Thursday, 31 October 2013

i'm in the shop again

Just a quick one.
I'm in the shop again today. Not sure what I am doing to keep my hands busy as I seem to have lost most of my morning with silly text messages from a friend up country and an argument about Halloween on Facebook, 10.30 and I already have a splitter of a headache (actually I woke up with it).
Tomorrow I will be in the studio and working hopefully as we seem to have run out of things.
You know where to find me.

Wednesday, 30 October 2013

virtual garden, virtual shop, virtual world

Oh dear.
I am in the shop for the next two days.
And I have nothing planned to keep my hands busy, this could lead to trouble.
I do need to get the birds photographed to go online. I need to stop and think and write a 'list' (and you know how I hate those) of all the things I need to get done in the next few weeks.
I've made some lovely vintage linen cushions up. I think I need to excavate the tea towel cushion mountain as it might be a little too scary for people to browse, overwhelming choice and the fear of it all tumbling down is a bit much for most people I think.
I've got stuff sort of planned, no not planned at all but hopefully after next week I'll get full weeks to do what I need to do away from the shop. And by the way we will be closed for Cup Day, I may even spend it asleep in bed.... or working in the virtual shop. Never ends around here.
Looking at the pretty vintage florals calms me down a little and I dream of a house with a sunroom full of crazy florals, like a madly rambling fabric flower garden.
OK I'd better bust a move.
Drop in if you are around.

Saturday, 26 October 2013

what was I thinking?

It was a busy day in the shop yesterday. The latest shipment of birds has gone AWOL (which is so annoying) and the cushion inserts nearly didn't get delivered but arrived in time for me to start stuffing. I don't know what I was thinking to make so many tea towel cushions  but I suppose they are done now and I won't have to do any more for awhile. The mountain of them does look amazing, I'll have to tear them all down before I open for the day and re-stack them as I am sure there will be an avalanche otherwise. A far more serious avalanche than the welsh blanket cushion one I think, the welshies seem under control at the moment.
I'm very weary today and looking forward to the Sunday Sleep In as is Jethro, he was very grumpy with me for getting out of bed this morning. He's now hiding under the small shop table pretending that I don't know where he is. I am having trouble stringing words together this morning. I think you are pretty up to date with shop stuff (jars are in, birds are in and missing, too many cushions, lots of Slade cotton knits...). It's Garage Sale Trail Day (over 1600 listed for Victoria) today and we seem to be heading into fete time of the year too- I wish I was out fossicking!
OK I'd better toddle off and get the shop engine started!

Friday, 25 October 2013

blue ball

It's been a funny old week. There is stuff going on in the background that makes me sad and weary and that I try to block out through the rest of my day but it seems to pop up in the evening. If you are waiting on emails and things like that then please excuse my tardiness but they are the things I tend to do at this time of day and at the moment not much is being done.
On the shop front we've had boxes full of birds (the second migration should be arriving today) and beautiful Mexican dresses delivered. I picked up our first shipment of Ball blue mason, German Weck and vintage Atlas E-Z Seal preserving jars yesterday and soon it will be time to bottle Summer and get those edible Xmas presents ready. We will also have a range of the clear mason jars next week, I just got so confused about sizes I had to stop for a moment and stand back. I have a vision of my dream kitchen and things in jars... haha, so funny at this point in time.
I'm in the shop today and have deliveries arriving to keep me busy. I have this feeling it will be chaos, there is a shipment of cushion inserts coming on top of everything else. I managed to get a rather impressive batch of tea towel cushions made in between all this week's to-ing and fro-ing and I intend to stuff them and pop them out straight away, the cushion bunk should be groaning in a few hours. Then I think I will be moving on to the tagging of birds, photographing and measuring of dresses and tripping over the massive cardboard box stashed in the hallway.
Anyway, I am shopgirl today and tomorrow if you are looking for me. 

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

the birds, the birds

I always know Xmas is just around the corner when the migrating birds start nesting in the shop.
Overnight they have appeared all over the shop, bowls of them, more perched on the cages, on the shelves.  There are even some we haven't caught and tagged yet.
I'm hoping I can get some photos of them and actually get around to popping them in the online shop. I'm going to have to organise some sort of minimum with them as I think it might be a bit silly shipping a single bird out (considering they start at $2.50!). Whilst we bowls of them at the moment remember not to leave your bird purchases to the last minute, every year we have disappointed people coming in and being downcast that they have missed out a particular style. We do have some more coming soon in other styles though.
Pesky cute little things that they are.
You've got to come in and see the purple crested golden glitter bird!
And the ridiculously fluffy owl family.
OK, better dash, it's a studio day today.

Saturday, 19 October 2013

shop! go on you know you want to!

After yesterday's sermon you are probably over me banging on about being in a small business in this economic/political climate. Well it appears I am not the only one in the boat and this is happening today-
'Shop Big in Small Business Day'
Yep you now have an excuse to go out and spend some money!
Call it 'philanthropy'!
If you go to the website then you can check out participating stores and some also have giveaways and bonuses happening today. I believe some lucky people have even received gift cards to spend at participating stores.
I know, I've left it a bit late to tell you but it's been a bit frantic around here with the exhibition and all. If you check on the map for our lovely Gertrude Street then the is Victoria Mason, us, Lark, Metal Couture, Edgeley and Books for Cooks. But really don't just limit yourself to those stores listed, spread the love- shop local, shop handmade, shop owner operated. When you do you are dealing directly with the people who have created these businesses, they are not faceless distant entities but members of your community.
Thanks for your support and kind words yesterday!

Friday, 18 October 2013

reality bites really hard

So last night's opening was lovely. There was a great turn out and I was able to be relaxed which I find being at openings a very hard thing to do. The exhibition really is amazing and the interactive quilt made by Dell and Isobel is a hit with young and old.
For me that is one thing I can place a tick in the 'completed' box and I now need to get everything else happening. Projects seem to have been on hold over the last 6 weeks and I have not been in a good frame of mind (blame the bung hand) but we have Xmas coming and even more overwhelmingly the Big Design Market.... oh and The Studio Sale. I am trying to work out how to get my head (and the wallet) around it all.
Let's talk Small Business (I'm in a capital letter mood today). August and September can be dire months for makers and retailers with small businesses, a mix of change of season (everyone is down with the Winter blues), school holidays and the last term of the school year (it's a very cranky time) and then the sound of wallets slamming shut in the big save for the Xmas spend. This year we've had the added pain of an election but normally there is a revitalisation after the votes have been counted....  not this time around. Nothing. Dreary, dreary lethargy. Add the fiscal situation in the USA and my eyes are starting to glaze over with the pain of it all. Eight weeks of the most sheer mind numbing doldrums is enough to get any small retailer down.
Also this week I reached a point where if one more person made a comment to me about having an online shop my eyes were going to roll back in my head. Guess what? I believe in real shops, with smiling and informed people helping the customers out, telling them stories about the products, chatting about the weather and where to get a good coffee. I am dreaming of the day when retail turns around, just like they all said that vinyl records were dead, how wrong they were. Little shops have the snap crackle and pop, the warmth and ambience of a vinyl record spinning around, we aren't digital perfection, we have a few scratches and hisses but when you get us at the right speed oh what beautiful music we make!
You may think me completely deluded (I'm sure you do). We will get the online shop up and running soon but the focus is always going to be on our bricks and mortar Cottage. Clothes need to be tried on, fabrics need to be touched, choices need to be made between colours under real light with your own eyes. A particular couple I know run a very successful online store and a couple of weeks ago we had a great discussion about how running an online store is a serious amount of work and freaking hard. People seem to think it is an easy option. It isn't, it comes with it's own major issues.
I haven't written a sermon for awhile have I? I thought it was about time! I sometimes wonder whether I am doing everything wrong. A friend told me to have faith, not of the religious type, more about holding true to your vision. In the Struggle Times this can be very hard. People with small businesses get really good at juggling and now is the season that we juggle money to pay for our Xmas stock, it's the big time of year for us and the most frightening, it's all a huge (if well informed) gamble.
Thanks for listening, I needed to get it out. I think it is time for  brekky at Grub and to check my Powerball ticket, then a pile of computer work and a bit of planning.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

perpetual motion: stitching time

I have left this so late... we have an exhibition opening tonight at Craft!
The truly amazing Dell Stewart and Isobel Knowles have curated a show linking animators and textile artists and I got to take part in it. These two stars have also made some incredible pieces for the exhibition along with having to put up with wrangling everyone.... as well as a baby in Dell's case!
It's a really nice idea, textiles and animation, and the works are really lovely if I say so myself. At the end of the day yesterday, even with things not quite ready, we stood back and admired how the gallery looked a bit like a rainy day inside cubby house. There are interactive pieces, a wired up stitched quilt that has flashing lights and things projected on to it's surface and a phenakistoscope (there is a workshop to make your own piece to be played on this). Don Russell has built an amazing phase projector that plays long loops of textile 'movie film' created by Dell and Isobel. Maryann Talia Pau, Dell and Kate Matthews have done a dreamy piece that uses some of Maryann's 1 Million Stars to End Violence stars. The Harvest Textiles crew have a pile of pillows overlaid by film taking in their print studio. Jeremy Dower and Kayo Taguchi have created a fabulous cat with huge lens eyes (I can't find the right web links for these two.... but Kayo does fabulous knitting!). And I mustn't forget Pauline Tran-Cecil of PopCraft fame, who also did baby juggling and created two amazing pieces that Isobel has animated.
Finally, there is the piece I got to create with the absolutely fabulous Rebecca Hayes! I feel pretty chuffed to have worked with one part of the talented The Sisters Hayes. There has been doughnuts and silly animal videos and it's been a total treat working with her. Our piece is a projection onto a quilt panel made from depression era feedsacks and Rebecca has kaleidoscoped my photographed quilts around animated versions of my embroidery. And we have have a special banjo soundtrack! And Adam Cruickshank has also done the catalogue!
But there is more!
Gallery 2 has an exhibition of work by Sarah crowEST: The Tumbleweed Methodology and Gallery Three is new work by Esther Stewart:Geometric Colour. It's a fabulous mixture of work and please come and join us all. 6 to 8pm tonight and it is on until the 30th of November.

Tuesday, 15 October 2013


The upside of new stock arriving is the increased choice in boxes.
Just a quick post to let you know that I am in the shop today (again) and I'll be posting some photos later (hopefully) of some of the new cotton cardis over on IG and FB (to keep me occupied).
I'm having trouble keeping the balls in the air at the moment, I seem a bit clumsy and distracted. I wish I could get my act together a bit better as it is all driving me insane. I am blaming the still sore injured hand. Not being as dexterous is driving me a little bonkers, as the song goes, you don't know how good it is 'til it's gone.
Anyway I'd better get my shoes on and meet my brekky-buddy, I'm sure between the two of us we can solve all the world's problems.... like why 2% lycra makes a world of difference over 1% (never buy jeans when you are feeling delicate).

*If only life was this simple.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

finally it is spring at the cottage

I spent 6 hours last night doing a big shop switch and box and clean, of course it doesn't look much different really. We do feel a little bit more spring/summery though. The Slade summer knits arrived yesterday afternoon and I stripped the wool from the hangers and we now have a rack full of cotton y goodness. I always manage to forget what I have ordered so it's always a bit of nerve wracking as I unpack the boxes... we have short sleeve v-neck cardis, 3/4 sleeve v-neck cardis (very popular last year), long sleeve crew cardis, long sleeve deep rib cardis (these have detailing on them that takes me back to the 70s, they are quite fab) and really sweet short sleeve lacy pullovers (so incredibly retro and would look fabulous with a printed gathered dirndl skirt or rolled up jeans).
We had also decided that we weren't going to be stocking Mexican dresses this year but Zara turned up with a batch of the most beautiful dresses and I just had to snatch them. They are all one-off and very sweet, most of them are silk embroidery on cotton (except for the green one which is cotton on cotton) and I love the bit of smocking under the yoke. Zara dropped in 6 but the top right hand pale blue with hot pink stitching is already sold and I am hoping we will get in some more when she has unpacked some more boxes. They tend to be on the medium to large size (if you have bought one of the ones we have sold over the last few years you will know the sizes I mean) and are long but can be easily shortened if you are that way inclined. Also I've brought back the left over Frida dresses from the studio and they are on sale, we won't have them hanging up but if you ask nicely I will get them out.
Oh and I promised myself no more Welsh blanket cushions until the pile had got a bit smaller... and then we sold quite a few... and I couldn't help myself and we have another mountain of them. They seem to be governed by plate tectonics and the formation of mountains. I've made up some stunning Indian pink ones and we had inserts made for the pile of covers that was stashed in the cupboard. Come on down and have a look! They maybe wool and I know some of you get a bit scared of wool in the warmer weather but they are so pretty and we have some lovely Spring-y colours happening. There seems to be quite a bit of pink and green and a dash of blue in the shop at the moment.
Carolina from Sonido next door asked me when I was going to get around to redressing Miss Magnolia and I see someone has stripped her bare of her tatters overnight. I am really hoping the crazed drug addled schizophrenic is not back on the scene. He was the one who stripped freshly applied doilies from her as apparently the trees talk to him......

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

it's tuesday....

I'm having a creaky start to today, I blame daylight savings for a serious case of lag at the moment. I find having DLS for six months of the year just plain dumb and wish we could go back to the late November through to early March version of it... like in the olden days (bah humbug).
The feverish Welsh blanket cushion making seems to have revitalised things here a bit, it made me feel that I am capable of actually producing something when I get the chance. We had people racing in to hunt through the stash and I need to get more inserts for the empty covers in the cupboard and get working on even more. They really are lovely, so much pattern and colour, a riot indeed!
I'm in the shop today, planning and sorting and I think there might even be new things arriving this week. As we plummet in free-fall closer and closer to Xmas the invoices for all those things we ordered are arriving. It's a balancing act between the scary money going out and the exciting parcels arriving. I've been promising myself that I would get all the cardboard boxes we have stashed under the bunk and the big table in the shop sorted but I don't seem to ever get around to it. Now is the time. It is also the time to choose a date for the Studio Sale and use it as the impetus to get the sorting done both here and at the studio.
OK, I'm off to get some breakfast and get my head around my day in the shop.

Saturday, 5 October 2013


It's Jethro's birthday today. We don't hold with animal presents or parties around here (dogs seem to like that sort of thing) but I do like to whisper 'thank you ' in his ear for putting up with me. He's a sweetheart and a funny soul.
Enough of the catty gushing.
It's Saturday again. Finders/Keepers is on up the road and I hope I don't get the slightly demented market visitors in that we sometimes get we it's on. I don't think I have the energy to hand them today as I have already had my blood pressure skyrocket due to an email that arrived overnight from a certain British company we deal with... some more crap for me to waste time/energy sorting out that was all finalised as far as I was aware. I dropped into F/K last night and caught up with some of my lovely friends but also managed to totally miss the stands of other lovely people I know, don't quite know how that happened!
We have a mountain of Welsh blanket cushions in the shop after I spent all day Thursday sewing furiously (and overworking my still not 100% repaired hand so that I was awake half the night in sprain pain agony). I am worried we will have an avalanche and lose some customers.
I am starting to silently panic a bit about getting new product started for both Xmas and the Big Design Market. I need some quiet thinking time to start making things in my head but I seem to either running about like a goose or be stuck nursing painful injuries at the moment (splinters under the fingernail that lead to 3 1/2 hours in emergency on Tuesday night has just been added to the list). I seem to be attracting weird occurrences at the moment, like yesterday morning being pulled over by the police on the Eastern Freeway and given a warning for driving 96km in a 100km limit, I am still a seriously bit befuddled by this and also find it hilarious as I have a tendency to be a leadfoot. The 20 something policewoman was also quite cutting about the fact that I was driving a car that belonged to my father...... WTF??
I was on the freeway heading east as I was on my way to pick up a new batch of pianola lampshades and we are fully stocked on sizes once again. Lots of 18" beauties too. Do you know we are still selling them at the same price that we started with over 5 years ago? Probably a bit dumb on my part. I have to admit that I have finally had to put the price of the Welsh blanket cushions up as the prices for the blankets have increased hugely since we first started buying them. Blame it on the exchange rate, freight hikes and their rediscovery in Britain, I haven't put the prices up very much, under 10% and I feel bad about it. I really don't price things very heavily, much to my own detriment. Oh and the indigo cushions are finally priced and we also have some new ones in store.
OK. Better get a move on. Things to do this morning.
Come and visit.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

blown away

Just a quick post.
Hope you all survived last night's crazy winds (LibraryGirl did the gumtree come down?). The last day of September certainly got blown away and as it was, all in all, a shocker of a month (I normally love September) I am glad to see it swept out the door. Please let October be a kinder, gentler, more profitable month! A shocking night for sleeping so of course I slept in and now am running very late. Errands to do before I open the shop today. Yes I am shopgirl again today, hopefully things will settle down on that front again soon and I will get some work done.
I've been working on new indigo cushions and the fabric has arrived of our patchwork for this so I need to get chopping and stitching. I must remember to order cushion inserts today.... and pay some bills....
Drop in if you haven't been blown away and regale me with stories of your blustery night in Old Melbourne Town.