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The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

Thrilled to be Joining The Wool Clip

The Wool Clip Members Photo by Sally Seed of Stoneleigh Communications

The Wool Clip Members Photo by Sally Seed of Stoneleigh Communications

I’ve been bursting to share this news with you for some time now. I’ve been invited to join fourteen woolly women over in Caldbeck, Cumbria, who between them run The Wool Clip. I’m over the moon to have been asked and am thoroughly looking forward to having a permanent base from which to showcase my upcycled woolly wares.

Let me introduce you to the gang. From left to right, standing: Pam Hall, Chris Crofts, Linda Chapman, Jan Beadle, Ema Allcock, Emma Redfern, Jean Wildish, Maud Mercier, Marion Rae, Me! Seated: Ruth Strong, Alice Underwood. Missing from the photo are: Debbie Lucas  and Cecilia Hewitt.

On Wednesday we will be heading over to Caldbeck to stock the shop and I am really looking forward to see what everyone has been making. The shop opens for the weekend of 11/12 Feb, and then full time from 18th February. Winter opening hours are 11-4.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

I have made a new collection, specially for The Wool Clip. It has been inspired by a photo of seaweed, found on an Orkney Beach, This is therefore called my ‘Orkney Collection’
You may remember reading about my adventures Cycling Around Orkney back in May 2016. This collection is exclusive to The Wool Clip.

Orkney Seaweed

Orkney Seaweed

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

You may also remember me telling you about winning Stallholder of the Year at Woolfest back in June 2016. Woolfest is my favourite woolly gathering, and is organised and run by The Wool Clip team of which I am now part of. So if you are visiting Woolfest in 2017, you’ll find my stall this year in the Wool Clip aisle, and I will be donning a blue pinny and helping run this fabulous event.

Woolfest 2016. Photo by Sally Seed Stoneleigh Communications

Woolfest 2016. Photo by Sally Seed Stoneleigh Communications

I’ll keep you all up to date with how things are going at The Wool Clip, and hope to see some of you there or at Woolfest this year.

Thanks for reading my blog and helping me celebrate this exciting step in my woolly journey.

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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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Woolfest 2016

It’s a bit like Christmas. There’s masses of work before hand, it goes like a flash and then leaves you feeling worn out, wanting more and beginning to plan to the next one! I rate Woolfest high up, if not top of my list of favourite events to sell my woolly wares at. It is the UK’s premier wool festival, celebrating everything woolly from sheep to finished product. It is run superbly by the team from The Wool Clip, and is housed in Mitchell’s Auction Mart at Cockermouth in Cumbria.

jumpers For weeks beforehand my family had to fend for themselves while I beavered away up on the third floor of our house in my woolly garret, making sure I had enough jumpers, jackets and sweatercoats to do the show justice. I’d found a factory making hand loomed Scottish knitwear and managed to bag two boxes of these beauties which made for some awesome creations. Incidentally, all three of the above sold quick as a flash. Two didn’t even make it as far as Woolfest, and the one in the middle is winging its way to Vermont in the USA as I write. I get so stressed about not having enough stock, and from what I hear from other stallholders, this is a common worry.

packed

Then there’s the packing. Boy does this take a while! Everything has to be labelled priced, bagged and carried down from the top floor. Then there’s the stall fittings to fetch from the garage – grid walls, feet, rails, stands, mannequins, table, chest of drawers, signs etc. Thank goodness for my lovely husband who, working from home as an accountant, stopped work to give me a hand. In fact not only did he help me pack and unpack the van, but he came over with me to help with the set up and take down at Woolfest. Thank you Tim. I really appreciate you! The selling bit in the middle isn’t really his thing so he took himself off with his bike and a tent and explore the coast of Cumbria for two days.

 

view

The drive over to Cockermouth along the A66 past Keswick never fails to take my breath away. It is absolutely stunning! The mountains rise majestically in the North Lakes and I feel so privileged to have this as my commute to work. This is Blencathra, or Saddleback. I do wonder if my mountain climbing days are over? I’ve climbed a fair few in my life, with my highest being Mount Toubkal in Morocco, but these days I’m not as fit as I was, and I fear the coming down would be just as painful as the going up. Maybe I need to set myself the challenge of getting fit enough to climb mountains again?
julie

Another thank you needs to go to Julie from One Off Projects in Carlisle, who helps me sew. Julie also kindly gave up her time in between sewing bridesmaids dresses to come and help me set up and take down the stall. Julie found me a couple of years ago at Brocksbushes Christmas Fair, and has been helping to make ponchos, baby blankets and bedspreads ever since. Without Julie’s help there is no way I’d have been able to get where I am today with the business. Julie, you’re a star! She also arrived at Woolfest with a yarnbombed bike which took pride of place above the stall.

bike

When you arrive at Woolfest, you get given an empty, hosed down cattle or sheep pen, depending on which room you’re in. I was in the cattle shed, in row K, a great place to be in. There’s loads of space, natural light, and large size pens, not to mention music throughout the day. The only downside are the pigeons that sit high up on the beams and drop surprises on your stock and customers from a height! I had to put an umbrella up over my sweatercoats, and at night everything needs to be covered with dust sheets.
Last year, I’d built my stall rather high, and then realised that I’d totally obliterated the view of the poor guy selling drop spindles next to me. I felt so guilty that I asked to be put in the corner if I got accepted for a place the next year. As I prepared for Woolfest, I wondered if I’d shot myself in the foot and would be hidden away, especially if whoever was in the stall next to me had also built high.

stall

I needn’t have worried. I had a terrific pitch! It was huge. Almost three spaces for the price of two, and there was a wide aisle space I could use, as seen in the photo above which only shows a third of my space! I put my sweatercoats and jackets right at the front as folk walked in. These were my best sellers last year, and I wanted them to have pride of place.

ponchos

blankets-&-bedspreads

The other two thirds of the stall were filled with ponchos, baby blankets, kiddies’ ponchos, cushions and bedspreads.

It look six hours to set up the stall!

car-park-camping

Exhuasted, Tim and I retired to our van in the car park which was to be my home from home for the next two days. It’s great that there is a place to park up with portaloos provided – it helps to keep costs down, and there’s a great atmosphere amongst fellow traders as we talk over the day with a glass of wine.  I’m pretty self sufficient in the van, with a comfy bed, sink and cooker. It’s not a posh camper van, but a converted builder’s van, and does us just fine! The view over to the mountains from Woolfest is magical, and I love to have a little wander before bed to take in the scenery with my camera. I didn’t sleep that well – a mixture of excitement, anxiety and generally over thinking things, which is pretty normal for me before any big event. I also had a terrible sore throat, and chest infection so wasn’t feeling at my best at all when I gave up on sleep at 5.30 and got up to face the day.

Debra

Debra who some of you may know as the ex owner of The Bee in the Butterfly in Hexham, drove over to be my sales assistant for the two days. She soon became chief swisher too as she swished and swirled around the arena wearing my sweatercoats! This colour combination definitely suited her, though the sweatercoat in question didn’t hang around for long! Thanks Deb for your help. Sorry if this is sounding a bit like the Oscar’s!

coats

In fact most of my sweatercoats ans jackets sold, and I’ve now got a full order book, and have my work cut out to get more made for The Green Gathering, which is my next big event. I do have a few left, so if you’re after one, or anything else for that matter, head over to the website store to see what’s in stock, or get in touch via the contact form on the website if you’d like me to make you something special.
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police

I love seeing photos of happy customers, but I must have had the setting on my camera wrong, or my lens cap on, as I only have a few piccies. If you bought something from me at Woolfest, I’d love to see a photo of you wearing it. You can send me one via email or post it to my Facebook page.

We even managed to get this police officer in one of my black sweatercoats. I think we could be starting something here. Maybe the police force would like to funk up their uniforms a bit with a Woolly Pedlar coat?

It was all such fun! Debra remarked that she had face ache from smiling so much.

The atmosphere at Woolfest is nothing short of sensational. It is rammed to the rafters with folk who appreciate the time and effort that goes into making handmade items, and who love wool and colour.

It leaves you with a warm glow inside, and the happy knowledge that your work is appreciated.

As if this all positivity wasn’t enough, as the event was drawing to a close, a posse of Wool Clip ladies approached and presented me with the ‘Stallholder of the Year’ award.

Oh boy! My eyes welled up and exhaustion and emotion got the better of me for a moment.

As some of you may already know, five years ago my teaching career ground to a halt for one reason or another, and I was left jobless, and without any idea where to go next.

This award meant so much to me. I’m back on track!

Thank you so much Woolfest, to the team from the Wool Clip, my fellow traders who are all simply lovely, and to the catering team at Mitchells who even rustled up some cake and custard for me to keep my energy levels up.

One of the perks of the Stallholder of the Year Award is that I have a guaranteed place at next year’s Woolfest. It will be hard to top this year’s, and I’m already really looking forward to it. It’s a bit like Christmas!

prize

 

 

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Feeling SO Supported

I love my Facebook followers! This week I posted a photo of my empire line dresses on all social media, including my Twitter account. On the whole the response was really positive, but I did get this comment on Twitter:

#OMG Who would wear this? #oldschool. This threw me temporarily and my confidence was knocked.

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There was me, thinking that my empire line dresses were a great design! I love an empire line – it hides a multitude of sins. I’m also not a follower of fashion. I think, especially when you reach a certain age, that you discover shapes and styles that suit your shape and you stick to them.

As a designer however, I do keep an eye out for what is in vogue and sometimes get inspiration from this.

I was pleased with my empire line dress, and how it made me look, and I don’t particularly care if this is ‘old school’. I like the shape and design!

I have issue with this person’s comment on another level too.

Selling my woolly wares both on the internet and at markets I sometimes come across other’s work that isn’t to my liking or taste.

 

However, I would never, ever, comment that I didn’t like it. I would never be so rude! That person has put love and care into what they make and quite frankly it is hurtful. Why would you want to go out to hurt someone’s feelings?

When I shared this tweet with my lovely family of Facebook followers, the response was overwhelming. Here are a few of the many supportive comments I received:

  • Does old school mean not in fashion/not on trend? If so then your critic needs to go look in the highstreet shops…….this design is “Bang on trend”.
  • If I see and like something, then I an comment, if not, I just let it be. It´s very rude to lessen someone else´s work. For sure every taste is different, but that doesn´t mean that the other one´s is better or worse…just different! And I love your “old school” dresses
  • How rude! I love your work and am looking forward to treating myself to a piece soon. I say ‘treat’ because it will be a treat to have something hand made and one of a kind in the mass produced soul-less ‘fashion’ world.
  • There are many many shops my folks won’t go into because they’re ‘too young’. Not saying these are ‘old school’, just playing devils advocate here, as there’s a huge market that struggle to find clothing they like and doesn’t make them look like ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ or ‘trying to look young’ in my folks words! Keep up the good work!! Xx
  • Empire line dresses are very flattering on ladies with a lovely, full, pert bust!!! Obviously the person who does not like your dresses must not have a great, womanly figure like us!! She can stick to her “new look, top shop” etc who just sell racks and racks of the same boring thing!!! You go girl!!
  • Well, I’m wearing one, and have had nothing but admiring comments from everyone. xx

Although the negative comment threw me for a bit, the support I received was awesome! I will continue to make my ‘old school’ designs, happy in the knowledge that many do appreciate them. Thank you Facebook followers!

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Think I’ll keep this one!

It’s a tough call, modelling ones’ own work, especially when like me, you’re on the hefty side and have pretty poor self confidence about how you look. I was interested to see that fellow woolly artist ‘Woolly Wormhead’  felt the same and this week bit the bullet and modelled one of her own beautiful knitted hats over on her Facebook page (not I might hasten to add that Woolly Wormhead is at all hefty).

My punters say they’d far rather see one of my upcycled woolly creations on a real person rather than a dummy, but living out in the sticks with three men in the house, and my beautiful daughter having moved out, I’m rather stuck!

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I’m probably biased, but I think my daughter Hannah, is drop dead gorgeous, and being a slim size 10/12 looks great in practically anything I give her to model. It’s funny how we see ourselves. She doesn’t agree with me!

A friend once said I should model my own designs as there would be a lot of very big women out there who would love to see a large lady in the photographs! Hmmmm, I’ll take that as a compliment, I think!

So this week I bit the bullet and put on some of my new jumper dresses. Two of them clung to my large posterior so badly I had to resort to the mannequin. Another was so tight across the boobs it has spurred me on to try and shed a few pounds, and is one of those photos that could be put on the fridge door to deter the evening munchies. However, when I put a photo of me modelling the orange stripy jumper on my Facebook page, I got tonnes and tonnes of compliments. Bless you all! It did me the power of good.

Just that very afternoon, I’d sat down on my bed oppsite a mirror, and got a nasty shock. Sitting down in front of a mirror in the week after Christmas when you have gone up another dress size is not to be recommended. So, the barrage of compliments about how I looked in the new jumper dress were a total but very welcome surprise.

So, with that in mind, I think I’ll keep this one!

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