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October 2008
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December 2008

November 2008

Time on my hands

It struck me today, as I was browsing through craft books in a Tokyo bookstore, that the wonderful thing about being on holiday is the complete lack of time pressures.

Book2 My regular life is broken down into small grabs of time: an hour before the boys finish school, the short window between dinner and bedtime. So today was a wonderful luxury.  Will and I spent the day idly wandering around various parts of Tokyo, ducking down into subways to get from one place to the next.

Photos will follow tomorrow, once I get the technology sorted.  My suitcase got waylaid in Sydney and I won't receive it until tomorrow afternoon.  So I'm without a few essentials like clean clothes, hairbrush, phone charger, computer power.  On the bright side, Japan Airlines have compensated us for the inconvenience with 50 000 yen.  That has helped come to terms with the high prices since the Aussie dollar nosedived.  A quick stop at Muji and I equipped myself with a few pieces of clothing.  It's the only store where the prices seem cheap.

We may head into the countryside tomorrow night to stay in an onsen.  But then again, we may choose to sleep in and chill out here - after all, there's no pressure.


I'm feeling deliriously tired after three days in Sydney, followed hard on the heels by our annual three day Melbourne Fair.  Tomorrow is the last day of the Villa Mulberry Christmas Fair.


If any local readers feel like a spot of Christmas shopping (where you can pick up gorgeous items like the cute kitchen twine and scissor set above), drop into 1a Shipley Street, South Yarra between 9am and 5pm tomorrow (Wed 26th Nov).

The twine is from Heaven in Earth, one of this year's stall holders.

Amy Butler in Sydney

Amy Are any Sydney bloggers or crafters going to the Amy Butler evening at the Sofitel tomorrow night?  After reading all the Melbourne bloggers' nice comments about the event here I was sorry I missed it.

And then Angela from Living Creatively emailed me to say I should head along to the Sydney event while I'm there and I thought "what a great idea".

It would be lovely to cross paths with any Sydney girls from the blogging community so I will keep my eyes peeled.

Argh, the logistics!

My darling husband (said through gritted teeth) has pulled his usual number on me and asked me to change our travel dates for Tokyo.  He needs to be in India at the end of the week we plan to be away, rather than the beginning of it.

So I have spent a large part of this afternoon rearranging my life.  After two calls to the live-in nanny, two calls to my mother and a long call to Qantas I have pulled it off.  All is again right with the world.  It means I now leave for Tokyo 4 days earlier which is exciting because it's coming around very quickly.


On a pretty note, look at this beautiful French cotton grosgrain I picked up in my travels yesterday.  It's the perfect shade of denim blue - it's just crying out to trim little girl's skirts or dresses.  You don't often find trims in natural fibres these days so I consider this a bit of crafting treasure.

Townmouse heads to Sydney

Lindesay I am heading to Sydney this Thursday so Townmouse can take part in the 3 day Christmas Gift Fair at Lindesay in Darling Point.

I really enjoy this couple of days away each year.  I'm catching up with some girlfriends for dinner on Friday night.  And if I'm not too tired from my incredibly early flight I might do some Thursday late night shopping.

If you get the chance, drop in to Lindesay at 1a Carthona Ave, Darling Point, Sydney between 10am and 4pm this Thursday, Friday, Saturday.  And if you are a reader of this blog, please come and say hi.  I'd love to meet you.

Something to aspire to

I've had a little play around with smocking.  I have some reference books and a smocking pleater and I'm all set.  Here is my first attempt at a little sampler:

Smocking sampler 

It's pretty basic.  Now that I've got a feel for the technique I'm keen to make some actual garments with smocking detail.

I have been busy trawling the internet for inspiration because, to be perfectly honest, most of the smocking books and magazines available have really bad styling.  Or I should say, styling that is not to my taste.  It's a bit hard to look past the daggy fabric choices and ballooning puff sleeves to imagine the possibilities.  That is, until you come across something beautiful like this:

Anna fabo   

This is such a wonderful contemporary use of smocking.  I just love it.  It is from a very talented Spanish blogger who I am currently in awe of.  Anna has an etsy shop as well.

In the hive

We are going to be busy bees in the studio today.  Both my seamstresses are joining me to get through a big pile of orders and to clear the decks for the next few weeks.

Work pile 

Anyone turning up to the studio today for the regular open house morning will do so at their own peril.  The fabric bomb has gone off again and I can hardly move in this messy space.  Being productive feels good though.


This term I have continued with my botanic illustration classes.  You wouldn't know it though, based on the output.  Every Tuesday morning (when I make it to class) I spend a lovely 3 hours with some very talented artists.  The class is a mixture of beginners like me and women who have been taking classes for as many as 12 years.


I'm aiming for quality over quantity.  This little baby is all I've turned out this term.  It's not much to show for over 10 hours of class time, but unlike the rest of my life - rush, rush, rush - I'm enjoying this quiet and still interlude in my week.

Let's try again

Earlier this year we attempted but didn't quite make a trip to Japan.  There have been exciting developments.

Plane bag 

A few weeks ago Will was talking about his work schedule and telling me how much travel he was going to have to do before the end of the year.  He suggested I try to come with him on one of those trips so we could get some much longed for downtime together.

Well, sometimes I think I'm born under a lucky star because the very next day I bumped into a very lovely live-in nanny who had worked for us twice before.  She was picking up another family at the boys' school.  So I asked about her work commitments for December.  She was free.


Upon hearing that, plans quickly progressed and I can now say that I have a return flight booked to Tokyo in the first week of December.  We will spend a long weekend in Japan together before Will continues on to Europe.  I'll stay a full extra day to do all the craft shopping and "research" for Japan Craft Journal, as well as Christmas shopping for the boys.

Stay tuned for some very crafty posts next month.


I have a sudden desire to learn smocking.  And I'm the type of person that, when I decide I want to do something, it has to happen as soon as possible. 


Smocking seems to be a dying art.  I have a dear friend who is a country girl of my mother's generation.  Of course she knows how to smock beautifully, has pattern books and a pleating machine.  She has promised me a lesson next week.


In the interim, I'm looking through my folder of clippings of favourite children's clothes - quite a few of which have smocking detail. 

Are there any smocking enthusiasts out there?

Tracking the years

After reading Fiona's post a while back about losing her precious photographs I took her kind advice and sorted my photo situation.  This also involved putting all the images from Townmouse shoots into albums.  Since 2003 I have had a professional photographer take photos of children in Townmouse clothes each year.


The best thing about this is that I now have a beautiful collection of photos of our three boys.


Many of these have gone into frames and are dotted around our house.


A03 I have borrowed little girls for the shoot - pretty little family friends.  All have been happy to play dress-up for a day. 

Miss A (on the right) made an appearance in 2003 - the first shoot. 

Beautiful Miss E below, whose father went to school with Will, helped out at age 3, 5 and 7. 


My muse - Miss S.  With her beautiful blue eyes, she always looks so pretty against the blue backdrop of the website.  I often design clothes and choose fabric with her in mind.


The ever so cute Miss H, who has helped out the last two years.


Gorgeous little Miss C, who has the sweetest nature to match her beautiful face.


Eat your way around the world

Lunch in the gardens of the Palais Royal in Paris, followed by dinner on the streets of the West Village in NYC?


Well you can pretend, or reminisce about the wonderful meals you once enjoyed in these locations.  All you need is a set of these paper placemats featuring maps of four great cities - Tokyo, Paris, London and New York.


In reality it's lamb chops and salad in our back garden tonight (a quintessential Australian dinner), but there's a good chance I'll be spilling chutney over the Tokyo subway.  You can find these map placemats here