party and cake, so I thought I would celebrate by offering my blog readers a special discount in my stores AND a special giveaway too.

image two cheeky monkeys store banner jewellery jewelery mr darcy rings brooch fabric cuff vintage

I am offering 25% off purchases (excluding postage) in my Two Cheeky Monkeys stores all week.  Those who prefer to shop in my Etsy store can use the coupon code 25SALE at checkout, while the discount is already in place for those who prefer to shop in my Madeit store.

image domum vindemia store banner vintage upcycled recycled homewares wedding decor

If you love doily buntings and vintage crockery cake stands, then take advantage of the 15% discount in both Domum Vindemia stores this week.  The discount is already in place in my Madeit store, while those wishing to shop in my Etsy store can use the coupon code BIRTHDAY.

image pride and prejudice jane austen mr darcy elizabeth bennet pemberley cufflinks magnet set cuff links handmade two cheeky monkeys

And because I love a big celebration, I am offering two prizes to two winners in my birthday giveaway.  First prize will be a pair of Mr Darcy cufflinks and the second prize will be a set of four Pride and Prejudice magnets.  Because I know how much you all love Jane Austen!!!  Simply fill in the Rafflecopter form below to gain entries to the giveaway.  Some important information: the giveaway is open internationally and will run until Friday, 24th May 2013.  Winners have 48 hours to reply to their winning notification email before I re-draw the giveaway.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The Liberty Book of Home Sewing - Book Review

image liberty book of home sewing

I hope you all found last week's book review interesting and helpful.  This week I'm reviewing The Liberty Book of Home Sewing by Lucinda Ganderton.  If you love sewing and adore the Liberty range of fabrics, then keep reading!  As the title says, this gorgeous book is filled with sewing projects for your home (and a few for your body!) made entirely from beautiful Liberty fabrics.  The twenty-five projects in the book range from cushions, curtains and quilts to bags, aprons and even a delightful peacock pincushion.  The Liberty Book of Home Sewing also has a section on sewing basics (such as essential sewing stitches and equipment), a glossary of terms and an annotated pictorial glossary of a wide range of Liberty fabrics.

image the liberty book of home sewing peacock pincushion fabric

I really enjoyed poring through this book and looking at all the beautiful photography and illustrations included to help crafters through each project.  The project instructions are well written and seem easy to follow with quite a few projects suitable for those with basic sewing skills (if they're willing to patiently work and think through each step).  I have to give the author bonus points for including "taking it further" options for many of the projects which will inspire more experienced sewists with variations or added extras for the project.

image the liberty book of home sewing fabric book covers

This book is great for Liberty fabric fans and for those who love to sew for their home, as the patterns will work for any good quality fabric, not just Liberty fabrics.  The photography and general design of the book are stunning - there is fabric eye candy galore!  On the down side, sewists who don't like having to enlarge patterns from templates or draw up their own patterns from written instructions are going to find some of the projects a little hard to get started.  This is not a big hurdle for most, but it will be for some.  There are also a few clothes patterns which give measurements only for size 12 individuals.  If, like me, you are still struggling to get back to your sylph-like size 10 or 12 pre-baby body, or if you're just not a size 12, then you might find it a pain to have to re-size the pattern to fit your body shape.

image the liberty book of home sewing apron child kitchen

The few "cons" aside, I thoroughly enjoyed reading through this book.  It would be a great book to give to someone who adores Liberty or has a passion for vintage-inspired patterns and designs.  If you are not a fan of sewing items for your home, then this book probably isn't for you.  But honestly, I'd be happy just to buy this book and keep it on my coffee table for a touch of prettiness in the room.

Friday, 17 May 2013

Attic 24: A Crochet Lover's "Go To" Blog

image attic 24 crochet wreath spring easter flowers

You all have to know by now just how much I have enjoyed learning how to crochet, and I thought I would share with you one of my favourite crochet blogs.  For those of you who don't already know it, Attic 24 is an English blog full of beautiful photos of nature, baked goodies and bright and colourful crocheted items.  Lucy very generously shares many fun crochet patterns and ideas on her blog, of which I've tried one or two.  So if you love to crochet and still haven't discovered Attic 24, then head on over to Lucy's blog and check it out!

image attic 24 springtime flowers crochet daffodil bulbs

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

My Creative Space - Literary Cufflinks

image mad hatter cufflinks book text upcycled vintage two cheeky monkeys alice in wonderland

Looking back over my blog, I was a little horrified to note that it's been almost a month since I've shared my creative work with my dear readers!  Although I have been working on various handmade items, I think the dreary Melbourne weather combined with recovering from surgery and then a sinus infection have all conspired against my natural urge to share my creations.

image mr Darcy cufflinks jane austen book text upcycled vintage two cheeky monkeys pride and prejudice

But I've been working hard at improving my focus and motivation, so today I'm showing off some new additions to the "literature inspired" range of jewellery in my Two Cheeky Monkeys stores.  The latest additions are all for the well-groomed male in your life - cufflinks featuring the words "Mr Darcy" and "mad Hatter".  I adore the look of a crisp shirt and suit with cufflinks (especially when worn by Mr Cheeky Monkeys!!!) and I'm sure many of my readers must feel the same about their favourite man!

image mad hatter cufflinks book text upcycled vintage two cheeky monkeys alice in wonderland

All cufflinks are now available in my Etsy and Madeit stores, as well as at my NSW stockist, The Bower Bird Project (for those of you who happen to live that way and want to see the cufflinks in person).  In the mean time, I'm planning to make some more cufflinks but can't decide whether I should make more of the above or feature more favourite characters from classic stories.  What do you think?

Monday, 13 May 2013

Op Shop Chic - Book Review

image op shop chic refashion found treasures book review rosie lyons

During my three weeks of recuperating from foot surgery, I spent a lot of my "free time" reading craft books borrowed from one of my local libraries.  I have read so many craft books that I thought I would review some of them for you, because there is nothing worse than buying a craft book only to find that you really don't like it (and with many people moving to buying books online, sight unseen as it were, this is a risk you sometimes take).

image op shop chic refashion found treasures rosie lyons lampshade lace fabric

The book I'm reviewing today is Op Shop Chic by Rosie Lyons, which I'm sure you all realised I borrowed because of my love of upcycling.  This cute little book is packed with projects and tips on how to create beautiful items from unwanted, broken or other found objects.  There are four main sections which cover upcycling or recycling old clothing, furniture, fabrics and kitchenwares.

image op shop chic refashion found treasures tesselated purse paint rosie lyons

I absolutely love the idea behind this book, including the author's preface explaining why she believes in upcycling and recycling.  There are some highly inventive and pretty projects in this book, and I especially liked the re-decorated lampshade and tea towel bag projects.  However, for the experienced upcycler or op shopper, many of the projects in this book won't be new to you.

image op shop chic refashion found treasures vinyl record bowl stand rosie lyons

On the positive side, with something like forty or so projects in one small book, there are lots of projects to get a novice upcycler started on the right track or to inspire the more experienced creator.  The variety of projects in this little book is also quite impressive.  On the minus side, though, many of the project instructions are brief and not always self-explanatory, and there are no step-by-step photos, making it harder for novice crafters to follow along.  Many of the instructions also assume at least a basic knowledge of various crafting techniques.

image op shop chic refashion found treasures tea towel bag tote rosie lyons

So what's my final verdict on this book?  Op Shop Chic is a fun and compact book with many clever recycling and upcycling ideas.  Due to the brief nature of the project instructions and a distinct lack of photography (except for final product photos), I wouldn't recommend this book for those who are new to the creative world.  However, this book would be a good start for creative individuals looking for inspiration or a "how to" to get them started on the creative path that is upcycling.

Friday, 10 May 2013

DIY Mother's Day Roundup - For the Walls

Today is my final in my series of DIY mother's day posts.  I am a big fan of creating art for my walls (not that I have much wall space in my home), so today's post has various ideas for you to help your mum decorate her home.

image tutorial diy quirky cutlery wall art kitchen art crap i've made

image silhouette wall art picture tutorial diy the anderson crew
What mum doesn't love to display photos (or silhouettes) of her "babies"?

image fabric hoop art tutorial diy embroidery hoop wall hanging everyday childhood
Fabric in embroidery hoops is simple, but effective!

image animal wall art tutorial diy ef myevaforeva
Another one for mums who like their art on the quirkier side of life.

image framed crochet wall art tutorial diy sampler granny square flower thompson family
What about a framed crochet "sampler" for the crafty mum?

image framed children's art artwork upcycled painting tutorial diy sarah jane
Melt a mother's heart by framing her little one's artwork or by helping a child to upcycle their paintings into new works of art.

Thursday, 9 May 2013

DIY Mother's Day Roundup - Flowers

I know that flowers can get pretty expensive around mother's day, and it's always a little disappointing when those beautiful flowers eventually fade and die.  So why not make your mum some longer lasting flowers???

image flower corsage fabric tutorial diy vintage sheets kojodesigns kojo designs
Make a flower corsage for mum.

image ribbon roses mother's day tutorial diy valentine's bouquet burdastyle
An oldie, but a goodie - ribbon roses.

image tutorial diy paper flowers lollipop candy baking cup muffin patty pan skip to my lou
A muffin cup/patty pan flower with a lollipop - kids could make this one so easily!

image diy tutorial paper flower wreath garland tissue paper ruffled
What about a handmade floral wreath for mum?

image diy tutorial tissue paper flowers poms pom pom diy inspired
Another oldie but goodie - tissue paper flowers.

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

DIY Mother's Day Roundup - Jewellery

I hope you have been enjoying the DIY roundups so far.  I couldn't put together a week's worth of DIYs without including a post full of jewellery tutorials!  So today's roundup has a range of tutorials for those who have jewellery loving mums.

image tutorial diy neon fluoro necklace swarovski crystal pearl beaded bar
Make a beaded bar necklace for your mum.

image tutorial diy earrings peacock feather turquoise blue green brown cook love craft

image bracelet tutorial diy buttons elastic nail polish serious whims
A simple button bracelet children could make for mum or grandma.

image necklace tutorial diy statement pearls glass beaded wedding bridal miss lovie
Make this eye-catching necklace for the mum who loves statement jewellery.

image earrings tutorial diy doily crochet crafttown
Something for granny chic-loving mothers.

image pendant necklace tutorial diy polymer clay fingerprint children mother's day fingerprint pendant the crafty crow
Another project children could try out (with a little help).

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

DIY Mother's Day Roundup - Greeting Cards

Today's DIY mother's day roundup features a variety of cards to make for your mum, mother-in-law, step-mum, etc.  Enjoy!

image tutorial diy mother's day card embroidery embroidered tattoo mandipidy
image diy tutorial pop up card mother's day crafted

image diy tutorial chevron card deconstructed chevrons ribbon girls jj bolton
For the mum who loves chevrons.

image tutorial diy momma bird card mother's day mmmcrafts
A cute as can be momma bird card.

image tutorial diy mother's day card mum needle felting sewing is for girls
Needle felt a card for your mum!

image diy tutorial mother's day card bouquet flowers children krokotak
A bouquet card for the littlies to make.