Monday, 29 August 2011

the off button

Sorry but no picture today (I haven't worked out how to successfully include photos on an open access computer...) so you will just have to use your imagination.
I'm 6 days in on the 'rest cure' and I haven't managed to find the 'off button'. That's not to say I haven't been taking it easy but I have found it difficult to not feel guilty for just sitting staring into space. I was brought up with few holidays and those that we did have (as I have written about before) mainly involved long drives and then more long drives. It is now at a genetic level, I feel that I have to be constantly moving and/or looking at stuff.
So I have been meditating (so to speak) on slowing down and trying to not climb the wall when sitting still. Trying to activate the 'off button' is actually really really hard.
Stop laughing.
It takes a lot of energy to do very little.
I have been checking in on the interweb thingy (how I hate thee iPhone) and checking my emails and generally still being mentally on the other side of the Strait which probably hasn't helped! I did wake up this morning to Lucy's fabulous Design Files Father's Day Giveaway, one of our fabulous Forage bow ties is up for grabs with a whole pile of other great prizes. I think you have until this evening to get your entry in. See I just can't help myself!
I'm back in the car tomorrow. If I'm lucky I might even get to see a little bit of snow.
Anyway, better dash, there's a couch and a book waiting for me.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011


It's been a crazy forty eight hours.
I've driven 800 kilometres, I've met with my favourite Northern Queens of Craft -and boy do we have some stunning Afghan rugs and tea cosies!- then back to Melbourne, raced off to Ikea, measured walls, ruled lines, drilled holes, been to the hardware store twice in 15 minutes this morning, put up shelves, unpacked new display domes, priced all the new NQ of C stock, emailed people, looked at the pile of bills to be paid, gulped in fear, done a load of washing........

There is still a mountain to be scaled before I officially Bugger Off tonight.
I'd be writing a list if I was that sort of person.
The daffodil patch by the blue house was a sight to see and when I met up with Queen Ann she pulled out a whole batch of tea cosies covered in daffodils and pansies and one seriously OTT one that is laden with flowers and insects- it's fabulous! Of course I've had no time to snap any of them.

When I got home late yesterday there was this beautiful face waiting for me at the bedroom window.
(Queen Marnie asked for more pictures of Jethro when I saw her yesterday.)

Last night's dash to Ikea was to pick up shelves, same as the ones in the kitchen, for the shop. Well worth the panic to get them, I'd checked on the interweb thingy but they were no longer listed in white but there they were and best of all half price, yay! OK I bought two......
So the shelves are up and the first batch of domes are out, not all have arrived yet and there are different styles coming. I am now obsessed with finding things to put under glass...... I have a stash of taxidermy birds but they aren't going out until the big cloches arrive.
Better get another bucket of tea into me and find something to eat before I collapse in a heap and pay the wrong bills.

Sunday, 21 August 2011

a right little cinders

It was my fault the laundry/bathroom/kitchen got flooded last night.
Jethro had nothing to do with it.
Mind you if he hadn't been asleep on the gold leather pouffé upstairs I am sure he would have noticed and come and got me.
As it is I spent an hour and a half on my hands and knees mopping the floor (thank you heaven for a concrete slab of a floor) with every single towel I owned (thank you heaven for that obsession I had about patterned towels from Savers).
So last night I felt like a right little Cinderella. Jethro took on the role of Buttons late in the piece when he decided soggy towels and hands were a newly invented game.
Now I am trying to get a few extra pots of glove dyeing squeezed in before I hit the road to visit the Northern Queens of Craft. It will be a flying visit and I'll be rushing back to sort out piles of stuff before I officially bugger off.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

the return of the round bottomed granny

In the flurry of making this week I managed to get a whole batch of round bottomed grannies- purses that is-  made up. All in our beautiful furnishing linens. We've been really really low on them for quite a while now and at last we have a whole tray full.

And if you have ever thought that perhaps the Cottage was a cushion shop.... then you'd be right. We seem to have been taken over by cushions at the moment! I made up a new run of Welsh tapestry blanket cushions, more quilted blanket cushions (we sold out of the last lot) and as the Swedish linen we use for the back of some cushions and the gingerbread hearts had arrived I made up some new patchwork cushions.

I love the vintage patchwork quilt tops that I have had fabric-to-fabric quilted (that's one of the rolls that nearly killed me last Friday that I lugged up the stairs to the studio). When Dell popped into the studio during the week we spent some time just staring at the all the different fabrics in the quilts, little pieces the size of a fifty cent piece, ohhing and ahhing over the prints. Most of this batch is made from feed sack fabrics  (which I will write about in a couple of weeks) and occasionally you find fabrics that are very very old, tiny pieces that have been saved and have finally made their way into being used.

When I look around the Cottage at the moment we seem to have gone from lacking in stock to bursting at the seams. There are still quite a few things I need to finish but I am feeling that that little spirt of making has helped. We have all sorts of new things arriving and we have nowhere to put it all....... and before I forget there are new vintage standard lamp bases in as well.

Oh! People don't forget it's Anna, Nicky and Cass's HUGE garage/moving/open studio sale today at Carlow House in the city! Check over here and here for the details. So upset I have to work today.........

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

top shelf

Sorry for the lack of posts.
It's been a bit busy here, TV off, music on and working my way through all those procrastinated jobs that have been sitting taunting me. Of course they are taking much less time in reality than they had blown out to in my imagination- there must be a mathematical formula for that- and, as so often happens both here and at the studio, horizontal surfaces are appearing as I tick off each project. Last night it was printing and bagging greeting cards, tonight making clocks. There is still a lot to get through but it is a little liberating.
Also my barely three month old camera carked it this morning. There was much beating of chest, pulling of hair and gnashing of teeth. Canon was no help, the people at the Camera Clinic were lovely and JBHifi came to the party and are swapping the camera. I have to say that buying something like this from a large chain of stores has actually had dividends this time, they are getting the camera transferred over from another store and exchanging mine for one that works. That part made my head spin from how accommodating they have been. (Positive comment for camera ends here.)
My desk here was spanking clean a week and a half ago (mainly because I had to swap tables and I swept everything onto the floor) but slowly there are piles of paperwork accumulating once again. Somehow I need to get some sort of order happening with the amount of paperwork in/filed.
We've got new cushions in stock and more waiting for the stuffing to arrive. I've been piecing granny purses together. There is a new bundle of bunting hanging around. I'm slowly chopping into the patchwork quilt tops. And best of all- next week I'm buggering off for a break.

Saturday, 13 August 2011

the garden of quiltly delights

By the end of yesterday I don't think there was a part of my body that didn't hurt.
If you were out and about you may have seen a little white hatchback tearing across the northern suburbs with a huge roll of quilted fabric strapped to its roof and another one jammed in the back. I then had to lug the buggers upstairs to the studio. One roll was the equivalent of 20 woollen blankets, 25 metres of calico, 5 metres of Dell denim and about 3 kilos of wadding. The other roll was made from 50 metres of 1.8 metre wide calico and 50 metres of vintage quilt tops. No I didn't ring for help.

Once it was all in the studio I started the cutting, trimming, binding, finishing, pressing.
Nine new quilts.
Then I loaded the car back up again and dragged it all into the shop.

Where Dell then helped my photograph them all.
I stood holding the quilts and Dell tried to trick me into peeking out from behind the quilts and calling out 'have you taken the photo yet?' so she can get a silly picture of looking like Foo over the top of a quilt.


Then we folded them all up and hung a new one on the wall near the counter.

The quilts are in new combinations and are extraordinarily pretty.

The paler colours make the checks all hazy.

I even managed to make a couple of new cushions.

cushions sold

Then I went to the city to hunt some linen fabric down (shop closed), get some dinner (Sushi Ten unexpectedly closed) and buy a new pair of hiking boots. I was so tired on the way home I could have cried from exhaustion. I think Jethro picked up on my weariness and stayed snuggled up against me all night in bed rather than hang with his mouse pals downstairs.
I'll be the one in the shop today walking like a hunched over old crone but sporting an exceedingly comfortable pair of new hiking boots.

And as usual if you like any of the quilts you can call the shop or email me. You know the drill, just
drag-and-drop the one you like into an email and we will get back to you. They are no problem to mail.

Friday, 12 August 2011

attack of the killer cramp

Sadly the quilter didn't come through with the goods yesterday. To fill my day in though I cut up the last of the last batch and made bags and hot water bottle covers. The nights are still cold. Fingers crossed I get the call today to say I can come and pick up the giant rolls of quilt-y goodness.
I was in a strange mood yesterday as I had a killer cramp down the side of my thigh that was impossible to stretch away and every time I sat at the sewing machine and pressed the foot pedal I would jump up screaming 'ouchfuckouchfuckouch'. It was one of those times where one is stuck between excruciating pain and hilarity at the situation. It made sewing very hard for a while there and I did actually throw a cushion cover across the room in annoyance (no anger just frustration). Whilst I was getting rid of a pile of fabric by making it in to stock, I was building a pile of rubbish next to the cutting table, avoiding putting it in the big rubbish sack and just making a huge mess in the process. Like I said, funny mood. Tossing crap about is sometimes quite cathartic.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

we are but a small cog in the machine

I was just over at Prick Your Finger this morning reading about the passing of the Knitting Monsignor (his bio reads like free form poetry) and Rachael 's post about the riots in England. She wrote 'sadly, destruction is also a form of creativity, which rears it's ugly head when there's nothing else to do'. Consumerisms nasty downside at play perhaps but teach a person a craft and they will have busy hands and minds. I'm sure the call for National Conscription will ring out soon.....

Today's pictures are of the big quilting machine that is currently working its magic on about 25 metres of blanket quilts and 50 metres of vintage quilt tops. I have been promised it will all be ready today. I may have to strap it to the top of my car to get it all back to the studio.
I haven't really had a single day in the studio this week although that had been my great plan. I seem to have spent it hurtling about in the car picking things up. I did get to collect more stock from my knitters and yesterday afternoon I got a heap of woollen socks dyed. I know everyone is fixated on Spring but it's been cold enough this week to remember Winter is really not over yet.
So the good news is we have lots of lovely knee high and over the knee woollen socks for those people who have been patiently waiting for me to get my act together.
New stock=happy Pen.
(New blanket quilts too- hopefully by the end of today.... or maybe tomorrow..... fingers crossed....)

Wednesday, 10 August 2011

clean slate, new slate

I feel like there hasn't been much shop news of late, just boring drivel (can't get any work done, errands, blah, blah, blah...). Finally today we've managed to put out some new stock. Joy oh joy!
I picked these up this morning, real slate slates, so very old school/old skool. These are made from real slate, not blackboard painted masonite, if you run your hand over them you can feel that they are smooth but uneven, just fabulous. It made me think of Anne breaking her slate over Gilbert's head for calling her 'Carrot'. I just happened to have a box of slate pencils in the little display cabinet so we have attached one to each slate. One side is plain and the other side is printed in little squares so you can practise your copperplate. They also made me think back to prep and grade 1 and how we would have writing  first thing in the morning, with chalk and a blackboard each- do kids still write on slates and is chalk considered a health hazard? Jeez I am feeling old...... from slates to iPads in a generation and a bit.

laugh kookaburra laugh

Printer finally came through with the correct postcard design.
Got a discount and scored the misprinted batch. Sweet!

The tapestry came from Deb O'B- many thanks!

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

printer's (st)ink

I was meant to be showing you our lovely new shop postcard design today.
Sadly no.
You are just going to have to make do with this one for now.
I got the call to say they were ready and went down to pick them up. Rod (who is a little scared of me after the last few debacles) raced off to get my order and proudly presented a bundle of 1000 postcards to me- in the lovebird design. Somewhat strange as I had taken a disc down with the new design and explained to the counter-jockette what I wanted.... they didn't open the file and just printed off the old design they had on their computer..... so now I have one thousand lovebird cards (I asked what they would do with them and Rod handed them over and said 'just take them') and they are printing off the new design today.
We really won't need to print another batch for quite some time.......
So stay tuned for the new postcard.... coming soon.... hopefully.

Monday, 8 August 2011

concentration demarcation

Really not quite sure what to do with myself today. The lurgy is still playing havoc with me (strangely I am fine horizontal but turn into a coughing snot monster when vertical). I am in the limbo of waiting for the quilting to come back and also needing to get in the car and do a whole pile of racing about picking things up. I like getting a clear day in the studio and find that running out on errands breaks the flow too much. So perhaps I should get all those errand-y things done so I can concentrate and spend the rest of the week in the studio. 
Mondays can be like this, wanting to start the week as one means to go, productively. I am a bit all over the place as all the external deadlines are done and now I need to do my work. Could I have an extra day off this week and a couple of extra work days this week to catch up? Thanks.

Saturday, 6 August 2011

rainbows and chimney tops

Last night just before heading off to Mr Kitly we got to see a full rainbow and a glorious sunset. There was another stunning rainbow last Saturday too and a beetroot sunset last week. So pretty.
If you walked into the kitchen half and hour ago you would have seen Jethro and I with our noses in amongst a bunch of freesias. They are my favourite flower and the smell has a profound effect on me, to my surprise it seems to have the same effect on Jethro and he was leaning against me, breathing the smell in and  purring fit to burst. He is a strange cat indeed, just after I got home I was standing by the counter holding the flowers and he miaowed demandingly at me because he wanted to see them close up. Funny funny kittah.
The first scented white freesias of the season are always a cause for celebration.

A lovely time was had last night and although Renilde's work sadly hasn't arrived (thank you Australia Post and all your affiliates- you all stink) Dell has done a wonderful job and Adam has done  superb work designing the catalogue.
So finally the last two big weeks are over. My cold, which I thought was over, has now moved south and I am coughing and spluttering , I hate these progressive type of bugs, just when you think you have seen the back of them they slap you around again. I think a sleep in is on order tomorrow morning or perhaps even an early night tonight. Next week I may even get to spend the whole week in the studio making new stock, that might be interesting.

Friday, 5 August 2011

in the perfumed bower

This is what I see when I look out my front window. I am up in a cloud of magnolia blooms and heady scent.
The last two weeks have been just crazed and now, apart from this evening's opening at Mr Kitly, everything is done and dusted. I'm going to the studio today and tomorrow I will play at being shopgirl and then retire to the couch in the evening. Perhaps I will even loll about a little on Sunday.
I still have lots of work to do and new projects to start, things that have been put on hold slightly- and it is also almost time to take a break. A friend of mine calls me a 'misanthrope'. I'm not really, I just need time away from people once in awhile, to stare at stunning views and marvel at nature, talk to no one and slow myself down, then I can be polite again. Sadly I am in need of this break a little earlier than usual this year..... I think most people should have a 'quiet time' now again, a time they spend time alone, getting comfortable with being solitary and quiet. It does me a world of good but I know quite a few people who just can't do but should!
For now I'll pretend to sit up high in the magnolia tree.

Thursday, 4 August 2011

barely worn, worn threadbare

Finally done- apart from a little adjustment blocking on the dark toed foot.
They went into the washing machine at 11.15 last night, all fingers -and toes- were crossed, then into the dryer. When I knew all was well it was well deserved bedtime, although with this unseasonal hot weather  not the greatest night for sleep. This morning was time to block and press.
'Stockings for an Indigo Dyer's Wife'.
Perhaps the Indigo Dyer has saved all the waste yarn, the mistakes, the tangled yarn, the misdyes and she has knitted herself a pair of stockings. She'll only ever wear for 'best', they will be tucked away in a trunk and when she dies they will be found, barely worn or worn threadbare.

I look out my bedroom the sky is blue, towards the city battleship grey. Tropical winter.

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

single denim, double denim, triple denim, denim, denim, denim

This is going to be one exhibition opening with a dress code, yes, I am sure that rugged cotton twill will be out in force on Friday night!
Dell Stewart (artist, craftsperson, curator, superstar) has gathered together a band of denim lovers for this exhibition at Mr Kitly (gem of a shop/gallery). Dell and Adam (artist, designer, all-around-talentman)  have also put  together a catalogue, the first publication of True Believer. It is all hugely exciting.
I, of course, have been very bad. I am still working on my piece. One of these days Dell just won't ask me to join in as I am so late with finish stuff..... my written homework for the catalogue was submitted barely 12 hours before the revised deadline......
Apart from a few errands this morning I'll be staying home and focussing on getting it done. It needs to be washed and dried and pressed (perhaps, the thought of 'pressed' denim has me worried, visions of bad jeans with creases down the leg...... ).
I hope it works out ok, I'll let you know, let's just say it's knitted and it's triple denim.

Monday, 1 August 2011

eat, drink, knit, chat

Exhausted from the last few days.
Both sessions booked out! Hot chocolate was drunk, ginger fluff sponge was eaten, things were knitted.
There are still a few cups to be washed and I need to lug 6 chairs upstairs but the shop is pretty much back in order.

Jethro loved having people to play with but after hanging around for half the class and being ignored he took himself off to bed. He's had a huge weekend (Jethro 2- Mice 0).

Thanks everyone for coming!
It was a fabulous day.