Posts

Phew! I’ve Found My Mojo Again

You’d have thought that coming back from my favourite festival, The Green Gathering, with the Silver Ethical Trader Award, would have me leaping up to the woolly garret, all fired up to make more coats and jumpers, scarves & armwarmers, but no, I temporarily lost my mojo.

A nasty troll incident on Facebook, and sales being down on last year, plus the exhaustion that goes with doing a big event, left me feeling rather flat, lacking in confidence and unsure of things. I couldn’t face sewing jumpers!

GG1

The Green Gathering was wonderful. Beautifully chilled, in glorious surroundings, with southern sunshine.  It was great to see so many friendly faces again, some of whom have become good friends, like Kym here and Gretel in her lovely moss green coat, and sales on the Thursday and Friday to old and new customers were fantastic.

GG4

GG5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

GG3

Sales dipped and almost stopped as temperatures soared over the last couple of days of the Green Gathering, as woolly jumpers were the last things on peoples’ minds. I took advantage of this, and sat with feet up outside my stall lapping up the warm southern sun.

I do think I’ve worked extremely hard at my little business for the last four and half years, and sometimes I need to learn to take a break and do other things. So, with my daughter’s 23rd birthday coming up I decided to decorate her bedroom instead of going back to work. I know I can hear you saying, ‘that’s not a break’! I’m rubbish at doing nothing, and decorating her room was really satisfying.

I also took a couple of long afternoon breaks in the sunshine that appeared briefly last week, and Tim and I took time out yesterday for a walk along the beach at Embleton – one of my favourite places.

GG6

 

Result! My mojo has returned!

I’m back to the blog, and have stocked a new shop up in Belford. I’ve arranged a Pop Up Shop in Morpeth, at Treacle Wool Shop, and the machine is once again humming away with new creations. Phew! I was worried there for a minute, but it would seem my mojo has returned, and talking to other fellow artisans it would seem that I  have not been alone in these feelings. Others too have reported feeling blue and generally lacking in va va voom lately. Maybe it has all been something out of our control, but I’m jolly glad it has passed!

Time to get going and get my Christmas stock made!

I’m just about to write my latest newsletter, so if you’d like to hear about my latest local stockists, or get the dates for your diary of Autumn and Christmas Markets, then look out for the newsletter in your inbox, or sign up to it here:

Newsletter Sign Up

 

 

 

 

Follow Woolly Pedlar
X

Follow Woolly Pedlar

E-mail :
upcycled poncho Green Gathering Woolly Pedlar

The Green Gathering 2015 & an Ethical Trader Award

11866468_816112391790862_8360432639777265028_n I love the Green Gathering!
Held in the beautiful grounds of Piercefield Park, near Chepstow, just over the Severn Bridge in Wales this truely is, as its tagline suggests, a festival beyond hedonism. I’ve taken these few lines in question form from their website, which in my mind,  sum up The Green Gathering up very nicely.
Are you disenchanted with austerity and consumerism?
Concerned about unjust, unsustainable economic and environmental policies?
Do you have a different dream?
Do notions of community and co-operation turn you on?
Interested in green tech, crafts, cycling, recycling and composting?
Do you enjoy story-telling; real food, cider and music; seeing kids roam free?

GG13You won’t find massive sound systems, big names or big bands at The Green Gathering. There most certainly is a party to be found at night, but that is not the main incentive for going. To me, the overriding force at the Green Gathering is the bringing together of like minded souls. I feel more at home and more connected with the folk at the Green Gathering than I do in so called ‘normal’ walks of life.

So, with the van full of newly made ponchos, jumpers, sweatercoats and baby blankets, we set off last Wednesday from Northumberland on the six hour journey.

With the help of mGG2y son and husband, we soon had the stall set up and began chatting to our neighbours.

On our right were Cotton Forest, owned by the lovely Davina with a classy stall full of fairtrade cotton clothing and upcycled accessories and handmade candles. Davina and Todd were great fun, and I am so glad there were next to us.

On our left were Phil, Shelly and little Lily from Festival Emporium

It was great to see that Em, who organises the market. had put all the handmade traders together – a great touch. We soon got to know each other and lots of fun over the weekend.

GG5Here’s Davina from Cotton Forest with her stall full of beautiful fair trade cotton goods and handmade candles – we got on so well with Davina and Todd and enjoyed their company both during the day and out in the evenings for a drink and a dance!

 

 

GG10…and here are Phil, Shelly and little Lily from Festival Emporium – lovely people! Just along from them was Orla from OrlaBeeHandmade – an inspirational young lady, who, despite major health challenges, and being wheelchair dependent has made beautiful clothes and was there with her mum selling at a festival – all power to you, Orla!

GG4 It was busy at the stall from first thing in the morning right through to night time – I was doing running repairs on this guy’s shorts before my mid morning coffee! He was very happy that his shorts were saved! #makedoandmend!

I love the banter that is to be had at a festival stall – you meet so many amazing people and have so many conversations about all sorts! Folk were really complimentary about my work and it was a joy to be able to talk about upcycling and saving the planet’s precious rescources with so many who just got where I was coming from.

What’s more, I had record sales!! I took over 30 jumpers and sweatercoats with me, and have come home with only a handful left!

GG11This lady bought this sweatercoat which looked as if it had been made for her – perfect colours, and an amazing fit. She looked stunning! In fact she fell in love with a couple of other pieces too – a poncho and hooded jumper!

GG8 Ponchos continue to be best sellers for men, women and kids. This guy was seen wearing his poncho for the rest of the festival – he told me he had even been to bed in it!

GG12

 

 

 

The autumnal colours in this poncho were a hit and I sold lots of them, both with hoods and with cowls, in large and regular sizes. I think this lady looks stunning in her poncho – she has a look of a 60s model!

I have lots more lovely photos, but must sign off soon and get sewing! I’m feeling the pressure a bit as I need to restock for my next events, BAAFEST  and the humungous Festival of Thrift – if you head over to my Facebook page, you’ll find the complete album of Green Gathering photos.

GG9Before I go, I’d like to give a shout out to the new compost loos! Crowd funded prior to the event, these were a very welcome addition to the festival. If you are a festival goer I’m sure you’ll join me in your loathing of chemical toilets. Here at the Green Gathering the compost loos were always clean, non smelly and a delight to use! Big up the compost loos!

GG3 Last but not least is my Green Trader Award. I thought Em was coming over to the stall for a cuppa or a natter, and was so surprised when I was awarded a Green Trader Award!

I am passionate about recycling and using less, and I do work very hard at upcycling so my woollies, so the award was absolutely brilliant! Thanks to the team at the Green Gathering for awarding this to me!

In fact, on behalf of all the other traders and festival goers, I would like to say a massive thank you to Em and Dave Wierdigan, and all the others involved in making this year’s Green Gathering such a resounding success.

I very much hope to be back next year!

 

Follow Woolly Pedlar
X

Follow Woolly Pedlar

E-mail :

The Story of My Baby Blanket.

IMG_1402 Back in 2013, I was selling my woolly wares at Willowman Festival. Trading next to me was the lovely Hannah, who had her new baby boy, Lewis with her. He was just a babe in arms and being breastfed by his mum whilst she sold an eclectic mix of Fairtrade wares. Hannah commissioned me to make a hooded baby blanket for little Lewis, such as you see made from bath towels, but with a funky, pixie hood.

This was an exciting new commission, and when I got home from the festival I set about designing it.

I get a lot of beautiful cashmere and soft lambswool in my hunt for woollies to recycle. Cashmere jumpers often have a wee hole in them, making them unsellable in charity shops, but are ideal to cut up into squares and use patchwork style. I love that this is taking waste and using it to create something new.

IMG_1336 compI already made baby blankets using squares, and called them my ‘one hundred square’ blankets for obvious reasons! I thought they might be useful when learning to count, as kids could put an object in each  to learn one to one correspondance. (You can tell I was am ex teacher!)

I used this design as the basis for my hooded baby blankets, but added a funky hood with a pixie point in one corner.

BBL17.3

 

 

IMG_0335

Hannah and Lewis were delighted with their hooded baby blanket and I caught up with them at another festival later that summer.

Here is little Lewis, with his daddy, hiding from the sun at a very sunny Cockermouth Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

Elijah

Since then I have made and sold dozens of my hooded baby blankets. I’ve made them in brights and pastels, and even in the colours of a rugby team for little Elijah, whose mummy and daddy support Leicester Tigers.

I have sold them to folk all round the world. One lady was searching for a baby blanket which was ‘Handmade in UK’ and stumbled across me. Her son-in-law was British, and so wanted to buy a present for the newborn baby that was made in Britain.

 

 

I love seeing photos of little ones in my baby blankets, so if you have bought one, then do send a photo. I of course would only use it with your permission.

IMG_0244 compThis bonny babe is little Seren, who came for a play in the Bridge Cottage garden with my good friends, Pete and Eli.

Like Seren here, and little Elijah above, babies are loving the soft comfort that wool gives.

I always try to keep a good selection of these one off, upcycled baby blankets on the website. To see what’s currently in stock, head to ‘Baby Blankets’

If you would like one making in a particular colourway – if you need one in your football team’s colours for example, or any colour combo, then do get in touch.

My baby blankets are all one off’s – the delightful nature of using recycled knitwear means that once a jumper has been used, it’s gone, and I can never make the same product twice.

I am always making more baby blankets, as with the rest of my upcycled designs, so do keep a weather eye on the website shop to see what’s there.

Hannah-and-Lewis

I caught up with Hannah and Lewis again this year at splendid Audio Soup festival, which I blogged about last week, in my post, ‘It’s a Tough Life’ .

It was really good to see them, and see how much Lewis has grown. He’s a great little chap, always busy and chattering about what he is doing. On the right here, he’s having a sit down infront of my stall while he eats his halloumi.

LewisThanks to Hannah and Lewis, the hooded baby blanket with the funky little pixie hood was born, and has now been made into dozens of little blankets and hopefully many more to come, keeping babies warm in upcycled woolly warmth all around the world.

If you are having a baby, or are looking for a present for a baby shower or for a little one, then do head over to the website shop to see if there’s one there you like. Delivery is free within the UK, with International Shipping also available.

Local stockists of my upcycled baby blankets and other woolly wares include:

Mr Wolf, Hexham

Once Brewed Visitor Centre, Bardon Mill

The Hemmel Cafe, Allenheads

You can also see where I’ll be bringing my woolly wares to next, over on the event’s page – you never know, I may be coming fo a field or market near you soon and you can then see and feel the baby blankets for yourself.

Thanks for reading – feel free to share this and spread the word about upcycling.

You can catch up on all the past blogs if you fancy a read over on the website too.

Bye for now!

PS – I’m out and about next near Chepstow in the South West at the Green Gathering – see you there if you’re going 🙂

 

 

 

Follow Woolly Pedlar
X

Follow Woolly Pedlar

E-mail :

Finding Jumpers to Upcycle

I often get asked, ‘Where do you get all your jumpers from?’

When I made my first pair of armwarmers (see pic) 1st-attemptI 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.

dollI’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

 

 

 

 

 

BL4.3 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!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Follow Woolly Pedlar
X

Follow Woolly Pedlar

E-mail :

P, P, P….Pick Up a Poncho

Ok, hand’s up! Who had a poncho back in the 70s? I certainly did – crocheted by my Nanna. It was hideous! White and coral stripes with tassels, lovely! I think it might even have been acrylic.

We’ve been talking today, over on the Woolly Pedlar’s Facebook page, about what you would call a group of ponchos? There have been some great suggestions, from a taco of ponchos, a penchant of ponchos and my favourite, a tequila of ponchos. The urban dictionnary says it is a ponchulation which is just fabulous! Thanks to Jenny for finding that info out for me.

540-templateThis is me in my poncho now. I’d popped into our local Scope shop in Hexham, one of the places where I buy jumpers to recycle, and the manager took this photo. My ponchos are made by cutting out squares from jumpers that might otherwise be destined for the rag man. They may have a hole in or have felted. That’s not a problem for The Woolly Pedlar, I just cut out the good bits and then pass on the scraps to proggy matters! Nothing is wasted.

IMG_1274

I also make ponchos for little people, as Lacey here is showing. The style is the same, a little hood, which gives a cosy neckline, and warm, woolly squares.

We do diddy little sizes – 18-24 month, 3-5 years, 6-7 years, and then adult sizes

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1263Lacey and her mum are wearing matching ponchos, and are off to find puddles! I’ll have a few matching sets. Online sales too from Feb 1st over at www.woollypedlar.co.uk

 

If you’re out and about in Hexham, then Mr Wolf’s is the place to find my diddy little ponchos, or come and find me at Hexham Farmer’s Market every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. The first one for me being on Valentine’s Day. Do pop down and say hello if you’re about. If you have any jumpers to recycle, bring them along!

540-template

Mr Wolf’s have commissioned Little Red Riding Hood ponchos which are really cute and have proving really popular.  At the moment, these are exclusive to Mr Wolf’s in Market Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knocky

Let’s not leave the lads out either! My ponchos make great festival wear for all the family – this first picture was taken at dear Knockengorrach, a wonderful wee festival up in the Scottish hills. I have made a few ponchos in this full blanket style, which keep you warm from head to toe .

earthy-ponchoI had already thought about making ponchos and then lo and behold, they started appearing on the catwalks of Vogue – brilliant! I do love  poncho,

 

 

 

 

Sign up to newsletter [yks-mailchimp-list id=”509ebc1966″ submit_text=”here”]

Follow Woolly Pedlar
X

Follow Woolly Pedlar

E-mail :

There are Two ‘L’s in Woolly

Have I ever told you how the name, The Woolly Pedlar (take note of the spelling) came about? We’ve always been lovers of music festivals in this family, and when I was thinking about setting up this little business, I had the idea of powering a sewing machine at festivals by bike power. That is how the name the Woolly Pedlar was born.

IMG_2298I put the name, Woolly Pedlar into Google and found a small knitting business, The Woolly Pedler – with an ‘er’. So I looked in the Oxford Dictionnary and found that this was the American spelling, and I should use Pedlar, with an ‘ar’ being British. Unfortunately for the lady with the ‘er’ this now meant that I came before her on the Google page. I am truely sorry for this if you are that lady and are reading this.

What I was not prepared for, were the amount of folk who get the spelling completely wrong! So much so, I have bought the domain names of ‘Wooly Pedlar’ , ‘Wooly Pedler’ and other misspellings.

There are two ‘l’s in Woolly!!! I mean to say, if you write the word ‘real’ and change it to ‘really’ there are two ‘l’s. The same for usual – it becomes usually! I don’t know if it is the ex teacher in me, but I must admit to finding just a little bit annoying.

So, if you’re looking down the google tube for me, please remember, there are 2 ‘l’s on Woolly.

 

Follow Woolly Pedlar
X

Follow Woolly Pedlar

E-mail :

Looking Back on 2014

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.

IMG_2298As 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.

 

IMG_2115Another 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!

 

 

 

10846009_701481213253981_7689212052773473609_nThere 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.

 

IMG_0991  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.

10408518_705572022844900_6587959350142489656_n

Jane and Lucy sporting their new ponchos at Hexham Christmas Market – thanks for all your support this year, girls

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!

Follow Woolly Pedlar
X

Follow Woolly Pedlar

E-mail :