Tuesday, 31 May 2011

just how much can a koala bear*?

Decorative tea cosies stashed everywhere at the moment. The owls have been breeding and the coral formation ones are piling up. This fellow is so damn cute. Yep. A koala tea cosy. I love his slightly off kilter nose and eyes and his pompom ears.  
I'm thinking of doing a tea cosy window as it is winter tomorrow. I'll see how energetic I am tonight. I worked until late last night clipping and pressing all the gloves I dyed yesterday afternoon and then couldn't manage to get out of bed this morning. I'm now running late and slightly flustered.

*I know they aren't bears but it is such an old joke I couldn't help myself from using it. I often date tea towels by whether they have 'koala' or 'koala bear' on them, 1960s and early 70s at the latest- and we do have some stunner koala cushions in at the moment.

Monday, 30 May 2011

kiss me quick

I found this fellow in the tree down the road the other morning. Strangely very large soft toys often appear on Gertrude Street. My favourite was a very large dirty cream teddy leaning drunkenly against a tree looking like he was vomiting in the gutter one Saturday morning. Big night on the turps by the look of it.
It's Monday again.
I was up early to let the painter in to finish touching up the inside of the new windows. I've spooned in my porridge and am on my second bucket of tea but am feeling like I would love to go back to bed. Now the fog has lifted (outside not in my head) it is a shockingly bright Autumn morning.
I need to spend today dyeing gloves and sorting out wholesale orders. Answering and sending emails too. I've managed to pull everything out from under the shop counter too so I better get that sorted before Dell arrives. And there is a big box of herbs and spices sitting in the middle of the shop floor that I need to find a home for. It's funny how all those little sorting chores just pile up.

Saturday, 28 May 2011

blink blink where am I?

I woke up out of a dream this morning, one of those dreams where reality impinges on the Sleepworld. In the dream I was trying to get the shop open on a Saturday morning but people kept dropping in and I couldn't find anything to wear and I was putting clothes on in the wrong order and getting tangled and frustrated and annoyed. Then I came downstairs (in my old house just to confuse matters) and there were police in my kitchen and a bag snatcher trying to steal my bag from the table and as the police encouraged me to bash his head against the wall (really must stop watching police procedurals on ABC before going to bed) there sounded some strange klaxon and we all stopped and looked around trying to work out where the alarm was coming from...... Jethro had knocked my phone off the bedside table so there was much fumbling about trying to turn the damn wake-up alarm off and get my befuddled brain working.
So it's Saturday morning and I need to sort out all the booty from the last couple of days op shopping and stock pick up. Jethro has been ferreting in bags and giving everything a good sniff. I have scored some fabulous tapestries and they will be going on the wall upstairs when I get a day to take everything down and re-jig it all. It's going to be a total obstacle course out the back today as I really only have time to lug it all out the back and dump it for later unpacking and sorting. More clutter of course. This is the problem with collecting, the never ending piles of stuff waiting to be transformed into something else.
Putting out some new hanks of handspun yarn (they have been drying while I was away) and we have some stunning new afghan blankets made by Ann and her daughter, part of our country crafting team. I might even get around to taking some photos of some stock in the shop this weekend. Better dash- lots of shop cleaning to do!
Thought you'd enjoy a country bakery pavlova- kiwi fruit AND peppermint crisp!

Friday, 27 May 2011

quilty pleasures

While I was away this appeared in today's Age Melbourne Mag.
Lovely Lucy did a spread on quilts to snuggle under now that winter is barely a chilly whisper away.
You might recognise our lovely blankie quilt on the left (sadly that one has been sold), we have 3 in store and a whole new batch on the way.
I picked up lots on lovely stuff today from our fabulous country ladies and I'll get to and price it all up as soon as I can.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

hitting the highway

Lots of mini mufflers done. Some 1200 row skinny scarves done too, I haven't done these ones for about 5 years, there are a few going in store today.
I'm off today for a country jaunt, I should  be in the studio but there are things I need to pick up so the decision was to go this week with the hope that I can get a few more days in the studio next week (although to tell you the truth the commitments are piling up and I don't think I am going to get all the time I need- no surprise there). I am taking the op shop guide with me of course, just in case I have missed any on past runs. I'm also hoping to be the passenger so I am taking some crochet with me, my Op Shop Compadre is delivering her art to Wangaratta for the textile show that is coming up so we are going for two birds with one stone. The problem is that up until Wang I'm not allowed to load the car with big op shop finds, which normally wouldn't be a problem but what do you want to bet I find some fabulous huge piece between here and there?!
Hopefully there will be some stunning autumn colours along the way. I must choose myself some fingerless gloves, it might be cold out there!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011


Zuirr clunk click zuirr clunk click zuirr clunk click zuirr..........

It's knitting time again.

I spent this morning sorting out the Knitting Division of PenCorp. Vacuuming, dusting, dragging machines about. A nice little pile of mini-mufflers is building up and I must remember my glasses tomorrow so I can link them off (it's a close-up job and eye strain is a pain). Then I'll get started on the standard scarf and maybe have a bit of a play and tinker on some new bits and pieces. The scarves have been flying out the door and the hat stand has been ransacked. Hopefully we'll have new ones out in the next few days.
The weather is perfect for the wearing of scarves at the moment and I need to get more beanies and dye more gloves. And the winter clothing stock....... I have the most beautiful wools sitting there and patterns half graded and a lack of time to stretch over everything I need to do. So until I get my act together you might have to stay in with a hot water bottle, a pair of gloves and some angora over-the-knee socks.....

Monday, 23 May 2011

trollop, slattern, lazy cow

The Autumn colour has been stunning this year. I've been enjoying it immensely. They say it's the rain and the sugars in the leaves after so many years of drought. When I see a tree all aflame in colour I feel that the tree must be singing in joy, I can see it but I just can't hear it. And the berries have been amazing too, full and vibrant red, you almost wish you could eat them.
Once again I am trying to decide which job to do today. I'm waiting on a order of calico to arrive so I can get the patched blankets off to the quilters. The plan had been to get it delivered first thing this morning before the building owner and real estate agent come through to view new windows but as the calico didn't arrive on Friday I am hoping it will appear this morning. I hate waiting for deliveries, you never quite know when they will arrive and of course they never come when you urgently need them. Sod's Law. Of course the calico and the real estate people will arrive at the same time. Ha ha ha.
I had better remove the vacuum from the stair landing and shove my undies in a drawer. It's always weird having strangers tromping through one's home. You suddenly see what a messy trollop you are (or perhaps 'slattern' is a more appropriate term, as in 'slovenly' not 'morally loose')- well maybe not you but certainly me! I blame it on a lack of storage and a lack of inclination- too many other things to do!

Saturday, 21 May 2011


I think I will be glad when this week is over. It's been one of those annoying and nit picking type of weeks. I've managed to get riled up over things and caused people to get riled at me in turn, contagious riling.
Then, on the other hand, I have seen lovely autumn-y things like a crow in a persimmon tree and quilt panels festooning the studio. As I need to assign blame somewhere, I am blaming it on the full moon.

On the shop front we are low on wool scarves (a few still left and I will be cranking up the knitting machine next week) but I managed a huge pile of wheat bags. Who needs the gym when you have to lug 20kgs of wheat around? (Me actually but we won't open that can o' worms right now....) We are also excitedly waiting on a box of wool to arrive from Nikki, we have a sample ball or two in the shop and I have to say it's lovely. There are also knitting needles coming and I have been spending my Shopgirl Saturdays spinning yarn in between serving customers and fluffing tea towel cushions.

Time to vacuum the shop and go all those Saturday morning chores. If you come in I will be the one behind the counter covered in fluff.

Thursday, 19 May 2011

blankety blanks

I was stuck behind a mountain of blanket strips today. See, there's my chair and machine.

It feels good to get some work done. I'm always surprised at how pretty it all looks. I hang each one up as I finish a panel and see how it's all come together. They are pieced in a very organic way and I never really know how they will look until I am up from the sewing machine. Then they change as they are stitched together and again after quilting when they are all cut into quilt lengths. I love the randomness of it all.

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

grotto, grotty, grottest

The house smells of wet wool blankets.
I spent today dumpster diving for tea towels and blankets and avoiding doing any studio work. Tomorrow will be a very different story. There is much to be done. The week may as well be over or perhaps it is just Wednesdayitis that makes me feel overwhelmed once again.
In my travels today I spied this attractive 3D shell framed last supper. I thought that I should get it for Beck's new bub's nursery but then I realised she might have to redecorate to do it justice. Perhaps a religious grotto themed nursery will be a new trend. I do love that one person's craft is another person's amusement.
I also received another email about the scone promotion today. I suggested the writer check what I had written and I am wondering whether they have had any people take up their offer or whether the craft blogging community has seen the irony of it.
Perhaps that's not the Last Supper in the picture but actually a Scone Tasting Craft Party.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

a rainbow of gloves

I spent a little while this morning photographing gloves (with the new camera).
What a pain! The camera talked to the computer, then wouldn't talk to the computer.
Technological pain in the butt. Sort of sorted now.
I have finally got around to posting some new glove colours on the Big Cartel site. I really do need to get around to prettifying all my blogs and extra pages but I think I have done enough brain-draining stuff for one day.
I've really had enough of today- can we re-boot and start again?

a d-day

The camera has too many knobs and buttons.
I really wished it had a instruction book in hardcopy not on disc. My old one had one and it made life a little easier. You can't expect me to remember everything, all the time. Really. Hmmmmph.

Today has been a bit of a balls up and now I don't know what I am going to do for the rest of the afternoon. I hate that. You really can tell by the tone of my typing how frustrated I am today. Grrrrrrrr.
It's one of those day where I would be quite happy to go back to bed and hide under the (Welsh) blankets.
It is, perhaps, one of those days where I really shouldn't be attempting anything with any form of technology, even of the most basic kind. I am halfway through setting up one of knitting machines at home and I really need to be in a good frame of mind to get the damn thing running, so it might be a really good idea to put it aside and have a deep breath. Also the camera has decided (because you know they are demented sentient beings just like computers) it now does not want to download photos although it quite happily did a batch twenty minutes ago...... See?? One of those damnable days.
Whenever I have to work with 'new' technological stuff I can feel my blood begin to boil and I start to twitch...... deep breaths, calming thoughts, sledge hammer.....

Sunday, 15 May 2011

to bedlam and back

Another Sunday, another walk into the city. No rain this time but the fountains have been turned on.
Last week the walk was to get a new pair of jeans and this week a new camera, both very extravagant but also very necessary. I also picked up a copy of Uppercase #9, it is a lovely food focused edition and best of all is 6 pages of glorious Dawn Tan-ness. It fabulous! I picked up two photos I bought from Dawn that have been sitting at the framers for months this week- now I need to find somewhere to put them!
I feel like the last week has been pure bedlam, my head is still spinning. I've a lot to do this coming week, re-stocking, wholesaling, making winter clothing, it never ends. I had a moment of annoyance the other week when I realised I'd missed the deadline for Markit but I think deep down that would have been an added stress/deadline I could really do without. I have a little shop with lots of commitments and Sunday is my one day of semi-leisure so I think I may have sub-conciously made a decision before I was even aware of it.

Now I must try and remember everything I need to do tomorrow morning.

Saturday, 14 May 2011

truly glovely

(Welcome back Blogger. Except for the fact you lost all the lovely comments from my last post. Damn you!)

It's been a busy couple of days here at the Cottage. The cold, the rain and (most of all) the D-files have all managed to combine for a busy Thursday and Friday, lots of emails, phone calls and new faces.
I was so overwhelmed with all the work I needed to do I couldn't decide where to start, Dell sat me down and said 'gloves'. She was right of course! I spent yesterday out the back whilst she served out the front  and as I finished dyeing, washing, drying, clipping and pressing, Dell tagged and boxed and displayed.
Over the last few days we have had lots of enquiries about what colours we have in the gloves...... it reduces us to giggles.... you see at the moment we have gone over 30 colours (not in all lengths admittedly) and I was dyeing new colours yesterday too. And it is only May!
Jethro is even getting in on the whole glove thing. Ever since he was a kitten he has 'stolen' the offcuts from the glove seconds we use to make the toy owls. He runs around with them in his mouth and leaves them as presents, he's even been known to play fetch with them. We find them everywhere and Dell has remarked about the six she found in the shop one morning, he'd collected them from upstairs and brought them all downstairs between the time I left for the studio and when Dell arrived to open up. I have gone out on occasion and come home to a pile of them in the middle of the floor near the door as if they were votive offerings to make me come home- or stay away, I'm not sure. I woke up yesterday morning to find three and a feather kitten tickler on the bed, this morning it was 4 glove offcuts and a dust bunny from under the bed. He scours the house during the night and collects them and he has managed to break into the bag of offcuts, he only steals one or two at a time, he really is a cat of simple pleasures. I view his enjoyment of them as a stamp of glovely goodness.

Thursday, 12 May 2011

winter warmers giveaway!

I am twelve shades of embarrassed and chuffed, Lovely Lucy over at the D-Files is just the nicest person out.
She says the sweetest things about me and then gives you lot out in virtual world the chance to win the best prizes. This week has been 'Winter Warmers' (and haven't we needed them, 12ºC yesterday) and after having work appear for the last three days on Lizzie's guest blog section the Cottage is mentioned again! Like I said embarrassed.
Lucy has organised an 8 prizes for 8 readers giveaway. Go leave a comment and win!
If you don't win you can still visit all the lovely people and shops who have donated.

Yes those are my feet under the quilt.

The Cottage's (heart-skips-a-beat-when-see-them) Welsh blanket cushions and the giveaway hottie made from Australian grown and woven Alpaca. Alpaca can sometimes be prickly but this fabric is sooooo soft and cuddly.
All photos nicked from the D-Files because Luce takes the best photos.

Wednesday, 11 May 2011


Absolute Antarctic blast here today. I didn't check the temperature in the studio, it was a bare 16ºC yesterday, as I thought it would make me feel even colder if I knew what it was today. I was wearing a beanie and had a drippy nose from the cold, I am holding off firing the heaters up at the studio but this Winter has come before I am prepared!
I've finished a batch of 'Emmy Lou' smocks today, a variation on the denim 'Harvest' smock and had plans to make some leather belts tonight to go with them but I am spinning wool in front of the heater and thinking of an early night with my book and a wheat bag snuggled into bed. I think Jethro and I may have to increase the Welsh blanketage on the bed, I do love sleeping under blankets, I sleep deeply and well.
I love Winter, I'm half hibernating and half feeling enervated from the cold.


Tuesday, 10 May 2011

the curious incident of the scone in the inbox

Today was one of those days where I couldn't decide whether I was unproductively productive or productively unproductive. Lots of things taken out and looked at, jobs half done and undone and feeling like there is just way too much that needs my attention at the moment.
The curiosity of the day was an email that came in this afternoon from a public relations company about a certain bakery franchise who are 'releasing' a new scone 'flavour' and are trying to get 'crafty bloggers' to hold tea parties and write about it (and the bakery franchise) on their blogs, they will be supplied with scones and vouchers. Now I never ever participate in these type of things but I find this one so incredibly wrong that I just had to write about it.
There is this massive flaw in the public relation company's thinking.... you see I feel that anyone serious about the whole craft/making thingummy would actually get out their copy of the CWA cookbook (blatant plug) and make their own batch of scones. Scones are made for consumption as soon as possible (although I do like a cold mouth-drying scone with lashings of butter) with the baking smell of flour and milk and butter hanging in the air. It's not something you make from a bag of scone pre-mix, it is not a leaden lumpen square of cake-y bread.
I am really very anti-PR give aways, mainly because I find them so very ill-conceived, I can just imagine them sitting around a conference table selling this promo to the bakery franchise- I'm guessing neither of them are big on the ironic nature of this promo.
Just to make myself feel a little better I baked some brownies. Simple. Yummy. Homemade.

beryl bomber

I've had a few Blogger issues in the last 24 hours but now I seem to be able to post again. You don't know how much you miss it 'til it's gone..... I even had to resort to posting on Facebook..... ewww, I feel so dirty.
It is cold, I had to shut the windows in the studio yesterday so Winter must really be its way. I made a big pile of hot water bottle covers yesterday and they are out in the shop (and we still have our lovely hot water bottle shaped wheat bags too, I stole one last night to cuddle up to).
I've put out some of the great ex-army jackets we found a couple of weeks ago. They were made in 1977 and are made in a marle grey wool double knit with a metal zip up the front. They almost remind me of Sharpie jackets and are really cute, kind of short and fitted. The downside is we have them in only one size. It's a SSW which means small but we have tried them on a slew of ladies of various sizes and I like them best tight fitted, apart from the 1970s style they almost look vintage 1940s too.
We've also been included in the Winter Warmers over at The D-Files again today with our handknit beanies. Ours are the ones without the pompoms.
Of to the studio, I am now running late- thanks for that Blogger.

Monday, 9 May 2011

winter warmers at the d-files

Look what came through this morning in my emails- It's The Design Files Winter Warmers week! Perfect timing n'est pas with the weather having clicked over into real winter mode?
The lovely Lizzie borrowed some of our woollies and there is her photo above of our angora lambswool over the knee socks with some vintage leather boots and below is the lovely Lucy's snap of our to-die-for Welsh blanket cushions.
Well I'd better get dressed and off to the studio, we are down to two hot water bottle covers and I need to get the knitting machine cleaned and ready to start knitting.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

rainy days and sundays

You know Autumn is here when the new Sookie arrives in-store. I spent last night and this morning in bed devouring the latest instalment, perfect reading for a rainy morning, hanging out in sweaty Bon Temps, Louisiana.
Once finished I lay in bed and balanced up the day's possible activities. I plumped for a walk into the city to pick up some more mugs, I've managed to break two in a week  at home and all the ones at the studio are dangerously chipped. I didn't quite estimate how heavy it was raining and ended up drenched by the time I got to Parliament Garden. No point turning around though.
Back home for tea and newspapers and a new book, dry clothes and tucked back in bed. Let's say one thing led to another and I was down for an afternoon nap. It's so long since I've managed to squeeze in one of those.... so very nice, so very deserved.
I still have emails to answer, I haven't sorted the shop out but I've managed to burn a pot of Dutch cream potatoes, the washing is on, a tiny bit of vacuuming has happened but I really need a three day weekend again.

Saturday, 7 May 2011

mothering sunday

Oh yes it is Mother's Day tomorrow.
I think I've written before how when I lived back on Brunswick Street we used to love watching families turn up, three generations piling out of the car all smiles and then an hour later returning, smiles tautly plastered on their faces, stuffing gran back into the car and  working out how fast they can get her back to the  HSOPH (High Security Old Peoples Home) and how far away from the rest of their family members they could get. Of course not all Mother's Days are like this for all families but I often think the artificial constructs of days like Mother's Day, were everyone is expected to act felicitously- and slightly worshipfully- towards a family member, is just bound to end a bit snarkily.
So I've been thinking if you are going down the Mother's Day present path then these two book have really got to be the way  to go. A new batch of the Tasmania CWA cookbook arrived on Thursday and moments later a box of the brand-spanking-new-hot-off-the-presses 'Op Shop Guide Victoria' arrived! How excited are we! If your mother is a MasterChef groupie then get her the CWA book as she better bone up on her plain cooking before that challenge comes around. And if she is a serious recycler/scavenger then the  OpGuide is for her, 1/2 a kilo of op shop listing for the whole of Victoria with opening hours and descriptions  (we want Kelly to turn it into an iPhone app!).
Of course we do have other presents for mothers who are bibliophobic.
There is new hand spun yarn going in store this morning (get her to knit it up as a scarf for you, total win-win present there) and I made piles of tea towel cushions earlier this week (they are clogging up the hall and the kitchen at the moment, could you come buy some so I can get to the kitchen bench please?).
And, of course, there are new colours in the angora fingerless gloves (if she doesn't like them then a. there is something wrong with her and/or b. you get to keep them).
Well I better get off and sort the shop and getting ready for another Saturday as shopgirl.

Friday, 6 May 2011

country air

A lovely evening was spent at Mr Kitly last night viewing 'Zero Work' by Mr Cruickshank and Ms Stewart.
Today I am off up country again. I'm riding shotgun as my op-shop compadre delivers work to Tarrawarra and I get to pick up stuff from my knitters. We will be testing something on the way, I'll tell you all about that when I return this afternoon.
Winter is definitely in the air and I might need to take a beanie with me.
Next week is going to be all about working in the studio.

Wednesday, 4 May 2011


Here's our new windows.
Now the whole front needs to be repainted.
And I talked to our sign writer today.
It's so bright inside.
No hiding behind the door anymore.

Curious incident when we packing up tonight. The door was closed and two women stopped outside the window. One said to the other "everything in this shop is just ugly, I just don't know how they can keep trading'.
Apart from the fact that people think that glass makes a decent sound barrier (always amusing) I'm not sure just where this comment came from, whether they were serious or being humorous...... very perplexing.

let me in!!

Jethro was banished to the 'backyard' today. The bedroom window was being replaced and we were taking no chances with someone trying to make a break for it. He had me in stitches crying at the kitchen window. The curiosity was driving him mad, he does love a tradie.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011


Last night Jethro and I said goodbye to the old lattice windows.

Then the boys arrived at 7am. The hoarding went up, pedestrians had to walk on the road (there was even two foot traffic controllers who spent the day smoking and gossiping out the front) and the lads started removing each pane of glass.

The lattice was cut out and the door removed. The frame inserted, new door hung and the glass sheets fitted. They had an easier time doing the Cottage window than the other two shops- apparently our holes were squarer than the others.

By 2.30 they were done for today, they'll be back to finish in the morning (7am again) and then I'll take a photo of our sparkly new windows. The whole front of the shop looks so bright and open. Jethro is flummoxed and I am tired from dyeing gloves and cleaning glass.

Monday, 2 May 2011

you've got the wrong day, boys

I got a call just after 7am asking me to open the shop so the new window could be fitted......
Short story long, they got the day wrong.
So they are off fitting #73's window today. As originally planned the Cottage's window will be put in tomorrow. As I have already said we will be closed.
I'm really not firing on all cylinders in the morning. I could have done with that last half hour's kip.
Just means I get to the studio a little earlier I suppose.
Look! We are getting a glass door! Wonder what Jethro will think of that!

Sunday, 1 May 2011

happy kitty, sleepy kitty, purr purr purr

Once in a blue moon I save a tea towel cushion as a present for some one special and very, very rarely just for me. This one of the Jethro-esque kitten and the milk bottle was a keeper- and then Dell had to comment on it looking like a teenage Jethro sucking on a bong...... which had me in fits of laughter every time I looked at the cushion on Friday night.

Along with the latest piles of tea towel cushions I finished last week we have a new batch of pianola shades in, we have all five sizes in stock at the moment. This week is going to be very disjointed with the Cottage being closed on Tuesday but I am aiming at getting some more Welsh blanket cushions done tomorrow. I need to dye more gloves (5 batches done today but they need to be clipped, pressed and tagged), we are missing yellows and odd colours but I suddenly seem to have lots of blue (how did that happen??). The chores are really never ending here.