Cathie Wedekind lives in Auckland with her husband, one of her daughters, and two teenage grandchildren. Home doubles as production headquarters for her range of babywear and toys, Mimi and Rufus, and having recently retired from full time employment as a commercial project coordinator, Cathie is looking forward to spending more time designing and crafting her products.
What’s your earliest memory of crafting?
I was invited to a friend’s house to play one afternoon when I was three or four years old. Her mother sat us down on the floor and left us alone with scissors, needles, thread, and a large tin of buttons to make button necklaces. At some point we must have become bored, as I decided in my infinite three or four year old wisdom that my friend’s fringe needed a drastic trim, and she decided that my dress could be improved with a big hole cut out of it! Funnily enough I didn’t get to take my necklace home that day!
Do you have formal training or qualifications in your craft?
No, however I’ve taken various night classes over the years: cane work, raffia hat making, calligraphy, and folk art painting. I also taught myself cake decorating and floristry which resulted in many orders for wedding and birthday cakes, and also wedding bouquets. I haven’t used any of these above skills for a long time because I’ve been too busy sewing and knitting – in which I am also self-taught.
Your favourite materials, tools and processes?
I like to work with natural materials: cotton, linen, and woollen fabrics. My favourite tool is my rather ancient and second-hand Bernina sewing machine. It has been a real workhorse over the years ploughing its way through everything from curtains, ballet costumes, ball gowns, and crafts.
Tell us about some of the techniques involved in producing one of your pieces:
Typically I start with a mental picture of what I’d like to make, and then begin drafting patterns. For something simple and flat like a bib, the pattern can often be successful on the first attempt, but the more ‘dimensional’ objects, like toys, can be a nuisance as you won’t know how they’ll turn out until they’ve been cut, sewn together, and stuffed! I have had to go back to the drawing board four or five times before I felt that I had recreated my original vision.
What inspires you?
Much of my inspiration comes from the birthday and Christmas presents I have made for my four children, and five (soon to be six) grandchildren, not to mention the things I have made for other family and friends. With so many birthdays to craft for I’m always looking for new ideas. I find it difficult to imagine not always having one or ten crafting projects underway at any given time. Last year I joined the Preemie Knitting Club. In between my crafting projects I knit for them. If I’m sitting quietly and knitting, I find an idea can pop into my head for one of my own projects which is helpful, but the biggest bonus is making something for the little ones in the NICU.
Describe your workspace:
Our main bedroom has an ideal nook which fits my sewing table perfectly. Realistically though, my creativeness tends to spread throughout the house! My always growing collection of fabrics (and my husband’s grumbling about it) necessitated the wall-to-wall shelves I use to house most of my fabrics. Unfortunately, I’m not the ‘tidiest kiwi’, as one of my daughters will tell you. She kindly spent hours untangling and winding all my ribbons and trims only to discover them a couple of months later returned to their birds nest state. She was not amused.
Five words that describe your mind:
Cluttered (like my sewing space!) pensive, curious, eclectic, and evolving.
What is the best feedback you have received from a customer?
Quite a lot of people don’t think to place feedback on my Felt page, so it is always lovely to hear from my customers, particularly when the item is a gift and they share with me their stories about who will be receiving it.
‘Your lions are absolutely gorgeous. So beautifully made, and the colours and textures are exactly what I was hoping for. The big lion is for a baby boy due on the 10th, and the little lion I have put with a book about a lion, for the soon to be big brother.’
What’s your favourite childhood book and why?
Anything and everything by Enid Blyton and A.A. Milne. I have always loved the stories and the illustrations.
What are you reading now?
The Little Yellow Digger, by Betty and Alan Gilderdale as requested by my 22 month old grandson whenever he comes to visit! I have rather a large stack of books on my bedside table which I am slowly making my way through.
A favourite quote:
‘How beautiful a day can be / when kindness touches it’. A line from the poem “How Beautiful”, by George Elliston.
Tell us about your pets:
While our children were growing up we had three cats and three dogs. Now, we often find ourselves taking care of our children’s pets while they’re out of town. Frequent guests include two mischievous loveable Golden Retrievers and one quirky and equally loveable Wheaten Terrier.
What would your advice be for those starting in the crafty business?
When I began crafting, I sold my creations by approaching local stores, through friends, and at various craft markets. I like the way you can list something on Felt to see if it sells before you commit yourself to spending a lot of time and money producing something the market just isn’t ready for.
I would encourage those starting out to read the Felt blog because it has excellent tips for getting started, pricing, photography, etc.
Why do you think it’s important to buy handmade and/or locally made goods?
You know that they’ve been made with love, care, and attention, and every piece feels as though it has its own personality. I also think it’s important to support local artists.
What was the last handmade item you bought, and what attracted you to it?
I bought a Bee Nail from Ironweed, here on Felt. I bought it as a gift, and found it hard to part with it once it had arrived!
What’s in store for the rest of 2019?
I’ve been trying for some time to design and stitch together a fabric doll with removable clothing, but I’m rather stuck on the design of the face, which I think is important to get right! Who knows, I might even end up going back to some of my old crafts!
Cathie has very generously offered a beautiful prizedraw set for one lucky Felt reader (see above)! The set includes a pair of lovely merino leggings sized 3-6 months, a cheerful yellow crown teething ring, and one of Cathie’s adorable giraffe rattles – so cute! Just leave us a comment below telling us what you like about Cathie’s story and her lovely creations, and you’ll be in to win.
The draw closes at 5pm on Monday 29 July and is open to New Zealand residents only.