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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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Vibernum at Bridge Cottage

Tales From The Woolly Garret: The January Blues

So, the tree’s down and the kids have left to go back to their respective homes. The house is quiet and cold. The van is still full of stock from Christmas shows, and the workshop is in a right old state. There is Christmas cake and chocolate to finish, even though the scales have reached a new high. The post Christmas lurgy has also struck and Lemsip has replaced gin as my drink of choice.

This time of year that can be tough for some. Just yesterday over on Twitter, someone I follow was asking if it was ok to say that she was ‘down’. Yes it is, it’s January, it’s cold and dark, and some of us are worn out from the run up to Christmas and the frenzy of Christmas markets. The January Blues can bite hard.

I must admit to feeling briefly low. I get so used to having the two elder ‘kids’ around, and it feels like a part of me is missing when they go. Go they must, however, as they have exiting your lives to lead, and we’d annoy the pants of each other if they stayed around for too long.

I also made the mistake of stepping on the scales – bad move! That should wait until at least two weeks after Christmas, if at all. To combat all the cheese we had a lovely run out to Caldbeck where we visited The Wool Clip and went for a long walk. For those who aren’t familiar with The Wool Clip, it’s a beaut of a shop full of all things woolly and run by the same co-operative who organise and run Woolfest. The countryside and villages around Caldbeck, which is on the north eastern edge of the Lake District, are stunning. It’s amazing how a good walk, a bit of woolly retail therapy and looking at horizons lifts the January Blues. I resisted cake at the cafe too and went for the carrot and parsnip soup.

I loved visiting The Wool Clip and met Emma from Hole House Bags who was running the shop that day. The blues were starting to lift!

I also got quickly back up in the woolly garret and began sorting my jumpers into piles. This is always exciting, as new possibilities of colourways and potential projects get planned. I can’t wait to get sewing again! I have an exciting new collection panned based on a photo I took whilst Cycling Around Orkney. I’ll keep that under wraps though, until I’m ready to unveil the collection. Needless to say, I have an awesome pile of jumpers, with colours to beat any blues into submission.

 

Today I got out in the garden, and used the trug my husband bought me for Christmas. My one New Year’s Resolution is to get out in the garden more and to grow more veggies this year. Those of you who used to follow my blog The Bridge Cottage Way will know how important this is to me, but woolly pedlaring took over last year, and the garden was sadly neglected. I find getting outdoors to be one of the best ways of beating the blues, January or not! I got into the greenhouse and weeded in between the winter veg. It was great to be back connecting with the soil.

We have a rather unruly Vibernum near the greenhouse which has burst into flower. It is a wonderful sight, with a heady scent. The perfect antidote to the January Blues.

 If you’re feeling blue, I hope it doesn’t last, the days are getting lighter, and Spring is on its way!

 

 

 

 

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Take an Old Stripy Scarf…Upcycling Knitwear

Every week I visit four charity shops in my home town of Hexham, and go behind the scenes to my bins where waste knitwear is collected. I sort through the woollies, and take what I can use in my upcycling. I’m very particular, and only a certain gauge of knitwear will do, and only the best quality and colours make it into my basket.

Every now and then I get real gems, like the week I got several Fairisle jumpers and made this coat, resplendent in patterning: (incidentally, this coat now resides in America )

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The other week I pulled a stripy scarf out of my bin at Tynedale Hospice – I love getting stripes, and a scarf is so useful! But oh my goodness! The colours in this one were absolutely fabulous! Here it is in close up:

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I soon set about making piles of jumpers and seeing what I had in these colours on the shelves. I had a couple of felted jumpers for bodices – one purple, the other a deliciously soft green cashmere.

The scarf I decided would make excellent hood trims, and indeed it did! Two of them, with spare left over for pockets.  I took this photo one evening, and just love it!

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I sometimes make coats without hoods – I often say there’re like Marmite, you either love ’em or hate ’em! This stripy scarf and the possibility of using all those colours in a hood was just too good to pass on.

These coats deserved hoods, and hoods they got!

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I’ve got the Green Gathering coming up as my next event, and I’m taking these beauties with me if they don’t sell first – in fact, I’m going to keep this short and sweet again this week as I need to hot foot it up to the woolly garret where another coat is in the making.

I’ve love and leave you with some more photos of the two coats that came about as a result of a stripy scarf in the rag bin, and also give you the link to the sweatercoat section of the shop so you can find out more about them and do some window shopping. – Actual shopping is of course very welcome too!!

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Working with Recycled Wool – A Few Questions Answered

Morning! It’s a bit of a damp squib out there, and all intentions of getting out on my bike have gone out the window, so I thought I’d stay in the warmth of my bed, laptop on knee, and write this week’s blog. I get asked lots of questions about working with wool, so I thought I’d try and answer some of them here by going through the processes involved in making clothes, soft furnishings and accessories from recycled wool knitwear.

squares

I posted this photo on my Facebook page this week of wool squares all ready cut out and waiting to be made into a bedspread, and a few questions arose from this which have prompted this week’s blog. They are also a scrummy colour, so hopefully this week’s blog will look pretty as well as be informative!

I’ve already written about how wool jumpers can be sourced in a previous blogpost, ‘Finding Jumpers to Upcycle’. So I’ll start with the process from when I bring the jumpers home.

washing-jumpers

First of all everything is washed. I sort into vague colour piles washing all light jumpers together. It’s not that I’ve ever had a problem with colours running, but you can get wool fibres from one jumper sticking to another. I’ve learnt this the hard way when washing beautiful cream jumpers only to find them covered in black fluff. I wash everything on a 40 degree mixed load with a 1200 spin. Much of today’s woollen knitwear is machine washable and will come out pretty much as it went it, but without the ‘eau de old lady’ pong that can come from charity shops. Other woollies, will felt and shrink and these are just perfect for making bodices for jackets and sweatercoats. As I’ve said before, the bodice needs to be sturdy enough to support the weight of the rest of the garment. This is also the main reason why I don’t make clothes to order, as what size bodices I get to work with very much depend on what I find and how it comes out of the wash. I don’t own a tumble drier, never have done – an unneccessary drain on the planet’s energy resources if you ask me! I either hang up the jumpers outside or dry on racks indoors. Although at times my house ends up looking like Widow Twanky’s laundry!

cutting-wheel-and-mat

When I first starting making things from cut out squares I painstakingly cut all the squares with a pair of scissors using a cardboard square as a template. I hadn’t heard of a cutting wheel, and spent hours and hours cutting each square with my scissors. I even employed the kids and friends of the kids’ to cut out squares for me as it was just taking me too darn long.

Then I discovered a cutting wheel – brilliant! Along with a cutting mat and large ruler with grids marked out cutting became so much easier. Think pizza slicer but for fabric. A word of warning however, these are ridicuously sharp and cutting should always be done away from fingers.

The first task when cutting jumpers is to disect the jumper, cutting away the seams. The beauty of these cutting wheels is that more than one layer of jumper can be cut through at a time, saving precious time. I save the bottom rib bands for making the tops of armwarmers and baby legwarmers.

This brings me nicely back to my cut out squares, and the commonest question I get asked when speaking at meetings.

‘Don’t the squares fray when you’ve cut them out?’

No they don’t is the quick answer. I only use manufactured wool knitwear of medium weight. I don’t use handknits and I don’t use chunky knits. This is mainly because they just don’t work with an overlocker (or serger for those of you across the pond). The cut out pieces just sit there, good as gold, waiting for their turn to be stitched.

workshop-1

When I first started woolly pedlaring, four years ago, I started with a domestic overlocker. You do need an overlocker if you are to sucessfully join knitwear together. A domestic overlocker is a great place to start, but will only cope with fairly lightweight materials. I started by making arwarmers, and soon got the upcycling bug and moved on to making coats and jumpers. It was pretty evident fairly early on that my domestic overlocker was just not up to the job. The smoke coming out of the back after eight hours use a day, and the bunched up stitches where I’d been trying to sew three thicknesses of jumper were a clear indication.

My this point I’d left my teaching job and was seriously considering going self employed. I used my final payment from teaching to set myself up with an industrial overlocker. This is a marvellous piece of kit, and is still going strong. It copes admirably with hours and hours of sewing at a time, and sews through jumpers like soft butter.

Getting the hand of threading can be a right pain, but You Tube has some great tutorials. One top tip I will give you, is to put a different colour thread on each of the four bobbins while you are learning how to thread it. That way you will soon understand what each thread’s job is.

So, now let’s get on with some sewing!

 

Your next decision will be whether to have the seams on the front or on the back. It’s amazing how many men cannot handle the seams on the outside! It’s not exclusively men, but when I sell at fairs, it’s so often the men that comment on my work being ‘the wrong way round’. I do sew with seams on the inside sometimes, but I love the wiggle and added texture that comes from putting seams on the outside.

sewing-squares

This woo bedspread which I’ve just finished for a customer has seams on the back. She wanted a smooth finish. The squares have all been been cut into six inch squares and to make a large double bedspread you will need 360 squares.

I then sew the squares into strips. Each strip has 18 squares, and I made 20 strips.

I then sew up all the strips, and then sew all the way around the perimter of the bedspread. The overlocker will not finish off the end, and you will be left with a ‘chain’ of stitches. Just get a needle and thread and sew this in by hand. The beauty of making a bedspread in this way is that all ends will be stitching in apart from just one at the end, making the hand sewing minimal. As you can imagine, this is a very different matter with something like a handkerchief hem which has dozens of points.

So here we are, one double bedspread. I shall be delivering this to Matilda next week. Let’s hope she likes it!

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Of course I make all sorts of other products from recycled wool and not just using squares. I’ll leave you to browse the shop to see what else can be made.

Thanks for reading this week’s blog! I’m sure you have many other questions – ask away! I’m more than happy to help. 🙂

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Feeling SO Supported

I love my Facebook followers! This week I posted a photo of my empire line dresses on all social media, including my Twitter account. On the whole the response was really positive, but I did get this comment on Twitter:

#OMG Who would wear this? #oldschool. This threw me temporarily and my confidence was knocked.

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There was me, thinking that my empire line dresses were a great design! I love an empire line – it hides a multitude of sins. I’m also not a follower of fashion. I think, especially when you reach a certain age, that you discover shapes and styles that suit your shape and you stick to them.

As a designer however, I do keep an eye out for what is in vogue and sometimes get inspiration from this.

I was pleased with my empire line dress, and how it made me look, and I don’t particularly care if this is ‘old school’. I like the shape and design!

I have issue with this person’s comment on another level too.

Selling my woolly wares both on the internet and at markets I sometimes come across other’s work that isn’t to my liking or taste.

 

However, I would never, ever, comment that I didn’t like it. I would never be so rude! That person has put love and care into what they make and quite frankly it is hurtful. Why would you want to go out to hurt someone’s feelings?

When I shared this tweet with my lovely family of Facebook followers, the response was overwhelming. Here are a few of the many supportive comments I received:

  • Does old school mean not in fashion/not on trend? If so then your critic needs to go look in the highstreet shops…….this design is “Bang on trend”.
  • If I see and like something, then I an comment, if not, I just let it be. It´s very rude to lessen someone else´s work. For sure every taste is different, but that doesn´t mean that the other one´s is better or worse…just different! And I love your “old school” dresses
  • How rude! I love your work and am looking forward to treating myself to a piece soon. I say ‘treat’ because it will be a treat to have something hand made and one of a kind in the mass produced soul-less ‘fashion’ world.
  • There are many many shops my folks won’t go into because they’re ‘too young’. Not saying these are ‘old school’, just playing devils advocate here, as there’s a huge market that struggle to find clothing they like and doesn’t make them look like ‘mutton dressed as lamb’ or ‘trying to look young’ in my folks words! Keep up the good work!! Xx
  • Empire line dresses are very flattering on ladies with a lovely, full, pert bust!!! Obviously the person who does not like your dresses must not have a great, womanly figure like us!! She can stick to her “new look, top shop” etc who just sell racks and racks of the same boring thing!!! You go girl!!
  • Well, I’m wearing one, and have had nothing but admiring comments from everyone. xx

Although the negative comment threw me for a bit, the support I received was awesome! I will continue to make my ‘old school’ designs, happy in the knowledge that many do appreciate them. Thank you Facebook followers!

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Green Inspiration

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

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

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

 

 

 

 

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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.

 

 

Christmas-2014

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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If it’s good enough for Elvis…

All through my life my younger brother has teased me for being a hippie. As a teenager he would mock my Bob Dylan records, patchouli and joss sticks, and now that I have a business upcycling knitwear into alternative clothing, he now mocks my patchwork ponchos! I asked him, sleek Swiss city dweller that he is, if he would like a hooded patchwork poncho, but not surprisingly he declined. My brother is also a huge fan of Elvis, the rock n roll legend. Elvis-&-London

The good looking guy in this photo is also called Elvis. This Elvis is from California, not Memphis Tennessee, and this Elvis has a patchwork poncho.

Through my dear friends and business associates, Austin and Lindsey from Mr Wolf, the children’s shop in Hexham, little London seen here sitting next to her Daddy, got one of my kids’ patchwork ponchos.

540-template  London loves her Tutti Fruitti poncho, and her mummy is sending me lots of amazing photos from California of London, in her poncho. Here she is at The Angels Stadium, Anaheim, Californis. They tell me The Angels won that night! London’s mummy was so pleased with the little poncho that she asked me to make one for her, Elvis and London.

I was delighted to get this order, and it prompted me to add international sales to my shop, hoping that some of London and Elvis’ friends in California might also want a patchwork poncho. I’m told, however, that they are just entering their boiling hot summer weather so maybe it’ll be a while until I get any orders!

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Elvis, Caroline and London took their ponchos on a boat rip recently to Lake Tahore and showed what excellent holiday wear my ponchos are. Great for slipping over beach wear when you need a bit of warmth.

family-beachElvis is in fact an airline pilot, and I’m hoping that he will soon be sending me a photo of him wearing his patchwork poncho in the cockpit of his 747. Wouldn’t that be cool!

So my dear brother, if it’s good enough for Elvis………..

Ponchos for little people, middle sized people and big people can be found online in the shop over at www.woollypedlar.co.uk  in Kids and Babies, Women’s Clothing, and Men’s Clothing.

I’ll leave you tonight with a photo of one of the men’s ponchos I have online – fab for festivals and outdoor parties! This time it is my handsome younger son who is the model.

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Being Filmed for You Tube and the Telly

It’s been quite a week for filming here at Woolly HQ, what with Tyne Tees Television here talking about the economy, and Film Able here making a You Tube documentary.

studio-space Needless to say, I am one of those creative souls who lives and works in a right muddle, so before any film crews arrived, it was time to tidy up! I am very fortunate to live in a big house, with empty rooms as children are fleeing the nest. We have a third floor, and I have completely taken over this with my woolly pedlaring. I have a workshop and studio, which is great, but means even more room to make a mess in!

However, I was really pleased with the result and felt it would make a good backdrop to the films.

 

 

Helen-Ford-ITV-Mar-2015Don’t you just love the contacts that can be made through social media? I was phoned a couple of weeks ago by Helen Ford from Tyne Tees Television after I’d followed her on Twitter, to see if I’d like to take part in a feature looking at how local businesses were fairing in this present economic climate.

Helen was lovely to talk to, and did the filming herself. We chatted about the local economy and the importance of encouraging folk to buy local and buy handmade to support small businesses. I talked on camera about this, and how awesome the support from other local busineses has been. We discussed social media and how this gives a global platform to small businesses like myself.

Helen tells me she is planning for the feature to be broadcast at 6pm on Tuesday 7th April on Tyne Tees if you are able to tune in.

workshopI’ve also been busy making a You Tube video about my woolly pedlaring and have had Film Able here. Under the guidance of Vicky and Mark from Haltwhistle Film Project, Film Able are a group of filmakers who have learning difficulties, who I first came across when working at Priory School in Hexham. I’d wanted a film making obout the organic vegetable garden I’d built with my students, and Film Able had done such a super job back then, I had no hesitation in asking them to help film me at work, and out and about with my woolly wares. Cool Terry, my web designer says it would be a really good idea to put a You Tube vidoe out about what I do, and put it on the website.

 

Tess and Marilyn from Film Able had already come along to Hexham Christmas Market back in December and had filmed me at work. Coincidentally they filmed what was one of my best sales of the year! I expect I’ll be beaming when we get to see the film. They also filmed my workshop and me at work from various angles, and me talking about what I do and why I do it before we went out into the garden to film me twirling around in some of my sweatercoats. We had lots of fun and a laughs, but at the same time worked hard on the film. I am so impressed by the skills this film making group have and am really looking forward to seeing the finished film, which of course I’ll share with you here when it’s ready.

SW11.3

 

 

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Hexham Farmer’s Market

I am absolutely delighted to have been accepted into the fold of the Hexham Farmer’s Market for the past three weeks as a guest producer. The market is held my local town of Hexham, on the second and fourth Saturdays in the month in the historic Market Place in the centre of town.

540-templateIt’s an early start, but that’s ok, I’m a morning peron anyway. Unfortunately my husband isn’t and I do need his help to put up my stall. He’s a brick, however, coming down with me to get there for 7am, and then returns again in the afternoon to help take the stall down.

It’s a wonderful market with often well over 20 stalls selling a wide range of produce, all made within 50 miles of Hexham. I have been next to The Moody Baker on all three occasions and am working my way through their excellent pies and pasties! So far the cheese and potato are my favourite! Opposite me are a couple who make cheese – their lemon and ginger curd cheeses are amazing, and a dollop of that on an oaty biscuit is divine! We have meat producers, and an organic veg stall, local rapeseed oil, plant producers, wooden spatula carvers, a French patisserie, and I could go on and on! It’s a great market – so much so, it was recently nominated for the BBC’s Food and Farming awards.

daisy-and-ponchos For the four and half hours it’s open, the market is bustling with people, many of whom come week after week with their shopping bags, and unlike most supermarkets, stop and have time to chat to the producers about their work and wares.
I’ve loved seeing some of my old (and young) customers dropping by the stall wearing past woolly purchases. Daisy here, whose parents own the fabulous children’s shop, Mr Wolf down in Market Street, is wearing her Red Riding Hood poncho which was bought for her for Christmas.

gwen

 

 

 

Gwen here on the right is a friend and local artist, who paints wearing my armwarmers to keep her fingers warm, and had popped by get another pair. Gwen is typical of so many kind friends and fellow artisans who have dropped by the stall to offer encouragement and support, and for that I’m really grateful.

Bridget-Gubbins Bridget and her friend here on the left came all the way from Morpeth last weekend wearing their Woolly Pedlar coats to say hello and wish me all the best too! Bless you all!

recycle-your-jumpersI’m hoping that word will get out that this is a good place to bring unwanted woollen textiles to recycle. This week I’ve accepted a commission from a lady who dropped by the stall and asked for a poncho to be made using her old cashmere jumpers which have seen better days. I love helping folk hang on to their favourite jumpers by upcycling them!

After selling his sister a pink bedspread and matching cushion from the stall, I was asked to make a ‘Beano’ style bedspread for a young man’s bedroom.

Beano

It was great fun to make, and I collected stripes, some racing check and lots of primary colours. This is the result, and I’m happy to say he was delighted with his bedspread. I even managed to find him a toy Dennis the Menace in a local charity shop to go with it.

bblI’m really pleased with how colourful the stall looks with all the bright colours in my clothes and blankets. A customer took this photo for me of my hooded baby blankets looking really bright and cheerful against the sandstone of The Moot Hall.

I’ll be back again at the market on Saturday 28th March – do come along and say hello if you’re going to be in Hexham that day. If you’ve not been to Hexham before, you’re in for a treat. The Guardian once wrote about our town that it is:

‘Cute as a puppy’s nose, and as handsome as Clark Gable’ I must say that I agree.

Thanks for reading – do leave a comment and sign up to the blog so you don’t miss out on any! Til next time. x

 

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