guest blogger

Vicki Burkinshaw is the ‘GM’ (General Motivator) of Bizness Babes. She leads a team of dedicated trainers in devising programs and providing support to a growing band of Australian women who are using business to improve their lives and the lives of their families.

Ever wondered how you could make some money from a hobby or do you have an idea that you just don’t know what to do with?

Bizness Babes is a not-for-profit organisation that works with women to ignite their entrepreneurial spirit. Over 65% of Bizness Babe graduates start a business and a further 15% go into or return to employment. What began with four women in Melbourne has expanded into a national programme that has seen hundreds of micro-businesses launched and countless lives transformed in the past five years. The programmes offered by Bizness Babes not only break down barriers by demystifying business, but they also build self-esteem and help create positive peer groups and networks. The Course teaches participants about business basics, how to identify target markets, financial management, forecasting, budgeting and assists participants in finding their unique selling proposition.

Participants in the Bizness Babes programmes are encouraged to define their own success, whether that is simply about earning a modest income from a hobby or developing a multi-million dollar business. The programme teaches participants how to develop their businesses and then they can grow them as far as they aspire.

Our new book is our latest venture and that is what I want to tell you about today. To create this book I took the content of our 11-day Small Business Development Programme and turned it into a practical and inspirational book. The focus of the book and the programmes is helping women to create successful businesses that achieve their goals and work around their lifestyles. For some Babes success means being able to choose salmon over sausages for dinner, for others it is the chance to take their family on a trip across the world to be reunited with their extended family and for some like Tina it’s both.

Let me tell you about Graduate Bizness Babe, Tina. Tina completed the programme in 2008 with an idea for importing a product. During the programme she realised that her true passion lay in cooking and she came up with an idea for a personalised chef service and so ‘Spaghetti Arms’ was borne. ‘Spaghetti Arms’ allowed Tina to work for herself around her number one priority; her family – and take them on a trip to Greece to be reunited with her father after 26 years. Spaghetti Arms has not only enabled me to be a better mum, but has helped me regain my confidence and have the knowledge that I can assist in providing for my family says Tina.

Some of the businesses were created for a gap in the market such as Mama Love’s Nicole Beck who created a gorgeous range of maternity sleep and day wear. Others begin from hobbies; Kate McLean began making clothes for her little girls just over a year ago. After attending the Small Business Development workshop she created her brand, Whale Spout and now sells her products through her online store.

The Bizness Book is available here


Oh man – I have some treats in store for you! Starting tomorrow and going for 6 weeks I have a series of guest bloggers here at whipup who will be sharing their design philosophies and making experiments with you. Its going to be big, exciting and so much fun. There will be knitting patterns, refashioning ideas, sewing tutorials, mending advice, Valentines day projects, there will be kids crafts, games and whole lot more…

Also during the next 6 weeks I have some more surprises in store – I will be launching a new e-mag that I have been working on with my family, some sneak peaks of that next week! And I will be hosting Abby Glassenberg on her book blog tour, as well as reviewing some books and – a few more treats too…

So stay tuned – check in each day to see what is new. What am I doing I hear you ask – well I have some crazy deadlines – so I will be around – but I really thought it might be much more fun for you to have some fresh faces, rather than weary old me!


September/October brings change of season, and fresh starts and frivolity and seriousness too. So for a break from whipup realtime I am introducing a few weeks of guest bloggers to liven up your crafty experience. To bring you something fresh, and hopefully invigorate you to make and do and be and think! Its going to be a fun few weeks so come along for the ride.

Today I want to introduce you to another fellow Australian craft blogger Kate who blogs at one flew over and contributes to the quarterly online quilt mag Fat Quarterly. Kate is a super nice and an excellent quilter – I know these things because she recently agreed to do some sewing for my next book – without having ever met me – these are the things that I love about the craft blog world.

According to my mother I have always been a ‘5 minute wonder’. As a child I attempted every activity under the sun, none of which stuck. Two years ago and after the the birth of my second child, I went to an embroidery workshop at Prints Charming and never looked back. Embroidery quickly turned into a love affair with all things crafty. A sewing machine was purchased, fabric was collected and on most nights (to the annoyance of the rest of the family), you are likely to hear the whir of the machine or see the hook working like mad… which makes it pretty difficult to watch the TV.

Today I want to introduce you to some early gift making ideas. With Christmas just around the corner I’m sure there are many of you who have started thinking about making Christmas gifts or who are looking at uncovering some unique handmade items. I always intend on making a few handmade gifts myself and have listed below some of my favourite projects that I look to for inspiration.

I can’t wait to make these girly pretty lights [they are pretty simple to make with just a trip to the hardware store and some scraps you can find in the house], they will be perfect under the Christmas tree at night and I think my Mum would love a few to jazz up the Christmas dinner table.

This bag is very far from my own knitting capabilities but I delude myself and think I may be able to, one day do something like it. My younger cousin would love it [you can purchase it here]

My four year old spotted a Poppy Doll at a friend’s place a few weeks ago and hasn’t stopped asking for one! (photo courtesy of Pigeon Pair).

The house can always do with a bit of a spruce up and each Christmas I like to add to our decoration collection. These crochet snowflakes would be great stand alone or as part of a garland.

If you are handy with the sticks – although I should be thinking about gifts for others, I spotted this Mara shawl for me. I think it is just beautiful and will be a gift for myself.

If you are anything like me, it is highly possible that the gift making may be left to the last minute, in which case I have listed below some favourite purchased items that always seem to please! … These ceramic thread spool vessels hhave been on my shopping list for ages, the perfect gift for the crafter in your life. … My daughter was given a set of these wooden ‘blank’ dolls last Christmas, they were a huge hit.

So make or give handmade this christmas – hopefully these few ideas will help you get started!


September/October brings change of season, and fresh starts and frivolity and seriousness too. So for a break from whipup realtime I am introducing a few weeks of guest bloggers to liven up your crafty experience. To bring you something fresh, and hopefully invigorate you to make and do and be and think! Its going to be a fun few weeks so come along for the ride.

Today I want to introduce you to Thea – a self-confessed craft addict, designer, editor & publisher living in Sydney Australia. I first ‘met’ Thea through her indie publication Spoonful, which she calls ‘a happiness companion’, it is in fact a spoonful of beauty and inspiration. Thea also has a personal blog of inspiration.

Happily Hexed!

When Kathreen first asked me to write this post, I immediately thought back to all my recent crafty handmade projects… From matchbox hand-stitched bunnies for Easter, to baby cakes made from coloured felt and hand-painted spoons, once I get an idea in my head for something I’d like to do, there’s generally no holding me back.

As with any artist or crafter, my newest or latest project is always my favourite, and so I thought I’d chat today about my recent addiction & obsession with hand-stitched hexagons!

My fingers had been itching to stitch some of these babies for an age, having watched my mom gather beautiful little fabrics to stitch an entire bedcover filled with hexagons! So, the moment there came a break in my schedule, my stash began calling my name, and off I delved into the happy realm of snipping, folding and stitching to create a growing hexagon paradise.

Now, I must warn you dear readers, that if you do decide to do this at home – which, if you’re anything like me you will be unable to resist – PLEASE BE AWARE that sewing hexagons IS EXTREMELY ADDICTIVE! You think I’m joking, but there is nothing more satisfying than watching your most savoured fabrics come together like a puzzle; piece slotting in with new piece, structure to structure…

I find myself starring at the beautiful little pieces on my desk – my fabric gemstones, cut, angled and busy like a beehive happily making their visual honey…

Funnily enough, I have absolutely no idea what I’m going to do with my hexagons in the end… and that’s what’s fabulous about them. Really, they could grow to be anything. From cushion to curtain to techni-coloured dream-coat * wink * I am very happily hexed for the moment, rhythmically stitching and admiring a shape we don’t admire enough! There are even shapes called magic hexagons! Who knew?! I recommend taking part in the magic and making some of your own… just a few ;)


P.S. I might have made a tortoise too, I know I know, more hexagons… but I did warn you they were addictive, didn’t I…? ;)

P.P.S. Free Hexagon Paper Templates here. x


September/October brings change of season, and fresh starts and frivolity and seriousness too. So for a break from whipup realtime I am introducing a few weeks of guest bloggers to liven up your crafty experience. To bring you something fresh, and hopefully invigorate you to make and do and be and think! Its going to be a fun few weeks so come along for the ride.

Today I want to introduce you to one of my favourite makers – Margie Oomen from the blog resurrection fern – always innovative here she discusses her inspiration, her natural dyeing experiments, and interviews natural dye blogger Sonia Cantie.

Let us start at the beginning. My father a mathematician and electrical engineer instilled in me a very curious mind and the lifelong love of collecting natural objects as well as vintage treasures. My background is an undergraduate degree in biochemistry, a doctorate in synthetic organic chemistry and then to top that off I became a medical doctor in my spare time. Currently I am using stones smoothed by the constant energetic forces of nature collected from my travels and from the kind donations of wonderful people all over the world. I feel the ocean and the stones surrounding it connect us in ways difficult for us to fathom. I use only repurposed vintage threads and the crochet hooks were forming lace patterns long before I used them in my own two hands to cover the stones. The patterns are almost always inspired by things I have observed in nature: lichen, leaves, webs, frost patterns and snowflakes to name a few. The fractal patterns, fibonacci and other mathematical sequences are more obvious in some of the stones than in others. Most of my patterns are made up as I crochet along using the color, texture and shape of the stone to guide me.

Canadian rural physician and textile artist, Margaret Oomen has been a gatherer and maker of things for as far back as she can remember but has only been referred to as an artist in the past year. Aside from a spinning and printmaking class she is completely self-taught. She draws her inspiration from her treasure hunting family, her scientific (biochemistry and synthetic organic chemistry) and medical backgrounds and her great respect and love of the natural world. Her favorite quote is “Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature, it will never fail you.” Frank Lloyd Wright. Her work has been featured in Country Living Magazine, design*sponge, uppercase magazine, apartment therapy, Elle Décor SA, Glam .com, readymade blog, whip up, craftzine blog, the purlbee blog, softies central and plush you. Her work can be found at She lives in southern Ontario with her husband, four children, three cats and a snail called fern.

NATURALLY DYEING an interview with Sonia Cantie

If anyone has been reading my little old blog this summer they would know that I have been having great fun with dyeing in my backyard laboratory this summer. My favorite part of the whole experience has been the vintage tablecloth that has a natural dyeing Pollack sort of vibe to it now. I am seriously considering hanging it on my wall when I am finished for the season. I have been so in love with the work of another dyer over the past year. Her name is Sonia and she has been meticulously and beautifully documenting her experiences on her blog Naturally Dyeing , dyeing experiments using locally grown vegetal species. I have been dying to ask Sonia a few questions.

What inspired you to get started?
Sonia: Well, several friends & flickr contacts really inspired me. I think that the very first person who inspired me was Cathy (Cullis). Then you Margie, Lisa, India Flint herself and then Eva (Tinctory) & Carolyn (Saxby). All of you girls’ dyes & experience really inspired me & motivated me to start my own dyes.

What do you plan to do with the gorgeous hand dyed fibers?
Sonia: Well, that’s still THE question for me. Naturally dyed fabrics are rather (or really) light sensitive, so I really have to think about it seriously before starting to cut into these very small pieces of fabrics.

What advice would you have for someone wanting to begin gathering and dyeing with plants?
Sonia: MY way to proceed is to gather plants that grows locally, and that are not endangered. I think it is the most eco conscious way to dye with plants. As much as I love indigo, it doesn’t grow here, so I don’t want to try using it. Local nature provides everyone enough materials to start dyeing with not a big expense. I gathered old pans, buckets, spoons, etc from my family, so I didn’t spend very much. All I bought was the mordant (alum). One last advice: try to learn (through books or online, too) about the local vegetation. Then, you can start picking things that grow locally, really knowing what you are doing, what you are picking. No way to pick something that is dangerous (poisonous), or that is endangered specie.

Thanks so much Sonia. It is always a pleasure to chat with you. Sonia sells postcards of her dyeing experiences in her etsy shop and I have heard that there will be a zine in the near future. I have already reserved my copy.

Thanks so much for having here at whipup,