World War Z: why we should support Australian manufacturing

Has anyone seen World War Z yet? Me either… but it does make me think: what would happen if the world did become overrun by zombies?

Undoubtedly it would break out in the USA (and the guy who eventually saved the whole world in a day would be from the USA) – so I think we’d have a long time until we had the problem arrive at our shores in Australia. Especially with the new “PNG solution” introduced recently.

Gets me thinking though… Let’s say we don’t get a zombie outbreak for another 10 years or so.. We won’t be making many cars in Australia any more, most clothing is manufactured offshore already, & our farmers are being pushed to the point of despair by both our tough weather & the big supermarkets. Hopefully we haven’t sold off all our natural resources already. Will we be able to support ourselves? Zombies have very little interest in maintaining trade relations I believe. Often heard saying the likes of “Brains..”, or “Brains..”, and commonly “Brains..”, I don’t think they diversify their thoughts enough to organise us a shipment of $3 t-shirts, Audis, coal, & exotic fruit. We may have to be self sufficient for a while 😮

I personally feel quite sad when I hear about Australian manufacturing shutting down, & Australian companies moving their manufacturing offshore. Having recently entered the wool/clothing industry in Australia, the country that provides so much beautiful merino wool to the world, I’m startled by how few companies are manufacturing wool here in Australia. Try finding yarn that’s spun & dyed in Australia. Chatting with a group of spinners from NZ the other day at the Australian Sheep & Wool Show I was surprised to be told things aren’t too different across the Tasman. Have we been a little short-sighted in our bargain grabbing frenzy of late?

Having previously suffered from a severe & drawn out case of retail-therapy-itis, I have noticed over the years the rapidly declining presence of “MADE IN AUSTRALIA” when I check the care label. I’ve also been noticing the rapid decrease of the use of natural fibres, but I’ll save that for another rant.. I think supporting Australian made is a little like having a vegie patch out the back – we might need to supplement from the supermarket, but if we didn’t get down to the shops in time, we can at least whip up a delicious batch of pumpkin soup!

< end of rant >

Mornington: a few of my favourite things

What do you do when your knit technician wakes up with a sore back & you unexpectedly have a free day? Well, I thought I’d start with a stroll around Mornington & collate a shortlist of some of my favourite things about this place.
Did you know Little Frock of Sheep is based in Mornington? As there will only be an online shop (apart from a pop-up shop in Melbourne for 2 weeks in September), if you are interested in the range & are coming down to the Mornington Peninsula, send me an email (suzanne@littlefrockofsheep.com) & we can tee up an in-store experience for you.Sooo.. here are 10 of my favs:

1. COMMUNITY SPIRIT

I didn’t end up taking a photo of the community spirit, but I could have. It’s everywhere, from people taking pride in their homes, or bringing your bin in if you’re away (you don’t even have to ask!), to strangers shooting you a smile or a hello as they pass you in the street. I ended up in a conversation with a lady walking her dog as I was taking the photo of the beach box reflections below, who was interested to ask if I was an artist preparing for a painting. A nice chat about this & that followed, & then we went our separate ways feeling all the better for the interaction. The people are friendly & interactive around here – it’s nice!

2. WALKING FROM A TO B

It’s pretty enjoyable walking from A to B around Mornington. There are quiet suburban streets, and many green corridors/paths to choose, such as this creek crossing on my walk today.

3. FRANK’S BAKERY

One of my favourite destinations when leaving A is Frank’s Bakery. Deeeelicious bread. My favourite loaf is the stone ground wholemeal, as they seem to have perfected the crust & body of that loaf, but they have a fantastic selection & charming staff & it’s well worth a visit in the morning when the bread is still warm. It’s just a doorway on the street, & no wider inside, so you have to keep your eyes peeled for the menu door shutters as you’re walking along Main Street.

4. THE BEACH

The beach at Mornington is fabulous: it’s not too busy, the water’s clear, & the sand’s soft & clean!

5. NICE PLACES TO CHILL OUT

There are so many nice places to take 5. This one’s on a little track joining two beaches, overlooking the harbour, but there are plenty of places along & near the foreshore that are well worth relaxing at & soaking in the scenery of. The council has been good enough to place seats & tables just where you would have wanted them to!

6. THE HARBOUR

The harbour at Mornington has a lot of activity & it’s a really nice place to be. The sailing club is popular & busy; people are often lined up along the pier fishing, which I think is delightful; and there are a couple of eateries there also. One of my favourite things to do is have a drink or a meal at The Rocks, & overlook all of the activity below.

7. THE MORNINGTON CINEMA

The Mornington Cinema has all the latest movies & also a taste of the good ol’ days – but with more comfortable seats. The cinema is run by a lovely couple who may well make your night before you even sit down! It has a real small town feel to it.

8. THE BLACKBIRD CAFE

My fav cafe in town is the Blackbird Cafe. Their coffee is a bit hit & miss for my tastes (luckily more hit than miss), but their food is consistently delicious & hearty, made from real, fresh food.

9. THE CLIFFTOP / BEACH WALK

The clifftop walk might come in as my absolute fav. One reason may be that it takes me to the beach, but other reasons include the lovely views across to Mornington, Melbourne, & Mt Eliza; you can watch people fish & kayak & sail as you walk; & the undulation makes for a varied walk.

10. MORNINGTON GOLF COURSE

I didn’t play golf today, but have done on the Mornington course & part of my walk today was alongside. I would just like to note that there hasn’t been much leveling going on on this course, so it’s even if your drive does land on the middle of the fairway, it wont stay there for long! Luckily, this is offset by gorgeous views from some of the holes across the bay, & it really makes you feel like you’re getting away from it all.

That’s it from my walk from today! Mornington’s well worth a visit for lots of reasons. It has the Archibald Portrait Prize on exhibition at the moment. There’s a Farmer’s Market on once a month, in the park at the end of Main Street. There are plenty of walks, activities, cafes / restaurants / bars to keep you amused if you come for a visit.

The Appalachian Trail – Inspiration for the new season

This time last year I was in Virginia, hiking along the Appalachian Trail.  A friend of mine was hiking the whole trail, which is 2000+ miles (!!), but I was planning on just 500 miles, which would be spread over 6 weeks.  Just squeezed that in too!  It was quite the adventure & life experience – even more than I had thought it would be.
I knew I was going to launch Little Frock of Sheep this year, a career change for me, and decided that that a long hike in the wilderness would be a great bookend to the change of lifestyle.. & how often do you have a friend doing such a crazy thing?  There’s a lot to think about when you start up a new business & I decided it would be thought while on the trail.

I’m a daydreamer, & barely a business plan footnote was thought of in the end.  Instead I was thinking about how the daily miles were going: would I get to the day’s camp before dark?  Oh look, a bumble bee!  I wonder if that water source on the map is running at this time of year..  Wow, look at how the sun’s filtering through those leaves.  Before I knew it my mind was a blank canvas in regard to the realities of life in Melbourne & was abuzz with excitement about the surrounding beauty, of which there was an abundance.

It was Spring in the USA while I was there, & the flora & fauna had got the memo.  There were beautiful flowers & baby animals that made you want to break into a skip.  If only my feet were still able to skip after all that walking!!  I skipped in my mind.

The whole section I completed was in Virginia, which is home to roughly 1/4 of the Appalachian Trail.  It’s such a lush & green state!  I haven’t seen much of the USA, but I was very happy with my trip to Virginia.  The locals were lovely, welcoming, helpful & supportive.  On occasion I’d arrive at a road crossing & someone had left an esky of cold drinks.  That’s *very* exciting when you haven’t resupplied for a week & have only been eating dehydrated foods.  “Trail magic” is what they call that, & the “southern hospitality” I’d heard so much about over the years was shining through, especially in the south of the state.  I think there might be a North-South gradient on southern hospitality, but I don’t have much data to go on – just an initial theory.. Trail magic was one of the great human aspects of the Appalachian Trail.

The trip ended up being full of all sorts of different aspects I wasn’t expecting.  Receiving kindnesses from anonymous strangers who sought no reward & struggling with the concept of not being able to repay a favour; stretching my own physical & mental boundaries; enjoying some of the most spectacular scenery I’ve ever been in; realising how few of my material possessions back home were actually needed; meeting others hiking the trail, of which there are many at that time of year, & learning more about their motivations.  Almost everyone I spoke to was marking a change in their life.  It seems to be the place for that, & I can recommend it – you’ll leave the past behind whether you want to or not, & end up as fit as you’ve ever been to boot!

Although I didn’t do as much planning of the business side of Little Frock of Sheep as I had originally thought, I dreamt up most of the designs on the trip, & that’s the main reason they look a little like a knitted version of Spring!  The look of Little Frock of Sheep will always be vibrant & fun, but in this case it’s inspired by Spring in Virginia.   The inspirations are the creeks & springs, the flowers, the animals, the picture-perfect forests, the rolling farmland hills, the beautiful sunshine, and everything in between.

I’m hoping to share my experience on the Appalachian Trail through the Little Frock of Sheep 2013 Spring/Summer range, and if people enjoy my knitted memoirs as much as I enjoyed dreaming them up, there will be some very happy people come September!  I hope so.