Tuesday, 31 July 2012

quilt-y rugelach

Finally remembered to get a photo of the quilting strapped to the top of the car. A giant rugelach of patchwork blankets and wadding and calico. Installing the roof racks on the poor little Nissan Pulsar hatch was a brilliant idea- and makes for the amusing sight of me driving around the northern suburbs with giant rolls of quilting attached. The best time was two giant rolls strapped on, it reminded me of a many a vehicular overload seen in India. I should stress it wasn't unsafe, just amusing.
So I managed to get 6 quilts made and have another 7 at the studio still to go. No photographs yet, Dell is in tomorrow and I might get her to hold them up whilst I photograph them (pay back for the number of times she has tricked me into popping my head over the top to ask if she's taken the shot and then taking a silly photo of me doing a Foo impersonation).
My damn internet is playing up again, taking forever to load photos and not loading pages properly. It's driving me nuts. Perhaps it's an iPad jealousy issue.

Monday, 30 July 2012


We may look Spring-y with all our colours but brrr it was cold out when I took this photo. We are still most definitely channelling the Winter woollies, I never can quite deal with all the warm weather clothing going into other stores when we are just hitting the coldest bit of Winter.
I've had the call to say that the quilting will be ready first thing tomorrow. Yay! (Finally!) Tomorrow's job sorted. I'll probably collapse into bed tomorrow night, the chopping and trimming and photographing is always exhausting. Today'd jobs went pear-shaped when the new press stud dies arrived... and they had sent the wrong component (insert sadface icon here) but I did treat myself to a new fancypantz rotary holepunch from L L L Leffler for Leather (that's the slogan their vans used to sport). I managed to not look at anything except the hole punches.... and an ogle at a mini leather splitting/skiving machine.... and came out only with the thing I went in for. Strong willed of me.
I've also managed to book a week and a bit away but that is still a month off. Passage is booked and paid for, now I need to scrimp and get the accommodation sorted. I do need a new waterproof jacket and the car could do with a bit of TLC. A 'things to do before you go' list looming I think- and you know how I hate lists.

Saturday, 28 July 2012

heart attack

I've re-charged the camera battery, had a love affair with the camera again, now hate it- or rather hate the way I take photos sometimes. I marvel at blogs that have images that are all of a style, then get bored with them for their uniformity. I seem to flit between Canon and Hipstamatic, I have no 'style', it is all dependent on my lack of time.
Today's lack of time was all about the return of the gingerbread heart wall. Look! I managed to get it done thanks to my eyelet press, I do love it, it saves time and shuddering pain up my arm as I don't have to hammer them in anymore. I'm waiting on the press snaps and dies to come in so that I can finish the batch of needle books I've been promising myself I would make. The covers are all stitched and I'm waiting on a friend to return my good pinking shears so I can pink the felt 'pages'. I misplaced the pattern pieces for the needle books and I have had to redraw them, I think this batch may be a tad longer than the old ones but only a smidge. In-store very soon I hope.

Yesterday being Friday was of course the day for getting a few new cushions done. I made a few Welshies (Friday wouldn't be the same if I didn't) from two new vintage blankets, there is a fab violet/blue/black/cream one and one we have knicknamed 'Ikea', it's blue and yellow- duh- but don't let that put you off, it's fabulous too. I also started making up the velvet digital 'tapestry' cushions. They are totally lush. I'm in love with them all but my favourite has to be the birch tree and stream one, the colours are gorgeous, I borrowed the original tapestry from the lovely Bree of Mr Kitly fame. You might recognise the dandelion owl and the kookaburras as they have appeared on our shop postcards. The cliff and sea one always sells out when we make it in the hemp/cotton fabric but you have to experience it in the velvet.... yum... and the cottage in a new design, I love it too. All backed in German cotton velvet and the kookaburras are backed in a colour known around here as 'Design Files Yellow'.

I got back from my newspaper/milk outing this morning and wondered where Jethro was. Seems he's trying for his Advanced CertifiCATe in Camouflage. He was so still and compact it took me a while to notice him.
It's been one of those boring weeks in the shop, drearily quiet, I can never quite work out how or why that happens. Then of course just as we were about to close, a few minutes after 6, three people walk in, as I went to half shut the door a couple with a megasaurus of a pram squeezed in the door and banked up behind them was a posse of another five people. Ten people and a pram at 6.10pm? I made an executive decision and told everyone we were closing, ushered those already in out and shut the door. Yes times are hard for small businesses, every customer counts but I know this just happened because the projection festival was on. The thing with small shops is that we actually need 'downtime', we need to shut the door and have a life (even if that involves sitting on the couch making gingerbread hearts), which is also why the Cottage is closed on a Sunday. So I am sorry if you wanted to come in last night but we are open until 5 today so please come and visit!

Friday, 27 July 2012


Sorry for the lack of communication, I've just been sidetracked by a thousand things. I would have posted in the evenings but I have been avoiding the computerhole late at night and in the mornings I have been running out the door late or have had to be somewhere else doing something else.
This week has all been about searching the studio for misplaced things, none of which were found but which unearthed a whole pile of other things. I've started doing a bit of a tapestry sort in preparation for a pouffé making session in the weeks to come. I have so much I want to do but I seem to have committed to so many other things away from the studio (trade shows and photo sessions, exhibition and festival openings, pickup and deliveries).

Yesterday was a trip to visit the girls at Frankie and Swiss for a digital printing binge. I'm prepping for the next run of gingerbread hearts and new velvet cushion designs in the 'tapestry' range. See, lots of work to be done. I'll let you know how I've gone today in the morning.....

Tuesday, 24 July 2012


A quick run up country to pick up gloves and socks yesterday. A big blue bowl of a sky and mist lifting out of the valleys. Impressive Winter vistas.
On the downside the op shopping was crap though.
As you may have guessed I've been feeling a bit flat of late, Winter can be a bit of an overwhelming drudge around here- you try dyeing stock for 5 months and see how you feel! Oh the joys of production work! I am trying to find things to spark me up a bit, I have a month to get through before I can escape for a week and a bit (also known as birthday avoidance).
I'm off to the studio in a minute and I think a bit of cleaning and sorting might be in order today. Not the whole day mind, just a bit of shuffling of stuff, mainly so I don't run into the same corner of the table as I did on Friday... 7 times. I have a welt across my thigh to prove it. I also need to make a bit of room for when the quilting arrives (fingers crossed, this week) and that means packing away the blankets I didn't use in this round of patching.
I have a storage room in the studio, an old darkroom I think, that sits like a cube in the corner and has become the textile equivalent of an elephant's graveyard. I have a lamp hooked up as the power points and light in there haven't work...... that is until Friday when for some reason I tried the switches in there (again) and the next thing I know the power points and fluoro all spring to life. What/how the hell?!?! How long have I been in this studio? How long has there been no power in there? Why suddenly does it all come to life? So 'good' that I can now see clearly in there and 'bad' that I can now see clearly in there. That room will have to be dealt with severely very soon.

Saturday, 21 July 2012

friday night, saturday morning

All light were on last night for the GSPF opening. Although it's on for 10 days the opening night is really the best time to visit, there are people out wandering, cars cruising, strange things happening in odd places. For some one who lives in the street the off⇒on is probably a bit more dramatic.  The housing commission building projections are still our favourites, you just can't beat a big erection all lit up (I can't wait for my stats to jump having typed in those two words in conjunction).

Private dancer dancing in public in his own light show.

These three thought if they hit the wall the season's changed. Sadly not actually interactive.

This one was interactive though. That's Dell and her beanie performing.

And back to the HC flats for more large scale projections.

So that was Friday night in the 'hood.
Now it's Saturday morning and I am shopgirl once again.
We should re-name this 'Saturday Shoptalk'.....  pianola shades and the CWA cookbooks are back in and I made a new batch of Welsh blanket cushions. There are some stunning new colourways and pattern in including a beautiful dark teal blue with tangerine and pink and it's in a woven pattern we haven't had before. I was hoping to get the freshly dyed yarn all wound and in-store for today but I didn't have the energy/inclination last night.
The magnolia tree over the road has been out for the last week plus, I thought it was way too early and did a check on the posts from this time last year. Apparently not. Looking out my upstairs window there are buds that have swollen and popped overnight, so by tomorrow (same date as last year) it looks like our Miss Magnolia will be in bloom. How does she know the date?

Friday, 20 July 2012

winter lights

In the darkest depths of Winter strange and wonderful things appear.
It's that time of the year again- Gertrude StreetProjection Festival lights up tonight and for the next 10 days. 

I was wandering down the street last night to get a pizza from Ladro and ran into Kym Ortenburg who started this whole sheebang. The night before is all about testing and checking and it's always good for a bit of a sneakpeek. I especially love the projections on the footpaths and how everyone stands around them looking down, I know one of these is interactive this year.
It's really worth coming down for a gander. I always think we should set up a hot chocolate cart! As we do every year we are setting up a tiny pirate screen in the front window (hopefully).

I made it to DMT yesterday and as usual it didn't quite know what it wanted to be. The highlights were the three state craft stands, Craft Vic and especially the Jam Factory and Design Island, professional, well considered and beautiful work and fit out. And this year the stand uprights weren't made of cardboard so there was no feeling of a collapsing cardboard box cubby!

Off to the studio today, sadly not to make blanket quilts as the quilter is now running behind. Probably a good thing as I'm not sure I am up to it. The shop is looking weirdly bare of some things.

Thursday, 19 July 2012

things to do today

Can I even describe how tired I was yesterday? I had three projects on the go at once and my feet hurt from the concrete floor in the kitchen, my lower back was pinging and my head felt, well, braindead. I dragged myself to bed and awoke this morning to a cat snuggled in hard to my side and the realisation that I had only woken once in the night. Jethro had brought me a single pair of short gloves from downstairs and a long glove that had been lying around the bedroom floor,occasionally he meows to let me know but often just lets me find them in the morning piled at the end of the bed, like yesterday see photo above.
I feel better today than I have for the last week. Realist in me knows that it won't last but that is OK.
I'm off to Design Made Trade this morning. It's a strange event that has never quite worked and now it's been taken over by a big exhibition company and has turned into a kind of design/craft market hybrid. On the plus side Craft Vic has a series of stands showcasing a selection of makers. Last year the CV stands were definitely the highlight of the whole show.
I'm desperately waiting for the call from the quilters to say my blanket patchwork is ready to be picked up. Peter promised it to me this week, which means I will probably be in limbo until next week. My fingers are itching to unroll it in the studio. It will be a back breaking slog to get them finished and I mustn't attempt to do them all in one hit this time....
The ironing press is on so I had better get another couple of glove batches ready. Three new colours into the shop today.

Tuesday, 17 July 2012


Sometimes you just have to put down everything else you are doing and start something totally new.
Have a play with something that has been stewing for a while.

This dress was nicknamed 'the hipster wedding dress' as I worked on it.
I chuckled away as I thought about hipster weddings.
I swear if I see another hipster wedding photo I might do something dangerous.
Don't let the my hipster comments befuddle you over this dress, it's very pretty, it's made from a half embroidered Semco tablecloth. The over skirt includes an edging of lace and the bodice lining and under-skirt are in vintage inspired cotton.
I think it was today's sunshine that made me do it.
A Spring dress in the midst of Winter.
Back to dyeing gloves tomorrow.

please wait to be seated

My Mondays are sometimes my dash-about-day. So after a bit of a false start I dashed to the studio and lugged the huge haggis of quilting to the car and dropped it off at the quilters (although I did sit outside the quilters for 15 minutes listening to Miss Ramona interview Linda Jackson on RRR) and then it was off to East Kew, back to North Melbourne and as I was in the 'hood I made it to the lovely Beatrix for the first time. I was very excited, Beatrix is so tiny and perfect. I've never been totally sure about red velvet cake (probably due to this sort of thing) but Nat has me converted, it was yum! My sort of bakery/café- handmade and beautifully unfussed, seriously 'homemade' turned up to 11. It was a bright spark in what was a pretty averagely crappy day.
I better scoot. I've frittered the morning away and am now late late late.

Sunday, 15 July 2012


There were funny little pockets of long wintery light around the house today.
Jethro stopping in a patch on the bed, a sliver sneaking across the apple and walnut cake as it was being stirred, like little spot lights lighting up a semi-lazy Sunday. Well not so lazy I suppose.
Charcoal gloves dyed, apple and walnut cake baked and new soap recipe experiment. I put a stop to some of procrastination that has been bugging me. I made up the gingerbread pot pourri mix from the ingredients I have been tripping over for the last month (or more) and stuffed the first trial batch of 'tapestry' hearts. The soap making has been well and truly procrastinated and hopefully I will get some more done as I have to leave it for 4 weeks + to cure, not an instant project by any means. The last run of soap I did sold really well and I have been meaning to do more for ages. I have lovely little metal screw lidded containers waiting for the soap and I've also been making up wood butter in these pots.
There really is always something brewing around here.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

haggis and gruel

These are the last pictures you will see of the blanket patchwork until it comes back as quilts. It was about 30 metres long when all the panels were stitched together and rather than roll it I folded it like a giant slab of puff pastry and then wrapped in calico it looked like a huge blanketty haggis. Monday morning I will drag it downstairs to the car and get it to the quilters.
I had a hankering for porridge this morning but I seem to have made thick gruel instead, I am waiting for it to cool and set a little. I'm sighing as it is Saturday again. I would like an eight day week, five days in the studio/running errands, one day as shopgirl and a 'Saturday' for newspaper reading, tea drinking and putting the washing on and a 'Sunday' for sleeping in, reading in bed and folding the washing.
After many enquiries I've managed to get my hands on some darning mushrooms. I wanted plain wooden ones but at this point have had to settle for some painted like weird magic 'shrooms in orange and green.
We are waiting on stock at the moment- CWA cookbooks (one Classic left if you are planning a CWA style cook-off this weekend), Trunk and Orderly cases (new stock in a couple of weeks, we've sold out of 'lunch', have a couple of 'kinders' left and I'm longing for someone to buy a weekender), new Lisa B socks and tights (delivery depends on whether the USPS thinks they are WMD), the satchel delivery (months away still).... and of course all the things I need to make.
Now that we have the new sign up I've been contemplating whether we have a new shelving system designed and made to store our cushions. Dell and I stood looking at the old bunk and wondered which would be best. We love the old bunk, don't know how many times I could have sold it, but is it too overwhelming and annoying for customers who don't like to fossick through piles of cushions. Should we keep it? The main issue is we are so short of space for storage and I am getting more and more annoyed by all the cardboard boxes stashed under every table and the bunk (and you haven't seen the 'backstage' area....). Anyway we don't have the money or the energy at the moment to deal with it but it is something we will have to plan soon I think.
Oh shit! I better dash! Shopgirl duties await!

Thursday, 12 July 2012


I spent all day working on the quilt panels, I lost count of how many I finished. Tomorrow I will join them all up and roll them onto a cardboard roll ready to go off to the quilter's next week. It's going  to be hard work lugging it all downstairs and into the car! It's nice to get them up to this stage, soon they will be finished and in the shop, yay.
I've come down with a cold again which would explain my lack of motivation in getting out of bed in the morning. Sniffing and sneezing and feeling cold to the bone. I do love WInter I just don't like having wintery colds and flus.
Time for bed, a heated up wheat bag and a book.
Night all.

who gives a crap

There are a lot of products you can buy online and get delivered to your door. Sometimes they are things you don't need but a bit of late night webshopping sucks you in and the next thing you know you are hanging out for the postman to knock twice. Occasionally though there is a product that makes you feel good about dropping some money on Paypal.
Simon Griffiths and his mates have worked on this project and it's a beauty. You order toilet paper and 50% of the profits goes to developing toilets in developing countries, which means lower rates of sickness and better living conditions. Watch the video, groan at the puns, transfer some money over.
Simon spent 50 hours sitting on a toilet to get the ball rolling (so to speak) and the first goal of $50,000 was reached overnight. You can still participate, the more start up money the bigger and better things will be.

Wednesday, 11 July 2012


Evening all.
Nothing much to relate over the last few days, I've gone to write a post, upload a photo and then thought 'nah', the last few days have been a bit 'Arthur and Martha', a bit unsettled and all over the place.
Today I stumbled out of bed after hitting the snooze button for way too long, my back is creaky and sore, it has been playing up ever since I tripped over the power cord at Markit and getting jumped on by nephews on Sunday hasn't seemed to help. It takes me forever to get out of bed at the moment, sleeping under 4 Welsh blankets is just too snuggly.

I worked all day on blanket quilts. Finally.
I felt quite flat about them until late in the afternoon, with 8 squares finished and hanging around the studio I started to feel a little cheerier about them. Hopefully tomorrow I will be more in the zone and get closer to having a length ready to go to the quilters. I have some plans for Summer quilts but you will just have to wait for those.
I really must stop collapsing on the couch in the evenings and try to work my way through all those outstanding chores, my working day seems to go on for hours and hours and hours....

Saturday, 7 July 2012


What an icy morning! 4ºC and frost on the grass when I went out for the papers and bread and milk. The sky an arch of icy blue, a huge ghost moon in the west and the sun acheing-ly bright low in the sky. I am loving these occasional cold snaps we are having this Winter, good old fashioned cold. I'm thawing out now with tea and toast with Pepe Saya butter and Mr Shackleton's lime marmalade.
We had a huge flurry of activity yesterday. I managed to actually get to the studio at a decent hour, which ended up making 11.30am feel like 1.30pm, and as I hadn't made any Welsh blanket cushions last week I pulled out some new colourways for this week's batch. In the last week we've had a lot of Welshies leave home, we love it when people fall in love with them and adopt them. I've also made new hot water bottle covers and wheatbags, just in time too I think, so if you were a little cold in bed last night come on down and grab one. I really really really need to get on to making those blanket quilts, the fact there is only one in the shop and it's hanging on the wall taunts me.
Back to the 'flurry of activity' bit.... lots of wholesale glove stock went out and I think most of the shops we stock now have good supplies of them if you are unable to get over to see us. For some reason, dark nights perhaps, we've had a run on our pianola shades so we are getting very low on some sizes. We seem to have bare patches in the shop, Dell laughed at me when I commented on that, I really don't do space and minimalist very well it seems. The last month of 'half-arsedness' has meant I am now looking about in panic at the things I have let slip- like the quilts, tea towel cushions, ordering cookbooks, thinking about new stock....
A friend accused me once of being OCD (she should know, it runs in her family) about making stuff, I explained I was just self-employed.
And some new birds have arrived. According to a customer yesterday we are known as the shop with the dead budgies.
Better go and hunt out all the gloves jethro has 'caught' overnight.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

work/life balance

I forced myself to go be in bed before 11 last night, even if the light wasn't off, I finished the last chapter of my book and pulled the blankets up to my chin. It did mean that even if I wanted to stay in bed this morning I was able to talk myself into getting up and facing the day. Jethro chose this morning to be tucked in tight against and not in his usual morning spot of on the storage-box-behind-the-curtain-curled-up-tight. He'd had a busy night- he'd fetched 9 pairs of gloves for me and they were piled at the end of the bed. He has a crazy nightlife.
On Tuesday I just couldn't face going to the studio. I hid in a café for a while after running errands in the morning and then went to the city for an hour. Sometimes I just can't quite face being 'creative'. Yesterday I did make it to the studio and finished sewing the checked dresses. Now I can start working my way through the other things I need to do. I have lots of little bits of stock we need to top up on, wheat bags, lavender sachets, hot water bottle covers. We only have one wool blanket quilt left in the shop as Anna keeps selling them so I really need to allocate a chunk of time and get a huge batch of blankets cut and pieced together, that is going to be exhausting work. At the moment the kitchen is full of wool blankets in piles of dirty, wet and clean.
We've also had a run on Welsh blanket cushions so I had better find a window of opportunity and get some of those made up as well. There are new vintage Welsh blankets in too so new colourways and patterns soon.
And more dyeing to fit in too.
And I need to go to the printed and get more swing tags printed.
And I have a 10 o'clock appointment this morning and then I am popping out for a brunch with a member of the Westgarth Street crew as they are back from their European Vacation. I wouldn't want my work life to impinge on social life....... ha.

Tuesday, 3 July 2012


This morning's wholesale appointment got bumped by text to Thursday morning so I may have rolled over in bed and and pulled the blankets over my head. The problem with doing a slew of late nights is that I reach the point where I just don't want to do get out of bed int he morning. I've also not had a day off in a couple of weeks. Mind you I have up until the last few days been a bit half-arsed about work I feel or perhaps things that should have taken an hour have ended up taking 3. Very annoying.
I did get the drill out yesterday, to fill in the time in between stirring the dyepot and answering emails, and I hung a rod that I have had sitting around for about a year. I now have a line of enamel pannikins and mugs and jugs and tea pots suspended in the kitchen. Something else I collect. Now they are out of the wheelie-box of enamel things the enamel mountain seems to be a little less likely to tumble down and crash on the floor. Oh to have a huge kitchen with lots of benches and cupboards.
Sorry for all the Hipstamatic photos over the last week or so but I haven't got around to recharging the batteries on the Canon. Can't believe I am contemplating getting an iPad at the moment, it makes my head ache. My justifications? My iPhone is ruining my eyesight, I don't have a laptop which makes things like banking and business crap really annoying when I am away from my desk (at studio, on the road, Tasmania....), you try tap-tapping a long email on an iPhone screen and see how frustrating it is (and I'm a fast tap-tapper too). Anyway I feel kind of bad about it. A bit dirty. Everything I wrote the other week about getting away from the computer and interweb applies here, which is why I finding it so hard to commit to the purchase of another piece of tech kit. I thought I should be honest and fess up that I might be boarding the iPad train soon.....
I am however still not interested in Pinterest , Twitter, Instagram and you'd be surprised at how bored I get looking at blogs. Apart from a delightful handful I have to admit there are some blogs I look at because they give me a fabulous Regretsy type thrill. Is it bad that I should admit that?
Jeez, it's 10.30 already! After getting that all off my chest I better make a move and get something done today.

Monday, 2 July 2012


Some mornings I just wake up with a general feeling of 'nuhg'. Today's 'nuhg' is probably just a result of staying up very late and a cold morning where I really would have been quite happy to stay snuggled under the blankets.
I didn't end up doing any drilling as I had planned but I did do a bit of moving stuff about and finishing off of a few taunting projects. The leather purses are done! A batch of tapestry purses almost done! Eyelets in the test batch of new tapestry gingerbread hearts! After I did manage to get out of bed this morning I buzzed about and vacuumed the shop, packed stuff away I'd left out, raced to the stationers and the hardware shop, coaxed Jethro out from under the bunk, wrote a pile of emails and watched over my porridge as it cooked so I didn't burn it. I wish someone would invent an automatic porridge cooker, like a rice cooker only porridge-y-er (and yes I have tried to cook porridge in a  rice cooker once and it made a dreadful mess of it). The AutoOat™ should also have a timer on it so you can set it to turn itself on just before you get up. I'm not a great one for electrical/automatic kitchen devices, like bread machines, but I do think the rice cooker is a fabulous invention and if the AutoOat™ will save me burning the damn stuff I am all for it. It took me almost a week of scrubbing to get the last burnt offering scraped off the saucepan.
OK I seem to be working from home today. Better get a dye pot on.