So here’s a blog post I have been trying to write for months: seems like the most momentous things are the hardest to blog about, and the last thing for which time can be found.

I’ve quit my PhD and I’m now sewing and designing for a living through Pins and Thimbles.  There it is, I’ve said it, outside safe, alternately worried and excited conversations with friends.  Phew!  Lest you (by ‘you’, I think I really just mean my Mum) panic, I am still working part time at the State Library.

I have a new job description, though I can’t decide on one perfect word: dressmaker, small business owner, designer, crafter.  All of those things.  I’ve also moved Pins and Thimbles off the kitchen table of our now-full share house and into a small studio space in Brunswick’s commercial heartland.  At 34 Breese St, it’s surrounded by Lebanese bakeries, discount stores, wholesalers, grocers and builders all carrying on noisily 24/7.   Here’s what it looked like on my first day of moving:

So, what’s the deal?  I finished an MA a couple of years ago, for which I sweated blood.  I was going to be a career academic.  That was the ruling passion.  Had been for years.  Somewhere along the line, amongst sickness, family dramas, and the growth of a committed and supportive relationship, I rediscovered other passions and the academic dream lost some of its gloss. 

I also remembered why I started studying Literature in the first place.  I was going to be a costume designer, but I’d decided I needed to understand the plays if I was going to be the best designer out there.  Even at 18 I didn’t lack for ambition or a work ethic.

So I took some leave from study, and a couple months ago I I tried to go back but the drive isn’t there.   And PhDs — my lord, you need to want it badly to get past all the rewrites and crazy hours and feeling like you’re not as smart or hard working as anyone else in the room.  Not to mention the long distances from friends and family even when they need you or you need them, or the uncertain years on casual contracts.  When I felt the burning need to write and to study, that didn’t bother me, it was all part of the lifestyle.  Now it just makes me feel tired.

It’s taken me a year of faffing around and worrying and changing my mind up and down and sideways to decide that I just don’t want the PhD enough.  Not now.  Someday.  Because I want something else.  And I want it so badly.


What I want now — every day, from the moment I wake up — is to create and to sew.  And to build something entirely new, my own business.

This is the studio from the outside: a rough diamond, no?  It’s up to me to make my 4x5m space cosy and beautiful for clients.  I feel up to the task 🙂

On the first night, an approaching storm, seen from my second storey window.  I love rain storms and I’m taking it as a good omen.  Given these terrible years of drought, how could a rain storm be anything less?

And finally:

Every new business needs a bouncy Maneki Neko and some organic peppermint tea.

This has been a rambling post, and there’s no use apologising.  Ten years of training as a writer and I still don’t feel able to sum up this change into neat paragraphs.  I certainly don’t have some pithy statement to finish on.  It’s too big and too complicated for that.  I’m content, though, to wake up in the morning, excited to get going once again.  To think, today I’m making somebody the skirt that will show her how lovely she is, or even just, today I’m choosing colours for a web page

Web page is on the way, and this blog will move when it’s finished but I’ll give you lots of warning.  Meanwhile you can become a fan on Facebook: or follow me on Twitter and I’ll follow you back: .

Have any of you made huge life changes like this?  I’d love to hear your stories and chat in the comments.