Sew What Display – Maryborough Flour Mill Gallery

On Sunday in celebration of Mother’s Day – Mum and I went on a little outing to Maryborough, Victoria.

About 1 hour north of Ballarat in an old Flour Mill is the most amazing collection of sewing machines a girl could ever see. Of course little did we know how wonderful this collection was going to be and so we left it to the end of the day to visit and of course ran out of time and had to whip around in a rush! I still had time to snap a few photos of my favourite machines though and learn a bit about the history of sewing machines from our very passionate guide and collector Wayne.

On display are over 350 vintage, antique and toy sewing machines from 1876 to 1960 and we were told that they all work!  I particularly loved the coloured machines from the 60’s, some of them reminded me of the interior of old holdens - I think it’s the dials and chrome knobs. I also really loved the gorgeous early 19th century treadle machines with the beautiful decorative patterns.

The Museum is open Thursday to Sunday 10am to 5pm or by appointment. Tours welcome. Also open Mondays of long weekends. Well worth a visit if you are ever up that way. Allow yourself a couple of hours though!

I'm a little Tea Cosy Kit

Way back when I first started doing markets in 2006 – I met a lovely fellow stallholder called Jo. Her label was called Frankie & Ray and she knitted gorgeous scarves and made lovely bags and cushions out of vintage tea towels – gorgeous work and right up my alley.

Over the years as we have done our fair share of markets together we have become great buddies and so it was with excitement that I discovered Jo’s newest product - a tea cosy kit, what a fabulous idea! 

Jo has designed the pattern for this cosy and included in the kit are some of my favourite things, ric rac, buttons and ribbon plus your choice of red, blue or yellow wool to make your very own cosy.  

I was on to her straight away…”Jo…I think the Crafty Squirrel definitely needs some of those tea cosy kits!” So on that note – I introduce I’m a little Tea Cosy Kit, with a few words from my pal Jo…

How long have you been knitting up a storm with Frankie & Ray?
My beloved Oma (grandmother) taught me to knit as a child, I think I was probably about 8. I've been knitting ever since!

Frankie & Ray began about 7 years ago on a suggestion from a friend to try a market stall together, and naturally, some knitted things were always going to be part of my product range. 

Tea cosies seemed to be scarce in the marketplace, always drew a lovely response from people, and gave me something other than scarves to knit. I could also be a little bit playful with a cosy too, indulging a love for mixing up stitches, colours, and decorative elements.

What is your favourite part of the creation process?
I love that moment when inspiration strikes, and the idea for something pops into my head. From there, it's a process of mulling it over, working out how something might be put together, and making a sample. 

There is a total joy when something makes that transition from an idea into something pleasing and real!

I bet you can knit with your eyes closed - but it’s much nicer to look at the colour of the wool you’re using whilst you knit. What is your favourite colour at the moment?
I don't know about eyes closed, but I can knit and successfully watch television at the same time. Although, I have been known to make terrible mistakes if anyone tries to engage me in conversation while I'm knitting!

I have always said that my favourite colour is green - all shades from olive through to the palest eau de nil. It's really a very 'neutral' colour, you can always find a shade of green that will be a perfect match for any other colour.

At the moment I've just started to knit scarves with a beautiful turquoise green yarn, and I can't keep my fingers off it!

Where do you gather your inspiration?
Colour, pattern, and texture are always an influence on my work, combined with the germ of an idea for something that I really want for myself.

I love beautiful fabrics and a ball of deliciously soft yarn in a beautiful colour will always get me thinking of the perfect way to put it to use. It's funny how some colours will work for some items, and not for others. A cosy can carry a colour like a strong and bright aqua blue, but that's probably not going to work so well as a garment.

I love a good cup of tea and cannot think of a prettier way to enjoy it then with a Frankie & Ray tea cozy to keep my pot warm…what is your favourite type of tea?  
Here's a confession, I don't actually drink tea!

I aspire to tea drinking. I love the whole idea of having a fragrant and refreshing cup of tea brewed prettily in a proper teapot....

I grew up in a family of coffee drinkers, and somehow have never been able to cultivate a taste for tea. Even during a recent holiday to Sri Lanka, I really tried to love the tea - apparently the best in the world - and failed!

What does the future hold in store?
I would love to continue with Frankie & Ray for as long as people love to buy what I make.
I am so fortunate to live and work in a beautiful part of Victoria, on the coast near Apollo Bay. I can think of nothing more perfect than continuing to have the best of both worlds by living and working here, and travelling regularly to Melbourne to sell at design markets, meet my customers, and see friends.

A little shop and work space here in Apollo Bay would be the icing on my cake, but we'll have to wait and see if that dream comes true!