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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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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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A Really Lovely Moment

GG14When you make one off pieces and sell them yourself at events such as The Green Gathering, each and every sale becomes a personal encounter. It is a joy to get to know my customers, some of whom I’ve forged real friendships with. I want to write about the moment depicted in this photo. It was Sunday night at the Green Gathering, 2015, and we had quite a crowd at The Woolly Pedlar’s tent. It was just beginning to get dark, I had a gin and tonic in my hand, the minirig was playing some good tunes and we were busy with lots of visitors to the stall.

GG20Gretel, the lady on the far right of the photo had come along wearing the sweatercoat she’s bought earlier that day. I’d nicknamed the coat ‘Tangerine Dream’ and Gretel looked stunning in it. She’d married it up with a super skirt an accessories and looked ready for a good night’s partying.

I was thrilled to hear from Gretel that she would be taking the coat down to Inspiral Lounge at Camden in London in a few weeks for a night out.

Next to Gretel in the photo is a mannequin – we’ll ignore that, except to say that that sweatercoat is also sold! So, next to Gretel, and next to the mannequin from right to left is Kim.

GG16Kim had already been along to the stall several times over the weekend and had bought her self this aqua sweatercoat, which fitted her like a dream, and was just the right colours for her.  She looked sensational! When she later posted a this photo of her wearing it on her Facebook page, she got heaps of compliments, and now uses it as her profile picture.

Kim had also treated herself to a hooded jumper she tells me will be really useful for walking the dogs in. I was over the moon to see Kim return again on the Sunday night for the blue and grey poncho she had been eyeing up all weekend!
gg21Next to Kim in the photo is Lizzie, and apologies to Lizzie as I don’t have a photo of her alone! Lizzie bought this red hooded jumper and looked amazing in it!

Lizzie is mum to Em who helps to run the Green Gathering and did an admirable job running the Trader’s Market. Lizzie was rightly very proud of Em, and was full of praise for her daughter.

 

GG19

Last but not least along the line is Sarah, who bought not one but two ponchos! Sarah writes a blog called The Compost Bin and writes about life as The Compost Woman. Sarah lives on a four acre small holding and lives as sustainable as she can, running courses, and working as an environmental educator and Forest school leader. I spotted Sarah walking out of another stall wearing her autumnal colour poncho. She looks fab in both of them, but I am particularly fond of the ‘Damson Gin’ poncho she wearing in the group photo.

It was a really lovely moment, as the four ladies met at the stall. We hugged, and for a moment, really connected. This to me was a very significant end to a wonderful festival where connecting with people who have similar ethics and a similar way of life to me was a big part of the weekend. I felt a genuine warmth to all four ladies, and since then we’ve found each other on Facebook and hope pur paths will cross again soon. I very much hope to be at next year’s Green Gathering, and hope too that Gretel, Kim, Lizzie and Sarah will be there too.

GG18

 

 

 

 

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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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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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Wonderful Woolfest

Over on the Woolfest Facebook group page, one lady recently posted: ‘ Not been this excited since I was 4 and waiting for santa to arrive!!!’

IMG_2112 compThere is a real buzz, as folk offer each other lifts, book tickets for Friday night’s spin in, talk about accomodation and most importantly, chat about what they are going to see, do and buy! Those exhibiting also show what they are going to be bringing along.

I find it really hard not to bombard the group page with photos of new designs, new products and exciting colours. I am so excited about the collection I’m taking along to Woolfest to hopefully sell, that I have to sit on my hands and not take up more than my fair share of group page space! Hopefuly enough folk will have found their way to The Woolly Pedlar’s Facebook page 😉

IMG_2119 compIf you don’t know about Woolfest, it is held in Mitchell’s Mart, on the roundabout as you approach Cockermouth, over in the Western Lake District, set in the most stunning scenery. I shall be rocking up in the silver van, and making the car park my home for the next two days. I have everything I need in my van, cooker, sink, bed, food, g&t, and even a bucket for nightime emergencies!

I love the atmosphere at Woolfest amongst fellow traders and look forward to catching up with them, once we stagger, exhausted, to our campervans after busy days.

pen-comp    So, when I arrive at Woolfest I’ll go to my empty cattle pen. This year I’ve got double the space – a large square, 15ft x 15ft. Last year it was rather like a bowling alley, which had created a bottle neck, and I wasn’t able to show my woolly wares at their best. This year, having been there once already, and having three times as much stock as last year, I am going to really enjoy transforming this empty pen into a colourful woolly paradise.

IMG_2115 comp

 

 

 

This is what I did with the space last year, with sweatercoats at the front. These were a real hit, and we had lots of ladies twirling in them at the front of the stall,  inspired by my friend, Adele, who came to help me wearing her sweatercoat.

I love Woolfest on so many levels. It is enormous fun, with hundreds of like minded souls, who have come together to celebrate wool.

It gave me a huge boost to my new little business, and I was thrilled to have been invited back again this year.

Brown-by-wallJulie and I was been working our socks off to bring lots of new designs. We’ve got dozens of ponchos for toddlers, children, and adults. New in stock are extra large size ponchos, and round necks in response too all who asked for ponchos without hoods.

I’ve got lots and lots of lovely blankets and bedspreads, with my popular hooded baby blankets, lap rugs, and hopefully enough bedpspreads to go round the whole of the stall.

I’ve been busy making sweatercoats and jumpers and have the biggest collection I have ever had at an event! I can’t wait to see what everyone thinks of them!

 

 

SW17.1 Last year there was lots of excitement and a bit of a rush over one very colourful sweatercoat. I have learnt from that, and have fifteen sweatercoats ready all in fabulous colours this year! I even have two rainbow coats ready for the off on Friday morning.

If you are coming to Woolfest, then goody!! Do drop by and say hello – you never know, you might be able to hold the stall while I go for a quick ‘comfort break’!

 

Meanwhile, I’d better get back to the packing. I’ve been labelling and packing for three days now! Still hoping to make some more mens’ jumpers at the beginning of next week, then that’ll be it! Woolfest here I come 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

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To Etsy, or not to Etsy, that is the question…

Talk about having all your eggs in one basket! Don’t get me wrong, I love my new website, but internet sales have fallen in number since I moved all my internet shop over here.

SW17.1I don’t think it’s because folk don’t like my work anymore, or that it’s too expensive, I just think that I am competing with the big boys such as Etsy and Ebay in the search listings.

I’ll say it again, I love my new website – I love its design (thank you Cool Terry from TWDA and Gemma from Yellow Cherry Design), I love having my blog on the same site rather than blogspot. I love having the shop there, but I can see from the list of key words used to find the website that it is my brand that is bringing folk here. In other words, they are searching specifically for me, The Woolly Pedlar, however they are spelling it! (That’s another issue and one I wrote about in a previous blog: ‘There are 2 l’s in Woolly!)

AW27 I closed my Etsy shop originally when this website was created for many reasons, most of all being that I didn’t want to spread my stock too thinly or get in a muddle. With making one off items, it’s hard enough keeping track of what sells at Farmer’s Markets and events, and what sells online. I have on more than one occasion had to apologise when I’ve sold a pair of armwarmers at a market then had a customer order the same pair online. This means it is vital to keep online stock seperate from that which is destined for the stall.

 

IMG_4195This of course means I need a big stock and this was always a problem in the past, as I was in the fortunate position of selling my woolly creations as fast as I could make them. Not so any more! I have a fairy godmother in the form of Julie who I introduced to you in the blog ‘Getting Some Help‘. Julie leaves all the designing of coats and jumpers, and the making of scarves and armwarmers to me, but she is a whizz at making my patchwork ponchos and bedspreads. This has meant that I now have plenty of stock not only for Woolfest, which is my next big event (more on that later), but I now have enough to keep a good selection on the shop and to reopen my Etsy shop which I’ll do after Woolfest. Hopefully then I’ll catch those who are searching on Etsy or looking down the Google tube for something specifically handmade and upcycled.
I’ll let you all know when that happens, and who knows, I may even open a Folksy shop while I’m at it!

Back to Woolfest! Are you coming? This is my favourite event of the year, and takes place in the Farmer’s Mart at Cockermouth on the western edge of the Lake District. It is two days of everything woolly, a celebration of sheep and their wonderful wool, and I for one can’t wait! It is on 26th and 27th June this year. If you are coming, you’ll find me in row K and I look forward very much to seeing you there!

Woolfest-2015In the meantime, you can catch up with all my woolly goings on over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – just search for The Woolly Pedlar, but remember, there are 2 l’s on Woolly!

 

 

 

 

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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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The Katwise Sweatercoat

I first began making the Katwise sweatercoat four years ago. It was more to give me something to do whilst I was off on long term sick from my teaching job. I had already downloaded the tutorial for making the Katwise armwarmers and had made a few pairs for friends and family, and I felt like I was ready to tackle a bigger project. I had caught the bug! Trawling my local charity shops, I hunted for woollen jumpers until I had enough to tackle my very first sweatercoat. Here is one of the early ones. Little was I to know back then, that my adventures with sweatercoats would become my new business as ill health would force me permanently out of teaching.

IMG_0717 compIf you haven’t already come across Katwise, or Kat O’Sullivan, then do check out her website. She has an almost cult following over in the States, and her jumpers and sweatercoats sell out as fast as Glastonbury tickets. She sells the tutorials for making them as downloadable PDF files, and says to folk that it’s fine to make and sell them, just a long as they mention her name and charge a reasonal price so as no to undervalue hers or others’ work.

I used to be a bit embarrassed about owning up to the fact that my sweatercoats were not my original design, but were a Katwise copy, but I soon got over that! Whilst the design of the sweatercoat may not be my own, there is still a lot of skill involved in selecting the right combination of colours, textures and weight of recycled knitwear to use, not to mention the skill of putting them together with an industrial overlocker.

IMG_0358  I have made sweatercoats now for four years as The Woolly Pedlar in many combinations of colours. Here is the Eco Wedding Sweatercoat that is made soley from ivory wool sweaters. I have added a maribou feather trim and it has some sweet embroidery on the cuffs. It took months to collect enough ivory sweaters, and white certainly didn’t look right at all!

As I write this, the eco wedding coat is still for sale, but head over to the Sweatercoat section of the shop to check out this and all the other sweatercoats that are still for sale.

 

 

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The starting point for making a sweatercoat for me, is always the bodice. This needs to be thick enough to take the weight of the full skirt, and so preferably made from a felted wool jumper or cardi. If is is too lightweight, then it will not hold its shape. I use a mannequin and place the bodice on it, finding the natural waistline and cut it off there. The waistband then needs to good and thick to really keep the shape of the coat. To give an even more cinched in wasit feel, then add a tie belt. This is all explained in more detail in Katwise’s tutorial.

IMG_0260 comp After the waistband is on, I add the full skirt, made up of panels which I often cut from the sleeves of jumpers,  and then the hem lines – the more of these you add, the fuller and longer the skirt.

I then make the hood. Now, I find that hood are a bit like Marmite. You either love them or you hate them!

 

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I have made my fair share of wacky, pointy hoods, but I do get asked to make sweatercoats without hoods. For some, the coat is wacky enough, but the hood is just one stage too far! For others, the longer the hood, the better. Though I do warn folk when going to the loo to lift the hood over their shoulders! Sorry to be gross!

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I do, therefore make sweatercoats with collars like this, but as with all my creations, what I make very much depends on what I can find, old jumper wise. For that reason it is all very serendipitous, but it keeps it exciting!

After the hood is made, add a button band, sleeves and pockets, and after all the ends have been sewn in by hand, you have your sweatercoat!

I’m heading off to Woolfest soon, and am hard at work making lots of new sweatercoats for this year. Woolfest is held in June, the 26th – 27th to be precise. It is set in stunning scenery on the edge of the Lake District at Cockermouth and is held in the Farmer’s Mart.  When I get there, I will be given an empty cattle pen that has been hosed down, and then have the afternoon to transform this into my stall. This is last year’s stall, though I’m pleased to say I will have double the space this year.

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I love Woolfest! It is a gathering where wool is celebrated in its every form, and has a very high class of exhibitor. If you are coming to Woolfest, do come and say hello. You’ll find me in row K at the far side of the Mart.

 

IMG_0850 comp This was the sweatercoat that caused the biggest stir last year. I’d posted a pic on the Woolfest Facebook page of this sweatercoat and there was something of a rush when the doors opened on the Friday morning! I made a mental note to self – #makemorenextyear!

So, with this in mind, I’ve been busy collecting piles of jumpers in lovely, bright colourways, as well as monochrome, in blacks and greys. My only problem is there are not enough hours in the day, or days in the week!

 

Whenever I make a new sweatercoat, I generaly list it for sale online, on this website in the Women’s Clothing/Sweatercoats section of the shop.  I also show it on all the other social media, You can follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram – just search for The Woolly Pedlar, but make sure you spell it right! There are 2 l’s in Woolly!
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I don’t generally take orders for sweatercoats, as it is so hard to predict what jumpers I can find, but if you do have a special request, then get in touch, and I’ll see what I can do.

Thanks for reading, and if you fancy making yourself a Katwise sweatercoat, then go for it! Let me know how you get on, and I’d love to see a photo of what you make, and as Katwise says, if you do end up selling them, then best of luck –  just give me a mention from time to time 🙂

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