Friday, 29 January 2010


I've been trying to get work started and finished and anything in between.
Trying to find that well of inspiration and enthusiasm. This January has been a very hard month, struggling to get excited about climbing the mountain that is a new year. Dates and calendars may just be a construct we use to frame our time in this world but jeez Louise they play havoc with one's head- already a twelfth of the year gone.....
Yesterday I made a couple of new Polly pinnies and sampled the Butterfly top we have in store as a kind of tunic/dress, something I've been intending to do for months. I made it in a beautiful Italian shirting poplin, washed it up last night and am wearing it today. I'm wearing my black cover-all apron over the top which was a good move as I managed to splash breakfast all over myself. I really need to get these aprons done too, I wear mine all the time. 

Shopgirl today, although I have such a comfortably full tummy from breakfast at Birdman Eating, that I could crawl back into bed. Tomorrow though I intend to develop a deep and meaningful relationship with my pillows and sleep as long and as much as I want. If someone could slip the Sunday papers under the door it would be much appreciated.

Wednesday, 27 January 2010


Just back from seeing Colin Meloy do a solo set at The Toff in Town. This week has been all about The Decemberists. Most excellent! Colin is a fabulous performer who you just want to bring home for a roast dinner and a nice chat.
This week has also in a half-arsed way been about attempting to get this year 'started'. January has not been a good month for me, with a serious lack of energy and not even having the strength to procrastinate. The next stage, if things don't get happening, is to feel overwhelmed with guilt for not getting anything done. And so the vicious cycle starts. 
I did get to the studio today but just found it so hard to settle. Flitted from knitting scarves to cutting patterns to darning the hole in a pair of jeans. I must say my bum now feels much more secure after this repair. Now I have to darn an identical hole in my other pair of identical jeans- weird huh?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

lamington day

I'm off to an Oystralya Dai bbq this afternoon. Normally I'd be working in the studio, public holidays are great for getting work done usually , no interruptions, no excuses, but I am trying to be a little more social.
So my 'bring a plate' obligation is lamingtons. It's all about the sponge cake around here at the moment. I don't know why people find sponges so hard (except when the devouring locusts hear that there is leftover ginger fluff in the fridge and arrive just as the first lamington sponge goes in the oven and then regal me with chat and I burn the damn thing.... then sponges are crispy hard).
And I am taking lamb-with- a-handle gentle marinaded in Maggie Beer's vino cotto (which I am totally obsessed with at the moment and worth every cent of it's steep price tag), olive oil, garlic and pepper and salt. Gotta have lamb on Oystralya Dai.
Oh and BundaBeer. Gotta have Bundaberg Ginger Beer.

Monday, 25 January 2010

ginger fluff sponge

Had a visitor over for tea and cake and a chat, hence the massive house clean and purge. I am the walking dead from all the sorting and vacuuming and shoving stuff into drawers. You wouldn't recognise the place, well it's not totally clean or anything- I think I am incapable of ever living anywhere that is pristine and minimal- but you can certainly see more of the horizontal surfaces than normal. It won't last long trust me.
Even made ginger fluff sponge. Of course it has collapsed under its own weight in cream. It was two inches taller two hours ago. Bit like me. I think an afternoon nap might be in order, what with seeing The Decemberists  last night and massive bouts of cleaning frenzy, I think I'm about to turn into a pumpkin.

Saturday, 23 January 2010

enamel ware

Even as a kid I loved enamel ware. Take me to a disposal store- and they were real disposal stores back in the day- and I could be found hovering around the shelves of enamel plates and mugs. I don't know quite what it is about it, maybe the colours (although I am very picky about particular colours), maybe it's the oldy-worldy charm of it. Finally I got my hands on a big enamel mug to sadly learn the lesson that metal convects heat a little too well. When we were growing up mum always had an enamel bowl under the sink for the dripping, not the 'tap dripping' but the fat rendered off the Sunday roast dripping. And really I am coming to the conclusion that that was what made those Sunday lamb roasts so heavenly. I hate the 'new roasts' with their fat sliced off, dry, tough and inedible, you have to soak them in marinades and oils to make them a little juicy and what's the point of that? Thanks to movements like Slow Food we are getting back in touch with the tried old ways of cooking. Dripping and lard and all those flavoursome (naughty) fats make things like roasts and pastry and plum puddings so deliriously good. 
And that's what enamel ware conjures for me- good 'plain' cooks baking delicious meals in kitchens without gadgets, a few pots and pans, a handful of utensils and a good oven.

Yesterday's mini haul included four matching enamel pie dishes (two large, 1 medium, 1 small) and three large russet enamel bowls. Then there was the to other Chinese enamel bowls I didn't get that I am slightly kicking myself over. Oh well.

Friday, 22 January 2010

it's fryerstown time again

Every Australia Day weekend it's time for the Fryerstown Antique Market.
I hit the road today in the muggy heat and checked out every stall. It wasn't that great this year and the reports I heard later were that everyone was a bit disappointed. But it's worth it for the CFA sausage sizzle and flies.

I tromped through the dust and got coated. There is nothing like getting home and washing off that fine goldfields powder. Even my shoes ended up in the shower.

It's dried out a lot although in some paddocks there is a layer of green under the parched stalks from the last fall of rain we had. It was overcast the whole way and even with sunscreen I still have slightly burnt bits. I am sitting here wishing the cool change would come through, tired from the driving as I did the loop and headed back through Hepburn Springs and Daylesford to pick some stuff up. 
I also visited A Day on Earth (as did Allison today I see) and I have to say how shockingly disappointed I was- although I was never impressed by David Bromley's old shop in Daylesford- or indeed his artwork. Finishes and patinas stripped off great furniture and objects which have then been refinished really badly. Breaks my heart. (Oh and I hate shops that don't actually know what they are selling and just make it up.) He's a full on self-publicist though, something I both admire and loathe in quite a few people who seem to get the publicity needed to run a business these days (but that is another story for another day). I think I am dehydrated, although I have managed to down at least 4 litres of water today, and certainly tired beyond belief. Shopgirl Saturday tomorrow so bed calls.

Thursday, 21 January 2010

valentine's day display.......

On the way home from Mr Cruikshank's exhibition opening at Craft Vic I spied this display in the window of Haigh's Chocolates on Collins Street. Some one seems to have a sense of humour there. Wonder how long it will last. Let me know if you wander by and it's still there!

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

apologies to mrs smith

Sometimes I feel a little guilty for cutting up someones hand embroidered tablecloth or doily. 
So my apologies to Mrs Vera Constance Iris (or Violet Claudette Irene or Veronique Coco Imogen or.....) Smith. I am sorry for cutting up your lovely tablecloth but I did turn  it into a lovely dress.

I've just jiggled the window display and now the three girls are all wearing Polly pinafores. 
The Pollys have been incredibly popular and there are 5 colour combinations in-store at the moment but be warned there is not every size in every colour/embroidery. Polly 1 is worn over the top of the last vintage French linen chemise and cinched in with an Emerge Queen belt, Polly 2 with a linen Textinoms top and Hester cotton voile skirt and Polly 3 is wearing Daisy pants and glass cloth jacket.

Also on shop news- there is only one glass cloth quilt left! If you have been umming-and-ahhing over one then you better hurry. The next batch will definitely be different as my stash of these types of cloths has been sadly depleted. This quilt is lovely it has just been hanging on the wall in the corner.

Tuesday, 19 January 2010

golden globes

I went out to pick up the first of this year's batch of gloves this morning. Last time I went up I noticed a fruit tree by the side of the road, I stopped and checked it but the fruit wasn't ripe. This time though- perfect. It's a big tree with lichen speckled branches and the fruit dropped from the boughs when I reached out. It's a plum but the fruit tastes almost like apricots to start and then the plumminess comes through at the end, small and sweet. I discovered that our tea-towel shoppers make excellent harvesting bags!

I also got to meet this little orphan who Jen is hand raising. 
He's not a jabberwocky or a cockatrice, he's a budgie.

Monday, 18 January 2010

a typical day

I've either been under a knitting machine or unpicking mistakes today. I realised what a bad idea having black floors in the studio was when I dropped and lost 2 cir-clips while working on getting the knitting machines up and running. And I realised it's a good idea to sew awake rather than half asleep if you don't want to have to take an almost finished garment apart and re-sew it.
I went down to my sewing machine heaven to talk machines and had to take a pic of this one above- sums things up really. What a brilliant brand name!
Yesterday I got to meet Char and Dave in person, which was just lovely. They were having a jet lag break in Melbourne on their way through from Britain to New Zealand and dropped in. I got Green and Black's- haha to all you crazed G&B's addicts out there- mine all mine mwhahahahahahaha!

I'm off east tomorrow to pick up the first batch of winter gloves and then on Friday I've got another country run in the opposite direction. Come next week though I really have to attempt to be more focused and productive. I can't work out why I am so flibbity-jibbit at the moment, January seems to have had sprung a leak and each day there is a little less of it.

Sunday, 17 January 2010


I am sitting here, procrastinating, watching the rain sweeping in curtains across the city buildings, followed by patches of blue sky and billowing glowing white clouds. I had an atrocious night's sleep, wracked with bad dreams about murder and guilt. Perhaps it was due to all those Natural Confectionary Company Party Mix lollies I ate before bed. 
So now I've drowned my sorrows in maple syrup (the real stuff not that hideous fake corn syrup goop), French toast and tea but I feel like the evil of the night is still just lurking behind my right shoulder. I know the bad dreams are really from some unprocessed stuff that came up yesterday but I don't know what is making me feel worse, the actual or the imaginary. 
And just to let you know I didn't actually kill anyone in the dreams but I was the accomplice who knew it was going on and didn't do anything about it. Hence the guilt by association, which is worse in a way. 

Perhaps a bit of cleaning is in order (house not mind!) and I have barely a week in which to get this place ship-shape. A deadline looms!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

polly pinafore

And the new Polly pinafores in today.

Busy morning what with the cucumber, the danish, the glass of water somecat knocked on the floor in the kitchen (wondered why he was running around with wet paws), taking photos, writing blog posts, organising for the day........ could go back to bed for a nap now!

the first danish of the year

Babka re-opened yesterday.
All's well with the world.

'jethro! how did this cucumber get upstairs?!'

So you've heard the stories of Jethro and the beans, cucumber stalks and chillis.
Well he's taken the next step and is now stealing whole Lebanese cucumbers.
I went downstairs on Thursday night to find him sitting at the bottom of the stairs with a cucumber he had taken off the kitchen bench. I put it back on the bench. Friday evening he took it again but this time he locked himself in the shop with it. I've watched him hold it in his front paws, bite its 'head' off and bunny-kick its 'guts' out with his back feet. This morning I found it upstairs. 
A boy and his cucumber should never be parted.

Thursday, 14 January 2010

weird stuff

Running around done today, I have knitting machines in the back of the car. Now need to lug them upstairs to the studio and they are heavy buggers.
I also got a bit of opping done. A few more framed tapestries for the collection- some to keep and some to use- and a stunner left for me at the shop by Charlotte! A flamingo! This one is a keeper!
I also scored an embroidered friendship tablecloth at the Salvo's. It isn't a totally traditional 'friendship' piece as it hasn't been sighed by individuals, rather one person has written the names of everyone who was there. Oh and the other thing is.... it's covered in sayings from the Bible. Anna thinks it is incredibly creepy. I find it a bit crazy. We are both agreed that I should pop it in the 'Archive'.
And the cushion above..... well I didn't buy it but I had to get a picture. Yes it is real fur. If you are interested in it drop me a line and I'll let you know where it can be found.

Wednesday, 13 January 2010

back to work

Finally I'm back in the studio. 
I realised over the last week how incomplete I am when I am not making stuff. As tired as I have been, I feel a bit more energised by actually starting to get back in the creative groove. And being up and about it seems to be helping with the sciatic nerve problem (fingers crossed) because the pain in my hip is starting to drive me insane. I am so old and decrepit!
I went to the studio today not totally sure as to what I was going to work on. I've wanted to start a batch of garments that layer up so the first thing is a loose pinafore with deep armholes and adjustable straps. The front and back yokes are cut from embroidered panels and body from lovely checked and striped cottons. There not in store yet but very soon.

Tomorrow I'm heading out to check out some knitting machines, to replace the one I stuffed last winter, and maybe see if there are some op shops open. That's the problem with January,the oppies are on holiday but if you time it just right you can get a good haul when they re-open!

Monday, 11 January 2010

you rip just what you sew*

Yesterday was a drive out of Melbourne for a postponed Xmas lunch with the family. The air-conditioner in the car is kaput and it's not really worth spending the money to get it repaired. It was hot. I finally managed to get a picture of this old house that I have driven by for years and never managed to stop to photograph. As you barrel along the road you can only see it in one direction and I managed to pull over this time. It's had a new roof put on recently but there is something about it I love, the two big windows like eyes looking out on the world.

Today is going to be even hotter and I just couldn't bring myself to go to the studio but perhaps that is also part of the January doldrums. Any excuse will do to do nothing.

I've got the newspaper, a couple of technical books to investigate, fans in every room, cool drinks in the fridge and a total lack of motivation about my life. This should be fun. Ran into a friend whilst out picking up the newspaper and he asked if I had any plans for the year...... oh dear, should I have 'plans'? I've never been able to get my head around '3 year plans', '5 year plans', they always seem like a crock of sh*t. Call them 'as-if-wish-list' and I maybe able to deal with them (yes, even though I don't like lists). There are too many variables in life but maybe that's always been my problem, I like things to meander on, grow organically, take Serendipity by the throat and give her a good shake. Today is for lying in front of the fan and thinking and wishing I had air-con in the studio.

*Listening to Carter Family in the car yesterday singing 'you reap just what you sow'. Just like Sookie's vampires I love a bit of nerdy word play.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

thinking ice cubes, ice blocks, icebergs, ice clinking in long glasses of ginger beer...

So here we are in for a bout of hot, hot, hot weather. 
It will be me sitting in the shop in front of the fan today. It will be me sitting in an unair-conditioned car tomorrow going to the family's postponed Xmas. It will be me on Monday quite possibly hiding at home with the curtains drawn (41ºC is just too much and I just feel disinclined to spend it at the studio). 
So while the images of snow bound Europe seem so foreign and exciting while we swelter, I know that there are people stuck in the freeze with no power and transport. And I know a few parties who are hopping on planes in the next few weeks to come back to the Antipodes. Let's hope those plane can take off- or rather that they can get to the airport which is probably more of an issue!

I've been having strange dreams of late. Mainly centred around Tasmania. Like I said 'strange dreams'. I think it's the heat. I've been dreaming of the cold and the rain and the verdancy that I so enjoyed in August. If I look at the weather reports before going to bed then I dream of Hobart and the doily tree in the park down there. This dream involved visiting the park and supposing that the doilies would be gone but coming around the corner to discover it sitting in the centre of masses of yarn bombing. Crochet and knitting dangling and looping from branch to branch as if it had all miraculously come to nest there. And people had hung wishes and dreams in amongst it all. So weather maps give me strange dreams bit like cheese before bed.

Friday, 8 January 2010

handy-girl limps back into town

I have to say I can barely move today but the splash back is 'finished'. 
It may all fall off the wall tomorrow but today I can stand back and look at it (faults and all).
New taps, new spout, gleaming silver (pressed aluminum) as far as the eye can see. Of course the walls were not square or even flat- which is why the second big panel doesn't want to stay stuck to the wall. Oh and there is the pattern overlay that doesn't match because somehow between measuring etc I forgot what I was doing..
Hell- it's a rental property!

Really over  this renovation lark. There is always that point where I just think 'why did I start this?!'

Time to get back in the studio I think.

Just need to finish painting the walls in the 'backyard'. I'll do that when

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

handy-girl rides again

Still feeling like a lead-arse. As someone said to me today it doesn't bode well when you feel this tired and it's start of the year. Mind you 'start of the year' is an artificial construct anyway. 
I haven't finished with summer yet but I have been getting things started for winter. 
I delivered the angora yarn today and have worked out how to install the splash back in the kitchen (these two things are connected as I need to get the splash-back in before I start dyeing again). I spent time this afternoon attempting to get the spout and taps off the wall and after a trip to Bunnings for a new shiny set I can proudly say I managed to install them all by myself! So the 'handy-girl list' currently stands at
*new sliding door mechanism installed
*new lock on the back gate
*backyard painted (well almost)
*new taps and spout in kitchen
Do a little dance.
Talking to the plumbering guy at Bunnings this afternoon I commented that sometimes I wished I was one of those people who just paid someone else to do the jobs around the house and he said 'but where's the fun in that?'. I have to agree, I may not always do the best job but I always have fun and a great sense of satisfaction getting there. 

Making things, repairing things, baking things. All good.

Tuesday, 5 January 2010

aisle be seeing you

Yesterday I had to go out to Footscray and I got to have a play in one of those crazy Asian variety stores. I saw wobbling plastic lobsters on sticks and bead curtains painted with grazing deer and shelves and shelves of cooking stuff. In amongst all this crockery I found the last two enamel platters to go with the Enamel Collection. I had forgotten how much fun these shops are. So full of crap! And sometimes it's useful crap! 
I still can't quite bring myself getting completely back in the swing of things. I got three hours of painting in this morning and I'm not far off finishing painting the 'backyard'. I've just got the top ladder climbing five courses of bricks to go. So close! And I've managed, after three months, to finally fix the lock on the backgate, now I can go in and out, excellent.
Tomorrow I'll be heading up country to deliver glove yarn and start the preparations for winter 2010. Hopefully this week I'll also be doing a swap and getting a new workhorse knitting machine to replace the one I damaged last winter (which is why there were so few scarves last year). And I still have summer work to do. And I'm going to a wedding next week and I have nothing to wear. Really I'd quite like to hide out for the next couple weeks, curl up under the quilt and hibernate. I'm still out of whack. Tired. January can be a right bugger of a month.

Sunday, 3 January 2010

a grinding halt

I wandered slowly through the city this afternoon. I seem to have ground to an achy halt and now need to find some energy to start the year off. I have a list of errands to sort out and really must finish/start cleaning the Cottage's 'backstage' area. The shop has re-opened as of last Saturday and now the studio needs to get fired up. I have lots of re-stocking to do and planning to undertake but I also need to get in the car and venture out and about, I've been a little cabin bound and need to venture a little further afield I think.
And I haven't finished painting the walls out the back.
Better hop to it then!

Saturday, 2 January 2010

get up!

Damn it was hard to get out of bed this morning. I let the alarm do its full snooze run but on the last one Jethro jumped off his chest of drawers stalked up the bed and sat next to my shoulder and clawed the quilt until I got up. How the hell he knew it was the final bell I will never know but he got me out of bed, hustled me downstairs and I fired the oven up, got the dough out, put the kettle on, had a shower, stuck the bread in to bake and stumbled back to bed for a half hour read under the covers. Jethro is so bossy.
This sleeping in lark has really crept up on me. I just want to stumble back into bed. I had a bad night's sleep last night, probably due to thinking as I turned the light out 'what would happen if the alarm failed and I didn't wake up and there were irate customers outside the shop....?' and a mosquito who spent the night dive bombing me. I swear it seemed like every 15 minutes I'd wake with a start and then try to get back to sleep. So that is my excuse if you come into the shop today and I talk even more drivel than I usually do.

Friday, 1 January 2010

a new day

There really is nothing like watching New Year fireworks from your own window.
What a lazy way to start the new decade.
And sleeping in and lolling about.
Although I did do the laundry and mopped the shop floor ready for tomorrow.
And made bread dough ready to go into the oven tomorrow morning.
I'm not one for making New Year's resolutions but I think that making a loaf of bread now and then might be one that I feel like sticking to. At least I can slice it up, chuck it in the freezer and have it all ready for toasting when I feel like it. That's a good way to start the year I think. Making your own bread is so simple and alchemical. A mound of flour, a bit of salt, some water and fresh yeast, glorious yeast, and there you have a lump of pure gold, crunchy on the outside, fluffy on the inside. A perfect metaphor for the New Year I think.