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New Year, new intentions

Photo of desktop showing a diary, drawing tablet, and the keyboard of a laptop.

A good couple of years ago a friend and I sat down over snacks and drinks and talked about what we want to achieve business-wise, and what we need to implement in order to make that happen. We both do project work in our other lives, so we have a few ideas, and we’ve both made some changes already, but for me at least, life kept intervening.

The last 14 months have been very disrupted for me and my business. Just when I would start to get traction, something really big would come up that would require my full attention. For the last 9 months, it’s been the kind of big that I had to put things aside almost completely, and while I did continue with my day job, even that ended up being very part-time. If you follow me on social media you’ll have seen that I’m planning on being back up and running again properly by Easter. Which means it’s time that I started to ease myself back into things.

Today was the first non-public holiday day of the year, so I went and bought my diary for 2020. I know this seems like an archaic thing to do, but I find it the easiest way to keep track of my market and major family commitments, and above all, for tracking my hours for my day job – I work on a contract basis, so I need to be very on top of that so I know how much to charge.

Ostensibly, I work 4 days a week in my professional career, and 1 day for myself, as The Sewphist. But you know how it goes, I never keep track of those hours, and it’s way too easy to find myself at the end of my day not having put in the right sort of time on the right sort of activities. So this year, I’m not just going to track the hours I’m directly charging for in my day job, but also the hours I spend on The Sewphist, drawing and sewing. And on marketing, which is not the same thing as being on social media, as much as I’d like to think it is. Tell me I’m not the only one who falls into that trap?

I haven’t sat down and done a business plan for this year yet, so I haven’t set my over-arching goals, but what I’m hoping to achieve by starting to better track my hours spent is three-fold:

  • accountability – making sure I’m spending time doing the right sort of activities for my business
  • effort to results tracking – once I’m ready to start selling again, being able to see a correlation between hours put in and sales (at least I hope this follows)
  • having a record of hours put in to guide me paying myself, and then doing so regularly

I can’t actually work in the business at the moment, apart from drawing, so I guess now is the perfect time for me to spend some time thinking about what I want and how I’m going to achieve it.

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Looking for lamp shades?





It’s been so lovely to meet so many people at markets recently, and to hear such lovely feedback about my lamp shades.

A selection of my lamp shades at Made It.
Some of my lamp shades at Made It.

I don’t have the ability to put them up for ordering online yet – I’m still working through the logistics of packaging and sending them. In the meantime, if you’re after one of the lamps you’ve seen at a market – or a custom order for a lamp shade in a different size – you can pop me an message using the contact form you’ll find here.

If you’re in Wellington, you’ll also find a good range of my lamp shades at Made It, at 103 Victoria Street. If you want to pop in to chat about your lamp shade needs, you’ll usually find me there on a Monday or a Thursday.

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Why I’m excited about Craft Central tomorrow

Ok, I’m always excited about markets, not least because they make me knuckle down and spend time doing what I really love: sewing.

But this market is extra special, because for the first time ever you’ll be able to buy products from fabrics that I’ve designed myself. This is a big deal, and has been not one, but two years in the works. It was October two years ago that I sat down and wrote myself a business plan that included created my own fabrics. I started by learning to screen print, but quickly realised that I’m a bit of a messy bunny, and that wasn’t really going to be the way for me to go.

So instead I’ve been focusing on building my skills using illustration software. I had a bit of an idea about what fabrics I would launch this spring, but then in early July I sat down to eat my lunch and my muse turned up.


My muse
My muse

This fellow sat watching me the whole time I was eating, and then kindly posed for a photo.

The image I drew from that photo became the base for the first of the fabrics in my first range. The other fabrics feature a tui and a kaka, both from photos taken by my husband (you can check out his landscape photography at

Tomorrow at Craft Central is the launch date for products made from those fabrics. I’m starting with wallets, visual diaries and lampshades.

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So, tomorrow is Craft Central. 10 am – 3 pm at The St James Theatre on Courtenay Place, Wellington.

Who’s coming to see me?

It's on tomorrow folks!
It’s on tomorrow folks!

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It’s spring knack time!

That’s right, the days are getting longer, the daffodils are blooming, and market season is getting under way. This Saturday it’s the spring knack, so I’ll be back at Berhampore School from 9.30 – 1.30.

Spring knack
Spring knack poster

This time there’s a retro and vintage theme, so I’m going to be digging through my stash to find what beauties I can. Some will be retro or vintage fabrics, others will be offcuts from other designers’ workrooms… I’m going to be busy this week!

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Sunday Funday!





I spent the first half of this year focusing more on the training side of my career, and I learnt a few important things from that. Like, it’s wonderful working for a project manager who expects you to be the expert in designing, creating and delivering training, and lets you work accordingly. And that I really do have a big picture bent, so I have to see the outcome first and then plan out the pieces that will go into creating that. If I get to do things that way, everything comes together so easily. (I’d already learnt that I’m not so good at just getting in and starting work on something if I’m not allowed to look at it from all angles first.)

But as much as I loved working in that way, I also wasn’t getting any time to sew. My poor machine didn’t get touched for nearly 3 months… and I felt like something was missing.

What I was able to do when I wasn’t working was to spend some time on my own professional development. There’s been something I’ve been wanting to do for a good couple of years now, and so I’ve been brushing up my skills in that area (as well as doing a couple of business courses).

To get my creative juices flowing, I started by drawing some bunnies.  Mostly these were bunnies I found on the internet, some were pictures sent to me by friends.

And then I decided it was time to learn how to draw using new tools. So I created a digital self-portrait.

Digital self-portrait
I think I finally worked out how to draw using my computer!

Following on to that it was time to design the invitations for a significant birthday party. Like one of those ones that end in a zero. I wanted something fun, so I searched out some penguins, then drew this guy.

Digital drawing of a penguin, dressed up for a party
Why do penguins always make me think of dancing and partying? Maybe it’s the Bluebird ad that does it to me…

I actually have a goal for all this digital drawing.  So today this is what I’ve been working on.

Can you work out what it is I’m really teaching myself to do here? Well… you’ll have to stay tuned until the 1st of September. If you want to get updates, why not sign up for my brand new newsletter, or follow me on Twitter or Facebook, where I’ll be using the hashtag #SpringsWings for updates on this project.

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Welcome to the Great WSBN Sewing Room Tour – Last Stop: Me!

You may have seen me make mention a couple of times of a group that I’m part of called the WSBN: Wellington Sewing Bloggers Network.  We’re a group of somewhat single like-minded women who share a joy of sewing.  In the middle of winter, Gemma from Sixty Six Stitches suggested that we kickstart our mid-winter blogging again with a tour of all our sewing rooms.  Most of us acquiesced, the tour started on the first day of September (the first day of spring!) and now we’ve arrived at the end (slightly behind schedule, I will admit (and it’s all my fault).

If you want to start at the very beginning, pop on over to Gemma’s post, which was the first stop on the tour, and follow us all the way through.

Now, when I signed up for this, I knew I had a holiday booked, and a market to prepare for the day after I got home (and for the two weeks before I left) but I was feeling confident that I could still make it happen, as long as I had a couple of days grace after my return.  So I was scheduled for the 22nd.

For your titillation, I actually did take some photos on the 21st, while my workroom was in full post-market chaos.

WARNING, it ain’t pretty. Continue reading Welcome to the Great WSBN Sewing Room Tour – Last Stop: Me!

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Nothing to see here…

Oops, today was supposed to be my turn on the WSBN Sewing Room Blog tour, but I had an unfortunately long day at work today, and I’m not going to be able to finish it all up tonight.
The wonderful Maryanne from Sent from my iRon has offered to step up and add her post a day early, so that you won’t all be left hanging today, and all going well I’ll be back with my post tomorrow.  She’s also rounded everything off very nicely with a full list of ALL of the stops on the tour, in case you’ve missed any, or are totally new to the tour!


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Riding the Rimutaka Cycle Trail – Day two

Last week I told you all about day one of my awfully big bike ride: as much of the Rimutaka Cycle Trail as I could manage in 24 hours.  And I promised you pictures, which the absence of rain made possible.

The morning of December 31 dawned nice and early. At least I presume it did, it usually does at this time of year. And I’m usually still asleep when it does.  I had every intention of getting up early and setting off somewhere between 9 and 10 am, but in all truthfulness, it was the first night we’d spent in our own bed in a week, and it was rather lovely to not wake up in one of our mothers’ spare single beds or on the single mattress on the floor beside it!  In the end, I started pedalling away from Maymorn station at 10:58 am.

Maymorn to the car park at the start of the Rimutaka Incline.
Maymorn to the car park at the start of the Rimutaka Incline.

I’d had some misgivings about the first section of the second part of the trail. Continue reading Riding the Rimutaka Cycle Trail – Day two

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Fabric of the Week – Ti Kouka me Harakeke

Harakeke (NZ Flax) on the path to the Petrified Forest in the Catlins

As much as I curse them as they try to slap my face as I’m cycling along the waterfront on my way to Wellington, I think that harakeke in bloom are a thing of great beauty.  In fact, I might even be a little bit obsessed with drawing them – if you ever come across a page of my doodles, you will almost certainly find a few of them.

I also love the statuesque forms of cabbage trees (ti kouka) striding across the landscape. Even in utero I had an obvious affinity with them – my mother’s waters broke while she was at an art gallery looking at a painting of a cabbage tree!

So, when I did a introduction to screen printing class last year at Wellington Makerspace, and needed an image at short notice, it’s little surprise that this is what I came up with.

Ti kouka me harakeke
Oops, I only have a tiny camera phone picture of it!

One of my current business objectives is around starting to create my own fabric designs. Now, this is definitely a bit of a stretch goal for me, for although once upon a time I was going to be a primary school teacher specialising in art education, somehow over the last 20 years I’ve drawn less and less.  I guess this is going to force me to draw more!  I also have a bit of upskilling to do in terms of my digital image manipulation, so I can begin designing fabrics for digital printing as well. But in the meantime, I’m looking forward to rekindling my teenage love of printmaking.

All this brings me to the first fabric of the week for 2014 – my own design, Ti Kouka me Harakeke, screen printed onto calico or upcycled heavy white drill, in chocolate brown or dark green.  Products you can have made from this are:

  1.  Simple calico tote, Height: 40cm, Width: 35 cm – $25
  2. Market bag, white cotton drill, reinforced flat bottom, Height: 35 cm Width: 33 cm Depth: 10cm – $40
  3. Small piped cushion, calico, with vintage button closure on back, Height: 35 cm, Width: 35 cm – $60
  4. Lampshade, calico, design printed multiple times around circumference, Diameter: 30cm, Height: 27 – $90

Here’s what it looks like made up as a cushion.

A handmade cushion featuring my Ti Kouka me Harakeke print
Ti kouka me harakeke (Cabbage tree and flax)


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Riding the Rimutaka Cycle Trail – Day one

A couple of years ago to took up cycling (again) as a form of rehabilitation. When I started my year of productive non-employment in mid-2011, one of the things I wanted to do was get myself back into shape. The means of doing this that I’d chosen was the Couch to 5 km programme from Cool Running. 4 weeks into that however, and I discovered that my ankle injury from late 2010 wasn’t going to let me do it. Months of physio, sports medicine, injections and other interventions later, it was clear that I needed to keep my ankle moving, and cycling seemed to help rather than aggravate it. By the start of last year I’d seen one of my friends increasing posts on the cycling she was doing, and felt pretty inspired by it.  By that point, I’d already achieved my initial goal of cycling into Wellington (20km) a few times.

My bicycle
This is my bike. It is pretty, and it is comfortable.

I started to look for some challenges to keep me going (cycling there and back wasn’t providing enough of its own incentive). I decided to sign up for the GrapeRide, but I was realistic about what I could achieve in 3 months, and went for the 42km option.  At that point I also decided that by the end of the year, I’d be capable of cycling 100km in a day.  Now, as we know, I didn’t quite make the GrapeRide, but it certainly gave me motivation to keep going on my bigger goal – and I still plan to sign up for the 101km version this year. I also decided somewhere along the way that I was going to earn my new bike – putting a dollar into the budget for every kilometre I cycled. I can’t quite remember when I made that decision, but I tracked 1022 km of cycling in 2013 (I suspect there may have been a few unrecorded trips), so that’s my budget.

Now: did I do it? Did I cycle 100km in a day in 2013. Well, yes and no. Continue reading Riding the Rimutaka Cycle Trail – Day one