Friday, 27 February 2009


I've also been meaning to thank everyone for suggesting places to get the dyes I need for the angora gloves (I've actually found somewhere in NSW- they got supplies in before the bushfires).

And I've had some requests for the name of the framer I use- Michael Cleary at Omnus Framing in Greeves St in Fitzroy. Can't recommend him highly enough! 

As well as getting in The Age this week the shop has also been featured in the local Japanese newspaper Dengon Net.

I'm sure there is more 'housekeeping' that I need to do but I can't remember!

catching up

I haven't managed to get all my chores done this week. I have emails banked up and invoices to send out and work to sort and I'm back teaching on Monday.......

I did feel very spoilt though when two parcels arrived in the mail.
First there was one from Char in London. Underground tea towel, tote bag from the Wellcome Museum, a l-o-v-e-l-y brooch, a saucy seaman card and ........ Percy Pig lollies! 

Then this arrived from Claude the Bird (aka Kim).

Can you read the label?

Jethro got jealous. 
He thought he was the only one who gets parcels from Claude.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009

the squeaky wheel

This appeared last Tuesday in The Age.
All about Jenny Bannister's tea-towel dresses.
So I decided I needed to be a squeaky wheel for once. I emailed Suzanne Carbone who wrote the article, explained using tea-towels is all part of the Depression Era make and mend aesthetic and this is what appeared today...........

I have to say it was unexpected.
(And the horrendous old photo from the interview in The Age in 2007..... I finally worked out today why I always look cross-eyed in photos...... it's my lazy left eye!)

So squeaky wheels do get oiled!

Monday, 23 February 2009

the way to woori

I had to go up to Woori this morning to visit Jenny and Colin. 
Everything on the Warburton Road was smoke shrouded.  People were coming down the mountain. Caravans, horse floats and loaded cars.
Jenny said she hadn't felt worried until her neighbour 's panic became contagious. If worse comes to worst then they are going to hole up at the factory.
When I left they were waiting to see what the wind change would bring.
I hope they are ok.

By the time I got to Lilydale the Lilydale showgrounds were packed with people setting up tents. Refugees.

The last errand of the day was to pick up a big batch of dye to start dyeing our winter run of angora fingerless gloves. 
I seem to have overlooked one thing.
My dye supplier, KraftKolour, has lost everything. Bonnie and Graeme lived and worked up near Whittlesee and were caught in the Saturday fires. They are fine but their home and warehouse were razed. It's going to take them a good 3 months to get up and running.  
Another sad story.
But tempered by their plans to restart the business.

So I feel a little shattered again today. Discombobulated.

If any of you know a craft shop that carries Landscape dyes- anywhere in Australia- can you let me know. (I've done Zart and HW&SG.) I need to source supplies asap. 

Saturday, 21 February 2009

i'm ready for my close up.....

Of course of doubtful quality as usual but here are the close up pictures of the new framed pieces.
Love the fonts on the button cards.

Thursday, 19 February 2009


Been wanting to do some framed stuff for a while. So here is Batch 1- if you like them I'll get some more done! My favourite framer, Michael, did a wonderful job as usual. All the pieces are archival mounted and framed (because if you are going to do it, do it right- no wonky Swedish frames here!). Sorry the picture isn't great, it was getting darkish, I'll try and do some close ups tomorrow. The cards are great, with slogans like 'Buttons of the Moment'! Excellent! We've gone monochromatic with this lot but I have some great colours as well and if you ask nicely I might even show you the absolutely fan-bloody-tastic bigger cards that I just might have framed in the future. 

(Perhaps they need a label at the bottom saying 'In case of emergency- break glass'!)

Wednesday, 18 February 2009

ric rac, this, that

So there are new tea-towel skirts in store. And new clocks with new images (some of them very funny).

I spent some time cleaning up a couple of sewing machines. The poor things get so dirty, covered in oil and fluff, and the studio has a dust problem, so getting around to cleaning them has taken a while..... Kansai Special, the coverstitch machine (if you want to know what coverstitch is have a look at the hem on the t-shirt you are wearing, that's stretchy coverstitch) has been sitting there unused for the last year (!) doubling as a occassional table and collecting dust. It was not working properly and I just couldn't get it stitching nicely. I gave up in frustration but today, all clean and sparkly, it decided it would stitch like a dream. Temperamental little bugger!

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

krakatoa sunsets

I'm never up earlier enough to see the sunrise. In fact I'm having severe trouble getting out of bed at the moment. My sleep patterns are all shook up.

Saturday, 14 February 2009

valentine schmalentine

On a lighter note.
If you were even vaguely thinking of going out and buying a teddy and a red rose in a plastic tube then think again. Why not stay home, snuggle up and think about giving the money you would have spent to a Bushfire Relief Fund? Hmmmmm...... what about it? The warm and gooey feeling will certainly last longer than the bubbles in a cheap glass of champagne-style sparkling wine.

rose tinged

The smoke has been hovering over the city for the last couple of days. The light is filtered and amber tinged. The sun in the morning and evening is a flaming ball of red. As the sun set last night the light shone on the walls was as if it had reflected through cranberry glass. Eerie, sad and strangely beautiful.

Wednesday, 11 February 2009

so life goes on.....

I feel guilty that my frivolous life goes on but........ it does. That is part of, well, living really isn't it? We rise to the occasion, we soldier on, we get things happening.
Jethro's been helping with a bit of quality control and product testing. New pouffé (Ottoman, footstool, floor-cushion). This one is made from 'other people's craft' tapestries and upholstery weight hessian. A nice mix of the twee and the raw.
Also we have ONE Melbourne tea-towel cushion (Melbourne tea-towels are damned hard to find) so first in to ask for it gets it. It a very funny 80s one too. I forgot to photograph it........

Tuesday, 10 February 2009

'it's just stuff'*

When you are feeling a bit emotional working on production at the sewing machine isn't a very good occupation. Your head goes around-and-around. I was thinking about pretty Marysville, that we had only been up to Yarra Glen a few weeks ago (Yering Sation was saved) and how Kinglake and strawberries always go together in my mind. 

When I was a kid we would all troop off strawberry picking at Strawberry Bill's (our name for Bill Marsh) farm. I think it was either Spring or Autumn when we would go, the mists had started in the valleys and you had to rug up for the early morning start but when the sun came up it was all shiny and beautiful. The farm was fringed by gum trees and bush like so many properties up there. (Sadly one of the Marsh family is still on the missing list.)

I was also thinking about the fact we were taught at school what to do if caught in a bushfire.  I have clear memories of sitting in class being quizzed as to rules of Bushfire Survival and we were at a Primary School that at the time was probably on the slight fringes of Melbourne (certainly not now) but in no immediate danger of bushfires (....well there had been some close but always contained, I grew up not far from our beloved Poppalina). This had me flummoxed. I have come to the conclusion that in those days a hell of a lot of families spent their weekends on things like picnics and drives in the country (it's certainly something our parents put us through!) and I remember driving through the Dandenongs and other areas after bushfires. Strange moonscapes of ash grey and black. But I also remember how vibrantly green the new growth was.
What got me thinking about these classes was how we were trained that if caught we should put on wool clothing, heavy shoes, make sure we had wool blankets for protection, to cover your body to protect it. And what did I see on TV but people fighting fire in thongs, shorts and t-shirts.... I know they may have been caught unawares but........

There has been a lot of talk about what we can do to help and really at this point money is the best way of showing our support. I know many people are offering to donate money if something is purchased but really I feel that now is one of those times when I would suggest that people just give for the sake of giving. Don't expect something in return (except for the private warm glow of knowing that you have helped in a small way). 

There is one donation drive happening tomorrow that I think is important. Community radio station RRR here in Melbourne is getting together toiletries (tampons, etc, disposable razors, soap, shampoo/conditioner, etc) and have organised for it to be delivered up to the bushfire hit areas. I think it is one of those pragmatic gifts that is so touching in it's usefulness. You can drop stuff off to the RRR offices at 221 Nicholson Street East Brunswick during office hours tomorrow (Wednesday).

*This quote comes from a woman who, just glad to be alive and that her family had survived the fires, had lost the family home and everything they owned.

Sunday, 8 February 2009

razed to the ground

I was going to write how nice it is that it isn't hot anymore. How many bits and pieces I got done today. How the rain falling this morning was so peaceful. How the sky yesterday was a weird metallic grey. How I shut the shop early in the afternoon. How I don't mind the heat when it is dry not humid.
But really how could I write about my small world when people are dying and towns are razed to the ground?
I am protected in my inner city life, I can smell the smoke, see blushed sunsets fired by burning trees but my heart is in my throat when I think of those people on the outskirts watching their lives burn. I have friends at Stanley and up Yarra Glen way and out to the west and I hope all are safe and well. 
The heat yesterday was remarkable, it felt as if the whole world would just spontaneously combust. I've been in the country, in National Parks, when the wind has spun to the north and the rising temperature makes you feel as if the eucalyptus oil oozing from the leaves would ignite, explode, and I suppose this is essentially what happened yesterday. How could firebugs even contemplate setting anything alight? 
I dream of green. I long for soaking rain. We were once the 'Garden State' but no more- more likely the 'Bone Dry State' or the 'Charred State' I think. 

Nature is resilient. People are resilient. All shall be well.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

daisy, maisie's younger sister

I've managed to get a bit of work done this week. (Not enough.)
Daisy is Maisie's younger sister. Same styling but as a dress. Loose and dropped shouldered, elastic at the back and made from the lovely checked linen used in the original ric-rac tops or faded denim faced with vintage fabric. Daisy's the type of girl who'd spend a hot day paddling down at the creek under the trees, wearing a straw hat, eating strawberries.

I'm getting through making some more notebooks (did you know each one is slightly different because they are all handmade?) and there will be new clock images very soon. There's some corkers! Very, very funny!

And the green ric-rac tops are in.
And if you like Maisie you better come in soon!

I'm dreading Saturday and the 43˚C predicted. This is not fun. I'm going to remember to close up the upstairs and am hoping (although hot air rises) that it might just keep the house a little bit cooler. Still dreaming of an air-conditioner..........

even the trees are (heat) stressed

No, sadly, autumn has not arrived. The trees are stressed and dropping their leaves.

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

snow bunny

I want snow! I want cold! I've had it with this humidity!

The first 2 days of the Great Heatwave last week I was fine, it was under 10% humidity and I could function, but now, even though it's cooler and breezer, it's up around 85%. I'm addicted to checking the weather on my mobile to prove I have every reason to feel like crap. Humidity makes my brain fry and my body feel bloated and slow.
The studio is  like a sauna and I'm starting to feel depressed about the amount of work I've managed to get done. I even spent time yesterday eyeing off portable air conditioners. 
Teaching starts again at the end of the month so lots to do between now and then.....

Grump, grumpy, grumpier.

(Thanks to Char and Dave for the photos of their creative efforts in extreme conditions.)

Sunday, 1 February 2009

it's been a big year

It's a year ago today that I got the keys to 67 Gertrude Street. It has been a massive year.
There is a saying, along the lines of, the days and weeks dragging slowly along and the months and years flying by. So true. I can barely remember anything that has happened in the last twelve months, it has happened so fast and furious. (It's still another month and a half to the shop anniversary.....)

Today is the first Sunday in weeks where I haven't had anything organised to do (except for the vacuuming, the washing, the cleaning, etc) and I have done absolutely nothing apart from reading and snoozing and resting up after the sweating inferno of the last week. The kitchen is chaos after the shelves fell off the wall in the heat of Thursday night. Smashed crockery everywhere, a chain reaction from the shelf to the bench to the boxes on the floor. My favourite Majolica ware plate smashed.......

Damn sand plaster walls.

The house is still hot, the studio will probably be putrid tomorrow. I've been feeling like a bloated blood boiled lobster over the last week- roll on autumn!