Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Woolly Hats in the Woods

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

This blog post is a celebration of several things.

  • Of the special friendships and professional relations forged through social media
  • Of families and times having fun in the great outdoors together
  • Of my upcycled woolly hats
  • Of UK knitwear manufacturers who have the foresight to recycle their waste and collaborate with upcyclers such as myself.
Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

I have made a large amount of hats, some from squares of recycled knitwear, and some from recycled merino wool sock tops from The House of Cheviot (more of the latter later).  I hate taking product shots using a plastic dummy, and had to resort to using a squash with a drawn on face to model the hats for the website.

Kids Hats Recycled Wool Knitwear The Woolly Pedlar

Kids Hats from Recycled Wool Knitwear by The Woolly Pedlar

Through Twitter and Instagram, I have got to know Corinne Hills down in Sheffield. Corinne bought a baby blanket from me in the past and our online friendship has developed over the last couple of years. Corinne has a wonderful family of boys, and home educates her children, spending lots of time in the woods as a learning environment. Recently, Corinne has set up her own website, Corinne Hills Photography and I thought, what better person to photograph my hats?

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

I am a massive fan of getting children out and about in the great outdoors. When I was teaching children with learning difficulties I did my training to become a John Muir Award leader. The John Muir Award encourages folk to discover a wild place, explore it and conserve it and then share their findings. Corinne and her family can be found regularly exploring and interacting with the woods around their home town of Sheffield.

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

So back to my hats – I make hats for everyone – from big people to little people! These can be found in the Accessories Dept of the website for big people, and in the Kids and Babies section for little people. Hats are either made using squares of recycled wool knitwear, as in the photo above, or using recycled merino wool sock tops as in the photo below.

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

The merino wool sock tops are a by product from that posh sock company, The House of Cheviot.  I’ve written about them before, in a blog post ‘Recycled Sock Top Hats from The House of Cheviot‘. I think it’s great when UK knitwear manufacturers can sell their waste to upcyclers such as myself. Waste needn’t be waste!

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

So, in conclusion, let’s hear it for Corinne and her family of awesome boys and for her photography; for the upcycling of waste knitwear into fabulous and funky hats; and for forward thinking knitwear manufacturers for recycling their waste back into the UK’s economy.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Happy New Year from The Woolly Pedlar

Tales from The Woolly Garret. Looking Back at 2016.

I’m in that limbo land between Christmas and New Year, when the fridge is still full of cheese and pavlova in varying states of decay, healthy walks punctuate the eating, and family and friends gather to drink and be merry. The pull up to the woolly garret to get making again is strong, with lots of new ideas buzzing around my head, but I’m trying to resist and get some much needed down time after the hectic run up to Christmas. What better way then to force a lie in, than to spend a morning in bed, laptop on tray, reflecting on the past year.

The Woolly Pedlar looks back at 2016

The Woolly Pedlar looks back at 2016

2016 was my fifth year of woolly pedlaring, turning the UK’s waste knitwear into new things, and continuing the fight to save waste and reduce the amount of clothing sent to landfill or abroad. It’s been another great year, with many new friendships forged and strengthened through my work. Running my own business continues to be a learning curve, and new challenges and discoveries appear at every turn.

I started 2016 as I expect many of you did, with some New Year’s resolutions. I work too hard at times, and forget to have time for me, resulting in overthinking and insomnia, so I began 2016 by joining Hexham Community Choir. I hadn’t sung since school days when I was in the choir at our all girl’s school, singing Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. We’d had to ship in boys from the local boy’s school to sing the tenor and bass parts, and there I found my first boyfriend, Kevin. I was very nervous at singing in public, so grabbed a quick singing lesson from my friend Wilf, and then jumped right in. I loved it from the word go, and found singing can not only bring friendship and a wonderful sense of togetherness, but can bring a deep relaxation of the body and mind, with Mondays now giving the best night’s sleep of the week!

Looking Back at 2016 - Singing

Looking Back at 2016 – Singing

Of course there was the usual New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight – happens every year! I note this morning that I am exactly the same weight as I was this time last year. Hefty to say the least! However, with a shiny new bike given to me for a wedding anniversary present, we set about planning our first ever cycling holiday. We settled on Orkney as it is relatively flat, although the wind is something else!  You can read all about my cycling adventures around Orkney. I was incredibly proud of myself though not in a hurry to repeat it!

Cycling Around Orkney 2016

Cycling Around Orkney 2016

I’ve had a fantastic year selling my woolly wares up and down the country, and have clocked up three awards.

At the County Show in Northumberland I won an award for being ‘special’. The judges loved my stall and work, but were unsure what category to put me in! I love that, and I guess I am a bit of an individual in more ways than one! One of the frequent comments I get about my work is ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before’ ….jolly good, I’d say, I hate being a clone!!

A Special Award at Northumberland County Show 2016

A Special Award at Northumberland County Show 2016

The highlight of the year for me last year had to be wonderful Woolfest. It really does the soul good to be surrounded by so much woolly love. I had a whopping stand, but managed to fill it, and had the most phenomenal weekend. To top it all, I was delighted to receive the ‘Stallholder of the Year Award’ from the members of The Woolclip who run Woolfest.

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

My third award this year came from the team at the Green Gathering, that eco-minded festival down in Chepstow, where I won Silver Ethical Trader Award. I love the Green Gathering, and enjoyed meeting many friends again there, both fellow traders and punters. I came away from the Green Gathering feeling that is was ‘ok to be me’ if you know what I mean.

The Woolly Pedlar at Green Gathering 2016

The Woolly Pedlar at Green Gathering 2016

It takes an awful lot of hard graft to make enough stock to do events like Woolfest and the Green Gathering justice, not to mention all the effort to get stock ready, pack the van, set up these events, man the stall with huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm, and then unload when we get home. I was ready for a holiday!

The Woolly Pedlar at Woolfest 2016

The Woolly Pedlar at Woolfest 2016

Tim and I found a quirky little farmhouse up in the hills of northeast Ibiza and set off for a week’s rest and relaxation in October. I promised my husband I would forget work and leave social media behind for a week.

The Woolly Pedlar goes to Ibiza

The Woolly Pedlar goes to Ibiza

However, just as we were leaving, a media storm erupted over my blogpost about Jeremy Corbyn buying one of my woolly wraps from Bardon Mill Village Store. I went from being elated at him buying one of my pieces for his wife, to being devastated at what the right wing press did with my photos and blog. However, I was soon delighted once again at all the support given through social media, and my Facebook page in particular, for both me and my little business, and for Jeremy, for taking time out to walk in our beautiful county of Northumberland and for buying from a small business making upcycled clothing. I learnt a lot from all this, and will in future be far more wary in my dealings with the press.

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

I had some great press coverage too over the year, with a lovely piece in Women’s Weekly about my woolly pedlaring. It was great to see them use so many photos of the family in it, and the write up was superb. I’ve also featured in Reloved, the magazine that focuses on upcycling in the home, and am in the latest issue of Read Me, our local magazine about Haltwhistle, where they talk about how I came to live and work where I do, in ‘The Road to Willimoteswick’.

Women's Weekly write about my woolly pedlaring

Women’s Weekly write about my woolly pedlaring

It has been a rollercoaster of a year in my hunt for wool knitwear to recycle. When Hawick Knitwear closed, I lost a valuable supplier. I was also buying vintage knitwear from a company that imported clothing from Europe and the States, which had in the past provided some wonderful knitwear, but that too dried up early in 2016. So the hunt was on! It’s amazing when you consider the amount of textile waste from this country in one year alone would fill Wembley Stadium, but it’s very hard to find textile recyclers willing to sell back in the UK. Many of the firms I contacted said they did not sort clothing here, but shipped it all abroad. After drawing blanks with many, I stumbled across Bristol Textile Recyclers, and bingo! I now having a new supplier of waste wool knitwear.

As well as buying from textile recyclers, I also buy from my local charity shops have been delighted with the help that our area manager of Scope has given me. Scope have really stepped up to the plate, and now collect waste woollen knitwear on a regional basis. This keeps clothing in the local economy which is good for me, good for you, and good for the planet!

Merino Wool Hats from waste sock tops from the House of Cheviot

Merino Wool Hats from waste sock tops from the House of Cheviot

It’s increasingly hard to find knitwear manufacturers in this UK, and with Hawick knitwear going into administration, the hunt was on to find others. The House of Cheviot has been one new discovery, and I’ve bought boxes of recycled merino wool sock tops from them which have made the most excellent hats. These are selling really well up at Walltown Crags on Hadrian’s Wall where walkers can sometimes be caught out by our chilly Northumberland weather.

Allendale Forge Studios stocks Woolly Pedlar

Allendale Forge Studios stocks Woolly Pedlar

The list of local stockists, and indeed some stockists further afield has grown considerably this year, with Farfield Mill down in Sedbergh now stocking Woolly Pedlar. The Allendale Forge Studios are featuring my woolly wares as part of it’s Winter Exhibition, and Studio 2 at The Forge has a good range of upcycled woolly goods. I’m hoping for some good sales from there over New Year as revellers gather for the Tar Barrels procession and bonfire at New Year. If you’d like to find out more about the Tar Barrels, here is a short film made by my friend Nat Wilkins that is a fantastic piece of social history: Tar Barrel in the Dale

Mr Wolf, Market St, Hexham

Mr Wolf, Market St, Hexham

In Hexham, on Market Street, Mr Wolf continues to do a roaring trade in my kiddies’ ponchos and Sarah Robinson-Gay has my bedspreads in the gallery. The Bardon Mill Village Store and Tea Room is where Jeremy Corbyn found my woolly wraps, and sales there have really taken off in the past few months.

Bespoke bedspread by the Woolly Pedlar

Bespoke bedspread by the Woolly Pedlar

It’s been a great year too for bespoke commissions, from coats to bedspreads, baby blankets for football supporting families and memory cushions for a special family. I love making bedspreads – you can really get into the ‘zone’ with one of these – mindful meditation at its best! This bedspread was made from Kirstie Adamson, a fellow artist who is a magazine collage artist. Do get in touch if I can help with a bespoke order.

The run up to Christmas this year as as busy as ever, with shows, fairs and events running right through November and into December. They are exhausting!! However, I love getting together with my fellow traders – it’s like a family reunion! Lovely too to catch up with loyal customers some of whom come wearing their woolly purchases from previous years. I was glad to hang up my woolly hat for Christmas, and have enjoyed a super time with the family. Here we all are on our annual visit to the Quayside in Newcastle for a family meal and group photo.

The Reed Family 2016

The Reed Family 2016

I’m having a massive sale beginning on 2nd January when I’ll be clearing out lots of stock to make way for some exciting new designs and collections for 2017. There will be 20% off everything on the website. The creative cogs are turning, and I’ll soon be back up in the woolly garret, head down, making more upcycled woolly wares for you.

In the meantime, I would just like to say a huge thank you to Julie from One Off Projects who helps me sew. There is now way I would have been able to have such a wide selection of stock without her help.

Thanks to my family and in particular to my husband Tim who has valiantly helped set up markets at the crack of dawn, lugging fixtures and fittings and bags of stock for me, and generally putting up with me being a stress head!

The biggest thank you of all has to go to you lot, my loyal customers. Without you, my little woolly upcycling business would not be the success it is. Thank you for all the support in 2016 on social media – those likes, comments and shares are so helpful in getting my work seen.

So here’s raising my coffee cup to us all, Happy New Year to you all!

Happy New Year from The Woolly Pedlar

Happy New Year from The Woolly Pedlar

 

 

 

 

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Recycling Textiles Bristol

The Bristol Connection – Recycling Woollens in the UK

We’ve been to Bristol for the weekend. ‘Come for lunch’ my in-laws said. Fine, except they live 500 miles away  and we are up here in Northumberland. Mind you, it was their diamond wedding anniversary and when you’ve been married for sixty years then I think a bit of effort from the family to gather for a lunch is in order.

We decided to fly to Bristol and then catch a train – not the most environmentally way of travelling I know, but I had to be back up north for a pop up shop at Treacle Wool Shop in Morpeth the following day.

At the same time, in my quest for second hand woollens to upcycle, and following a tweet seeking textile recyclers who were willing to sell back to buyers in the UK, I stumbled upon the Bristol company, Bristol Textile Recyclers.  Bingo! I could kill two birds with one stone.

So, Tim and I flew down to Bristol and enjoyed a night at Brooks Guest House, with a super meal at Pho. It was my first experience of Vietnamese street food, and the broth that gives the cafe it’s name, which was absolutely delicious, and it won’t be my last. I had the pleasure of meeting and being waited on by lovely Natalie who goes under the name of rosaliecreates on Instagram, who is a textiles students and is a fellow fan of all things woolly.

We enjoyed a walk through town to Bristol Textile Recyclers and were treated extremely well by Aimee there. Following a very interesting tour of the factory, we were taken to the board room where three big bags of recycled woollen were awaiting my attention. They were great! Just the job!

I am absolutely thrilled to have found a new source of recycled woollens. I’m also looking forward to making more connections down in Bristol and shall be looking for outlets that will be interested in selling my upcycled woolly wares.  So thank you Bristol and Bristol Textile Recyclers for a great weekend. I’m sure we’ll be back.

Recycling Textiles Bristol

The Woolly Pedlar does business with Bristol Textile Recyclers

 

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Upcycled Hats from House of Cheviot Sock Tops

They say when one door closes, another one opens. After Hawick Knitwear closed, I lost one of my suppliers of waste knitwear for upcycling. However I’m delighted to have hooked up with another of Hawick’s knitwear manufacturers. This time, I’m recycling waste sock panels from The House of Cheviot, manufacturers of luxury country socks.

Upcycling House of Cheviot kilt hose

Using waste panels from Scottish kilt hose from The House of Cheviot in my upcycling

When Ian from The House of Cheviot got in touch to see if I could do anything with sock tops, I had no idea what I could do with them, but suggested he sent down a box full.

Waste House of cheviot Woolly Pedlar recycling

Waste sock tops from House of Cheviot sent to The Woolly Pedlar for recycling

I was delighted with my shipment! They were fabulous pieces of fine merino wool with a bit of stretch, in the most wonderful patterns.

I asked the question over on my Facebook page, of what my followers thought I should make with them, and suggestions came in thick and fast. Legwarmers, tea cosies, mug cosies, hats, scarves etc.

sock-top

The thickness of the knitwear meant that my usual modus operandi of putting seams on the outside wouldn’t work, and the width and height of the panels also limited what could be done. I’m afraid the boxes sat in the corner of the workshop for a while while I scratched my head.

hats

Then it came to me – my husband has a Tibetan style hat which he loves, made from panels of recycled cotton. Bingo! I pinched his hat for a while and made a pattern from it with the help of Julie from One off Projects who helps me sew here at The Woolly Pedlar. A new hat was formed, made from recycled country sock tops. I bet no one else is making these!

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What I wasn’t prepared for was the rush of online sales that followed as soon as they had been made! It would seem folk love my sock top hats, which I’ve named ‘Thinking Hats’.

Thinking Hat upcycled recycled merino wool sock top

‘Thinking Hat’ upcycled from recycled merino wool sock tops

I took the first batch of hats to Hexham Farmer’s Market and put a few on the website shop. They were a resounding success at the market, and I was soon pedalling to the post office van with orders to post.

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I will be getting in touch with The House of Cheviot today to get another shipment of sock tops sent down, and I’ll have plenty ready for all my Christmas events, and for the web shop.

I think they’ll make great Christmas presents!

Head to the ‘Events’ tab to see where I’ll be selling my woolly wares next, or you can shop online.

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Scope Step Up to the Plate with Recycled Wool Textiles

My quest for recycled wool textiles to recycle has taken many twists and turns over the last five years. I’ve bought from vintage sellers, knitwear factories, charity shops and have had donations from folk having a clear out. Recently I have lost two of my major suppliers. Hawick Knitwear went into administration at the beginning of the year, and one of my second hand wholesalers no longer has knitwear available. I wasn’t exactly panicking, but I needed to find new suppliers!

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Hawick knitwear while it lasted was a wonderful find. I bought boxes and boxes of beautiful garment panels of the finest lambswool and cashmere. However, large groups such as Pringle pulled out of manufacturing their knitwear in Scotland, and Hawick was forced to close.  I searched for other knitwear factories and was shocked to find how few remain. Even Edinburgh Wool Mill tell me they no longer manufacture in the UK!

I have approached many of the textile recycling companies that get their stock from the ‘Cash for Clothes’ culture, but every time have drawn a blank. Batley in Yorkshire is home to several textile recycling depots, but they all tell me their clothing is not sorted here, is not for sale and is shipped abroad.

I have looked into the exporting of our second hand clothing and have discovered that there are mountains of our discarded clothing flooding the East African markets. Local textile manufacture and traditional textile skills are dying out as a result. Today, East Africa imports roughly $151 million worth of castoffs from Europe and North America, mostly collected from nonprofits and recyclers, each year*. That is a staggering amount of clothing. (*taken from ‘Ahead of the Ban on Used Clothing’ by Ecouterre).

The Guardian reports that ‘a massive 351m kilograms of clothes (equivalent to 2.9bn T-shirts) are traded from Africa alone.  The top five destinations are Poland, Ghana, Pakistan, Ukraine and Benin’

I have contacted the depots where our rejected second hand clothing end up and each time I have been met with brick walls.

So, thinking out of the the box, I approached the then manager of Scope, Hexham, Sheelagh,  to see if we could collect knitwear that was going to rag on a regional basis. This was a couple of years ago, but when taken to a higher level, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm.

Not satisfied to leave it there, I picked this up again recently, and sent out a random tweet on Twitter asking for recycled knitwear & tagging Scope in this. One of the big wigs of Scope picked this up and asked Sheelagh, now the area manager if there was anything Scope to do to help. Doh! We’ve been banging on for a couple of years about this.

I was delighted when Sheelagh invited me to speak at the meeting of the area managers in Newcastle this week to see if we could get the on board with collecting knitwear regionally and in some small part, stemming the flow of discarded clothing to East Africa.

I had ten minutes to get my message across – armed with laminated sheets explaining about the type of wool knitwear I use, and a few samples of my work, I went to the front, called order, and started my talk.

Result! They are all on board. Scope has stepped up to the plate and this week Scope will begin collecting waste wool knitwear on a regional basis to be recycled, upcycled and kept in the local economy.

Good news indeed! Thank you Scope.

Scope-2

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It’s all gone a bit ‘backendish’ as they say in Weardale

Before we moved to Bridge Cottage, Tim and I lived in Upper Weardale, in an old leadminer’s cottage which we’d renovated ourselves. They had a saying in Weardale (well in fact they had a lot of sayings, this is but one of them): ‘It’s all gone a bit backendish’. This feels like the  right word for today. It would seem summer is thinking of retreating, and signs that autumn is on the cusp are all around. In fact, as I write this, I need to go and find a woolly wrap or light the fire!

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As I drove past the conker tree last week, I noticed the leaves beginning to yellow, and Mr Tim has just ordered an apple crusher for the million, zillion apples that are about to fall. Mind you, having said all this, yesterday was a blazing hot day! This weekend we are home alone without ‘kids’ for the first time in twenty-five years. It is odd to say the least, but we’re ok with it too, and I sat with feet up in the garden, a glass of chilly white and a good book by my side.  It soon turned cooler though and we lit a fire in the recycled washing machine drum while Tim tested the LED solar lights he’s been rigging up on the sauna and for my stall.
sauna

The weather hasn’t been as kind today, so after a long lie in and breakfast in bed, I’ve been working on the website. One of my favourite products are my bedspreads. Having just decorated our south facing spare room, I now have the perfect space to get my double and kingsize bedspreads photographed, and have now listed several of them online. There are a couple of new ones, including these two. You can find all my bedspreads, blankets and throws in the soft furnishings department of the website shop.

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It feels like it could soon be time to get snuggly!

Christmas bookings are all in now and the diary is looking really full. If you’re wondering where I can be found during the run up to Christmas, then check out the Events tab. Here too, is the list so far:

  • Sept 10th Hexham Farmer’s Market , Hexham Northumberland
  • Sept 18th Rothbury Vintage Fair, Rothbury, Northumberland
  • Oct 22nd Hexham Farmer’s Market
  • Oct 29th Pop uP Shop at Treacle Wool Shop, Morpeth, Northumberland
  • 10th – 13th November Brocksbushes Christmas Fair Stocksfield, Northumberland
  • 19th -20th November – The Hearth, Horsley, Northumberland
  • 25-27th November, Alston Moor Crafts Christmas Fair, Town Hall, Alston, Cumbria
  • 26th November, Jesmond Alternative Christmas Market, Holy Trinity Church, Jesmond, Newcastle
  • 10th December Hexham Christmas Fair and Hexham Farmer’s Market

So, without further ado, I’d better sign off for this week. There’s loads more to tell you, but that will have to wait for this month’s newsletter which will be out soon

Bye for now, and thanks for reading.

Now, where did I put those armwarmers?

AW77

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Take an Old Stripy Scarf…Upcycling Knitwear

Every week I visit four charity shops in my home town of Hexham, and go behind the scenes to my bins where waste knitwear is collected. I sort through the woollies, and take what I can use in my upcycling. I’m very particular, and only a certain gauge of knitwear will do, and only the best quality and colours make it into my basket.

Every now and then I get real gems, like the week I got several Fairisle jumpers and made this coat, resplendent in patterning: (incidentally, this coat now resides in America )

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The other week I pulled a stripy scarf out of my bin at Tynedale Hospice – I love getting stripes, and a scarf is so useful! But oh my goodness! The colours in this one were absolutely fabulous! Here it is in close up:

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I soon set about making piles of jumpers and seeing what I had in these colours on the shelves. I had a couple of felted jumpers for bodices – one purple, the other a deliciously soft green cashmere.

The scarf I decided would make excellent hood trims, and indeed it did! Two of them, with spare left over for pockets.  I took this photo one evening, and just love it!

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I sometimes make coats without hoods – I often say there’re like Marmite, you either love ’em or hate ’em! This stripy scarf and the possibility of using all those colours in a hood was just too good to pass on.

These coats deserved hoods, and hoods they got!

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I’ve got the Green Gathering coming up as my next event, and I’m taking these beauties with me if they don’t sell first – in fact, I’m going to keep this short and sweet again this week as I need to hot foot it up to the woolly garret where another coat is in the making.

I’ve love and leave you with some more photos of the two coats that came about as a result of a stripy scarf in the rag bin, and also give you the link to the sweatercoat section of the shop so you can find out more about them and do some window shopping. – Actual shopping is of course very welcome too!!

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How the Woolly Pedlar got her Name

Back in 2011, my little upcycling business, The Woolly Pedlar was born, and I’d like to tell you how this came about and how I stumbled across the name.
I had left teaching and was looking to start a new venture. I was considering all aspects of my life, my interests and skills and thinking of how these could be married in business. At that time I was blogging about living sustainably and writing The Bridge Cottage Way. Through this, I had set up a knitting group. A friend said she didn’t want to learn to knit but had seen these recycled wool armarmers by Katwise on the internet and wondered if I could make her a pair. It was from this first pair of armwarmers that my idea to set up a business upcycling wool knitwear came about. Needless to say, my armwarmers have improved somewhat since the first pair.

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So that’s the ‘Woolly’ part of the name explained, now to explain the ‘Pedlar’ bit. As a family we have always gone to music festivals. This first started with me back in 1984 when I went to Stonehenge Free Festival, and then my first (and last) Glastonbury in 1985. My kids have all grown up loving festivals, and two of them have performed in festival bands over several years. I have had many a happy hour dancing to bands at stages powered alternative energy, be it wind, sun or pedal power. Indeed, at Eden Festival which we love, there is a venue with a row of bikes which powers the Board Walk Stage. There’s nothing finer that being on a bike providing the power for the mighty Mungo’s HiFi Sound System. 

Mty stall at the Green Gathering Festival

My stall at the Green Gathering Festival

I had the idea to get a bike linked to my sewing machine so I could sit at my tent, making armwarmers, while happy punters pedalled away providing the power. This was how the ‘Pedlar’ part of my name came about. With a bit of re-jigging of the spelling, and linking it to the selling of one’s wares as a pedlar. The name, ‘Woolly Pedlar’ seemed a good’un. I love my business name, and often get comments from customers that they do too. The Woolly Pedlar is about so much more than just jumpers. The Woolly Pedlar is me, with all that entails!

Unfortunately I have never got around to make that bike powered sewing machine, but I do get on my bike to deliver my woolly wares to my local village shop at Bardon Mill. So I guess I really the woolly pedaler!

 

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Featured image of sheep on a bike was painted by Lisa Edoff

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Zerowaste – Upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more.

By now you probably know that I upcycle preloved wool jumpers and make all sorts from them, with the aim of keeping textiles out of landfill and from going to waste. I won’t go into details of all the products I create from recycled knitwear – you can head over to the online shop to see for yourselves what I’ve been making lately. Upcycling means to take waste and turn it into something more useful or aesthetically more pleasing. This is hopefully what I’ve done with this petite purple sweatercoat made from recycled jumpers, which I finished a week ago. This is not the end of the story however. I want to show how I take waste, and upcycle it until there is nothing left to waste at all. Zerowaste – literally!
purple-sweatercoat

The panels and sleeves for this coat were made from lambswool jumpers rescued from Hawick knitwear when the factory went into administration. You can read what I wrote about that in a previous blogpost entitled ‘The Sad Demise of Hawick Knitwear’. The bodice is a very shrunken cashmere jumper rescued from the rag bag in a local charity shop.

So, when I’ve finished making my sweatercoats, do I throw the scraps away? Not on your nellie! Those long enough, and especially any spare sleeves get cut into strips to make armwarmers:

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It doesn’t stop there either! I still had some grey pieces left over, too short for armwarmer strips, but as long as they are 10cm each way, they can be cut into squares and used to make a cushion. I grabbed a felted pink cashmere jumper and cut off the button band to make the fastening on this cushion and hey presto, a lovely lambswool and cashmere cushion made from my waste. That’s zerowaste in my book!

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But it doesn’t stop there. Left with a pile of scraps that are now diminishing in size, and are no longer useful to me, I pass them onto my friends who are proggy matters. For those of you who are not familiar with proggy matting or proddy matting as it is called in other parts, this is a northern tradition where scraps of wool fabric are poked through a piece of hessian with a ‘prodder’. Ali Rhind explains in much better in her video on Hooky and Proggy Matting. If anyone is coming along to Woolfest in June, I’ll have a table loaded with bags of woolly scraps for you. I’ve also written a blogpost about this ‘The Art of Proggy Matting’
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So there you have it – upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more. Zerowaste, and helping keep textiles out of landfill.

 

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Digging Vintage!

When Gayle from Vintage at the Tower in Corbridge invited me to trade at ‘Digging Vintage’ in Hexham I did wonder if I qualified to be selling my woolly wares as ‘vintage’. I had a think about this and decided that yes, seeing as many of the bodices for my jumpers and sweatercoats came from vintage jumpers, bought from a vintage clothing wholesaler, then yes, I did qualify. Many of the buttons on my garments are vintage too and if nothing else, I could be called ‘vintage’!

Gayle, from Vintage at the Tower, Corbridge, organiser of 'Digging Vintage'

Gayle, from Vintage at the Tower, Corbridge, organiser of ‘Digging Vintage’

I am also keen to try new markets and customer bases for my upcycled clothing and soft furnishings, and wondered what the vintage crowd would make of the Woolly Pedlar. Hexham is only half an hour away for me, so it wasn’t a particularly early start, and by 9.30 I had the van unloaded, and the stall set up, with plenty of time for coffee and a piece of carrot cake to fortify me.

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All set up and ready to go at Digging Vintage Hexham

Doors opened at 10, and thanks to Gayle’s excellent promotion and advertising, it was soon bustling. This was in stark contrast to an event I did last week when hardly a soul turned up! It  was lovely to see some of my customers coming back to find me, as the word had spread thank to my Facebook and Twitter feeds.
I was very happy to see this cashmere and lambswool cardigan going to a lovely lady, who was very happy with her purchase.

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I did get a quick whizz round in between serving customers and thought there was a very high standard of vintage wares, from home based items to jewellery and clothing. I was very tempted by this glorious Singer sewing machine – my mum had one just the same and it was fabulous.

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I did make one purchase – I couldn’t resist this vintage frock – think Rizzo from Grease!

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Gayle tells me she’ll be looking to organise another Vintage Fair in October – she can count me in! Thanks to Gayle for all her hard work. It was a fabulous event. 🙂

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