Saturday, 31 May 2008

swiss army makes great pouffes

Friday in the studio was much less stressful than the Monday/Tuesday in the studio combo, where I feel like time is running out. This is good- so much to do and another day to do it.
Today we have the Swiss Army blanket pouffes and cushions in. Love these, they are kinda industrial, kinda snuggly, kinda earthy and very felty. The cushions even have the Swiss Army metal seals with individual code numbers on them still, and the pouffes have there codes felted into them. Too cool.

Friday, 30 May 2008

really reel

For the crafter who has everything. 90 grams of pure silver! I've been planning these for some while and finally the 'hard' bit is done. I wasn't going to post them 'til I had the textile component complete but I just couldn't help myself. They have been cast from a wooden cotton reel in fine silver and after filing and polishing the ends they were sent off to Bailey (he was the talented one who carved the silver ring for me a few months ago) to be engraved. They are intended to be neckpieces strung on handworked silk fabric cord- that bit hasn't been started yet- but would also be lovely just as they are. At 90gm they'd make great paperweights!

Thursday, 29 May 2008

friday is now studio day

I have a new little helper in the shop. She starts tomorrow (so please be gentle with her) which means I get to run errands and make a start on all the work that needs to be done at the studio. Retail is a strange beast, fickle and unpredictable, and I try not to get stressed about it all. Everyone says how lovely the shop is but it is so hard to view it all objectively, all that guff about being too close, blah, blah..... (and I get a bit embarrassed by compliments).
We finished at RMIT today with classes and just have assessment to do, which means no income for the next month + but more time to make stock, life is never exactly balanced.
I'm still in the shop on Saturdays so if you are in the 'hood drop in. I'm usually the one reading the newspaper (bad shopgirl behaviour!). 
So which project will I work on tomorrow? Scarves, wool pants (picking up fabric on the morning and new sampling for summer), cushions, swiss army pouffes, new leather bags........

Monday, 26 May 2008

lace balloons

Thanks to the lovely Shula for finding this image. This piece by Isabel Marant is just lovely and it's worth a visit to her website just for the beautiful growing plant on the homepage and as you move the cursor, golden fuzzy stars weave their way across the screen. 
Stay tuned in the next week or so for a lace project that will be happening in the vicinity of Cottage Industry........

Sunday, 25 May 2008

shop cat, top cat

Spot has discovered the joys of customer service, this involves sidling up to a customer and get patted and 'ooohed' over. This sort of 'customer service' is only available to babies, small children and animals (or illegally to people who pay large amounts of money to women of 'easy virtue').
The final part of this game is to run upstairs, sit at the top and howl in full vocal soarings,  much to the amusement of the customers.
It's an exhausting job but someone has to do it.

Friday, 23 May 2008

please to meet you, meat to please you

Also....... found these in my travels. Great butcher's labels, now great brooches!
This is all there is and I'm about to put them into the shop.............. time to open! Gotta run!

by hook or by crook

Thought I'd rush a post through before I open up the shop for the day.
I've been working on the crochet scarves- I've been thinking as I  crochet motifs like these, that crochet is really all about the negative space, it's the holes that make crochet, unlike in most knitting where the holes are dropped stitches and end in tears and frustration!
I'm also shocked at the number of people who don't know the difference between knitting and crochet. How sad. Maybe we need remedial schooling for everyone in how to make-and-mend.

Wednesday, 21 May 2008

magnolias and roses

Thought it was time to ditch the persimmons in the shop so went out to get flowers this morning. Was very uninspired by what was available (I know it's almost winter), chose something cheery but boring and then turned around....... the most stunning saffron yellowy-orangey garden roses. I took a mortgage out and bought them. Salvaged the magnolia branches that have been the framework for the last 3 weeks and came over all Constance Spry.

Tuesday, 20 May 2008

a strangle of scarves

Tuesday's other project was a 'strangle of scarves', you know how I love collective nouns, or if you think that too macabre how about an 'Isadora of scarves' (if you don't get this look here!)?
Lots of colours in the 'Plain and Simple' scarf, currently 14,  and another style hopefully finished soon.
The 'Plain and Simple' is nice and long and in 2:1 rib. The colours are really great and of course there is a lovely black-black, there will be a magnolia cream next week. (Sadly the photo doesn't do justice to the colours.)
Also the crochet scarves have been walking out the door so they will be back in stock too.
So much to do.
I only seem to get one project sorted each week. I'm looking forward to the semester break to get a few extra days in the studio. All that winter clothing is just screaming to be worked on. Raincoats in japara, wool pants, pleated skirts, shirts, tops, denim coats and jackets............ so much to do.
And cushions and quilts, wheat bags, new leather bags, purses.................
(Scarves will be in the shop Wednesday morning.)

monogrammed mangle

One of today's projects was a size 4 mangle cloth jacket (size 2 -sold, size 3- in store). The back of the jacket has initials cross-stitched into , what was, the corner, now the centre of the back.

Monday, 19 May 2008

rainy roadtripping

Rainy Monday on the road again. Shot up to Bendigo to pick up a pile of yarn for scarves, crocheted and knitted, and for the stripy cushion covers (everyone wants them again of course now winter's lurking). I spent way too much money and had one of my money-sick-head-spins when the bill got totted up. Blew the budget but I knew I was going to have to to get what I needed. (I suppose if you know you are going to spend more than you want to, then you aren't really blowing the budget......) 

It was lovely and grey and misty and would have been perfect for woodfires and cups of tea, but no time to stop. I headed back through Castlemaine and on to Daylesford. I needed to go to Newlyn and Creswick but there was no time, so that is going to have to wait for another day.

Lots of knitting and crochet to get done now. We sold out of crochet scarves last Saturday and the Saturday before so I better get hooking. 

Sunday, 18 May 2008


Everyone has been asking me if I'm happy in my new home. I keep having to pause to think before I answer. It takes me a moment. I think I am. But I have had so little time for reflection and like any new relationship it has its ups and downs. (Like the storage problems that are still not sorted - or my mouse housemate......) But then sometimes as I walk through my home I see a still-life in the corner or the way the light falls and I think how lucky I am. Of course the next thought is how many boxes I still have to unpack and how much work I still have to do. 

So you might have guessed after reading this blog that I'm a bit of a pessimist. The upside of being a downer is how often you can be pleasantly surprised when things go right, turn out better than expected, are easier than you thought they'd be! Optimists are just kidding  themselves! The sun always looks so much more beautiful after grey clouds and  sad songs make little joys profound.

Wednesday, 14 May 2008

cottage industry (on-line) store

Got home late from teaching and then a meeting for Before and After. I've spent the last 2 hours tapping away at the computer and trying to upload photos- Blogspot always goes slow when you think your head is going to explode- at least Indi and his Dad were adventuring on the TV (wasn't the Sean Connery casting just too brilliant?!).
And why have I been tippity-typing?
Well I've been trying to set up the Cottage Industry On-line Store. Just doing the ground work at the moment but hopefully very soon there will even be STUFF FOR SALE! 
We'll be able to take credit card orders over the phone or payments can be made via bank transfer and eventually pay-pal.
Then we'll wrap your parcel in brown paper and string and pop it in the mail.
There is something so exciting about getting a package in the post. It's kind of really retro!


Scurvy Dog Lime Marmalade!
For all those breakfast pirates out there.

presenting the lovely, talented Katherine Bowman

Now you know where we'll all be on Friday night!

Tuesday, 13 May 2008

more splurging

I decided to go run a whole pile of errands today. I may as well have stayed in bed. Every thing I went to get fell through. 

Shop closed. 'We don't stock that anymore'. Out of stock. 

I had money and I wanted to spend.

So I went and picked up a set of chairs I've been paying off ........and also came away with a trestle table, linen fabric, barkcloth fabric, wooden cotton reels........ ooooops........
Did pay some debts off too. 
Should feel good but I get that money freak-out. I like to spend but I often feel quite ill afterwards. I need to pay bills and am sometimes bad at budgeting........ new leaf? Really sometimes it would be sensible -and cheaper -to stay in bed.
When I did get to the studio I worked on finishing some more berets and getting the first sample scarf off the knitting machine. And I used the linen I found today to make covers for the Ikea rocking chair (see below- now with teal blue background and gorgeous floral swags, try and photograph the fabric soon) I bought 3 months ago. The cushions have been sitting in the studio, I hate doing upholstery type stuff, it always does my head. Strange. Its just big square box covers. I think it goes back to an upholstery mix-up many years ago........ There is extra fabric left so expect some bags or cushions for the shop, probably for Spring.
The bark cloth fabric is a stunner, I'm giving it a soak at the moment so expect that too at some stage.


I bought this yesterday from the Brunswick St Bookstore. It's a wonderful book from an exhibition at The Newark Museum featuring snapshot photos  from the 1920s through to the 1960s. They are just amazing. It's like stumbling across a box of someone else's photos at the op shop. Many of the photos are made amazing by mistakes you could not attempt to replicate (well you could try but the effect would become stilted). Really very inspiring.

Sunday, 11 May 2008

no scurvy 'round here me hearties!

Scored a whole heap of limes last Friday and decided Lime Marmalade was the way to go. It's the only marmalade I like and I have been prone to even scoffing a jar of the Rose's variety when pushed. 
It's been a busy weekend and I seem to have found an extra reserve of energy (maybe this means the tanks are slowly refilling) to do things like slice three kilos plus of limes, go for a walk to get papers, milk, etc, put up the knife-holder in the kitchen, screw castors onto the bottom of a storage box, attempt to put up the mirrored cabinet in the hallway (third attempt still unsuccessful...... ), plug the holes in the outside of the bathroom wall that I think the laneway mice have been using as an entrance, dye more gloves, do the washing (accidentally washing my newish jeans in a hot wash, fingers crossed they haven't shrunk again), hung glass balls in the stairwell (this involved string and bulldog clips as usual), unloaded more stuff from the mobile storage unit (the car), had a visit from Shannon , who's off to the Big Apple, and let window-shopper have a look in the Cottage. OK I think writing all that just exhausted me.
Of course everything is even more of a mess around here because of all that. 
Will these boxes never be unpacked?
I really need to make up a little studio section in the Big Room- I can feel an Ikea trip coming on........

Thursday, 8 May 2008

hello, my name's pen and i'm addicted to 'top gear'

I got a bit bored with posting Mother's Day presents and decided it was time to admit that I am a total 'Top Gear' fan-girl. 
Being brought up around a car-loving dad (sitting in the freezing cold and dark, in the front seat of the car, pumping the brake pedal to get bubbles out of the fluid in the brake-line was a highlight of my childhood) it was inevitable that what's bred in the bone will, no matter how much you fight it, be a part of you. If the car goes- I'm happy. Cleaning it- can't be bothered. Watching 3 guys giggling as they turn cars into boats, play car football, race across America's southern states and even (as politically incorrect as it was, it had me squirming in my seat) race in 4 wheel drives and sled to the North Pole, I'm as happy as can be. Never has car photography been so beautiful (at this point I have to admit I was 'romantically' entangled with a  photographer, who took picture of cars, for some years..... bad photos at the Summer Nats..... but that has absolutely no bearing on this confession......), never has celebrity bad driving been so entertaining, never has the arbitrary rating of cars as 'cool' or 'uncool' been so very, very silly.
If I'm tired and worn out from an overfilled week Captain Slow, Clarkson and the Hamster (aren't the pictures below just hilarious?!) fill my Saturday evening with their infectious joy. You'd never think there could be so much poetry and joy in the language used to describe automobiles. (Of course we mustn't forget The Stig- but then as he never actually speaks, his is poetry in motion.)
p.s. I've even been known to read Jeremy Clarkson's articles in The Australian, not actually to read about cars, just to revel in his prose.

Wednesday, 7 May 2008

sleep deprived (again/still)

I swear I'm going to annoy my cat so much this evening, she will be so exhausted she'll sleep through the night.
She likes to wake me up in the middle of the night by sitting under my side of the bed and yowling- last night she really had the wind up and kept doing it ALL night. Then of course at about 7.30am she snuggled down and went to sleep. I'll either have to lock her out of the bedroom or take up the spray bottle aversion therapy routine.

Busy couple of days in the studio.
  1. Size 3 mangle-cloth jacket in store (all those people on the request list waiting for them to come in will have to fight over it!)
  2. Lambswool 'patchwork' wrap cardis in M and L are ready (or will be when I've sewn the labels in the back neck and pressed them).
  3. Apron bags in black glitter are back AND new leather apron bags in silver leather, silver/gold leather and plain black leather. 
  4. New hats! Made from angora lambswool with flannelette lining and with a drawstring through the band (so they'll fit any size head), these come in lichen and heather colours and are too snuggly for words. Even the lil button on the top is handmade.

Monday, 5 May 2008

lets go traditional!

Although we won't have wooden spoons and chocolates wrapped in cellophane (see previous post) Cottage Industry will happily supply you with presents for Mothering Sunday.
We have all sorts of presents, at all sorts of prices, suitable for all sorts of mothers!
And we'll wrap for you- tissue paper overwrapped with pianola roll paper and string and presented in our newspaper carrybag.
  1. Vintage fabric quilted oven mitts and pot holders (such a classic, I think they make a cheeky present- that's also just really practical)
  2. Peg bags in vintage fabrics (also great in the bathroom and kitchen for those annoying little things- cotton balls, onions, etc)
  3. Flax seed and lavender eye bags in vintage silky rayon fabrics (great for those yoga mums - or even just plain old tired mums)
Stay tuned for more pressie ideas.

Sunday, 4 May 2008

chrysanthemums, chocolates, perfume.............

Mother's Day isn't a big thing in my family, probably because mum's birthday is just few days before. Also my family has always been a bit sceptical of any commercial gift giving 'holidays. (Except for Xmas- which was an excuse for getting together and being grumpy. Now with the grandkids things have changed a bit- now getting together and screaming at 5 boys to behave.)
Dad has always presented Mum with flowers- I like that, it's his fault she had all 5 of us!
I think living on Brunswick Street for 16 years also took the gloss off the day. On Mothering Sunday it is great fun to watch all the Grans being decanted from cars, wheeled/shuffled into cafés and then an hour later, everyone, jaws taut and whole body radiating 'annoyed', stuffing Gran back in the car and rushing her back to the high security Aged P home. The cute bit of the day was always seeing single young men taking there elegant mums out for brunch and a shop.
(Please note this is meant all very tongue in cheek.)
I remember when I was in maybe prep or grade 1 the excitement of mum giving me, maybe, 20cents to spend on a present at the Mother's Club's Mother's Day sale in the multi-purpose room. Does anyone else see the ridiculousness of mums making their own presents and selling them to their children so they can give them back to them on Mother's Day?! I remember Mum was working on the 20 cent stall had to leave the room whilst I chose a wooden spoon with chocolates in the bowl wrapped in cellophane. ( Why this present? Wooden spoons are handy, chocolates are yummy and cellophane is pretty- hey, I was/am quite analytical about presents.)

Saturday, 3 May 2008

tag! your it!

Much excitement at the Cottage as we received the first batch of cards and gift tags made especially for us by the lovely Ramona of Words and Pictures.
They are just gorgeous!
Ramona borrowed my collection of boy's and girl's annuals from the 50s (the same ones that I use to create the clocks) and has chosen a lovely range of images. Some match the clocks but most come from the wonderful black and white in-story drawings.
There are only a few in the shop today but we will have more when we open on Wednesday.

Thursday, 1 May 2008

sock monkey goes on vacation

I've been waiting to get  hold of this photo for a while.
Miss Coco asked for a sock monkey for Xmas, she decided on a blue one and we had to sneakily get it into a bag whilst her mum kept her busy over the other end of the studio.
So off they went for their summer holidays.
I love the way Coco is holding on to the end of Sockie's tail. There is something heart melting about the way kids cling to something quite unconciously- I know someone who loved to hold their dad's velvety earlobe while being cuddled.

(everybody sing) i'm so pretty, so witty, so glovely

After this weekend's dyeing frenzy, we have lots of new colours in angora gloves.
There all made here in Melbourne from the most fantastic yarn I get specially spun in New Zealand, once knitted up they get hand-dyed in small batches. There tends to be variations in shades between batches so if you like a colour grab it when you see it. We mainly have stock of the long length this year but  there are limited colours available in the short and medium (personally I think the long are the bee's knees).
I also have a small run of medium alpaca fingerless gloves on the way. They are made from 3 ends of variously natural shaded local alpaca and some will be overdyed in pale shades so you can still see the marle effect (if you don't know what 'marle' is, think of a grey flecked t-shirt).
Also the extra long fine wool socks are being sampled at the moment so fingers crossed they should be available just as we need them in the dark-night of winter.
At the moment we have a wall of fingerless gloves hanging in the shop displaying all the colours.
Today' weather is too perfect for them! Come and get! Toasty warm hands and wrists guaranteed!

(For those of you that query whether one's fingers would get cold wearing fingerless gloves, it is quite amazing, I find that my hands don't overheat the way they do in full gloves and you don't need to take them on and off to do things. Perfect!)

Stock of the fingerless gloves available from Alice Euphemia, Craft Victoria, Douglas and Hope and, of course, COTTAGE INDUSTRY.