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The Wool Clip Team at Woolfest 2017

Woolfest 2017 – Doing it Differently

This year’s Woolfest was a very different weekend to the three previous shows where I had taken a stall and sold my upcycled woolly wares as an independent trader. (See previous blogposts such as: Wonderful Woolfest) Back in February I joined the Wool Clip, a co-operative of thirteen woolly women, based at Caldbeck in Cumbria. As well as having a lovely little shop, The Wool Clip is responsible for Woolfest, the UK’s premier wool gathering. This year was certainly going to be different, as I joined the team in the planning, preparation and running of Woolfest.

The Wool Clip Team at Woolfest 2017

The Wool Clip Team at Woolfest 2017

I must admit to feeling nervous as the new girl, but equally very excited. I drove over to the shop on the Thursday to collect stock, and then drove across country from Caldbeck to Cockermouth via Bassenthwaite. It is a glorious corner of the Lake District, and as my van rolled along the lanes, I felt very blessed to be working at what I do, and being able to work in such beautiful places.

 

 

The set up team had got the Wool Clip aisle all ready, with cool white linen tablecloths and backdrops, and beautiful woolly bunting. It didn’t take long to get my area filled, and I was pleased with the result.

Woolfest - My Stall in The Wool Clip Aisle

Woolfest – My Stall in The Wool Clip Aisle

I don’t find table displays easy, and my space was a fraction of the size I had had in previous years, so the setting up was challenging. However, everything I wanted to show was out on display, and I was very happy with my space.

The Woolly Pedlar At Woolfest 2017

The Woolly Pedlar At Woolfest 2017

In previous years I had slept in my van in the car park, but this year I had the luxury of a room in the newly built Premier Inn just 5 minutes walk from Woolfest. I had a really good night’s sleep, and the luxury of a hot shower before heading over to Mitchell’s Mart where Woolfest is held.

I love wandering around Woolfest early in the morning, listening to the noise sheep bleeting. There is an air of anticipation and excitement, as stall holders call out greetings to each other and lift the covers from their displays.

Herdwick Sheep At Woolfest 2017

Herdwick Sheep At Woolfest 2017

My first task was to greet folk at the door, and prevent anyone entering before 10am. It wasn’t long before a queue of excited fans of all thing woolly had gathered, and we counted down to doors opening.

Coatigan Fun At Woolfest

Coatigan Fun At Woolfest

Back at the stall there was a lot fun being had, with much twirling in coatigans. Lou pictured here on the left was one of the Wool Clip volunteers helping in aisle A. She was an absolute poppet and helped my customers, as did the other volunteers, when I wasn’t able to be at the stall.

A Happy Customer

A Happy Customer

It was great to see many familiar faces at the stall, as returning customers came back for more of my creations. Doris here now has three of my ponchos, all with matching bags!

Ruth in her Coatigan

Ruth in her Coatigan

Ruth, a fellow stallholder, bought herself this purple and turquoise coatigan, and says she’ll be wearing it at other shows and events. I think she looks stunning in it. Coatigans were definitely the best sellers, and I need to get busy making some more. Head over to Women’s Clothing to see what ponchos, wraps, dresses, jackets and coatigans are currently available.

Upcycled wool coatigans, jumpers and dresses

Upcycled wool coatigans, jumpers and dresses

Although we were all ridiculously busy, there was still time for some silliness!

Silliness at Woolfest

Silliness at Woolfest

The two days went in a flash! We were exhausted, and it’s taken me a whole week to recover, unpack the van and sort out stock. If feels like Christmas – you work really hard getting ready for it, and then it goes in a flash and you can’t wait for it to happen all over again next year.

My next event is my Open Studio and Garden Party, here at Bridge Cottage on 22/23 July. Please email me at sue@woollypedlar.co.uk if you’d like to come.
I’ll be a Perth Festival of Yarn on 10th September and Yarndale on 23rd & 24th September.

Meanwhile it’s back up to the woolly garret where I must get making more coatigans and jackets! I’m busy getting more dresses, bags, woolly wraps & ponchos on the website this weekend, so feel free to hop over to the shop and have a mooch!

Country Casual Upcycled Patchwork Wool Bag

Country Casual Upcycled Patchwork Wool Bag

If you are in the North Lakes, Penrith or Kewsick area, drive over to The Wool Clip shop in Caldbeck, you’ll find a good selection of woolly wares, including this lovely blue and purple hooded jacket. Though as there’s only one, once it’s gone it’s gone! All the other member of The Wool Clip also have fabulous displays in the shop, and one of us is always on hand to chat. There is a lovely cafe, other craft shops, and a pretty little village to wander round, so you could make a day of it!

upcycled wool jacket Wool Clip

Upcycled Wool Jacket available while stocks last at The Wool Clip, Caldbeck

The dates for next year’s Woolfest have already been set! See you there 🙂

Woolfest 2018

Woolfest 2018

 

 

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Getting ready for Woolfest 2017

Rage Against the Machine. Getting Ready for Woolfest 2017

You can tell when I’ve got a big event on the horizon. I wake up far too early and cannot get back to sleep. Guess it’s stress, but it doesn’t feel like negative stress. I’m buzzing with excitement and plans. You see, this year is different. I’ve traded at Woolfest for the past three years, but in February I joined the Wool Clip. The Wool Clip is a cooperative of thirteen woolly women who do a myriad of different things with wool. We are based over in Caldbeck in Cumbria and have a wonderful little shop there.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

We’ll be shutting the Wool Clip shop on Thursday 22nd June so the team can get all set up and ready at Woolfest. The Shop will reopen again on Sunday 25th June when Ruth will be there valiantly ‘manning’ the shop with matchsticks propping up her eyelids. (I find the expression ‘manning’ the shop a most unsuitable word considering we are a cooperative of thirteen women.)

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Last year, in 2016, I had the most enormous stand at Woolfest. It was a challenge to fill it, but fill it I did, and had the most fantastic show. One of the best things about Woolfest is the people. It is so good to be amongst creative, colourful people who understand about craft.  Exhausted, but buzzing from a wonderful two days, the icing on the cake was to win Stallholder of the Year.

This blogpost is all about the run up to this year’s Woolfest, so I won’t go into lots of detail about previous years as I’ve written about my experiences, and you can read all about them in these blogposts:

Getting ready for Woolfest 2017

Getting ready for Woolfest 2017

 

It’s been a difficult few months. I hit a button when sewing not once, but twice, and did some damage to my trusty industrial overlocker. For one reason or another it took four weeks to get my machine fixed. I’m now on my second sewing machine repair man. A great guy called Paul form the Carlisle sewing machine shop, came like a knight in shining armour after I had to sack my previous repair man for complete incompetence. I tried not to get stressed as I was unable to sew for four weeks in the run up to my biggest and best event of the year.

With all the terrible disasters over the past few months, the Grenfell tower block fire, and terrorism in London and Manchester, I decided that not being able to sew jumpers really wan’t that important in the grand scale of things. It freed me up in fact to develop some new products and to spend some time designing and sorting.

Coffee cup cosy from recycled merino wool sock tops

Coffee cup cosy from recycled merino wool sock tops

Those good people up at The House of Cheviot had sent me three boxes of recycled merino wool sock tops, which I usually make into hats, but a new size and shape of sock top had been sent that lent itself perfectly to cup cosies. With my machine out of action, I had time to design a new product. The coffee cup cosy was born. If these go well at Woolfest, then I’ll be rolling them out at Christmas, nicely packaged to make a great affordable gift.

'Thinking Hats' from recycled merino wool sock tops

‘Thinking Hats’ from recycled merino wool sock tops

I do have plenty of new ‘thinking hats’ ready for Woolfest too – there are some great colours and patterns! Sophia visited yesterday, and despite the heat, thought that my Thinking Hats were great for kids too!

Thinking Hats are great for kids too

Thinking Hats are great for kids too

Once my machine was fixed, it was nose to the grindstone, and there were jumpers, dresses and coatigans to be made for Woolfest.  Once Woolfest is over, I’ll divide any remaining stock between The Wool Clip shop and my website shop. I will of course let you all know what is going where via social media and my newsletter.

If you’re coming to Woolfest, don’t go looking for me in my usual spot. As I’ve joined The Wool Clip, I’ll be there in Aisle A, just down form the Information Desk.

There is so much to see and do at Woolfest – here’s a link to ‘What’s on at Woolfest’ 
I’ll leave you now, as I’ve got tonnes to do to get the stock all labelled, priced and packed in the van, but here is a selection of some of my new creations. Hope to see you there!

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

The Woolfest Collection 2017

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Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Woolly Hats in the Woods

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

This blog post is a celebration of several things.

  • Of the special friendships and professional relations forged through social media
  • Of families and times having fun in the great outdoors together
  • Of my upcycled woolly hats
  • Of UK knitwear manufacturers who have the foresight to recycle their waste and collaborate with upcyclers such as myself.
Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

I have made a large amount of hats, some from squares of recycled knitwear, and some from recycled merino wool sock tops from The House of Cheviot (more of the latter later).  I hate taking product shots using a plastic dummy, and had to resort to using a squash with a drawn on face to model the hats for the website.

Kids Hats Recycled Wool Knitwear The Woolly Pedlar

Kids Hats from Recycled Wool Knitwear by The Woolly Pedlar

Through Twitter and Instagram, I have got to know Corinne Hills down in Sheffield. Corinne bought a baby blanket from me in the past and our online friendship has developed over the last couple of years. Corinne has a wonderful family of boys, and home educates her children, spending lots of time in the woods as a learning environment. Recently, Corinne has set up her own website, Corinne Hills Photography and I thought, what better person to photograph my hats?

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

I am a massive fan of getting children out and about in the great outdoors. When I was teaching children with learning difficulties I did my training to become a John Muir Award leader. The John Muir Award encourages folk to discover a wild place, explore it and conserve it and then share their findings. Corinne and her family can be found regularly exploring and interacting with the woods around their home town of Sheffield.

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

So back to my hats – I make hats for everyone – from big people to little people! These can be found in the Accessories Dept of the website for big people, and in the Kids and Babies section for little people. Hats are either made using squares of recycled wool knitwear, as in the photo above, or using recycled merino wool sock tops as in the photo below.

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

The merino wool sock tops are a by product from that posh sock company, The House of Cheviot.  I’ve written about them before, in a blog post ‘Recycled Sock Top Hats from The House of Cheviot‘. I think it’s great when UK knitwear manufacturers can sell their waste to upcyclers such as myself. Waste needn’t be waste!

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

Photo by Corinne Hills Photography

So, in conclusion, let’s hear it for Corinne and her family of awesome boys and for her photography; for the upcycling of waste knitwear into fabulous and funky hats; and for forward thinking knitwear manufacturers for recycling their waste back into the UK’s economy.

Thanks for reading!

 

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Recycling Textiles Bristol

The Bristol Connection – Recycling Woollens in the UK

We’ve been to Bristol for the weekend. ‘Come for lunch’ my in-laws said. Fine, except they live 500 miles away  and we are up here in Northumberland. Mind you, it was their diamond wedding anniversary and when you’ve been married for sixty years then I think a bit of effort from the family to gather for a lunch is in order.

We decided to fly to Bristol and then catch a train – not the most environmentally way of travelling I know, but I had to be back up north for a pop up shop at Treacle Wool Shop in Morpeth the following day.

At the same time, in my quest for second hand woollens to upcycle, and following a tweet seeking textile recyclers who were willing to sell back to buyers in the UK, I stumbled upon the Bristol company, Bristol Textile Recyclers.  Bingo! I could kill two birds with one stone.

So, Tim and I flew down to Bristol and enjoyed a night at Brooks Guest House, with a super meal at Pho. It was my first experience of Vietnamese street food, and the broth that gives the cafe it’s name, which was absolutely delicious, and it won’t be my last. I had the pleasure of meeting and being waited on by lovely Natalie who goes under the name of rosaliecreates on Instagram, who is a textiles students and is a fellow fan of all things woolly.

We enjoyed a walk through town to Bristol Textile Recyclers and were treated extremely well by Aimee there. Following a very interesting tour of the factory, we were taken to the board room where three big bags of recycled woollen were awaiting my attention. They were great! Just the job!

I am absolutely thrilled to have found a new source of recycled woollens. I’m also looking forward to making more connections down in Bristol and shall be looking for outlets that will be interested in selling my upcycled woolly wares.  So thank you Bristol and Bristol Textile Recyclers for a great weekend. I’m sure we’ll be back.

Recycling Textiles Bristol

The Woolly Pedlar does business with Bristol Textile Recyclers

 

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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!

th2-1

 

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.

th3-1

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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Memory Products

In Memory of Aline – Memory Cushions for the Family.

One of the lovely things about making bespoke and one off items, is that I get to meet the customer, and often on more than one occasion. Sometimes, as in this case, with more than one member of the same family. I have had the pleasure of making items for two sisters at different times.  I’ve made a baby blanket in red, white and green, with a rugby league badge on for Fiona. I think if was the Leicester Tigers. Her sister, Mari has bought one of my ponchos and looks absolutely amazing in it, don’t you think?

upcycled patchwork poncho

Upcycled patchwork poncho made from recyced wool knitwear

Whilst trading at the Northumberland County Show I had the pleasure to meet Fiona again, this time with her dad. They told me their  mum, Aline, his wife, had recently passed away, and asked if I could make a set of seven memory cushions for the family from her jumpers.

I’ve made a few memory products before, a cashmere bedspread for a lady whose mum had the finest collection of cashmere jumpers, many from Harrods, and some going back to the 1930s, and a lap rug for a lady from Hexham, from her late husband’s jumpers. (You can read about these over on the Memory Blankets page)

It was with great pleasure that I set about making the cushions from Aline’s jumpers. Her husband wanted a pair using a particular favourite jumper of his, with a red and navy stripe. Together we grouped the other jumpers into a colourway. Soft lilacs and turquoise with pink and navy was the result, and we decided on a lilac thread with seams showing for added texture and interest.

After cutting the jumpers into squares in the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I began one morning last week to sew them. I told the girls I was making them that day, and by beautiful coincidence was told that this was Aline’s birthday. It made the making of the cushions even more special, and I thought of Aline as I sewed.

Memory Products, cushions

Memory Cushions from a Loved One’s Recycled Jumpers

Here they are, a pair for Fiona and Mari, one for Aline’s sister, and the red and navy pair for Aline’s husband.

Memory products cushions

Memory Cushions made from a Loved One’s Recycled Jumpers

 

Rest in Peace Aline

Memory Cushions

Memory Cushions handmade from your loved one’s Jumpers

Do get in touch if this is something I can help you with.

 

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Scope Step Up to the Plate with Recycled Wool Textiles

My quest for recycled wool textiles to recycle has taken many twists and turns over the last five years. I’ve bought from vintage sellers, knitwear factories, charity shops and have had donations from folk having a clear out. Recently I have lost two of my major suppliers. Hawick Knitwear went into administration at the beginning of the year, and one of my second hand wholesalers no longer has knitwear available. I wasn’t exactly panicking, but I needed to find new suppliers!

May-3
Hawick knitwear while it lasted was a wonderful find. I bought boxes and boxes of beautiful garment panels of the finest lambswool and cashmere. However, large groups such as Pringle pulled out of manufacturing their knitwear in Scotland, and Hawick was forced to close.  I searched for other knitwear factories and was shocked to find how few remain. Even Edinburgh Wool Mill tell me they no longer manufacture in the UK!

I have approached many of the textile recycling companies that get their stock from the ‘Cash for Clothes’ culture, but every time have drawn a blank. Batley in Yorkshire is home to several textile recycling depots, but they all tell me their clothing is not sorted here, is not for sale and is shipped abroad.

I have looked into the exporting of our second hand clothing and have discovered that there are mountains of our discarded clothing flooding the East African markets. Local textile manufacture and traditional textile skills are dying out as a result. Today, East Africa imports roughly $151 million worth of castoffs from Europe and North America, mostly collected from nonprofits and recyclers, each year*. That is a staggering amount of clothing. (*taken from ‘Ahead of the Ban on Used Clothing’ by Ecouterre).

The Guardian reports that ‘a massive 351m kilograms of clothes (equivalent to 2.9bn T-shirts) are traded from Africa alone.  The top five destinations are Poland, Ghana, Pakistan, Ukraine and Benin’

I have contacted the depots where our rejected second hand clothing end up and each time I have been met with brick walls.

So, thinking out of the the box, I approached the then manager of Scope, Hexham, Sheelagh,  to see if we could collect knitwear that was going to rag on a regional basis. This was a couple of years ago, but when taken to a higher level, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm.

Not satisfied to leave it there, I picked this up again recently, and sent out a random tweet on Twitter asking for recycled knitwear & tagging Scope in this. One of the big wigs of Scope picked this up and asked Sheelagh, now the area manager if there was anything Scope to do to help. Doh! We’ve been banging on for a couple of years about this.

I was delighted when Sheelagh invited me to speak at the meeting of the area managers in Newcastle this week to see if we could get the on board with collecting knitwear regionally and in some small part, stemming the flow of discarded clothing to East Africa.

I had ten minutes to get my message across – armed with laminated sheets explaining about the type of wool knitwear I use, and a few samples of my work, I went to the front, called order, and started my talk.

Result! They are all on board. Scope has stepped up to the plate and this week Scope will begin collecting waste wool knitwear on a regional basis to be recycled, upcycled and kept in the local economy.

Good news indeed! Thank you Scope.

Scope-2

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Read All About It!

Not exactly Harpers and Queen or Vogue, but hey, it’s exposure none the less. I’m in Women’s Weekly this week! It’s in the issue dated 12 July and is on sale in your newsagents now!

 

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It’s a nice piece, (even though I don’t knit, as the front cover says) with lots of photos and family members – there’s Hannah and John, my two youngest, and Mari, who is my eldest son’s girlfriend, in the centre. It’s interesting that they pick up on the whole recycling and looking after the planet concept, which is after all where The Woolly Pedlar sprung from, when I was writing a blog about living sustainably, The Bridge Cottage Way. 

July-2

In other news, you’ll also find The Woolly Pedlar in this month’s issue of To Knit and Crochet, published by the Knitting Network, so thanks to the two journalists involved, who looked down the Google tube for upcyclers and found me! The power of the internet knows no bounds

July-3

Thanks must go to Mari, Hannah and Tom, my models! Cheers guys 🙂

 

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