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Looking Back Over Five Years Peddling My Wool by The Woolly Pedlar

Looking Back At The Past Five Years Peddling my Wool

Looking Back Over Five Years Peddling My Wool by The Woolly Pedlar

Looking Back Over Five Years Peddling My Wool by The Woolly Pedlar

It’s been an incredible five years. Six years ago I had to give up my teaching career due to ill health, and here I am, celebrating the fifth year of running my own business. Those of you who have been following my journey will have already heard about how it all began, so I won’t go into that all now, but leave you to read that very first blogpost for yourselves: How The Woolly Pedlar Came About

The Woolly Pedlar at Audio Soup Festival 2012

The Woolly Pedlar at Audio Soup Festival 2012

Yes, that is me in a red wig! Back in the summer of 2012 I started peddling my upcycled knitwear at small festivals, and Audio Soup was one of the first. I just had my camper van, which is a converted builder’s van, a wooden table and a few woolly wares.

The Woolly Pedlar at The Green Gathering 2016

The Woolly Pedlar at The Green Gathering 2016

Look how it’s grown! I now have my own gazebo, complete with branding and a much wider range of upcycled clothing, soft furnishings and accessories. A far cry from the wooden table at Audio Soup! This photo shows my stall at The Green Gathering 2016, which is a festival that is very dear to my heart. It is about all things eco and sustainable, which is very much where I am coming from. I really do believe that we only have a finite number of resources on our precious planet, and we must all do our bit to live as sustainably as we can. I was thrilled to win an Ethical Trader Award both in 2015 and 2016 at The Green Gathering. Unfortunately I won’t be at the Green Gathering this year, but hope to return in 2018. Tim and I are taking a year off this year to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary!

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Talking of awards, I was absolutely blown away, when after two exceedingly busy days at Woolfest 2016, I was awarded Stallholder of the Year by The Wool Clip team who run the event. I adore Woolfest, which is in beautiful Cockermouth in Cumbria. Housed in the farmer’s mart, it is a two day event for all things woolly. things have moved on even further now, and I’m delighted to say that I am now a member of The Wool Clip. I will be in Aisle A at Woolfest 2017 and will be helping to run Britain’s premier wool event.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

 

Happy Customers Green Gathering 2015

Happy Customers Green Gathering 2015

Of course my business wouldn’t be where it is now without all my lovely customers. I’ve found that making one off, unique garments brings so many rewards. One of the best has to be meeting and getting to know my customers personally. Some of them have become good friends, and although some live in distant places, we keep in touch through social media. It’s an absolute pleasure to be making clothes for those who are looking for an antidote for boring high street fashion!

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

I’ve had some famous customers too! Some of you might remember the kerfuffle that surrounded Jeremy Corbyn buying his wife, Laura one of my woolly wraps from Bardon Mill Village Shop. I innocently wrote a blog about how thrilled I was to have a famous customer, and the right wing press twisted my story into ‘Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?’, suggesting that instead of dealing with party business, he was uncontactable up on Hadrian’s Wall, buying knitwear. I was very grateful to the journalist from the Guardian who put the whole story into perspective!

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

My quest to find knitwear to recycle has taken many twists and turns. When i started out, I would scuttle around Hexham like a bag lady, collecting wool knitwear from the charity shops. I still do this, and am very grateful in particular to Tynedale Hospice at Home, Scope, Oxfam and Save the Children who all put by knitwear that cannot be sold. I love a felted jumper! Scope have really stepped up to the plate, and now collect waste knitwear on a regional basis for me.

I also buy waste knitwear now from some of our knitwear factories. Up until it’s closure, Hawick Knitwear was great source of beautiful recycled lambswool. I’m still working through the half tonne of beautiful lambswool jumpers I bought when it went into administration. The House of Cheviot sell me their waste merino wool sock tops, and these have been made into my ‘thinking hats’.

I also buy recycled knitwear in bulk from textile recyclers. I have learnt a great deal about the rag trade, and where our waste clothing ends up. So much goes to landfill, and so much gets shipped abroad. We must do everything we can to buy less, and recycle and upcycle.

Getting Help from One Off Projects

Getting Help from One Off Projects

As my business has grown, I’ve had to get help! I was thrilled when Julie from One Off Projects came to my rescue. Julie is a self employed seamstress who runs her own business, but helps me sew now. Julie is now responsible for making many of my bedspreads, ponchos and woolly wraps.

Plus Size Moss & Mustard Upcycled Wool Jacket with Pixie Hood by the Woolly Pedlar

Plus Size Moss & Mustard Upcycled Wool Jacket with Pixie Hood by the Woolly Pedlar

From making those first pair of armwarmers, and Katwise sweatercoats, my range of designs has grown steadily over the past five years, and I’ll leave you to browse the website to see what is currently available.

As always, I owe a huge amount of thanks my family who have supported me over the years. They have put up with the house being taken over by wool, and have lost the entire third floor! My dear husband has got up early on countless mornings to help set up my market stall, and has even come in handy for modelling, which he hates!

Elf hats modelled by the Woolly Pedlar's husband, Tim

Elf hats modelled by the Woolly Pedlar’s husband, Tim

I have met some amazing, creative folk who also run their own businesses. I would like to give a special shout out to lovely Ceri from Oakwood Soaperie, Linda from Shanti, Shanti Colours of Nepal, and Emily from Wildflower Trading.  All are awesome women, who have shown enormous support and encouragement when those inevitable periods of self doubt creep in. We will all be in the park together for Hexham’s Spring Fair on 22nd April, and I’m looking forward to a jolly good catch up with these three.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank you all, my readers, followers and customers. Without you, I would not be where I am today. You are all awesome! Here’s to the next five years.

Sue Reed is The Woolly Pedlar

Sue Reed is The Woolly Pedlar

 

 

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Satisfied Customers

Over on my Facebook page, I’ve been creating an album for the past four years called ‘Satisfied Customers’ which is a selection of photos sent to me by folk happy with their Woolly Pedlar purchases. I love looking back through it, as it’s not only a potted history of how my woolly creations have developed over the past four years, but is stuffed full of happy, smiling punters, delighted with what I have made. That has to be good for the soul, and is confirmation that I must be getting something right!

Jane

Having just done another successful day at Hexham Farmer’s Market as part of Hexham’s Spring Fair, I was inspired to dedicate this week’s blog to all my loyal customers, and Jane seen above in her new sweatercoat, bought yesterday is no exception. Jane first bought a jumper from me one very wet market day when I was selling my woolly wares at an event celebrating Hexham’s twinning with the town of Noyon in France. It was raining so heavily the event had to be moved inside the Abbey for fear of being washed away outside. Jane bought a jumper dress, and then the next year, a jacket from me when I opened up my home for the Art Tour. I know Jane follows my newsletter and blog, and I was delighted when she came to find me at a recent Vintage Fair. She has had her eye on this sweatercoat for a while now, and tried it on yesterday. It was a perfect fit, and I think she looks absolutely fabulous in it – a perfect match for those fabulous Docs she is wearing.

Bridget

Like Jane, Bridget has also been buying Woolly Pedlar creations for several years now. I remember when she first came across my stall and remarked how thrilled she was to find alternative clothing here in the north east. Bridget has also visited me at home on a couple of occasions, bringing friends along to see my work. I overheard her telling another customer how she rarely bought anything else these days other than Woolly Pedlar. Thanks Bridget, you’re a star! This blue British wool dress brought out the blue in Bridget’s eyes beautifully, and it was lovely to see her again.

London,-Caroline-&-Elvis

I’m delighted to say that my ‘satisfied customers’ are not confined to the north-east of England. I have a growing global following, and this lovely family is no exception. Here we have, from left to right, little London, Caroline and Elvis from California. London got her poncho whilst visiting friends in Hexham, and then mum and dad, Caroline and Elvis ordered adult ponchos for themselves, which I shipped over to the States. Elvis also has a hooded jumper. As each item I make is unique, it becomes a personal experience and I love to see who is wearing them. Caroline has sent me some super photos over the past couple of years, and I’d love to show them all, but here is just one, little London at a baseball game, looking so cute in her tutti fruitti poncho. If you’d like a poncho , then you’ll find plenty to choose from online, or at any of the events I’m at (details of these can be found by clicking the Events tab on the website)

London

I try to get out and about around the country a bit over the year, and this summer, I’ll be heading off again in August to one of my favourite festivals, The Green Gathering. Last year’s Green Gathering was so much fun, and I must show you this fabulous photo of three very happy customers – all of whom have kept in touch via Facebook and some of whom have also bought more pieces from me. The lady in the super cherry red poncho writes her own blog as Compostwoman in The Compost Bin.

GG14

Whilst women make up the bulk of my customers, let’s not leave out the men, and I’ll finish with this photo of a very happy postie, who’s wife bought him a pair of armwarmers and left a message saying how delighted he was as he could now sort through the letters without getting cold hands!
Postie

It was a hard task, choosing photos for this blog, as you’ve been great at sending me photos, and there are dozens more I could have chosen. If you’d like to see more, hop over to Facebook, and have a look through my ‘Satisfied Customers’ album. If you are a happy customer, and have a Woolly Pedlar creation, do send me a photo, either through social media or by emailing me – sue@woollypedlar.co.uk   I love to see your happy, smiley faces wearing my work. If you’d like to browse my current collection, then head over to the website shop here on this website.
Thanks for reading!

 

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Zerowaste – Upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more.

By now you probably know that I upcycle preloved wool jumpers and make all sorts from them, with the aim of keeping textiles out of landfill and from going to waste. I won’t go into details of all the products I create from recycled knitwear – you can head over to the online shop to see for yourselves what I’ve been making lately. Upcycling means to take waste and turn it into something more useful or aesthetically more pleasing. This is hopefully what I’ve done with this petite purple sweatercoat made from recycled jumpers, which I finished a week ago. This is not the end of the story however. I want to show how I take waste, and upcycle it until there is nothing left to waste at all. Zerowaste – literally!
purple-sweatercoat

The panels and sleeves for this coat were made from lambswool jumpers rescued from Hawick knitwear when the factory went into administration. You can read what I wrote about that in a previous blogpost entitled ‘The Sad Demise of Hawick Knitwear’. The bodice is a very shrunken cashmere jumper rescued from the rag bag in a local charity shop.

So, when I’ve finished making my sweatercoats, do I throw the scraps away? Not on your nellie! Those long enough, and especially any spare sleeves get cut into strips to make armwarmers:

AW77

It doesn’t stop there either! I still had some grey pieces left over, too short for armwarmer strips, but as long as they are 10cm each way, they can be cut into squares and used to make a cushion. I grabbed a felted pink cashmere jumper and cut off the button band to make the fastening on this cushion and hey presto, a lovely lambswool and cashmere cushion made from my waste. That’s zerowaste in my book!

CU1.1

But it doesn’t stop there. Left with a pile of scraps that are now diminishing in size, and are no longer useful to me, I pass them onto my friends who are proggy matters. For those of you who are not familiar with proggy matting or proddy matting as it is called in other parts, this is a northern tradition where scraps of wool fabric are poked through a piece of hessian with a ‘prodder’. Ali Rhind explains in much better in her video on Hooky and Proggy Matting. If anyone is coming along to Woolfest in June, I’ll have a table loaded with bags of woolly scraps for you. I’ve also written a blogpost about this ‘The Art of Proggy Matting’
sian

So there you have it – upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more. Zerowaste, and helping keep textiles out of landfill.

 

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The Highs and Lows of Using Facebook as a Small Business

Oh Facebook you fickle friend! You really have incensed me this week. It is not often I have a rant, and I do try to keep everything as positive as possible, but when I spend the best part of a day photographing, editting and listing a new product which I’m really excited about, and then the algorithm by which Facebook decides what should appear in your newsfeed deduces that my woolly wraps are only to be seen by handful of people, I’m left feeling utterly frustrated.

WWR4.3

Don’t get me wrong, Facebook can be tremendous, and I would recommend that anyone who has a visual product to show the world uses Facebook and other social media to their full advantage. Why wouldn’t you use a global platform to show the world what you have been making?

Facebook-for-Business

I first set up my Facebook business page, The Woolly Pedlar, back in 2012 when I left teaching and my little one woman upcycling business was launched.  I had watched with interest how Katwise used Facebook with Etsy and had what could only be described as a cult following. She only had to post an album of her latest creations and they would be seen and shared by thousands which led to a stampede when her sale started, with her sweaters selling faster than Glastonbury tickets.

happy-customer

Facebook has allowed me to engage with so many wonderful people. Do date I have 1,852 followers, and I have been sold many of my upcycled woolly goodies through the power of Facebook alone. I have an album which continues to grow, of photos sent by happy customers. In fact Phillippa who sent in the photo above, has just sent me another, this time of her daughter in one of my upcycled ponchos.

Gill

I have built relationships with my followers, some of them remaining virtual friends, and some of them becoming real life friends and colleagues, with us meeting at events and shows, and keeping in touch with each other via the Facebook page.

lucy

One piece of advice I would give anyone who has a Facebook business page, is to build up a picture of yourself, what makes you tick, your personality and anything that supports your brand. Some of you will know my story, and that The Woolly Pedlar came about through my love of recycling, and living sustainably and through the writing I did of The Bridge Cottage Way. I try, therefore, to show folk more about me that simply what I make. After all. no one wants to engage with a page that simply bombards you with ‘buy this’ posts. Whilst there is a fine line to be drawn between exposing the ins and outs of one’s family life, I do think followers like to get a feel of you as a whole person, and of the lifestyle you have, as well as seeing what you’ve been making. The Woolly Pedlar is about so much more than just jumpers.

garden

I try to have time out every day for a mindful wander round the garden both for relaxation, and to get a photo ready for my daily ‘Good Morning’ posts which I’m told by my followers are greatly enjoyed. (or perhaps they’re just being polite)

I use Facebook to share my blogposts, newsletter updates, event news as well as showing how and why I make what I do.
Little and often has to be they key. I often get told ‘I don’t have the time for social media’ but if used little and often I feel it isn’t too time consuming. It’s a question of getting into the habit, but also of not letting it take over your life!

So why, if I find Facebook such a great marketing tool, am I so cross with it? A year or so ago Facebook decided that it wanted small businesses to pay to boost posts. I guess Facebook does need to earn its money somehow, and we had had a free run for sometime, but it seems to be doing pretty ok from advertising. So now, I find that any post with a link to my website, a £ sign, a size or anything that includes the words ‘website, for sale,’ or a price or size is guaranteed to be only seen by a few. So how the dickens do I get folk to see what is for sale?

I find when I ask my followers to comment on a post, as soon as the commnets come in, then the views start to soar. I don’t want to always be asking for favours to comment or share, and although subtle questions are asked to prompt comments, if not careful, these can sound contrived.

snowdrops

Just this week, one of my ‘Good Morning’ posts with a picture of my snowdrops was seen by getting on for a thousand folk, whereas my poor old woolly wraps were only seen by a handful. Yes, I had put the prices on my woolly wraps, with links to the website, but how else was I going to show folk what I had made, how much it cost and where it could be bought? Yes, I could put links to the website in the comments below, but not everything is as savvy as each other about navigating Facebook.

WWR3.3

I know other artists are feeling the same as me, and their frustraion about the way Facebook is operating is palatable. So please, I implore you, if you like what I make, and see one of my posts with new makes on do leave a comment!! It makes all the difference.
Of course there are other social media platforms, and I have a Twitter account, Pinterest boards, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, but honestly, there are only so many minutes in a day, and I do need to get on and make things!

Rant over! Promise next week’s blog with be without moans. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Green Inspiration

Those of you who have followed my blogging for a while and have read The Bridge Cottage Way, will know how inspired I am by my garden, and in particular my veggie patch. Ever since I was a nipper, helping my Nan with her greenhouse and selling her tomatoes and runner beans on the pavement outside her house, I have been inspired by growing things and the beauty that can be found outdoors in the garden.
frosty-cabbage

 

I wandered round the garden earlier this week with my camera, looking for inspiration and was gobsmacked at the beauty of the frost on the cabbages and kale.

It never ceases to amaze me just how many greens can be found in nature. Take this humble frosted cabbage for example, with greens running from yellow, through blue right through to the darkest, deepest forest green.

Take any patch  in the garden, and a multitude of greens can be found.

With this in mind, I set about making a sweatercoat in greens. Up in the woolly garret I had amassed a large sack of green jumpers, and a crucially thick, felted one to form the bodice, the mainstay of a sweatercoat.

(The bodice needs to be thick enough to hold the weight of the full skirts, and because of this the size of sweatercoat made is totally dependent on what felted jumper I can find at the time.)

I had a couple of yellowy green jumpers saved which blended so well with all the other greens, and taking inspiration from my garden wanderings, I set about making this green sweatercoat

 

 

SW29.1

 

Once finished, I was delighted to see that after weeks and weeks of torrid grey sky and torrential rain, we had a beautifully clear sky and sunny day. I set up my tripod in the garden and photographed my new creation.

Once indoors, I set about editting the photos, ready to put my new sweatercoat up for sale on the website, and to my delight I noticed that the colours in the coat matched the surrounding greens of the Northumberand countryside perfectly.

Not sure what to call the yellowy green in the sweatercoat I went onto the Pantone website. For those unfamiliar with Pantone, it is an American corporation, based in New Jersey that is best know for its ‘Pantone Matching System’, a proprietary colour space used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, and is a very useful resource for giving names to colours.

To my delight, the yellowy green in question is called ‘Elfin Yellow’ – perfect! I have as a result, listed this sweatercoat for sale on the website as ‘Forest Green and Elfin Yellow Sweatercoat’. A title that is fitting not only to it’s colour, but to its style.

 

 

 

 

green-damask-wedding-gown-of-Queen-Mary-of-Habsburg-c1520

green-inspirationAfter seeing my posts about my new sweatercoat, one of my Twitter (@Woollypedlar) followers found this photo and tweeted it. It is of the green damask wedding gown of Queen Mary of Habsburg c1520. Here it is next to the green sweatercoat of The Woolly Pedlar, c2016. See any similarities? Pure coincidence!

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Markets Begin – Don’t Panic Mrs Mainwaring!

If there were a theme tune running through my life over the next few weeks it would be Benny Hill’s Yakety Sax. I often used to use this tune when doing sensory dramas in my former life as a special needs teacher when we wanted to show people rushing around like headless chickens. Any other fellow artists or crafters reading this may well identify with how I’m feeling. There is SO much to do, so much to make and just not enough daylight hours in the day!
Whose idea was it to turn the flippin clocks back? I don’t usually moan or grumble publically and like to always present a positive image, but when you’re sewing frantically and it’s dark at 5 because some ninny decided to put the clocks back then there is cause for complaint. I know of two people who refuse to take part in this and sometimes find themselves an hour late for appointments, but live by summer time all year round. As I enter mad old lady territory, I am very tempted to do the same.
It is as if someone has pressed the fast forward button on a tape recorder (for those of you who are old enough to remember taper recorders that is) and there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day, minutes in the hours to not only make enough stock to do the Christmas markets justice, but to keep house and home together, do the shopping, cooking, housework and get my own family’s Christmas sorted. Mind you, the latter will have to wait til after my last Christmas market on 19th December, and with two grown up sons living at home, I will certainly be sharing out the chores!

Having said that, trading at numerous Christmas markets is wonderful, not only being a part of my lovely trader family again, but it does offer the ideal opportunity to buy wonderful, locally handmade presents – something I try to do every year now and which I’ll be writing about in another blog very soon.

So, without further ado, I will sign off and head up to the woolly garret, where a delicious pile of fuschia, magenta and navy blue jumpers waiting for me. Trouble is, it’s only eight o’clock in the morning, and everyone else is still asleep. My youngest son sleeps right underneath my workshop and says that my sewing machine sounds like a helicopter coming into land! Oh well, sorry son, I need to get on. Brocksbushes Christmas Fair is on 12th November in two weeks time.

Don’t panic Mrs Mainwaring!

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It’s Good to be Back

I wonder if any fellow artists out there are like me, and have a restless night’s sleep before an event? I usually fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, but on Friday night it took ages to get to sleep then I tossed and turned, and woke at five, a full hour and a half before I needed to get up. Call it nerves, excitement, adrenalin, call it what you will, it isn’t conducive to having the energy to run a stall the next day!

Stall-HexhamThe Woolly Pedlar was back in Hexham Farmer’s Market! After a summer away at festivals, I was looking forward to rejoining the other producers at my local Farmer’s Market. I had been watching the forecast over the coming week, which had been bathed in an Indian Summer, with crisp cooler mornings, and lovely warm sunny days. The weatherman said this was all going to change at the weekend, with wind and heavy rain on Saturday morning.

Now, some of the other stallholders (Billy from the veg stall especially) had previously remarked how it only ever rained when I was there! So, watching the forecast carefully, I was worried that I was going to jinx the market yet again.

Sure enough, I woke far too early at five, and listened to the rain starting to hit the windows.

I need the help of my husband to set up my stall, so at 6.30 I woke him up and we grabbed some breakfast before driving the van to Hexham. I needn’t have worried about a thing. The rain was gentle and the welcome from Peter, Hexham Farmer’s Market’s main man was awesome.

Peter-2

After a big bear hug and a lovely warm welcome back to the market, I felt immediately at home again. We have a lovely community amongst the other traders and townsfolk in Hexham. Shop owners such as Mary from Gaia in Market Street, took the trouble to stop by and wish me luck for the day. I really enjoy being part of my local town’s trading community – we are such a supportive bunch.

Well, it rained cat and dogs all morning, and despite having a stall full of lovely new ponchos, jumpers, sweatercoats, baby blankets, armwarmers and scarves all I sold one one baby blanket and one pair of baby legwarmers!

What’s more, I had forgotten my knitting!!!! Five hours of sitting in my tent watching the rain!

Still, I had a lovely day, commiserating with my fellow stallholders. One of whom gave me a bag of free watercress she’d picked from her river the day before. Julia, The Moody Baker was next door and we gave each other a big soggy cuddle when we were feeling bleugh!

I really hope that the next Farmer’s Markets I’m attending (10th & 24th October) will be kinder to us stallholders – preferably cold and crisp – the ideal weather for selling woollies!

11-AprilIf you want to know where I’ll be selling my woolly wares next, hop over to the Events Page.

Local Stockists can also be found on the website.
If you are not local to the north-east, there’s always the website shop, and if you don’t see what you are after then get in touch – bespoke orders are a pleasure!
dollIf you are in Hexham on 10th or 24th October, then do drop by the stall and say hello. If you are clearing out any wool jumpers then bring them along and you’ll get a discount voucher for use on the stall or online.

It’s back upstairs to the woolly garret for me tomorrow. With just two weeks to go til the awesome Festival of Thrift, and a much depleted rail of jumpers following a brilliant summer of selling at festivals, I am feeling the pressure to build up my Christmas stock (sorry to mention the C word in September!)

So, good night one and all, I’m off to watch This is London ’90.

 

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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!

 

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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 🙂

 

 

 

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It’s a Tough Life!

Four years ago last week I would have been looking forward to school breaking up, exhausted, stressed and in desperate need of a holiday. How different life is today. Instead of being a teacher, bogged down with end of year reports, evaluations, school assemblies and no end of stess, I packed the silver van again as The Woolly Pedlar, and headed off to another festival to sell my upcycled woolly wares. This time it was Audio Soup festival which is a couple of hours up the A1 for me, just south of Edinburgh.

Audio-Soup-1Audio Soup may be small, but it is full off all the right ingredients that go together to make a beautiful festival. First and foremost are the people – what a lovely bunch!

Geoff, who runs Mutley’s Crepes is in charge of the traders and can be seen striding around the site in his woolly hat and kilt. He let me pitch up next to my dear friend, Lorraine. What a beautiful lady, and a very dear friend.

 

 

Audio-Soup-4  Here she is, looking for birds on Lewis’ dress. We spent much of the festival sitting in the sun in front of the stalls, drinking tea and talking. Audio Soup is not the kind of festival where, as a trader, you are rushed off your feet!

There is plenty of time to chat and get to know everyone at this very friendly affair.

 

 

 

Audio-Soup-2Following a very busy Woolfest, I was glad to still have enough stock left for the summer’s festivals.

The stall looked bright and colourful, with a full rail of children’s ponchos at the front. It was a bit like the Hokey Cokey mind you, taking the rail in and out, as showers came and went.

 

Audio-Aoup-5 I had some really good sales – this lady was treated to this jumper by her father-in-law, a fellow stall holder and seller of crystals.

Her little girl got a patchwork poncho, and it was lovely seeing her running around the festival in it. In fact, I spotted a few Woolly Pedlar creations in the crowd as I danced to bands later at night, which was a proud feeling.

Audio-Soup-5Ponchos are still very much the best seller of the year, and this lady was very pleased with hers. She comes from Manchester, and tells me she is off home to spread the word about my little woolly upcycling business.

 

 

My son and daugher came to help over the weekend, and it was great to have their company.

John, my son, got himself a tribal haircut from Billie the Barber, and spent the weekend practising his knife juggling.

 

Audio-Soup-6 Audio-Soup-8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I had an absolute blast at Audio Soup, and danced the night away on all three nights. I really love my festival friends, and Audio Soup is up there as one of the best this year

Next up for me is the Green Gathering, held in beautiful Piercefield Park near Chesptow, 13-16 August where I’ll be joining hundreds of others in what must be the greenest, most eco friendly festival around.

GG1

It’s a tough life!

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