This has been the third year since giving up my teaching career for self employment to become an upcycler of knitwear, and I’ve had the most wonderful year. I’ve been off round the country in my van to some great festivals and events, met some inspirational people, developed new designs, and have begun to stock some local shops with my woolly wares. I’ve also launched this new website, which, in a few days will see my the addition of the online shop.
As I’m writing this, it’s -4 outside and very cold and frosty, but I’m casting my mind back to the summer. We had a gloriously hot and sunny summer, and I had a superb time travelling up and down the country with my van and stall. One of the highlights was the Green Gathering. The Green Gathering is held in the grounds of Piercefield Park near Chepstow and is a festival, where hedonism takes a back seat and like minded folk gather to celebrate, live and learn about eco issues. My upcycled creations went down a storm and despite the hot weather, I sold many a sweatercoat and jumper. I’ve sent off my application for the Green Gathering 2015 and hope very much to be there again.
Another prestigeous event in the woolly world is Woolfest, over in the Lake District, and I was delighted to have my application accepted for this. Held in the sheep and cattle Auction Mart in Cockermouth, this is a gathering of folk who are into wool in all its various forms, from sheep and alpacas, fleeces through to spinners, weavers, dyers and crafters of wool. It was the ideal venue for The Woolly Pedlar. It was quite a challenge to turn an empty cattle pen into a good display space, but with the help of my husband, some roofing latts and dust sheets, we built this stand, which I was really pleased with. I’ve applied to Woolfest again, so fingers crossed that I’ll be there again next year!
There has been quite a debate this year amongst my customers over the necklines on my jumpers. Some love the pointy hoods, other aren’t so keen. I’ve listened to everyones’ comments, and have taken them on board. I’ve developed this style which I’ve called the ‘Bardot’ neckline as it can be pulled down over the shoulders. It’s made using the bottom rib band of a jumper, sewn onto a wide neck. I was particularly pleased with this little number, which didn’t hang around for long, and sold at Hexham Christmas Market.
Ponchos are back in fashion, and I can’t seem to make them fast enough. I’ve developed a range of patchwork ponchos that go from a tiny 18-24 month size, right up to a large adult. I’ll continue to make these, as they have been one of my best sellers this autumn and winter.
I’m a huge fan of the ‘Shoplocal’ movement and rarely venture further than my home town of Hexham for my shopping. We have a quirky little street in Hexham, called Market Street, and whilst some of the town is looking a bit shabby with empty shops, Market Street is definitely on the up. We have lots of high class independent shops there and I’m thrilled to be stocking Mr Wolf’s with my children’s ponchos and baby blankets. Following a request form a customer I’ve also designed baby legwarmers for use with slings to bridge the gap when trousers ride up, and they can also be found there.
My thick wool blankets and bedspreads are now being sold in the eclectic Robinson-Gay Gallery which can also be found on Market Street. Sarah, who runs the gallery with her husband, a craftsman in wood, has hand picked some beautiful art, and her gallery is well worth a visit.
The year came to a close with one of my favourite events, the Hexham Christmas Market. It was so exciting to see customers coming to the stall wearing their Woolly Pedlar jumpers that had been bought the previous year, now coming back for more. Thanks to all those who stopped by, bought and chatted.
As well as working on the new website, I’ve also got my head around Mailchimp, and am now able to send out a newsletter direct to your inbox. Whilst social media can be great, not everyone is a fan of it, and Facebook can be fickle at times, so I thought an emailed newsletter would be useful to keep folk informed about new products and where I’ll be selling my woolly creations. To sign up for the newsletter hit the subscribe button on the website’s home page: http://www.woollypedlar.co.uk/
I’m told that a blog post should be kept short and sweet, something I’m not very good at! I could go on, and talk about so much more, but I’ll leave you now, and get on with the day. I would like to say a big thank you to all who have bought from me this year, and to those whose support and encouragement has helped me on my journey. Running my own business is a steep learning curve but a most enjoyable one. Bring on 2015!