Wednesday, 30 November 2011


There has been a bit of sleeping in here, no setting of the alarm, just waking up when we wake up- which is strangely the same time we always get up just without the blaring of the buzzer and the hitting of the snooze button. Monday, post Markit, was spent on the computer emailing and paying bills and checking up on stuff. Yesterday was a run up country in the heat and humidity to look for branches for the Xmas window display, not quite as successful as I hoped. There is a roadside area I like to acquire branches from but with all the rain there was sloshing creeklets of water that I couldn't get across.
The decoration plan seems to be changing as I work on it, I'm having trouble with some of the materials and can't get the colours I need in other bits. Oh well, I am always one to embrace the changes that happen in a work in progress, it's just that it is at the ' oh crap, why did I start this?!' point. I must persevere and break through the creative pain barrier. Working on a project like this at midnight sometimes clouds your vision, that awful waking up in the morning to find a mess on the floor and an askew attempt at craftiness.
As you can tell I am avoiding the studio.

Monday, 28 November 2011

this little piggy went wee wee wee all the way home...

....where, after unloading the car and putting the shop back together, she fell asleep watching 'Pride and Prejudice' late in the evening.
I really do need to get a Rent-a-Roadie for doing things like Markit! I felt guilty watching Jen lugging things out to the car as I packed boxes and shoved stuff in bags but at least we had trolleys. Markit has to be one of the more civilised craft/design markets around. It was nice that people understood the whole concept and that shopping-and-spending was high on the agenda rather than copying-and-purloining as so often happens. There was a general feeling that we can make a difference supporting local designer/makers- please check out Occupy Christmas. With all the retail shenanigans that Big Business has been up to lately it makes sense to shop at local and small businesses, when you shop this way you are having a direct effect on the livelihoods of independent retailers, we get to pay our bills, put food on our tables and develop new and exciting products for you to enjoy. The relationship we cultivate with our customers is a very important one, it gives us feed back, support and encouragement for those lonely, tedious hours in our studios and freezing garrets.
Thanks to all who came and visited yesterday, so many people to catch up with!

Saturday, 26 November 2011

this little piggy

So we are now in the finishing stretch! The boxes will be packed tonight, the car loaded in the morning and off to Markit we will go! Please post a comment if you want us to bring anything in particular. I'll either end up taking too little or too much, I do tend to be on the 'kitchen sink' side though. We will be set up in the BMW Edge foyer if you get all overwhelmed when you get there.

There will be new stuff to see too. Perhaps a range of crochet motif t-shirts in a slew of pretty colours. Maybe some lovely Xmas decorations. If there are any satchels left perhaps they will come for a jaunt as well. 

I am really looking forward to next Monday, the last two weeks have been heavy on the deadlines and  whilst I have a ton of things to be done in the studio I am going to spend a day or two making the Xmas window display and attempting to cram a whole pile of stock into the shop. Although I love our tables, I really miss our old huge shop table, that little bit of extra width was so handy.

Friday, 25 November 2011

colour coded

In today's edition of The Age Melbourne Mag's Xmas gift guide. On the green page our kelly green Cambridge Co satchel (editor's pick) and on the red page our vintage Welsh blanket cushion (rated 'safe bet', not sure what that means). Phone has been going crazy.
Tomorrow is going to be fun.......

Thursday, 24 November 2011

it's looking a lot like tinsel time

It's been one of those weeks. There has already been a few emotional tears shed this morning and a pot of moderately expensive moisturiser splattered all over the floor (tears were not over spilt face cream I should clarify). On the up side I now have fabulously moderately expensive moisturised feet and arms.
I'm off to Bunnings for plastic storage boxes this morning, I seem to buy these damn things regularly and just can't work out where they all disappear to, Spotlight for some glue, just in case I think I have some and then discover tonight there is none of the right sort in the house and Officeworks to check out collapsible document box trolleys, I am so over lugging stuff about. Since finally getting the key to the lift at the studio I don't seem to be doing my back so much hiking piles of stuff up the stairs, amazing the revelation that the equation 'bad back+stairs+huge piles of stuff=excruciating pain' can be changed to 'bad back+lift+huge pile of stuff=much easier to deal with pain'.
Opened the back door last night and gave myself a fright, I'd forgotten I had hung this tinsel spider out the back.
Well I better get my newly moisturised feet moving and a get a head start on the day. Jethro is still in bed.

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

doe a deer

A new shipment of carved wooden animals arrived today and we couldn't help but have a play with them all over the counter. We enacted our own miniature version of this. Dell felt the fawns needed to be corralled.

They'll be looking for homes tomorrow once we find the two packets of stickers that have gone missing......

hot air

Early on sunday morning I awoke to a familiar noise, if you live in the inner city it is a magical sound. The sound of hot air balloons firing their burners, I love it when ballooning season comes around. They sailed passed my window, first one, then four and then a single last of the pack, then up and over the housing commission flats at Atherton Gardens. I love the story of a friend and his little boy chasing a balloon all the way across town from north to south one sunday morning.
Yesterday was a crazy day with unpacking of boxes, the mailman was a busy man (we have lovely mailmen here) and from 8.30 on I felt like I was up and running. I even had to go to Telstra again because they sent me the wrong connection information for the email account on the iPhone (the info was for any other phone than a smart phone)... why mail me my new phone when I have to end up going into the damn Telstra shop twice to get the thing working? Arrgghh.
I need to get some photos sorted, we have some fabulous stock in. The one product that made me really chuckle is the 'M.K.S.' (Men's Knitting Sticks!) made by the folk at Art Viva who do our great spotty ended knitting needles. A pair of 10mm knitting needles with red ball ends presented in a tube with a picture of a slightly worried looking man knitting on it. Manly safety enhanced knitting needles for the Y chromosome in your life.
I also started hoarding and planning the Xmas window display but I am not allowed to start that until after Markit, although I am open for some sidetracking from my work sadly. I just can't get focused on it but I must today. I am off to the studio, Jim's Tag and Testing (like Jim's Mowing but more electrical) is coming to do all my power cords for the market so I have been scoring the house for extension cards to make the visit worthwhile.
I feel like my head is filled with hot air and that I am not quite on target with anything at the moment. I'm not happy with myself at all. I'm trying to work out what to do to make myself a bit sparkier, perhaps 50 metres of tea towel bunting. I think it's just the downside of last weeks furious quilt making and delivery deadline. Sort of like how one felt after exams finished, rudderless and exhausted.
And to think... Xmas Eve is only one month and a day away.

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

the seven pillars of weirdom

Sorry for the radio silence, I've been up country visiting our Queens of Craft. I just got back last night with much unpacking and pricing to do. Whilst I was away a big box of new Cambridge Satchels arrived, I hadn't know what we were getting and I opened it to a fluoro-fluoro-fluoro! Mixed in with all Ann's crocheted goodness the shop is looking like a Pantone colour swatch book. Ann has made us some new crochet throws and the tea cosies are the Kings of Cosies, covered in flowers and bees and strawberries they are fabulously gorgeous. I think I may have to build a new shelf just to display the tea cosy riot.

I didn't get a huge amount done last night, long driving hours always knocks me about and I stumbled to bed glad to be sleeping in my own room. Then of course I had the craziest dream that one afternoon working in the shop I just walked out and got on a passing tram. I left with no money and the shop door wide open, some silly dream plan of jumping off at the next stop and walking back but somehow I ended up in Northcote, where in a panic I jump on a tram that should return me to the shop but run into old acquaintances who tell me of the fabulous self help book that changed their world called 'The Seven Pillars of Wisdom' (sometimes my dream mind likes to play jokes like that). This time I end up in Windsor where a street festival shuts the trams down and I have to make a run for a bus and arrive at a strange shopping mall in Armadale that I have trouble escaping. Finally climbing out a window I am back on another tram but looking out the window I see we are heading to Luna Park, at which point I 'thought this is ridiculous' and managed to suddenly return to the shop where fearful that the place has been ransacked I find everything is OK. I woke up and snorted and thought 'yep that about sums things up'.
Bit stressed perhaps?
Count down to Markit doing my head maybe?

Saturday, 19 November 2011

cushions, quilts, cups and slates

Tripped out in the pouring rain to get the papers and bread this morning. The new improved (??) tropical Melbourne..... I must remember to buy a new fan for the bedroom, it's times like these I am tempted by the thought of living with an air conditioner.
I managed to get the stock off for the Open House yesterday and kind of fell in a heap after. I have a big week next week so thought 'bugger it, I'm going to take it slow' which was a good thing with outside feeling like you were stepping in front of a blow drier. Then the rain came and I realised I had to race into the city to the Telstra shop as my new phone had arrived and none of the PUK numbers they gave me would unlock it. If I drank beer (or any alcohol) it would have been a perfect evening for a few.
I've got to vacuum the shop today and I have some new stock to display (which always means a big shuffling of stuff around). We got a new delivery of Hookturn cups this week and we've also now got the Bubbacino cups, we are always amazed how kids are totally fascinated with the cups, it must be the slightly squidgy feel of them and now they can have their own cup. Mind you they are also great for adults who'd like a takeaway espresso and I am attracted to the idea of using them as a dessert cup, actually they might make a fabulous 'penny lick' cup for ice cream!

The cushion inserts arrived so there was much stuffing going on, we've got new Welsh blanket cushions, some new vintage cotton/linen cushions, more tea towel cushions and I've finally finished the First World War recruitment bunting cushions. These will be the last of them, unless you would like a Belgium flag one.
I didn't get to photograph the new glass cloth quilts the other day and then I wanted to wash them and dry them and turn them over. They are done now and I'll be folding them up and stacking them in the shop. That's a picture of them in one of the big plastic bags I seem to lug everything around in. They are really rather lovely.

And finally the slates have arrived! Made in Portugal they come in two sizes, 19x24cm and 21x29cm.They are slightly different to the first batch but we like them a hell of a lot, we are very into same, same but different around here. When you buy one you'll get one of the Victorian slate pencils to use with it, until they run out that is, but you can always use old skool school chalk on them as well.
New batch of Op Shop Guides in to!
Note to self- need to order more CWA Classics, we've only got one left.
Don't forget Cottage Industry will be at Markit at Fed Square next Sunday the 27th of November! If you are coming and you want me to bring particular stock them please email me this week as I will be slowly packing the stock boxes.
Time to vacuum.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011

just a few quilts

Some of the quilts finished today.
Just a few.
Some of these are going off to The Design Files Open House so if you are interested in any of them them drop me an email, call the shop or pop in as I'll be packing them up on Friday for delivery. We can mail them to you if you are not able to drop in.

I raced back to the shop so Dell could help me photograph them, the breeze was a bit strong but the light through  the magnolia leaves was lovely.

lots done, lots to do

I've just got the call to say the quilting is ready to be picked up and the email to let me know the cushions are on their way and I've just realised the studio is going to be mucho squashy for the next few day! That's a lot of stuff I need to find room for. I took home a big batch of hearts ready to be eyeletted and filled but only got to the punching holes for the eyelets stage but I did seem to have a very busy night last night, doing what I have no idea.
Telstra did ring to update my mobile plan (which is rather weird as I only said that afternoon that I needed to get a iPhone..... bugged in more ways than one I think) but to tell the truth I was a little more fascinated with the the Secret Life of Cows documentary that was on ABC1. It dawned on me at 11pm that I had signed up for a iPhone 4 for not an iPhone 4s and then it dawned on me that I didn't actually care, I got this phone for no upfront and a reduced plan. If it does calls and texts and emails I'm pretty happy really. I have an iPod full of music, a great camera that takes excellent photos, a computer it took me months to get out of the box and I don't need to leave myself voice messages. In my own way perhaps I am a bit old fashioned with my technology, I really don't need anything else to screw with the limited RAM in my jelly brain.

On a colourful note a new Cambridge Satchel order has landed and we have the cutest 11" fluoro ones in.  I think there will be a few people banging on the door this morning. I've noticed that there have been copies of the CamSats starting to appear around town- beware! The really amazing thing about the originals is the quality of the leather, check to see that the colour is consistent all the way through the leather (except with the fluoros as these have been pigment coloured in a different manner) and matches the outer colour, check the inside and feel how smooth the leather has been finished.  The other day we got  to have a look at a satchel that has been used for the last year and it was beautiful, even better than when new with the sides starting to round out, so nice!

I better skedaddle. I need to find a pair of socks.

Tuesday, 15 November 2011

and today's word is 'axolotl'

I have no idea why today's word is 'axolotl', it just popped into my head in the shower and now it is in your head. You'll be thinking that word all day now. I like to share you know.
After last week's run of NQW/NQR things happening (nothing quite wrong, nothing quite right) I am trying to stay positive this week. All the fabric is at the quilter's, even though it nearly killed me, it should be ready (fingers crossed) tomorrow and the cushion inserts arrive tomorrow too. Today's delivery is more satchels and hopefully the new batch of slate boards will arrive sometime this week, USPS website tell me they have been cleared in Australia and on their way but Auspost says they know nothing about it (the joys of interweb tracking).

I felt like a truck had run over me yesterday, stiff and sore, and I find doing things like lugging around 20 metres of heavy patchwork on a Monday morning is not the best workout. I'm more limber for this sort of thing later in the week it appears.  After the quilter's I got back to the studio and had to find a job to put me in a better frame of mind so I pulled out some fabrics and started work on some new vintage fabric cushions. I'm loving these Sanderson fabrics, they are both a bit pastoral, a bit woodland glade. The one on the right is a 1930s narrow width fine weight linen and I can just picture the bedroom or morning room it would have gone in, it's very pretty without being sugar coated and it reminds me of Madame l'Uccello. I made up a few cushions before realising I didn't have the right inserts. As Dell said I will feel especially productive on Wednesday when I get to stuff all the cushion covers that are ready!
Suppose I better head off to the studio.
Remember today's word is.....

(axolotl, axolotl, thanxolotl, axolotl........)

Saturday, 12 November 2011

the good, the bad and the ridiculous

The denim quilts are underway although I need to get another days work in on them and the quilter needs them delivered first thing monday. Aren't gonna happen between now and then.... It was really calming working on them, I go through a love/hate relationship with work like this. I hang the panels up as I finish them, one minute I am passionately in love with them, immersed in their beauty, the next I hate them and can't work out why our relationship has soured. Their absence at the quilter's is always a good thing! I am surprised and overjoyed when they return.
Then I got home yesterday and got in a huge verbal fight with a guy from Preston and three teenagers who were parked illegally in our private parking. I came back to the shop red faced and shaky after everyone of the teenagers screamed abuse at me. By the time I got to the Fitzroy Primary School fundraiser I had the start of a killer headache which got worse with the sound levels crashing into my head. The night also made me realise why I try to avoid social occasions where everyone is standing. I am 6'1" and find that if there is any noise I simply can't hear what everyone is saying, their mouths are a good 5" below my ears and it is not good for my posture to be hunched over trying to get to everyone else's level. I felt pretty shattered by the time I got home but it was a lovely evening even if I was a bear with a very sore head. One of the silent auction prizes that really amused us was an hour appointment for family law advice and a bottle of Jack Daniels. I didn't win anything but I know a small boy who is going to be getting a bike with racing flames painted on it in the near future and a family that will all be getting haircuts.
This week has thrown up some fairly daunting crap but I think everything has been sorted now, I'm hoping next week will be far less messy and much easier to get through. In fact what the hell happened to this week, it seemed to whizz passed in a blur of angst and annoyance and arggghhh. I am still trying to work out our Xmas display and every idea has somehow fallen to ashes. Yesterday's brainwave doesn't look quite so clever in reality so if anyone needs a couple of 5mt square fruit tree nets let me know (although I may get the ladder out tonight and see if the idea has wings and might fly).
I might spin some yarn in the shop today.

Friday, 11 November 2011

another binary day

There has been a lot of binary days over the last two years, I think this is the last one for quite some time, and it is Remembrance Day too. Remember to stop for a minute at 11am won't you? If you are in the city the bugler will probably step out into the middle of the road at  the intersection of Collins and Swanston to play the Last Post. Last time I was there for it tourists were all confused and muddled (as were many locals). It was beautiful, it is such an eerily lonesome sound.
On a brighter note I ate my first cherries of the season and they were hugely expensive and yum to the max. All the stone fruits seem to be very early this year, new weather patterns perhaps, and I hope with the humidity and rain they don't all split- although that might mean a good cheap jam making season.
A day of running about hither and thither yesterday. The blanket patchwork is off at the quilter and now I need to get the denim run done as quick as possible (today's job) so I can deliver it and get that through to the quilters by early next week. We've had a new delivery of feathery birds and I have spent the last few nights starting to price them and panicking as to where we are going to put them. So some are out in the shop now and I am hoping to getting around to photographing the Xmas decorations and getting them onto the Cottage Cartel site.
Don't forget that it is the Fitzroy Primary School auction tonight! Lots of fabulous booty to be had, all donated by local businesses (like us!), I've seen the list and it's pretty amazing. It's always a really lovely night with food and drink and music and kids running everywhere. Come on down if you are in the 'hood!

Thursday, 10 November 2011


Yesterday was not a good day to be up to my eyeballs in woolly goodness. It's done now. Twenty plus metres of patchwork blanketing ready to go to the quilters this morning. The vintage denim lengths still aren't dry though, what with all this humidity, so I am going to have to do a bit of juggling with the new patched denim quilts I have been planning. I know you are thinking I must be crazed making up wool quilts at this time of year but we have only one left having sold 3 in the last week. I think we might have to shuffle stuff around in the shop so we don't appear to warm and winter fuzzy.
I am rather please with this batch of quilts, actually I always am, I love how they transform into something quite other from what they once were.

I'm starting to panic. The email came through this morning announcing the launch of The Design Files Open House! P-A-N-I-C! I have a lot of work to do and the panic bit is that I have to rely on other people for some of the components/outwork/etc and they are never known for being reliable (bit like me really). So much to do, so little time.
Oh crap.
Have a pile of things to organise. 
Better get to it.