Sunday, 28 February 2010

the dyeing days of summer

On the final day of summer I've started the annual glove dyeing. This goes on for months through out autumn and winter. My kitchen becomes overrun with gloves and fluff and little bits of yarn. Jethro likes to 'help' by lying in the middle of the floor- great for OHandS when one is lugging big pots of boiling water around. My hands become stained with layers of colour and crinkly with all the washing and soaking. I can't believe its another year on, another pile of gloves, another 100kg of yarn. 
The new scarves are looking mighty fine all piled in their box on the table and this is only the first batch, in the first four colours. It is really quite amazing what can be achieved with an extra couple of days in the studio (hope I haven't just jinxed myself there) or rather extra days to run errands so that studio days don't get chewed up by chores. Now I need to turn those days into money, yes money, the evil thing that greases the wheels and pays the bills. 

Saturday, 27 February 2010

kitten placated

Jethro decided to attack my feet in bed last night, I don't know what I did to upset him. When he attacks you don't know whether to scream at the needle sharp teeth or giggle from the tickling paws.  
So to placate him this morning I picked up a copy of the new Green Magazine. A full page about the Cottage and yes that's His Majesty sitting proudly on the table (and me smug in the background).

the end of summer is nigh

Today and tomorrow and Summer will be done and dusted. In theory. Roll on autumnal days in Melbourne, really the best time to visit.
Had another batch of cushions to finish yesterday (these damn things have been growing legs and walking out the door lately!), lots of crazy Queensland ones and Dell and I loved it that this one matched her beautiful fruit salad brooches. Dell is working on a commission for the Food and Wine Festival, pop over here to check out her fruity goodness!

Thursday, 25 February 2010

tea towel love

I've spent this week making stuff out of tea towels and making stuff out of wool.... winter is on it's way. I've set up the 'knitting division' of Pencorp (haha) and have even managed to get the first batch of scarves 4/5s finished (yay for me!), just a bit of handfinishing, blocking and label attaching to go.
We have been churning through cushions over the last few weeks and I needed to get more done this week but managed to run out of zips this afternoon. In the sorting I came across these two tea towels and they are my current favs- Queensland Oil Field (!) and a beautiful apple-y Tasmania (now known as the Matthew Evans memorial tea-towel).

Sometimes tea towels just make me smile.

Tuesday, 23 February 2010

so where were you?

We were out SLAMing (save live australian music). 
Jen, Ben and Pen and a whole pile of other people. Ben's first march and he loved it! 
We ended up right next to the band on the truck and a fabulous time it was. Kids everywhere and 20+ years of inner-city familiar faces .
Glad I went even if I felt like I was going to run into ex-boyfriends I didn't want to see!

Saturday, 20 February 2010

a change in the light

In the last week you can feel the change towards autumn. Beautiful clear blue skies, a slightly cooler breeze, fresher mornings, the sun not having quite so much bite and the light shifting in the studio. The light now strikes on the edge of the louvres and prisms over the walls and cutting table. Twice a year there is my own private light show for a few weeks. 

Yesterday was a long haul cushioning day and a grand total of 45 zips were put in. Some days doing zips can completely screw with my head but I managed to get through without too many headaches for once. I should put a note on the wall saying 'remember zips aren't too bad' because I always blow jobs like that out in my head, as being awful and then procrastinate over doing them. 
I think I'm also still carrying around with me the feeling that I only have 3 days a week in the studio, as I've had for the last 2 and a half years, and am trying to get my head around those extra 2 days I've got back. And having those days has been lucky with all the appointments and meetings I've had of late. I may be worried about paying the bills but at the same time I'm feeling far less stressed and frustrated. 

(craft)busting out!

Here is Dell with her head buried in the first edition of 'Craftbusters!', the latest creation of those hard living ladies over at handmadelife!
Ramona dropped a bundle off to me yesterday, hot off the photocopier, and they will be in the Cottage for sale today at the measly price of $5 a copy. A lovely 'letters to the editor' romp through the world of bad 50s/60s/70s and eighties craft. I am thinking of giving the balaclava pattern a whirl and Dell and I have been eyeing off fig trees from Fitzroy to Preston for the jam recipe (although we aren't sure about the inclusion of sesame seeds).
And if you can't make it to the Cottage to pick up your copy you can also buy it at Sticky or from the ladies online.

Thursday, 18 February 2010

completely bunted

OK, this is not OK.
I got home tonight after a hard day at the studio, working, working, working, to discover I have a rash spreading across my chest. Like I haven't dealt with a bout of gastro and my back and hip flaring up over the last two weeks to suddenly come down with some other 'thing'. Has my body decided to purge itself clean? How bizarre. How annoying. I know, too much information about my boring health. So I'm thinking an early night with some painkillers for the headache and a prayer that when I wake up in the morning the rosy rash has gone and I can spend the day productively and constructively toiling at the textile coal face.
Fingers crossed.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

old bleach (it's how i feel sometimes)

I've got 20 metres of quilt prep finished, some new surprise cushions and am halfway through working on new stripy purses. Working in the studio is a lot like working out, I need to get into practice and build my stamina up. At the moment I'm thinking a daybed for an afternoon nap would be fabulous. Now I am shop/studio focused I need to work out a system of rewards/incentives to stave off the boredom and keep the interest on a high. Self employment and motivation can be  difficult bedfellows.

Tuesday, 16 February 2010

tomorrow the world

The camera is still at the studio so I'm relying on the iPhone at the moment.
I spent the day at the Cottage with these talented people, we ate chocolate almond cake and I hung about like a spare wheel.
Tomorrow the studio, lots of work to do and things to get sorted. I did get to the printers this afternoon to order the new postcards and this evening I managed to change the window display- the budgies have landed. I managed to catch Jethro being coo-ed over by a crowd of people earlier. He was curled up on a pouffé, one eye slightly cracked as they tapped on the window- he hates it when people do that! I've seen him turn his back on people because of their knocking to get his attention.
Where will I start tomorrow? So many things to do and so many places to start. Having so much choice makes life difficult sometimes!

Monday, 15 February 2010

division of the spoils

I managed to leave the camera at the studio this evening so you are just going to have to put up with a Jethro shot. 
It's been a funny old day with a pile of errands to run, a job offer (turned down), prep for quilts started and thinking, thinking, thinking.
I've mainly been trying to work out how to divvy up the crumpet.
I've decided I'll move to Cygnet with Evans but I'm taking May with me as I know he would like to try out a bit of his Finnish rally driving on the Tasmanian roads and I'm sure he and the farmer would get on. They both like to cook and have a drink and I'll need May to drive me from op-shop to op-shop and, luckily with his bad sense of direction, I am also good with a map.
Now I'm leaving McCloud in his natural habitat of Europe so he can be there when we all go over on a 'cultural' tour. His language skills will be in hot demand I am sure. Importantly we need to see if we can hook him up with Clooney and then we will have a lovely house to stay at on Lake Como.
Hamster will of course go to Birdie as I won't hear the last of it if she has to share him.
Clarkson can stay in front of his computer and send through poetic car stories each week as he is probably better at a distance.
And that leaves Tennant and Simm and that's where things get a little fuzzy.......... they definitely need to be kept for a special occasion...........

Sunday, 14 February 2010


This is seriously going to be the silliest post ever, probably even exceedingly embarrassing.

And it's all about the surfeit of thinking woman's crumpet on the box at the moment.

First up there is Mr Tennant finishing his wounded portrayal of the good Doctor (and, yes, there were tears tonight and, yes, there will be tears next Sunday) on ABC. I should also include John Simm here for his tow headed crazy Master.

Then over on SBS we have Matthew Evans bumbling about as the Gourmet Farmer. I have plans to move to Cygnet to help him out as it is completely obvious he needs the help of a crafty handygirl. I think I fell in love with him via his recipes in the Saturday Age and have to admit I went to Cygnet on the Tasmania Op-Shop Tour of 2009 to scope out the lay of the land. Just to add a degree of Kevin Bacon to Mr Evans, our lovely Dell's fiancé, the hugely talented Mr Cruikshank, did the graphic design on his cookbook- not bad huh?!

Now back to ABC for Mr McCloud's Grand Tour. If he is going to continue drinking I am more than willing to drive. Watch him flip out from vertigo was a sight to behold and charmingly natural and vulnerable. In fact, so far, all these blokes are wonderfully vulnerable and we all know how endearing that can be- as long at the last minute they save the day, come through with the goods, feed us and, especially, make us laugh.

And finally the blokes to beat all blokes, that giggling Trio of Lads- Hammond, Clarkson and May. I'm not happy about the defection to the Evil Empire of Channel 9 but an addiction to beautifully filmed cars and landscapes, erudite voice-overs and stupid games is too hard to give up. How I wish SBS had managed to keep hold of them and I know I will want to kill 9 for its overload of ads and they had better not mess with the length of each episode or there will be hell to pay.

So that is my list of current cumpet- hope you have enjoyed snacking!

budgie dreaming

Jethro has found having budgies (dead and stuffed) in the house to be just too overwhelming.
When they are in a cardboard box and out of sight then the world is fine but out of the box he becomes 'budgie drunk', he wants to be their 'friend'. Watching them being caged was almost too much for him and if his toes were any longer (and he does have incredibly long toes) then they wouldn't even be safe in their cages. 

Saturday, 13 February 2010

pillow talk

OK let's getting things straight between us, it's not you, it's me, and I know I'm being pedantic, but these are NOT pillows they are cushions, c-u-s-h-i-o-n-s. It's an Americanism to call them pillows and here in Australia I am abiding by British English. Pillows are what you sleep on, cushions are what you lounge on and this is by way of letting you know we have a big new batch of tea towel cushions all ready and in store. Lots of patterned and florally 50s through to the 70s ones and in the next week or so a new batch of Australiana ones. Dell and I took them all down yesterday and re-piled them so you never know what you might have missed in past fossickings that were tucked away right at the back.

It's been a strange ol' week here at the Cottage. A visit from Nikki that involved sitting and knitting and chatting with each of us sitting in front of a swirling fan in the sweltering heat. Finally doing something about my bung back and hip that resulted in excruciating pain and agony and having to retire to bed for an afternoon but then finding by Friday I could actually walk relatively painless for the first time in ages. Ah, chronic pain, how you colour my life. The Endless Garment opening on Thursday. Finding out I won't be teaching this year and being both pissed off and gloriously excitedly happy about that, and, yes, actually finding new ideas popping into my head like bright little flames. Now I just have to keep track of those damned elusive little fireflies of thought. And making phone calls and chasing things and hopefully feeling a bit more positive and excited about things in general (once again thanks chronic pain for making everything that bit harder). In hindsight perhaps this week will be one of those where I get to slough off my snake skin (I'm a Wood Snake and it is Chinese New Year tonight) and come out all fresh and sparkly. Here's hoping.

Wednesday, 10 February 2010

nikki and the endless garment

Tomorrow night is going to be a big night. Nikki has flown in from NZ as she is starring in an exhibition that is about to open at the RMIT Gallery. The exhibition is all about machine knitting and Nikki is the only Australian designer included in the show. So there will be archival pieces and special garments, created on the 'whole garment' Shima Seiki machines, that have been developed just for this exhibition on display. 

Nik is also hosting a workshop on Friday based on her range of Construction patterns. These can be booked through the gallery. 

And this leads to the next exciting bit of news!!

Nikki dropped by yesterday and delivered a bundle of the Construction Patterns, some of her beautiful bespoke yarn and her special ebony knitting needles. The yarn is the lovely chunky wool version and hopefully we'll be getting in some of the alpaca in the future. 
I was helping Nik handknit some panels up from the patterns yesterday and I have to say they were easy and lovely to work on. The Construction Pattern #1 is knitted with chunky yarn  on big 25 mm needles and is super quick to do. The Pattern #2 is designed for 15 mm needles and the Alpaca yarn but  you don't need to use Nikki's yarns, you can substitute other wools simply by checking the specs and perhaps knitting a test square. 
The great thing about these patterns is that you actually participate in 'designing' the garment, adding and subtracting pieces to create a unique piece. They are also fabulous experiments in seeing how simple squares and rectangles  can make a garment. 

Late breaking news!!- check out the giveaway over at Design Files.

valentine's marché rouge

Lovely Kim Hurley is hosting another Marché Rouge sale in her wonderful studio in the Nicholas Building over the next three days starting tomorrow. She has set up in the beautiful boardroom on the second floor, all amazing French doors and parquetry floors. She collects lovely vintage haberdashery and makes up great ephemera and handicraft kits (these are the real deal and wonderfully well priced too). I wish that I had a chance to take some photos when I visited today!
She's about to organise wonderful embroidery classes for the winter months so I'll let you know as soon as she sends through details. The class teacher is a hugely talented embroiderer so if you want to learn this is going to be a fabulous chance to start simple and develop your skills. Stay tuned.

Monday, 8 February 2010

will you be my friend?

Jethro got himself some new friends today.

Don't fret! 
They are all stuffed!
Yes a flock of budgies arrived in the mail today. And, before you get upset, they all died of natural causes before being taxidermed (is that a word?).
I do love budgies and these ones are easy to look after!

dell delights design files

Our darlingest Dell has appeared on Lucy's fabulous blog The Design Files today!
We are all very excited and think Luce's girl-crush is just too cute- mainly because everyone who knows Dell has a crush on her!
And we are very proud at the Cottage to stock the Dellywood range of fabulous brooches- how about a heart of wood for Valentines Day (love that pun)? All handcut, all handpainted and all extremely beautiful- just like Dell (except for the handcut and the handpainted bits).

Sunday, 7 February 2010

mr moustachio

Who is this exceedingly handsome young man who came into the shop yesterday?
I'm not sure he is a natural blonde with a moustache that dark but he is incredibly dapper all the same.

If you know him let me know.........

Saturday, 6 February 2010

from here to there

Sometimes in my life I wish I had a map or someone who would quietly take me aside and say 'it's going to be OK'. Perhaps part of my quandary at the moment is that the shop is about to turn two and I need to look at the next stage in its evolution.
For the last few years I have been supplementing my income by teaching and this year I am not sure whether it is going ahead and, on the other hand, whether I should be take it if it is offered. It all comes down to the money/time equation. When I teach I have extra money to plough back into the shop but I lose two days of the week. When I don't teach I often feel the pinch of lack of cash flow but then I am less frustrated by those missing two days. I seem to spend most of my life promising people stock that I often can't get done, coming up with ideas I have to shelve due to lack of time and falling exhausted into bed at the end of the day. 
Round and round the mulberry tree.
I think I know which path I have to take but I am finding quite difficult to step out on it. Hell- by tomorrow I might have changed my mind again. 
As I just said...... round and round the mulberry tree.

Friday, 5 February 2010

lottie, lettie and hettie do the washing

It was time for a window display change so Lottie, Lettie and Hettie, the window mannequins, washed the bag of old aprons and hung them up to dry.

Ok it was actually me who washed them and ironed them and hung them out but I really can't be bothered standing still in the window 24 hours a day so I am quite happy for the 'girls' to take the credit. The Cottage looks like a Chinese Laundry at the moment which is kind of apt really. If you can get your hands on a copy of the Fitzroy History Society's fascinating little book about Gertrude Street (I think Dan from Artisan Books down the road has a few copies left) and turn to page 71 you will find that 67 Gertrude Street was a Chinese Laundry from the 1880 'til the 1960s and, on page 16, you can check out the list of Gertrude Street women who signed the Women's Suffrage Petition in 1891, including Mrs Coupland from #67. Nice huh? This is one of the pleasures of living in an old (for Australia) area, checking out the history of place.

24 hour party people

So my writhing stomach 'kittens' (see yesterday's post) was a simple 24 hour gastro by the looks of it. After a lot of sleep and lolling about the cramps and fever seem to have left the building. Thankfully. So I am up and about and getting ready to head out to do errands and then hit the studio. 
I was having trouble choosing a photo for this blog so opted for the picture above of a very large tapestry I scored a couple of weeks ago. It is about a metre in length. As I said very large. Now on first glance it look like a nice little picket fence weatherboard..... but look closer.....
the perspective is so hilariously skewed that you start to feel like you are in an Escher picture!
It has amused me no end in the studio as I walk passed it. 

Thursday, 4 February 2010


I woke up, at 4 this morning. out of dream that I was wrangling a shopping trolley full of kittens to realise that the squirming feeling was actually my gut and things weren't 'right'. 
A nasty bout of gastro that I am really hoping is of the 24 hour variety. 
I almost passed out at the chemist this morning and the short walk home was shaky and sweaty. The day has been sleeping and moving slowly and this evening vegemite toast.
Apart from being perpetually tired and often in pain from old injuries I don't often get actually ill so I'm sure I will be grumpy and frustrated by tomorrow and hopefully over the shakes and can get out to run errands and sort a few things out. 
I managed to get half of the new blue Agathas done yesterday but if I get into the studio tomorrow I have a huge list of other things to start. The shop is looking a bit empty.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

agatha does a melba

Well TPGi's internet connection was crash-and-burn last night so I am finally catching up on my emails and posts this morning. Annoying and boring.
Yesterday I managed to finish the first new batch of Agatha dresses- due to popular demand Agatha is doing a Nellie Melba and is back for a return season. The Agatha was the drawstring neck and waist cotton voile dress we did last summer and I'm speeding through a couple of new batches while this hot weather is hovering over us. Even though they are saying that the February forecast is looking mild I'll bet you it will still be summer frock weather right up until April and autumn hits. So there is a black and white version ready now and hopefully a few blue ones tomorrow. I'll keep you posted.

Monday, 1 February 2010

two years

It's two years today since I got the keys to 67 Gertrude Street.
I can't believe it.
What a crazy time it has been. Exhausting, exhilarating, exfoliating...... no sorry that's not right..... ummm........ extreme, exciting......

Thankfully January is over and hopefully February is going to be a bit more on the up. Today has been strange though, in a kind of topsy way (my neighbours and I ended up 'removing' an illegally parked car in our private parking area with a winch, a tow rope and much laughter and feelings of being very naughty- but hey the driver got arrested by the police two weeks ago and he's not coming back to get his vehicle so....) and I found out that something I usually count on throughout the year may not be happening (which could be bad or good depending on how it pans out- one of those 'out of one's hands' things that may in the long run be a good change- I'll just have to wait and see) and other exciting things that I am sworn to secrecy over at this point in time......

Sorry I am being all 'hush-hush' just it has been one of those days where nothing is sorted yet and I am as up in the air as I can be but it has the feeling that perhaps things are slowly starting to move. Not necessarily as I may have anticipated but sometimes that is a good thing. Sometimes the paths you take are not the ones you would have chosen.