A truly beautiful Minxy mix of charm, inspiration, practical advice, and pretty projects to simplify and beautify your life and home. - Jane Brocket, The Gentle Art of Domesticity
A while back I received an email asking me to style a photo shoot for Vinnies. My first thought was ‘aargh, no time’ because it was the first day shooting my next book, and I couldn’t wrap my head around anything else. Then it occurred to me I was being presented with one of the best opportunities I’ve had since starting up The Crafty Minx.
I am so proud to be a newly-appointed brand ambassador for Vinnies. Vinnies, how I love thee – let me count the ways:
1) You cemented my love of fashion. When I was 12, I visited you with a bunch of tear sheets from Dolly and The Face and nary a clue on how to dress myself. Before long I was reading up on the 60s and 70s, and performing my best impression of a bygone rock star, much to my parents’ dismay (Janis Joplin is not a suitable role model for a teenage girl). Vintage fashion and a history lesson to boot – bonus.
2) You do good and help me do good, in a way I can contribute. Your charity keeps people off the streets with food in their bellies and access to your significant network of resources beyond government organisations. I am in awe of the work you do, and who knew the good I could do just by donating my well-kept but pre-loved clothes? Think: warm and fuzzy.
3) Your stores have soul, and a whole heap of buried treasure ripe for discovery, if one knows how to look. The thrill of finding a mint-condition Sonia Rykiel jumper for $8 can’t be beat. It just can’t. Or that naughty secretary look I rocked for years, thanks to your proliferation of eighties power suits and silk pussy-bow blouses. I heart you Vinnies, big time.
In a few short weeks I will be helping Vinnies produce a new retail campaign to draw people to its stores. Follow me on Twitter and Instagram for sneak peeks at the shoot and my finds, and stay tuned for pics of our real-life models sporting Vinnies from head to toe, including yours truly.
I have quite a few friends who work in retail or own stores and by all accounts, it’s a tough time to be trading. On the upside, it means successful businesses have to be super canny about stocking unique items which work for their customers, providing a special experience for shoppers and excellent, above-par service. I have such respect for those who seem to be making it work without sacrificing on quality or staff. That’s why I think Calico & Ivy is the best haberdashery in Australia. It’s just a joy to pop in there for a visit whether you’re purchasing or not (and of course it’s so lovely, you always will) and see the latest range of Liberty prints or manager Sarah’s quirky market finds. Duck Egg Blue is another special store you don’t find everywhere, and Jodie McGregor Florist is excellent for flowers, candles and other select homewares. The staff are always gorgeous and helpful, and won’t freeze you out even if you’re only keen to browse.
Another favourite store is My Messy Room in Summer Hill. Predominantly stocking kids’ clothes, owner Stav also has an impeccable eye for cute craft items, books and accessories. And they sell the new-season range of Paper Wings, my favourite brand of girls’ clothing on the market. Oh how I wish I could buy every piece for Olive! I was in there briefly and they’d constructed the most beautiful window display with pompoms and a neon spray-painted cane armchair. Pop in if you have a chance – my bet is you’ll find excuses to head back there as often as possible if you do.
The talented duo at MillaMia have done it again with their new knitting pattern book, Little Rascals. These are fun, funky, cute and supremely stylish knits for wee ones, out soon. Now I’ve learned to knit (thanks to The Corner Shop and the class I took a few months back) I’m going to attempt one of these. Catering for ages from newborn to seven, the variety of patterns spans dresses, cardigans, onesies, jumpers and accessories including blankets, scarves and hats. With 19 to choose from, there’s something for every level of knitter to try.
For a chance to win a copy, tell me: what does your favourite knit look like and why do you love it so? Entries close Friday 31 August.
Mine’s a pale pink cashmere cardigan from Brora. I’ve worn her every winter for the past decade and she still looks new, without a sign of pilling. That’s what I was wearing the weekend James proposed, on the top of a mountain in Scotland just outside Inverness. We were holing up at our pal Katie’s sister’s rural bolthole, and spent most of the long weekend drinking red wine and playing cards by the open fire. James confessed he would have asked earlier if I hadn’t been so crochety in the preceding weeks – there’s nothing like cashmere to make you act like a lady. Good times.
Tell me, who’s your best woolly friend and what scintillating adventures have you shared?
Time to share my favourite things made with hand and heart again, and first on the list is Ginny & Jude Designs. Check out the latest vintage-inspired beauties by clever Miss Rabia Lockwood. Select pieces from the signature range of feathered headwear are on sale, as well as items from her seasonally-inspired ranges of clothing, jewellery, belts, knitwear and other assorted knick-knackery.
I couldn’t love the styling of these pieces more, made from feathers, felt, lace and ribbon both new & old… how gorgeous are they? Snap them up, I say. Make mine a beret.
It’s done. All the photographs for book 5, out next year, and most of the hard work behind me for this one. I’ve loved every minute of the shoot and can’t state enough how excellent the team is. Everything just clicked and had a really charged, special energy about it. I’m already plotting a way we can work together again in future – I’m sure we will.
My focus started to shift this week back to my wee girl and how little time we’ve been spending together lately. At the moment she’s in pre-school 3 days a week but we had to step it up to 4 over the past few weeks, and the balance tipped towards too much for me. It’s all work and no play with her gone, and when she has been here I’ve been preoccupied and distracted. But it’s only temporary. We had the best day together last week.
There were errands to run – a visit to the shops and my patient optometrist, with Olive fanning out textas and art paper all over his office floor and asking a thousand questions about the eye-test machine – and of course some work to wedge in, but there was a leisurely 2 hours spent playing at the park and treats at Bourke St Bakery, a play date with friends and yes, there was craft. By 10am we’d made several beaded necklaces for guests to her upcoming 4th birthday party, and decorated paper and old egg cartons with these fab neon pompoms I found at Spotlight. Then, in the afternoon, invitations and collage, and I let her use the sharp scissors for about 7 seconds before she helped me make a baked dinner. A truly full day.
I’m so happy Olive has finally reached an age where we can make things together and she’s absorbed by it for a good few hours. It just gets better and better. And the attention span has expanded enough to include trips to the zoo and even Cirque de Soleil – hooray. My girl is coming into her own.
We’re midway through shooting the new book and I’m absolutely thrilled with how everything is going. The photographer and stylist seem to know exactly what I’m trying to convey with each project and the whole team I’m working with (10 of us, at last count) is comprised of talented, intuitive, hard working women. More on them soon. It’s a real joy to start work each day, and collapse exhausted but satisfied into bed each night. I can’t wait to share more but will have to until next year. It’s given me a new lease of enthusiasm for what I do, which is always lovely.
On the downside, home life has been fraught. We’ve all come down with colds and James was in bed all weekend. Olive gave herself a disastrous haircut days before the shoot (now, thankfully, fixed and quite cool-looking) and threw a massive tanty during her photos. On the work front I couldn’t be more inspired but on a personal level I feel guilty, impatient and harried almost all the time. I’m hoping things settle down soon so I can pay more attention to the two people who make this sort of life possible. Any ideas on the best resource for dealing with tantrums? I’m fresh out of mother’s instinct right now.
But back to happier things: I’ll be working on a couple of campaigns soon to bring upcycled crafts to a wider audience across the country, and can’t wait to share these with you.
For now, a few material things making life more rosy for me to start the week.