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The Woolly Pedlar

Tales from the Woolly Garret. Looking back at 2017

I’m on the wagon. The blogging wagon that is. I’d fallen off, and as I love to write, it seems that one of 2018’s New Year’s resolutions must be to get back on the blogging wagon.

As 2017 draws to a close, I’m sure I’m not the only one reflecting on how the year went and how things could be done differently.

I’ve had a wonderful year. It’s the sixth year of running my own business, and each year brings new lessons to learn. I’ve met and worked alongside some pretty amazing people too. I have loved being part of The Wool Clip cooperative, who have welcomed me into the fold. Caldbeck is such a pretty little village, in a stunning part of The Lake District and I’ve enjoyed my days over at The Wool Clip shop there.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

As a cooperative we run Woolfest, and last year’s Woolfest was a very different one for me, being the first year of helping to run the event rather than being a trader. I felt very proud to be donning the Woolfest pinny, and really enjoyed the event. Being part of a cooperative is teaching me about team work, and how every member has different skills to bring to the group.

The Wool Clip team at Woolfest

The Wool Clip team at Woolfest

Other woolly events that were most enjoyable were Perth Festival of Yarn and Yarndale. My hat goes off to both teams for two excellent events. I loved my road trip to Perth, and though Eva did an amazing job. I very much hope to be back this year.

Autumn Adventures to Perth and Yarndale

It was my first time at Yarndale – what a lovely show! I met up with my college flat mate who I hadn’t see for years. Sadly Jane died of cancer shortly afterwards, which came as a great shock. If I go to Yarndale again this year, I’ll be thinking of my friend, and hopefully meeting up with some of her friends.

Yarndale 2017 Blog

Best sellers at the events are always my sweatercoats, jumpers and dresses. I enjoy making these very much, and have some ideas up my sleeve for new designs for 2018. I’m thinking fit and flare swing dresses – a shape I love to wear.

I loved hosting my first Open Studio and Garden Party in the summer. It was great fun, friendships were forged, and much cake was eaten. We will be doing it again on 21 and 22 July in 2018. I hope lots of you will come. Do get in touch if you’d like help with accommodation. Helen from Stanegate Hideaways will be offering discounted self catering accommodation in her Shepherd’s Huts.

 

This year saw the opening of The Sill Discovery Centre, just up the road from here in the beautiful Northumberland National Park. I was delighted to be invited to sell a small range of my woolly wares there. It’s blooming cold up on Hadrian’s Wall. So my upcycled woolly accessories are going down a storm there. Kiddies’ ponchos are really popular there too, I think often as gifts for folk to take home.

 

Pixie Hooded Ponchos

Pixie Hooded Ponchos

My other local stockists have all done really well too. Mr Wolf in Hexham in particular did a roaring trade in kiddies’ ponchos. Mike down at Bardon Mill Village Store is also one of my favourite local stockists. He makes darn fine coffee, and has turned the village shop into a great meeting place, which is always full of folk. It was here that Jeremy Corbyn had bought his wife one of my woolly wraps.

 

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Christmas events left me battered and exhausted, and if I’m honest, totally deflated. What is it about the general public these days? Is it a recent thing to be so damned rude? Don’t get me wrong, I met dozens of lovely folk and made some great sales, but one event in particular saw the numpties out in their droves.

I suppose if you make weird and wacky clothes from recycled materials, then you are already sticking your head above the parapet. They certainly aren’t everybody’s personal choice, but I have lovingly designed and created them, and I wish folk would keep their negative opinions to themselves. It hurts. I think my ‘best’ comment this year was ‘Well, that was a perfectly good jumper til you started messing around with it’ how rude!!

Dealing with the general public is most definitely not one of my strengths, and I take my hat off to all in retail that have to put up with rude customers all year round. I also find the physicality of doing big events utterly exhausting. So, on reflection next Christmas will see me doing a couple of select events, and selling more online, through my Facebook page, The Wool Clip, and local stockists.

If you follow me on social media, or have read the latest newsletter, you’ll see that there is a massive stock clearance sale here on the website. Feel free to hop over to the shop pages and have a browse. I’ll be adding new items throughout January as I clear a path up in the woolly garret to make room for some exciting new designs for 2018.

Next year is going to be very exciting as we welcome my daughter, Hannah’s baby into the family. I thoroughly looking forward to being a granny. The baby certainly won’t be short of woollies and baby blankets!

Here’s the family, out for our traditional family meal on New Year’s Eve.

The Reed Family 31 Dec 2017

The Reed Family 31 Dec 2017

Thank you to all my lovely customers, friends and family who have helped me over the year. It’s been a great year, and I look forward to another year of upcycling jumpers

Happy New Year everyone!

 

 

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On the road in September

Autumn Adventures to Yarndale and Perth

September has seen The Woolly Pedlar on the road again. First of all up to Bonnie Scotland to Perth Festival of Yarn, then this last weekend to Yorkshire and Yarndale. I had promised myself that I would take the day off after Yarndale, but sales were so good at both events I really need to get back to making jumpers and coats as soon as possible. However, as I’m still buzzing from the great time that I’ve had at both Perth and Yarndale, I thought I’d put finger to keyboard, write a blog post and share my photos with you.

On the road in September

On the road in September

It had been a while since I set out in in the van to sell my woolly wares, and I was excited to be heading first of all up to Perth. The drive was nothing short of stunning. The Perth Festival of Yarn was in it’s second year, and was organised by Eva and her team of volunteers. Hats off to you, Eva, for all your hard work! I am a member of The Wool Clip, who organise Woolfest and we are a cooperative of thirteen women who work really hard to put on Woolfest. I cannot imagine how tough this must of been for Eva, who did this all by herself, with just a handful of willing helpers.

Knitters Outer Hebrides MacMillan Cancer

Knitters from the Outer Hebrides raising money for MacMillan Cancer Support with a community quilt

The warm, fuzzy glow that you get inside after exhibiting at events like Woolfest, Perth or Yarndale comes from the people you meet there. First of all, there is the lovely camaraderie between stallholders. I love catching up with my stallholder family, and seeing everyone. Some of us gather together in the evenings over a glass of wine, and catch up on how business and our lives havee been after we last met. There was quite a contrast between my accommodation and meals at Perth and Yarndale. At Perth I stayed in the Lovat Hotel and enjoyed a fantastic curry and social evening arranged by Eva, and dinner in the town on the second night with friends from Perth. At Yarndale I stayed in ‘luxury accommodation’ in my van in the car park, and cooked in the van. Both equally fun, but in very different ways,

Luxury accomodation in the car par at Yarndale

Luxury accommodation in the car park at Yarndale

 

The van kitchen

The van kitchen

Then there are the punters themselves. I find yarn festivals so different to local Christmas Fairs. Everyone is kind, encouraging, and complimentary about my work. It does the soul as well as one’s confidence the world of good. I really should have taken far more photos of happy customers, but was far too busy talking and selling at both events!

Happy faces at Perth Festival of Yarn

Happy faces at Perth Festival of Yarn

These two women had lots of fun trying on my upcycled coats and jumpers. Neither of them bought anything, but we all enjoyed ourselves none the less. The grey coat on the left sold yesterday at Yarndale, but the jumper dress is still for sale. Head to Women’s Clothing if you want to see what’s left!

Elspeth in her new jacket

Elspeth in her new jacket

Both events were special times for meeting up with friends. Elspeth above, and I have been online friends for over ten years, but had never actually met. Recently, Elspeth has lost a fantastic amount of weight and treated herself to a bespoke jacket. She looks absolutely stunning in it, and says she has received lots of compliments since, which is lovely to hear.

This happy photo is of my old flatmate Jane and I. We were at teaching training college together 34 years ago. We kept in touch with a Christmas card every year, but other than that, we hadn’t seen each other for years. Jane came to Woolfest this year, and had no idea I would be exhibiting there. We were thrilled to see each other, and then lo and behold, we met up again at Yarndale. I taught Jane to knit when we were at college, and it is the world of wool that had brought us together again. I am absolutely thrilled to have seen her again. We were the two barmaids in the college bar and certainly got up to some tricks together!

 

The calm before the storm at Yarndale

The calm before the storm at Yarndale

Yarndale is held at Skipton Auction Mart, and I had a double sheep pen for my stall, whereas Perth festival of Yarn was held in the carpeted Dewar Centre in the centre of town. I was interested in this being the Dewar Centre, as my grandfather had come from that neck of the woods, and was himself a Dewar.

My Stall at Yarndale

My Stall at Yarndale

I love the challenge of transforming a sheep pen into a stall, and marvel at all the creativity from other stallholders. The concrete floor can take it’s toll on your legs and feet, and I was very grateful of two small mats that I had bought to stand on. One poor laddie came a cropper on the concrete floor, and we had a brief drama while the excellent first aid team there dealt with a bump to his head. His mum has got in touch with me today to let me know that he is none the worse for his fall.

Yarn bombed bike

Yarn bombed bike

Yarn bombing was very much in evidence at Yarndale, with some fantastic woolly installations both inside and out. There was a woolly river, a meadow, miles of crocheted bunting and an amazing mandala that has been crocheted one circle for every day of the year. I wish I had a pound for every photo that was taken of my yarn bombed bike – well, I am the woolly pedler! I explained that when I first started I had the idea of powering a sewing machine at festivals using bike power, and that was ‘How the Woolly Pedlar got it’s Name’.

Happy customer at Yarndale

Happy customer at Yarndale

So now, with a much depleted stock, I must head back to the woolly garret and get busy for the silly season. Christmas fairs will soon be upon us. My first will be Brocksbushes at Stocksfield, but you can find out more about where I’ll be popping up by heading to the Events page in this website. My woolly wares can also be found at local stockists, details of which are also on the website.

Thanks for reading! Do come and follow me on social media, and let’s keep in touch.

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Perth Festival of Yarn 2017

On the Road Again. More Tales from the Woolly Garret

You may have read my previous blogpost, where I wrote about how I did things differently this summer. Well, as autumn approaches, I’m back on the road again.

Perth Festival of Yarn 2017

Perth Festival of Yarn 2017

On Saturday I’ll be heading up to Perth to set up for Perth Festival of Yarn which is on the Sunday. I’m looking forward to this very much. The lovely peeps there are even organising a social night so we can all get to know each other the night before. Hopefully we won’t be too hungover for the show!

My Grandad was a Dewar and came from the Fife area of Scotland, so it’s with great pleasure that I’ll be taking to the road to sell my woolly wares at The Dewar Centre in Perth. More information can be found on the Perth Festival of Yarn website.

I’ve got lots of lovely new creations to take with me to Perth. I’ve made four garments in my ‘Mainly Monochrome’ collection, and I’m looking forward to seeing what folk think of these. These and lots of other woollies are in the website shop, just for this week, in case you can’t make it to Perth.

Harlequin Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Jumper Dress

Harlequin Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Jumper Dress

Sixties style block colour jumper dress

Sixties style block colour jumper dress

Upcycled ice blue and grey jumper dress

Upcycled ice blue and grey jumper dress

Elegant Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Dress

Elegant Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Dress

I’ll also have plenty of my popular woolly wraps and ponchos in a variety of colours. I’m loving this new autumnal range, which incidentally can also be found down at The Wool Clip shop in Caldbeck or online in Women’s Clothing.

Autumn Woolly Wrap, Ruana, Shawl. Recycled Wool Knitwear.

Autumn Woolly Wrap, Ruana, Shawl. Recycled Wool Knitwear.

I’ve got a few sweatercoats, ready for Perth, and I’ll be making lots more in the weeks to come. Keep an eye on social media (see at bottom of this post) to see what I’ve been making lately.

Recycled Wool Autumn Sweatercoat

I’ve been concentrating on jackets lately, and these are proving to be very popular. I’ve gone for a smaller hood on some of them, which is proving popular, especially when made from cashmere!

winter wool jacket cashmere hood recycled knitwear

winter wool jacket cashmere hood recycled knitwear

Of course I’ll have my usual stock of accessories, with armwarmers, hats and scarves.

Scarf & armwarmer set from recycled wool knitwear.

Scarf & armwarmer set from recycled wool knitwear.

After Perth, I’ll be back home for a couple of weeks before heading down to Skipton for Yarndale. Although it is in it’s fifth year, this is the first time I’m taking my woollies down there. I’m told it’s ever so friendly and a great show. I’m looking forward to catching up with some of my fellow woolly traders there as well as meeting customers old and new.

 

Yarndale 23 & 24 Sept 2017

Yarndale 23 & 24 Sept 2017

So hopefully I’ll see some of you either at Perth Festival of Yarn, or at Yarndale. Do come and make yourself known if you are at either shows.

You can still find a good selection of all my upcycled woolly wares in the website shop if you can’t make it to either.

As ever, come and follow on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to keep up with all my woolly pedlaring.

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On top of Great Cockup

Tales from the Woolly Garret. A Different Kind of Summer.

For the past several years, summer would see me packing up the van and heading off on the road to festivals to sell my woolly wares.  The Green Gathering down in Chepstow in particular, was a firm favourite. This year, however, I decided to do things differently.

The Green Gathering 2016

The Green Gathering 2016

 

I’m no Spring chicken. With Woolfest in June, Perth Festival of Yarn and Yarndale in September, then the mad period that is the run up to Christmas, I decided that we needed a break. (Head over to the Events page to see where I’ll be in the coming months)

Dear friends at The Green Gathering

Dear friends at The Green Gathering

I was sad not to be at the Green Gathering, as it is very dear to my heart with eco-living and green issues being a very big part of my life. I’ve also made some very dear friends there over the years. However, I am also part of a co-operative now, The Wool Clip. This has given me a permanent space in a shop to display and sell my woolly wares from. The need to go on the road isn’t so great.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

30 Years ago

30 Years ago

This year was our Pearl Wedding Anniversary. Thirty years of wedded bliss! We got the opportunity to rent a wonderful cottage in the Dudden Valley in the Lake Distrist and our three grown up kids all decided to come away with us for a week’s holiday in the Lake District to celebrate. We enjoyed some fabulous walking, fresh air and good company. I even got to the top of a mountain with the help of my son who is an outdoor instructor! You can see the weather wasn’t the best, but the sense of achievement, amazing!

Top of Harter Fell

Top of Harter Fell

More walking and letting it all go on the mountains took place the following week when my dear husband took me away to Over Water Hall. This is a fabulous country hotel in the North Lakes with amazing food, accommodation and general luxury. I felt very spoilt. We walked and walked, and couldn’t resist going up Great Cockup on our actual anniversary. Here I am enjoying striding out on the hills, and at the top.

Letting it all go

Letting it all go

On top of Great Cockup

On top of Great Cockup

My thoughtful husband had popped a miniature bottle of Prosecco into our picnic bag for the summit! The only damper on the day was the territorial buzzard who decided that we really shouldn’t be walking across her field! Scary stuff, but with a walking pole held high as if I were leading a party of tourists across London, the buzzard only swooped as low at the point of my stick. Needless to say we didn’t walk that route back to the hotel.  I don’t do fields of cows, and I certainly don’t do territorial buzzards.

My long suffering husband and me

My long suffering husband and me

My long suffering husband was glad we weren’t on the road doing festivals too. He also works from home  (as an accountant) and to come and help me set up stall means taking lots of time off work, which then needs to be caught up with when he gets back.

Apart from the walking and holidaying the the Lake District, it’s still been a busy summer. I hosted my first ever Open Studio and Garden Party – this was a roaring success, despite the stair rod rain! So much so, I’ve booked a date for next summer, and I hope lots of you will join me. Northumberland has so much to offer, and lots of folk are talking about making a weekend or holiday of it. My friend Helen from Stanegate Hideaways is offering 10% off accomodation in her Shepherd’s Huts if folk are coming to the event.

Summer in the garden

Summer in the garden

We love growing our own veggies. Last year with a summer full of festivals, the garden was sadly neglected. this year we’ve been able to spend much more time in the greenhouse and out in the veggie garden, and the fruits of our labour are coming in thick and fast.

The British weather has certainly been true to form of late. As I sit and type this, the rain is lashing at the windows and it’s blowing a hoolie. I’m damn glad I’m not doing the festival circuit this year. In fact, I’m off to make a bowl of porridge and a pot of coffee. Then it’s up to the woolly garret and on with the jumper making. I’ve been pleased to have had the time up in the woolly garret these past few weeks to really get my head down with designing and making. I’ll have lots of new creations coming with me to Perth Festival of Yarn and Yarndale in September.  The website and The Wool Clip shops are also full of lovely woollies. It’s been good to do things differently this summer.

Recycled Wool Autumn Sweatercoat

 

 

 

 

 

 

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