Thursday, 31 January 2013

salty suds

It's been a sad and worrying few days with a dear friend being admitted to hospital. I caught myself crying into the sink as I washed dishes twice yesterday. What is it about warm soapy water and suds that lets the tears fall? I even scrubbed the kettle.

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

lament tonnes

I'm off to the dentist in an hour for a filling, blah, I hope I have brushed out all yesterday's lamington cake coconut from between my teeth!
I think I am going to be glad to put January behind me. It's been a disjointed month of being stuck in the shop, scraping a day here and a day there in the studio, running about crazed or lolling about indolently, a month of all or nothing which means, of course, nothing has really been achieved.
Things to report today? Not much. Had a lovely afternoon eating and chatting yesterday, the weather was perfect for our annual Invasion Day lunch, lamb cutlets were eaten. The Aboriginal March came passed the shop on Saturday, it seemed smaller and the chants not so well organised which was sad. I really don't get Australia Day and the holiday yesterday just had me bemused (have it on the day or not at all), my favourite photo of the weekend was the one of the girls wearing the Australian flag as hijabs with the caption 'if it's good enough to wear as a cape...'.
So I have the end of January Blues today, I could feel it coming on last night, the end of any summer holiday excuses for slacking off and not getting one's arse in gear. The on;y good part of it is we are one month closed to Autumn.
Better go and sort the shop before I head to the dentist.

Saturday, 26 January 2013


I raced out to the get the paper and bread this morning. Yep, it is Saturday again and being the last Saturday of January means the end of the Summer Hols. From here on in there is no reason for lagging about, complaining of 'January-itis' and making excuses for still being in holiday mode. This comes with the 'argh I've wasted a month' feeling of course. 
I'm angry with Australia Day (not in my usual anti-flag waving way) but that everything is open today, the actual Australia Day, and then we have a holiday on Monday in lieu of. So Melbourne goes about its usual business and then gets a day off that means nothing to any of us. We really don't know how to do holidays properly in Australia- which I quite glad of really, we are so half-arsed and it amuses me. By the way the Cottage is open today and closed on Monday...... the irony of it.....

So some work got done this week. Handmade skipping ropes with handles made from vintage silk bobbins for Lyon, some new wax print dresses based on the chemise style we have done variations of in the past and the espadrille stripe cushions and purses, all of which I am trying to get in the shop today. And Ann's fabulous tea cosies covered in vegetables, perfect for a harvest festival! And the new string and twine! Perhaps it was a busy week, for stock in not sales going out! Retail, thy art a bitch!

Every year we troop up to Fryerstown for the antique fair (more trash and treasure with antique fair prices). We went yesterday, which wasn't really the first day this year, but there is no way on earth that I would set foot there on the weekend. Not all the stalls were set up and sadly the CFA hadn't been allowed to do their sausage sizzle yesterday. I think I am a bit over it all and Jen and I both got exasperated by stallholders silly claims. I had one weird encounter whilst buying clamps to hold Clarence the Brown Paper Dispenser on the counter. I had paid for the clamps and had them in my hand and the stallholder was stroking them saying 'oh you got the brass one, it's lovely'. Jen witnessed him doing a similar thing with another customer and we came to the conclusion he is perhaps a little too attached to his tools..... I also bought a tapestry and was told the frame 'was done at FrameRite you know, worth $300 you know', I toyed with the idea of offering to rip the tapestry out and he could have the frame back. The 'carni folk of Fryerstown' (as we like to call them) always have us in fits of laughter, some of them are lovely and some of them just plain weird!

 And in celebration of Australia Day here's a lovely plate I wish in hindsight I had bought.

Thursday, 24 January 2013

the devil's cloth and the fires of hell

I seem incapable of sticking to one project at a time. The studio looks like a crazed bazaar with textiles from Wales and Africa piled alongside souvenir tea towels and tweedy wools. Now I've added vintage French espadrille tape to the mix. I scored two huge rolls of it on Monday and have got sidetracked onto a new batch of products. Ooops. So we now have it stitched together and turned into cushions, brown and blue together or just plain brown or blue. The tape is wonderful, striped and ziggy-zaggy with twill weave. I've made some small zip purses and I can't believe how Scandi they look! Stripes were known as the 'Devil's cloth' and the way it clears out my bank account and obsesses me when I should be doing other stuff I'm starting to think that it has earned its name! I've been posting over on Instagram (@penedurston) if you want to see more pictures of work, fabrics and the cat.
I could smell the smoke from the fires last night before bed and the moon was a peridot in the sky. We are in for another stinker today (although the forecast isn't quite as bad as it started out being) and I hope all those people fighting fires will be safe, city and country are two vastly different worlds. I feel a little frivolous heading to the studio to indulge in creativity.

Wednesday, 23 January 2013


I am barely squeezing in a few days in the studio each week at the moment. The pile of fabulous wax prints is growing and my fingers are itching to chop more of them up. I also wish I could just stay in bed and snooze the day away. Lazy slattern.
I need to shoot off to the outer suburbs to chase down a lead when really I should go straight to the studio and not leave until I can sew no more but the hunt is calling me. I really can't help myself, hunting and gathering, sourcing and scouring. Easily sidetracked more like.
I dusted off my pin cushion last night, it had been rolling about the floor, and marvelled that I had sat at my kitchen table one week and just stitched this. I was heavily dosed on morphine at the time and the heater was in the kitchen. I did it while working out the cryptic crossword and drinking gallons of tea and waiting for my body to knit itself back together. It's funny how I had the imposed time to just be absorbed in a project like this. I never have the time these days. Probably more amazing is that it got finished and then made into something rather than just floating about as an experiment.
OK must sort the shop out then head off for my hunt.

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

string and twine and tuppenny

I seem to be running a tap behind this morning. I'm working in the shop today and I really am a bit messy today! Thanks goodness things go back to normal next week with Dell's return. I have a huge list and pile of work to do, these fabrics Jethro is inspecting are all up in the studio but sadly I am not. Oh well, I'll get there tomorrow.
I woke (late) this morning to find the Cottage has been mentioned over in a post on Design*Sponge about Tuppenny Farm (thanks Paula!) along with lots of other lovely local makers, you can even stay  there if you are after a rural retreat. I really must get around someday to email the D*S folk considering there are quite a few Cottage products that turn up in photos!
Post-Xmas I am slowly getting stock back in store, there are great gaps everywhere. Yesterday I picked up new linen twine and string. There is fine twine a la 'butcher's twine' in 100gm balls and huge 1kg spools. Why is it being marketed everywhere as 'baker's twine', to appeal to the vegetarians? I can't work out what a baker would use it for... trussing baguettes?? And there is fabulous thin raw linen string and big fat ropey string perfect for macrame in 500gm and 1kg balls. I think we are turning into a string shop. We are still waiting on a delivery of enamelware tea pots and jugs. There are things planned but like always at this time of year it's a little easy to fall back into bed and sleep in for 15 minutes longer.... like I did this morning.
So I'm shopgirl again today. Come and visit... I might even have woken up a bit more.

Saturday, 19 January 2013

over tit

Some days bed seems so good.
I really didn't want to get up this morning, I was snuggled down comfy and snoozy and facing the day seemed far too difficult. But I did.
Now however I really would like to crawl back into bed. I managed to go arse-over-tit coming back from getting the papers, there I was sprawled on the cobbles in the lane with a screaming twisted foot. Getting off the ground was a painful manoeuvre but I managed it, picked up all my shopping and limped back to the shop. The 'mother' in my head told me to keep moving it and it has eased off now but it is right on my Jones fracture, a bit of a weak spot, and I am hoping it doesn't swell too much (only a tiny bit at the moment). Seriously, what a dill!
I've done two shopgirl days already this week and today is Saturday (only the third this year and I am already grumbling) so I am on again. I do love my Saturdays in the shop but I am having the January grumps at the moment. Time seems to be leaking out of its bucket, it's probably not helping that I just can't seem to get a clear run in the studio. Yesterday was chopped into bits by having to be at a practise hearing at VCAT in the middle of the afternoon. That was an experience let me tell you and it wasn't the full hearing, I do hate the legal world, I want to scream 'talk normally, stop obfuscating!'. As a friend of mine said 'no time to actually WORK!' and I have to agree.
Tomorrow I must get this desk sorted. A paper avalanche seems to have happened and I am sure there are some unpaid bills lurking under it all. A search party needs to be sent in to retrieve them. Actually a search party needs to probably come looking for me in amongst all the crap strewn about home, it really is pitiful. I might get a bit more done tonight. I did manage to get half the vacuuming done last week although it got sidetracked by repotting plants and doing the washing. I am having absolutely no luck with basil third year running and should just give up on it, any hints? I think the 'backyard' might be too hot and lacking light and it just seems to rot.
OK time to get my shop day underway. I'll be the one wearing an oversized linen shirt that looks rather like a pyjama top because I am trying to channel the 'I wish I was in bed' look.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

frock swap

I bet you are absolutely sick of these photos of wax print dresses. Sorry about that but there are just no other photos lurking about here at the moment (except a few of Jethro and I bet you are totally sick of seeing more of those...). They start on instagram, then migrate to FB and finally I use them here, I know you don't all subscribe to all so I take the gamble you are going to see them on one platform or another- and apologies to those that have to see them on all!
Yesterday's dress was sold to a lovely lady from Sydney along with a black 3/4 sleeve Slade cardi, pretty smashing combo if I say so myself. The wax print fabric has this amazing way of sitting out from the body and the skirt looked so fabulous, crisp and smart. The 'handbag/snowdome' print is now in the window, it doesn't quite go with the pinky-green of the display sadly but I am off to the studio to try and get some work done this morning. Upstairs is going into lockdown to try and keep the cool in and Janita will be in the shop hopefully sitting in front of the fan should you wish to come by and buy.
I am feeling very annoyed as I had to spend hours last night organising a Stat Dec and then tomorrow I'm off to sit in a VCAT meeting. I had other plans. Damn and blast. I'm hoping the meeting doesn't take long and I can get on with the interesting part of the day.
Better scoot! Want to get things done today!

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

window pained

I've been complaining about the shop window display.... boring you senseless I know.
Well it's changed now. The paint job is still up, I don't have the heart to scrap it off yet, so it isn't a 'real' window change but for the first time in ages there is a dress in the display. I went up to the studio last night and grabbed my half body dummy to use until I can get to the mannequin people to pick up another size for the shop. I still have my full body one at the studio so there is no problem, I won't be dummy-less in the studio in the near future.....
I'm shopgirl again today. Yesterday was incredible slow. Lots of tennis tourists at this time of year mixed with every one pretty much being back at work- and fearing there Xmas credit card bills! Ah, retail... fabulous one day, crap the next. Studio day for me tomorrow and then dashing about day on Friday. And Saturday will then crept up once more. It's barely the third week of January and I can feel the year slipping away from me.
I definitely need more tea this morning. I collapsed into bed last night and dreamt weird dreams all night, very weird dreams about Scientologists (wtf??) and being chased. I think it might have been caused by that Ben and Jerry's peanut ice cream I snacked on earlier in the evening. Curious.
OK time to drag Jethro out of the shop and although the vacuuming has been done but there are piles of crap on the counter that need to be packed away.

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

tuesday's shopgirl is full of grace (not)*

Another day in the studio and another couple of dresses!
I'm working very slow, so out of condition but at least my brain isn't whirring frantically as I sit at the sewing machine. I'm working on the one metre that is clear at the end of the cutting table and tripping over things as I make my way from table to ironing board to sewing machines and back. Yes the clean up must happen soon... after I've made some shop stock and... etc.
No studio today as I am shopgirl, Dell's off holding workshops at Signal so I'm picking up a day or so here and there. I still haven't sorted out the front window (I slept midnight to midday on Sunday and then spent some time vacuuming so didn't manage to get it done on the weekend). The Queen light needs new light globes desperately and Jethro knocked the Cockatoo light's plug out of the socket chasing a butterfly in the window. My current excuse is waiting on the new shop mannequin so I can display dresses in the window, something we haven't done in ages it seems.
Not much to report otherwise.
It's not Saturday but I am in the shop. This will confuse Jethro I know. Jeez it confuses me already!
Oh and sorry to anyone whose emails I haven't answered, I will get back to you soon as I can.... it's a January thing.... avoiding the computer....

*monday's child, tuesday's child....

Saturday, 12 January 2013


I'm sitting here in front of the computer with a mug of tea and a bowl of peaches, nectarines and apricots, it's been such a good year for the stoned fruits. I keep ODing on cherries and think that I will not be able to face another one until next year... and then I find another superb batch and it all starts again.
Well the studio wasn't too-damn-hot yesterday and I managed to get some work done. A single lone wax print dress but it felt good to be working. It's nice fabric to work with and the prints are just so fabulously riotous. I need a new mannequin for the shop I think (I also need to fix up the front window) so that we can display these beauties and the scarf dresses which look like deflated balloons on their hangers. Now I've had a day in the shop I am itching to do some more work but we are juggling things at the shop over the next few weeks so I am going to be stuck with a day here and a day there.
I'm still finding it hard to get out of bed and Jethro's accusing looks when I start to untangle myself from the bedclothes would be enough to make me roll over and go back to sleep. I'm planning a sleep in tomorrow- definitely- and I really must do the vacuuming although perhaps I will avoid the bum shaped divot in the couch and try and do it tonight. The couch and I are having an intense relationship currently which is, sadly, doing neither of us any good. This lolling about is directly proportional to the evenings full of work prior to Xmas, I catch myself starring at the tv/into space and wondering whether I do this every evening and then realise it is just I don't have quite so many things to do with my hands at the moment. Then I have a little attack of guilt that I shouldn't be wasting my time doing nothing. Then I think 'screw that' and stare into space some more. Cats are very good at this, perhaps Jethro can give me lessons.
Anyway it's an hour to 'showtime' and there are things to do.
New enamelware plates, platters and trays are on the new shelves (perfect for them), new tea cosies in store, one (1) new sundress on the rack and it's Saturday again.

Friday, 11 January 2013


It feels like I can barely string words together at the moment, the January-itis continues.
Today though I am off to the studio for the first real work day since the week before Xmas. I hate to think how hot it will be up there. I haven't been lying about, I have been out everyday hunting and gathering but with the temperature hitting 37ºC today I may as well get the ball rolling (although it has been a very slow morning and I am still at home...).
There has been shop stuff happening even if we have been creeping along. New vegetable and old favourite Australian flora tea cosies arrived from Ann (the vegetable ones sold out before we even got them into the shop!) and I have finally got around to putting part of the enamel plate collection in store, we've also got some fabulous rectangular enamel trays. This is why I got the new shelves, we've had stock sitting out the back but now hopefully we have somewhere to stack it all.
I am not the sort to make New Year's Resolutions but this year I have decided I am going to spend time indulging all my textile obsessions. Textiles have always been my great love, and I do mean 'always', so I am going to spend my year hunting down and using up things that inspire me. To start I've gone shweshwe (wax print) mad and am about to begin work on some dresses and tops and skirts. Wish me luck!
OK I must go to the studio!

Monday, 7 January 2013

marshmallow month

There was a picnic in the park at Heide yesterday, young Dell's birthday. There was a lot of small people, four of them born within a couple of months. I got sunburnt sadly. There was also lots of cake and I made marshmallow (raspberry and passionfruit).
As you can probably tell my brain is pretty much marshmallow at the moment. Sums up January nicely I think, kind of sweet, kind of mushy, kind of emptily airy, a fluff of a month. I'm not feeling in the mood for the studio and I am dreading what it will be like after last week's furnace heat (it will be foul guanteed). I am trying to make appointments to feel a little productive (new phone as the old one is on the fritz, an eye test would probably be a good idea too). I think I should also spend some time on the couch with a stack of books and the mind tuned to 'inspiration'. The shop is strangely empty and I need to allocate some thinking time for what I would like to work on this year.
'Massive Studio Clean' is high on the list, followed by 'Massive Studio Sale'..... and 'Humungous Home Sort' as well. There is so much crap in this place you need to be very careful making your way through the teetering stacks of stuff. It is both vaguely amusing and definitely dementing living here at the moment.
The shop is open, the street is quiet and I think it is time for a cuppa.

Saturday, 5 January 2013


I woke up at 5 yesterday morning and thought that there was no good reason to open the shop on a day that was hitting over 40ºC. I texted Dell and told her to stay home, shut all the windows in the house and bunkered down for a boiler. It was an OK day inside and a couple of loads of washing dried in record time, I even managed to get the sofa cover and denim quilt done. And of course a huge amount of napping and lolling about. Although by the end of the day I felt bloated from too many icy drinks and raiding the cupboard for occasional snackage.
I have a nasty case of January-itis it appears. I could quite happily not open the shop today and do nothing but I am opening at 11 like a good shopgirl and am hoping some people come through the door to entertain me. A week off was just not enough of a break I realise in hindsight, sometimes the rest time is a little longer, depending on which day Xmas falls on. Although the longer I have off the more I want to just lie around! I think I have told you about the January a friend and I competed to see who was the least motivated. 'Competed' is probably too strong a term as it involved us sitting in my backyard, reading the papers, drinking cold drinks and asking who was the least motivated. It was an amusing January and it came out a draw.
OK I have an hour to get my head together. I can do this. I can be a functioning shopgirl for 6 hours. I can......

Tuesday, 1 January 2013


Hello all!
Hope you had a lovely Xmas and a fabulous night last night, welcoming in the New Year etc.
I got to watch the fireworks from my upstairs window, Jethro joined me (he likes fireworks, strange in a cat, yes?) and then had a huge sleep in this morning.
The downside of today was cracking on with the shop spruce up. I stopped about 1/2 an hour ago, exhausted and delirious, and the shop isn't totally finished. There are still bits to be painted, dusted and nothing is in its right place yet but I am too tired to do any more tonight so will have to get up early tomorrow to do the stuff that needs doing before we re-open in the morning.
Yes the holidays are well and truly over.
I'm heading off to bed to now to watch crap on my iPad and eat chocolate.