Saturday, 27 September 2008

the yo-yo theory of retail

This week has been particularly shocking at the Cottage. A mixture of school holidays, the Show (haha), Grand Final Week and Mercury in Retrograde (well that's what I'm putting it down to as there is no better reason).
My Retail Gurus tell me to not worry, although I am opting for the 'Ostrich Theory of Business', because this always happens at the end of winter/start of spring. I know that but I have nothing to compare it to, I must remember to write in the diary for next year across the month of September 'DON'T PANIC!'.
So with downs there is ups- and the up of this week is these beauties. Handmade yo-yos!

As you know with Cottage Industry 99% of stock is our own label wares and we only stock other stuff if we absolutely love it and feel that it fits in with the whole feel. Take Coconut Lu's vintage button range- perfect!
Now the Cottage has Ben and Natalie's handmade yo-yos. They live in Oregon, they make stuff (see picture below) - perfect!
The yo-yos are made from sections of branch, in this batch white birch from Wisconsin, white birch from Rhode Island (they are different, nature is amazing), red birch, cherry and a mystery wood (so if you are an arborist please come in and tell us what it is). They have coloured yo-yo strings and spin beautifully! I had two in my bag yesterday and was having a strange day in the studio and ended spending a mediative 5 minutes flickin' a yo-yo. It made me smile, relax and zone out- the latest meditation craze- you heard it here first!

Wednesday, 24 September 2008

'take me home' #1

Mission- toy drop off.

This was fun.
Nonchalantly stroll through the Parliament Gardens. Surreptiously look around. Do the drop off. 
Kind of like being a spy- but with toys.

11.30 am 24th September 2008.
Mission accomplished.

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

the truman (capote) show

I've been meaning to scan this image for a while but I kept leaving it attached to the studio wall. I remembered to bring it home with me today though!

It came from an article in a magazine (can't remember which) about living rooms of the rich and/or famous. Wonderful 60s interior shots and cool Palm Springs houses. The best was Truman Capote in his lounge room- check out the patchwork quilt over his knees and the Japanese fabrics on the wall and cushions- how NOW!

fab fabric

I did some 'dumpster diving' for fabric today.
The 'Mother of All Op-Shops' is running low these days and in her great wisdom has quintupled her prices in under 8 months. This has not made me happy. In fact huge spanner would be how I am feeling at the moment. 
I did get the piece above. Cut moquette in lolly pink (photo is a bit washed out), cream and black on a natural background- and the design is BIG- and crazy, and I am tempted to make a big pouffé out of some of it, it would be hilarious (and quite possibly unsellable!)

I did also pick up, elsewhere, some linen for bags. It was late in the afternoon in the studio,when I took these shots so excuse the somewhat strange hue. I love Sanderson linens, they are so evocative of a time and place.
Hell, I'm a textile designer, watch go weak at the knees and wax lyrical about a bit of fabric!
There's a piece of linen I'm lusting after. 1930s narrow width with the most exquisite design.... when I win Powerball!

In fact, everything at the moment is 'when I win Powerball'. I've gone into one of my dejected states. It's one of those times when the flow of money, ideas, time, energy, etc is not in sync and I'm feeling slightly harassed and not knowing what to do first or last or in-between. Strange because yesterday was relatively productive. Today  though was all topsy and stop-start.
And I managed to leave a whole pile of stuff that I needed at home. If anyone says the 'L' * word I'll head-butt them!

*Lists- I hate them. I can't understand the whole moving of unfinished list components on to a new list. They would just taunt me, reminding me that they were on another list, unfinished.... I also think that instead of sitting there writing a list I could be working on something, getting something finished. Lists- phwwwht!

Monday, 22 September 2008

catch up

I've been feeling like I am falling behind on posting!

I have managed to get a few odd jobs that have been hanging over my head (for months) done though.

I put up the tension wire in the bedroom to hang the patchwork quilt I use as a curtain. It has been suspended from a couple of nails, now I can pull it right back and yesterday I got to lie on the bed with a Georgette Heyer crime novel (they are hilariously funny and really well written), a packet of beetroot chips (you gotta try these- fantastico!), the window open and blue sky outside. I did forget to go to the Northcote Festival however- ooops.

A new batch of Owlettes has hatched and they are sitting in baskets in the shop. Please come and adopt one! The chirping when they need to be fed and keeping up with the regurgitating of food to feed them is driving us insane.


And the possum sock monkeys are finished! Cheeky monkeys! (Well half of the batch are finished- the rest are sitting dismembered on the couch......)

And a new run of Shibori bracelets.

And two new styles of bags made from vintage linens, lined in cotton ticking, limited in number depending on the fabric.
And new clocks.
And new stock coming! 
Special things commissioned today and arriving in a couple of weeks!
Something special from overseas! 
Let you know when it all happens!

Note to self- Gotta stop using exclamation marks, makes me look like a complete twat!

Saturday, 20 September 2008

it's a (another!) boy!

Amory Cormac Duff has arrived! 18th of September, 9lbs 10oz (yes, you heard that right, that's what yoga does, makes booffers!)
Huge congratulations to Cameron and Andrea far away in Vancouver!
(I couldn't resist using another Madonna and Child picture- and look how happy our lovely A is- those hormones have kicked in!)
OK I'll stop using exclamation marks.
So very happy with these sweeties. Can't wait until they come back to meet Mr Amory Cormac Duff.

Love you two- I mean three- heaps.

Friday, 19 September 2008

shiver me timbers!

Ahoy there me hearties!
Those buxom wenches over at the good ship Handmadelife have run the Jolly Roger up their mast to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The Cottage is firing a broadside across their bows to warn them we're coming aboard! 
Bring me my Dead Man's Chest Jim-me-lad! And crack out the wooden legs!

Thursday, 18 September 2008


There was an amazing sunset tonight. I didn't get a chance to snap it but trust me it was a stunner, so you'll just have to put up with last night's. Dusk in Melbourne in Spring and Autumn always makes me nostalgic for sunsets in India in Winter. All moonstone and milk opal.
We may be in Spring here but it is still early days and the buds on most trees are only starting to swell. The Exhibition Gardens are still bare. Miss Magnolia is fully clothed now in that soft bright green of new leaves.
We haven't put the gloves away yet in the shop, the cool weather isn't totally over yet!
But I do wish I had my sh*t together over summer stock..........
As I keep saying 'too much to do'.

Which job to start is the problem.

Tuesday, 16 September 2008


On the way out last night. Wind swept streets washed clean. 

I have too much to do. 
This freaks me out. 
OK feeling better now.

Soon to be mama, Andrea of Canadia, sent me through this link this morning. She thought it might put a smile on my dial- and it did. If you ever visit The Sartorialist (and like felines) then this one is for you. I like it a lot. The expressions on their faces are perfect.

Update- The Catorialist is going off! Everyone is getting in on the whole thing, I love that, when a parody really works!

Monday, 15 September 2008

batten down the hatches

Well the wind has picked up here, they say it's going to be 100km/h- not as bad as Ike I know but still a bit blustery. (There was a great picture in the paper, taken from space, that I tried to find but checked out this website and there were lots of hurricane-from-space shots- amazing!)
The windows are rattling here and I can see the windows in the buildings opposite flex in and out as the reflections distort. A good day to be at home. I'm here working! Had retailers to meet, emails to send, store cupboards to sort! Really! It's true actually, I feel jumpy being home when I should be at the studio but sometimes the non-making side needs to be dealt with and that means a day at the Cottage. 
Hope Sleep Club aren't flying back from Steak and Kidney today, they won't be able to land.

Friday, 12 September 2008

balmy nights

So I went out for a walk on this warm evening. 
I thought, surely, there would be something to photograph that would capture the mood. But no, nothing special. The evening was full of jasmine and gum blossom smells, the breeze warm.
25°C tomorrow apparently. Wish I had more Spring stock for the shop........

Thursday, 11 September 2008

im-pressed with coconut lu

Lovely Coconut Lu has a little window exhibition at Craft Victoria at the moment.
All these pieces explore impressions of lace cast in silver and studded with stones.
OK my photos fail dismally to show how lovely they are but the sun was turned up to 11 on the morning I dropped by! Great shadows though! All the pieces are perched on little white plinths created from nuts and bolts. Sorry about the lack of detail but you can go here and see more work.
(Or you could go in and buy a piece...... hell Xmas is just around the corner......)

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

at last

These notebooks have been gestating for about a year and a bit- finally sorted!
(Somethings just seem to take far to long to come together- like life.)

They are roughly A5 in size, have 20 pages of assorted paper (recycled and different in shade and texture), the end-papers are glassene paper and the covers are either brown kraft or a lovely dark cream. All the images go with our clock and card range, and each book is handmade.

One more thing to organise for them and they will be in-store this week!
And there are more cover designs than shown here!

Tuesday, 9 September 2008

my brain is sludge

I think I have the concentration of a goldfish at the moment.......
I can't remember if I told you about the sale stuff........

I still haven't caught up on spring/summer stock but we need to clear out some rack space (for when it actually gets in store).

Back to school tomorrow.
Still want to sleep for a week and hide under the covers with nothing to do- sigh.

Saturday, 6 September 2008

strange being back in my own bed

I'm shopgirl today. 
The last few weeks have been deathly quiet in the shop, the weekday girls are starting to think people don't like them. After having draggingly slow Saturdays for a week or two everyone was out looking and browsing last Saturday, amazing how the sun brings everyone out from under their rocks. People were even a little chatty.
It's Father's Day tomorrow I believe. Do you think there are any fathers out there who have left a wishlist for a cushion or a clock from the Cottage? We had dads and kids in for Mother's Day under instructions as to where to go and what to get- it was very funny!
(Really I think I must do something to improve the ratio of 'gender specific' gifts. Hmmmmm. Thinking, thinking, thinking.)
How about a Swiss Army Blanket cushion or.................. a clock or a...................?

Friday, 5 September 2008

..... so I said 'why the long face?'.....

I did get to hang with this fine chap.
He's agisted in the paddock at Tasma and we shared apples. He watched me pack the car this morning and waited by the gate to have his cheeks scratched before I left. He did that shoulder nudging that I find so cute in a horse.

i ran away

Just like this time last year, I ran away.
Being a virgo makes it impossible to birthday in a way everyone expects you to. (You know what I mean don't you Madame du Barry?) We like to run away and hide. Sometimes we think surprise parties would be the way to go but then we would have to let other people organise them........ Having had my drinkin'/smokin'/partyin' gland surgically removed and my beer-goggles confiscated I just can't do all that good-time gal stuff anymore. I've gone all shy and retiring.
So off to Tasma House in Daylesford for a bit of quiet time.
A problem though.
When I was growing up we never really had family holidays. If we did have a 'holiday' it involved driving long distances. The whole point was the travelling. Watching landscapes roll by. It genetic, my brother is the same. I find it meditative (I feel like that car ad with the guy flying along), deserted road, paddocks and sky. I see patterns and colours and love getting lost and weaving my way along country roads. Yeah, I know really restful........

But I get to see things. Rows of blossoming trees in Smeaton. Green, green grass between Avoca and Dunolly. Big clouds and black velvet cows at Franklinford.

Yes, there is something to  be said for sitting still. 
And there is something to be said for watching the world rush by.

Monday, 1 September 2008

by the way

A pinch and a punch for the first of the month.

paper blossom

Late night Springification of the shop. 
New cushions, new scarf dresses, new vintage linen bags.
(Even made tissue paper blossoms on the dried twigs. Think people walking passed were scratching their heads at the crazy lady twisting pink paper onto the ends of the branches.)
I think the Cottage might be turning into Cushion Industry.