Thursday, 30 December 2010

drumroll please!

It's finished!
Even the storage-box/love-seat/thunderbox combo.
OK, I admit I vacuumed it, it was the easiest way to clean up!
It flexs a bit, I probably could have put an extra support down the centre but I am already used to the slight movement. I loathe the planters I bought so I need to go out searching for new ones, nothing too naff and designer-ish.
I'm quite proud of myself, it's probably the biggest build I've done all by myself.
I need to focus on cleaning up and house and sorting the shop tomorrow.
Now to collapse on the couch.....

Wednesday, 29 December 2010


I am exhausted. 
Looking down at the deck from the upstairs window and it looks tiny, it's over 3.6 metres long and just a metre wide and I am hurting from head to toe. Tomorrow, it will hopefully, be finished. I just need to work out the best way to do the storage/seat bit at the bottom end of the picture and it has my brain hurting at the moment! The walls narrow in by a bare 1cm and now I have to get the circular saw out to do a bit of trimming. I'm not a fan of the c-saw.
I hung out the washing tonight and the line is now at the perfect height- I planned well when I put it up two years ago! I bought a big planter today for the jasmine but I am starting to think my plan for where it was going to go won't work. I really just want this project finished so I can clean up and enjoy a relax drinking a cuppa out in my spanking 'new' backyard.
I've named it 'the jetty', it's long and narrow.

Tuesday, 28 December 2010

love it when a plan comes together

Off to Bunnings this morning to get the materials for Stage One.
Stage One is almost completed, I was two planks short of a frame and got distracted by customer appointments and cups of tea and chat with Jen so Bunnings again in the morning (I am estimating three visits should finish this job). I'll get all the decking cut and hopefully manage to lay it out and screw it down by the end of tomorrow.
Jethro has checked out my progress and is quite excited by the whole project.
I've accepted the wonk as no matter how many times I got out with the level the whole thing just kept throwing itself out a tad. That's the joy of living in a Victorian built structure- you must embrace the lack of right angles and equal measurements.
Have I told you what is going on? I'm building a deck out the back, attempting to make the curve of the concrete into a nice level surface with a seat built into the end so Jethro and I can sit out on a Sunday morning and read the paper. The Azores jasmines are waiting to go into planters and run riot up the walls. The seat may take me a bit longer to sort as my brain may not stand the strain of any more calculations.
It's taken me three summers but I might actually be getting there!

Monday, 27 December 2010

napping, reading, tea drinking

Hello all.
Hope you have managed to survive Xmas. I have spent most of the last three days sleeping and drinking cups of tea. I piked on family Xmas celebrations and the day was spent mainly under blankets in blissful slumber. It's so lovely and peaceful around here at this time of year and I have been pottering about with no music on and the occasional watching of strange holiday TV programmes. Of course last night's highlights were the Doctor Who Xmas Special(and a half hour of the 'Doctor Who at the Proms' late in the afternoon) and the last half of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' (even though the image/sound was out of whack). Every time I watch that film I am amazed by how very, very good it is, it is the one film adaption of a novel I find no fault in- and of course Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch... sigh. I rarely watch TV during the day and it just goes to show how wound down I can get at this time of the year.
I have a pile of things I want to get done around the house/Cottage. Project One was easily achieved yesterday afternoon, the new white wooden venetian blind has gone up on the big window upstairs. Whilst it faces south it lets in a stream of light that is sometimes blinding and the linen curtain can cut too much light so now there are curtain and blind options. The Cottage opens again next Tuesday 4th of January and I have a lot to do between now and then. The problem is really where to start as I know that everything I plan to do is going to make the mess that exists now even more horrendous. This place is a sty so I don't know what I am worried about! Bunnings tomorrow morning for supplies! Although that might involve getting out of bed before 10am......
I've finished Philip Pullman's 'Four Tales', a quartet of 'fairy tales' with lovely illustrations, which I really enjoyed. I read the "His Dark Materials' trilogy last Xmas and found that I really didn't enjoy any of the books which has annoyed me no end. I am a re-reader and keep thinking that perhaps if I read them again I might like them better but I just can't bring myself to getting them down off the shelf. The Westgarth Street Crew gave me 'The Paper Garden'  in my Xmas Bundle and  this is going to be next on the Xmas reading list (good score here as I was going to buy this to read!).

By the way, Miss Magnolia was re-doilied on Xmas Eve and she is looking mighty pretty.

Jethro is loving the sleeping in, having the run of the shop and he is pretty pleased with himself for catching a mouse on Xmas night.

I think it might be time for more tea.

Friday, 24 December 2010

the last day of retailmas

I'm just back from the Vic Market. Its a bit of a tradition to get up early on Xmas Eve, go to the market, buy food that doesn't really go together to make a meal, let alone a snack, remember that the shops will all be open again on Boxing Day and that I won't starve between now and then, buy a horrendously expensive but delicious box of cherries and come home again for a cuppa and a nap in bed before the last day of Retailmas kicks in.
I think really the whole market  thing is an excuse to venture out early on what is often a very peaceful morning. No one is rushing early to work and everyone is purposeful but bleary eyed as they collect everything for the their big Xmas feasts. I never enter the meat and fish section on Xmas Eve, that would be like the Seventh Circle of Hell and anyone that survives 15 minutes in there should be awarded a medal. I wish I had managed to get a photo of the scene through this door when I arrived at the market- this fishmonger was holding a huge lobster aloft with everyone staring up it in wonder and awe as if it was a crustacean Baby Jesus.
So today is Xmas Eve and we'll be opening the shop at 10am. We still have lovely things for you to spend your money on if you have forgotten to buy a present for your Cousin Joe (a hookturn cup, useful and well priced), your Great Aunt Stella (a budgie, she'll never know it's stuffed),  your Mum (knitting needles and wool, if she starts now you might actually score something to wear by autumn), your big brother (CWA cookbook, he might be able to make egg and bacon molecular foam but he couldn't make a scone to save himself) or perhaps yourself (one of our lovely new leather purses in which you can stash those presents that came in 'notes of legal tender' form). We'll be closing at 5pm because we know you will all be off the streets and at home with the wrapping paper and twine.

Thursday, 23 December 2010

a little shop in a curious street

Every now and then I come to a grinding halt. Last night just after I closed the shop door was one of those times. I sat behind the counter and looked around, half the lights were off and the shop felt both peaceful and anticipatory, waiting for its next day's trading. Sometimes I  look around at the stock and feel a little overwhelmed by all the making I do, all the product creating and hunting that goes on to find the things I need. I love sitting there seeing the beautiful work created by lovely friends and the special things we bring in to sell.
Last night's little pause though made me think most about the lovely people who have come into my life through the Cottage and through this blog. Really one can't perform well without an appreciative audience and you people have been really lovely. Its sometimes hard to put one's self out there, open to the public, and even after over 25 years of designing, making and selling it can be hard and occasionally soul destroying but the kindness and generosity of so many people takes a place like Cottage Industry onwards.
Thank you so much.

Wednesday, 22 December 2010

count down

Things are amping up and slowing down here at the same time. I think I am about done in the studio but I still have stuff to potter over at home- new leather purses, some round bottom grannies (purses that is) in new vintage fabrics that should be in-store later today.
On an annoying note- the d**n f**king birds still haven't arrived.
On an up note- Jethro has recovered from the Great Fur Ball Incident of 2010 and I gave him a brush yesterday evening that made me feel very guilty of how that may have come about.... he's not like Spot who loved being brushed and though I have tried from when he was a kitten to get him to like it he just thinks its a reason for a huge play fight. He did lie still for the first bit and then it became attack time. I'll persevere.
I'm off for a catch-up brekky with an old friend this morning, then down to pick up some lamp bases and maybe a run to the supermarket before back to the shop to hover around and annoy Dell. Poor Anna got run off her feet yesterday and then I came home and got in her way and upset her like I always do. Sadly our counter, or indeed the shop, isn't big enough for two salesgirls.
The last three days- here we go!

Monday, 20 December 2010


The time is drawing nigh, we are heading into the last straight, yep, five more sleeps and....
I get to sleep in!
I'm slowing down (or possibly giving up), the birds still haven't arrived and I don't know whether we have enough/right/interesting stock to get though these last four shopping days of Xmas 2010. This time of the retail year is so very stressful. Probably most annoying of all is that I have barely got any of my own presenting even vaguely started. I am thinking of telling everyone that they are going to get their usual jam and gingerbread for New Year instead.
I have got one present sorted but in many ways it's mainly an attempt to get a new project for next winter kickstarted, I'm sneaky like that. It might just get me excited enough to get things moving as starting a new design can be very hard. Blank page and all that. It needs to ferment and fester for a while before it all comes bubbling up.
There's a bit of running around to do in the morning and then I think tomorrow might be the last 'real' studio day for the year with Wednesday left over for a bit of tinkering and pottering. I have plans for the end of the week.......

Sunday, 19 December 2010


These posters that have been appearing on Gertrude Street have been amusing me no end. The cupcake one is outside the bakery, not that they make cupcakes, but I like a little bit of thoughtful location choice with my graffiti.
It's Sunday again and I'll be opening the shop at high noon again today. I had a customer who came in last Sunday and she popped in again yesterday, she said 'the shop looks like it's been ransacked' which has sent me into a total tailspin. Six more shopping days to go and do I have enough stock?! The damn bird parcel hasn't arrived and if it appears on Friday afternoon I really can't be held responsible if I go postal with the post office. I'm starting to think that if everyone is going to shop online then Australia Post better lift their game..... and I've been wondering if there will be lots of people with nothing under their Xmas trees this year because their presents are still in transit somewhere. Good reason to shop local and handmade I think!'

Saturday, 18 December 2010

three bags full

Tea towel cushion avalanche. STOP.
Please send help. STOP.
Bring emergency credit cards, EFTPOS, cash. STOP


I've been going to R. J. Harvey and Co. Pty. Ltd. since I was fifteen years old.
In those days they were up on Swanston Street near Lonsdale Street, in a shop with a brass plaque out the front which announced that they sold 'tailors supplies'. I used to go there to buy lace making bobbins, beautiful English lace thread and brass pins for pinning down the lace as you twisted the bobbins around them. I remember feeling the awe as I walked in, long antique wooden drapers counters stretched all along the right side with wooden shelves, the top reached by ladders, stacked with boxes and bolts of linings and interlinings and the arcane tools of the tailoring industry. Right down the end of the shop was a counter's lectern were the assistants went to deliver the money and get change. I was mesmerised, transported and delighted.
Every time I went I always seemed to be served by Old Mr Harvey (who reminded me of Young Mr Grace from 'Are you being served?') and as the lacemaking supplies were on the top shelf I would stand at the counter shaking in fear that he would miss his footing and topple to the ground. His ascent and descent were slow and would have me in fits of agony and hilarity. Many years later they downsized and moved down to the Nicholas Building. Their third floor rooms were perfect too. I'd go there in preference to anywhere else to buy my cloth pencils, marking wax, boxes of long thin pins, scissors, interfacing, strange tailoring waddings, stilettos........
A month ago I got word that they are finally closing the business for good. I was devastated. Places like this shaped me, the schmutter businesses of Flinders Lane that I haunted when I was at college, those people with generations of knowledge that I devoured as breadcrumbs to a hungry bird.
The other week I popped in to say goodbye to Bruce and to say how sad I was and how much I would miss them. Bruce can be a taciturn man but as we finished up he told me about his plans for retirement. How he and his wife were picking up the pieces after losing everything in the fires at Kinglake almost two years ago, that they are about to move into their new house and planting a new garden.
In parting I was glad we talked about that garden.  Plants grow, they die and new things take their place, they flower and fruit and we enjoy them while we can. That really is life, beautiful in its transience.

Thanks you R. J. Harvey and Co. Pty Ltd, I will miss you.

Friday, 17 December 2010


I can't believe there is still a week until Xmas, I feel like I've been run over by the Yuletide Behemoth and am lying exhausted and shattered in its wake. I finished 3 big bags of tea-towel cushions today and dragged them back to the shop (well out of the car...). There are some absolute stunners in this giant batch, I might try and get a few photographed for the morning but now it is time for bed, I'm grumpy and annoyed and need to do a bit of night time darning (sleep) if I am to manage to get through the next two days in the shop and then back into the studio on Monday.

knitting the ravelled sleeve

Amazing how a bit of sleep can rejig the body and brain. I'm still deathly tired but now able to string words together and formulate plans.
There have been things happening in the shop. Sadly we are still waiting on the parcel of birds to arrive- five days late and yes I know it's just a Xmas post issue but p-l-e-a-s-e can it arrive today??!
But on the up side the Frida and Sophie dresses have arrived from Zara, including Baby Fridas in size 0-1 and the cutest things you have ever seen. This Frida batch is cream and the embroidery on the Sophies are in colours we haven't had before. And I am hoping to get them on the rack before I race out the door this morning.
When I visited Tasmania I brought back copies of the 'Country Women's Association in Tasmania's 21st Anniversary Cookery Book' as presents for my lovely friends. I really wanted to get some to sell in the shop and finally last week I got around to ordering some. They arrived on Tuesday, we put them in the shop yesterday morning and the first thing Dell sold yesterday morning was a copy of this little gem. I think is probably the best CWA cookery book and I grew up on the CWA of WA version. Mum was given it as a wedding present and for as long as I remember it had no covers, they had managed to drop off sometime in the Neolithic Age. It would make a fabulous present! Having watched the atrocious MasterChef episode where they took on the CWA of NSW, I think learning to be a good 'plain cook' should be mandatory before advancing to the macaroon and molecular levels- it's all about basic techniques you know.
And Nikki has sent over some more of her beautiful knitting needles.
Please cross your fingers the bird parcel arrives today.......
And don't forget it's the last day to buy Chutney Club raffle tickets online! I believe Dell will be previewing the 1st, 2nd and 3rd prizes today so check it out!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

frog kings and brain melt

What an exhausting couple of days it's been. Early starts and working, working, working until midnight- except for a lovely shop Xmas dinner with Anna and Dell at Añada road last night. On the way there we stumbled across this little Xmas installation- the Three Wise Frogs and the Wishing Well. It had us in hysterics, the ground was covered in purple dyed rice and decorated with marshmallows, there was even coins in the turquoise water of the wishing well. We were surprised this morning to find the coins still there but the frogs were missing (perhaps someone kissed them and they turned into princes....). The deros of Gertrude Street must have thought it was all a delirium tremens hallucination. 
This afternoon Jethro had to go to the vet due to a slight case of The Dribbles.Of course he's fine and the vet can't work out why it came on but locusts are the current favourite cause. He got A+ for his dental hygiene and an F for attacking me when he got his vaccination shots- and a gold star for climbing into his carry basket without being prompted.
I really need to go to bed, rested I might actually be able to string two words together. Night all.
Oh and all those people waiting for emails- I promise to reply asap!

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

ginger bears

I'm sitting here with a cup of tea and a little container of Dell's delicious homemade biscuits, macaroons and her ginger hearts topped with crispy icing and 100&1000s. The macaroons were yum but my heart flips over her ginger hearts as they remind me of my favourite childhood biscuits- honey bears. They definitely are my madeleines.
Busy day in the studio, new Cressida chemises and Polly pinafores. Some of the sleeves on the Cressidas are made from the beautiful tablecloth above and the Pollys are a bright Madras check, all pink and red and cobalt and yellow. Tonight's been finishing the vintage japanese shibori and ikat purses and printing new Xmas cards.
I almost went postal this afternoon at the post office. Our usual parcel delivery man is a gem, he knows all our odd opening hours and makes sure we get our deliveries nice and neat but the Business Centre contract people are, well, enough to send a sane person insane. At the studio they don't ring the buzzers and will not climb the stairs. Today I went to pick up the bird parcel but even though the card said to pick up after 12noon at 5pm it was still apparently in the back of some Australia Post courier's van..... I wasn't amused and of course I was served by the surliest counter jockey ever, who I often attempt to avoid being served by. OK I know it's Xmas and all but he is like this all year. I'm hoping I get served by someone other than him tomorrow. Of course if the parcel is still AWOL I might actually enjoy having a tantrum. Workers going postal.

flick the bird

I'm off to the studio today to attempt a full day's work. I managed to get to there by 12.30pm yesterday which left very little time to actually get anything done but I cut a pile of work in the hope that it would mean I could jump right in and get sewing this morning.
I'm really planning to get give the studio a complete overhaul after Xmas, it's been a dreadful mess since we had the Jumble Sale in there this time last year. The new old shop table is residing up there at the moment and there is much sorting and cleaning to be finally done. Perhaps even a new top for the cutting table- that would be exciting!
But first I need to get through this Xmas. Still lots to do and there just doesn't seem to be enough hours in the day.

Monday, 13 December 2010

budgies and a canary

When I was growing up I believed that people were either budgie people or canary people. We were a budgie family, that means we had a budgie in a cage who was allowed to fly around the family room and kitchen in the evenings. We certainly didn't have an aviary out the back or go into breeding them or anything (that's a whole other world). 
I also believed people were either Sao or Salada eaters. We were Sao and a Saturday lunch ritual was the kitchen table laid with tomatoes, butter, vegemite, tasty cheese and pickled onions for a Sao-fest over the Saturday papers with ABC on the radio. Nothing like a ripe tomato, lashings of butter and salt and pepper on either a crispbread or fluffy white bread (!) to still make me happy. Taste sensation.
Anyway the point of all this is the new batch of stuffed birds have arrived. Along with the usual average sized budgies we have two stunning 'show' budgies, these are much bigger than the others and sort of have a 'bouffant' helmet of feathers on their heads. They are fabulous and I am in lurve with the lavender one whose colouring is like a moonstone, the softest grey shot with pale purple. And though I am not a canary lover he really is quite charming in his egg yolk coloured plumage.

Sunday, 12 December 2010

pin sticker

After much pestering Simon MacEwan has finally delivered some brooches.
They are stickpins, tiny and very beautiful.
There are birds (inner city pigeons, bluebirds, parrots and a lovely kookaburra), bees with translucent wings, spotty moth/butterflies, leaping rabbits and gorgeous strawberries and apples detailed with silver wire.

You better hurry in, they would make the best presents, they say the best things come in small parcels (or so I've heard).

open open open

Don't forget the Cottage in OPEN today!!
I've managed to get out of bed so come and visit!
Noon until 5pm.

Saturday, 11 December 2010

beware the demented xmas tree

Morning all.

Busy day here in Old Melbourne town! Don't forget the Craft Victoria's Christmas Craft Hatch is on at  the City Library in Flinders Lane (lots of capital letters in this sentence) starring our own Ladies of HandMadeLife spruiking their Xmas wares. They were quoted in this week's Northcote Leader newspaper singing the praises of the handmade decoration. Also remember to put Craft Vic's Counter retail outlet on your shopping itinerary if you are committed to buying quality locally produced craft.

Managed to get some new tea towel cushion stuffed at about 5pm yesterday after the delivery man got stuck in a car crash logjam around Docklands somewhere (I am blaming Oprah's Travelling Circus) and finally delivered the inserts to me at about 4.45pm. So we have some but not all of them in store as of today.... which means damn-I-better-get-my-skates-on and get the shop titterfied before opening! In other Cottage news I've finished another batch of Xmas gift tags, which have been very popular, and I've made new wheat hottie bags (you might think it's a bit strange we don't pop them in the cupboard for summer but they make great Xmas presents! And bunting- we have a 50 meter piece ready to decorate some one's whole house... our you can just purchase a couple of metres if you want to go minimalist. And I almost forgot- new clock designs! Girl's Crystal circus and donkeys at the seaside themes, 'Warnes's Pleasure Book for Girls' (this has me bamboozled as I keep thinking of 'Shane Warne's Pleasuring Book' and I shudder) and one for the boys 'On the Beat with PC 49' exciting adventurers of a Bobby in London.

...and NEWS FLASH!
Cottage Industry will be open everyday until Xmas!
Monday- Saturday 11am- 6pm
Sunday 12-5pm

Friday, 10 December 2010

red sky at night

Where has the week gone? This roseate sky was last Friday night and here we are again.
I didn't manage to get nearly enough done yesterday, working on a coat sample that I really should have put aside to work on the more immediate stuff I need to do but it was annoying me sitting there and then annoyed me by being difficult. At least I now know I need to check the neckline/collar measurements- that's why one needs to sample!
There is a big cushion insert delivery today (oh my, where are we going to put them all once they are stuffed??), so there will be lots of zips to finish. I need to make more bunting. I need to cut out and sew more Agatha dresses. Leather purses. Beach bags. Bags for the Chutney Club raffle- quick only one week to get your tickets! And barely two weeks until Xmas......... arrrrggggghhhhhh!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

stash and churn

What a day yesterday was! Jethro's head swelled to the size of a kohl rabi with all the compliments he got over at the D-Files (he says it makes up for not getting into the inside/out shoot) and a big thanks to everyone for visiting!
I've been working on a new project. It came to me in a vision splendid on Monday evening and I jumped straight into it on Tuesday. I pulled out the block for the cross-stitch linen chemises I did last year (?!) and redrafted it in pieces, then I raided the shelves and put together a mix of new, vintage and embroidered fabrics. Jen-and-Ben popped in in the middle of the day and Jen spied it on the iron board and was all 'oh, what's that?', I just said 'oh something I'm working on' (I get a bit superstitious at this stage). I finished it, fell in love with it, thought that no-one but me would possibly like it, took it to the shop and promptly sold it half an hour later. Yesterday I spent the day grading the patterns and made two more. It's the loose chemise, made principally of squares and rectangles, a traditional method of giving a garment shape with the least wastage of fabric, and looks absolutely gorgeous over jeans (it's also reversible with different combinations of fabric on the other side). I may have to size this pattern up to my 6'1" height, I'm so in lurve with patched fabrics again, pattern on pattern on pattern.
A few years ago I made some wool jackets pieced out of about 5 fabrics per garment. When I showed them to someone I used to wholesale to, she remarked that some people would say that was 4 fabrics too many. This is one of the reasons I opened the Cottage.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

the d-files

Jethro is very pleased to get his photo on The Design Files.
Yes, Virginia, the Cottage Home is Grotsville!
Crap everywhere, notice the plastic storage boxes, the washing up, nicnackery up to the eyeballs.....

Thank you Miss Lucy!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

string, string (everybody loves) string

The string has arrived!
Well butcher's twine but who is going to take exception to me saying 'string' if it means I can post The Goodies String Song!
Red and white, black and white, orange and white, yellow and white, lime and white, blue and white and pale pink and white. Perfect for tying up your Xmas presents or if you need to hog-tie your turkey.

in the worst possible taste (again)

If you have been reading my ramblings for awhile you might remember this post.
Now I have scored another classy piece of soft prawn (sic) tapestryism.
I am speechless and must admit I bought it for its sheer tastelessness- it is horrific!
She looks like she is bleaching her moustache whilst attempting to make sense of her telephone/gas/electricity bill which arrived just as she was getting dressed to leave for work.
Why oh why would anyone choose to spend their time stitching this bit of weird Sarah Moon-esque bad taste?! Craft Fashion you have a lot to answer for!

Monday, 6 December 2010


Saturday was a right grand day!
The sun shone but a cooling breeze blew and there was green grass, good food, sweet things and sitting on picnic rugs. Adam made nice speeches and Dell refused to say anything public, she just smiled an awful lot. The girls ganged up and made them a wedding cake and lebküchen hearts to wear and everyone took photos.

Dell had asked me to doily a tree but we hadn't had a chance to get to the park before hand so I took a box of doilies with me. Miss B was going to help but she got bumped off by 9 year old Stella. At one stage we had a couple of under 5s rolling in the spare doilies, wearing them as hats and tucking each other under doily 'blankets', and when I asked them not to get them dirty one turned to the other and said 'you be careful, they are made of white you know'. Stella and I finished the tree with a doily spider web.

After all that fresh air and sunshine I slept long and deep.

Saturday, 4 December 2010

the sky is as blue as a sailor's eyes

Today is a big day.
You won't see me in the shop this afternoon (Ramona is standing in as shopgirl, please be nice to her) as I am off to the wedding picnic of the year. You remember that Dell and Adam eloped to Japan? Well today is the official party to celebrate that union, so we are all off to a park up the road to spread our picnicking rugs and eat.
This weather is all a bit worrying, with the crazy rain and the ground a bit (!) damp but nothing a tarp or two won't fix. This morning is extremely beautiful with blue sky blown clear of clouds and a cooling breeze. I must remember to slap on the sunscreen, I have a tendency to fry lobster red.
We were all asked to bring a plate and Dell asked my to do small sweet things, so I've made chocolate crackles and marshmallow. None of those weird chocolate crackles with substitute ingredients that have been doing the rounds of the internet over the last few months, these are the traditional version, copha and all. If it ain't broke why fix it? And the marshmallows are homemade in vanilla and toasted coconut and fresh raspberry. I do love a good marshmallow which may be why I bought some photos by this lovely girl (they are off being framed).
So I better get off and get the shop in ship-shape for Madame du Barry- I'll be in until about 2pm if you need to see me!

Friday, 3 December 2010

jethro, the trolley and the tree

Jethro's completely tuckered out and it's only the Day 3 of December.
Yes, I splashed out and bought the silliest teal tinsel tree I could find. I haven't managed to decorate it- except for 5 fluffy birds I chucked in the branches lastnight, let's say it's a work in progress. I know I said tinsel is blinding in the Australian sunlight but I just couldn't help myself- the stupider the tree the better.
I'm off this morning to deliver a tiny bit of stock to Craft Vic and then to Marché Rouge and Handheld Gallery. I've just had a minor panic about how little stock we have and how much I need to do................. b-r-e-a-t-h-e.....

Thursday, 2 December 2010

l'uccello rosso di natale

I've been holding off telling you about this year's Marché Rouge. Not for any ulterior motive but more for the fact I thought you might forget with everything that is on and that if I gave you a day's notice you would be so excited you would have to move all your plans about to make sure you get to it.
The super talented Kim Hurley is opening up the Salon again this Xmas, she's decking the halls (quite literally) and she's convinced other people on the 2nd floor to come to the party. So if you have a love of vintage haberdashery and the handmade you better hot-foot it down to the Nicholas Building this  Friday or Saturday. I'll be there first thing Friday!!

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

advent ages

So here we are, the first day of December- summer, advent, Xmas, all that malarkey.
I've spent the last couple of days concentrating on making cushions and I think that may have been a bit too long to focus on one thing! Although I did get a couple of hats made and a little run of gingerbread hearts, I really shouldn't do just one thing for so long, I get a bit brain-dead. I'm hoping to clean the cutting table off tomorrow and get some new work cut, I have the fabric piling up ready to go and some prep that needs to be sorted for next week.
Late this afternoon I noticed a couple of the big white sacks I lug fabrics around in sitting next to a table in the studio. I wondered what was in them, thinking that it was the doilies I had washed last week. Checked the first one, yes, doilies, checked the second.... a bag full of tea-towels! I'd somehow managed to misplace it when I dragged the last batch of tea-towels upstairs to the studio and unpacked them. I'd thought at the time that it looked a bit light for 32kgs of tea-towels! It was like Xmas had come early!

Monday, 29 November 2010

for the christmas

Some days things just don't happen the way you hoped. Like the electricity in the studio flickering on and off all day and then finally dying. Of course the first thought was 'have I paid the bill?', then I went out  into the hallway and Michael stuck his head around the corner from his studio looking a bit worried and then mighty relieved when I asked 'no electricity?'. I gave up then, turned everything off and went to Officeworks to do some photocopying.
I spied this sign on the way out to get lunch. To start with I thought that 'fruit mint' must be some sort of new flavour and yuck sprang to mind. I'm definitely a bit slow at the moment.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

chain of evidence

Why does everything take me so long at the moment?
Xmas has only just slightly hit the Cottage, I've managed to get the paper chains up and the C,H,R,I,S,T,M,A,S letters hung but really that's pretty much it. Now I need to do a bit of stock juggling to find space to put out decorations and paraphernalia.
I'll get there I know but what a slow slog it is now.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

the score so far

The score currently stands The Lurgy 4- Miss Pen Pen 0.
My energy levels are rock bottom and I swear my brain is a shriveled prune. Don't tell me to drink more fluids or take gastrolyte (both of which I am doing) as I may a. burst out crying or b. tell you to bugger off in a snarling tone of voice.
I've been to the paint shop to get supplies for a new project this morning only to get the wrong colour, goes to show that a good cup of tea should be ingested before selecting paint, so will have to go back down before I open the shop.
Sorry for being grumpy this morning but I am blaming it half on The L and half on the humidity. I've decided that I should hibernate in a dark cool cave throughout the warmer months- it would be more pleasant for all if I did!
I've eaten an apricot danish from Fatto (first non-toast food since Wednesday) and am working my way to the bottom of my tea 'bucket' and am feeling a little more whole and a little calmer. I awoke this morning panicking about not having Xmas in the shop finally organised, this time of the year is just so overwhelming on both sides of the counter.
Better get moving, vacuuming to do, paint to buy, shop to open.

Friday, 26 November 2010

better late

Today's plan for being a good little studio worker bee didn't come to fruition today. I got there, I had a plan, plan went splat, I went home.  This bug is being really inconvenient- and it seems to have hitched a ride with Dell. I don't think the two of us could have worked our way out of a paperbag today!
I did get a few home jobs sorted, we got to put out new cream Frida dresses, for grown ups and for little ones (we have them in girls sizes 2-12, perfect for Xmas dresses) and I've finally finished making up a new batch of the Vintage Haberdashery boxes.....

.... and look they are in today's issue of The Age (melbourne) mag's spread of 100 presents under $100....

.... along with Nikki's Construction Pattern and ebony needles. 

Now I just need to get the Xmas decoration up and our Xmas stock out. How did I go from everything on track to I'm running late, late, late? 

Thursday, 25 November 2010

alas crewel world!

The heart wall is full again. I've been waiting all week for the herbs and spices to arrive and finally this afternoon I got stuffing! There is one lone black heart left- 4D or #19 if you prefer. In this batch are some beautiful crewel worked hearts (that is wool embroidery for the uninitiated, see #10 and 11) and some very lovely cross stitch ones (#1, 3, 15 and 18), even a few gold embroidered ones for a glitzy Xmas (#14).
We've also got a new batch of vintage lamp bases in, all rewired and ready to go, and Zara has sent down a new batch of the lovely short sleeved Sophie blouses in white.
I'm still feeling crappy (damn this lurgy)  but I'm heading to the studio tomorrow to get some things happening- not sure what yet but I'm sure I can find a project or five to get stuck into. I could always just spend the day cleaning and sorting, although I was saving that as a January treat.... sadly Xmas is barely a month away now......
Which brings us to the shop opening hours for this joyous festive season. We will be opening on Mondays as of next week, so that's the next four Mondays 11am until 6pm. We'll have some Sundays coming up too but not for a couple of weeks- I need a little bit of peace and quiet!


A nasty little hot weather bug has taken up residency in my gut. Yesterday was reduced to sleeping during the day under the whirring of the fan. It's a funny one (details of which I will not go into here I promise!).
I'm off to do a few things this morning but I've decided that if I'm still NQR by midday I can come home again. Mind you there are a thousand things I can do at home, some of them maybe even sitting in bed. Times like this I wish I had the TV in the bedroom like at the old place!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

sleigh of hand

Well Xmas is really on it's way..... this arrived today!
I grew up on 't'was the night before Christmas and all through the house....' so I couldn't help but get this in. This is a modern version of the old classic written by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and illustrated by Mr Rob- yes, that Mr Rob, Rob Ryan! I thought you might like it. It's little and sweet.
So here's a special deal. For $15 (the price of the book) we'll mail a copy to anywhere in Australia. If it's a present we'll pop a tag in with a message when we wrap it. You can either ring the shop, talk to a Cottager or leave a message on the answering machine, send an email (and pay by credit card or paypal) or go here to order it at our Big Cartel  site. (We have limited stock so we hope we won't disappoint you if we run out.)

Monday, 22 November 2010

time to decorate

After being stuck in the stinking non-aircon car, getting home to the fan was rather nice. I've spent the afternoon drinking far too many bottles of mango lassi (I love going to the Indian shops in Dandenong!) and making Xmas decorations. I'm about halfway there. Let's just say this years theme is.... calendar tea-towels! I know! Such a surprise! Ha ha.
I quite like it.
Very primary school. I used to love that time of year when the teachers had finally given up and the kinder squares and pots of Clag came out- time to make paper chains! There really is something about the lo-fi Xmas decoration, I'm a sucker for a bit of OTT tinsel but I sometimes think in bright Australian sunlight it could blind you at twenty paces.
I stopped in at the Xmas decoration shop on Johnston Street on the way back and had to laugh. They have Xmas trees with a description tag reading  'Brown Needle Pine Trees'. Let's just say they look exactly like all those pine trees that sprout up in inner city back laneways just after New Year! For $500 you can purchase a 'dead' Xmas tree! Whose bright idea was that?! Made me chuckle.

party time

I have to admit I am a bit blown away by the reception of the 'gingerbread' hearts! We only have eight left on the wall (and that is even after I restocked the wall repeatedly on Saturday)! I'll be making more and you never know what I might find in the studio to make them out of. Sadly I think that is it for the black ones, there are five left, but I have managed to find a piece of heavy embroidered green linen in a washing basket in the bedroom. Doilies appear in the most unlikely places around here.

I also scored 32 kilos of tea-towels and fabric on Friday and there are some great finds in this batch. I always feel a sense of relief when I get a fresh stash in, I may have thousands of the damn things but the fact that we get so few repeat designs means it's always exciting when I unpack and shake them all out. I have two of these 'party time' tea-towels, un-hemmed as they used to come so you could finish them as you liked. It amazes me that these have been sitting in someone's linen closet for so and they are in perfect condition. I love that the little black kitten gets to join in the party too with a bowl of milk, although with Mother wearing those heels and carrying trays around I suggest kitty keeps a safe distance.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

king of hearts

This week has been all about hearts.

Not just the 'gingerbread' hearts but more importantly the beating heart of a dear friend of mine.

I got the phone call early one morning to say this friend had had a heart attack and had just come through triple bypass surgery. It shook me to say the least. This was the crazy friend who would sneak into my hospital room late in the evening to talk to me quietly in the dark, who even ten years later calls me to check how I'm coping with the chronic pain left over from the accident and who, two days after I came out of intensive care, sent me a huge bunch of funeral lilies. A man who is naughty in so many way but who has the most generous and passionate heart of anyone I know.

Ich liebe dich.