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Looking Back Over Five Years Peddling My Wool by The Woolly Pedlar

Looking Back At The Past Five Years Peddling my Wool

Looking Back Over Five Years Peddling My Wool by The Woolly Pedlar

Looking Back Over Five Years Peddling My Wool by The Woolly Pedlar

It’s been an incredible five years. Six years ago I had to give up my teaching career due to ill health, and here I am, celebrating the fifth year of running my own business. Those of you who have been following my journey will have already heard about how it all began, so I won’t go into that all now, but leave you to read that very first blogpost for yourselves: How The Woolly Pedlar Came About

The Woolly Pedlar at Audio Soup Festival 2012

The Woolly Pedlar at Audio Soup Festival 2012

Yes, that is me in a red wig! Back in the summer of 2012 I started peddling my upcycled knitwear at small festivals, and Audio Soup was one of the first. I just had my camper van, which is a converted builder’s van, a wooden table and a few woolly wares.

The Woolly Pedlar at The Green Gathering 2016

The Woolly Pedlar at The Green Gathering 2016

Look how it’s grown! I now have my own gazebo, complete with branding and a much wider range of upcycled clothing, soft furnishings and accessories. A far cry from the wooden table at Audio Soup! This photo shows my stall at The Green Gathering 2016, which is a festival that is very dear to my heart. It is about all things eco and sustainable, which is very much where I am coming from. I really do believe that we only have a finite number of resources on our precious planet, and we must all do our bit to live as sustainably as we can. I was thrilled to win an Ethical Trader Award both in 2015 and 2016 at The Green Gathering. Unfortunately I won’t be at the Green Gathering this year, but hope to return in 2018. Tim and I are taking a year off this year to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary!

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Talking of awards, I was absolutely blown away, when after two exceedingly busy days at Woolfest 2016, I was awarded Stallholder of the Year by The Wool Clip team who run the event. I adore Woolfest, which is in beautiful Cockermouth in Cumbria. Housed in the farmer’s mart, it is a two day event for all things woolly. things have moved on even further now, and I’m delighted to say that I am now a member of The Wool Clip. I will be in Aisle A at Woolfest 2017 and will be helping to run Britain’s premier wool event.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

 

Happy Customers Green Gathering 2015

Happy Customers Green Gathering 2015

Of course my business wouldn’t be where it is now without all my lovely customers. I’ve found that making one off, unique garments brings so many rewards. One of the best has to be meeting and getting to know my customers personally. Some of them have become good friends, and although some live in distant places, we keep in touch through social media. It’s an absolute pleasure to be making clothes for those who are looking for an antidote for boring high street fashion!

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

I’ve had some famous customers too! Some of you might remember the kerfuffle that surrounded Jeremy Corbyn buying his wife, Laura one of my woolly wraps from Bardon Mill Village Shop. I innocently wrote a blog about how thrilled I was to have a famous customer, and the right wing press twisted my story into ‘Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?’, suggesting that instead of dealing with party business, he was uncontactable up on Hadrian’s Wall, buying knitwear. I was very grateful to the journalist from the Guardian who put the whole story into perspective!

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

My quest to find knitwear to recycle has taken many twists and turns. When i started out, I would scuttle around Hexham like a bag lady, collecting wool knitwear from the charity shops. I still do this, and am very grateful in particular to Tynedale Hospice at Home, Scope, Oxfam and Save the Children who all put by knitwear that cannot be sold. I love a felted jumper! Scope have really stepped up to the plate, and now collect waste knitwear on a regional basis for me.

I also buy waste knitwear now from some of our knitwear factories. Up until it’s closure, Hawick Knitwear was great source of beautiful recycled lambswool. I’m still working through the half tonne of beautiful lambswool jumpers I bought when it went into administration. The House of Cheviot sell me their waste merino wool sock tops, and these have been made into my ‘thinking hats’.

I also buy recycled knitwear in bulk from textile recyclers. I have learnt a great deal about the rag trade, and where our waste clothing ends up. So much goes to landfill, and so much gets shipped abroad. We must do everything we can to buy less, and recycle and upcycle.

Getting Help from One Off Projects

Getting Help from One Off Projects

As my business has grown, I’ve had to get help! I was thrilled when Julie from One Off Projects came to my rescue. Julie is a self employed seamstress who runs her own business, but helps me sew now. Julie is now responsible for making many of my bedspreads, ponchos and woolly wraps.

Plus Size Moss & Mustard Upcycled Wool Jacket with Pixie Hood by the Woolly Pedlar

Plus Size Moss & Mustard Upcycled Wool Jacket with Pixie Hood by the Woolly Pedlar

From making those first pair of armwarmers, and Katwise sweatercoats, my range of designs has grown steadily over the past five years, and I’ll leave you to browse the website to see what is currently available.

As always, I owe a huge amount of thanks my family who have supported me over the years. They have put up with the house being taken over by wool, and have lost the entire third floor! My dear husband has got up early on countless mornings to help set up my market stall, and has even come in handy for modelling, which he hates!

Elf hats modelled by the Woolly Pedlar's husband, Tim

Elf hats modelled by the Woolly Pedlar’s husband, Tim

I have met some amazing, creative folk who also run their own businesses. I would like to give a special shout out to lovely Ceri from Oakwood Soaperie, Linda from Shanti, Shanti Colours of Nepal, and Emily from Wildflower Trading.  All are awesome women, who have shown enormous support and encouragement when those inevitable periods of self doubt creep in. We will all be in the park together for Hexham’s Spring Fair on 22nd April, and I’m looking forward to a jolly good catch up with these three.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank you all, my readers, followers and customers. Without you, I would not be where I am today. You are all awesome! Here’s to the next five years.

Sue Reed is The Woolly Pedlar

Sue Reed is The Woolly Pedlar

 

 

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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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Are you on Instagram?

Continuing my four part series on using social media for a small business, this week I’m asking the question, are you on Instagram? If not, here are a few pointers for getting up and running with what is becoming one of the fastest growing social media platforms.

As I’ve said before, for this fifty something year old, using social media to promote my upcycling business has been a steep learning curve, but a most enjoyable one. Instagram has become another string to my bow, and works very differently to Facebook or Twitter.

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Research is showing that the photo-sharing app is one of the most effective brand-building tools available today. It is not surprisingly is a popular choice for other designers and professions, and is in fact increasingly important for every kind of business.

Whilst Instagram can be viewed on a laptop or pc, it is primarily an app for the smartphone. The Instagram app can be downloaded for free from the Apple store or Google play, and is very easy to use.

Once downloaded, you will be prompted to fill out your profile. Your username should match those already in use on other social media profiles. Write a short 150 character bio and include a link to your website.

Your profile picture can be your company’s logo or a photo of you, and again, it is useful to keep this consistent over all social media so that your brand is instantly recognisable. This is a job that I need to do as my profile pics are not all the same! I often wonder of it’s better to use a photo of me, an instantly recognisable product such as my sweatercoats, or my logo? I think I’ll change them all to my logo this week, after all it’s a great design!

LOGO ON DARK
Stick to a theme. I live and work in rural Northumberland making one off handmade, upcycled products. This therefore is what I want to show folk. I do not include photos of my dinner, holiday snaps, family or other aspects of my life, but I do show photos of behind the scenes, where I live and work, what has inspired me in nature as well as photos of new products. I think it’s a good idea to develop an image of you and your brand that is not just about what you make, but rather how it is made, and the personality behind the business.

Bridge-Cottage

You then need to add a caption. This is a chance to expand on your image, and link it back to your business. Use hashtags to help followers find your posts that are relevant to the photo, but use these at the end of the caption, and not jumbled up in the text. I frequently use the following hashtags: #upcycled #ecofashion #wool #recycled. You can put a couple of hashtags in your profile too.

On Instagram, you should be maintaining a regular posting schedule, but you don’t want to bombard your followers with too many posts. I generally post something once or twice a day, usually in the morning and again in the late afternoon to catch everyone returning home from work.

Don’t forget to crosspost your Instagram posts with other social media platforms. The app allows you to post images directly to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr and Foursquare. However, I do find that as the different social media platforms work in very different ways, I do tend to construct posts differently depending on where they are destined for. I crosspost direct to Twitter and Tumblr from Instagram, but not to Facebook. That just a matter of preference.

I’ll leave you now with this photo of a poncho sent by a lady in Tennessee USA who followed me on Instagram, then put an order in for a bespoke rasta poncho after seeing posting of my upcycled woolly ponchos. It’s proof that using social media for business really is worth the while!

Ruana

If you’d like to follow me on Instagram I’m woollypedlar

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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.

 

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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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The Story of My Baby Blanket.

IMG_1402 Back in 2013, I was selling my woolly wares at Willowman Festival. Trading next to me was the lovely Hannah, who had her new baby boy, Lewis with her. He was just a babe in arms and being breastfed by his mum whilst she sold an eclectic mix of Fairtrade wares. Hannah commissioned me to make a hooded baby blanket for little Lewis, such as you see made from bath towels, but with a funky, pixie hood.

This was an exciting new commission, and when I got home from the festival I set about designing it.

I get a lot of beautiful cashmere and soft lambswool in my hunt for woollies to recycle. Cashmere jumpers often have a wee hole in them, making them unsellable in charity shops, but are ideal to cut up into squares and use patchwork style. I love that this is taking waste and using it to create something new.

IMG_1336 compI already made baby blankets using squares, and called them my ‘one hundred square’ blankets for obvious reasons! I thought they might be useful when learning to count, as kids could put an object in each  to learn one to one correspondance. (You can tell I was am ex teacher!)

I used this design as the basis for my hooded baby blankets, but added a funky hood with a pixie point in one corner.

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Hannah and Lewis were delighted with their hooded baby blanket and I caught up with them at another festival later that summer.

Here is little Lewis, with his daddy, hiding from the sun at a very sunny Cockermouth Festival.

 

 

 

 

 

Elijah

Since then I have made and sold dozens of my hooded baby blankets. I’ve made them in brights and pastels, and even in the colours of a rugby team for little Elijah, whose mummy and daddy support Leicester Tigers.

I have sold them to folk all round the world. One lady was searching for a baby blanket which was ‘Handmade in UK’ and stumbled across me. Her son-in-law was British, and so wanted to buy a present for the newborn baby that was made in Britain.

 

 

I love seeing photos of little ones in my baby blankets, so if you have bought one, then do send a photo. I of course would only use it with your permission.

IMG_0244 compThis bonny babe is little Seren, who came for a play in the Bridge Cottage garden with my good friends, Pete and Eli.

Like Seren here, and little Elijah above, babies are loving the soft comfort that wool gives.

I always try to keep a good selection of these one off, upcycled baby blankets on the website. To see what’s currently in stock, head to ‘Baby Blankets’

If you would like one making in a particular colourway – if you need one in your football team’s colours for example, or any colour combo, then do get in touch.

My baby blankets are all one off’s – the delightful nature of using recycled knitwear means that once a jumper has been used, it’s gone, and I can never make the same product twice.

I am always making more baby blankets, as with the rest of my upcycled designs, so do keep a weather eye on the website shop to see what’s there.

Hannah-and-Lewis

I caught up with Hannah and Lewis again this year at splendid Audio Soup festival, which I blogged about last week, in my post, ‘It’s a Tough Life’ .

It was really good to see them, and see how much Lewis has grown. He’s a great little chap, always busy and chattering about what he is doing. On the right here, he’s having a sit down infront of my stall while he eats his halloumi.

LewisThanks to Hannah and Lewis, the hooded baby blanket with the funky little pixie hood was born, and has now been made into dozens of little blankets and hopefully many more to come, keeping babies warm in upcycled woolly warmth all around the world.

If you are having a baby, or are looking for a present for a baby shower or for a little one, then do head over to the website shop to see if there’s one there you like. Delivery is free within the UK, with International Shipping also available.

Local stockists of my upcycled baby blankets and other woolly wares include:

Mr Wolf, Hexham

Once Brewed Visitor Centre, Bardon Mill

The Hemmel Cafe, Allenheads

You can also see where I’ll be bringing my woolly wares to next, over on the event’s page – you never know, I may be coming fo a field or market near you soon and you can then see and feel the baby blankets for yourself.

Thanks for reading – feel free to share this and spread the word about upcycling.

You can catch up on all the past blogs if you fancy a read over on the website too.

Bye for now!

PS – I’m out and about next near Chepstow in the South West at the Green Gathering – see you there if you’re going 🙂

 

 

 

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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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