Monday, 30 April 2012

sunday worship, monday shipments

I do love Sundays up this end of Fitzroy.
It's so quiet and restful.
I alternated tea drinking, cassata cake making, newspaper reading until it was time to go sit in the Westgarth Street backyard for a Marriage Festival with home made sausage rolls, dog patting, blood orange soda drinking and chat.
A good way to spend a Sunday.
Now of course it's Monday and I am frittering my morning away with vacuuming, cat wrangling, lugging boxes to the car and not answering emails.
I really must stop writing these posts as lists of things done and not done (and you know how I hate lists) but I suppose it is just indicative of my days at the moment. Anyway I better get going, there is a delivery of cushion inserts due at the studio and then I am off up country to deliver 100kg+ of angora yarn to my lovely knitters. And if I'm lucky, as a treat, an op shop or two.

Saturday, 28 April 2012

sock saturday!

We've been waiting ages for these beauties (my fault, waiting because I couldn't decide which colours to order) and the first box arrived yesterday afternoon. Mucho excitemento at the Cottage! So here are the first three designs, reindeers, argyle and over the knee diamond, made from beautiful wool, cashmere, angora and a bit of strengthening nylon.

The reindeer are so soft and snuggly and I am planning an evening in them with my Mongolian felt slippers very soon. It should have been last night but instead I had to motor to the arse end of Fisherman's Bend to pick up 110kg of angora yarn that Toll Couriers failed to deliver (they delivered 2 boxes yesterday afternoon), actually let's get this right, they LOST the boxes. Yep, their words 'we have lost the shipment', so then at 7.30 last night when they 'found' the boxes they then told me that they 'could not guarantee delivery'. WTF?! 
Apparently courier businesses don't actually have to deliver what they are paid to deliver. 
I am thinking of starting a delivery business called 'Fast and Lose' (play on words). We will take the package and the delivery charge and then just misplace the package, when people complain we can just say that we 'can't guarantee delivery'. Simple. We should make a killing.

Well I didn't get much achieved this week. A bit of dyeing, a few wheat bags stitched up and 3 wholesale orders picked up. Next week I must get into the studio, no excuses, and  get a humongous pile of work done. First I must deliver the boxes of angora to my knitters, go visit the girls at Frankie and Swiss, get the cushion insert delivery carted up to the studio, order some fabric, pick up purse frames (we've almost sold out of our new 'tapestry' print purses) and then settle in for a sewing fest. Oh, I need to make clocks too, there are 4 empty nails on the clock wall in the shop and no stock in the cupboard!

Oh dear! Look at the time! I better dash!
I'm shopgirl today, first time in three weeks, I'll probably be out of practice, be gentle on me!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

bumbling about

Where has my day gone?
Ok, I slept in a tad, pressed and tagged gloves, met up with Sally from Lulu who came to pick up some glove stock, went to Brunswick to see the Group Work show at Mr Kitly, dropped in to Mediterranean Wholesalers  for fresh ricotta to make a cassata cake for the Marriage Festival party on the weekend, had three appointments moved around on me, booked in other appointments to experiment with some new printing ideas, drank tea, stared at my new handmade boots, sneezed a bit, tickled Jethro........ and now it is 3.30 and I have achieved very little in reality.
I have little to report except we a new batch if glove colours in. I'm aiming for 60 colours this year. I need a little project to keep me motivated! Of course we are nowhere near the 60 yet.
Now I need to go do some photos of those damn gloves before the light fades.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

net of tears

A few years ago I was shown an amazing piece of crochet, about a yard long, that depicted an ANZAC soldier standing with head bowed. Hand crocheted it was beautiful and poignant and infinitely melancholy. I think it was the bigger more detailed version of the one below and was probably designed by Mary Card. The Australian War Memorial has some amazing pieces in their collection including the huge bedspread pictured above, I don't know whether that piece was ever meant to be slept under, I think it would have weighed a tonne of sorrow.

I find the mix of lacy crochet and memorialising war to be strange bedfellows and yet some how so perfect.  How many dreams and lives fell through those holes, a net to catch tears in. Filet crochet is as much about the gaps, the negative space, as about the pattern each stitch makes. The lose of a person, of years, of possibility leaves a hole too and the lives led around that hole are effected and the pattern changes.

To me these pieces are like a meditation, of the maker sitting, slowly working, stitch by stitch locking a ghost into a lacework of memories. It is always good to keep the hands busy in both times of grief and joy.

Monday, 23 April 2012


Morning all.
The kitten and I had a lovely sleep in this morning (that is, Jethro didn't try to wake me at 5.30am and let me nap on through until just before 8am). Fresh sheets, cool weather and tired bodies- perfect knock out drugs.
It took hours to sort the shop yesterday afternoon, unpacking boxes, moving stuff around, changing the window display, stacking plastic storage bins and smashing down cardboard boxes. I still have stuff to move to the car and rubbish to get rid of, a bit of vacuuming to do and a lot of head scratching to work out where in hell we are going to put 150kg of angora yarn. Sometimes I think the Cottage way of interior design is having boxes stash under every horizontal surface in the shop, it's not a nice look but I do get to the stage of not seeing it...... which is pretty much the way with the piles of moth infested laundry in the bedroom.
We are waiting on a couple of boxes of new stock to arrive from the lovely Lisa in the US of A. I'm very excited...... and perplexed as to where in hell we are going to display it. I'm (as usual) way behind on the clothing front but we are about to have all peripheries covered, hand knitted beanies for the head, gloves for the hands, feet things and when I get into the studio later this week there should be a bit of scarfing about happening. Mohair hot water bottle covers, wheat bags, new cushions and soon some new quilts, crocheted Afghan rugs, tea cosies for our tea pots, bring it on Winter, throw us everything you've got!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

saturday too far

Excuse the dodgy photo, taken under fluoro lights, all a bit piled high.
I am totally delirious today, last night was huge, crowded, noisy, intense.
And now we have a long day to do it all again.
Please come and visit, buy stuff so we don't have to carry it all home again jiggity jiggity.
I've been awake half the night with a stuffed back and have been lying on my bed doing twist stretches in the hope I will be able to stand all day. Now for some toast, tea and a handful of painkillers.
Apart from needing  to put the shop back together tomorrow I am so looking forward to doing 'nothing'.
Remember Finders Keepers finishes at 5pm today!

Thursday, 19 April 2012

the kinders feepers, the kipper's flippers, the finders keepers

Evening all!
So Finders Keepers starts tomorrow evening.
Here is our plan.
The Cottage is going to close at about 2pm tomorrow (Friday) so that we can pack up a whole shebang of stock and load it into the cars. We will be looking slightly frazzled but if you knock desperately and beg we might let you in. Then at 6pm after a frantic set up we will open up a mini Cottage Industry (perhaps a more Lean-to Industry, a Thrown Together Industry or a Gypsy Caravan Industry) at the Exhibition Building. The Cottage will be closed on Saturday, as we are only just up the road we decided it was just too difficult to do both.
Please come and visit us, we are at stall C35 (we always seem to get shoved in a corner...), downside is we are near the stage (although as Isobel pointed out this evening if we are behind the speaker stacks we'll be fine), upside being we should be able to semaphore our taco orders to Raph over at the Taco Truck.
I'm still not sure what we are taking but if you have a request then please drop me an email or call the shop before the 2pm box packing time. As usual I'm feeling very disorganised. I still have things to do in the morning (like buy some new plastic storage boxes that don't come from Bunnings and are so brittle they explode five minutes after you buy them), pick up the shelving unit from the studio (where the lift has stopped working) and buy two long bamboo poles to string some bunting on.
I think I'll press up some gloves and hit the hay. An early-ish night might be nice.
Hope to see you at the Exhibition Building!

dip dyed

Well it was a late night last night but I managed to finish all the granny purses that I should have made ages ago, ah yes, procrastination thou art my evil mistress. So more shibori/ikat purses, vintage linen purses and our new digital print tapestry purses, the photo below doesn't do them justice. I'll be working on more of the tapestry purses once I actually get through to the other side, post Finders Keepers.
I've also managed to get a few balls of our new yarn dyed up, I won't have time to get more dyed and dryed in time for FK but if your quick you can snap some up. Hand dipped dyed slubby wool blend, a 100gm ball will knit you a more than decent scarf, 20 stitched on 15mm for a nice width and length or 12 stitches for an extremely long skinny scarf- or you can make up your own combo. I'm loving it and Dell nearly jumped out of her shoes in excitement when I showed it to her.

I'm trying to press a batch of gloves before I go out to pick stuff up and get to the studio. I think today will be one of those days where I just don't have quite enough time to do everything I need to do.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

a better sort of wednesday

Dyeing, dyeing, dyeing. That was my day yesterday. Today will be cutting, sewing, cursing my laziness.
The high point of yesterday was definitely the arrival of our new shipment of the CWA Classics and the Tasmanian CWA 21st Anniversary cookbooks.
The low point was when the school group came through and both Anna and I were a bit (!) taken aback by the way it was all handled. They arrived late and no one in the group (that is the teachers) bothered to introduce themselves, so suddenly we had what felt like 30 people crammed into the shop and we had no idea what was going on. We have been spoilt for the way student outings are run, normally the groups are from institutes like RMIT or Box Hill and the lecturers there always instil in the students that slamming a shop on mass is not the best idea.
I better go get dressed, I have a thousand things to do today.
Please remind me to post about Finders Keepers tonight, I have things I must tell you.

Tuesday, 17 April 2012

we all went to a 'wetting'

... and what a lovely 'wetting' it was.
The three and three quarter boy named it 'the wetting' so 'the wetting' it was. There was a bit of a near incident with a fountain but no rain and nothing spilt so all went well.
We all made ourselves sick at the Windsor and couldn't finish our hight tea which was a bit pathetic of us really. Remember if you do the high tea to take a Tupperware container just in case you need to slip a few petit fours in your bag. Mind you it could have been the celebration chocolate mousse cake that tipped us over the edge. I do love a finger sandwich.
And look! Miniature jelly lamingtons! For that alone I was in heaven, you know how much I love a jelly lamington!
So today is back to normal.
No weddings to break up my drudgery.
I have a great deal of work to do, a pile of stuff to make, damnation, Finders Keepers starts on Friday!
And we have a school group coming through the shop this morning to cap it all off.
Jethro is still asleep in bed the lazy little kitty. How jealous am I?

Monday, 16 April 2012

hi ho

Hello people! Sorry I've been missing in action but there have been road trips and strained backs, unpacking and panic attacks (just kidding). You may have got a bit suspicious when there was no Saturday morning post and even more suspicious if you came into the shop to find Dell in my usual Saturday place behind the counter.
I had to fit in a trip up to see our Northern Queens of Craft before Finders Keepers and before The Wedding. My Op-Shopping Compadre is being made an honest woman this morning- hence last week's wedding dress hullabaloo (wedding dress fabric below, printed linen)- and I will be hanging at the Registry Office and partaking of a high tea at the Windsor Hotel before finally getting my head and arse in gear for FK which opens this Friday evening.
I have a ridiculous amount to do and pack before we bump it all in on Friday afternoon. I hope my back holds out, I managed on Thursday evening to reach out to pick something up off the stairs and strain my diaphragm right in the section where all the rib breaks happened in the bike accident. One of those weird little movements that seems to do more harm than you would think possible. Breathing and moving were a little (!) painful for a few days there and I thought 'that's the end of my opera career'. Apart from a few twinges it seems to have come good though.
I picked up some amazing work from our star crocheter Ann, we have large Afghan throws that she has made extra big for us and a clutch of her fabulous tea cosies, some of these pieces won awards at country shows! Our friend Marnie has also made some crochet hats and she'll hopefully be sending down some Miss Mousie toys soon. And Kerry knitted up a storm and now we have buckets of hedgehogs and bees and mice again. They won't all be in the shop today as it'll take me a little while to unpack them all.
I better dash I have a mass of things to do before I throw on my glad-rags and head off to the Wedding.
The shop is a mess.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

mittens, kittens, flitting

I spent hours on Saturday tagging and pricing our hand knitted beanies and these super gorgeous children's gloves and mittens. As the gingerbread heart were running a bit low I thought it would be nice to have a change and replaced them with the mitts. So the winterfication of the Cottage is slowly happening. If you want mittens for your kittens you better be quick as we have a limited number.
Jethro is still in a strange mood and some bright spark suggested he needed a pet.... like a kitten. I am so not going down that path. I think he is just having one of his 'growth spurts' where he burns about the house and causes havoc for Dell in the mornings by hiding from her. Yesterday he wouldn't come out from hiding so she let some customers in and of course he came out to make sweet love to the nice Irishman Dell was serving- he really needs a male role model in his life. Do you know where I can get one?
OK, better scoot. Need to get to Preston and back ASAP, I have a wedding dress to finish.

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

not very bright

Dumb as a box of hair (as a certain feathered friend of mine likes to say).
Six degrees of stupid.
Idiot, idiot, idiot.
I've managed to spend two days and a bit fluffing around with a pattern that should have been simple but I managed to make it complex and oh so very wrong. Late in the afternoon I realised that I should stop trying to make it 'right' and scrap it and start afresh. Which I did and an hour later I had an almost perfect fitting toile. Is there a moral here? Yep. Sometimes you need to go back to the beginning, two wrongs (or twenty) just don't/won't make a right.
But most of all I feel like a right stupid twat.
I have errands to run in the morning and then I will spend the rest of the day cutting and sewing.
I did manage to get a pile of mohair hot water bottle covers made in between pulling my hair out in frustration. That's a big plus.

it all came crashing down.....

I know how Humpty feels.
It was a hard day yesterday and not hugely productive, would have been better if my brain actually worked.
Perhaps I had a slight case of 'holiday hangover' and a touch of the 'go slow procrastinations'. I have no excuse for procrastinating and not putting my nose to the grindstone- I have two huge deadlines to meet at the start and end of next week and I need to pull my finger out, crank it up and get moving.
OK. Today I will make phone calls, sort out the final pattern adjustments for Jen's dress, buy the lining and zip and get sewing. I will also cut out some more stock, sew up some more stock and finish some more stock. If I don't get a few bits and pieces finished by the end of the day you can berate me sternly, that will be something to look forward to!
Time to get dressed and out of the house.

Monday, 9 April 2012

of eggs and feline antics

I've been a little obsessed with Heston Blumenthal's egg cooking methods this weekend, well, Easter and eggs go hand-in-hand don't they? It's been a bit of food weekend starting with lunch at Casa Birdwood on Friday, lamb tagine dinner at Chez Westgarth last night, egg experiments dotted in between and a bit of cake bakery (Italian almond, chocolate and sultana torte and Evan's ye olde appley cake).  I was also spoilt with eggs of the chocolate variety from some luv-er-ly people and a delivery of pavlova too (this afternoon's treat I think).
The phone has been ringing off its stand all day but I am purposefully avoiding it. The shop isn't open and I can't even go in to do chores I had planned in case people start battering the door down. I know there are shops open all over town but sometimes we retailers need a bit of peace and quiet. I love our longer shopping hours at the same time as hating the mentality of 'open all hours'. We don't work on the same timetable here as the big department stores and if we did we would probably be as nasty and grumpy as they are.
I'm also dealing with a furry housemate who has decided to be a complete and utter prat for the last four days and will have the spray bottle turned on him soon if he continues with some of his bratty-brat-brat antics. I think it is his cool weather flourish before settling down to a Winter hibernation. It damn well better be over soon. The photo below was taken before he put is crazy pants on the other day. Even though it has been a quiet weekend I am now tired and grumpy from interrupted sleep, not how I planned a restful Easter weekend.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

jesus promised kebabs

After a lovely quiet Good Friday lunch out in 'Birdwood' yesterday I came home all dozy and slow..... and to the shocking realisation that I had miscalculated and in fact I have one less week than I thought to make a wedding dress and get everything ready for Finders Keepers. As you can imagine I mentally ran around like a chicken with its head cut off, I could feel my brain ping-ponging about in my skull. Serious mess up there. The main problem being how the hell I am going to fit in two days run up country to pick up stock.
Anyway, first things first, I need to get through a shop Saturday and then I can sit and plan an attack. I have a habit of taking way too much stock to the market so perhaps this time less will be more!
I did a very crappy window display last night featuring the new run of digital print tapestry cushions. I've changed the make on them and now we have, instead of piping and linen back, beautiful German cotton velvet on the reverse, they are pretty lush and some will still be done with our lovely Swedish raw linen as well. This is only the first batch, there is a total of 35 designs at the moment with more on the way.  About two fifths of the range in, I ran out of zips on Thursday afternoon- see I can't help myself, more is never enough.
Anyway, shop is open today, please drop by. We have more of the little ceramic rabbits/hares in, so forego the chocolate and grab one, we have little boxes for them to go in and they are really rather lovely. Also a new shipment of pianola shades has just come in, all sizes and now that the nights are drawing in it's time to light up the house. Perhaps I need to do a window display full of vintage lampbases and shades, maybe next month.
I do love Easter, it's so much more relaxed than Xmas. I love that Haigh's Chocolates have to hire security men for the Block Arcade store, it amuses me greatly. I think a long lie in tomorrow might be on the cards.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012


Sorry for being a bit AWOL from the blog for the last few days but I've been a bit busy. Flitting here, flitting there, getting this done, not getting that done, going to meetings, stirring dyepots, tagging gloves, working in the despatch division of PenCorp... ahhh what a glamorous life this is.
I woke this morning to the hissing of gas burners outside my window. It has been an amazing hot air balloon season and I love being able to throw back the curtain and watch them float passed. 'Dreamy' as Miss Ramona often says. It's been that usual last blast of Melbourne autumnal warmth (forecast for 30ºC on Good Friday which is just ridiculous) but the light has been a little hazy and whilst I find a dash of melancholia to it I do love this time of year.

I'm having a little bit of a melt-down at the moment, mild and not too overwhelming, as we have Finders Keepers coming up at  the Exhibition Buildings in a couple of weeks and guess who feels very unprepared. Are you coming? What do you want me to take? Crapola, I wish it was a bit longer away. I have a wedding dress to make before then too!
The new digital cushion prints are coming off the machine at Frankie and Swiss any time now which is pretty exciting. I've chosen a huge batch of tapestries and there is some very funny ones in the collection, crying 80s Pierrots, 1970s children, bullfighters and flamenco dancers, just you wait! And hopefully there will be some purses too. I have more tapestries to photograph so it looks like this range might explode!

On the subject of Easter opening hours, we will be closed Good Friday and Easter Monday (and Easter Sunday of course but we are always closed Sundays.... except for the 20 minutes I opened for a Vintage Tour last Sunday and got flooded with people). Saturday will be as usual, 11am to 5pm. Don't forget to come in and pick up some little ceramic bunnies or tin toys for your chocophobic friends and family. If you can't make it in we can Express Post to you (if you are in the right zones) today so you will get your Easter goodies tomorrow. If you want anything sent you need to get in touch with us by phone before 3pm today so we make the post office in time.