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Upcycled Hats from House of Cheviot Sock Tops

They say when one door closes, another one opens. After Hawick Knitwear closed, I lost one of my suppliers of waste knitwear for upcycling. However I’m delighted to have hooked up with another of Hawick’s knitwear manufacturers. This time, I’m recycling waste sock panels from The House of Cheviot, manufacturers of luxury country socks.

Upcycling House of Cheviot kilt hose

Using waste panels from Scottish kilt hose from The House of Cheviot in my upcycling

When Ian from The House of Cheviot got in touch to see if I could do anything with sock tops, I had no idea what I could do with them, but suggested he sent down a box full.

Waste House of cheviot Woolly Pedlar recycling

Waste sock tops from House of Cheviot sent to The Woolly Pedlar for recycling

I was delighted with my shipment! They were fabulous pieces of fine merino wool with a bit of stretch, in the most wonderful patterns.

I asked the question over on my Facebook page, of what my followers thought I should make with them, and suggestions came in thick and fast. Legwarmers, tea cosies, mug cosies, hats, scarves etc.

sock-top

The thickness of the knitwear meant that my usual modus operandi of putting seams on the outside wouldn’t work, and the width and height of the panels also limited what could be done. I’m afraid the boxes sat in the corner of the workshop for a while while I scratched my head.

hats

Then it came to me – my husband has a Tibetan style hat which he loves, made from panels of recycled cotton. Bingo! I pinched his hat for a while and made a pattern from it with the help of Julie from One off Projects who helps me sew here at The Woolly Pedlar. A new hat was formed, made from recycled country sock tops. I bet no one else is making these!

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What I wasn’t prepared for was the rush of online sales that followed as soon as they had been made! It would seem folk love my sock top hats, which I’ve named ‘Thinking Hats’.

Thinking Hat upcycled recycled merino wool sock top

‘Thinking Hat’ upcycled from recycled merino wool sock tops

I took the first batch of hats to Hexham Farmer’s Market and put a few on the website shop. They were a resounding success at the market, and I was soon pedalling to the post office van with orders to post.

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I will be getting in touch with The House of Cheviot today to get another shipment of sock tops sent down, and I’ll have plenty ready for all my Christmas events, and for the web shop.

I think they’ll make great Christmas presents!

Head to the ‘Events’ tab to see where I’ll be selling my woolly wares next, or you can shop online.

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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:

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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!

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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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Upcycling in the Garden

Sometimes I miss the old Bridge Cottage Way. This was the blog that I started writing several years ago about living sustainably, and which eventually led to the birth of The Woolly Pedlar – a long story which I won’t go into now, but can be read in the first post I wrote on this website called ‘Let Me Introduce Myself’. This month we’ve been really busy in the garden and I thought it would be nice to share with you some of the upcycling projects that have taken place. After all, recycling and upcycling doesn’t stop with jumpers here. Mr Tim and I are forever trying to find ways of reusing things and buying less.
sauna
The big project for us this year and indeed the past couple of years, has been the building of a straw bale build sauna in the garden using largely reclaimed materials. We’ve used wood from the garden, old tractor tyres, woolly clippings for insulation and even gin bottles for the window. I was very good at helping with that bit! 😉

gin-bottle-window  There is so much I could write about building the sauna, and so much we have learnt. The frame has a reciprocal roof, and that in itself is worthy of a whole chapter, then there are the straw bales, lime plaster and earth roof. We’ve even made little oil lamps from jam jars, with a rolled up t shirt as a wick and using cooking oil. Again, I feel this could warrant it’s own blogpost on another occasion.

Let’s turn back to the garden itself. One of my pet hates in this world is the amount of packaging and plastic that gets used and thrown away. Every weekend there are queues of folk heading for the garden centre to buy plastic pots and trays. With that in mind, I wrote a post about saving plastic cartons to reuse as plant pots, and to date ‘Reduce Plastic Consumption by Reusing Plastic Containers as Plant Pots’ has been one of my most successful posts, with thousands of hits! I won’t repeat it here, but will leave you to follow the link yourselves.
strawberry planter

 

We’ve been having a bit of a clearout in the garage, and I came across this old redundant veg rack, which I’ve turned into a strawberry planter – the idea being that the strawberries should hang down over the side. Mind you, if this apocalyptic weather we are having this Spring/Summer doesn’t sort itself out I don’t think they’ll be many strawberries at all! I’ve lined the baskets with some of the wool jackets I find for my making my bedspreads to keep the moisture in and prevent the compost falling through the holes. The compost too is homemade!

This old Vax cleaner has also be put to good use rather than going to the tip, and is used for growing chives.

 

 

 

10361444_10204212808469967_7880140687656242864_n   I’m told these wooden cable reels sell for a lot of money on Ebay, and I was lucky enough to get hold of one for a tenner! They make great tables for outdoor eating – and for drinking as you can see! Oh dear, that’s two references to drinking in one blogpost now, you’ll be thinking we’re plonkies!

 

pizza

We love eating outdoors, and have had our friend Harry make us a pizza oven from stone found lying around and taken from the bed of the little stream that runs through the garden. We used clay dust that was going spare from a local pottery mixed with soil for the clay to build it with, and it is absolutely fantastic! I guess this too could warrant another post all by itself another time!

 

wheel-rim-fire

We got the idea for using a wheel rim as a fire pit from Solfest – the festival we’ve gone to as a family for the last ten years. There, you are allowed to have fires by your camp as long as the fire is contained in a wheel rim. Jolly good idea! I also like to take the old washing machine drum along which serves as an excellent barbeque.  I use saucepans and kettles put on the top to cook the family proper dinner on it, and again wrote a post over on the Bridge Cottage Way about making a Washing Machine Drum Barbeque if you fancy a read.

bbq

I’m sure there are lots more fun ways to use what would otherwise be going to the tip around the garden. I’m sure if I went for a wander around ours, I’d find more to share with you. However, it’s lashing down with rain, so I think I’ll stay put and leave it there for this week. Do post a comment and share any other good upcycling tips you have for around the garden.

Thanks for reading this week, and let’s hope the weather improves as we move into June and can get out and enjoy the garden!

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