I think I saw a Pukeko – New Zealand Picture Book about birds, words, arguing and not always having to be right

I wrote a book and then I illustrated it and here it is!

This is a fun and funny little story about the words we use to describe things (in this case birds), about how to tell things apart and about fantasy versus reality but it’s also about how to give up when an argument is not really going anywhere…

I published this book with the help of The Copy Press in Nelson, New Zealand. It’s a fully local production – it’s New Zealand made, New Zealand inspired AND it’s about an iconic New Zealand bird, the Pukeko.

Here I am with my daughter reading it via a quick video shot by Reuben from Shoot-Edit-Video in Piha.

I have learned so much going through the publishing process and I am so pleased to share ‘I think I saw a Pukeko’ with you.

You can purchase a copy here and I can ship anywhere in the world.

Thanks for reading and thanks for watching. X

P.S. I would love your comments too, so please feel free to add some words below and/or click ‘follow’ before you go.

Mwah!

OMG! The Best Organic Cotton Baby Blankets Ever!

The title for this post comes from a customer’s review. It’s pretty nice of her. Thanks Katy.x

So what is it about Outie’s organic cotton baby blankets that makes them the best?

1) Designed in New Zealand

I studied Fine Arts at Elam School of Fine Arts at the University of Auckland, New Zealand and I have always loved drawing. Prior to opening Outie, I taught English, Art History and Art (painting) in secondary schools so it makes me happy to still be drawing every day. My inspiration is often locally sourced (Kowhai hearts, NZ native flora) because a good day for me starts with a bush walk and I use my walking time as thinking time of ‘what could be cool’ for someone’s baby.

Kowhai Native NZ designer organic cotton blanket

Native New Zealand Kowhai heart patterned organic cotton baby blanket by Outie

2) Original Illustrations

I am also an illustrator (have you seen my first published book? Squee! It’s a fun practise run for my button baby coming soon.) and I like to keep a hand-drawn vibrant feel to all of my designs. Some imperfections in my drawings are left in as part of the process (sometimes I have a toddler on my knee or I am feeding my baby late at night (we do not talk about sleep club) – and, for instance, now I am writing one-handed with my 11 month old wriggling on my knee). Some drawings start out as scribbles on the back of bills and then I digitise them whenever I can find the time. I love how each drawing has a story that is so much a part of my life at home with my kids. The popular Saurus. Raurus. print, for example, happened because of the way my son learned to say ‘dinosaur’ as ‘saurus ‘ and then called ‘lion’ a ‘roarus’.

aleep aid mini organic cotton baby blanket comforter

Dinosaurs and lions are called ‘saurus’ or ‘roarus’ by our two year old and so this fun little design happened for this organic cotton baby blanket comforter or sleep aid.

saurus mini blanket

3) Made to order

There is a three week wait time for most orders because I don’t like to keep stock stored for a long period of time. I also find it hard to predict what will be popular because I have my own quirky sense of style that might not be to everyone’s taste. Philosophically I also love how each blanket is actually printed with purpose so it is made for the right reasons from the get go. I am also aware of babies and dust allergies so keeping storage time down at every part of the process is important to me.

organic cotton custom baby blanket hippos

A custom organic cotton blanket design featuring hippos for a nz customer . “Hippo Dreams” for Kristin.

4) Certified organic cotton

Fabric is sourced from the United States and it is a natural white organic cotton interlock knit. I love how it is not pristine ‘Persil white’ and that is has more of an unbleached colour to it. They are certified organic cotton baby blankets as the fabric is certified in the USA by Global Organic Textile Standards.

5) Water based inks

Outie organic cotton baby blankets are printed using eco-friendly water based inks. No additional chemicals are used in the printing process so they are a safe solution to swaddling your baby traditionally.

organic cotton kids bedding cot sheets

Custom cot sheet sets and single bed sets available by request.

6) Sewn in my home studio

Outie is currently just me. That means you can imagine your blanket being cut by me and sewn by me and it won’t just happen in your imagination. This is a weird additional detail, but I also never sew when I am in a bad mood because I believe that projects can absorb the energy that was around when they were born. That might be a bit hippy dippy but I can happily say that every single Outie thing is made with love and happiness.

7) Little blankets too

We use all of our fabric and this means that we also offer soother blankets, cuddlies, snugglies or mini comforter blankets to help older children sleep. My organic cotton baby blanket mini blankets can be a great comfort for babies with separation anxiety or to help them to feel secure in general. Mum or Dad can tuck the smaller blanket inside their shirt so that the blankies absorb their smell and this makes the comforter blanket more comforting because it smells like a parent. Some people like their teddies or dolls to have matching blankets rather than using them as a comforter blanket. They are 45cm square.

organic cotton comforter soother woogie cuddly sleep aid

Mini organic cotton comforter blanket or teddy/doll blanket featuring my ‘Little Hunter’ print.

8) Inspired by my children

I never planned to open a ‘baby’ business… but it is all falling into place because my two children are my constant inspiration and I love being at home with them. Everything I make/have made for Outie is because I wanted to make it for them (or me as their mum) first.

comfort blanket sleep aid attachment prop

We call our daughter’s dinosaur organic cotton comfort blanket her ‘woogie’ but they are called all kinds of other things traditionally.

 

9) Custom designs

I can match nursery colours, add names, use symbols or family motifs that are important to you to make your blanket extra special. I love coming up with designs that are special for my customers.

10) Thick cotton

The thickness of our organic cotton baby blankets is like a ‘thick T-shirt cotton’. The organic cotton we use for our baby blankets is soft and foldy and delicious. “I can vouch for how soft this fabric is. It is amazing.” – Melanie

11) Breathable/absorbs smell

As a natural fiber, cotton absorbs smell which is why cotton (and merino) are such staples for babies. Our blankets are also breathable so that babies who like to put their comforter over their face (why do they do that?!) can still breathe. It is best to remove it all the same…

13) Generously sized and suitable for swaddling

The organic cotton fabric we use has a crosswise stretch of about 25% making it a nice soft stretch for swaddling purposes. The size of the big blankets (90cm square) is also a nice swaddling size to give a nice sense of security right from the newborn stage.

14) Matching reusable wipes

I make sets of 6 reusable wipes up out of smaller off cuts of our organic cotton and these make an amazing money saving extra. You can just wet them with water and use them for all things baby. Because they are thick, you will find that you will use one wipe (maybe two) per change. They can be rinsed and washed just like cloth nappies and are a real money saver long term. We have only ever bought TWO packs of wet wipes in nearly three years…

organic cotton reusable wipes by Outie

Organic cotton designer print reusable wipes come in a set of 6.

15) NZ Made and Local

Although we get our organic cotton fabric from the United States (no cotton fields in NZ!), everything else is done right here in our home studio in the Waitakere Ranges in West Auckland, New Zealand. It’s all done by me (Katrina) from design through to packaging… so you can feel good about supporting a local business and a stay at home mummy (me) doing her thing too.

 Get your designer organic cotton blanket here.

Why not knowing what you are doing can make you more brave (Thank you)

Since becoming a Mum I have realised that most of the time I have no idea what I am doing… there is no ultimate parenting guide after all.

But I have taken heart from this and become a bit more brave in general. As a consequence I am doing lots of other things I never knew how to do before either…

And my latest thing is actually ‘doing something’ with all the writing and drawing that I do. So I am self-publishing.

Here is a sneak peek at my favourite illustration.

Maybe you saw a blue chicken? - sneak peek inside 'I think I saw a Pukeko' by Katrina Ward.

Maybe you saw a blue chicken? – sneak peek inside ‘I think I saw a Pukeko’ by Katrina Ward.

I’m qualified to write (and draw) I suppose. I used to be an English, Art and Art History teacher. I have degrees in all those subjects. I won the senior English prize at Auckland University. I also recently won the KBR Unpublished Children’s Manuscript Award International Category with my story ‘The Lost Button’ – and all of this has given me a bit of a push in the right direction.

So here it is:

MY FIRST Illustrated Kids Book up on Amazon.

It’s called ‘I Think I Saw A Pukeko’ and it’s a conversation between two kids, or a kid and an adult, or a ‘believer’ and ‘non-believer’ (you decide). It’s fun and very short and my kids love it and I hope yours will too.

Please get in touch if you want a hard cover print copy ($20)

You can take a look at my first book here.

Thanks for all your support everyone. X

The cover art for my debut Picture Book.

The cover art for my debut Picture Book.

Love Katrina x

Oh and to celebrate with you – I have extended a sale on all A5 prints (all $10!) for you on my outie page.

http://www.outie.co.nz

Holy Bat Babies Batman – Bat Print Fun

I don’t often share my behind the scenes unfinished drawings. Yesterday a friend said that she would like to see more of the design process… So I am sharing for her and hopefully you like it too.

Bats have been on my brain lately.

Since seeing them at the zoo with mister two (I think they were actually flying foxes) and then seeing them everywhere in kids’ decor, I wanted to design a fun bat blanket.

As you might have realised already, I do love a good pun…. so with the Batmobile I started thinking about a mobile with little baby bats on it. But when I was drawing patterns with baby bats, they looked silly just dangling in the air like they were on strings and they needed something more solid to anchor them to.

I tried hanging them on hearts because I notices the curved shapes of a Bat’s wing kind of makes the top of a heart shape but I was getting off track and just doodling like a bored high school student…

So I added a visual metaphor instead.

Who is the best anchor for wayward babies? Mummy that’s who (or at least I like to think so).

Why aren’t the baby bats sleeping? Well, knowing my own baby bats so well, they probably only want you to think that they are sleeping even though they are VERY TIRED and should definitely go to bed…

I still loved the heart shapes in my sketches but when I included them as noses in my final drawing the silhouettes looked too busy. I left the heart shape where the wing wraps around their body though, I love that bit.

Anyway, I hope you enjoy seeing some work in progress insights into my latest little fabric design, I liked drawing these little guys.

I’ve called this print Batmobile Bat Babies. This is available as an organic cotton blanket, a mini comforter blankie and a limited edition A4 print (ten only!).

Love Katrina (Outie)

Batmobile with Bat Babies. A new design by Outie.co.nz

Batmobile with Bat Babies. A new design by Outie.co.nz

Sketching out a solution for how to hang bat babies in a pattern.

Sketching out a solution for how to hang bat babies in a pattern.

bat babies sample

The final pattern with Mama Bat flying around with her Bat Babies in tow.

Bat babies

One brave little button

I’m writing this because I want you to hold me accountable and I want you to share in my story.

Recently I wrote a children’s book called, ‘The Lost Button’ and on a whim, I entered it into a competition. The prize was a full page critique of your submitted manuscript by KBR (kids-bookreview.com/) and your manuscript being forwarded to Penguin Australia. There was never any guarantee that they would publish it, but still I thought ‘Wow – wouldn’t it be cool if someone ‘proper’ would read one of my stories…”

I don’t publish my kids stuff really and feedback would have been prize enough.

So anyway, I sent in my manuscript and I won!

I won the International Category and I was swiftly transported to Cloud 9 in a state of disbelief. (Goes to show it’s worth putting yourself out there sometimes).

A few months later Penguin Australia came back to me.

The critique they gave me was amazing.

Here are some highlights:

” I found the rhythm and concept of this manuscript lovely, and was impressed that it worked well without visuals”

“The premise for the story is charming and fresh, who hasn’t lost a button themselves and then found it in the oddest of spots?  Buttons can be cute or striking, large or small, square or round and, as the author has so obviously identified, they are curiously anthropomorphic.”

“I found the section of the text where the button is rejected as being particularly clever and the words were great visual clues.”

“I would advise keeping an eye on, and in contact with, this very talented author.”

Woah!

A slightly disappointing outcome was that they don’t feel like the book was right for them in its then-current form and they suggested some changes.

So… I have reworked it and loved it up some and have decided to go down the self-publishing route. (I also cheekily sent them back a revised copy while I work on illustrations so you never know).

And this blog is inviting you to share in the process.

Who knows where this story might lead?

The certificate for my winning manuscript.

The certificate for my winning manuscript.

And just for fun, I am writing a story a day as a self-imposed challenge. I’m up to day 6 so far.

Here is one of my favourites  called ‘Silence Except’ that I wrote yesterday. It’s got nothing to do with buttons this one but you might find you like my writing and want to read more of my stories… (I’m feeling brave sharing this so please be gentle).

And if you like it, please share it because this little button-loving mummy could use all the support she can get.

SILENCE EXCEPT… (a draft – copyright Katrina Ward 2014).

Our house is usually quiet at night. Except on curry night it can be much noisier.

It’s mostly silent except Fweeeeeeeep

That was Mum.

You can also hear the clock ticking and then PWAAAAAARP.

That was Dad.

Sometimes there are footsteps. Pad pad pad.

And the fridge. Errink.

And something pouring. Ploid ploid ploid ploid

And somebody drinking. gulp gulp gulp then Aaaah. And Pad pad pad. Then Kaploomph.

And then silence again.

Silence except for Pfooooff.

That was the dog.

And Squeee-fweep.

That was mum again.

And Feeeeeeooorrrrrp.

And Plurrrrrrrrrthorrrrrrrrrp.

And BARRRRP.

And mum giggling.

Then PFFFFFFFTHHHHHHHOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!

That was me.

And then the house is silent again.

Like? Please tell me what you think X

Love and Buttons.

Love Katrina (Outie)

This is how we roll

‘Not just a mum’ – How to take charge of your career at home in five easy steps

It’s a frightening thing to share a goal. It’s as if once you put something out there, that people might hold you accountable. But in the same breath, they might be able to help you reach it or remind you of it when you are having a down day or if you are feeling like ‘just a mum’.

I thought that becoming a mum would force me to tread water in terms of my career while I stayed home to be with my kids, but instead it has opened up brand new doors. My career path has changed so much that my ‘old job’ is probably no longer the best fit for me.

How can you use parenting to your advantage?

Step one: Find your love.

The great thing about being home with children is that you can try new things every day and nobody can see you trying them. This means that the fear of ‘failing’ is much less fierce. You could try golf, watercolour painting, crochet or practice head-stands. You could jump on a trampoline or become a crossword expert… without the weight of ‘work’ on your shoulders, you are free to try anything you like – and ‘like’ should be the drive for whatever it is that you do.

If you loved sewing as a kid, why not take some online courses? If you loved drawing, why not draw?

For me, my loves are drawing and sewing. Both of these ‘old loves’ led me to start Outie.

Step Two: Upskill

It’s hard to believe that prior to having children I was an ‘anti computer’ type. I thought e-books were the ruin of reading (but then I realised how handy they are when you are breastfeeding), I thought painting had to be done with real paint (until I realised that digital paint couldn’t be spilled), I thought facebook was silly (until I realised that it is a valuable tool for connecting with people when you are stuck at home with your baby…). Enough said really.

I taught myself some new skills. I can happily say that I am now good friends with Photoshop, proficient with several social media tools and have become a better knitter and crocheter because I have been determined to make the most out of my time at home with my kids – for me as well as for them.

Some of the skills I have learned are not necessarily ‘career’ related, but they still mean that I feel like I am progressing in some way for my own sense of purpose/sense of being and becoming a better me as well as a better mum.

Things I still want to do include learning a new language, learning how to sew a perfect invisible zip and how to be more professional with my use of Illustrator for fashion design.

Step Three: Practise

Once you decide what it is that you love and/or what it is that you want to learn, it’s important to try to set aside time each day to do it. Of course, this is almost impossible once you tend to the needs of your baby/ies but making sure you find ‘some’ time ‘sometime’ is workable.

Five minutes stolen out of your day every now and then all adds up…

Step Four: Set Goals/Have a vision

I imagine future me is better suited to daily drawing/design and my ideal job would be designing fabric full time.

If I returned to my old job as a teacher, I imagine that I would be pursuing a more senior role. I like to think that my time spent at home with the acquisition of new skills all contributes to me being more employable if/when I return.

Step Five: Keep a record and share it

It’s a frightening thing to share a goal. It’s as if once you put something out there, that people might hold you accountable. But in the same breath, they might be able to help you reach it or remind you of it when you are having a down day or if you are feeling like ‘just a mum’.

It’s having a down day that prompted this post.

Today I forgot about all the personal progress I have made because I was bogged down with ‘mum stuff’ after a difficult day with the kids.

I had one of those days where if someone called me, ‘just a mum’ I would probably have just run with it even though it goes counter to everything that I believe about motherhood.

Being ‘just’ a mum is already quite the job description. It requires a big heart as well as managerial skills, behaviour management skills, gumption, enthusiasm, team-work, leadership, time management, organisational skills, social planning, accounting, hygiene management, active self esteem preservation, perseverance, accountability, other-centredness or altruism and more.

And it’s so easy to forget about your own development and your own path when you so carefully monitor and are embedded in the development of your children.

I don’t know where this is all heading yet  –  but I just wanted to share with you that becoming a mum has changed the way that I see my career because it has gifted me time to reflect on what I really want to do with my life, allowed me to try new things, prompted me to learn new skills and enabled me to try new things and maybe it will open new doors too.

fabrics for leggings feather falls batwing

It turns out that there are no predictable paths for creativity or for where your role as a parent might take you…

Thanks for following me and my family on our little journey.

Textile design showcase

sharkies sting ray master yellow unicorn duvetSaurus Saurus Saurus Roarus white

Thanks for reading. Please click ‘follow’ before you go if you liked this post or join us on facebook or Instagram. X

Free Nursery Printables – So much cuteness!

I have always loved drawing and lately I seem to have found more time for it.

So I have decided to share the love by creating a little collection of free printable drawings for your nursery.

The current collection includes:

1) Baby Bear

2) Newbornicorn

3) Dinosaur Love

4) Buttons (I love you to the moon)

5) Crown of Butterflies

6) Baby Elephant

baby bear

newbornicorndinosaurbaby

I love you to the moon print

crown of butterflies  baby elephant 

 

You can order your free nursery printables here.

Which one is your favourite?

With much love,

Katrina

(Outie)

P.S – We are now on Instagram! Please follow me on @outie_nz