Monday, 28 February 2011

'tis the season of the glove

The dyepots are finally boiling. I should have started dye a month ago but the humidity was so overpowering I couldn't face sweating my days away lugging pots around and stirring, stirring, stirring.
I managed ten batches yesterday but that is merely the tip of the iceberg. We have new swing tags coming in this week for them and I am going to have to allocate a few days a week just to the gloves- in fact my life from now until August will be centred on these fluffy little bread-and-butters.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

i ♡ painkillers

Thought you might be sick of my whinge-ing and whining (and I had little to report) so I stayed away for a few days. I discovered yesterday afternoon that the stronger painkillers actually made me productive and cleared the pain induced fog in my head so I am feeling a little clearer and a bit more focused and productive. I am starting to see the path through the trees a little more.
I was at the studio early(ish) yesterday for a stylist's assistant to come pick up new autumn/winter stock for a photo shoot, I sanded down the other new/old shop table (still need to paint base) and  I made new cushions for the shop. We have very pretty new floral linen ones, a Sanderson print with the most beautiful mauve-y background, the colour makes me happy and the design is so sketchy and nice.

I also made a pair of cushions out of a piece of fabric I've been lugging around for years. It's a thick printed velvet in a kitschy alpine/flying duck/mill by the forest print. They are quite fab and need to go on a couch in a fake wood paneled room with an alpine/flying duck/mill by the forest print on the wall (and maybe a couple of crossed fake blunderbuss/pistols above the woodgrained box  tv). They are backed in denim and are quite cuddly- bit like me sometimes.

It's Saturday again, amazing. I have a lot to do this weekend, I'm a month behind in my glove dyeing and I really need to get as much done tomorrow as I can. Perhaps if I start seeing gloves fluffily piling up I will start to feel more productive. Cause and effect.

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

another shade of blue

I'm still blue.
And annoyed with myself for feeling so frustrated.
I've been working on a new project for the last three days and now I'm thinking it might have to be scrapped or at least reworked. Is it worth the time already spent?
I'm particularly annoyed with myself as I managed yesterday to soak a very expensive piece of fabric in the wrong soaking mix and it is now ruined (note to self: make sure you are awake before doing the laundry).  See- annoyed, annoying, annoymous.
Whilst I was in the studio today I stopped each hour and spent 5 minutes doing a little cleaning or sorting, I just can't manage to get things in order in one big hit so I am trying to break it down a little.
As a strange mixture of punishment and reward I decided late this afternoon that I needed to get the new table for the shop finally sanded. My dear antique dealer friend lent me the lovely Wiener Werkstatte table we use now and it was meant to be on loan for a year. Well it's been a bit longer than that. The new old table has been sitting in the studio for about 4 months now, taking up room and making things crowded. I dragged the top out into the hallway and around to the slightly putrid sink/bin area and pulled out the sander. I made a huge noisy mess but it's all done now and ready to be waxed and polished. I have another old table up in the studio that needs a bit of TLC and then it will be time for the big ol' switcheroo. Of course the sanding didn't take that long all in all and I am slightly kicking myself about procrastinating. Always the way.
I think my low vibe could also be put down to a lot of waiting that I having to do at the moment, things that are making me slightly unsettled. Things like the new tables for the shop and that I need to re-jig shop displays- and that we are getting a new front window. I'm sad that we will be losing the lovely lattice windows but I am happy that we will be getting windows that don't leak and aren't rotten. The new windows will also hopefully make doing displays a little easier.
Autumn is a week away, I have lots of work to do.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

train of thought

I'm still in my pyjamas, eating muesli in front of the computer.
There is so much to do at the moment and my strange malaise is turning quickly into panic. There  never is a level ground here. February has been a slow month and there I was glad to see the back of January, damn.
There are new things afoot. I just wish they would happen in a bit more of a satisfying manner. I suppose it is just a case of building momentum. Chugger, chugger, splutter and away the creative train goes.

Sunday, 20 February 2011

the mongrel hordes

I think I've made some headway with the kitchen clean and sort. It's certainly not finished but I managed to drag everything out from under the stairs (Jethro went into check it out and ended up lying on the floor with his paw up to his shoulder poked through a hole in the floor, he was incredibly excited by the possibility of mouse), packed boxes full of odd crockery, glass and knick-knackery, shoved and stacked it and shut the door on it.
I unpacked and cleaned all the kitchen cupboards and stood amazed at the sheer amount of plate-age I own. Tottering towers of Johnson Bros (Australian and English) ware, Meakin, Villeroy and Boch, Royal Staffordshire, Franscican, Majolica, Diana, Poole..... it goes on and on and on..... a crazy mix of pretty crockery..... tons of the damn stuff.....
The ridiculous thing is I only really use a mug, a bowl and maybe a plate (more often than not one of my massive enamel haul) every day.
The problem is if I sell it all I'll either regret it or end up starting a new collection.
And on it goes.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

balmy morning

Walking down to the bakery this morning I was blown away by the green green grass, the sparkly leaves and shiny sun. The humidity might be killing me but it's giving the formerly-known-as the Garden State a real burst of fecundity. The breeze was the amazing mix of cooling and balmy and I had a moment in thinking I could quite happily lie down and let it gently blow over me (well maybe not on Gertrude Street outside the Housing Commission flats but in my dream garden perhaps).
It's been a quiet week in the Cottage, we are putting it down to a mixture of the weather, school's back  and maybe the Xmas credit card bills have arrived, perhaps my general malaise hasn't helped either.
But we have had stock arrive! The twine is back in, the Hookturn cups too and best of all the Douglas sandal order arrived yesterday. Anna and I spent the last bit of yesterday bagging the sandals up in the shoe-bags I made in the morning and stacking them on the shelves. We've got all colours and sizes 3 (euro 37) up to size 7 (42) so hurry on in!
I've just slugged back on my first tea of the day and am now sweaty and hot from the inside out. Charming.

I don't know why it is but every Saturday when  I am pressed for time I can never access my emails. Invariably I've emailed a photo to my self from my phone and I want to use it but no, thank you TPG you have decided to once again block all in-coming messages.... just as I finished putting the full stop to this little rant my emails came through.... perhaps TPG were listening..... OK now I'm creeped out....

Thursday, 17 February 2011


I had to go out to pick up some fabric from the wholesaler in Thomastown this morning and as a bit of fun I thought I'd go to the Grand Opening of the new Saver's store at Mill Park. It was going off! I was more than amused to hear, in amongst the racks, two women discussing that it was 'the biggest thing that has ever happened in Mill Park' and how it would energise the whole suburb. A thrift driven economic recovery- politicians take note!
If I could have been bothered I probably could have scored big but I just opted for a bundle of tapestries and 18 books from Time Life The Good Cook series. I don't seem to be following Library Girl's good recipe book culling but almost half of them went in Dell's direction. I still have some duplicates though- like the cake edition- that might be kept in reserve as presents or swapsies.
I'm still not working up to scratch but I'll get there.
I hope.
Thanks to everyone who sent me messages about the last post. Living is sometimes just about trying to keep a balance happening, in my case it's about trying to keep pain levels at a tolerable level so that I can carry on living the everyday. I think it is what we all do, each of us have our own balancing game to play, but it is nice to know that there are others out there teetering away too.

Tuesday, 15 February 2011

a cup of tea

I'm struggling a little at the moment. The energy levels are low and I'm having trouble keeping my head above water. It's a pain issue, how pain can spiral me down into depression and I become slower and slower, treading water.
Many years ago I had a bit of an accident. A bike, tram tracks and a taxi all came together to send me to Emergency, ICU, a month and a bit in hospital, diaries full of doctors appointments and many years of painful recovery. For a while there I was an octopus of drainage tubes, epidural, catheter, drips and pumps. I glowed in the dark from x-rays and CAT scans and breathing in radioactive isotopes. I spent months vomiting from morphine toxicity, I was skin and bones, translucent as I friend described me once. My bones slowly knitted, my nerves recovered, my lung re-inflated, big injuries got better, smaller injuries niggled.
Sometimes it is impossible to recover totally from an accident, you want to be whole, return to what you had but the reality is that the body is a fragile thing and as you get older those injuries can haunt. Sometimes it is pain of the body and sometimes it is the pain of the mind and memory, anniversaries hurt. If I am pre-occupied I sometimes miss the signs and the physical pain can trip me up, that's when the depression slips over me. A bad night's sleep, a little exhaustion and it's crept up sneakily on me.
Being badly injured or ill changes your perspective on life. I have no fear of death, I know this meat suit we walk around in is fragile and fallible and strangely fearless all in one, I know that I can stand levels of pain that would make other people blanche and still carry on through the day but I now have even more deadlines to meet and I've realised I need to allocate rest days into my life. Quiet days away from everything. That it is OK to have lazy days and treat days, days when I don't do anything.
So now I've realised where I am, I can start dealing with taking the painkillers when I need them, getting rest and recharging the batteries. I suppose this is just my way of explaining why I am rarely one of those chipper-weirdly-jolly-hockey-sticks  type of people. If I can't put a genuine smile on my face I would rather not fake it.
I'm off to down a panadeine and head to bed. It's amazing what a good night's sleep can do.

Sunday, 13 February 2011


This afternoon I took down the old shelves in the kitchen and put up a new set. I've replaced three shelves with two but they are longer, wider and don't have a dangerous lean that makes them threaten to fall off the wall (yet). The kitchen is now even more of a mess and I have realised that I still have a crockery problem.
It appears I collect the following
*Johnson Ware
*1950s two tone casseroles
*Chinese thermoses
*a strange collection of decorative ceramics
*truckloads of enamelware.
Far more than a single girl living alone could possibly use/justify, in fact it all makes me feel a little ill.
I can be quite nostalgic over objects but I think I am heading towards one of my Great Culls, there is just not enough room in this place and next to no storage.
I think I will have to stay home tomorrow and finish this sorting and cleaning. I need to start dyeing gloves and that can not happen until the kitchen is in an organised state. If I leave it another week I will surely have to be locked up like Mad Bertha in the attic.

Saturday, 12 February 2011

apricot danish and tea

Shop is ready for another Saturday. Jethro is currently product testing, I'm drinking tea and trying to slap myself awake. That's the problem when we have a cool night for sleeping, I just want to stay snuggled down and cosy.

Friday, 11 February 2011

welcome to the snow dome

Well the humidity just swelled, and my brain turned to mush, but I battled through and managed to get two tapestry pouffés finished and a few more cushions done. Jethro, of coursed, oversaw the stuffing of the pouffés which meant we had beanbag balls from here to kingdom come. He loved that if he sat by the fan every few minutes a ball would get sucked up and spat across the room and if he ran through a drift his fur would send them flying everywhere. At times like this his Kitten Percentage is very high. And yes the shop started to feel like a snow dome.
We also put up a bit of a Valentine's Day (bah humbug)  window but it is mainly to show off our lovely new Mexican and Guatemalan blouses. Zara dropped in with a batch of embroidered voile tops that we couldn't say no to. They are like the white and honey cotton ones but in colour and on lovely soft white cotton voile- so very pretty- and we also have a few long sleeve shirts/mini dresses in the Sophie style (that's the Guatemalan calico range). And there is some more Frida dresses in black and tops in cream calico and new embroidered shift blouses too.......  this is the last batch until next summer so hotfoot it in. 
Other shop news.....
*more sandals in next week!
*more twine on its way (should have been here days ago....)!
*more Hookturn cups coming!
*new pegbags ready!
*and some secret things you'll just have to wait for.........

a right mug

I've been in one of my dark-and-dour moods, it probably just the tail end of feeling overwhelmed and annoyed with things in general. Or it could be the humidity, which after a few days of humidity-less weather has returned. Or it could be that another week has whipped by and I feel like not much has been achieved.
I know, you've heard it all before.
I'm going now as I have little to say (which is why I have been avoiding the computer), perhaps I will have things to report tonight.

Tuesday, 8 February 2011

zigging and zagging

When I'm not making product during the week I feel like I am wasting time. There is so much to do, all the other things to running a business, a shop, a studio, boring things like sorting and cleaning and packing stuff away. Sometimes it's exciting and sometimes I feel like a char-lady. As the studio is still a mess I've been trying to get a bit more order happening, I've put together the new work bench trestles and I've been opening bags to discover vintage fabrics and piles of doilies that have been stashed away and, slightly, forgotten.
Late this afternoon I had a little play with some new stock for Autumn. Jumping into new work when I have piles of other stuff to do is a bit naughty but sometimes I do it as a treat, a way to get the excitement back- and there is some exciting stuff happening. Well I like it anyway, just have to see whether the customer does when the leaves turn and the weather really changes. It's always a bit nerve wracking to take the scissors to a special stash.... fingers crossed!

Monday, 7 February 2011

green and blue

People kept saying it was cold today, no it was lovely! Such a blue sky, sun shiny leaf sparkly day, perfect cooling breeze, my type of day completely. How can it be the height of summer and the grass so green? (I know how, just a rhetorical question folks.) Amazing.

Sunday, 6 February 2011


Jethro and I were made for this weather, for sleeping under blankets and waking fresh and rested, so nice to have a cool fresh change after all the humidity. The furboy woke me at 7am jumping all over the bed, he was doing crazy cat circle-work round and round the blanket, and brought me toys to play with. He's had his crazy-cat mood on all day running through tissue paper, attacking me while I read the paper.
I've managed to do a half-arsed window display and a bit of cleaning, like just washed the dishes and put a load of washing on, nothing too strenuous. Before I start dyeing gloves I really need to get the kitchen sorted but that is going to mean packing up a whole shebang of stuff, for which I need to get some cardboard boxes. This bit of sorting will cause a whole waterfall of sorting in the house I fear and won't be one of those jobs that can be fixed in a day..... I haven't got my head around that quite yet.
Perhaps it's time for a little afternoon nappage.

Saturday, 5 February 2011

droughts and flooding rains

What can I say? It never rains but it pours perhaps?
This is certainly going to go down as 'that crazy summer', from droughts to flooding rains.
As I have moaned about so often, I hate humidity and humidity hates me. I felt so ill and grouchy from it I ended up passed out on my bed yesterday afternoon. It can make me feel physically sick, hence I'm not a great one for tropical holidays, I'm all for a cooling breeze.
Jethro was so bored at 6am as he couldn't go play outside because the rain was too heavy, so after climbing in the wardrobe, jumping on the bed, jumping on me, he ended up on the bedside table pushing things off. He got tossed across the bed and finally went back to sleep. He's such a twit.
I'm obsessed with checking the Pocket Weather app on my phone, looking at radar images of clouds, finding out the humidity is sitting at 97%, there has been 82.2mm of rain up to 8am and that there is a Brown Rot Warning for stone fruit (sigh, there goes the last of the peaches, apricots and plums). I wouldn't be a farmer for quids.
It's Saturday again so you know where to find me, that will be me sitting behind the counter reading the newspaper. I've been very slack posting shop news over the last few weeks (I've also been slack with the window displays too). We have the Tasmanian CWA cookbook back in stock after it sold out at Xmas, pop over to the wonderful Library Girl to read her posts about culling her recipe books- the CWA gets to stay! Monday was gingerbread hearts, we had heaps but now we only have about ten, I was meant to finish another new batch last night but went out and had dinner instead. Tuesday was Lettie. Wednesday was the Sewing Circle of Hell where I finished another massive batch of tea-towel cushions and the pianola lampshades finally arrived and Thursday was on-the-road day picking up labels and gloves ready for a huge dyeing binge. There are more sandals on the way, there is butcher's twine about to arrive and Zara has mailed a new batch of Frida dresses and blouses (which I hoped would have arrived yesterday....... but no..... thank you Australia Post, I've decided this week you suck, except for our parcel mailman who is lovely). So do pop in today if you are in the hood, there is a bucket to put your umberellalallas in and remember, unless you are a witch or you like to straighten your hair, getting a bit wet won't hurt you.

Thursday, 3 February 2011

some days are diamond days

Yesterday was a strange old day. Too many cushions to make, too many zips to sew in. I started to think that one day I would end up in The Sewing Circle of Hell (I'm thinking it's situated on a mezzanine between the Fourth and Fifth Circles) as punishment for all the bad things I have ever done.
Today though I got to visit my friends Ben and Shelley at their (not so) new screen printing factory. I'm very proud of Ben and all he has achieved over the last six years or so and it is lovely to feel that glow of pride in a friend's hard work.
After Spotswood I ventured to Footscray to look for something and I got to smell the joss sticks burning at the temples and watch the lions dance to the pounding drums and the firecrackers sizzle to welcome in the Chinese New Year. I was smiling and shaking for at least five minutes after the fireworks went off and I loved how as the troop moved off to bless the next shop a team swept up all the tiny bits of red paper.
Then it was all the way over to the fringes of the city in the other direction to pick up this year's first batch of gloves. This season's dyeing will start shortly but this weekend I must finish cleaning and sorting the kitchen and the hallway otherwise there will be nowhere to put all the boxes of gloves.

In light of everything that has been happening up north it feels a little wrong to say I had a good day but perhaps it's those big scary events that make you smile at the smallest glitter from the tiniest diamond and make you realise how special your own everyday humdrum life is.

Tuesday, 1 February 2011

lettie is back in black (and brown)

Lettie the Dress is back in store.
I managed to slowly work through the heat. The studio was a balmy/barmy 37º when I finally checked at about 2.30pm. Really conducive to working- not- the fan was just blowing the hot air around. Times like this I wished I believed in reverse cycle air-conditioning.
Sorry- I'll shut up about the weather.
So now we have black gingham and brown gingham Letties in (sadly not in size 1 yet). I've just packaged up a big batch of gingerbread hearts to go out and whilst we are a little low on them, we do have them in some new fabrics. Another thing to go on the list of things to do.

it better be febtastic.....

This heat is sapping all the energy out of me. Bad nights sleep and days in the sweltering studio make me feel bloated and lethargic. I am working though, making stock for the shop and wholesale customers, and we should have some Lettie dresses in soon (maybe even this afternoon). Yesterday I had to fight the desire to find some excuse to run away, willing the phone to ring or an email to come in that would give me a reason to sneak out of the studio.
I'm so glad January is over, it is such a dispiriting month of half-starts and procrastination, ridiculous I know but that is how it feels. I've also been avoiding the internet, great time waster of all, so now I have a pile of bills to pay and a mountain of emails to wade through.