Thursday, 30 September 2010

budgies come and budgies go

Poor old Otis was suddenly all alone so I moved him in with Abel and Mabel Duck for a bit of company.

Then the postman arrived with these two cheeky chaps.

An hour later the phone rang and suddenly all three were winging their way to their new home in Williamstown.

The moral of this story is you better be quick if you want a no-maintenance pet!

Hopefully we'll have some more in in about two weeks so please call or email if you want us to let you know when they arrive.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

zip it up sister

I have so many different things to work on at the moment that I am having trouble settling to one job. After going out  this morning tea towel and doily hunting I got back to the studio and thought my head would explode from choice.
How ridiculous is that?
'What shall I work on today? Arrrrgggggghhhhhh! I can't decide! '
So before I went foetal or postal I decided on some 'no brainer' jobs, the type of things I can just sink into doing, boring but satisfying when done. Pretty new laminated zip purses and we needed some more wheatbags (this cold weather has shocked people's systems).
I have so many things to do I am getting quite hysterical! Tomorrow I'm shopgirl again so I must dig out some work to do, busy hands and all that.

Monday, 27 September 2010

bye bye birdie bye bye

Two little budgies have flown the coop today, well, actually, they are waiting to be picked up but they definitely have a new owner. There's one little lonely chap sitting in the Abel and Mabel Duck's cabinet but there are a couple more winging their way to us later in the week.
I spent hours on the computer this morning answering emails and organising stuff and I spent this afternoon sourcing fabrics and running around. We've got a lot about to happen at the Cottage and I am feeling a bit zingy with it all. It's exciting and scary all at the same time. I'm thinking about Xmas and how much work needs doing and I am blown away by the reception some of the new stock has received in the past week. I am going to need to move everything around in the shop to make room for our fabulous new stuff, I have a few weeks to get my head around that. I must pencil in a Sunday/Monday to do a little spring-clean of shop, patch some holes, paint some smudges, move some stuff around.
Tomorrow is a studio day- yay!

Sunday, 26 September 2010

tweet tweet

Jethro's favourite sunny morning spot.
Balancing on the top of the sash, leaning into the bars (I really can't figure out how he still fits up there).
My favourite Sunday morning position, in bed with the newspapers. Today's M section of The Age featured a bird and branch story and there are the Cottage's doily branches and stuffed budgies! Emily even had nice things to say about the Magnolia tree.

Saturday, 25 September 2010


Every year as Spring sets in there seems to be one flower that suddenly stands out from all the others. This year I keep seeing bluebells, not stunted and drought starved but with nice moisture filled stems and bouncy heads. There is a certain person I immediately thought of when I spied them growing, someone who decided last Spring in Kent to recreate a scene from a movie.... Of course my bluebells are inner city plants not growing in tree bowered fields....

Not a lot achieved yesterday, probably due to the hour and a quarter in the dentists chair to start the day. I get so annoyed when I have so little studio time allocated for the week and I just can't make it happen. There is no use trying to push through sometimes even though I have so much I want to do.

I've been off to the supermarket this morning, spying young men loaded down with bags of sliced bread and bottles of sauce, 'tis Grand Final Day here. Half time sausages wrapped in bread and kick-to-kick out in the street. I may loath football but I love the Fitzroy pubs and their festivities, the fire trucks coming through to block streets off at quarter, half and tree-quarter time and the pub dwellers tumbling out like school kids to run mad and happy in the streets and lanes.
I'll just be working in the shop. Often GF Day is a time for the ladies, leaving their partners at home glued to the TV, for a little quiet shopping and coffee with their friends. As soon as the game starts there is an eerie quiet that descends over Melbourne, everyone locked away and concentrating. I once drove passed the MCG just as the game began, no one on the roads, not a soul to be seen, but an intense focus of energy zinging from the oval playing field.

So if you could drop me in a slightly charred sausage in a slice of bread, sauce no onions please, I'd much appreciate it.

Thursday, 23 September 2010

some days are glitter days

I pulled out my silver glitter converse this morning. They've been sitting in the bottom of the shoe basket for the last year. I have left trails of glitter through the shop. I suppose I could spray them with hairspray (if I had some) to set the glitter but I like the Hansel-and-Gretel-breadcrumbs of glitter I leave. It's amused me know end as I worked in the shop today. 
It was a nice day at the Cottage today. Lots of catching up with friends, old and new, lots of trying on of clothes and admiring of the embroidered dresses. If you are thinking about coming in to try/buy a Mexican dresses you better hurry! After 24 hours there is only one black Frida left! Don't fret though there will be more, they are a couple of weeks away though and I suggest you pop your name down if you are interested in one and we'll call you as soon as they come in. There are some lovely cream ones left though so don't panic!
The new indigo print Lettie dress has also hustled out the door. It's extremely gratifying when people get excited about stock and it's really lovely when completely different customers choose the same item and wear it with such aplomb!  
Tomorrow, after another trip to the dentist, I'm off to the studio to get some work sorted. There's lots to do!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

black frida

School holidays can be deathly boring in retail. 
I managed to get more felt necklaces made and organise some stuff but the highlight has to be the arrival of the Box. I am such a mail junkie, I love things that come via the mail man or a courier, not bills of course. I love postcards and letters but I especially love parcels and things that come in boxes. Yesterday it was a box of goodies from Zara.
More beautiful Guatemalan dresses and blouses and new, new, new Frida dresses in black. All those people waiting for photos- I promise I'll send them through tonight! The dresses are all long but very easy to take up. The blouses are fabulous and we have more in cream-on-cream and white-on-white. And we have a Frida blouse too, one lone one at the moment but there are more on the way. I'm trying to decide which ones I want to keep for me........

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

pretty indigo

I woke to the alarm in a total state of confusion this morning- where am I? who am I? what am I doing?- once I sorted all that out I decided to have a half hour sleep in. My routine (what there is of it) is all out of whack at the moment, with extra days in the shop and 'homework' days at the studio, all topsy and messy. 
Yesterday I managed to finalise a new dress design and get the pattern all graded and ready to go. I'm shopgirl again today which is tearing me up as I would really like to get this new dress finished and in store (the size 2 is on the rack in the shop if you are interested). I love the fabric, Japanese wrapping cloth, and there is only going to be a few, hopefully four if I am careful with my cutting. It's an easy summer frock and I will be doing short runs of it in other fabrics, you know the deal, depends what I dig out of the stash or find scavenging!
Well it's time to get ready to open the doors, I've vacuumed and mopped, just need to get a pile of things together to keep my hands busy for the next 7 hours. 

Saturday, 18 September 2010

officially eloped!

Here are Our Favourite Sweethearts.
They eloped to Tokyo.
How freakin' cute are they?!

(And yes Dell is wearing one of our Mexican dresses as a wedding dress- turn CUTE up to 11 please!)

far horizons

Not much to report on today.
Apart from Jethro having his crazy pants on this morning, he is currently shoulder deep in a pot of water in the shower 'fishing' and he spent this morning trying to 'kill' his scratching post by hanging upside down off it and bunny-kicking it. Last Saturday morning the first three lots of people through the door had all come to see Jethro- sometimes I feel like I'm his damn PA.
The photo above was taken at Cradle Mountain two weeks ago. I see on the news they've had a big dump of snow, I wish I was there in front of a fire, with the hush of snow falling, reading a good book and napping. There is nothing like being rugged up and feeling the icy mountain air on your cheeks.
See, I wasn't lying when I said 'not much to report on today'!

Tally for this week.
*New patterns and samples made in the studio :-
1x blouse
1x pants
1x hat
1x dress
*Teeth filled:-
*Wheatbags made:-
*Cups of tea drunk:-
218 (exaggerated slightly)
*Hot chocolate drunk:-
*Vintage Welsh blankets bought:-
*Friends eloped:-

Average week really.

Thursday, 16 September 2010

run like you stole something

I had to laugh.
Here at the Cottage we have had barely any theft, perhaps we just don't carry stock that people want to steal.
Not today though. 
There was a mother and daughter in this morning and I have to admit I felt something was a bit off-kilter about them. The daughter aged in her late 20s -early 30s kept making comments about things as she wandered around and I had to control myself from feeling really annoyed with her. There was nothing exactly 'wrong' about them, just something not quite 'right'. The mother stood down the end of the big table and just hovered and it wasn't until they left that I realised that she had slipped something in her bag.

And this is where I have to marvel and laugh.

Shoplifted today- 1 x hot water bottle shaped wheat bag. 
She'll need its healing powers after lugging a kilogram of stolen wheat around all day.

it's thursday again

Thursday's come around again and I'm filling in as shopgirl.
I've managed to get a few new samples done over the last couple of days- a sun bonnet, a loose reversible shirt and a pair of pants. The patterns now all need to be transferred to pattern kraft and graded, I need to cut the first run out and I need to get treadling on the machine. 
I slept like the dead last night, my head must have hit the pillow and I switched off. I managed to wake before small-and-furry-not-a-rat, who normally likes to sit on the bedside table and slowly rock to make the old boards it is made from creak to wake me up. Having a bowl of macadamia and cranberry muesli before bed seems to be a good soporific....
I'd had vague plans to run errands this morning but I have rather enjoyed not doing very much, just the basics like the vacuuming, tea drinking and getting the paper. I'll probably decide at 10.45 I 'must' race out to do something and then get held up and rush to get back to open the shop and feel all out of sorts. Or I could just put the kettle on and have another cuppa.....


Tuesday, 14 September 2010

she'll be apples

Not a lot to report at the moment, except, you know, just everyday juggling.
I am so wanting things to rev up but I am also so wanting a long sleep in and afternoon naps.

So to fill in while I think of something interesting to write about here's a visit to the Huonville Apple Museum. It's in an old coolshed, it's cute and dinky and kind of homemade and there are some real treasures in there. I grew up opposite a coolstore in an area that had once been apple orchards, I remember that chilled sweet smell of that dark shed. 
The Museum has shelves running down the centre. Stapled to each shelf is a line of handwritten labels above which sits an example of that apple, starting to shrivel but still beautiful, or rather beautiful because of their slight decay.

The heritage orchard at Huonville grows 500 varieties of apple, barely 10% of those apples types grown in Britain, think of that- 6,000+ apples with 6,000+ uses. 
Supermarkets are Satan.
And the names are sheer poetry.

Antonowka Polomtorafoundwdia
Beauty of Bath
Black Winesap
Blue Pearmain
Belle Cacheuse
Belle Pont Dechaisse
Bonne Hotture
Brabant Belle Fleur
Calville Flageolet
Courtpendu Rouge
Cranberry Pippin
Crow Egg
Delicious Strakrimson
Devonshire Quarrendon
Eldon's Pippin
Finson's Orange
Geeveston Fanny Red
Gravenstein Gnarl Free
Gravenstein Red 
Grimes Golden

I could quite happily list them all, they sing of blossom on bare branches in Spring and ripening globes and turning leaves of Autumn.

Sunday, 12 September 2010


I've finally got around to doing the Spring window.
I don't know why I am finding window displays so difficult. Well actually I do know why, it's the big cage trolley thingy, it confines the window space. I need to get to and do a big shop rearrange sometime in the near future. 
And I need to make new stock. The weather is still threatening cold for a little while longer so please come in and buy some woolies so I won't have to pack them away when the weather actually slips into real Melbourne Spring.

I had a sleep-in this morning. Deeply needed. Up early and then back to bed with tea and toast and book and dropping into a nap. Perfect. Jethro napped happily on the top of the chest of drawers in his usual spot. It's lovely when the whole house seems to snooze.

And this afternoon was the window display. Those goddamn pompoms took forever to make. Wish I was happy with them! But how beautiful are the new dresses?! 

I've tried over the last two years to find a supplier of really good Mexican and Guatemalan embroidered work and hadn't found any I liked. Then out of the blue a couple of weeks ago Zara came into the shop. I happened to be in and Dell and I got talking to her and chatting I discovered she collects these beauties on her trips to Central America. She takes the buses out to the villages and meets up with the women who make these garments. I'm in love with the fully handstitched smocked and embroidered dresses and blouses (that's the magenta one the pictures). 
Love love love.
There are more on their way but be quick- they are all unique!

Saturday, 11 September 2010

classic black

I've wanted a sewing machine at home for a long while. I've found a few at op shops but they have always been a little annoying in some way and I've either give them away or sent them back-from-whence-they-came. It's all been a bit silly as I have had a machine kicking around for years, it just needed to go off to the sewing machine hospital and I never seem to get around to it.
Nick, my sewing machine doctor, had said years ago this model is brilliant, sews silk beautifully and was worth servicing. So I dropped it in before I went to Sydney and finally had a moment to pick it up the other day. 
Beautiful little machine.
This Singer Sewing Machine has been in my life forever. It was a wedding present to mum in 1952. When I was knee-high-to-a-grasshopper I can remember peeking over the edge of the table and marveling at its engraved end panel and the trailing gold flowers. It's the Singer Sewing Machine Company Centennial model 1851-1951 with a knee lever and a domed wooden case. Nick has fitted it with a new motor, a foot pedal, he's serviced it and popped in a new globe, he even chucked in needles and bobbins. It only does one thing, straight stitch, and only in one direction, no reverse. You see the less a machine does the better it is, the more fancy pants a machine is often the poorer its straight stitch will be.

I am so happy this little beauty has been brought back to life.

And it sews like a dream.

Friday, 10 September 2010


So not one owlette was finished yesterday but I did make a start on the props for the new Spring window.
Really this window has had me flummoxed for over a year or rather the flower pompoms have been doing my head. It's not that it's going to be some fantasy extravaganza, it's just I wanted the damn 'flowers' to look a particular way and  I just couldn't get them right. It's one of my problems, I get frustrated when my concept-to-fruition isn't just so.
The shop was a bit of a sheltered workshop yesterday. It was quite funny, everyone had a case of Spring Lethargy, a bit dozy and slow, amazing what a bit of warmish feel in the air can do. I met lovely weekday people (as against weekend people I usually meet) and had wonderful chats.
I'm off to the studio for the first time in about a month today..... if I can break free from the house/shop.... I am looking forward to Sunday like you wouldn't believe. 

Thursday, 9 September 2010

returning to the scene of the crime

You might remember that on last year's Tasmania trip I doilied a tree in Hobart.
Part of going back again this year was to check whether it was still there.
The morning after we got into Hobart we all went for a stroll to the park at Battery Point. I have to admit I didn't think that the doilies would be still on the tree and was so very excited as we came down the path to find it exactly as I had left it a year ago. Strangely the weather was just the same too!
When I doilied last year I had noticed the tree was near a sort of signal box thing  but I didn't realise that it was actually the Hobart City Council gardeners tea making cubby! So I got to admit to a gardener, sitting in the sun and sipping his morning tea, that I was the culprit.

I'd been really wanting to doily in the wilds of Tasmania but having researched about wilderness areas and how the effects of even simple a footprint can take 40 years to repair I decided that sticking to man created environments is actually a better way to.

On my last day in Hobart this time I decided to doily another magnolia in the same garden. 

And it was an amazing experience. Last time I kind of slunk around and found a slightly hidden spot (not totally hidden but not very obvious). This time I chose a magnolia just inside the gate and at the corner of two paths. I got to chat with the HCC gardeners as they came passed and they were happy and supportive and interested and excited to find out who had done the original tree. One gardener told me they constantly field questions about it. A crocodile of creche children came by and the last little girl turned to the boy holding her hand and said 'it's so pretty, I love it'.

Anonymous secretive yarnbombing is fun but I have to admit the feedback and appreciation from complete strangers is fabulous, and I am constantly surprised how gardeners and arborists seem to really relate to the doilying. Thank you HCC workers- you made my day!


Why is it you go away for a break, a rest, a recharge and you come back all discombobulated?
This week I feel I haven't got anywhere. I am longing for a day when I don't have to get out of bed. I am (sorting of) longing for a day at the studio. I am longing for a day that feels slightly productive. It's not that I haven't been doing stuff, exactly the opposite, but it's all been very bits-and-pieces, errands and silly little jobs and photo shoots and replying to emails.

Today is a shopgirl day for me, I'm filling in for Miss Dell, and I feel I need something to keep my hands busy. Perhaps I should finish those Owlettes that have been piled in baskets and buckets around the couch for the last *cough*cough* 6 months (probably longer if I really thought about it). And I need to sort out this damn window display that has had me bamboozled for the last month.

Monday, 6 September 2010


I'm really not going to do a day by day 'What I did on my holidays' series of posts- I promise.
After spending the morning doilying and op shopping I headed into Launceston to meet up with Jen and Pete and Ben who just happened to be in town presenting at the Regional Arts Conference. I steer away from these things if I can possibly help it normally...... but being in a town of about 100,000 people a festival like this is kind of nice. 
And of course Yarnbombing was the theme around town. Which lead to discussions about it being a warm and fuzzy community friendly (and slightly easy) option for festivals to do at the moment.

The Town Hall columns looked fabulous though, covered in afghan blankets. Really hard to get a good picture though, angles and all that.

Sonja Hindrum created 'Pleiades (Seven Sisters)' from felt balls strung through a big tree near the Town Hall. Best seen at sunset, I think, when the balls seem to float against a moonstone sky.

And then there was Ross Beyers' 'Kinetic Cart'.
Laser cut from plywood the whole things moves and turns as it was drawn around the forecourt, topped with a cardboard tea pot in a giant tea cosy.

early morning

The problem about catching the ferry to Devonport is the ridiculous hour it arrives.
The great thing about catching the ferry is the ridiculous hour it arrives.
Of course nothing in Devonport is open at this hour (except for Macca's sadly) so I tend to head down to Mersey Bluff to watch the sun rise. It's not the prettiest beach or the most rugged but I rather like it. The piles of sand washed rocks in amongst the black granite slabs are wonderful. I'm not sure if they have been dumped there naturally or purposefully to stop erosion but they are nicely and smoothly tumbled and are patterned in stripes and chunks in a very pleasing way. I 'stole' a rock from there to doily last year, it was the one photographed under the little waterfall. This year I spent an hour doilying two rocks, popping them back where I found them and then having a play photographing them in the water. 
More about the doily rocks at Mersey Bluff later....

Sunday, 5 September 2010

i'm b-a-c-k!

You probably hadn't even noticed I was away.......

I feel like I have spent the last month on the road. Sydney return, a week at home, then back in the car and off to.... well I'm sure you can guess from the photo above! A seriously nice bit of recycle craft there- and I should have got a photo of their garden 'glasshouse' shed made from old bottles too. 

Yes-  a Tasmanian Idyll!

Jethro is both happy to see me home and annoyed beyond belief that I left him behind- I know I am going to pay big time for my absence.

I only arrived back this morning so there is a lot of sorting and washing, and cataloging of photos and stories to work through. Have patience! And I've come back to a busy week of work and shop business coming up too. I really don't think I'm good at 'holidaying'.......