Tuesday, 30 April 2013

treasure! hunt!

If you've been anywhere near Facebook or Instagram for the last 24 hours you can't have missed the marvellous Megan Morton's Instagram Treasure Hunt. Megan is bring The School to Melbourne later this week and as part of that you can win prizes from 13 of Megan's favourite Melbourne stores.... and *blush*stutter* the Cottage is one of those stores! But look at our compadres! Freaking illustrious company I think!
So go and check it out if you are on FB or IG and post some photos! My insta username is @penedurston, Megan's is @megan_morton and you just need to hashtag your photos with #theschoollovesmelbourne.
And you know I don't buy into chain letters or any of that stuff and on;y participate in competitions unless they are seriously good! There is even a get together on Sunday 4.30-6.30pm at 11 Princes St, St Kilda... and there will be tacos I hear..... mmmm fish tacos.....
OK got to get up and start my day. It's going to be a busy week!

Monday, 29 April 2013

secondhand responsibility

Well I survived Camberwell Market- just- even after an appalling night's sleep with the warm and windy night we had and getting that dreadful fear of missing the alarm that only comes with having to get up way too early. Next time I will arrive there later so I can hopefully miss the annoying dealers and their torches and hopefully I won't end up to a permanent stallholder who takes until 11.30am to get his wares out and then promptly turns around and packs it all away again. The problem with Camberwell is that everyone these days thinks they are an expert/collector/dealer.  I put out a boomerang that I had scored in a job lot I bought just to see how many pouncers I would get, too many episodes of Collectors and Antiques Roadshow, do they really think I don't know what I am selling?? I did have lovely shop/blog people visit too and snapped this photo of two elderly Asian ladies who took forever to pick an Afghan rug.  I sold a lot but I also carted home a car load (of my stuff not purchased crap), I don't think the market is as good as it used to be. Piles and piles of second hand clothes and I don't mean good second hand, I mean made last year/bored-now/must buy latest thing clothes and I overheard people discussing how good they were buying second hand, how they were helping the world. It is good that people are recycling but it got me thinking most of all about buying quality and buying quality that lasts. In light of another Bangladeshi rag trade disaster we must learn to ask where our clothes are coming from, just as we do our food. We give lip service to 'fair trade' but there is also 'fair made', buying from local and small quality production houses falls under this. I don't want to take away the livelihood of overseas workers but I do want to see them treated fairly and with respect and this can only come when we begin to ask the questions about the chain of supply and we start buying products that last longer than a wash or even a season. It is our responsibility.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

slowly slowly

I really need to do something about the state of my photos. I'm not using the best of them I feel. Perhaps Instagram is sucking the best from me, I need to be more slow and considered.
Anyway enough of the pondering for today, there is lots to do.
Before I open the shop today I need to get this written and posted and then finish up the handles on the new batch of 'ammo' bags that I have been working on this week. The bags would have been finished yesterday (or earlier) but this week I've been feeling like I was pushing against a forcefield/raging wind/marshmallow (you know what I mean) and everything just took forever to do. I think being in the shop today will be a nice relax before I head up to the studio tonight to load stuff intot he car for a very early start in the morning and off to Camberwell Market before even sparrow's fart, I'll probably even be too early for the hot air balloons. Warning: there is one pair of hand painted Dala clogs going off to the market tomorrow....... How much will I be able to fit in the hatchback?
I did manage to get a few scarves knitted before I pulled the plug on the studio yesterday. I washed and dried two last night ready for the shop today but I am thinking of dyeing the rest which I might get around to tomorrow afternoon (ha, sleeping more like!). They are an angora/alpaca/wool mix that washes up supper soft and snuggly, like a warm cloud around your neck. Oh, and we had new postcards printed this week, now we have a range of patchwork cards. The jacket made from the top right one is living overseas now and the big coat made from the top left left the shop yesterday with a new owner. I have a few more quilt tops left and must make them up soon.
I better get these handles made. I'll post the new bags over on FB and IG in a little while. Next week I must pull my finger out, we are low on wheat bags and people keep asking for hot water bottle covers, there is more dyeing to do and scarves to knit, more purses and bags to make and lets not even mention those cushions that need zips and stuffing.
See you at Camberwell Market in the morning... and apologies if I am grumpy but I should still be in bed!

Friday, 26 April 2013

when I grow up I want to be iris apfel

So I have ordered big oval-y round-y glasses in jade green. Channelling Iris Apfel (I wish, mine aren't quite so round)! Hopefully I will be able to see better very soon.
My neighbours did their 3am party again and I have resorted to emailing their landlord. Heehee.
I sent yesterday dyeing gloves and watching 'Smuggler' on my iPad in between the dyepot stirring and bread kneading. Jethro dislikes the iPad now and will stand in front of it as he does if I watch TV or knocks it over like he used to do with the Iphone 3 and 4 (he's blasé about the 5).
OK. Better get moving. I have just found out I have a stall at this Sunday's Camberwell Market and on top of today's work and tomorrow's shopgirl duty I have to do a huge sort out as to what I can fit in the car (and pack the car and get organised). Crap, why did I book it?! Freakin' out!

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

eye test

Morning all.
Haven't got very far this week sadly. The only time I've managed to get to the studio is to dump a whole car load of crap and then lock the door behind me. The studio is currently filling with even more detritus as I plan the big Camberwell Sunday Market Sell Off 2013, it's still a couple of months away but I am looking forward to lightening the load a little. I need to sort an area in the studio to store it all and plan what will be going each Sunday (yes, more than one stall!). We've also got Markit at Fed Square coming up so I need to get my work ethic on, it seems to be a little loose around the shoulders at the moment.
I'm off to the optometrist this morning to have my eyes checked. In the last year and a bit after the debacle at OPSM my eyes seem to be deteriorating a bit to fast for my liking. And I want new bigger coloured frames! Why are so many of the frames tiny and annoying? I remember Mum's huge owl-like 80s frames.... probably now being worn by hipsters somewhere in East Brunswick....
In other shop-py news, the first shipment of Lisa B socks in, spots and cables and limited edition floral  (which are selling out fast). More styles soon! Lisa's socks really are the bees' knees. And today I am picking up the new shop postcards, fingers crossed they are OK, more on them later.
I'm off to the studio after the eyes and the postcards to work on some new knitted scarf ideas and more prep work on the 'ammo' bags. We've sold two already and only have the smaller one left at the moment. I've also cut some in a fabulous brown leather, same type of leather as the black but in the chestnut it has amazing marks and antique-y colouring.
OK I'd better go now.
Wasting my morning away.
Oh and by the way, the shop will be closed tomorrow for ANZAC day.

Saturday, 20 April 2013

cat days and dognuts

Saturday. There is a snowy chill int he air but the sun is gloriously shining down. I've been out and back, eaten my Saturday Beatrix dognut (haven't had one for a couple of weeks) and have tea to sip, a post to write and a shop to tittify before we open for the day.
Now is the time that customers should be flocking in for angora gloves and wool sweaters and cardis but this first real batch of cooler weather seems to send everyone to ground. Perhaps as they aren't prepared with their woollies they can't venture out of their heated homes! Jethro is working on his Winter coat and his mane is very impressive at the moment, he's making his own fur onesie. Hopefully if USPS and Australia Post can get their act together we should have Lisa B socks again very soon. We are planning drops of her stock over the next few weeks, the first in are the spots and the argyles with a very special small batch of floral cashmere. I'll let you know as soon as they have arrived.
It's been a bit of a stop-start week. I managed to get heaps of Welsh blanket cushions done, finished and started work on more of the canvas ammo bags and the first order of pretty zips arrived for the metallic double zip purses. I think I worked a bit on auto-pilot in the studio this week, I didn't have the energy to think beyond studio stuff (no brain wizzing about, thinking of everything else) and it was all about the cutting and the sewing and the immediate making. April is a time for melancholic anniversaries for me and I often feel like I am in a vat of treacle at this time of the year. It's that light too, long and golden 'cat days' (the time of year when cats snooze behind glass) and I need to go for a drive and look at leaves changing colour.
Anyway, it's 10 and I need to shake a leg and get moving.
Come in and buy some woolly things and get prepared for Winter. I don't want to hear you all complaining in a few weeks time that you are cold and annoyed because you missed out on your size/colour in a lovely Slade knit. Be prepared people! You'll wake up one morning and those Cat Days will be over and the cold will have settled in.
Oh! And don't forget it's Independent Record Store Day today! Forget those digital download thingies and go buy the real thing, made and sold to you by real passionate people!

Friday, 19 April 2013

busting and busted

My morning appointments have been cancelled and now I am playing 'lazy and time-wasting'. This is achieved by lying in bed reading FB and looking at pictures on IG whilst drinking tea. Now though I need to start busting a move on my Friday.
Really longing for a bit of R&R and fresh air if I am honest.
I did manage a mountain of Welsh blanket cushions this week. I loved the way they looked piled in the studio but I bagged them up and now they are in the shop, in a very messy display I must admit. I seem to have lost the knack for stacking them high!
The first lot of army ammunition and leather bags are finally finished and will be in the shop tomorrow. I was meant to work out prices last night but the couch and SBS food show Thursday kind of took over. I have also finished more metallic/lustre granny purses and should head off to the studio right now to work on the zip wallet thingies as the first batch of pretty-pretty zips has arrived.
Really dragging my feet today.
I'm busting a move.
I am.
Really I am......

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

so rivetting

Running a tad late this morning, not from sleeping in (well a little bit perhaps) but from emailing, pressing gloves, banging rivets in, that sort of thing.
After last weeks annoying missing tools, wrong sized rivets etc, I have almost managed to finish the handles for the new canvas and leather bags. What a falafel of a process. I managed to find rivets of the right length but had to antique them up myself and the new slot punch has no edge on it but found I had another in the tool box that worked ok. Like I said, a right falafel of a working process.
Mondays are currently a weird old day. I wish they were my Sunday but I seem to spend them dashing about and get tied up in stuff. Nothing ever very important but always fiddly. I did manage two lots of dyeing late yesterday afternoon, helped by Jethro who kept nicking my stool as soon as I got up to stir the dyepot. We now have 'raspberry' and 'polenta'.
Now I am off to the haby wholesaler to pick up a zip order so I can get some work done.
It is exceedingly autumnal out there so maybe breakfast/lunch on the way. Jethro has already passed out in the bedroom in a pool of sunshine. By the way new Oleana knits arrived yesterday and they are stunning!
Gotta go!

Saturday, 13 April 2013

a nearly week

It's been a right 'nearly there' of a week this week, stock nearly finished, supplies nearly arriving, things nearly going wrong/right, winning $13 Powerball instead of $30,000,000... you know what I mean.
I've had people coming in to check out the new bags I've been working on but they aren't finished because I still can't find the bloody slot punch and the new one I bought is useless. I know the punches are in two yoghurt containers but I can only find one and it is the one without the slot punch. So annoying I could squeal and stamp my foot in frustration. Hunting for it last night (again) just made me realise how much cleaning and sorting I need to do. The big room upstairs is just too ridiculous for words.
I've booked two weeks of stalls at Camberwell Market and am hoping to make it 3 weeks, there is a huge clean out due to happen. Since I booked I've been looking around thinking 'you can go... and you...', I have so many vintage-y goodies that need culling it is quite overwhelming. I need to sort, transfer it all to the studio, sort it there again and then wait until the end of June to load the car. So far away! There is going to be some seriously good stuff leaving the building, stay tuned.
We've had heaps of new glove stock go out to the shops we supply in the last week. I should make some time to re-vamp the blog and update things, ah, the never-ending chores. Tomorrow I will have to go back onto dyeing duty to catch up again. Yesterday an aurora alert came through for this weekend, I won't lie, I checked plane departures and prices but due to the lack of stand in shopgirls I would be breakfasting in Hobart right now. Dell assures me I will get another chance soon but I was sad for a minute or two there. It has always been my dream to be able to just jump on a plane on a whim and run away.
I'm waiting for the postman to deliver all the new supplies I've ordered but best of all this week my Mister Finch moth arrived. She's resting on the doily branches behind the door so if you look carefully even when we are closed you can see her. We are hoping she will frighten off any other moths in the area. Jethro used her antennas as a whisker comb and then a toothbrush so she has had to be put out of chewing reach.
It's been an early start this morning with a furry housemate sitting on the bedside table saying 'ummmmm'  at the crack of dawn. He never meows doing this, just makes this silly annoying noise and shifts his weight slightly so the wood creaks under him. Subtle and intensely annoying. I've raced out, picked up papers and bread (no Beatrix today) and even went up to the studio to patch the arse on another pair of jeans that I wanted to wear today. I could really do with a nap now.
Time to get moving again.
I'm the (reluctant) shopgirl today. The little enamel teapots are back in stock in blue, cream and white, there is a new big and colourful Ann afghan in, the Oleana knits are looking lovely and inviting, I've made a few more leather granny purses and there are more on the way, the gloves are walking out the door and you better be quick and come and grab your Slade wool cardis and sweaters.
Roll on Autumn!

Friday, 12 April 2013

frustration friday

Yesterday sunk without trace. Too long in the car running errands and then feeling ill from scoffing lunch after not eating breakfast. A run-around-then-collapse day. (Mind you the new muffler makes a huge difference, almost makes 1991 Pulsar driving luxurious.)
Thought I would just post photos of things I am working on even though it's all come to a grinding halt- waiting on zips, hunting down the missing slot punch and the rivets with shanks too short. Frustrating.
I'm off to the studio. Hopefully I will get something done today. Wish me luck.

Wednesday, 10 April 2013

round two

Morning all.
I've already been out, taken the car to have its muffler replaced, was meant to take two hours and I had plans for wandering about in Abbortsford but now won't be ready until this afternoon, so have dropped back to shop/home for half an hour to type this out and maybe lie on the bed for 10 minutes. Then off to the studio until the call comes through and I hop back on the trams to pick the car up and pay hundreds of dollars. At least it will be a bit quieter than it has been, I have been calling it my 'sports model Pulsar' for some time now.
I've started on a new run of purses and am revelling in all the foil leathers I've found over the last few months. Don't know why I have gotten so glitzy! It all has to go on hold though until the expensive posh zips arrive from overseas- they are so pretty though! If you follow on Instagram you know what I'm talking about! And yes I have been spending way to much time over there and letting things slide here. You know how it is. You know how it is, IG is just so damn easy and kind of slutty.
There has been lots of dashing about this week, delivering, ordering, getting stuff done. I've been to all sorts of strange places and I do love that sometimes out and about in Melbourne I stumble on little gems that make me feel I could be anywhere other than this little town. It refreshes me. Especially when I desperately need to take a mini-break somewhere green and fresh. I'm tired and shitty at the moment and need a change of scene, I also need to plan a week away before dear Dell leaves us to have her baby (squeals of excitement tempered with dread as to what I am going to do without her).
OK time for 10 minutes lying on my bed and then I will restart the day. Round 2. Ding ding.

Saturday, 6 April 2013

busy busy bee

I'm typing with sticky cream cheese-y Beatrix doughnut-y fingers this morning. I've raced around this morning doing my errands, making deliveries, organising stuff. I need a tea and a minute or five of quiet now. My typing is slowing down. I'm relaxing back into the day. And it is a beautiful day out there today! Melbourne Autumn you are lovely when you turn on the soft hazy light.
So anyway.
Yesterday was flat out busy with wholesale going out and a huge reaction to the Oleana stock. I had errands to do and not one got done so they have now been moved over to the Monday run. I also now need to get more stock made, I think a sit down and plan time is due. We also went up to Finders/Keepers last night for a gander, visited lots of friends briefly or waved at them as they dealt with customers. I'm in the (relative) safety of the shop today, I hope people filtering down from the Exhibition Buildings don't make me cry like the Sunday of the Big Design Market (oh my, they were so nasty!) and if you are in the 'hood pop on in.
Our 'Who Gives a Crap' toilet paper has arrived! I'm not sure if Jethro is more interested in the box than the contents but he did spend some time looking down the gaps between the rolls... perhaps he is looking for 'Cottage Industry' on the wrapper but I think he is pondering the human need to use something than one's tongue to clean one's nether regions. (OK that sounds much more wrong written down than it did in my head...... but I'm leaving that as it is and moving on.)
So anyway.
Time to go tinker with the shop, winkle Jethro out of his bunk hide-y hole and wake myself up.
I'll be opening the door at 11am... as usual!

Friday, 5 April 2013


Before I even opened the Cottage, I had a wish list of textile things I really wished I could stock. Of course I never had the money to fulfil any of the wish list but a girl can dream. 
Oleana was on that list. I think it was their use of raspberry red that suckered me in! I even emailed their agent in Sydney but never heard back and I got busy doing other things. About two years ago I was at a trade fair, my nose running like a tap with the flu and feeling pretty grotty and revolting, when I spied in the distance a stand that was hung with what looked distinctly like Oleana products..... and it was Oleana!
So I met the beautiful and charming Celia and John who were now importing Oleana. I sneezed and dribbled my way through it all and although I couldn't afford to order for the shop Celia let me order cardigans for me! And best of all we kept in contact. 
A couple of months ago Celia got in contact and asked if I would like to stock these beautiful cardis and I had to say 'yes!'. You know I am a textile designer, that's what my degree says, and you know I always wanting to grow up and become an archeologist and garments like these marry the two things. If you look at a book like Annemor Sundbo's "Everyday Knitting- Treasures from a Ragpile" you can begin to trace the history of Norwegian knitting right through to the work of Oleana. I'm a hopeless textile geek and you know if you've been into the Cottage we always have books under the counter about the textiles used in the shop. I'm sure people get a bit befuddled when we pull out tomes for them to look at, the Cottage definitely is about further education!
We have limited stock at the moment but there is more on the way. They are expensive but exceedingly beautiful, made from 70% finest merino/30% silk and are definitely all about on the investment in the 'investment vs disposable purchase' equation. They are made by a company that believes in profit share with their employees, whose oldest employee is over 80, they terms it 'fair made' which is what all production should be. There is a 10 minute film you can watch and in it you get to see designer Solveig Hisdal working from her beautiful home and making up real cut-and-paste textile designs (so good to see in this bad digital textile design age) and how the garments are made and finished in the factory. 
And please come in and have a look at Oleana's amazing knitwear.

Wednesday, 3 April 2013

it's a start

This photo pretty much sums up my Easter weekend. I finally started in on the glove dyeing and 17 colours later we have new stock to go out. The colours are softer and mistier than I have done for awhile, I blame the scorching Summer weather (which I also blame for the late start dyeing). I have been longing for misty mornings and Autumn leaves, golden light and a nip in the air. The brights will come soon although a few snuck in to this palette.
Yesterday was an exhausting day of clipping, pressing and tagging the little buggers and now I have to get emails done to all my wholesale people who have been waiting patiently for me to say the gloves are ready to roll. Having two coppers boiling did make things go a hell of a lot faster, although now I keep having to move the extra one out of the shower cubicle when I want a shower. It's all glamour around here.
I woke up at 7 this morning but as it was still pitch black there was no possible way I was getting up. Now I am running a tad behind. I am not a morning person. It's off to the studio today and the mountain of work there to be done, then back to get those emails out that I didn't get done last night. Never ends.
Better make a move, I still need to winkle Jethro out from under the bunk and he is not in a good mood with me as I covered the new glove selection up last night and his 'hunting of the glove' was a bit thwarted last night.