Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Trifle Trouble

For Christmas lunch this year, I made a trifle. Trifle with moscato, actually, from Gourmet Traveller (the only magazine I'll read). I started cooking it three days before Christmas, after spending two days before that going to a wide variety of shops to find the ingredients, including Creme de Cassis and real creme fraiche. Thank god for the RE store in Leederville!

Amazingly I found fresh blackberries (expensive!) in Coles.

It wasn't until I got to this point that I realised I was making blackberry jelly from scratch! It took 50mins to infuse this mixture of blackberries, sugar, vanilla bean, moscato and creme de cassis. Then it took two days to set because I didn't have the gelatine amounts right - I had halved the recipe (originally for 20 people) and I find the maths a bit tricky. But got it eventaully and it was worth it!

Then, at the last minute late on Christmas Eve I realised I didn't have enough sponge and had to make another one! Finally finished at 9.30pm and fell into bed thoroughly exhausted.

The syrup topping was also handmade and oh, so rich and yummy. The layers were jelly, sponge and creme fraiche with lemon rind and vanilla bean seeds.

So rich and so delicious! I couldn't find a big enough glass bowl to show off the layers, so it had to go in this bowl, which was a little disappointing, but didn't detract from the taste at all.

And, best of all? It has stayed at mum's place. No stupid overconsumption of trifle for me!

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Etsy Treasury

Wow! Look! I'm included in my very first Treasury. This really makes me feel motivated to get on and work on my shop. Not today though - too tired after late night baking and early morning airport run and family lunch - and not tomorrow either, natch!

Happy Christmas everyone!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Mexican Stand-off

I'm off to appointments today to help sort out the year. There will be a proper post soon, but as it has to do with Christmas pressies for people who look at this blog, I think it would be sensible to wait until after Christmas day to post about it.

So, here is my dog and my best friend's cat. They sit like this often. The cat really, really wants to be friends with the dog, but the dog is fairly terrified and won't let her come any closer than that. So, they just sit staring at each other. The cat will roll over and stretch and meow and yawn and do all kinds of showing off things. The dog just stares. She is just a bit OC...
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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Another baking summer day

Today was hot, hot, hot. I think it got to about 37 or so. I was out visiting a market that I'm thinking of applying to and while it was lovely - all the stalls were a good fit with my stuff - it was too hot for marketeering. Both for buyers and sellers.

I got home and slept the heat away and this evening watered the garden just as large drops of rain fell into the heat. Not really rain so much as a sprinkle. I kept watering the garden. But the clouds over the city in the sunset were lovely. The top shot is our view of the city from the eastern side of the house - through two buildings and the bottom is a zoom in of the same image. I'm glad the sun has gone today, but the night is not all that cooler, certainly not in the house. But Tom and I have yummy fancy meat from the posh butcher for dinner and I've downed two very cold Baccardi and cokes, so I might just survive!

Apparently it will be a hot Christmas this year. So very different from the frozen north.
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Friday, December 11, 2009

Market Recovery

It takes me about a day to recover from a market. This involves sleeping until as late as possible, eating then reading then sleeping again. I actually didn't come good until I went to the beach and threw myself into the cold but oh-so-lovely ocean. Then I ate a burger, had a beer and an icecream. All good now!

The market was hard work. Because I've rearranged my stall I can't now sit down on a normal height chair and still see what is going on (without looking ridiculously squat anyway) so my feet were killing me by the time I got home. So much so that the pain kept me awake even though I was beyond tired. And my back packed it in too. In the end I was so glad that it was only four hours and I absolutely need a stool of some kind for Sunday.

For all the hard work it wasn't that rewarding, not for the fee anyway. Plus the lighting was pretty bad. But it was still good, I'm still glad I went, although I must admit that I'm coming to think that spending my energy on selling online might be more rewarding and only go to a few select markets so I can meet customers....still a nebulous thought borne during a trying evening. On the positive side I got a lot, a LOT of very positive comments and I was really happy to receive them even if they didn't result in a sale. It made me feel much better about my product. I do find that I get very despondent and unsure of myself when I just sit at home with no contact with customers.

This time I need to thank my special friend, Tom, for being there all evening and being so supportive and helpful and only getting annoyed once ;).

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Things to love and be inspired by

Struggling between jealousy and love at the gorgeousness of these products by Petals

and looking over at my mass of bags and feeling very inadequate. Trying to get over it.

It is useless to be jealous, I know, and a difficult emotion to control and admit to. It isn't really that I wish I'd made these exact things, just that I wish I had a recognisable style. I'm getting there, slowly, but I'm impatient to be there already.

Subi Upmarket tomorrow. Eeek!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

New ideas

I really should stop having new ideas just before a market. It completely throws me and my plans - I just can't resist trying something out, which usually results in a new direction and my previously planned out 'collection' is warped by this new idea.

So, the story goes that last night Mum and I went to the opening of the George St Artist Group exhibition in Hamilton Hill. I love openings because they have a vibe and it is lovely seeing the people who make the art there. Plus with my current funds crisis free food and booze doesn't go astray either! Anyway, there was some great art there. I decided, while looking at one piece in particular, that I needed to start and art collection fund. Just small amounts to be saved so that when I go to something like that and see something I really love, I can actually buy it. But this is beside the point...

One of the women there had made this incredible wall hanging of silk and hand dyed...something, silk perhaps, and had used a technique she called something I can't remember (I was in awe of what I was looking at, okay, not taking in the details!) but I saw it as reverse applique.

I've been thinking about reverse applique for a while now. I love, love, love applique - the kind that you do with silk thread and minuscule needles and liberty fabric. I first read about reverse applique in a book about using Charles Rennie Mackintosh's designs as inspiration for embroidery and thought it was intriguing. However, I find it hard to use books for inspiration - I really need to see and touch something to get an idea of how it is made.

Anyway, this morning I got up at 6am and made the bag below. My first reverse applique and I'm pretty happy with it. I have lots of other ideas for smaller applique...

Like I said, it is annoying having new ideas just before a market!

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Bags!

Just quickly, because I have to get back to the sewing, but this is what I've been working on the for the last few days. They are sturdy, practical totes. Made with either canvas or duck canvas - very usable and also pretty!

Check out the rest of them at flickr.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Carrots Interrupted

Nothing more disstressing than waking up in the morning and seeing carnage in the vege plot. Puts one in a grumpy mood and it is such a violent change from sleepiness to devastated that it will take numerous cups of tea to get over it. You can see the culprit in the background of the second picture, blithely eating her breakfast. And okay, my carrots wouldn't have been perfect, but they would have been a bit *longer* at least. The weird bit is that I dreamt about eating them last night and they were super carrot-sweet. I will eat these - probably just munch on them today.

The other damage amounts to the top of one capsicum plant broken off and a few worse for wear garlics. Plus, the big hole she dug in the soil. Never mind. Guess I'll need that fence after all. Alternatively, don't let the cat out at 2am!
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Monday, November 30, 2009

Laneway Market Day and Big News!

Today was supposed to be a total rest day. Sleep in, gym, laze around, do some (very neglected) housework - including some much needed washing - read my book, walk the dog, chill out, watch telly and all those sorts of things people do when they take some time off. And I deserved it as I've been working well into the night getting ready for this market.

It sort of worked out like that. I woke up at 5.30am to deal with the animals and could only go back to sleep once I'd written down all the ideas I had swimming around my head. I then managed to convince my dog to wait to be walked and slept in until 8.30 (very late for me), had a lazy breakfast, lay back on the bed, read. I've made it lazy until now (3.30pm) when I can no longer ignore the pile of work that needs to be done....but before I get there, let me tell you about yesterday's market.

The Laneway Market was just small - only eight stalls, although more were booked. One stall left after an hour saying it was too dusty (bad form as far as I'm concerned!). Only a hundred or so people browsed through and I only made one sale (although she bought two of my most expensive products). One sale is good though especially for such a limited number of potentials. I spent most of the day looking really objectively at my stall and how it can be improved - because it most certainly does. But the market was lovely, it was a bit tucked away, but in a really pleasant treed and shady lane. The day was hot, but the Doctor was in (that would be the sea breeze that cools Perth most summer days) so it was actually very nice sitting there with not much to do. Of course yummy food and a beer or two would have made it better, but I can't have everything. Thank god mum was there to keep me company otherwise I might have gone a bit nuts.

The thing that was so glaringly obvious at this market was the sort of thing people were looking for - not the 'pretty' stuff I currently have - and I'm going to have to work hard to develop a line of bags to sell at the next Freo market I'll be at.

I've had to make some hard decisions about how to sell the stuff I've spent a lot of time making, but I'm getting there - things become clearer all the time.

Now for the big news!! I've been accepted into two more markets.

The first, on Thursday 10 December is the huge Subi UpMarket (hopefully my link on the page will be fixed soon!!) - a very large shopping festival that is held once a year in Subiaco. It runs from 5-9pm and the stall is very expensive, so I'm gambling a bit and I really hope it is worth it! It is exciting though and rather prestigious, so I really need to have everything up to scratch.

The second market is called The Great Freo Flea and Artisan Market and is at the North Freo Primary School on Sunday 13 December (yes, just three days later, yikes!). I don't know much about this market, but it is well advertised (not online, though) so that is a plus.

This means I have just 10 days to get organised. I have ideas for new products and new ideas for display. Much work to do - hence the end of my little break.

One thing that will be happening over the next few days is that I'll be listing four of my Dilly Bags on the etsy shop, along with all my sari jewellery. Drop by and have a look.

Back to work!

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Thursday, November 26, 2009


I used to listen to 774AM in Sydney - the local ABC radio station, but in this case 774 is the number of folds I just finished to make the individual layers of brooches as you can see in the photos below.

The above ones are made of Liberty fabric - scraps from my lovely applique quilt block that nursed me through the worst of this year. The ones below are from pre-cut squares from Materialise my most favourite fabric shop.

None of the brooches are finished yet. I need some plain fabric to put between the printed then sew the pieces together, put a button on the top and a clasp on the bottom. Still a lot of work. To get this far took me about five hours. Four last night watching telly and another hour this morning to finish off. That was after a solid day's sewing bags too. Phew! I'm loving it though, because it is always exciting when a piece is finished, when a brooch is done and can be pinned on or when I turn a bag out the right way or hold it up finished. I find it very satisfying and when each is done I look forward to meeting the person who will take it away and use it.

I've been wanting to include some of the lovely things I see on the net in this blog, but I haven't really had time. On Monday I'll have more market announcements to make, but suffice to say that I barely have time to blog at all. This post has been a quick stolen moment and now I need to get back to it. Perhaps with another cup of tea...

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Markets and Friends

This little guy was on my tomato plant the other morning and kindly stayed put while I went to get my camera (click on the photo for a close look and check out his amazing wings). My veges are going bananas at the moment after all that rain and now the heat. There are thousands of little green tomatoes (cherry and yellow pear) and even a new baby cucumber. The capsicums are flowering and the garlic is looking almost ready to dig up. The artichoke, which I really need to move, is threatening to take over everything. I do need to find time to plant seeds in the new bed I made, but I'm so busy sewing that I haven't had time (plus, hot!). Yesterday I compared my roma tomatoes to shop bought ones and the difference in taste was incredible. The shop bought ones didn't taste anything like mine - not even really like tomatoes.

I'm going to be at another market - The Great Freo Flea and Artisan Market at the North Freo Primay School on Dec 13. I don't know much about this market - guess I'll find out on the day! It has been good to have markets coming up as it forces me to keep sewing. I hope to put a bag or two up on etsy today or tomorrow, which will be exciting. My Google Analytics tell me that I've had quite a few visitors to the shop from all over the world. I always find these stats fascinating but I'm going to have to use them properly to figure out how these people get to my shop so I can figure out good promotional strategies. Hmm, again, hard. Back to the sewing I think!

No link today - feeling a little bit off colour and can't muster up the energy to find something.
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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Work, work like a real person

Yesterday was all about working. Over the last couple of days I spent time cutting up material for a new range of bags. I haven't worked like this before - that is, doing all the cutting then all the sewing - usually I'll cut up one bag and sew and finish it then have to recover for a day or so(!). But I am enjoying this new process. It is easier to go onto the next bag when it is already cut up, I can make sure I'm reducing my wastage and the bags feel finished much quicker therefore I can make more in one sitting. This wasn't my own brilliant idea, by the way, I saw some photos of someone else's piles of cut up fabric and had one of those light bulb moments.

I'm very happy with how these bags have turned out. I'm using Japanese linen again, which I just adore and which I can't wait to get more of - especially the stuff that is $70+ per metre. And now I've become more sure of what I'm doing, I make less mistakes and feel more confident about cutting up expensive, not to mention, beautiful, fabric.

It is perhaps easy to sew at the moment because I'm finding the whole web side of the business a bit overwhelming. It requires so much work and I can't work out a system to make sure that everything gets done and how to implement the ideas to increase my presence on the web in a ordered way. I get anxious when I'm trying to do things on the net without a system - I worry that I'm missing things. Something new to work on I suppose.

Something completely different for my link today: Cheeseburger Gothic is the blog of John Birmingham who is an author I really enjoy. Interesting for its discussion on the process of being creative and working creatively, as well as everyday crappy and happy things that happen.
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Wednesday, November 18, 2009


Look at anything that even remotely smells like advice about Etsy and you'll find a statement, sentence, paragraph, essay about photographs. They are important, I realise that, but what I'm just starting to realise is that they take a.g.e.s to do and get right! It is the one thing holding me up on putting things up on my shop. I like having a person in my shots and my flatmate, best friend and admin superstar, Katrina is perfect - plus she doesn't mind a little camera action - but trying to find time when we are both available, the energy to be bothered and good light is difficult.

Yesterday we had a go and got a few brooches done, but then it started to rain!!

I also need to do some close up shots in my "lightbox" (I can cheat because my desk is in a perfect position under a window and really looks like a lightbox in shot). Then of course all the downloading, fixing up, resizing, etc, etc.

I guess I'm lucky that I have been taking photos and putting them on the net for a long time (see my old photoblog at so am at least comfortable with the process. Still! Hard work.

In other news, I will be at another market on the 29th. This time in Fremantle - it is a new, little market, called The Laneway Market. It is in Tum Tum Tree Lane from 12-4pm. New bags and brooches will be on offer, so come and say hi if you are able to. Otherwise, keep an eye out for more stuff on etsy - as soon as I get these photos organised!!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Market Day!

My very first market - at the Made On the Left market in the Hyde Park Hotel - was a lot of fun and very successful. Not only did I sell quite a bit (and I didn't have any expectations on how much I would sell, because I didn't really know how people would respond) but I learnt A LOT. And am now psyched to have my next market, using all the knowledge I've gained, to do even better!

I had my ever-supportive best friend and admin superstar there - Katrina (with her back to the camera) - all day. She made sure that everyone who looked at the table was engaged in conversation and also looked after the money. And my brother, Tom, was there a bit too - in this photo being a big help by moving swing tags from one side of the bags to the other! - and helped do paper cutting and other odd jobs. Mum and Cynthia came and bought bags and lunch for us, Ange came and bought bags, Dawn dropped in, Dad came and also bought things, plus a few of Katrina's friends too. Yes, some people I didn't know bought things as well!!

I learnt what products got people looking at the stall, I learnt about prices and layout, I found out that some concepts are too hard for people to grasp at a market stall (sari brooches - I'm not sure people really knew what they were!) and may do better on etsy. I also got so inspired to keep going to markets with better and better product - more of the things that made people smile.

It was such a rewarding, exciting, satisfying and wonderful experience that I'm so looking forward to going to the next one.

So, thanks to all who passed by, who bought things, who looked and had their day brightened and especially to my friends and family for supporting me so thoroughly.


Monday, November 9, 2009

Tags, labels and why markets are hard work

Eight Crows has its first showing at the Made on the Left market on Saturday. A teacher I had a few months ago, who was inspiring and generous, encouraged me to apply. I found out that I got into the market about a month and a half ago. At that time I had about five bags and eight brooches. Suffice to say that my time since then has been taken up with sewing, sewing, sewing. I've enjoyed it, although it has been hard work.

When I put up my hand for the market, however, I hadn't really thought about what it would mean and after I got in, I wrote a list. Besides my product, including making sure each is as perfect and complete as possible (I do have a mantra: it doesn't have to be perfect - it's hand made!), there is a lot to do.

One of the things I've enjoyed getting ready the most is the swing tags and labels for my work. It has been an ongoing process - I think I perfected the design and materials for the main swing tag about four months ago - and I've enjoyed how creative starting with little can make me. Because, of course, there are no personalised tags letterpressed by an artiste or even custom made stickers for the start of this business. I've had to make everything. The only things I've bought were sticky labels and of course ink for the printer. I actually like the idea of this too - not only is my product handmade but my labels, packaging, stickers, signs are too. Well, handmade in the sense that I (and/or my wonderful mum who came yesterday for a label and tag blitz) typed the stuff into the computer, printed it out, stuck it on, cut it out, wrote on it and put ribbons on it. That's pretty handmade I think.

And because I'm so pleased with how they've turned out, here is a picture of the jewellery tags:

Finally, to the link. This is the author Elizabeth Gilbert speaking on I have mixed feelings about Gilbert. I enjoyed Eat, Pray, Love and I think she has a very interesting life and perspective. But I did feel a bit cheated to find out that she used her advance for the book to travel to write the book. Still, I'm willing to forgive - how else is a writer able to make money anyway? And this talk has put her back on my 'worth listening to' list. Enjoy.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Crow All About It!

Ahhh, the fresh scent of the first post on a clean, empty blog! Of course, I have had a few blogs (even a LiveJournal back in the day) in my time. I don't want to make any grand statements here and now that 'this one will be different', 'I'll keep up this one'. I think, like many, we start with promise and then it slowly but surely, or quickly like an avalanche, goes downhill.

I don't want to turn you off, before you've even got though my first post however!! So I will tell you a bit about what I plan for this blog:

Links and lots of them. I want to send you off to places you haven't been before to things strange and ordinary. And I hope you'll return the favour.

A little bit about what I'm making, but honestly, with the amount of effort I will be putting into my shop, I want you to go there. After all, that's where you can buy. But I'll keep you up to date in a broad, overview kind of sense.

All things Paris. Random? Not really. You see, I'm on a mission to get to Paris for a three month sabbatical in April 2011. I need funds to do this, naturally. I'm starting from a significant minus-funds position. But I have hope (and a bit of faith)! My Etsy shop is key to this, but more as it develops.

And finally, an image or three. Everyone likes pictures, after all.

I'm no art critic - I only know a little bit, but I love this painting. The dresses! The fabric! The leisure of it all. But especially I love how they are all turned to look at the viewer - just like a photograph.

So welcome to The Crow!

....and here is the first link: I love the ABC (that would be the Australian Broadcasting Corporation), especially ABC radio. Love, love. Anyway, some of our very bestest newpeople work there and some of them have their own blogs - oh joy and love! Go check it out. I particularly like Leigh Sales' posts coz she has links! Hurrah!
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