Thursday, 31 May 2012

pure velvet

A country drive yesterday. I'm not sure whether it did any good as I think I was in a daze for most of it. There certainly wasn't any thinking or pondering happening, I seem to have spent the day on a very superficial level. I even walked slowly, quite treacly in fact, no rushing to see/do everything, just meandering and pottering.

I ate a giant anzac biscuit and drank a pot of tea while thinking about bugger all.  I fossicked through expensive crap. Sent silly photos to friends of weird things I was 'buying' for them. Indulged my collection of enamel mugs. I drove through fog and into sunshine. I tasted violets in the air. I pootled about. That's all really.

Tuesday, 29 May 2012


So here we are. We've come through two markets in a month and a flurry of Winter glove orders and have managed to survive. I may have fallen asleep on my bed for an afternoon nap yesterday, a well deserved nap I think. I used to love afternoon naps, in fact back in the Brunswick Street days they were essential due to all the nighttime interruptions (bar patrons, rubbish trucks, tourists...) but my nights are less disjointed up here in the 'country town' end of Fitzroy. I never realised until I moved here how sleep deprived I was.
I'm making myself do as little as possible at the moment. I'm still writing emails, moving stuff around, loading and unloading but I feel the need for a bit of quiet. Thinking time if you like. Planning. Napping. I'm still toying with the country drive, tomorrow perhaps, but even that will take energy.
I managed to trip over a power cord at Markit and came down heavily on my left leg. My back went 'ping', I went 'ow' and I am still wincing whenever I stub my foot on anything (foot bone is connected to...) or roll over in bed. It's easing off a bit though. Boring. Yawn.
The photo is of Jethro yawning this morning. He about sums it up.
I still haven't written the satchel update.....

Saturday, 26 May 2012


Could we possibly start today again?
You might remember the (crazy) person who ripped the doilies off the magnolia way back on New Year's Day? Well I got to meet him at 8am this morning. As he ripped the doilies off again, chatting all the while to the tree, I slammed the flat of my hand against the glass door and yelled at him to bugger off. He decided to ask me if we had 'listened to the tree' and wasn't going to listen to my argument that I had listened and the tree was happy. He sprouted Socrates at me, I threatened the police and when our faces were an inch from each other separated by the glass I asked nicely if he could explain why his eyes were pinned and the situation ended with him walking off. Sometimes you just have to use a left hook.
Sad I know. Young, intelligent, a dash of schizophrenia and a touch of whacked off his face. And really no point in my anger or trying to reason with him.
Like I said- can we start the day again?
Now I need to factor in a repair job on Miss Magnolia.
On the home front I also have a slightly (amusingly) delinquent cat to deal with. I have probably told you Jethro has penchant for 'fetching' gloves and bringing them to me in bed. It started with glove offcuts as a kitten, then sample and seconds 'stolen' from plastic bags in the kitchen. It's pretty cute and amusing but last night he took it to the next level and pulled 4 pairs off the hanging display in the front window, one and a half pairs ended up in bed and the rest dotted around the house. After playing 'scare the doily vandal' this morning I then had to play 'Hunt the Glove'. I rehung a couple of pairs to then get home from the newspaper run to find he'd done it again. Little shit.
Saturday morning shop shift. New Welsh blanket cushions in, the fabulous Brynkir Navaho blanket design, new fingerless glove colours, new hand spun yarn hanks, new dip dyed angora scarves. That's it. I'm toying with the idea of having a week where I don't make anything to put in the shop......
Don't forget! Markit@FedSquare tomorrow!

Friday, 25 May 2012

waiting for mr sockbar

'I do not know the whereabouts of your grey spotted sock.'

Oh, look. It's 9.45 and I am barely dressed, tea-ed and need shoes and a hat to get through todays rainy weather. There was meant to be a location photo shoot in the shop at 9 this morning but very late yesterday it was cancelled. Good in that I didn't have to spend last night lugging boxes about and doing stuff to make the shop look respectable, bad that I ended up brain dead and exhausted from all the late nights I've been putting in this week and feel like I forgotten to do something (you know that feeling, when something isn't happening and you are at a loose end). The flow on today being that the appointment I had organised for this morning and had to delay isn't happening until 11 and I am floating about until then.
I've chucked on another dyepot to soak, bright yellow, as we seem to have sold out of that colour... and magenta and denim and the poppy batch is almost gone too... just as I thought I was getting a little ahead  with 21 colours (yay! over a third of the tally done!) I'll have to spend more late nights stirring the copper (and that is not a euphemism...).
I've organised the van for Markit@FedSquare on Sunday, I need to get to the bank and get change, go to the studio and pick up the trolleys and storage boxes and decide whether I need to have a making spirt this afternoon and get some more product finished. Tomorrow night I start packing the shop into boxes. I'm thinking of lots of lovely wooliness- tea cosies, angora gloves, beanies, scarves, socks, Welsh blanket cushions, quilts- and perhaps a few satchels and purses for good measure. And yes I will be reporting on important satchel news very shortly.
Now, where are my shoes?

Thursday, 24 May 2012


I so didn't want to get out of bed this morning. I lay there and stared at the DellDreamcatcher™ hanging from the Tord Boontje lightfitting and toyed with the idea of closing my eyes. A week of late night working and I could barely roll over this morning. The plans for an early start at the studio.... hmmm.... not happening now. I've got wholesale shipments to sort before walking out the door.
Did I tell you I managed to turn an afghan rug into a smouldering mess last last? Yep, couldn't work out where the acrid smell in the front room was coming from. I just thought it was the metal plate on the ironing press needing a good clean. Then I discovered the gold leather pouffé had been kicked towards the heater and the afghan on top had made contact. At least the heater was on low..... The windows have been thrown open and upstairs has now been aired..... which leads me to wondering how people who live in McMansions with sealed up tinted windows manage to air their houses out, there is nothing better than throwing a window open. Anyway, it's just the bone weariness drivelling on, I'll shut up soon.
I better dash.
Things to do.

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

storm in a dyepot

I've got my electric copper sitting in the shower cubicle. Every day I have to lift it out when I want to wash and then pop it back in to dye more gloves. I fill it up by positioning the shower head over the top and turning it on full pelt. As the water level rises it reminds me of dodgy storm scenes in old movies, the ship fighting against the rage storm tossed sea.
This morning's dye pot is red. My plan for 60 colours is progressing, so far there has been 24 dye batches and 18 colours, so getting close to a third of the way through. Pretty good I think for the last week of May.
Now of course all this dyeing is not only to top up the trays in the shop and fill wholesale orders. This Sunday is Markit @ Fed Square day. We'll be packing the shop up, loading it all into the borrowed transit van and setting it all up in the foyer of BMW Edge in the exact same spot we were in last December if you came to that  event.
I'm thinking this will be the last market we do in some time, two in a month is stretching things a bit. I don't know how those carni-folk marketeers do it week to week.
Then next week if I am really lucky I'll have a drive up country for the day. Look at the autumn colours (if this wind hasn't stripped the leaves) and get some chill into my cold loving bones. There really is nothing like coming inside after a feeling the brisk Winter on your cheeks and in your toes.
Time to stir the dye pot.

Tuesday, 22 May 2012


In time for the Jubilee I've re-wired Lilibet- and doesn't she look stunning?! I couldn't get her to hang properly facing the front in the window so she had to go on the side wall. There are plinths piled precariously with Welsh blanket cushions  (Nerys can you email me as I don't have a way of contacting you, address in sidebar, thanks) and I strung up the gloves in the window. I always think hanging the gloves is like trimming the Xmas tree, I know Winter is definitely here.
I have a stack of gloves to press, trim and tag before heading to the studio this morning. They sat there all day yesterday taunting me and now the pile is even higher. Jethro is sleeping-in so I had better close the shop screen door whilst I have the chance. There is the wire shelving unit out of the front window I need to stash somewhere before the shop opens too. Perhaps best to tie it to the car roof rack and cart it up to the studio. And I seem to have lost one grey and cream spotted sock and a pair of pink and grey argyle socks, if you see them anywhere can you send them back to me? I am wondering if they are having a little sock menage a trois off in a corner....

Sunday, 20 May 2012

end of day

Almost the end of the day, the end of the weekend.
In today's Sunday Age, our new 'tapestry' cushions.
A pile of dyeing done and a mountain more to do.
Thinking about the difference between 'making' and 'creativity' and how there is a difficult line to tread when you are doing them for a living.
How did the day get so suddenly introspective?

Saturday, 19 May 2012

things to do today

Snuggle up on the couch with a pile of cushions, an afghan rug, the newspapers, a good book or three and a bucket of tea.

Bond with your new hot water bottle.

Start knitting that winter scarf/hat/sweater/sleeping bag you promised yourself you would start.

Yes, it is a grey old drizzly day out there- just how I like them! And yes the Cottage really comes alive at this time of the year, full of woolly goodness. I've put out new handknitted beanies, the glove trays are loaded, the angora scarves are piled up. I'll be spinning yarn today I think (there is some new hanks in the basket) and daydreaming as to what colours I'll dye gloves tomorrow.
Jethro has spent the morning running in and out the back door getting wet from the rain, then coming to stand leaning against my leg to dry off. If I try to towel him off he runs away, it's all a game as he loves getting wrapped up and dried, this morning it's all about playing 'chasey' around the big table in the shop though. I still remember the first day he experienced rain as a kitten, he ran outside, realised something was not right, thought the sky was falling on his head and jumped about like a mouse-on-a-hotplate as each bit of drizzle hit his guard hairs. Now he goes outside on purpose, gets his paws nice and wet and then runs over the glassine paper on the counter leaving perfect little crinkly paw prints. Brat.
OK, almost shop time. Must take the new digital print purse downstairs. Choose which bags of wool I'll spin. Pop the kettle on for another cup of tea. Tempt Jethro out from under the table or bunk. Pick up the leaves that have blown in. Saturday.

Friday, 18 May 2012

hand pressed

I managed to hit the 'off' button rather than the 'snooze' this morning. Perhaps I needed the little sleep-in.
All pretty much well with the ears now, doctors can't work out what was the matter but after a small dose of steroids and a bit of intense tinnitus it's all OK. Apparently I shouldn't blame the knitting machine. I feel I might have to make it up to that inanimate object for laying blame on it, a light coating of machine oil and a good vacuum will hopefully placate it.
Even though it was a late start I managed to pick up the dye for the gloves and got a whole pile of cushions and some new tapestries photographed. It's handy having a photographer down the hallway at the studio!
As you know I'm not a fan of reality TV (OK I lie, my illicit reality is 'Snog, Marry, Avoid?', it cracks me up) but last night Lovely Lucy's amazing Design Files Open House was on The Block. I forgot to watch it- but have remedied that thanks to on-demand. On the D-Files Facebook posts people were asking about the cushions in the photos and I started getting emails about our beautiful Welsh blanket cushions. In the segment you can see our gingerbread hearts on the Xmas trees, Mosey's beautiful balloons and our blanket quilts in the kid's room too! So many great people's creativity showcased in that house.
I spent the rest of today making some new Welshies, I've got a fab stash in the studio and we seem to have a growing mountain of cushions in the shop. My new fav? Raspberry gelati pink (or maybe it's a bit rhubarb) with black, blue and cream, gorgeous! And some tea-towel cushions because Dell pointed out I had been a bit slack on that front of late.
So the week is done and dusted. Just my Saturday shopgirl duty to go. Then a huge pile of dyeing on Sunday.

Thursday, 17 May 2012


Been and done.
I had great plans to write last night about the note I left in the wheatbag tray in the shop and how, apparently, people found it amusing. How after rushing to the studio and making said wheatbags and linking off angora scarves I came back to the shop and dyed gloves and cooked caramel apples (like the apples you cook for a Tarte Tatin but without the pastry) which Dell and I ate warm with Meander Valley Dairy (solid) double cream from enamel cups. How we discovered a kookaburra warbling away on the tv aerial above the terraced buildings opposite the shop.
I managed to spend 4 1/2 hours sitting in Emergency at the Eye and Ear Hospital instead. Nothing major, don't worry (4 1/2 hours= not serious), just a case of muted deafness. I have an appointment again today for a hearing test but it's looking like tinnitus after I experienced 3 bout of ear static before I fell asleep last night and awoke this morning to it again. The problem is I know just what has brought it on- the damned knitting machine. This is what an afternoon of mechanically knitting scarves can do! I think I will have to invest in a pair of noise cancelling headphones.
A frantically busy morning organising wholesale glove orders and then a run up country to pick up gloves ready to be dyed. I think I have spent every weekday for the last couple of weeks racing from pillar to post.
The trees have really turned and the Autumn colours are fabulous. I'm promising myself that I get a real country jaunt next week. I think I need it.

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

looking out

Slow start to the day here, a dose of the feline soporific I think, or perhaps the effect of a crazy busy day yesterday. Unbelievably I managed to make some headway with the email backlog whilst juggling dyeing gloves and taking wholesale inquiries. An AGM and a board meeting to cap the day off and then an hour or so right at the end with the new Sookie book. It's very slow at the start and I am hoping things might ramp up a bit, three chapters in and no sight of Eric, this does not bode well! Perhaps I am just not patient at the moment, I looked at the second in the Hunger Games trilogy yesterday and decided I couldn't be bothered with it. I had an overwhelming desire whilst reading the first book to call Katniss 'Catpiss' and spent far too long ruminating over how if she thought her life was bad she could trying going to an Australian school with a name like that. Seriously if she survived the nicknaming habits of schoolchildren she could survive anything.
As I have been an intermittent poster of late I thought a bit of drivel was better than nothing! I have lots to do in the studio, we seem to be very low on wheat bags and mohair hot water bottle covers. Funny that. I've popped some new colours in the gloves into the shop and I have the press heating up as I click-clack here to iron up a couple more before I finally get my arse in gear and leave the building.
I better get going I seem to have frittered my morning away once again.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

be cosy or bee cosy

Morning all.
Yep, it's Saturday once again.
Yawn. Scratch. Stretch.
Dreaming of the alarm not going off in the morning.
I've just been moving boxes around in the shop, stuffing excess cushions into the cupboard, tossing an o-ring about for Jethro to chase. I had a bit of a Welsh blanket cushion making day yesterday so we have even more of the damn things ('damn' is said affectionately as I love these blankets heart and soul) and I have started a new special run of them patched together from the left over bits. I have to say these make my heart sing and I had to control myself from spending all of yesterday mixing and matching different blanket colours and patterns. I will have to allocate a 'play day' in which I will just revel in all their blankety goodness.
There has been a bit of a run on Ann's beautiful tea cosies so we had to call her and ask for an emergency batch to be sent down. The package arrived yesterday and we have re-stocked on her glorious native and cottage floral ones and there was something special in the package..... bee cosies! Based on Ann's fabulous 'coral' tea cosy pattern from the 1930s, she has covered the top in bees so now it is a beehive swarming with little crocheted bees. She sent us down two but one has already been adopted by our resident bee-fancier so there is only one left.... you better be quick!
It has been pointed out to us that the Cottage is exceedingly autumn-winter-springcentric. We love the cooler months, the gentler light, the snuggling up and we really come into our own when we can fill the shop with woolly goodness. Gloves! Socks! Cushions! Quilts! Sweaters and cardis! Even our teapots have something to wear! Roll on rain, wind and icy cold, we are ready for you!

Friday, 11 May 2012

slow and dozy

Three days of intense blue sky autumn weather has made me dozy and dreamy.
I drove a huge loop around Melbourne yesterday- Fitzroy, Blackburn North, Dandenong, Essendon, Fitzroy. I chose the faster tollway run, no traffic lights but a superb view of the trees doing their leaf colours as I whizzed along. Made me realise how much I need to go for a mid-week country drive very soon.
I've been moving very slow this morning. Creak-creak-creaky. It doesn't help that Jethro likes to come back for a nap after his early morning snack. Cats have a soporific effect on their humans. The slight attack of gastro I've had this week hasn't helped either I think.
If you came in yesterday looking for the angora scarves I left them on the armchair upstairs. They are now downstairs but we are having a horizontal space issue and I am a bit at a loss where to put them. I need to do a big move about of stock, change the front window, go a-hunting the dust bunnies and maybe even get the paint out for the touch ups I didn't do at Easter.
Ok. I better make a move. Got to go to the bank, the stationers, check my Powerball ticket and see if I won that $20 million from last night (I can live in hope...), eat some breakfast and get to the studio. Things to do, places to be.

Thursday, 10 May 2012


A little bit of a sleep in this morning, well not quite a sleep in  just hitting the snooze and  lolling about.
Whilst I am now showered, dressed and tea-ed Jethro is still lying about in bed in a nest of his glove seconds. Perhaps it's the autumn light and laziness that is making us move so slowly at the moment.
The velvet cushions went off for a photo shoot yesterday and we have been promised they would be back today. We'll see about that. I'm off this morning to Darkest Dandenong (the suburb not the Mount) to get another batch of Welsh blanket cushion inserts that I ordered as we seem to have gone through the shipment from last week. I have so many beautiful blankets to sew up and the heap of them in the studio is turning into a bit of a mountain at the moment. Sometimes I get all attached to one and want to put it on my bed or have daydreams of decorating my (imaginary) country house with them. I amuse myself imagining them everywhere like in a tartan flung Scottish baronial hunting lodge- but with Welsh blanketage instead. It might feel like you were living in a test pattern..... maybe not. Perhaps a lovely little Welsh cottage, all rough-and-ready hewn wood beams and whitewashed walls and a snuggly little bed covered in a tapestry blanket. Bit early in the day for daydreams.
Better hit the road.

Oh! Before I forget, the dip dyed angora scarves are going in store today.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

long light

It was such a beautiful day out it was hard to lock myself away in the the studio. I went for a morning walk and dithered about, ate breakfast out, mailed off all the parcels, ambled slowly around autumnal Fitzroy then climbed the stairs up to my garret.
Melbourne really flaunts her blousey best on days like today, skies as blue as a sailor's eyes, light like honey, falling leaves and all. The light was lovely in the studio and even the dust was transformed. I pottered and mooched and did work but was slow and easily distracted. It was as if my brain and body had somehow been switched to languid, not the languid of a hot and balmy day but drunk on the liquid sunlight.
The wind is picking up now and rain is forecast, I've hung a freshly washed Welsh blanket on the line and hopefully will get it before the rain in the morning. There are a few new blanket cushions in the shop, some hand spun wool to go out, lots of dyeing to do and a batch of new velvet 'tapestry' cushions waiting to be picked up in the morning for a photo shoot. Now it is time for bed and re-reading an old book from the bookshelves.

Monday, 7 May 2012

fluff and mist

So I did manage to get some vacuuming done, moved a few things about, washed the studio dishes, all the chores I like to avoid. When I went for a stroll down the street I realised it was the first day in ages where I didn't need to be somewhere else, it was kind of weird and good at the same time, a studio day good and proper.
I knitted. Angora lambswool scarves. Hung out in the 'knitting division' which is strangely colder than the rest of the studio. I dyed up the sample scarves yesterday, dip dyed and washed until they turned into clouds of fluffy goodness. They are like little animals all curled up together, so soft and snuggly.
I've got a few more dyeing downstairs now, charcoal, chocolate and indigo. I might lash out and go pink as well!

Saturday, 5 May 2012

the week that was

Saturday, oh, Saturday.
It's here again.
I love it and I hate it. It marks the end of my 'working week' (not quite when you are self employed but close enough) and it means, if I have no appointments or engagements, that I may get to lie on my bed, stare at the ceiling and ponder all the cleaning that needs to be done. Sundays are very important here, I get to do 'nothing' for a few hours should I choose to and drink buckets of tea.
So being the Saturday Post I suppose I should let you know what we have in stock this week. Our lovely Lisa B socks are starting to walk out the door and I've made a huge-ish batch of Welsh blanket cushions (new colourways, new patterns). Ann's fabulous tea cosies are appearing in a spread in tomorrow's Sunday Age so if you are thinking of getting one for Mother's Day (which is not this Sunday but next) then I think you should probably come and grab one very very soon.
If you visited us at Finders Keepers you might have spied Jen and I or if you've been into the shop seen Dell knitting a scarf. We were taking turns working on the scarf to work  out how far a 100gm ball of our new dip dyed wool would go. It wasn't that it was hard to do or anything, the wool is actually really nice and easy to work with, it was just that we were all snatching moments to do a few rows each. Finally last Saturday I managed to finish it, for a single ball you get a fabulous scarf! Cast on 20 stitches on 15mm needles and just keep knitting in plain/garter stitch and ta-da! a lovely soft as a cloud scarf. Not bad for $25! I'll be dyeing up some more colours soon but I have put out the first dye batch in the shop, yellow/cobalt/natural and lolly pink/grey/natural (this one looks like a pink and grey galah!) and the scarf is in the basket for you to have a look at too.
I did manage to get up to the studio for a couple of hours yesterday afternoon and do some work in the PenCorp Knit Division. Let me just say that area of the studio is disgusting, it's sort of been 'boxed' in with cushion inserts and, um, boxes and I don't think I've been near the knitting machines since the end of last Winter. The problem with warehouse studios is the 100 year old grit that falls through the floorboards/ceiling and the layer of dust that settles on everything. So once I've got the sample scarves I knitted yesterday dyed and played with and any changes made I'll be in the studio on Monday moving furniture around and vacuuming. PenCorp Knit Division needs a good Autumnal clean.
On that cleaning note I better get downstairs and see what my feline colleague is up to. I think I might drag the spinning wheel into the shop today too, we are definitely in need of handspun yarn.

Thursday, 3 May 2012


This is going to be one of those testimonial type posts, 'I bought this fabulous non-stick pan and you should too, it will change your life, blah, blah, blah...', huh, not really but sort of! I'm going to take the role of the proprietress who spruiks her own wares.... and Miss Dell is going to back me up on all my statements I think!
The second box of Lisa B socks have arrived full to the brim with spotty sock and snowflake fair isle socks and they are just pure heaven. I've been living in mine and Dell texted me half way through today to let me know she was in love with the pair she had on so of course we had to have a picture taken when I got back to the shop this afternoon. I'm wearing the grey and Dell is in the pumpkin, we think our feet look like cuddly spotted furry creatures. I'm rather proud that we ordered this beautiful socks, Lisa Meszler makes a very fine pair of socks and with this freezing blast we are sitting happy with warm footsies and our toes are happy.
Go on, give your feet a wintery treat!
Spots, over-the-knee spots, argyle, over-the-knee diamond, reindeers and snowflakes, perfect.
The spruik stops here.

turning tapestries up to 11

Sorry I've been a bit quiet lately (or you might have been cheering!) but I've been feeling a bit under the weather fighting one of those colds that never actually eventuate, probably having a bit of the doldrums post Finders Keepers and wondering where the hell the last 4 months have gone.
On an inspiring up side I'd made an appointment to go visit Michelle at Frankie and Swiss to have more of a play on Florence the Digital Printer. Michelle is always very nice to me as I stick my fingers in the machine and gabble on at her and aspecially this time as she battled the first day of a nasty cold. This time I wanted to do an experiment- to print on a couple of types of velvet. Let's just say the pure cotton velvet was a complete disaster and I'm glad we did it first as it made the second part of the morning so much more exciting.

I'd been pretty sure the cotton wouldn't work but had wanted to give it a whirl. Next up we loaded some silk ground/rayon pile velvet, this I thought would perhaps work...... and it did! Oh my! The printing started up and we were shocked and delighted by the intensity of colour and the shimmer the pile created. After printing up a couple of cushion sized panels we cranked the size up and printed out 1 metre square scarf panels! Huge blown up tapestries! Giant stitches! Too much to love!

All the issues about digital printing on fabrics that I have went away in a squirt of ink as the the head whirred back and forth and laid down glowing vibrant lush colours. Now I want to cover the world in velvet-y goodness!
Of course I hate sewing this fabric.
Oh well! I'm sure I will come up with a solution!

Clothes! Cushions! Throw rugs! Scarves! Stag printed velvet wall panels to go in your wood panelled study! Isn't amazing what you can do with someone else's 'bad'* colour-by-numbers craft?

*I call tapestries 'bad' as these versions are strictly colour-by-numbers, even though I am constantly amazed by the sheer amount of work that goes into them and the fact that it all ends up in op shops or flogged by second hand dealers. In this case, art is in the effort, A+ for effort, D- for creativity. And before you start screaming at me for dissing tapestries please remember I have a whole wall of them at home and a mountain of them at the studio and I love using them in a way that releases them from the confines of their bad frames.... like printing them oversized on silk/rayon velvet......