Saturday, 31 July 2010


I could really go back to bed right now for a long nap.
I've answered emails, done the shopping, got the newspapers, re-done the window display, dyed some felt, vacuumed, put out new stock... and I've only been out of bed for two hours. Phew. 
Now I'm finishing my cold mug of tea and trying to cool down from all the running around. Don't want to be a sweaty shopgirl!
I'm starting to see piles of finished work appear and that is a good thing. It makes me feel like I am getting somewhere. I am wondering whether part of my dilemma about work is that I am actually pretty quick when I am doing production and the extra time left over is sometimes making me feel like I haven't managed to get enough work done.... does that make sense? Perhaps not.
I now have to quickly find a project to keep me busy for the rest of the day and find where I left my 'shopgirl hat'..........

Thursday, 29 July 2010

can't stand up for falling down

No reason for the post title really, just had Elvis Costello playing in the studio today this Sam and Dave song is just too fabulous.
The magnolia tree's buds are swelling and about to pop. There are tiny little leaf green dots appearing along the branches. When it happens it will be like popcorn- one bud will pop, a pause, and then all of them will bloom, quickly and beautifully. Hopefully I will see it all before I hit the road to Sydney.
I realised today that I had a lot of half started/finished projects in the studio and that was why I was feeling so frustrated. The morning went well completing projects and cutting new work out ready to go, then I went out to get some lunch and the rest of the afternoon slowed down......
Ben came for a visit to show me his new train (the headlamp lights up and choo-choos along nicely) and there was lots of squealing and giggling- a nice way to end the day.
I have a morning of errands and then back in the studio..... time is running out.....

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

all the best people

We managed to wheedle an early copy of this Friday's (melbourne) magazine out of our local newsagent. You see the people of the Cottage have been waiting for this edition.......

First up Dell got her brooches in Lucy Feagin's first article for the magazine 'A few of my favourite things' (pages 56-59, Dell is on page 58). Fabulous!

And then in amongst all the people we know who were included in this month's features (and there are a lot of them!) you can spy a set of callisthenics/juggling batons that you might remember hanging in the shop. (Miss L'uccello bought us out of most of them to use in her shop displays.)

And finally in 'the best of august' selection we have our lovely angora/lambswool fingerless gloves! (Check page 23.) So at this point we have to do a whole 'yay for us!' dance because that is apparently the done thing. You can join in if you want......

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

a little dotty

I've managed to eat too much cheesy potato bake and am sitting here regretting being such a pig ('I'll just have a little more, oh look, not much left, I should just finish it off....'). I need ginger beer but there is none in the house. Damn.
I drove up to pick up the last batch of gloves today, lots of dyeing to do in the next day or so, and lots of studio work to do too. And new postcards to sort out. And ordering things I need in the next month. And booking accommodation. And making, making, making. And starting to sort out piles and maybe even- shock horror- writing a list! Groan.
And I need to buy a roadmap of Australia book-type-thingy. 
I love maps- but that's another story for another day.

Monday, 26 July 2010

wintry evening

Sometimes Melbourne looks like any place other than Melbourne.
An evening walk can make you imagine witches in bare branched woods and gothic villages. 
The days are getting longer, mornings earlier, evenings lighter but we still have a month and a bit of winter.

vitamin d

Such a lovely gentle sunny day in Old Melbourne Town yesterday.
I had to go to Williamstown to pick up some stuff and ended up on the foreshore eating fish and chips with this chap above. A cheeky bugger he chased off the other gulls, stole chips from the paper and even enjoyed being hand fed. My iPhone had a spak-attack chewed up a whole batch of photos and saved them as black square of nothingness and then shut down and wouldn't turn on for a couple of hours- hence the single photo of Gull to sum up the whole day.
It was nice to sit in the sun, if only for half an hour, and soak up a bit of vitamin D. The fish and chips were really good (although they needed more salt) and I do love a bit of battered shark. No grilled fancy fish for me, if I'm going chippery then it has to flake- and no lemon thanks, it overpowers the sea and makes the batter soggy.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

happy little campers

As you know I love Scouting badges..... 
Well this week has been all about dibbing-and-dobbing and sneaking over to the Girl Guides campsite to steal as many badges as I could to add to the Scout merit badges I already had. All this has lead to some new things in-store!
Going in today is the 'Campside Poncho' and the 'dib-dib' and 'dob-dob' tote bags. My favourite badges at the moment are the slightly cross-eyed Robert Baden-Powell and the knowingly smirking Agnes Baden-Powell.
I now have some new work to take to Sydney so am going to try and jump in and work-work-work on getting other stock finished.... the countdown has started!

Friday, 23 July 2010

goldilocks and the possum

How did I manage to go to bed early last night and ignore my alarm 5 times this morning?
A day that needs to get started and lots of things to do.
I have definitely caught this hibernation bug, on top of a slight case on ennui.
But there will be new things to tell you about later today- and perhaps even a new window display over the weekend (have been very lazy on that front for quite a while!).
Well I better shuffle off to Buffalo (aka the studio)!

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

love object

It was an early start this morning. 
Revisiting my old home to collect furniture that has been on 'loan'. There is still the laundry to sort too. I may have moved out two and a half years ago but I seem to have left a trail of possessions. 
So my poor old cat scratched Knole sofas are residing at the studio now and I've made up a little lounging area in a corner. It's meant a move around of things in the studio and perhaps it's worked as a way to improve the juju of the place, which has been depressing me for months. 
It's strange going back to Brunswick Street. My past seems to be catching up with me this week. So many memories.


Yesterday's studio day involved breaking tapestries out of their frames and making a pouffé- jeez it was an exhausting one to make, seemed to take me hours longer than it should have.
Then I ended with beanbag beans everywhere which resulted in a bit of vacuuming and getting ready for today's chore. I have to meet The Man with a Van at my old home to finally move the sofas that have been sitting there for.... well... two and a half years.... oh, how time flies. More crap in my life I need to lug around. People have been commenting how I will be able to have a nap on them at the studio... yeah great... another way to bunk off work!

Jethro has product tested the new pouffé and particularly likes the siamese cat bit. It's a bit of a stunner. One day perhaps I'll get to keep one.

Monday, 19 July 2010

it's a start

The plan for today was to clear the decks, at least a little, and I have managed to uncover some of the big table upstairs. Apparently it is made of wood..... haha. My plan was to start wading through the UFOs. 
So far I have finished the pile of gift tags.

The baskets of purses.

Printed out some more of the new card designs.

And sorted buttons for earrings. I've had someone to help with this last project. Jethro decided to sit in the big plastic box the buttons are stored in and to attack my hand each time I reached in. His latest trick is walking through the tray the pairs are all laid out on and stealing individual buttons. Cheeky little bugger.

light my way

I am waiting for the light at the end of the tunnel.
Meanwhile I seem to have slipped in to Mondays being my Sundays. I run errands and do stuff but a lot of the day is marked out by wearing ugg boots and seeing how many cups of tea I can drink. And I do start the day by going back to bed for half and hour with my bucket of tea.
This year has involved a lot of promotion type stuff in my life, calls for product loans and emails bouncing back and forth from print media. Over the next few months you'll get to see stuff that happened at the start of the year. Things that were exciting in February but seem to have lost their way as the year slips by....... 
But this week's exciting launch is for Audio Design Museum. It's an on-line-pod-cast-map-downloadable tour through selected destinations in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. Gertrude St is one of the Melbourne destinations, so you can download it on to your mp3 player, catch the tram to Gertrude Street and have your own guided tour. Fourteen of us were interviewed for it and I do have to say I rather like the description of the Cottage as ' granny takes a trip' - it's been used before but this time the image makes me chuckle-obviously good drugs in the nursing home!
I really am going to attempt to get some of my outstanding millstones out of the way today. If I can start seeing little piles of finished work appearing then perhaps I will start feeling better about things.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

ode to the lemon delicious

I've decided that my lack of posting of late has been in part down to my lack of photo-taking.
I just haven't been totally inspired by much and haven't bothered to take my camera/iPhone out over the last few weeks. 
I did bother to get my camera out for last weekend's passionfruit and  lemon delicious puddings (a little over cooked but still very yum). Such a classic Australian pud and about the easiest baked dessert/next-day-breakfast ever. I love that there is all the ingredients in the cupboard/fridge and, in the past, a walk out to the clothes line where the lemon tree was supplied the essential flavour. I've never had the recipe written down, it's always just been in my memory filing cabinet. I've made versions of  lemon, lemon and lime, passionfruit and lemon, passionfruit and lime, even blood orange and  I never bother with weighing or accurate measuring, it's always a tablespoon out of the cutlery drawer and the first tea cup off the shelf, and even then it's a slap-dash approximation. I feel connected to all those non-MasterChef 'Plain Cooks', who down through the years actually knew how to cook and bake. (I rarely watch MasterChef but I did catch half of the CWA cook off and I was totally appalled by the contestants lack of skill- you have to learn to walk before you can run- or in this case cook before molecular gastonomify!)
I am still searching for my creative equilibrium, perhaps I should take the Lemon Delicious Pudding as symbolic goal. A perfect balance of sponge cake floating on a custard sea, tangy and sweet, delicious (but different) both hot and cold the morning after. If there was a Lemon Delicious Pudding Scout Badge I would totally go for it.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

building blocks

I decided to take a different tack with the work today. Seeing as I have a bad case of 'creative constipation' at the moment I thought some prep time was the way to go. I bought a new mannequin last week to replace the one I've had for twenty-cough-cough-plus years and have spent today making new pattern blocks to go with her. This lead to the creative juices starting to flow..... or so I thought.... a couple of stupid rushed decisions later I began to think I had managed to make a great idea into a sow's ear. Now I need to see whether I can turn it into a silk purse....
This weekend is really crunch time to get my head around what I am going to do for the Young Blood Design Market. Focus, focus, focus...... head down..... sometimes I wish I could give my head a shake and everything would just fall into place.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


The last three years the Cottage has donated to the Fitzroy Primary fundraiser auction. Some of the besterest businesses in Fitzroy and Collingwood give products and services to this absolutely fab school and there is an auction held where you can win, win, win! Kate P has worked so hard to drum up support and there are some super prizes to be had. Like a lot of inner city schools Fitzroy Primary is a melting pot of cultures and they have been developing an arts programme and kitchen garden but like so many schools they run on a shoe string so every cent counts.
This Friday evening at Fitzroy Town Hall there will be guest auctioneers, cheap drinks and a good time for all, so come on down! I'll be there trying to outbid the Westgarth Street Crew ! As they say- you've got to be in it to win it!

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Tuesday already, almost gone.
I still don't see any balance happening in my life. I still haven't set the house to rights. I still haven't found a bucket to dip in the Well of Making. By the time I finally got to the studio today this, above, is all I felt like doing. Putting my feet up and staring at the ceiling. Oh well. It can't be forced. It just has to come when it's ready. I'm doing all the boring production stuff at the moment, skirting around the creative edges. The few new things I have been tinkering with haven't been that successful but that happens sometimes. Sometimes that is the best way for things to happen, it leads discovery and unexpected paths.

Saturday, 10 July 2010

hunt and gather, dream and plan

Morning all.
Sorry I've been blog-absent for the last week but, to tell you the truth, even though I wrote posts 20 times a day in my head I just didn't have the energy to collate my thoughts at the end of the day. I'm hoping that I am at the tail end of my lack of focus and that I can begin to get a bit of bounce happening. As much as I love winter perhaps it is just that natural inclination to hibernate that has overtaken me this year. I've also had no interruptions, like teaching, to take me away from my own work so have managed to get a bit bored with it all- hence the day tripping that's been happening. I didn't get to show you the finds of last week but if I get a chance tomorrow I'll take some photos. 
One of my favourite snaffles of last Friday was this paint-by-numbers piece. I've wanted one for years and the only ones I've found in the past were horrendously expensive and/or really badly damaged. Then there was the quandary of where to hang it! I thought I'd share it and it's now hanging in the shop change room.

Which brings me to this week's shop news......
*A parcel has arrived from Nikki and we now have stock of her new 30% alpaca/70% wool yarn suitable for Construction #2 in black and brown.
*A parcel arrived from Tasmania with more spotty knitting needles and I've extended the size range so there are now 4mm, 5mm, 6mm, 8mm and 10mm. (Seems like we are turning into a knitting shop- I was giving a customer casting on lessons last Saturday!)
*A new batch of Pianola shades arrived last Saturday, grew legs and walked out the door so we have another batch arriving today. Including the new 8" diameter ones, the ones delivered last week didn't even hit the bench and they were sold. (In fact if you head up Yea way in a month you'll be able to see then used in a new gallery/cafe/shop.)
* The latest collection of vintage bases have gone off to be re-wired so hopefully they will be back Monday week. If you are interested drop us a line and we'll give you a call when they are ready.
* I did manage to get some tea-towel cushions done and if there are any homesick New Zealanders out there then we have the start of a batch of fabulous NZ ones for you to say 'sweet' over. 
* I'm still trying to finish the purses that are cluttering the table upstairs. I have more handspun yarn to do. I need to finish owlettes and have got to stuffed stage with a batch of our beloved sock monkeys. 
*I started work on a new product months ago. I gave the first testers out to friends and the feedback was great so I've finally managed to get the first two batches wrapped and in store as of today. I'm not going to tell you what it is- you'll have to wait until I can take a lovely product shot.... tomorrow ok?

And the really big news of the week is that my application to take part in the Young Blood Market at the Powerhouse Museum in Sydney has been successful. Rising panic and a desperate need to focus is now on the agenda. I have a short space of time to get myself sorted and make a shitload of stock as I'll need stock for the shop and shop for the market. I'll be road-tripping it up, borrowing the Volvo station wagon, and am thinking of all the op-shops between here and Steak-and-Kidney......

Saturday, 3 July 2010

mist, fog and cloud

I got to drive through thick glowing mist yesterday. Trees and fences and building seemed suddenly to materialise out of the blanketing whiteness. Fog-bound is how I have been feeling lately- but I like fog and mist and the way winter hides and then throws things into sharp relief, washes things clean and makes sunlight glow. I love winter driving, flying along in a little warm cocoon to arrive somewhere bracingly cold.
We are having a real winter this year, with rain and touches of searing cold, and it's quite refreshing after years of drought winters. The drought's not over but the rain has been nice to fall asleep to. 
It's shopgirl duty today (although the bed was so snuggly to be in) and I've started the day by blowing the diet with Redbeard Carmen Miranda bread with yummy butter. Hey, it's winter, time for things topped with lashings of butter! 
If you are heading down Fitzroy way today then come up to 200 Gertrude St for 'Super Market'. Kim Brockett (from Craft Victoria) has organised a 'swap meet' event that's on from 11am until 4pm. There will be artists spreading out their picnic rugs to barter and swap stuff- no money to change hands! Dell and Adam are in on it and Dell has said she will happily barter for baked goods! Sounds like an absolute hoot, all very renegrade! (I'm stuck working in the shop- bugger- but you can always come visit me after.)

Friday, 2 July 2010

winter wanders

I'm heading off for a country jaunt today.
I'm feeling very unsettled at the moment and need to go up there to hunt for some stuff so it seems like a perfect opportunity to get the Pulsar out and let it stretch its wheels.
I wish I could find some focus but I'm feeling 'tight' and I haven't had a really good studio 'play' for quite awhile, I have that fingertip frustration (hmmm, that doesn't sound quite right does it....) where the creative power just seems blocked up somewhere and is only dribbling out.
Hitting the road might not work but you never know. 
I'm going to drop in on Allison as I'm usually in Daylesford on days when they aren't open and visit a few other people I need to see. Perhaps get some Carmen Miranda, the best fruit bread ever, from Redbeard Bakery in Trentham.
I've had my porridge, showered and it's time to get dressed and adventure out.