Saturday, 31 May 2014

this, that and the other

Well we survived Markit on Sunday. My prediction at I would come down with the flu on Saturday night came to nothing.... I got it on Wednesday instead. I'm coughing and sneezing and start fine in the morning but sink as the day progresses. It was on the cards that I would be the next to succumb after both shopgirls were hit by it, I think mine is just a cold from too much balmy weather and being in a space with a couple of thousand germ laden strangers!

I've been juggling appointments and work all week and only really scored a couple of days in the studio. We had such a huge interest in the harvest smocks on Sunday and it was gratifying introducing them to a new audience. They sold out and I have managed to make a few more this week (but not many, the black and white check has gone off to a new home already, more to come) there are some patched indigo linen ones and I finished a denim long and a denim regular last night so they will be in the shop today. I'm really glad that after 5 years of making these people are suddenly embracing them. I have plans for more linen ones and have laid out some stunning wools on the cutting table ready for next week's cutting.

Our lovely friend Celia dropped in with some new Oleana cardis and we have done a big swap over of stock. We only have a few on the rack at the moment but there are more being delivered next week which is always exciting. This new one is an amazing rhubarb pink with chartreuse and duck egg blue, so pretty!
Jethro has his crazy pants on again this morning and I have resorted to buy a spray bottle this morning in retaliation to his sudden game of waking me up three times in the night by sitting on the bedside table and quietly mewing at me.... game on furry housemate! I think it is his payback for me not being home for most of last Sunday, he doesn't like his Sunday routine messed up.
OK. Time to start the Saturday engine. I need to find something to wear as I seem to have popped on a flanny shirt this morning.

Oh! And before I forget!
At 6am tomorrow morning the new edition of Handmade Market goes live over on  Temple and Webster . I was asked to take part by its curator Jacqui Fink and they chose our felt pot holders and mitts and the vintage blanket versions. These links will only start working for the feature tomorrow morning, they will be updated then. Sadly this will probably be the last of the felt pieces until I can track down some new stock, such is the life of the hand made, you've got to be quick!
I'm in the shop today, come say helloooooo!

Saturday, 24 May 2014

no day off this weekend....

Yes Saturday is here again.
It's been a jumbled week with me dashing here and there and then having moments tied to the sewing machine in the studio furiously sewing. I've managed to make some more Harvest Smocks in lovely checked linens in the new top length and the old regular length and restock (one only at the moment) the new longer length in the denim. Next week there will be more cutting and sewing and once we have got over Markit@FedSquare tomorrow I might even get my head around the studio sale preparations. Fingers crossed this time I won't fall over and break my wrist and have to postpone it again (this has happened every time since September that I have sat down to set a date....).
I'll be packing tonight for the tomorrow's Markit and if you are planning to come and would like me to bring something in particular now is the time to drop me a line. We don't bring everything, mainly lots of wintery goodness like socks and gloves and beanies, but this time we will be bringing the smocks and the new WomenWeave scarves. It's going to be fun seeing how much I can fit in the new-ish car. Everytime I do a market I need to buy new storage boxes and yesterday I went to get new ones only to get to the studio, move bags of blankets and discover the lovely new ones I bought last year... doh. I need a holiday, a non-work-away-read-books-and-snooze-in-the-afternoon type break.
Jethro has had his crazy pants on this morning. Since 6am. So now I am a tad tired but amused by his antics.
Oh, and by the way, we are changing our opening hours for Winter, Monday to Friday we will be opening at 10.30am and closing at 5.30pm. Saturdays probably a bit before 11am as usual just depending on how many chores I get done in the morning..... and closing at 5pm. Remember if you are running late or early just give us a call and we can stay open for you. We are nice like that.
So don't forget if you are in the city tomorrow to drop down to Fed Square for Markit, 10am until 5pm, lots of fabulous friends of ours will be there, Victoria Mason, Sunday Morning Designs, Sandra Eterovic, Emily Green, The Gently Unfurling Sneak, etc, etc, etc..... Our stall will be in the foyer at the Deakin Edge Theatre, usual spot, up at the end of the wedge. Drop by!

Saturday, 17 May 2014

handwoven week

Phew. What a week it has been. Both shopgirls down with flu, me trying to juggle studio and shop duties (and making quite a few mistakes in the process) and then having two shipments of stunningly beautiful textiles arrive to fill my heart with joy.
I managed to make a small batch of Harvest Smocks on the days I did make it to the studio, in the 4 1/2 oz denim in regular length and the new longer length and in a fabulous linen check I've been hoarding in the studio in regular and the shorter top length which we haven't done for years (this one walked out the door yesterday). I am making more of all these over the next few weeks and in new fabrics as well. We just have to get through Markit@FedSquare next Sunday and things will settle into place more (hopefully).

On Thursday the shipment of Mexican 'flokati' rugs arrived from Zara and oh my word they are beautiful! Handwoven in wool they are amazing and we have 4 different colourways available. These are really quite big and I have dreams of them used in a 70s conversation pit, they are great on the floor, perhaps not in a high traffic area, covering a couch or bed or would look amazing hanging on a wall... I can feel the 1970s revisiting....
I've been waiting weeks for the second delivery, it got stuck in limbo in Mumbai, a freight handlers disruption I believe, and then arrived in Melbourne too late to be sent out yesterday. Of course the thought of it left sitting in a warehouse at Tullamarine meant that I just had to organise an emergency dash to the boon docks to collect it last night. I did get to see an amazing autumnal moon rising over the back blocks out behind the airport. And I got a whole box of handwoven organic cotton khadi scarves.
I am so excited about these. Handwoven by women in Maheshwar, central India, supported by the charity WomenWeave. I'm going to write the story about this charity in the next few days, when I get a moment, but the main thing is this sort of charity is very close to my heart- it's empowering women, giving them income, helping educate children and keep skills that would be lost alive. I chose to bring in lots of different designs in small quantities.... mainly because I want them all myself! I changed my scarf four times before I left the house this morning! I want to sell lots of these so I can order more and keep those looms clacking!                                                                                                                                                                        
After a week of shitty political crap I need to feel good about something. Handwoven woollen rugs and khadi scarves are my sort of tonic. Low tech/high reward. At least that is how I view it.
And on top of all the handwoven goodness it was also Wool Week and @compaignforwool with sheep wandering the city and woollen installations happening at Fed Square. Wool is good people, wear it, sleep under it, live with it!

Saturday, 10 May 2014

chock full of wool

It's been a bit of a crazy week. Dreary dull shop days interspersed with frantic wholesale orders, making and picking up new stock. I think, all in all, we hit the 'yes it is cold and it is time to rug up' jackpot and this is the time the Cottage comes alive.
We've finally got our mitts on the stunning St Albans kid mohair scarves that I have tried to order for three Winters. I can't make this sort of stuff here so I am happy when I find a supplier that has done the hard yards and got a product like this made. They are super soft and lacy and remind me of a ring shawl.
We also have stock now of their mohair throws as well and use these to make our beautiful mohair hot water bottle covers, now you can match your hottie and your throw! St Alban's has also started to make wool blankets and I loved the weight of their throws that I got some stock of these too! I chose six designs in grey and raspberry with cream and, I have to admit I'd like to just wear one like a big shawl.... I love that St Albans makes here in Melbourne and I sent Lisa Gorman there to get the Gorman range of mohair throws woven. I also notice that St Albans is still making and selling styles that I designed when I was a consultant to Country Road that they produced for us.

So friends it is Mother's Day tomorrow.....I say 'Go Wool' this year!
Angora lambswool fingerless gloves!
Mohair hot water bottle cover!
Wool cashmere angora socks!
Mohair throw!
Wool throw!
Welsh blanket cushion!
Kid mohair scarf!
Woollen beanie!
Oleana wool silk cardi!
Slade knitwear!
Vintage blanket quilt!
Vintage wool suiting Wagga quilt!
Industrial wool felt oven mitt!
Wool tapestry pouffé!

See, I wasn't lying when I said that Cottage Industry comes alive in Autumn and Winter! When it gets cold we get snuggly and happy, warm cups of tea, the smell of woodsmoke, drizzly days, the cold on your cheeks and that glorious feeling of getting warm when you have been out for a brisk walk. Love it!

I'm off now to hunt Jethro down, move some stuff about in the shop and make another bucket of tea before it is time to open at 11.

Saturday, 3 May 2014

smug as a cat in a box of tea cosies

My weeks seem to be marked out by my Saturday blog updates, I really have been all consumed by the World of Instagram....
Happily the weather is changing, chills and frosts, and yes I know you all hate it when I go in about the Joys of Winter but I like how different it is to Summer. I really do feel it is when the Cottage comes alive, under layers of snuggly wool of course. I love the way cats change with the seasons, Jethro put on his Autumn loony pants yesterday and tore about the building, found a new pack of bonito flake treats in my bag and attacked it, pushed the mouse off the desk, galloped from one end of upstairs to the other, attacked me through the bannisters and then fell asleep in the tea cosy box in the shop. Butter-wouldn't-melt. Autumn and Spring, the Seasons of Cat Craziness before the Summer and Winter Seasons of Sloth.
So what has been happening this week?
New glove colours have been dyed, a shipment of men's hankies has arrived, a few more beanies have been finished, the socks are selling fast, the Slade knits are coming into their own and soon I will have new cushions made from vintage Welsh blankets available. I am trying to get ready on top of everything and prep for Markit@FedSquare on the 25th of May. I should have been at Bowerbird in Adelaide this weekend but managed to forget with all the wrist issues to get me application in.... next time hopefully!
I have to say I am feeling rather flat with the net stupid government budget coming up. It isn't going to be good for any of us and least of all for small retailers. This week there was ridiculous articles like this one about artisans makers being a drag on productivity. This sort of shit just makes me angry and despairing. Mass production of fluffy airy high sugar low fibre crap of any kind is not something that should be seen as the yardstick by which everything else should be judged. You can not compare apples to oranges, they might both be roundish and grow on trees but that is as far as it goes.
I'd better go now and pack away all the gloves that loony-pants Jethro has pulled out of the storage boxes and drag him out from under a table in the shop. I don't think he will be happy to be locked out the back from all the fun today, he'll probably spend the first half hour meowing and hanging off the screen door.
Better shake a leg.
Forecast of 14ºC today, 12.4 in Fitzroy at the moment.... come and buy some woollen things!