850 Op Shops
71 trips, 441 towns, 30,195 kilometres. Cheezy motels, new friends, travelling Victoria.
2015 was spent visiting as many of the 857 op shops in Victoria, Australia as I could. I made it to 850 and will make it back to the other 7 next year, by which time I’m sure more will have opened and some will have closed. It was quite a trip, covering 30,195 kilometres via 71 outings and 441 towns, staying in various motels, making wonderful new friends, spending $4680 on 1426 items at such a variety of charity stores. In all, I found 245 blankets this year, bringing the Collection up to 360.
2 trips, 90 op shops, wow what a beautiful state. Donations to the charity 300 Blankets begin.
Continuing at a slower pace with 2 amazing trips to beautiful Tasmania, I made it to 90 op shops there - 6 more to go to, maybe I'll get back one day. I hope so, it is such a special place and these trips were cathartic and restorative and I felt very grateful for the opportunity to do them. Much time this year was spent sorting the collection, choosing which to keep, sew, sell, gift, donate (the incredible homeless support group called 300 Blankets). And I made it to the last 7 op shops in Victoria that I missed last year; very satisfying.
Begin refining the collection.
Source blanket paraphanellia;
advertisements, signage, lighting.
2017 was fun upcycling and sewing whole blankets into sets of lap blankets & cushions; a fellow blanketeer lent me her beautiful vintage Bernina and another taught me some patterns. I’m getting stricter with the blankets I let myself keep and the collection is now down to about 150, spread over military, chequered, pastels and panel blankets. I still absolutely adore old Australian blankets and sharing the love with other blankety minded people out there, of which, wonderfully, there are many. The friendships I've made through this project have been so surprising, heartfelt and enriching, I've been very lucky.
Get the collection down to 150.
Visit the ACT, back up to 200.
Upcycling & selling.
Finally made it to the ACT! A bit of a 3 day whirlwind but got to 31 out of the 32 op shops I could find out about. Picked up 6 blankets and a few other treasures, caught up with some old buddies, lent some 1960s Fletcher Jones pieces to the Canberra Museum for their use in an exhibition and discovered a bit more of kooky Canberra. The blanket collection has creeped up to over 200 again so 2019 will involve some culling and maybe some additions to https://www.etsy.com/au/shop/BlanketFever.
Refurbish the spare room into a mid-century blanket showroom, share with over 40 guests.
The guest bedroom has been refurbished into a kind of old blanket merchandising showroom. Advertisements from various woollen mills between 1945 to 1969 are in vintage frames, the cupboard is full of plain pastels in a colour pallette, the Laconia signage and lightbox are up. Favourite labels have been framed and a 1940s panel blanket gifted from a dear friend is covered in labels from around the country and hung on the wall. The room used to be affectionately called 'Little Room' but of course is now 'Blanket Room’. It's super cosy and definitely a soft place to land.
Stay home. Avoid Covid.
Think about what's next.
Well there will be no op shopping with Covid-19. My heart goes out to those support services that rely on the funds generated by thousands of op shops and their tireless volunteers all around the country. These shops are so much more that the obvious place to take your no longer need items, to pick up a bargain or find a much needed second hand item. They are often one of the few shops in a tiny town, can be a gateway to employment, a meeting place, drop in center and offer more than financial support. Hang in there everyone. Try and stay safe, look after each other don't touch your face!
It's time to let go.
The Collection is acquired by the National Wool Museum.
After 10+ years of collecting vintage Australian blankets the time has come! The gorgeous National Wool Museum in Geelong, Victoria has purchased a substantial part of the collection and I'm so delighted and honoured that this is where these pieces of history will now reside. It's the end of an era for me, this project has been a massive part of my life and I've absolutely loved it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the very many lovely people that have been along for the ride, the incredible support, all the love - it wouldn't have been the same without you.
Max to Min
Sell almost all the other collections.
New home, downsize:
from 200sqm to 28sqm.
It's time for different pastures. It's time to say Goodbye to Little George Street, my 200sqm home for 20 years. I've shared this space with over 1700 guests, 40 flatmates, countless friends, 1 amazing landlord, 50 collections and 500 blankets. Farewell lovely house, farewell blanket room, dinner parties, pussy cats, projects, and all the wonderful people that passed through. I'm moving 400 metres up the road to a 28sqm studio, selling almost everything I have and can't wait!
See you then
Till the next project ... byeeee! Ramona xx