Friday, 29 May 2009

apoplectic apology

The internet account migration has completely rooted (technical term) my internet access and I'm now in the limbo of waiting for a technician to drop by (at some stage, one day, in my dreams, etc) as they believe the problem is at my end not off in server heaven. 

So apologies for lack of posting and if you send an email, and it takes awhile for me to reply, I have a good reason. 

ADSL2+. Yeah, right. One day.

Monday, 25 May 2009


My life at the moment is all a bit overwhelming and far, far too crowded with things that need doing and sorting and organising and ........... you know how it is.
I've had equipment breakages and stuff-ups galore, I'm down with a strange mix of allergy and cold (damn muggy weather) and when I got a new part for my industrial iron on Friday and it ended up with them giving me a dodgy part, all I could do is see the irony (ha ha) in it. It was a pressure cap and it was defective. About sums up my life at the moment- 'stand clear, she's about  to blow!'.
So, while I should be sorting and cleaning the house tonight and getting some 'homework' done, I just couldn't rustle up the energy.
Instead I had the urgent need to hunt out some more Sookie Stackhouse novels. I found that Readings in Hawthorn had some, jumped in the car, got drenched in the bucketing rain and stormed into Reading right into the middle of a book launch, everyone serious and pious and me hunting around for the Fantasy section. Let's just say I wasn't viewed in a good light. 
Sometimes a girl just needs a bit of Southern Vampire Time Wasting when her Pressure Cap is defective. 

autumnal gold

I meant to post this photo last week. From my trip up to the hills.
By the time I got to Doncaster all the fog was gone and hills were alive with sunshine and autumnal colours. Sparkly with dew.
If you get a chance head up Yarra Glen way and enjoy the golden tones of the vineyards and the green of the paddocks.
And remember to support all the little businesses up that way that were hit due to the bushfires.

Friday, 22 May 2009

spot on

Due to industrial action at RMIT yesterday I ended up doing an 11 1/2 hours teaching on Wednesday. My voice has still not recovered. So yesterday, when I normally teach, I got to have breakfast with a friend, run a stack of errands and get a couple of hours in the studio. I also managed to spend a bucket of money on supplies. I love spending money but I get that post-spend panic afterwards and need a good lie-down and a sharp talking to myself that I needed to spend money to make money. When you are self employed with an income that fluctuates from week-to-week (let alone day to day) it is sometimes very nerve wracking on the money front. 
But the money has been spent....... 
Some went on new wool fabrics for jackets and pleated skirts. 
Some went on shibori to stitch as patches on said pleated skirts. I spent an lovely 1/2 hour unpicking in a pile of Haori I had bought. I love the way the stitches pop as you rip the seams apart. It all has to do with the silk thread and handstitching. Whenever I am unpicking kimonos and haoris I am always amazed at their construction. We seem to think we have invented re-cycling but this type of garment construction is amazing. The width of the fabric is always maintained, except for the section cut out for the neck, and sizing and shaping is created simply by folding in and stitching up the excess. This means the garment can be unpicked and re-used and re-modeled time after time. Even the front lapels are created by folding the full width of the fabric in and this extra allows the lapel to be self stiffening (no jokes intended there). 
When I unpicked the front of this haori I discovered there were initials 'shibori-ed' into the edge (strangely in western script......).

Anyway I better stop blabbing and get ready to start my day. I'm off up country (another morning away from the studio) to pick up gloves and run more errands.
It's foggy here so it will be cold and misty up there. 
Must remember coat, hat and gloves.

Monday, 18 May 2009

velveteen puppy

Mr Porcelain dropped in with his new fur child.
She ran around with her tail spinning then curled up on a pile of tea-towels and fell asleep.
We lay on the studio floor and just watched her as she slept.

ps Mavis is a staffie.


The scissors are all nice and sharp now.
They sing when you use them (always the way to know a good pair of scissors).

(And for those of you that asked....... Harvey's in the Nicholas Building. 
I've been going to Harvey's since I was about 16 and they were in Swanston Street. It was a bustling business back then, lots of old drapers counters and shelves all the way up to the ceiling. I used to go in to buy linen thread for making bobbin lace and was always served by 'Old Mr Harvey' and the thread was always on the top shelf. He was tiny and bent over, think 'Are you being served?' 's Young Mr Grace, and I was always scared he was going to die climbing the old wooden ladder.)

Saturday, 16 May 2009

warm flannelette

Last weekend I scored a pair of cotton flannelette pyjama bottoms........ mmmmmm.
I thought maybe I could spend the whole of winter in them. Then I thought that might be embarrassing walking the streets in grey and black checked pyjamas (although when I lived on Brunswick Street I would sometimes go to the milkbar to get the papers on the weekend in my pjs). Then I went passed Nom D and noticed they had black and grey checked flannelette pants in the window so the whole 'winter in flannelette' didn't seem so weird anymore.
If you've been in the shop you'll know that we have our 'hot water bottle' wheat bags made from vintage flannelette and that out berets are lined with beautiful garment grade checked flannelette. I've just finished the first batch of flannelette shirts. They are simple with no collar, a yoke that comes over from the back and all the facing are made from vintage floral cotton. And they have shirt tails that look great out over the top of a garment, belted around the waist or tucked in. It's not a super fluffy flannelette, in fact I don't trust anything 'super fluffy' as I know it will just pill and turn 'super awful' in a blink of eye.
Mmmmmmm................ warm flannelette.

Friday, 15 May 2009

12 inches of cold hard steel

As you know I love tools. (I've been ogling Emma's tools and techniques.)
I love scissors.
Big scissors, minimum 12" for cutting out fabric. 
Once you've gone big you can't go back!
These are new. 
I haven't bought a big pair of shears for years (poetry!). 
When you invest in a really good pair- steel, German, big- they will last for (almost) ever. You need to invest in a good, reliable, 'come-to-you' scissor sharpener as well. Steve comes to my studio and sharpens all my scissors and knives. Sharp scissors are heaven. My old Big Shears have been sharpened so many times that the knuckle that sticks out in between the handles has had to be ground-down so the tips close properly. My new scissors need to be fine tuned, they need to be loosened and adjusted so that I can use them to cut from hinge to tip, through piles of fabric, thick and thin. 
12" of cold, hard, heavy duty steel.

bud tingwell

I suppose he had to die sometime.
If there was anyone I thought was immortal it was Charles Bud Tingwell.

Tuesday, 12 May 2009

another brick in the wall

Sorry for the intermittent posting. Things just keep getting in the way.
I managed to get up to Bendigo on Friday. I knew it was going to be one of those frustrating days if I went to the studio and I got held up in the shop so opted for the open road. Apples in Harcourt, a tiny bit of op-shopping and, the main purpose, picking up supplies. Not enough time though and I felt nothing but rushed all day. Oh- and quinces for quince jelly, ready in a week or two but I must remember to get jars and sugar. As Elise and I discussed when I got back to the shop- quince jelly is alchemy, the most jewel like substance created from something that right up 'til the last minute looks like it should be binned.

Saturday was shop. 

Sunday was reading a Sookie Stackhouse novel from cover to cover and not doing the housework. (I have decided housework needs to be done during the week, Sundays need to be set aside for wind-down and battery re-charging.) I've been waiting months to get my hands on Sookie books and it's been worth it! I want my vampires with blood, sex and a dash of humour and if you come from a background of Buffy and Angel you know what I mean. How can you not love a book that has a 6ft plus Viking vampire sitting around watching 'Buffy' on DVD? Who wants teenage vampire UST, a la Twilight, when you can have Louisiana hot and sweaty!

Sunday also brought a Mother's Day present from Jethro- I think his Fairy Godmother Kim may have had something to do with it. He thought it was a good idea to 'kill' the present.

I've been feeling flat this week. A combination of too much work and disturbed sleep....... 
Next door has been a demolition site for the last 2 1/2 weeks and the builders like to turn up early and talk under my bedroom window. This morning though was a doozy..... 4.45 am I'm woken by the noise of bricks being moved around (when I go home last night there was a stack of bricks against the wall and a pile of bricks in the parking space) I got up and looked out the window to see this guy carefully contemplating and stack the pile of bricks on top of the stack. I thought it must have been one of our local Loons (perhaps with a nasty case of OC) and decided to just leave him to it. I went back to bed, the noise stopped, I sighed in relief. Then a car drove down the laneway and idled out the back. Once again I got up and looked out the window. Same guy, with car, loading bluestones into the boot. By this time I've got the window open and I'm yelling at him to find out what the hell he's doing at 4.45am. He's one of the goddamn builders! At 4.45am! I am not happy. I think he is a complete and utter twat. I finally get back to sleep at 6.45 just as the rest of the damn builders arrive....... And I wonder why I'm feeling a bit 'put upon' at the moment............. I'd laugh about it if I wasn't so tired from all the disturbed sleep.........

Thursday, 7 May 2009

mothering sunday

Being the happy little retail store we are, I thought a list of Mother's Day presents was in order....

A vintage tea-cup candle> because you are the light of Her life.
Something made from tea-towels> for all the times in She came home tired and exhausted from a long day at work and slaved in the kitchen to feed you when all She really wanted was a glass of wine and a bag of chip in front of the tv.
An eye pillow> Whilst the whole Mothering Caper has been a 'joy' there has been times when a good lie down in a darkened room has been very appealing. With a flax and lavender over Her eyes hopefully that 'headache' she has had for 6 months/3 years/11 years/27 years might go away -at least for 1/2 an hour or so.
A 'hot water' wheat bag> Since you grew up and became too cool/busy for a cuddle there has been a gaping hole in Her life. Fill it with a 'hottie' made from vintage flannelette, just like your old pyjamas, it will be there for Her when you can't be.
A clutch purse> for all those times She has driven you around town no matter the time, day or night, and for all those sleepless night She had once you got your driver's license.
A patchwork quilt> life is like a patchwork quilt, lots of odd sized memories, a bit rough, a bit smooth, a bit wonky, all of it coming together to keep you warm and safe- a bit like your Mum really.

Wednesday, 6 May 2009

mrs chin's ruined

Hope he's giving his mum a huge Mother's Day present!

(And contrary to the article she's crocheting not knitting- wish these journalists would get their crafts right! You might need to click on the image to read it.)

Tuesday, 5 May 2009


I've been trembling with anticipation and trepidation. I hate it when you have to stop a project, send it out of the studio and wait for someone else to do work on it before you can get it back in your hot little hands to finish it.
I got the call this morning from the quilters and went to pick up the new comforter meterage.
It's a new version and I've been worried how it was going to look.
Patched vintage wool, velvet and corduroy backed with vintage rayon and silk scarves. To start with it was vintage scarves backed with wool but I am in love with the wool side now. 
These quilts are based on the Wagga, a traditional Australian quilt that was made from tailors samples, suit fabrics on one side and shirting cottons on the other, padded with old jumpers and sweaters and cast-off clothing.
I'm not sure about the new quilts but I think that's because my sciatic nerve has flared again and I had a curious exchange with some one I know this afternoon. She was saying how she couldn't believe how many things I do and that I teach and make almost all the stock in the shop and I commented that I worked from 10am until midnight yesterday (actually getting stock ready for her to take today)..... and she then told me I needed to get a life........


Monday, 4 May 2009

lots of little things

Sometimes it is far better to do lots of smaller projects and get them finished than to do the big ones that seem to wear you down and tire you out. I've been doing lots of big things lately and I'm knackered. 
Today was all about small projects.
Wheat bags and lavender bags. 
Berets made from boiled wool.
A couple of batches of gloves dyed.
Pressing and labeling all the weekend's dyed gloves.
Bagging and tagging the lavender bags.
Making clocks.
Finishing some granny purses.
Trying to get some marking done for school.
Answering emails and phone calls.
Sorting out wholesale orders.
I suppose all the little jobs add up.

Saturday, 2 May 2009

and another thing....

I forgot this was happening in The Age today until I got an email from a friend this morning asking me who I was sleeping with at the newspaper............ I'm trashy but not that trashy (well actually I used to be trashy but sadly I am fairly boring these days....).

go east young woman

As you know I've been wheel-less for the last week or so. My car is still being temperamental brake-wise so Dad's lent me the 'spare' car and I'm on the road again! Yesterday morning was a run up country to see my knitters. As I went further east the colder it got but it was worth it. The air was crisp enough you could see for miles and sometimes I swear you could see individual trees on hillsides far away. And the hills. They were deep saturated indigo, backlit by a golden band. Very impressive. And the grapevines are turning golden. It's like all the colour has come flooding back into a bleached landscape.
(Also impressive when you realise the other side is a scorched moonscape......... although Jenny who I was visiting said the tree ferns are already growing back and by spring the black stumps will form an incredible contrast to the luminous green spring growth. And round and round the cycle goes.)
I did a little op-shopping but my favourite op-shop was closed and there have been op-shop changes and clear outs and moving of premises which always disturbs my opping karma and focus. And I needed to get back into the studio.
We had a bit of a run on tea-towel cushions this weeks and I desperately needed to get some more sewn up that I had prepped earlier in the week. 
Tomorrow will be dyeing day, now the cold snap has shaken us all everyone wants gloves and even though I tried to be prepared no one would commit to what amounts of stock they might need and of course everyone wants it NOW. Grrrrrrrrrr. That's wholesale for you! That's also the problem when you are the one who makes it all...... mind you that also has it's upside- if you need it done you just do instead of having to pester someone else!
I've also got some new purses together but I'll show you those when I've had a chance to do some photos. In fact I'm hoping there will be a whole batch of exciting photos next week! Stay tuned folks!