Monday, 31 October 2011


I seem to be dealing with an emotional/creative furball at the moment. I'm feeling antsy and angsty and annoyed and I just wish I could cough it up and get on with things. Jethro managed to spit his real one out the other evening and I just wish I could do the same with my virtual one. I know it's just the time of the year, the pre-pre-Xmas trough of despair when money is leaking out and not enough coming in, when the thought of the sheer amount of work to be done seems insurmountable and overwhelming, when I feel like there is no room to move. It's all very very boring and frustrating and sometimes I just want to go 'arrrggghhh!'.
Perhaps it's the effect of Hallowe'en.
Sometimes I think a new batch of storage boxes might help. I can stuff everything in and stack it all neatly in the corner. And don't go thinking I'm talking about some emotional baggage I'm looking at packing away and avoiding- it's all the piles of work crap that I need to sort and shove away! Home is looking like a bomb has gone off in a craft/art supply/hardware/haberdashery store/op shop. And weirdly all the pictures on the walls are crooked, I blame the trams (unless there has been an earth tremor I slept through). Perhaps they are all straight I am off kilter, hmmmm, I might have to investigate that angle.

Saturday, 29 October 2011

from the cottage library

After a bit of a flat week that morphed into the flat grumpies I got home yesterday to find the book delivery had arrived. Joy oh joy! We've been waiting weeks for this order and it was worth it!
First out of the boxes was our old favourite the Tasmania CWA 21st Anniversary cookbook, we sold out of these a couple of weeks back and it's nice to have it in store once again. One of the boxes weighed a ton for its size and when open it contained only 4 copies of.... 'CWA Classics', a 2 1/2" (sounds better in Imperial) treasury of classic CWA recipes, almost all with photographs, and it's fabulous! It's like Stephanie Alexander if she could actually cook good plain food, tea cakes, jelly crystal biscuit, muttonbird stew, it's all here! I think I might have to order in a whole mountain of these for Xmas.

In the box with the Tasmania CWA was 'Housewife Superstar. The very best of Marjorie Bligh.' Here's Dell checking out the picture of Marjorie's tablecover knitted from strips of used pantyhose, she's also wearing a hat and vest made out of them as well. To quote from the back of the book 'Marjorie Bligh: domestic goddess, pioneer recycler, author. Queen of the household scene, near unbeatable in the agricultural show, and 'no slouch in the matrimonial department'. The inspiration, it is widely rumoured, for Dame Edna Everage. Jam packed with Marjorie's hints and recipes, wisdom and verse, Housewife Superstar is the story of an incredible life.' Might have to order more of these too!

I really wanted to get the new patchwork quilt jackets in store today too but sadly they aren't dry from their wash last night and I am missing a couple of giant press studs to finish the rest off. So here is a picture of Dell trying one on yesterday. If you look closely you might be able to see that she is actually wearing a pair of matching patchwork shorts. She snaffled some of the patchwork from the studio the other day and made herself some short shorts. She's now contemplating a patchwork onesie.....

Friday, 28 October 2011

she sees rainbows everywhere

A box of Marnie's Miss Mousies arrived yesterday. As I unpacked them this is what Dell saw- a rainbow of mice. (Marnie did you realise that you made a mouse rainbow?) She just couldn't help herself, the Queen of Rainbows, Miss Colour Spectrum. When we popped them in the basket on the table I was chided for getting it all wrong, mixing them up, much laughter ensued. Sometimes I get back to the shop to find all the ladybirds have been lined up in colours from red, to orange, to yellow, to light green, to dark green. Once I found a jar of glass buttons layered into colours like sand-in-a-bottle 'art'.
Stuff got done in the studio yesterday, zip purses made, new hot water bottle covers stitched up (I know you are thinking 'but summer is on the way' but we seem to sell htbs and wheatbags all year round), I cut felt oven mitts out and started work on some new garments. Time to get going I suppose.
Don't forget shopwise we've still got some satchels left and the sandals have been walking out the door this week. Oh and we have a whole basket of mice waiting for adoption.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

cord you royal

I was down one end of the city whilst Her Maj was down the other, I heard the squealing but that was it. Mind you many years ago I attended the Australian Ballet with QEII so I view that as my life's allowance of royalty proximity. Having a Royal Family and being part of the pink bits on the map (aka the Commonwealth) amuses me no end, CHOGM always seems a bit like the nerds taking over the school.
This morning's quick snap of the new lamp cards in all their twisty silky goodness. So pretty.
I picked up most of what I needed yesterday but I am sure I have missed some things, yesterday was a bit of a mind muddle day and I was a bit all over the place. It's the juggling and waiting at this time of the year, money in/money out, Xmas lead up..... I'll be over it soon but at the moment it's a shocking feeling of hovering and not stretching quite far enough.
I'm planning a  day in the studio. I must remember the woollen blankets on the line and the pile of stuff I have accumulated on the floor in the shop. If I pile things in a walkway then the plan is that I will trip over them and remember to take them. Sadly the version of this in the bedroom (trip over them, pack them away) doesn't seem to work and I have the ability to be able to blindly stumblingly avoid these piles dotted throughout the house even in the dead of night. After a while I just don't see them any more.
As you know the studio is pretty much the same.

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

the view from under the blanket

Sorry for being AWOL.
No particular reason, just an overwhelming sense of 'arrrggghhh' and a desire to hide under the blanket.
With so much to do I have been finding that settling to one thing is little hard. I need to go and do the city supply run but as the Queen is doing the rounds it might all be a little hard..... and I seem to have lost my morning.
I seem to get all a bit mashed up when the satchels arrive in store, the over-excited enthusiasm wafting from satchel devotees makes me a little crazed and jumpy. And the imminent arrival of Xmas is clouding my horizon.
So far this week the highlight has been our new lamp cords (photo soon), same-same-but-different from our old lamp cords, made from fabulous retro-sque tri-twist silky bound flex in black, brown, old gold or silvery silk with brass lamp holder, they look wonderful (if I say so myself).
Anyway I better go do something. I'll report back on that later.

Friday, 21 October 2011


It was satchel delivery day today.... well actually satchel pick up day as Fedex stuffed up and I had to race to Derrimut in the middle of the afternoon to pick up three boxes of stock. Rainy Friday afternoon traffic is not much fun- especially when I almost got stuck in the city when the police decided to get a bit gung-ho.
As we tried to mark stock off we had people waiting to buy the satchels. Boxes and packaging and a brain melt down, Dell was very patient with me.
The shop is so bright and colourful it freaks me out sometimes- the satchel colours really POP. The new run of vintage Welsh blanket cushions are crazy, bright blue ones and magenta and yellow with black and some of our old favourites in cream with pink, green and yellow- ZING!
Time for a new window display, Sunday might be good for that unless I get sidetracked by reading a book or doing nothing.....

Thursday, 20 October 2011


The scent of petrichor* was strong this evening when I went for a walk. Hot concrete and spits of rain.
A bit of a mishmash of a day. I was awake most of the night (damn daylight saving's lag), I went to bed knowing that there was no use in trying to get to sleep so went and sat outside on the thunderbox drinking tea, chatting with Jethro and listening  to the pigeons tumbling off the roof next door in the throws of a Spring Fling. Then back to bed at about 4am for a bit of sleep.
I spent the day waiting for the new batch of satchels to arrive, no show, a waited satchel never arrives, tomorrow hopefully! I did manage to get odd bits done, emails answered, a meeting with a wholesale customer, new vintage lampbases polished up, flower brooches priced, a new shipment of glass domes unpacked.
Stay tuned for the satchels tomorrow! Fingers crossed!

*Just a nerdy Doctor Who reference there......

Wednesday, 19 October 2011


I've been wanting to re-work the scarf dresses for sometime now. It's such a classic but it's also such a bugger to make, slippy and slidey and silky and I really have to be in the right frame of mind to do them. I also wanting to re-draft the pattern and last Friday I stood at the cutting table and was totally bamboozled by the base block I use for this garment, it made my head swim, so I waked out of the studio and left it all over the cutting table.
Yesterday I walked in and it was all so obvious.
So the first trial garment is done and I am more than happy with it. I still need to do the hem and grade all the sizes but the changes I've made make please me and now I just need to be good and get my arse in gear and start making.
After last evening's amusement with Jethro sitting in the Haby Box box Anna found a wasp in the window and we decided to grab it before Jethro found it. I grabbed it in a calico shoe bag and screamed 'farrrk' as it stung me through two layers of cloth, right on the tip of my finger. I've been stung by wasps before and it is absolutely excruciating. I can't compare it too a bee sting as it is so long since I've been zapped by one but at least with wasps I don't swell like I do with a bee. I had a foot the size of a football once and a forearm like a ham with skin cracking and peeling and itching to drive one insane. My wasped finger did manage to feel like it had an electric current running through it for 5 hours and it's feeling a little over-zapped today but all worth Jethro not having a rude shock if he had decided to make a new friend.
The wasp survived, we threw him out on the street and even though Anna wanted to stomp him I said let him go, then I slammed the door and hoped he didn't call all his friends down because when there is one wasp there will be 100,000 hiding around the corner! (I learned this from last time I was stung.)

Tuesday, 18 October 2011


Anna and I were chatting this evening just after we closed the shop and we turned around to discover someone sitting in the Haberdashery Box box.
We're sure he was just waiting to be noticed.

a good lie in

I seem to be unable to get out of bed at the moment, I am enjoying that morning sleep in far too much. Yesterday I finally crawled from bed at 9.15 and really it totally threw my morning into disarray (mainly because there was a whole pile of things I had left undone the day before and I had an hour to put them to rights) so I decided no studio but to venture out on a quest. I had been trying to hunt down some components via the internet but, as I always find, it is so much better to go out and talk to people.Especially lovely 'old skool' types who give you addresses and contacts for obscure people in strange places and even call them to smooth the way. A lesson for Big Business, you may not get a sale this time but by helping someone in their search they will come back in the future and buy, and whilst the interweb thingy may be OK when you know precisely what you are after, it really doesn't compete in sales service and experience.
I really love hanging out in old style trade-y supply shops, I end up learning so much.
I love traditional hardware stores (not many of those left since Chalmers closed), shops that specialise in nuts and bolts and washers and screws, places that trade in obscure bits of kit, factories where they have made the machinery that makes the thing you are after, it's all so ingenious and simple and brilliant.
Anyway I'm running late again and better get my arse in gear and down to the studio. I've got things to make.

Saturday, 15 October 2011

my car pet

Last week I went out to the back and found a cocoon on the ground next to the car. Being a wunderkammer type of person I picked it up and popped it on the dashboard with the intent to take it inside but being a lazy soul I left it there with a piece of wave polished glass I found in Tasmania. Next day when I got in the car I noticed it wasn't on the dash and found it rolling around the floor, I thought it must have blown off when I opened the door and thought nothing of it when I popped it to the dash again. The same thing happened again and I kind of forgot about the cocoon (out of sight etc) until I went to put something in the boot of the car and there was the cocoon attached to the side of the hatch- it was alive! So far it has migrated from the passenger side front to passenger side back and it is now swinging above the speaker on the driver's side back. When I look in the revision mirror I can see it swing with the movement of the car.
Just as it has become attached to my car I have grown quite attached to it.
I need to find somewhere safe to move it to, probably somewhere with some straw mulch by the look of it's lovely camouflage.

In shop news (and I am only doing this because I got messages saying people didn't mind) I spent last night pricing all our lovely new stock from Zara, she has excelled herself this time! I think we could kit out a whole army of Fridas, we have cream, black, red and navy dresses in all sizes (some colours are very limited 'so first in blah blah...'), blouses in black and cream and also the mini-me dresses for the little Fridas in your life. The Sophie range is in too with lovely white cotton voile long top/dress and a shorter shirt version (does that make sense?) and we have some of the Agua dresses with embroidery in new colours. I still have the very last of it to tag this morning.
Oh! And we have some new vintage-y viscose short sleeve striped knit tops in too! They are classic Slade knits and are totally 'resort wear' (never thought you'd hear that coming from my lips did you?!) in that you just wash them and never iron them, pack them in a bag, pull them out, let them hang for half an hour and ta-da! ready to wear. I'm thinking capri pants or cuffed jeans  and flat shoes for a totally so Frenchy so chic look, a little kerchief tied at the neck and strangers will call you 'Audrey'.
Well I better be off, vacuuming and floor mopping to do. Need to decide on a shop-day bit of craft to do today, I always end up running about in a panic at 3 minutes to 11 trying to get everything together.
I'll be the one in the shop today wearing a crazy bright embroidered floral number from Tehuacán, you won't be able to miss me.

Friday, 14 October 2011

denim redux

You might remember back when Dell organised the 'Denim' show that some very important work didn't arrive from Antwerp. Sadly the package of Renilde's work seemed to have been stashed under some postal worker's desk , suddenly a tracking email popped up and it was on the move and so it finally arrived 2 and 1/2 months late. Dell grabbed a window of opportunity and is having a two week exhibition at Mr Kitly so we can all go and see it. She's even organised a little afternoon tea on Saturday in honour of it's arrival.
I've made a batch of shaggy frayed marshmallows as I won't be able to attend (shopgirl duties) so please pop in to the lovely Mr Kitly and say hello to the gorgeous Dell who will be manning the tea trolley.

Thursday, 13 October 2011

and the coloured girls go.....

Sorry for the lack of posts, flat camera batteries and a lack of motivation primarily to blame, and lots of other activities going on like getting to rummage through the first three boxes of treasures collected in Mexico by the lovely Zara. She's brought us the cream of the crop, the Best in Show, the bee's knees and there is more to come!
First on the racks are the new coloured Frida dresses. Red and navy*! It's always a marvel to unpack these garments, they are just so beautiful and each one unique, different colour combos, different flowers, birds, baskets and bows. There is also more of the 'Sophie' style garments but they are not out yet (we've run out of hangers and cord for our swing tags). We have a batch of long sleeve white-on-white voile dresses/long tops which will look fabulous over jeans or with skirts- or over your bathers if you are that way inclined.
I hate it when I just post about shop stock, I hate it in other people's blogs and feel embarrassed when I do it here too. I suppose I better suck it up, I have a shop full of stock to sell..... and what stock it is! The coloured Fridas are in limited supply, we have red in small, medium and large and navy only in medium but more sizes in the navy arriving very soon, so please if you would like one hurry in, we really hate it when people are disappointed. And you are welcome to phone if you are interstate and we'll talk you through them or send photos if we have the time or the camera batteries are recharged.

 *Thinking of you Emma, Queen of Navy!

Monday, 10 October 2011


Nothing to report. Quiet day yesterday, pretty much doing nothing, I needed things to be still for a few hours. I didn't get the drill out, I didn't do any vacuuming, I did put on a load of washing. Jethro slept for hours on end. I drank tea and stared at the wall, although by 9pm I had to stop myself from rearranging the big room, as you do when the piles of boxes and stuff starts to totter and overwhelm you.
I wish I had a whole other day to do nothing. I've snuck in an extra half hour in bed but now I feel the pressure of starting the week. Here we go again. Once I've sculled my tea and got dressed I'm off to Richmond to check a couple of things out and then up to the studio where a pile of zips and a mountain of tea towel cushions await me.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

all my chickens have come to roost(er)

Actually all eight of them. I have nowhere to store them as they will have to be under lock and key thanks to a furry housemate who will want to 'love' them. I think I may have caught poultry fever but how could I turn down a whole chicken coop of crazy roosters?! We've got leghorns, a silkie, cochins, frizzles and a gamebird (sounds like a bunch of homie rappers). I think people who came into the shop as we unpacked them yesterday may have thought we were completely mad as we ohhhed and ahhhed over them. I'll need to make blocks for them to sit on and I don't think we have big enough domes for them to go under but, oh my, they are fabulous. So if you know any poultry fanciers out there then let them know we have some chooks available for adoption.
Rooster in a henhouse.
The rooster has landed.
If you want a long distance adoption we can send photos, you know the drill.

In other, less macabre perhaps, shop news we have new tea towel cushions in, the 'Australian Parrots' and 'Toowomba' ones are really corkers. There is also the three new tapestry pouffés and I've made up some Welsh blanket cushions in a fabulous blue/green/black/cream combo. We are starting to think all things Xmas and are slowly starting to pop things into the shop.We are also now stocking beautiful Japanese fabric covered cords, 1.8 metres in length, they would look fabulous tied around presents and they can be used for crafty type things as well. The weekend I decide it is all going out on display is going to be a killer, I don't know where it is all going to go.
We have three Cambridge Satchel Co bags left and are waiting for our next batch to arrive. The Douglas sandals are in. The lovely vintage-y flower pins are out. Lots to do though.
Better go vacuum the shop.

Friday, 7 October 2011

introducing mr finn, product tester for hire

This weeks big project was making 3 tapestry pouffés. A pretty exhausting effort really. I had to break the tapestries out of their frames, piece them together, back them, sew them together..... you know the deal. They are pretty stunning if I say so myself.
We decided to get in an external product tester- Mr Finn of Maxwell, Finn and Associates. On arrival Jethro quite happily handed over the job and gave Mr Finn a whiskery kiss which made Mr Finn giggle (cute rating 11). As you can see Mr Finn is giving the pouffés an A1 rating. Later Jethro decided he needed to give them a going over from the inside. The sleep test came through with flying colours.

I'll try to stop posting photos of Jethro for the next week, sorry to all those non-feline friendly people.
It's just he's so damn photogenic. As is Finn, if you need to find out his rates please go over to HML and talk to his agent Beck.

Wednesday, 5 October 2011

he's three today

Jethro is three years old today.
Looking over photos last night I marvelled at how he's changed and how he's stayed the same.
There are no presents but we had a cuddle and I thanked his little white socks for being such a handsome character of a kitty. According to the cat wall at the Show he is now 28 human years old, great that's all I need, a late 20 something male in my life.
Normally I would do a 'compare-the-pair' photos but I thought a selection of kitten shots was in order.
The one above was the first photo I took of him after I picked him up from the vet, he spent the day playing in the studio, and the one below was his first Xmas window display. Yes I admit I am a cat-tragic but look at that face, his fan club is legend around here, he even appears in the blog stat searches, 'jethro cottage industry'. I kid you not.
It's a joy having you around kitto.

Tuesday, 4 October 2011

pretty as a peacock

Yesterday was parcel day and the best package of all was the one from our friend Zara.
Zara is the collector of all the beautiful Mexican clothing we stock and the first batch of new Summer stuff arrived in that box of delight. A whole new stash of Frida dresses in cream and I have to say they are the best I think we have ever had. They are always great but sometimes there is the joy of pulling one out that is so freaking stunning you just want to scream in happiness. The yoke is adorned with two peacocks and a giant one surrounded by flowers in the middle of the dress! The old saying about vanity and peacocks is justified in this beauty of a dress.
Z also sent down a couple of black Fridas and a small batch of black Frida blouses (if you ran into me last week you may have caught me wearing one....). We also now have every size from 1 to 12 in the children's Fridas so you can dress the whole distaff side of your family in one.
I better get off, things to do at the studio, but I thought you might like to have your day brightened by a hand embroidered bird on a dress.

Monday, 3 October 2011


The drill was out again this Sunday, three weekends running.
Perhaps it was the whole daylight savings change but I decided I really really needed to do a bit of cleaning. Of course the amount of cleaning here would take a whole week (if not longer) so I didn't get very far and of course it has caused mayhem, the cleaning ripple effect. Four loads of washing which will probably end up on the floor again but clean sheets and a confirmation that black floors just show the dust once it has settled again.
I may have ended up on the Ikea website at some stage trying to work out my storage issues. The problem is that if I pack things away they are so out of sight I never get them out again. Perhaps it's from living for the last 20 years in Victorian buildings with no cupboards or wardrobes, I have storage envy but don't know how to use it.
I did manage to finally hang the Marshmallow photos. They have been leaning against the table upstairs since the start of the year (!) and Jethro has managed to knock them over once in a crazed midnight run through the house. They weren't originally going on this wall but I think I like them here the best even if they clash a bit with the old photos of India. I've never been a matchy-matchy type anyway.
I better get my day in gear. I think there is more cleaning and sorting booked for the studio. Damn, I shouldn't have started that last week.

Saturday, 1 October 2011

birds of a feather (and a sheep and a couple of cows)

Just a few gratuitous animal shots from the Show on Wednesday. I wish that you are allowed to go into the stables but they have banned people from mingling with the horses. Nothing like a calm plodding Clydesdale to make you feel tiny or a fully turned out dressage horse to make you feel inelegant and ungainly.

Nothing like having a friend to lean on.
(OK that was a bit corny.)

You can't beat a duck wearing a pillbox hat.

And a good classic chook.

Well it's the big ol' Grand Final Day here today, which can mean you could fire a cannon down the street and not hit a soul or perhaps a few football widows out shopping. I've waxed lyrical in the past about the kick-to-kick out in the road at half time, people spilling out from pubs to run around like a bunch of kids at playtime. Of course if you are in a shopping mood it is actually a great day to go for a stroll, if you plan you travel well there won't be any traffic hassles. there's rain splatting on the window so it looks like it will be an old-skool Grand Final, I used to marvel at the players rolling in the mud, it's not like that anymore sadly (and don't get me started on those stupid uniforms they wear these days....).
I've been working on the beautiful vintage-y flowers and have finally got some more ready to go into the Cottage.  I do love the magic of steaming a fake flower and watching it unfurl. There are also, due to popular demand, new big balls of hemp twine in and I made a big batch of 'hot water bottle' wheat bags (must tell you the story about cleaning up in the studio yesterday). Since we packed away the beanies and scarves two weeks ago we have sold quite a ridiculous number of them. The new shelves means we can access them at a drop of a hat (boom boom), so if your head is cold or you are heading to the northern winter then just ask and we will get them out for you to peruse.
Almost time for me to do the vacuuming and chase Jethro around the shop.

Oh! And we still have some satchels left but you better be quick!