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On the road in September

Autumn Adventures to Yarndale and Perth

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

On the road in September

On the road in September

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

Knitters Outer Hebrides MacMillan Cancer

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

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

Luxury accomodation in the car par at Yarndale

Luxury accommodation in the car park at Yarndale

 

The van kitchen

The van kitchen

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

Happy faces at Perth Festival of Yarn

Happy faces at Perth Festival of Yarn

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

Elspeth in her new jacket

Elspeth in her new jacket

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

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

 

The calm before the storm at Yarndale

The calm before the storm at Yarndale

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

My Stall at Yarndale

My Stall at Yarndale

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

Yarn bombed bike

Yarn bombed bike

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

Happy customer at Yarndale

Happy customer at Yarndale

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

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

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The Power of Twitter

Following on from last week’s post, about the Highs and Lows of Using Facebook as a Small Business, I thought I’d write this week about the ‘Power of Twitter’. I love Twitter, and it has helped me link up with some awesome people and has provided many business opportunities.

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It was through Twitter I met Gavin Forster. (It was in fact through Northeasthour on Twitter, but more of that later.) Gavin has a photography business, Gavin Forster Photography and was looking for designs to photograph to jazz up his website. He had seen a tweet of mine showing my brightly coloured, upcycled, woolly creations and thought my work was just what he was looking for. Gavin picked  a suitcase full of my sweatercoats and jumpers and took them off on a photoshoot with one of his models. I was delighted, as I got some absolutely stunning photos, many of which I still use today, and Gavin was delighted too as he got a lots of very funky shots.

The black and white sweatercoat above is one of his shots, as are these two and all three remain firm favourites of mine.

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Only last week, I came across Chris, who has a workshop called Quercs down in Skipton where he makes upcycled furniture using reclaimed timber. Chris had tweeted about his gallery opening, and his hunt for fellow upcyclers to exhibit there. I’m happy to say that through the power of Twitter, Chris and I started talking and last week I sent down a big box of bedspreads, throws and cushions to Skipton. Chris’ furniture and my bedspreads go beautifully together. Quercs is now added to the list of stockists of my upcycled woolly wares, thanks to the power of Twitter.

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One of the most unusual commissions to date has to the the coffin cosy I was asked to make for Divine Departures, a funeral parlour in Gateshead.(Unfortunately no longer in business). Divine Departures were after a covering for their cardboard caskets that fitted with the ecofriendly nature, and found me through #Northeasthour.

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 Northeasthour, is an hour dedicated to north east businesses and is hosted by Helen Armstrong on Twitter, every Monday from 8-9pm and on Tuesdays from 1-2pm. The idea being that is you tweet anything with the hashtag #northeasthour then this can be easily spotted and retweeted or commented on by others joining in with the hour. There are many different ‘hours’ over on Twitter, far too many to join in with them all, but living in the north-east, I’ve found #northeasthour to be a tremendously supportive community. I’ve even had my carpets cleaned by a guy who I found through #northeasthour.

ITV

It was through the power of Twitter that ITV got in touch. They has seen my work and were looking for a small business to interview for a broadcast about the election and how it was affecting businesses in the northeast. I was picked as I was a small business that appeared to be doing well. It was a fantastic opportunity to talk about my work, and the crew spent a lot of time with me, filming at home, and in Hexham at The Farmer’s Market.

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The list of contacts made and friendships forged could go on. In just 140 characters, Twitter invites you to tweet. Hashtags are used to help people find tweets. So for example, I tweeted about my latest sweatercoat today. I tweeted ‘This latest sweatercoat has a stonking great hood! #ecofashion’. I then included the link to my website and this photograph. A great opportunity to show what I’ve just made, and the #ecofashion hashtag means those searching for tweets on the subject will hopefully find mine! It really is as simple as that.
If you have something to tell the world, I really would suggest you give Twitter a go.

If you want to follow me on Twitter, I’m @Woollypedlar.

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