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James and Amy with their upcycled wool bedspread

A Special Wedding Present from Recycled Woollens

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James and Amy’s narrowboat, Willow

James and Amy live aboard this beautiful narrow boat, which is called Willow. When they announced they were getting married, James’ mum, Pat, got in touch to see if I would make them a bespoke bedspread for a wedding present. It was to be a gift from Pat and her friend, Alison. They thought that the upcycled nature of my work, using recycled wool knitwear would appeal to James and Amy. I love making bedspreads, and I love even more when it is for a special occasion like this. I do love a good wedding!

Recycled knitwear destined to be upcycled into a bedspread

Recycled knitwear destined to be upcycled into a bedspread

So the first task was to collect enough recycled wool jumpers in the burgundy, cream and green shades that Pat had requested. All jumpers are washed first before dissected.  Once the seams, cuffs and collars have been cut off, the woollen pieces are cut into rectangles. Pat had requested that the middle square be left blank for something special they wanted to add.

Rail fence design patchwork bedspread

Rail fence design patchwork bedspread

Once the rectangles are all cut, they are places in groups of 3 and sewn together to form squares. The squares are then sewn up in strips. I use an industrial overlocker for this, and I like to have my seams on the outside. I used burgundy thread, to compliment the colours chosen.

The middle square was plain cream, which was waiting for Alison’s handiwork.

Insert for bedspread showing the happy couple's initials

Insert for bedspread showing the happy couple’s initials

It is tradition amongst the barge community, that when living on ‘the cut’ a boy would ask a girl to marry him by writing his initials above his girlfriends in grease on a lock gate arm, if she said yes, she would write hers above his on the same. James and Amy did this, and this is what Alison has translated into the knitted centre piece. A beautiful and tender touch!

Pat collecting her bedpsread

Pat collecting her bedpsread

Pat travelled down to me in south west Northumberland from where she lives near Berwick on Tweed, to collect the bedspread. It then went further on it’s journey to the south, where James and Amy were married last weekend.

James and Amy get married

James and Amy get married

Here is Pat, with the happy couple, James and Amy, and her other son, Sam. Congratulations guys!! I’m loving the dark blue trim on Amy’s dress and the willow pattern Doc Martin boots.

James and Amy with their upcycled wool bedspread

James and Amy with their upcycled wool bedspread

Pat gave James and Amy their bedspread on the morning after the wedding, and I’m delighted to say there were thrilled with it. It was an absolute pleasure to make, and I’m very grateful to Pat for asking me to make it for them.

The wedding cake

The wedding cake

Congratulations to James and Amy! Wishing you both all the very best for your lives together.

Upcycled Patchwork bedspread

Upcycled Patchwork bedspread

Did you know, my patchwork bedspreads can be bought off the shelf from the website, or from Robinson-Gay Gallery on Market St Hexham, or at one of my Events.

Bespoke orders are always a pleasure, and can be made to fit any colourway of your choice. Do get in touch if this is something I can help with.

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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?

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Wonderful Woolfest

Over on the Woolfest Facebook group page, one lady recently posted: ‘ Not been this excited since I was 4 and waiting for santa to arrive!!!’

IMG_2112 compThere is a real buzz, as folk offer each other lifts, book tickets for Friday night’s spin in, talk about accomodation and most importantly, chat about what they are going to see, do and buy! Those exhibiting also show what they are going to be bringing along.

I find it really hard not to bombard the group page with photos of new designs, new products and exciting colours. I am so excited about the collection I’m taking along to Woolfest to hopefully sell, that I have to sit on my hands and not take up more than my fair share of group page space! Hopefuly enough folk will have found their way to The Woolly Pedlar’s Facebook page 😉

IMG_2119 compIf you don’t know about Woolfest, it is held in Mitchell’s Mart, on the roundabout as you approach Cockermouth, over in the Western Lake District, set in the most stunning scenery. I shall be rocking up in the silver van, and making the car park my home for the next two days. I have everything I need in my van, cooker, sink, bed, food, g&t, and even a bucket for nightime emergencies!

I love the atmosphere at Woolfest amongst fellow traders and look forward to catching up with them, once we stagger, exhausted, to our campervans after busy days.

pen-comp    So, when I arrive at Woolfest I’ll go to my empty cattle pen. This year I’ve got double the space – a large square, 15ft x 15ft. Last year it was rather like a bowling alley, which had created a bottle neck, and I wasn’t able to show my woolly wares at their best. This year, having been there once already, and having three times as much stock as last year, I am going to really enjoy transforming this empty pen into a colourful woolly paradise.

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This is what I did with the space last year, with sweatercoats at the front. These were a real hit, and we had lots of ladies twirling in them at the front of the stall,  inspired by my friend, Adele, who came to help me wearing her sweatercoat.

I love Woolfest on so many levels. It is enormous fun, with hundreds of like minded souls, who have come together to celebrate wool.

It gave me a huge boost to my new little business, and I was thrilled to have been invited back again this year.

Brown-by-wallJulie and I have been working our socks off to bring lots of new designs. We’ve got dozens of ponchos for toddlers, children, and adults. New in stock are extra large size ponchos, and round necks in response too all who asked for ponchos without hoods.

I’ve got lots and lots of lovely blankets and bedspreads, with my popular hooded baby blankets, lap rugs, and hopefully enough bedpspreads to go round the whole of the stall.

I’ve been busy making sweatercoats and jumpers and have the biggest collection I have ever had at an event! I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of them!

 

 

SW17.1 Last year there was lots of excitement and a bit of a rush over one very colourful sweatercoat. I have learnt from that, and have fifteen sweatercoats ready all in fabulous colours this year! I even have two rainbow coats ready for the off on Friday morning.

If you are coming to Woolfest, then goody!! Do drop by and say hello – you never know, you might be able to hold the stall while I go for a quick ‘comfort break’!

 

Meanwhile, I’d better get back to the packing. I’ve been labelling and packing for three days now! Still hoping to make some more mens’ jumpers at the beginning of next week, then that’ll be it! Woolfest here I come 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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Pondering Patchwork

I have got my hands on a load of thick wool jackets which were destined for landfill as they have the odd little hole in them and cannot be resold in the second hand shops. They are made from the most wonderful thick wool, but are too thick for making into my sweatercoats and jumpers. They are however, absolutely fantastic when cut into squares or rectangles and used in a patchwork fashion to make blankets and bedspreads.

IMG_4265To make my bedspreads, a cardboard template is used with a sharp pair of scissors, shapes are cut from the jackets before being laid out on the floor, and then sewn together with the trusty overlocker.

 

 

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The one on this photo is loosely based on the log cabin patchwork design, though is my own interpretation of it, as the overlocker does not allow a true log cabin to be sewn.

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I often use this design which I made up for ease of sewing. I cut rectangles, and then sew them into squares using three. I then sew strips of squares and then finally sew all the strip together to form the bedspread. This week I was pondering whether this patchwork form had a name. I asked the question on the Make Do and Mend-able Facebook group page, and found that is was not a Woolly Pedlar invention, but is known as the Rail Fence design. Well, you learn something every day!

 

IMG_0692I certainly had my work cut out with this bedspread. I was given a load of vintage cashmere jumpers by a lady, who recently lost her mum, had requested a memory blanket from them. They were jumpers that went back decades, and held a lot of memories for the lady of her mum. It was a pleasure to make, and the quality of the cashmere, even though the moths has got in and wreaked havoc, was sublime. I managed to cut around the holes and salvage enough cashmere to make this huge bedspread for her. I have a page on my website that explains more about the service I offer with memory blankets.

IMG_1975There is a discussion going on today on my Facebook page, about which finish folk like the best on my bedspreads and blankets. Perhaps you could help by leaving a comment below, or joining in the discussion over on Facebook? The question is, do you prefer the stitching showing, as in this photo of the blue bedspread. By having the stitiching showing, you get a more textured crinkly finish, with the stitching becoming a feature, and offering the possibility of using a contrasting thread for added interest.

 

IMG_4278 Or, do you prefer the most traditional finish with the stitching hidden, giving a smoother finish?

If you are visiting our lovely market town of Hexham in Northumberland, then you can see some of my recent bespreads on display and available to purchase at the wonderful, eclectic Robinson-Gay Gallery on Market Street.

 

 

 

Many thanks for reading. You can sign up for my monthly newsletter by hitting the subscribe button on the home page or following this link:

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I’ll love and leave you now, with a photo of the patchwork quilt my Great Aunt Vera made for my husband and I for our wedding, thirty years ago. It is a wonderful piece of work, with every tiny stitch handsewn, and made to the highest standard. It is a most treasured possession.

wedding-ring-patchwork

 

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