I often get asked, ‘Where do you get all your jumpers from?’
When I made my first pair of armwarmers (see pic) I got the jumpers for them from one of the charity shops in my local town of Hexham, or maybe even a combination of them. I can’t actually remember. Today I still get a good percentage of my woollies from my local charity shops. The whole purpose of why I’m doing what I’m doing, apart of course from making a living, is to rescue waste and turn it into better things rather than going to landfill – commonly known as upcycling. I therefore ask my local charity shops to keep a special eye out for anything that would normally be going to waste and save it for me. After all, holes can be cut around, bobbles shaved off, and grubby marks washed! I also buy off the shelf and find it best to set aside a day a week to check out what’s new in my local shops
I am really lucky in Hexham to have nearly all the charity shops on board, saving me their waste woollies.
Another wonderful source of good wool jumpers is the Scout’s Jumble Sale in a nearby local village. A love a good jumble sale and remember fondly when my kids were little and jumble sales were much more frequent than they are today.
I’m having a wonderful time at our local Farmer’s Market in Hexham where I’ve put out a collecting bin, where local folk can recycle their old jumpers. I’m more than happy to offer a discount or give a pair of armwarmers as a reward. It’s great to keep everything in the local economy too – you’ll find me down at Hexham Farmer’s Market on every second and fourth Saturday ( next one is 25th April) with my stall full of woolly wares
As good as the local jumble sales and charity shops are, I found I was still needing more knitwear and in particular, patterned and Fairisle designs. I had a brainwave one day and emailed a knitwear factory up in the Borders of Scotland to ask what happened if they made a mistake in the making of one of their jumpers. I am happy to say we came to an agreement whereby I buy any waste from them whether in the form of odd panels, sleeves, fronts or backs, or seconds.
I also look out for sellers of vintage and secondhand knitwear on Ebay and in the north-east, and sometines travel with my van to secondhand clothing wholesalers.
So that’s it really. It does take a while to collect enough jumpers to stock my stalls throughout the year locally and at festivals. I put a lot of time and effort into collecting the right jumpers and I’m very fussy about the quality and quantity of wool in my products.
If you’ve got any more tips for sourcing sweaters, then do let me know! I understand there are much better opportunities in The States and Australia for finding waste knitwear – do let me know of your experience.
Thanks for reading!