Tuesday, 25 June 2013


Australia's media stinks and should be ashamed of itself.
Julia Gillard knitting. To me that shows she is skilled, can problem solve, think spatially, is creative.
I truly believed that things were different. Obviously not.
Misogyny is alive and kicking.
Sorry, I don't know what else to say.

Oh, except that Ms Gillard's press officers are idiots.

Saturday, 22 June 2013

accentuate the positive

I really hope today is much better than the last 24 hours. Perhaps I fell into a Winter Solstice Hole, perhaps I should have been leaping bonfires and feasting rather than slinking off to bed with a hot wheatie bag. It was such a clear cold night last night that I am sure, if you could see them in the inner city, the stars would have glowed like icy pinpricks. Today the sun is blazing and the day is meant to warm up a bit, in fact it was warmer outside yesterday than in the studio.
Following on from the annoying b'n'b tenants who were persecuting me with their bad music and screaming on Thursday night, I went to get in my car out the back yesterday morning to find a pile of... well... shit deposited right outside my back gate along with a couple of tins of Mother energy drink. The charming youngsters then watched from upstairs whilst I cleaned it up. You do not want to be around me when I get icy cold angry... this time I just fired off an email to their landlord and I haven't heard a peep from them since. I'm beginning to wonder if I will be the old lady that nasty children throw things at. Ha.
On happier news (haha) I am in the shop today. I made more vintage tea towel cushions yesterday and they are stacked very high after being so low for so long. And some new vintage Welsh blanket cushions too, this lot are in red/black/cream and I have a heap of them almost ready at the studio... for the want of the right coloured zipper... so frustrating!
Oh and by the way, I was going to have a stall at Camberwell Market tomorrow but I can't be fagged- does anyone out there in webworld want it? It's going for free, you can email me (pene@alphalink.com.au) or call me in the shop and I'll pass on the stall number. First in gets it and it's free. Short notice I know but if I put it out there then there is no way I can change my mind and decide at midnight tonight that I should do it. I really don't think a morning at Camberwell would be good for my mental health at the moment!
OK better get a wriggle on.
The Cottage is full o' frost busting wool, come and get it!

Friday, 21 June 2013


I think I might need to put another layer of clothing on this morning.
I'm also hoping the annoying holiday rental crowd renting the apartment next door didn't bring enough clothes and they freeze. They were playing music so loud last night and screaming that I had to go around and ask them to turn it down. A bleach blonde twenty year old in a fur vest (I really hate that look) opened the door and screamed in my face, I asked her why she screamed and she said she didn't expect to see someone on the other side of the door... which is strange as she had come downstairs to answer the doorbell... I was wondering about her IQ by this stage. They must have all gone out but arrived back at 2.20am and started screaming again. What is whether the screaming?????
Anyway, enough of my grumpy old moaning.
I had a big prep day in the studio yesterday and sewed together more wool suiting quilt panels and taped them to the walls, cut vintage blankets into strips and Welsh blankets into cushion panels. I got a bit of sewing to do today. I'm loving the panels taped to the walls so went all panoramic with the iPhone and photographed the wall. Each of those panels is one and half metres square so you can work out how long that wall is the studio. I had a craft magazine ask me to photograph my studio for a 6 page spread... they freaked when I sent the photo I posted on Insta a couple of weeks ago! I think they were expecting a lovely little home studio with white shelves and colour coded fabric piles. Ha!
Winter solstice today. I was going to get a newsletter out for the Dark of Winter but I just haven't managed it this week. I need to clone myself a dozen times to get everything done. I reach a point in the evenings where I would much rather sit and meditate on how cute Jethro looks lying in front of the heater.
OK I'm going to go put another top on as I don't think I am layered enough and head up to the studio. It wasn't as cold up there as I thought it would be yesterday as the long Winter sun was pouring in the two small windows and heated things nicely.

Thursday, 20 June 2013


A right nippy morning!
My weather app is saying that it is 4.6º but feels like 1.6º (I really don't understand that, if it 'feels like 1.6º then it is 1.6º in my book!) and I know the studio will be c o l d. I've put sheepskin liners in my boots just in case and I really should choose a pair of gloves... ridiculous I know, I haven't got around to it yet this year. Jethro has been fetching me undyed gloves, he's so bossy and I am taking it that he thinks I should have dyed more gloves in preparation for these cold snap mornings.
Yesterday after making a few mohair hot water bottle covers I got started on a new run of quilts. It is always exciting and scary starting a new project. I've been taping them up on the studio walls, they look tiny (studio big, walls big, ceilings high), I'm doing them in the same skewed log cabin design I use for the vintage blanket quilts and like how they are turning out, they have a very strong wagga quilt feel which I think suits the wool and it's patterns and textures. Lot more work to do.
So it's cold out there. Venture down to the Cottage and get your woollens people! Socks, gloves, sweaters, scarves, hottie covers, quilts, blanket cushions! Come on, make a little handmade business happy by buying something that will keep you snuggly!

Wednesday, 19 June 2013


It appears cats also like Oleana cardis.
I thought I had put my Oleana blue cardi out of someones reach but even though he had  a bed, fluffy blankets, the trunk under the window or a fur lined basket to sleep in this is where I found him yesterday afternoon. He really knows his textiles.
I've been awake since 5am. I am not the type to get up and start my day just because I am awake at some ridiculous hour, it would just make the day feel far too long. So I lay there and tried not to think, to will myself back to sleep. I think I may have hovered around sleep for awhile but not really. A little shattered today.
I can't find my camera.
I'm sure I will forget to take everything I need to the studio.
Oh and I forgot to put the rubbish out last night.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

messy bed

I really could have stayed in bed this morning but I had a breakfast date so I forced myself to crawl out from under the blankets and the cat and face the day. The cat of course gave me a dirty look and went back to sleep. Jethro did bring me a pair of turquoise gloves in the night which he left, beautifully colour blocked on the mohair blanket.
I've decided today needs to be taken slowly. I'm desperate for a little vacation in the south for a few days but talked myself out of going last night only to have a couple of people talk me back into it this morning. I am still trying to work out if it is possible... although I know it is needed. Fresh air and a bit of time away. Hmmmm.... can I wrangle it and pay the bills? The joys of the overtired overworked self-employed.
I think I need to go for a walk in the city.

Monday, 17 June 2013


Well we have a chiller of a week ahead of us here in Melbourne Town!
The Design Files posted their Winter Warmers this morning and we got into it with our hottie covers, Welsh blanket cushions, handspun yarn and angora fingerless gloves. Lucy did a beautiful job with the photos and if they weren't products I actually made I'd probably be heading out to make a purchase!!
I've made some new mohair hot water bottle covers today after spending a couple of hours on the road dashing about town. I might even have to snaffle one for myself, the almost non-existant heating upstairs is making me go to bed early. I was going to make a sweetcorn chowder tonight but I seem to have come home without some ingredients, typical, it can wait until tomorrow.
OK, that's it for tonight. Thanks for visiting... and please pop over to Instagram for more photos (mainly of Jethro the Cat) @penedurston.

Saturday, 15 June 2013

warm glow

I mark my weeks off in Saturdays. And yes it is Saturday again. Jethro hasn't got out of bed yet and I wish I could have stayed there too. Friday nights are the only time I set the alarm as I am always scared that I will sleep in and wake 15 minutes before I need to open the shop, I am sure panic would ensue if that happened.
This morning though I managed to get the papers, visit Nat at Beatrix (and scored a play with Schmitty the Puppy, excellent), scoff one of her fabulous doughnuts and get home to knead up a batch of Myrtle the Sour dough ready for baking tomorrow morning. Myrtle likes to sit for 24 hours before she becomes a loaf of bread and hopefully she will be put of the oven and straight off to the birthday Sunday lamb roast lunch I am going to.
It's been a busy sock week at the Cottage and we are stocked full of Lisa B's beautiful feet warmers. I also managed a couple of hours in the studio late yesterday and made up some more hot water bottle covers from some blanket quilt leftovers. I reckon your hottie will still be warm by morning tucked into one of these.
And finally... after months and months of waiting... the pianola shades are back in stock! Yay-freakin'-yay!
We've got all sizes at the moment but you might need to be quick! We've also got a pair of the lovely shoji style lamps, something we haven't had in ages, excellent for bedside tables. We had a run on lamps and shades over the last week, that's when you know it is getting really dark and wintery. There is only one cockatoo lamp left but I am hoping to get some more very soon.
Better dash, I have to find somewhere to stash all the shades!
Oh and I've got six new glove colours dyed as well.

Friday, 14 June 2013

rainy days and friday

Well it has been a grey and rainy couple of days... just the way I like it!
I had to go out and buy new boots, my poor felt and tweed Po-Zu boots just weren't cutting it in the wet. New boots and three boxes of socks sent out from Lisa B seems to be a perfect Winter keep-warmer. We've got socks now to kit out the whole family from bub to the larger footed, I'm wearing the dark indigo with pumpkin spots today, toasty!
We've been waiting 4 months for our lampshade maker to get some stock to us and she's supposedly going to have it all ready for me to pick up at midday today. There will be pianola shades in store later today, fingers crossed.... and some new re-wired vintage bases too. It is the Dark of Winter. We've only got 1 cockatoo lamp in stock at the moment and I am waiting to get my hands on some more, lovely lovely cockatoos. 
I'm going to do a bit of a drive and pick up supplies I have run out of this morning, a loop across the eastern suburbs. I used to spend so many of my days out and about exploring but seem to stick to such a small triangulation of errands these days, zipping here and there and never lingering. I sometimes wonder what I would do if I had a Saturday morning off. I really must clean the big table up so that one day I can sit at it and read the papers (if there was anything left to them), while listening to the radio and drinking tea like I used to do. 
OK time to strap the new boots on and get moving. Things to do, places to be.

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

late start to the week

There was work on Saturday, quite a bit of lolling about in bed on Sunday and a bit of vacuuming and a huge mountain of fabric washing on Monday. I now have all of the last batch of wax prints washed and the raw linens have all been through the ringer, let's say there is a 'bit' of ironing to do. The house is still a mess, there is paperwork all over the stairs, a hill of rubbish is clogging  the backyard ready for the garbo but I have mixed up the indigo and am itching to dip things into it's urine-like depths.
I'm off to the studio today and I also need to plan a dyeing day this week for more gloves. So much to do, things to start, things to finish. My brain is little addled today from too much downtime I think, perhaps I shouldn't spend so much time in my own company.
OK, where are my boots and my beanie and my raincoat? I better get the day happening.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

seething pot, mixed bag

Morning all!
Sorry for the lack of communication this week... not sure quite what happened... or rather didn't happen... perhaps I just didn't have much to say. Anyway here I am.
It's heading into a long weekend here and I am hoping I get some customers today (long weekends can be slow for little retailers) just to keep me awake, I have the slight snoozes happen and it is barely 9.30. Before I forget I should mention that the Cottage won't be open on Monday, of course if you are in town and had planned to visit and can't make it today you can always give me a call to make an appointment for an out-of-hours time.
I had the usual pile of things I needed to do this week but somehow got sidetracked by lovely floral linens and playing with the new shipment of striped raw linen that arrived. Not exactly the weather for linen but the temptation was too great, my excuse was that I needed to make it into something and see how much it would shrink when I washed it, quite a bit it turns out but oh how lovely it is! The projects I had planned for it now have to go on hold until I get the rest of the linen in, my fingers are itching to start work. Mind you I have so many other things to do as well that I should be patient... but new fabric, new projects, squeeeeal!
We had a new box of Oleana arrive late yesterday so we have more cardis in stock and Celia sent down some of the gorgeous little tank tops as well and some beautiful scarves. We only have a limited number of the scarves, they are gorgeous and made from the same wool/silk yarn as the cardis, if you can't splash out on a garment then these are the way to go.
We are waiting on more sock stock to arrive and have three boxes floating in the ether somewhere between Pennsylvania and little old Fitzroy. We've got more of the cute-turned-up-to-11 baby socks coming and we've ordered men's socks as well as we've had so many requests, just in the dot pattern at the moment but we will see how well they sell and might get some more designs in if you come and buy them!
I've also made some more hot water bottle covers, a few have gone out for a photo shoot but we still have a nice selection available. I was just thinking a hot water bottle is a perfect friend for a Winter long weekend... along with an enamel hot chocolate saucepan (the red ones boil faster you know joke) and a couple of enamel mugs... am I making you feel all toasty warm and snuggly? Chuck in a couple of Welsh blanket cushions and a vintage blanket quilt in front of a blazing wood fire and we have a fabulous ad for the 'Cottage in Winter'.
Ha ha.
OK hard sell over. I really hate just blathering on about shop shit but sadly I don't have much else to report. Life is pretty boring around here, it's all studio and shop and that's it. Oh, we had one of those Gertrude Street/Fitzroy weird crimewave weeks, like buses they all come at once. The elderly Asian man trying to palm a counterfeit $100 note off, the old man who asked for the police to be called as he intended to commit suicide (he was seen two hours later with a bottle of port), the whacked out thief at Amor y Locura who attempted to stuff his pockets with stuff and then yesterday morning the woman who had her phone snatched and chased the culprit down the street, she got her phone back and the police arrested the two thieves. All this makes Gertrude Street sound really dangerous but funnily it isn't for the main part, our usual deros are pretty harmless and we all nod and smile and have a chat to one another but we get these spates of the weird that happen every now and then, then it all settles down and everything ticks along sweetly. It's one of the joys of Fitzroy, a melting pot full to the brim of all sort of different people, seething away and occasionally bubbling over!
Ok, time to do the shop chores and have a chat to Jethro about his cheeky behaviour. He loves long weekends as he gets two full days of shop possession, not that he will spend those two days in the shop but that he knows he can if he chooses to, it's a cat thing.
Come and visit. I'll be in the shop until 5pm.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

winter lovely winter

Winter, how I love thee.
Dark and moody and all poetic.
Yes, you are my kind of season.
What a night it was last night, thunder, lightning, windows rattling, pouring rain knocking the last of the autumn leaves off the trees. Triple R has been playing a medley of winter themed songs for the last 45 minutes and I have been enjoying it immensely. Driving around on empty streets in the rain this morning was lovely.
Winter is when the Cottage comes alive I've always felt. So many people who came through yesterday commented on how the shop was glowing, when it gets darker outside we look very inviting. We've been warning you to get your woollies sorted and now there is no excuse- Winter is not going away, embrace it. Do you want me to list everything we have to keep you warm?
Knits from Oleana and Slade, Lisa B socks, Welsh blanket cushions, blanket quilts, angora gloves, alpaca scarves, wheatie bags and hottie covers, handknitted beanies, tea cosies and enamel tea pots and mugs to hold those drinks that warm you from the inside out.... OK? See why the Cottage is perfect for Winter?
I always think the nicest thing about Winter is going out into the cold and then coming back home, there is nothing quite so lovely, cold and warm, dark and glowing, thawing out, fabulous.
Lordy, it is 10am already. I'd better get the ball rolling on my Saturday.
I'll be in the shop until 5pm. Come on in, warm a shopgirl's cockles, buy some things made from wool!