A daily blog would just about finish me off completely. ~ Robert Plant

Don’t think… just do.

“Don’t think. Thinking is the enemy of creativity. It’s self-conscious, and anything self-conscious is lousy. You can’t try to do things. You simply must do things.”
- Ray Badbury, 20th Century fantasy and science-fiction writer.
True, true. We certainly share his insightful thoughts on creativity but sadly, we very easily forget it most of the time. Lost in the every day madness of running a small business, the reason why we do what we do – the love of making and creating – quickly disappears into the folds and creases of paperwork. Many of you would agree!

With millions of things to think about, thousands of decisions to make, deadlines to meet in short periods of time – the space, time and freedom to be creative is becoming ever-so-rare. Ultimately, it is our own doing. We must not ‘try’ to make time for creating, we must do it. We must not overthink everything we do, just start doing it and see where it takes us…

*A relevant sidetrack – check out this fascinating talk about creativity by the talented writer, actor and tall person John Cleese - Fawlty Towers and Monty Python fame. Funny, thoughtful and so completely practical. Thanks for the intro Matt!

And so it is our greatest pleasure to introduce the stunningly sculptural, textural and thoughtful woollen knitted wares of Wendy Voon Knits. Wendy’s approach to daily work and life is terrific – she makes the time and space to play and create, she cooks, she grows and she takes time out when she wants and needs to. She doesn’t just try, she does. And the results speak for themselves.

*Wendy has had a Pop-In Store in our Oxford Street Paddington store for the past three weeks – only 4 days until she bundles up her wool and returns to Melbourne! Ends this Sunday 17th June
We look forward to her popping-in again next Winter!

 

 -         Have you always been a ‘knitting lady’? 

Yes, ever since my mum’s friend taught me how to knit when I was about 12 – armed with my knitting book of Jenny Kee garments – there was no holding me back.

-         Your work comes across as contemporary and sculptural, is there anything in particular that continuously inspires your creative process?


I’m inspired by anything that is done well – everything from architecture, furniture design to music  - things that make you go ‘oh – that is as it should be’. I’m particularly inspired by Japanese design and craftsmanship.

-         What does a typical day at work involve for you?


It varies all the time – but I always start the day with a coffee at my local cafe, where a group of us who work for ourselves, gather to talk and do the daily quiz in the paper.  
Then I’ll head to my studio, I have domestic machines at my studio where some production takes place, so if I feel like some meditative yet productive time – I’ll hop on and knit some pieces that are destined for customers or stores.  Most days there is usually some time spent on those machines!

If it’s ‘design time’ of the year, I will usually spend all day sampling with yarns and ideas, I find it works best to be working on 3-4 designs at any one time – so I don’t get ‘stuck’.  I also get some designs done at a local manufacturer here in Melbourne, and for those designs (done on industrial knitting machines), I will usually visit the mill and talk through my ideas with the amazing technician and the outcome is a collaborative one, as ideas and problems are workshopped and sampled.

Then there’s all the support work to maintain and grow a label – keeping up an online presence, corresponding with stores, customers and my makers, paper work(!), planning the next event/idea.

-         What are you looking forward to in the year ahead?

A holiday :) I’m looking forward to seeing how my label grows, and also the adventure and learning process of a new project I’m working on.

-         What’s the best thing about what you do?

It is particularly satisfying when a customer tries on one of my pieces and it fits them perfectly and co-ordinates with what they are already wearing – and we both know – that that piece is for them.

There are also perks to being your own boss, I work very hard, but my time is my own, so if I want to play lawn bowls because it’s potentially the last warm day before winter sets in –  I will.
-         Where would we find you on a Saturday morning? or – How do you unwind? or – What else do you love to do?

Can we make that Sunday morning?  99% chance you’ll find me at that local cafe! Sunday is about buying fresh food for the week ahead, I love cooking, I find it very relaxing and satisfying – so I’ll usually cook some thing that takes a little time.  I’m not always super committed to our vegetable garden, but right now I have cabbage, kale, spinach and watercress seedlings growing on the ledge of our sunny lounge room – ready for winter planting. Other ways to unwind – spending time with friends and family, wine and exercise.

-         What is a valuable pearl of wisdom you can share with us?

When it comes to design  - just start, don’t over think it.

-          What is your favourite local or best kept secret spot?

So many great spots, unfortunately nothings stays a secret in Melbourne for very long, but

Small Block Cafe - for the people and the coffee

Monsieur Truffe - for the best hot chocolate I’ve ever had
Mr W and the Alderman - two local bars that I have been known to frequent.
- A
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It takes three to Tango… really.

We twisted and tangled our dear friends Julio Braslavsky and Jessika Schaad from Tango Infierno to tango for us at the Newcastle City Council for International Women’s Day event.

I was just thinking about how lovely it was, this Tango they performed under the magnificently huge Earth Ball installation at the Newcastle Museum, and how beautifully they danced to Sentimiento Gaucho – a piece of tango music sung by Argentinean Nelly Omar.

At her 100th birthday last year, Nelly Omar was still on stage, singing, strong as ever.
Such an amazing woman, full of attitude and energy for life – we are so inspired.

Jess looked stunning in the Madness with the Bliss dress with her incredibly high copper-coloured Tango stilettos, and Julio was gorgeous as always in his usual handsome style.

 

Post by ROBOAT.

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Biggest flower in the world.

[  Travel Blog from Malaysia  ]

These past few days have been filled with familiar sights, vivid colours, old textures and vast contrasts of smells and sounds.

With the arrival of the weekend came the opportunity for a trip to the Cameron Highlands, an area known for growing tea and vegetables. However, it isn’t food we’re after this time (although definitely a bonus!), rather a mission to search out the rare and giant Rafflesia flower.

Saturday – as the car climbed the winding road, guided through the hairpins and slower traffic by a calm and collected Uncle Eric, the hot sun slowly gave way to mist and clouds, and then heavy rain. The weekend excursion was being arranged by a friend, and we met up with the group of hikers at the hotel, the Equatorial, which is at the summit of the local slopes. With the rain still falling we tucked in for an afternoon nap, resting eyes and bellies before an evening meal at the Golden Phoenix restaurant – a deluxe steamboat banquet with soooo much to choose from! This steamboat was out of the ordinary, with a special ‘BBQ frying’ area where the chefs would fry your choice of meat, seafood, veggies and noodles with your choice of sauce!

We nanna-napped REALLY well in the cool of 14 degrees. Less than half the temperature down in KL!

Sunday – the day for trekking. We gathered in a group of 17 people at 6.30am for the short drive to the village of the local indigenous people, the ‘orang asli’, where 2 of them had agreed to guide us to the area where the Rafflesia flowers bloom. We were presented with leaf wreaths and off we went into the jungle.

The walk was about 3 hours in, and only 2 hours out back down the hill. Setting out early meant the weather was nice and cool, the sun still hidden behind morning clouds. Slowly, slowly, the group wound its way up the hill and into the forest, getting ever closer to the flowers.

Along the way, we discovered the beautiful and the exotic.

In contrast to the Australian bush, the soil here was rich and orange, firm and dried out from the heat of the sun. Some muddy parts were clay –  great for pottery! The uphill climbs were steep, the mosquitoes behaved (mostly) but it was the humid jungle heat that made it seem a tougher trek than it actually was.

We saw towering bamboo, growing tall and strong… you could definitely build houses with this stuff!

And bracket fungi galore!

And cute bugs…

And the longest millipede I’ve ever seen! It was twice the length of my hand! Eek!

Such lovely shapes in nature…

And a rare find – black orchid. It grows a white beard – stunning! Quite spectacular just blooming there to the side of the trail…

And then came the absolute highlight of our trek, making this sweaty effort worthwhile.

To our great delight and fortune, we were able to see two Rafflesia flowers!

They take 18 months to grow from a small bud into a full flower. They only bloom for 8 days after which they dry up and shrivel into a black mangled mess. So we were extremely lucky to have the opportunity to see a 3 day old and 4 day old bloom.

The Rafflesia is actually a parasite which grows on tree roots. They are known to be the biggest flower in the world. They release a smell to attract flies and insects to carry pollen to them.The smell is described as ‘rotting flesh’ but luckily it wasn’t so pungent when we saw them, just slightly unusual smelling but definitely covered in flies! The petals looked to be made of leather, tough and rubbery, the insides with spikes and hair and the most spectacular oval shaped spots which allowed the sunlight to shine within. Magical. The Rafflesia must definitely have inspired many an alien sci-fi film featuring stinky human-eating creatures!

The 3 day old Rafflesia was a warm orange colour whereas the 4 day old was larger but a darker maroon shade of orange. It was quite spellbinding to say the least, we spent an hour photographing these unusual beauties.

In absolute awe of nature…

 

Post by ANGEPANPAN.

1 Comment Category: Escape Landscape

The devil is in the details.

Autumn harvest is well under way.

The fruits of our labour freshly picked, stalks trimmed, produce well-packaged and ready to take to market! Without a doubt the madness’s in the method, the devil’s in the the details – the smallest feature makes the biggest difference in growing good-looking, good tasting goodness :)

Beautiful ingredients, better produce.

Extra stitching, better preserve.

Clean and trim, no loose ends.

     

Wrap up, too good to eat :)

*Thank you to the wonderfully cloudy Kylie Johnson for being our sweetly silver lining for this season’s produce xxx

And as ‘Sure as rain’, our harvest continues…

Post by ANGEPANPAN.

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New season harvest, Autumn collection.

Autumn is nearly here :)

We’ve been busy preparing, making, growing our next seasonal crop of clothing for some time now. It’s time to harvest – we are bringing the first batch of these fresh fineries into our stores next week.

All good things take time. Following from our last series All of my own, When the day is done continues the journey on a desert shore where land and water meet… wayfaring to the beautiful sounds of Nick Drake.

It was a cold, windy, rainy, sunny day at Stockton sand dunes, that day we shot our story. It couldn’t have been more (im)perfect :)

 
 
 

The landscape swept us up and away…

 

*Thank you to our model – the wonderful, beautiful and talented actress Nadine Barry, for helping us tell this tale xxx

 

Post by ROBOAT.

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Cookie crumbles.

We had the loveliest morning tea today with Ashnash, our terrific intern, who baked us love cookies for Valentine’s Day – so special!

Saint Valentine would’ve approved of the softly misshapen white chocolate cranberry love cookie goodness. It may not be a perfectly smooth and circular thing, this love, but it’s the way it crumbles that counts :)

Post by ROBOAT.

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Going nuts for Bunya.

I’m discovering “native” foods and am perplexed that we have so little access to it and use so little of it in everyday cooking. So any chance I get to talk about ‘bushtucker’ or make a lovely dinner with native vegies, I’m always going to take up :)

I didn’t manage to take any photographs of the pasta we made because we were too excited and hungry to document it beforehand… but here are the wonderful Bunya Nuts that we had for dinner :) A heavenly gift from South QLD / Northern NSW – from the native Bunya Pine tree :)

…beautiful papery shells of the bunya pine cone encases the almond-shaped nut within…

Beautiful colours.

Beautiful textures.

To get to the fleshy nut inside, we first incised the pointy tops of the shells with secateurs and then boiled them for 20mins to soften. Then we wedged a cleaver in the incised section and chopped the nuts open to reveal the cooked soft chestnutty-kernels within.

We delighted in their simply wonderful nutsome goodness with handmade pasta, garlic, lemon, sea salt, olive oil and truffle oil :)

 

Post by ROBOAT.

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These grey days…

I LOVE grey rainy days. I also LOVE my home.

Quite simply there is nothing I enjoy more than to while away the hours in the company of these two loves.

With a cuppa in hand, and a pencil in the other, I finally found the mood to take to the paper. Well, at least to attempt the task that has been looming over-head for so long now. Thank goodness I found an eraser!

The last time I put pencil to paper was almost two years ago. Mr Book and I celebrated our Decade of Toleration by booking ourselves to all the Winter Roasts at Bistrode, Surry Hills. We decided to commemorate our dining experience through illustration and word. My favourite is the illustrated roast of ‘Christmas in July’ – honey & grain mustard baked korobuta ham, served with sweet potato mash, roast potatoes & green beans. All the diners on the evening wore paper crowns to cheer the auspicious winter feast. We started with a Stone’s Winter Royal and ended with a spectacular Christmas pudding, orange & brandy custard.

The Strodes sure know how to put on a mean roast!

- I love how suckling this little piggy poses. How on earth am I suppose to out-draw this happy moment?

Please be easy on me. I’m a little rusty. It’s been a while… here we go…

I was feeling a bit fungy on my first attempt… Ange has titled this ‘Desdemona’ who was Othello’s murdered lover… talk about high drama and we’ve only just met!
I had to get the WD40 out for this grandma. It most painstakingly took me absolutely ages to get my drawing hand to take instruction. When you’re not a natural, trying to come up with a subject matter suitable for a print, can get gruesome. Much like pulling teeth.

Free-form lavender… some dried and withered stems I found at our studio the other day. I like the way they naturally arch like the back of an old woman, sensing her time is close…

I love this photo of the three of us! Sadly, I’m the only one who hasn’t moved on from wearing pyjamas in the day time! I meant to illustrate us as we are… which the girls kindly pointed out, I’m obviously the one with the double chin! Take your pick!

And for mains…

Canard a l’orange – I’ve been wanting to draw this for some time because it’s quite straightforward… a duck and some oranges! There’s cognac in the recipe too but let’s leave that one out for the faint-hearted. I decided against a beret :) What do you think?
What are all these drawings for, I hear you ask. You may want to stay tuned to the menu, as we are planning a range of tote bags featuring some of these illustrations for Mother’s Day.

Well, it looks like the rain is going to stay on for a while yet so there’s really no reason to get out of my pyjamas today. My loves and I are all in agreeance that it’s time to light up the fireplace, crack open the cigars and have ourselves a Suntory time to celebrate these grey days.

 

Post by CROWNJULSE.

2 Comments Category: Hand Makes Whole Heart

Beanstalking.

The best day of the week is definitely Tuesday. Tuesday is the day we go beanstalking :)

Beanstalk - our local Newcastle organic farmer’s community co-op is absolutely amazing.

Every Tuesday we collect our fine and fresh fare from our local farmers. We get together out on the farm once a month to weed or lend a helping hand, we help raise funds for equipment when it is needed and generally, as a community, we become more part of the process. We eat what is in season, and boy, is it all ever delectable, delightful and delicious!

We get to try all sorts of weird and wonderful vegetables, and learn new recipes along the way. Garlic never tasted better, kohlrabi ever quirky and amazing in a Vietnamese salad.

Nothing compares to real vegetables :) Fresh. Robust. Colour-full. With a grub now and then. And we hardly need to go to the supermarket anymore, yay! There ain’t no going back!

And when I thought Tuesdays couldn’t get any better until yesterday (Tuesday).

Upon a little visit to the local Asian grocer for some daikon (radish),  something caught my eye that I hadn’t seen since I was last in Japan.

The rush of memories came flooding back…

with sashimi, with onigiri, with yakiniku… from the roadside market stall, the biggest ones I’d ever seen… Oh, the longing to return to Japan to graze on these little beauties.

Turns out there’s a local lady that grows it in her backyard. Awesome!!!

I LOVE SHISO! The perilla has a similar flavour to mint or fennel but even better! Admittedly, I am slightly biased… but isn’t she beautiful!

 

Happy Tuesday!

 

Post by ANGEPANPAN.

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Black water dragons.

Happy New Year!

Farewell to the rascal rabbit and a warm welcome to the black water dragon!

We hope the brave and mighty dragon, ever-so crafty and enterprising, occasionally quick-tempered but positively passionate, will bring a terrific year to us and you all!

And in the true spirit of Chinese New Year…

we clean the house, we go the market, we prepare, we cook, we cook some more,

we eat, we talk, we compare recipes and methods, we rest, we eat some more,

we laugh, we make each other eat just a little more,

we thank all each other for all the wonderful food, we complain about how much we ate,

we blame each other for making each other eat too much,

we argue about whose pineapple tarts taste the best,

we pack leftovers to eat for the next 15 days of new year, we roll out the door, like mandarins tumbling down the hill…

Yee sang / lo sang / lo hei – bestest new year salad ever!

With chopsticks in hand, everyone tosses the salad higher and higher together! The higher the toss, the greater the fortune! (much of it does land on the table or floor, what remains is eaten very quickly!)

With curry leaves, chicken and ginger sauce…

 

…we make steamboat fun for everyone.

 

…and the best pineapple tarts ever (thank you Jamie!)

…and that was not even half of the feast prepared! Oh, it is going to be a good year indeed!

 

Post by ANGEPANPAN.

 
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