Monday, 28 April 2008

wintery wanderings

Went off in the car today to run errands and organise some alpaca fingerless gloves.
It felt strange being on the road, not tied to the shop, schoolroom or studio.
I did get to visit one of my favourite op shops, which is something I haven't done in ages, and scored a pile of Johnson plates and a surfeit of enamelware- and a duffel coat for young Lil.
And a sewing machine. 
Like I don't have 9 of the damn things already.
This one is a full metal jacket of a domestic machine for home, old and good.I really don't like modern machines, although I do have dreams of having a brand spanking new plain stitch machine with auto cutter etc and a brand new overlocker and a brand new coverstitch machine and a brand new walking foot machine..............
I got back mid-afternoon and spent the rest of the day dyeing more gloves. Not the best of afternoons though, strange things going on and a bottle of dye exploding all over the kitchen was not fun. Am feeling very flat at the moment. I feel a little overwhelmed by everything I need to do. Or maybe its the mess that is my home that is getting me down! I need a cleaning lady!

Sunday, 27 April 2008

i'd dye for you

Busy little Sunday spent dyeing angora gloves.
I've had one of those procrastination moments about starting dyeing, mainly centred on the new surroundings and how I was going to organise everything. Of course once I started there was no problem and the dyeing is going along swimmingly (in fact easier that its been in the last couple of years- go figure!).
I've wrapped the new birch bench tops in foil to stop splatters but still managed to get the bathroom sliding door with black dye, luckily it just wiped off- thank you Wattyl Trade Paint!
There are new paler colours and some old favourites.

Thursday, 24 April 2008

n'oublions jamais l'australie

My brother has taken his two eldest boys (not quite 10 years old) over to Villers-Bretonneux in France for the Anzac Day Dawn Service.

Even as the most unpatriotic of people, I find the Dawn Service one of the most moving of ceremonies. It always makes me cry. Of all conflicts, I find the First World War dreadfully sad, all that innocence and hope slaughtered on the fields of Flanders. The fields enriched by so many bodies and the poppies growing in disturbed earth.

At the unveiling of a monument in Villers-Bretonneux in 1919 the Mayor spoke of the town'sgratitude to the Australian soldiers

"The first inhabitants of Villers-Bretonneux to re-establish themselves in the ruins of what was once a flourishing little town have, by means of donations, shown a desire to thank the valorous Australian Armies, who with the spontaneous enthusiasm and characteristic dash of their race, in a few hours chased an enemy ten times their number...They offer a memorial tablet, a gift which is but the least expression of their gratitude, compared with the brilliant feat which was accomplished by the sons of Australia...Soldiers of Australia, whose brothers lie here in French soil, be assured that your memory will always be kept alive, and that the burial places of your dead will always be respected and cared for..."

Children in Victoria raised money to rebuild the village's school and written above every blackboard is 'N'oublions jamais l'Australie' (never forget Australia). Truly something to be proud of.

Wednesday, 23 April 2008


                                                            (Mr London- sold)

Popped down to the studio, got the camera, forgot the flowers, had to go back again- one of those mornings.

Also new vintage fabric bracelets in the shop today. Lots of shibori in red and black, black and white and indigo and white.

And a couple of new tea-towel skirts (more on the way).

Tuesday, 22 April 2008


I've been loving the new Colin Meloy Sings Live! album. I'm not a big fan of the live recording but I absolutely love this one.
So in honour of all my crazy friends who have got themselves (or someone else) 'up-the-duff' over the last few months (it's going to be a busy second half of the year) I thought I'd post 'Wonder'- its a really lovely song about having a baby- and it isn't schmaltzy in a bad way, just a good way.

idiot idiot idiot

I was going to post some photos of new cushions.
Only I left the camera on the cutting table in the studio.
Therefore 'idiot idiot idiot'.
Also 'annoying annoying annoying'.

Monday, 21 April 2008

two front teeth

Well, actually, I believe they are back teeth (of a sheep) but you get the drift..... all I want for Xmas is my two front teeth...... which in my case is spot on, as genetically I'm missing two front teeth (not the big ones in the middle at the front but the ones in between them and the canines). Crazy huh?
So where did these teeth come from? They were a present from JMo. I feel pretty spoilt.
They are gold leafed and enameled silver on linen string. This picture doesn't give you an indication  of the size but they are about 4cm long- big chompers!
Can't tell you how many compliments I've had about them.

Sunday, 20 April 2008

silence is golden

I've only had about 2 days off in the last couple of months, where I could just potter.
One of those was spent mainly sleeping and the other, today, was a mixture of snoozing, reading and wandering.
On both of those days I've found that this new home is very restful on a Sunday. It is quiet with lovely drifts of bird and people noise every now and then. This is of course relative. The old Brunswick St home was never quiet, if it wasn't the tourists, it was the girls downstairs, the cars and trams and trucks........... Here I'm finding I don't even put music on during the day on a Sunday. It's nice.
Sometimes being by yourself, wrapped in peace and quiet, is just really, really refreshing.

Saturday, 19 April 2008


I know I've fully booked you this weekend (2 sales and an exhibition) but don't forget the Art Fair is on at the end of my street...... at the Exhibition Buildings. It looked very swish last night as I walked by, lit up with lightbulbs up the dome and a big white blow-up tunnel. (Not quite sure about the tunnel, it's open to interpretation.....)

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

you're in for a busy weekend!

Not only do you have an exhibition to go to and  the Milly Sleeping sale to attend but Douglas and Hope have also announced a clearance sale as well! This is what we term a 'surfeit of riches'- and all in or near Fitzroy. You won't have to carry those sale bags too far. Booty!
Sadly Cottage Industry isn't having a sale yet- we've only been open 3 1/2 weeks- but if you not too tired from your fully booked social calendar then please drop in, we'd love to see you!

Saturday, 12 April 2008

two extraordinary things before breakfast part 2

My lovely friend Jess Morrison is having the opening of her first solo show this week.
We are all very excited to say the least!
The exhibition is called 'Beast' and being a gold and silversmith she has created work in, well, gold, silver and brass and using her unique style of enameling. There are 3 animal shaped 'reliquary' boxes, strings of teeth (all hand carved before being cast in brass or silver) and a gorgeous series of unique rings featuring tigers, dogs, hearts and peacock feathers.
You have to pop in and have a look, there are two other shows on at the same time and the fabulous Counter shop to visit as well. By the way its on at.......

31 Flinders Lane

Opening Thursday 17th April 6-8pm
(artist's talk 5.30pm onwards)

two extraordinary things before breakfast part 1

(Well actually while I'm eating breakfast- leaving sticky Babka Danish fingerprints on the keyboard.)

The lovely Leah and Janette of Milly Sleeping are having an archive sale. Leah calls their stock room 'The Library' and due to a lack of space they are going to move it all from their pretty little shop on Elgin St Carlton to my 'hood, Fitzroy, for a big clearance sale. (I hope the possums in the Carlton Gardens don't attack them as they wheel the racks along the paths- well dressed possums might be a great tourist feature for Melbourne but I think they would fight tooth and nail over a bargain.)

*I can tell you it will be a great chance to pick up some garments from the debut range of a certain label that is getting a lot of press lately.*

OPEN-SEASON Milly Sleeping Stock-room sale
Wednesday April 16 to Thursday April 24
89 George St, Fitzroy
Open 11am-6pm daily
You can give Leah a ring at Milly Sleeping on 9347 1333 or check the website at

Tuesday, 8 April 2008


Just before I started renovations, I got knitting and made up a whole pile of lambswool that was lying around annoying me after L** M****** got me to sample and then didn't order.
I knitted it as meterage and then washed it down as you have to do with this sort of yarn.
Have been trying to decide what to make from it and got it sorted today.
These wrap cardis are made from different sections of the meterage and have some raw edges and are reversible (if you take the label out!).

At the moment there is only small in store as I haven't had time to grade the pattern- but soon, very soon. And they are all different.

Monday, 7 April 2008

copy-cats will go blind

There has been a lot of blog posts of late dealing with the copying of work, people appropriating styles, techniques and in some cases whole designs.
There are many issues involved in this. Sadly the blogsphere has a lot to answer for- if you put it out there, increasing the public access to your work, then there is an increased chance of someone seeing it and it being plagiarising, often half a world away.

I wrote some months ago about the cupcaking of craft and how it has made every hobbyist think that they need to sell their work in order to justify the time and money spent in its creation. I love people making, giving their pieces to their friends and family, but most of these people are quite probably using a pattern, instructions from a book, off the web, etc and they should be aware that most of these are covered by copyright- this means you may 're'-produce the design for your own use (for yourself, as a present for a loved one) but strictly NOT for re-sale. 

Another area that annoys me dreadfully is the appropriation of the 'originality' of a design that may actually be something that has developed through a 'zeitgeist'-like creation, with many people exploring a design simultaneously.  The dividing line in this case is the concept in which the work is presented. Some designs have a universality and this can often be seen in pieces that are often stylised and simple in form. I also know, from personal experience, that other people's work can inspire one to create and develop new work. Coco Chanel is quoted as saying "only those with no memory insist on their originality." This a great grounding philosophy to meditate on.

I was 19 years old when I had my first design copied. I was a textile design student working as a free-lance designer for Mariana Hardwick. It was strangely funny, annoying, ridiculous and flattering all at once. And it was not the last time. Because of my adventures in recycling and tea-towelling I am finding an increase in imitation, word gets back and the decision as to whether to take any form of action is a difficult one, involving time, money and emotion, sometimes just accepting the whole situation and letting go is for the best.

When things get too much, it is always good to remember that if you are a good designer, you will be on to bigger and better projects by  the time the copyist is just starting out and if you are proud of the work you send out into the world, then you will make it with all the skill and quality that you possess. Remember, as much as we would like the world to be an honest and upstanding, it so rarely is. I do not condone copying, plagiarism or appropriation, there is no flattery involved but we must all accept that there are people out there who may not show integrity in their own creative pursuits.

felt up

Something else I found in the move..... opened a vintage biscuit tin and there was a clutch of unfinished felt keepsake purses. Well they are now finished and in-store (I love that term! 'In-store!') Perfect for those special little bits-n-pieces- jewellery, love notes.....

Sunday, 6 April 2008

things you find

I found this op-shop find in amongst my piles and piles of magazines.
I love the worried expression on the above chap's face. I think he is worrying that maybe he shouldn't have volunteered for that trip to the South Pole. (You can see a Monty Python skit starting with the balaclava photo down the bottom.)
This pattern book has some great men's wear and especially fantastic hospital stockings and sleeves. Having spent a long spell in hospital convalescing from an accident a few years ago, I think a handknit or two would have made my bones knit faster.

The large tube at bottom left is a' body belt'- not a bad idea- keep those kidneys warm in winter!

Thursday, 3 April 2008

whether the weather is......

Well yesterday was impressive!
Weatherwise, of course.
You may have seen the photo, I posted a couple of months ago, when I was feeling sooky about leaving Brunswick St. It was taken one evening out the front window facing west. Well this is the version from Rue de Gertrudis, once again facing west, taken after things settled down. The light was amazing, as it often is after raging storms.

Wednesday, 2 April 2008

winter warmers

Have managed to spend the last 2 days in the studio.

So new stock in the shop.
As well as the door-snakes I've been making wheat bags in the shape of hot water bottles, made from vintage 100% cotton flannelette and winter brushed cottons (they are interlined with calico for comfort and strength) and little eye pillows in vintage rayons (also lined in calico) and filled with flax seed and lavender. All of these have been made in contrasting fabrics on each side.
Angora socks in two lengths and a whole batch of fingerless gloves are piled on the big table, and I really have to get around to dyeing all the winter stock of these. I used to do all the dyeing in the backyard whilst sitting in the kitchen out of the rain and cold but this year I'll have to set up a different system. So many things change when you move!