I've been feeling a little flat of late, probably the mid-winter blues. I love winter but sometimes it is just that reaching of the middle of the year and knowing that it's all downhill from here. We are having crazy blue sky days here, sun so bright you have to wear sunglasses with your beanie. It's not that cold though, not really. I'd like some more bone numbing days, a bit of rain and even a bit more fog like we had the other night. I know- you all think I am crazy.
I have managed to get a few things done from the backlog of evening at home chores which is making me feel a bit virtuous and a lot more cheerful.
I've measured and weighed and tagged up some more hand spun yarn, I finally got a new batch of clocks done (8 Girl's Crystals sitting in a row....) and I've dyed some more woollen socks.
See I'm feeling a little smug.
Of course there is still a regiment of things I need to do piling up over my right shoulder but at least a few done is a good thing.
I really am the worst procrastinator. I finally sorted out an order this morning that I should have written two weeks ago. Somehow it just filled my head with angst and I just couldn't allocate the time (5 minutes as it turned out) to do it. It's done now and I am thinking of all the times I find something else to do instead and I know that I am always amazed at how little time it actually took to sort out the procrastinated chore. Perhaps that is the rule with procrastinating, you then have to beat yourself up for your procrastination.
I'm off to the studio to attempt some work. I may choose to not answer the phone or a knock on the door and see how much I can get done as yesterday was an interrupted kind of day.
Instead of doing all those other jobs that needed doing last night I once again ended up on the couch knitting. The problem is I can't knit the denim yarn and do other things, it stains my hands so much that it gets into the pores of my skin and I leave indigo fingerprints everywhere (see back of shop door). I had forgotten how nice it is to sit and knit with nice fine metal needles. I'll leave it out for Dell to see how far I have gotten (about a quarter of the way).
After last night's fog it is a sparkly clear day so I am strolling down to the studio. I could do with a walk and a bit of vitamin D I think.
Instead of doing the fifteen other things I needed to do last night I sat on the couch and knitted. Dell has us all working on a project at the moment- Denim. This photo sadly doesn't do the yarn any justice, it is the deepest darkest indigo and as I knit my hands get stained with dye. As I have said, I loathe the colour blue (generalisation alert) but I love 'indigo' with all my heart, to me it isn't a 'blue' at all, it transcends the concept of blue, look close and indigo is a conversation of red and green and purple. Indigo is not a static colour, it fades out through a myriad of subtle shades, it stains your skin, it talks of a long textile history. Without it 'rugged cotton twill' would just be canvas. Indigo, how I love thee!
I am very excited to announce that Nikki Gabriel will be coming to town to host some workshops at the end of July. Nik is having a pop-up shop and workroom happening at Harvest Textiles but just before she sets up there she is coming to the Cottage to hold two workshops- hence the 'very excited'!
We've tried to organise these over the last two years but things just kept getting in the way. Now they are happening!
The two workshops will be held on
Sunday the 24th of July 2011.
Workshop #1 11am-1pm
Workshop #2 2pm-4pm
'So how much do they cost and what will I get?' I hear you ask.
For the measly sum of $88.00 you will get Nikki for two hours, a handprinted tote bag containing 2 balls of Wooli wool in your choice of colour, a Construction pattern and a set of knitting needles (sadly not Nikki's lovely handmade ones but a pair that will work in exactly the same way I have been assured), morning or afternoon tea (depending on which class you attend!) and a 10% discount on purchases made during the workshop.
I think that is a pretty fabulous deal actually!
Two balls of wool will get you started on one of Nikki's garments and I think you will be excited at how quickly and satisfyingly it all comes together.
Spaces are limited and you can book at the Queens of Craft on-line shop, over the phone or in person here at Cottage Industry. You can also email me if you want more information.
When you book please remember to let us know which workshop you want to attend, leave a contact telephone number just in case and let us know what colour wool you are thinking of using- from the top down the colours are black, dark grey, burgundy and greige.
I sometimes think having a shop is just a means for indulging my creative and retail fantasies. Sometimes it takes what feels like forever to get something happening but it is exciting when it starts rolling along. It can be a case of stockpiling your materials until you have enough to play with,perhaps finding the right people to turn your ideas into reality or finding the wholesaler who can supply you with the things you need.
Finally I've got my hands on the fake flowers I have been searching for for the last three years! Dear Madame L'Uccello let me sneak in on her flower order and there was much excitement the other day when they all arrived. It is quite amusing the different flowers we each chose, the l'Uccello blooms are all blouse-y and fabulous and perfect for the Cup or a wedding and Kim is accumulating quite a pile of exquisite Dior blue haberdashery. My flowers are all velvety and slightly silly and are yearning to be worn as corsages on tweedy coats or printed cotton frocks and cardigans. My favourites are the velvet pansies the size of saucers but I also love the violets and the red strawberries and the primulas and the mixed posies too. I also have some magnolias, I couldn't not order them when we have Miss Magnolia outside the shop door.
I've been sitting in front of the TV putting brooch backs on them and I'll be putting them in store today. I have them piled in a basket and I am not quite sure where I am going to put them.... I just wish that I was much more organised and that I had beautiful wool coats and jackets for them to be pinned to.
Normally I like to take a photo based on the subject of I am posting about but I just haven't had the time or inclination this week. I must get back on the programme!
I spent yesterday frantically dyeing and now the counter is piled high with gloves ready for Dell to tag and put out and stow away. Some old favourites are back and some new colours dyed- and of course lots of charcoal ones too.
I'm off to the studio once I've found where I've put my boots. I'm trying to decide what I should work on today, on my new machine, so I better bust a move and get going, lots of things to do.
This is really quite a useless post.
Oh well, one can't always be a fount of rippling and sparkling wit......... hmphh.
It was a busy day yesterday. I went up to pick up gloves and of course squeezed in a couple of op shops on the way- and I scored these fabulous hand painted Swedish clogs!
I didn't look at the size when I bought them because I knew that I had numerous people who would pounce on them once I got them home but then I discovered they were MY size! They may be blue (my least favourite colour) but it is a sort of indigo blue and with that painting I am all for them. Now let's see if I can wear them with my high arches and bung and battered feet. I most definitely will have to take them off to get up and down the stairs (especially after the stair tumble I had in bare feet at 4.30 the other morning- I have bruises on my arse to show for that one!).
Has your kitten lost its mittens?
Well now you know where to find them!
The cutest little hand knitted wool mittens are in. There are five pairs and they are so damn cute you'll groan when you see them.
Yesterday's big job on the new machine was making up a batch of alpaca hot water bottle covers. They are tweedy and patched and oh-so-very-snuggly, just perfect for this chilly weather. I love the natural colours and simple patterns in this alpaca blanketing. There are also still a couple of the lovely plum mohair covers left as well.
I got up at 6 this morning and re-zapped my hot water bottle shaped wheatie bag as it had fallen out of bed and had lost all its heat, Jethro came upstairs, knocked the iPhone off the bedside table and then like a heat seeking missile lay down right over the wheat bag and promptly fell asleep. Cheeky monkey.
I'm off up country this morning to pick up gloves. I've been a little slow to start today and managed to spill porridge milk on my keyboard. I must remember to get petrol on the way otherwise I will be stuck by the side of the road somewhere and I must remember to drop of packages in the mailbox.
Nikki's new knitting needles arrived yesterday and are in store. They are made from old Rimu (New Zealand wood) railway sleepers and are either a stained charcoal or the natural russet colour- and of course- have been designed by and totally handmade for Nikki.
My new machine arrived today. Chris and David lugged it up the stairs, rolled it along the hallway and installed it in the studio. They tinkered with my old machines, fixing timing and smoothing battered hooks and generally gave my poor old workhorses a once over.
I spent this afternoon getting to know its ins and outs. After working on the old Brother for 20 something years it was weird getting my timing right with the Pfaff, learning to be one with one's sewing machine. This machine trims and back tacks and I suppose is so much quicker because I don't have to fumble for the snippers or clean up piles of waste thread at the end of the day. I feel like I have been adulterous to my old faithful Brother but I have needed a new machine for a long time and thanks to the fabulous dollar I now have a machine that would have cost me a hell of a lot more this time last year.
Now to get down to work and start making a dent in the pile of work that needs to be done.
It's arrived- a lovely big box of delicious new yarn from Nikki! Photo acquired from Nik's blog showing, top to bottom, black, dark grey, burgundy and greige which in this case is a very lovely grey-y pink-y purple-y mash up of yumminess. This is the new yarn that you can knit any of the Construction patterns in and there is a new pattern on the way. We have jumbo balls available with a free pattern which is the first part of Construction #3, the complete Construction #3 is under construction and will be available soon but you can get a head start now. There are also needles winging their way to us and I'll let you know when they arrive.
And just to add to the knitting frenzy here we are about to announce something very exciting! Stay tuned!
Oh look- the Cottage has turned into a furniture store!
I know I promised no more Welsh blanket pictures but I did a new window this afternoon, pulled out one of the Axminster rugs and set up a little Winter 'lounge room'. Included is Ann the Super Crocheter's star afghan, it's a beauty, a crocheted 'log cabin' design rug.
I'm always shocked to see how many people stop and just stand there watching whilst I do window displays. It's quite amusing really as they think I can't hear them through the glass and I pretend I can't, Jethro of course plays to the crowd. It's also funny with the new(ish) windows, how different things look.
Whilst I was doing the window I saw a girl walk passed wearing a fabulous jacket made from the same Welsh blanket that is on the ottoman to the left (the black/yellow/orange one) I tried to catch her eye and point to the ottoman but I think she just thought I had a nasty tick and was a little crazed.
I forgot to do about twenty things today (although I did manage to finish the pile of gift tags that has been strewn around the couch for the last 5 months, nasty bit of procrastination) and tomorrow I need to do a big clean and sort at the studio. It is looking like this will be a curious week , exciting addition arriving on Tuesday and joy-oh-joy Friday is the release date for the new Gillian Welch album and I can not tell you how excited I am about that! You know I am a total nerd!
I thought you might be sick of photos of ottomans and default photos of Jethro so I've picked the spectrum shelves of printing pigments from my friend Ben's screenprinting factory. I'm not sure I may have posted it before but it is oh so pretty and it leapt out at me when I was searching for a picture.
Saturday again, nothing much to report except an overwhelming desire to crawl back into bed with tea and papers. I remember when my Saturdays involved just that or sitting in the kitchen, heater going with friends dropping in for tea and chats. Now I have the pre-11am deadline to go on the paper/bread hunt, have brekky, write a post, change my clothes six times until I just give up and chuck the old faithfuls on, vacuum the shop, do a bit of a sort and then have the Five Minutes Before Opening Panic. This probably the reason why we are closed on Sundays, I couldn't do that two days in a row.
Jethro is enjoying jumping from one ottoman to the next and tomorrow I need to factor in time for a new window display. The quilt that was in the window has been sold and I haven't replaced it, the shop feels very bright and open without something hanging as a backdrop in the window. I feel very on show!
Anyway, better dash, things to do you know!
Dear Miss Ramona is off in Canberra curating a special show all about CHAIRS- we are all very proud of her!- and here at the Cottage we are also fixated on things to sit on.
I picked up the rest of the ottomans (ottomen?) this morning and here are some quick out on the street photos.
Jethro likes to sit on them, his head tilted quizzically and then pounce on the pattern motifs, it is the funniest thing to watch. He does it on the Axmister carpet as well, trying to catch the flowers.
I'll have worked out the prices by tomorrow. There is only one of each style in each fabric. First in, best dressed house!
I was going to wait until tomorrow but I just couldn't wait.
Brand spanking new!
Cottage Industry's own fabulous vintage Welsh blanket covered furniture. Not much room in the shop at the moment!
The red ottoman is first in and there are two more I need to pick up in the morning, different blankets, different sizes.
The chair is fabulous (I need to make the lumber cushion for it tomorrow), a total one-off.
Jethro has tested and approved both, in fact he chased his tail in excitement when he hopped on the chair, it really suits him. I'm thinking a new window display and I am sure Jethro will feature strongly on Sunday lounging about in his new armchair.
I'm in the process of working out prices and I'll post the other pieces once I've picked them up.
OK, I admit I slept in this morning.
I was snuggled down and Jethro wasn't interested in getting up either so I just kept hitting the snooze button.
Again and again and again and again.
Mind you in hindsight I may as well have not got up. Everything I had to do this morning ended up with a large spanner in it- first person I had appointment with had to be somewhere else, fabric swatches weren't ready yet, computers at City of Yarra weren't working, queues at the post office business centre were ridiculous for the second day running. I had to laugh about it though, when more than 3 things don't happen it is just too silly, I'm now wondering if my afternoon appointments will go phfffft.
I started working on the new patchwork jackets yesterday and had that awful feeling of 'oh bugger' but then I repaired a couple of dodgy areas and decided I quite liked it again. It's funny how that happens as you are making product (love/hate/love/hate/love) and it's the ability of problem solving that really takes individual pieces over the line. The pony has patched a frayed bit of fabric in the crook of the elbow on a sleeve and the rest of the tray doily has repaired another fray on the front facing, you won't actually see that bit as it will be hidden when the jacket is on. I have plans for more patchwork garments and I am fascinated by the people who 'get' these pieces. I don't think clothing should be easy as such, it should engage the wearer and the viewer. It doesn't mean that things should be hard to wear or complexly made but that it 'speaks' to people, drawing on memories and creating new stories. I think we should all learn to darn because as we repair the clothes that we wear we stop and handle them in a different way, we quietly sit with them and meditate on what the journey we have travelled together.
Yesterday was a strange old day. Within 15 minutes of getting to the studio I felt like a panic attack brewing with the thought of how much work I needed to do and though an offer of escape (lunch with friends) popped up I knew that I just needed to keep my head down and finish some stuff. Which I did, the new trouser pattern is graded, the issues I had over the jacket pattern have all been worked out and I took control of the prototype bag project that has been dragging on for 8 months.
I had a meeting to go to last night in the city and afterwards I jumped a tram to get home a bit quicker. Well that would have been great if the tram driver hadn't decided to sail straight passed two stops as we all stood at the doors waiting for him to stop and the doors to swish open. When he finally woke up and stopped I had to cut back up to Gertrude Street, which was fine because I like checking houses out on dark nights and I did find some great ones I had never stumbled on until last night- sadly the emphasis here is on 'stumble'. As I walked up the middle of the lane I stumbled and rolled my ankle and reeled drunkenly across the road until I regained my balance. I now have a very pained foot with slight swelling around the ankle, strained not sprained I like to think. It kept waking me up in the night catching on the bedclothes so Jethro and I did not sleep well at all, he was in a jumpy mood with night noises and I was in pain. We both had a little sleep in this morning.
I'm off to treat myself to breakfast out and a little meditation on staying focus through out my studio day.
Hopefully if I stay in the studio confines I won't get myself into much trouble.
I'm loving my patched fabrics at the moment. I think it is the fabric-to-fabric quilting that takes it all to another dimension. I've been working on the skirts, playing with making cushions (these ones have gone off for a photo shoot in Sydney) and purses and trying to fine tune the jacket pattern. I need to stitch the rest of the quilt tops together and send them off, I've just ordered the calico whilst I was typing here (I can multi-task you know).
Anyway I better go and pick up the black denim I need to make sample bags for an appointment on Thursday. I think it might be one of those crazy disjointed days today. Too much to do and no time to get it all done.
I walked into the city yesterday. I got to see the Vietnamese Jasmine Revolution on the steps of Parliament House. I dropped in and chatted to a friend whilst she worked, I bought knitting needles and stripy tops and I may have drunk a hot chocolate.
Today was meant to be a three year old party but that household are under stomach bug quarantine so instead the day was spent cleaning and sorting out stuff in the hallway between the shop and the kitchen. Strangely it is still full of crap but a little less dangerous to walk through. The car is now piled full of stuff and I suppose I will have to spend tomorrow morning carrying it all upstairs and finding somewhere to stash it all. The studio is so very revolting at the moment...... It's Tuesday tomorrow and it feels like another week almost over before it has begun.
I've aired the house out, done the washing, dyed some more gloves but there is still drifts of clothes in the bedroom and boxes piled about. I sometimes wonder if I will ever live somewhere were I can see the floorboards!
Long weekend here, Queen's Birthday, start of the snow season, really just an excuse for a day off work on Monday.
Most important of all it is International Yarn Bombing Day today! (My apologies but I've been meaning to post about this since March but I just haven't managed to do it.... my bad, sorry. It is also K.I.P. Day today but I am not going to mention that after the 4 page advertising feature that appeared in last Saturday's The Age newspaper about it. It appears every time I personally comment on this blog about the corporate community taking over community based movements I get in trouble and receive abusive emails.)
A couple of woollen pompoms have appeared in Miss Magnolia this morning so someone is already up and out bombing in Fitzroy. They have chosen a lovely magnolia magenta for the poms so nice colour coordination there, congratulations.
I know I haven't given you much warning to get out there but really it can be as simple as you like. Remember it is totally OK to use found stuff (as you know I use op shopped doilies), you could pick apart an old afghan, pop a beanie on a statue, in fact there are a few statues around that I think would look great in a sweater or cardi!
Also, being a long weekend, why not extend it to Monday?
Of course your yarn bombing shouldn't be defined by one day in the year.
It's a beautiful sunny winter's day in Melbourne so get out there people and YARN BOMB!
Mersey Bluff Devonport
(I must tell you the story of the doily rocks on the beach sometime.......)
No photos today, I loved this painting when I saw it on The Persephone Post just the other day so I just had to use it. I'll be in the kitchen today dyeing gloves and I am totally wishing that the kitchen in the painting is mine. Somewhat strangely I have the same shelves on the wall (Ikea 2011- Harold Harvey 1918 ). In fact I think that kitchen is supremely 'now', well in my world it is, everything old is new again and I am totally in love with this painting.
Anyway, enough with the interior stylings of my dream house.
Gertrude Street had a huge day yesterday with an accident that blocked off the Brunswick Street to Nicholson Street end. You may have seen it on the news if you are a Melbournian. Dell spent the time texting me with updates as I was in the studio. Late in the afternoon we discovered that we actually knew the people in the car and that they were on their way to the Cottage for a visit. Huge relief that the super lovely G and little S are both OK and we send our love out to the them. (If you've seen the photo of the accident you would totally understand. OMG.)
So we are hoping for a relatively uneventful 'normal' day around here today. I had better dash and work out what dyes I need to restock on and what colours I need to do.
OK I didn't get to the studio yesterday.
I had stuff to pick up from the auctioneers, vintage fabric to drool over, a baby to admire, cups of tea to drink and a massive pile of invoices and emails to write.
I also managed to skip both breakfast and lunch and by mid-afternoon was feeling a little strung out and crazed. After I scoffed down some food I went all delirious and longed for an afternoon nap- ooops.
I must get to the studio today though. I have stock to make to go off to photo shoots, parcels to pack to go to customers and a fear of falling even further behind that needs to be slightly allayed.
I also really, really need to unpack the mobile storage unit (aka the car)- mainly so I can load it up again with different/more stuff.
It may be freezing here in Old Melbourne Town and its surrounds but there are occasional shafts of long sunlight. It topped 13ºC in the studio yesterday and I did get a heater out to take the chill off. There is still a draft whistling through and I must check to see whether the louvres on the windows are actually snapped shut. I have to wear a scarf and hat when I m working but I haven't resorted to gloves just quite yet.
We have a secret posse of country hookers who work making very beautiful crocheted stuff for us. First off there is Ann who makes all of our really stunning afghan rugs, our daisy chain necklaces and most of our tea cosies (the owl-y ones and the crazy 'coral' formation ones that came from a 1930s pattern Ann inherited from her mother). We also have Paula and Tania, Paula makes lovely rugs and Tania does the very cute little girl berets (in the photo above), now the really interesting thing is that they are Ann's daughters- the apples certainly haven't fallen far from the tree in this case!
I have this theory about crocheters- most crocheters I know hate knitting but most knitters I know love a bit of crochet. I find it quite amusing. I suppose I suppose I fall into the 'knitter who does a bit of crocheting' basket, I can do both but I have crocheting friends who are very anti-knitting, in fact quite rabidly anti-knitting. As I just said it amuses me greatly.
I had a busy day today. Lots of zipping about in the car doing drop offs and pick ups. Racking up the kilometres. It was all meant to be done today so that I could get an early start in the studio but now I have appointments in the morning so there will be a slight delay. Mind you as much as I love cold weather I am not looking forward to the <12ºC that the studio will be tomorrow! I will definitely be firing up the heaters.
The Cottage is a wintery place I always feel, we seem to be stocked full of winter warmers at this time of year. Quilts and woollen cushions, angora gloves, scarves, alpaca hot water bottle covers, boot socks, beanies and wheatbags but sadly not enough winter clothes! Which is why I need to get into the damn studio and stay there for a week. With low teen temperatures forecast for this week, I need to set aside another gloves dyeing day. I also need to get on the knitting machine and make some of the 'Mobius Loop' shawl-y things that everyone loved last year (we've had requests for them in the order book so I better get knitting).
I've been a right klutz this evening, transferring money to the wrong person's account, dropping soggy tea bags on the floor, accidentally turning on gas taps on the stove and putting too much hot water in the self saucing choc pudding. I think an early night might be in order. A book and a zapped wheatie bag in bed I think.
Well I'm off to put my flannel jimjams on and snuggle under my lovely Welsh blankets. Night all.
Living with Jethro is like having a sweet but very crazed little boy in the house.
This morning started at 6am with everything on the bedside table being pushed slowly off onto the floor. Then there was the running about, followed by things being knocked over in the front room and everything on top of the trunks on the landing ending up on the floor. There was strange noises in the backyard. Hi-jinks on the stairs. Jumping on the bed. Wind created craziness.
It all came to a head when Jethro suddenly disappeared around mid-morning. He was there one minute, gone the next. For some reason I was sure he was out in our tiny backyard but when I looked he wasn't there. I called him and this cheery miaow replied- from the backyard next door. There was a huge scrabble and suddenly there he was on top of the fence, grinning and very pleased with himself.
I thought I had managed to cat proof the wooden side fence when Jethro was younger but it seems that while corrugated iron cladding works well to stop a vertical accent it does nothing to stop a cat when he has grown to monster size and is capable of doing 6ft leaps from a window sill to the top of a fence. Impressive.
When I grabbed him off the top of the fence he was not happy and attempted to climb on the clothes line to escape. I spent the next hour trying to stop him going over the top again. He even got up to show me how he had worked it out, he's a mad jumper and climber. I feel guilty that I have now raised the fence to stop him escaping but the problem is if he manages to get over the fence and then out into the laneway then he has no way to get back in.
The wind made him crazy as a cut snake today but by late afternoon he was passed out in exhaustion. I've chased him around the shop this evening and am keeping my fingers crossed he will sleep tonight. He really is quite hilarious when he gets his crazy pants on but I just wish he would sleep in in the mornings.
I did get around to changing the shop window on Thursday night. Jethro helped and the tea cosies made people smile as they strolled by (if it is possible to stroll on a cold dark Winter's evening).
I've just had 2 month old Abraham visit with his dad this morning and this weekend I'm hoping to get to visit the new handmadelife arrival (no name as yet). There are little boys everywhere at the moment! Abraham left with one of our beautiful new Tallangrove hand spun alpaca beanie and bootie sets and I must choose one to go to Beck's new man. They are dreamy and soft and I wish they came in adult sized booties, we do have adult alpaca beanies so maybe I'll just have to keep one of those.
I made a new batch of Welsh blanket cushions yesterday so now we have new turquoise/black/cream, red/black/cream and chocolate/brown/pink colourways in. I also made a few old favourites as well. There is also the last of the gorgeous green/raspberry ones in (they are in the photo above) and they are a narrow version perfect to use as a lumber cushion. I'm in love with the chocolate-y cushions at the moment, don't let the 'pink' description put you off, they look like a beautiful chocolate and hazelnut layer cake, mmmm yum.....
Two more need to be photographed.
Two left before we could photograph them.
Always ends up being a bit of street performance when we do things like this out on the footpath. It amuses the folk.
If you like one you better call/call in quick sticks.
Yes we can post them.
No we can't hold them (as in 'put it on hold but we are more than happy to 'hold it up' so you can have a gander).
We've decided they look rather like fractal patterns. Hey, look its a set of Mandelbrots!