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Woolfest 2016

It’s a bit like Christmas. There’s masses of work before hand, it goes like a flash and then leaves you feeling worn out, wanting more and beginning to plan to the next one! I rate Woolfest high up, if not top of my list of favourite events to sell my woolly wares at. It is the UK’s premier wool festival, celebrating everything woolly from sheep to finished product. It is run superbly by the team from The Wool Clip, and is housed in Mitchell’s Auction Mart at Cockermouth in Cumbria.

jumpers For weeks beforehand my family had to fend for themselves while I beavered away up on the third floor of our house in my woolly garret, making sure I had enough jumpers, jackets and sweatercoats to do the show justice. I’d found a factory making hand loomed Scottish knitwear and managed to bag two boxes of these beauties which made for some awesome creations. Incidentally, all three of the above sold quick as a flash. Two didn’t even make it as far as Woolfest, and the one in the middle is winging its way to Vermont in the USA as I write. I get so stressed about not having enough stock, and from what I hear from other stallholders, this is a common worry.

packed

Then there’s the packing. Boy does this take a while! Everything has to be labelled priced, bagged and carried down from the top floor. Then there’s the stall fittings to fetch from the garage – grid walls, feet, rails, stands, mannequins, table, chest of drawers, signs etc. Thank goodness for my lovely husband who, working from home as an accountant, stopped work to give me a hand. In fact not only did he help me pack and unpack the van, but he came over with me to help with the set up and take down at Woolfest. Thank you Tim. I really appreciate you! The selling bit in the middle isn’t really his thing so he took himself off with his bike and a tent and explore the coast of Cumbria for two days.

 

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The drive over to Cockermouth along the A66 past Keswick never fails to take my breath away. It is absolutely stunning! The mountains rise majestically in the North Lakes and I feel so privileged to have this as my commute to work. This is Blencathra, or Saddleback. I do wonder if my mountain climbing days are over? I’ve climbed a fair few in my life, with my highest being Mount Toubkal in Morocco, but these days I’m not as fit as I was, and I fear the coming down would be just as painful as the going up. Maybe I need to set myself the challenge of getting fit enough to climb mountains again?
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Another thank you needs to go to Julie from One Off Projects in Carlisle, who helps me sew. Julie also kindly gave up her time in between sewing bridesmaids dresses to come and help me set up and take down the stall. Julie found me a couple of years ago at Brocksbushes Christmas Fair, and has been helping to make ponchos, baby blankets and bedspreads ever since. Without Julie’s help there is no way I’d have been able to get where I am today with the business. Julie, you’re a star! She also arrived at Woolfest with a yarnbombed bike which took pride of place above the stall.

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When you arrive at Woolfest, you get given an empty, hosed down cattle or sheep pen, depending on which room you’re in. I was in the cattle shed, in row K, a great place to be in. There’s loads of space, natural light, and large size pens, not to mention music throughout the day. The only downside are the pigeons that sit high up on the beams and drop surprises on your stock and customers from a height! I had to put an umbrella up over my sweatercoats, and at night everything needs to be covered with dust sheets.
Last year, I’d built my stall rather high, and then realised that I’d totally obliterated the view of the poor guy selling drop spindles next to me. I felt so guilty that I asked to be put in the corner if I got accepted for a place the next year. As I prepared for Woolfest, I wondered if I’d shot myself in the foot and would be hidden away, especially if whoever was in the stall next to me had also built high.

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I needn’t have worried. I had a terrific pitch! It was huge. Almost three spaces for the price of two, and there was a wide aisle space I could use, as seen in the photo above which only shows a third of my space! I put my sweatercoats and jackets right at the front as folk walked in. These were my best sellers last year, and I wanted them to have pride of place.

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The other two thirds of the stall were filled with ponchos, baby blankets, kiddies’ ponchos, cushions and bedspreads.

It look six hours to set up the stall!

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Exhuasted, Tim and I retired to our van in the car park which was to be my home from home for the next two days. It’s great that there is a place to park up with portaloos provided – it helps to keep costs down, and there’s a great atmosphere amongst fellow traders as we talk over the day with a glass of wine.  I’m pretty self sufficient in the van, with a comfy bed, sink and cooker. It’s not a posh camper van, but a converted builder’s van, and does us just fine! The view over to the mountains from Woolfest is magical, and I love to have a little wander before bed to take in the scenery with my camera. I didn’t sleep that well – a mixture of excitement, anxiety and generally over thinking things, which is pretty normal for me before any big event. I also had a terrible sore throat, and chest infection so wasn’t feeling at my best at all when I gave up on sleep at 5.30 and got up to face the day.

Debra

Debra who some of you may know as the ex owner of The Bee in the Butterfly in Hexham, drove over to be my sales assistant for the two days. She soon became chief swisher too as she swished and swirled around the arena wearing my sweatercoats! This colour combination definitely suited her, though the sweatercoat in question didn’t hang around for long! Thanks Deb for your help. Sorry if this is sounding a bit like the Oscar’s!

coats

In fact most of my sweatercoats ans jackets sold, and I’ve now got a full order book, and have my work cut out to get more made for The Green Gathering, which is my next big event. I do have a few left, so if you’re after one, or anything else for that matter, head over to the website store to see what’s in stock, or get in touch via the contact form on the website if you’d like me to make you something special.
happy

 

police

I love seeing photos of happy customers, but I must have had the setting on my camera wrong, or my lens cap on, as I only have a few piccies. If you bought something from me at Woolfest, I’d love to see a photo of you wearing it. You can send me one via email or post it to my Facebook page.

We even managed to get this police officer in one of my black sweatercoats. I think we could be starting something here. Maybe the police force would like to funk up their uniforms a bit with a Woolly Pedlar coat?

It was all such fun! Debra remarked that she had face ache from smiling so much.

The atmosphere at Woolfest is nothing short of sensational. It is rammed to the rafters with folk who appreciate the time and effort that goes into making handmade items, and who love wool and colour.

It leaves you with a warm glow inside, and the happy knowledge that your work is appreciated.

As if this all positivity wasn’t enough, as the event was drawing to a close, a posse of Wool Clip ladies approached and presented me with the ‘Stallholder of the Year’ award.

Oh boy! My eyes welled up and exhaustion and emotion got the better of me for a moment.

As some of you may already know, five years ago my teaching career ground to a halt for one reason or another, and I was left jobless, and without any idea where to go next.

This award meant so much to me. I’m back on track!

Thank you so much Woolfest, to the team from the Wool Clip, my fellow traders who are all simply lovely, and to the catering team at Mitchells who even rustled up some cake and custard for me to keep my energy levels up.

One of the perks of the Stallholder of the Year Award is that I have a guaranteed place at next year’s Woolfest. It will be hard to top this year’s, and I’m already really looking forward to it. It’s a bit like Christmas!

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Satisfied Customers

Over on my Facebook page, I’ve been creating an album for the past four years called ‘Satisfied Customers’ which is a selection of photos sent to me by folk happy with their Woolly Pedlar purchases. I love looking back through it, as it’s not only a potted history of how my woolly creations have developed over the past four years, but is stuffed full of happy, smiling punters, delighted with what I have made. That has to be good for the soul, and is confirmation that I must be getting something right!

Jane

Having just done another successful day at Hexham Farmer’s Market as part of Hexham’s Spring Fair, I was inspired to dedicate this week’s blog to all my loyal customers, and Jane seen above in her new sweatercoat, bought yesterday is no exception. Jane first bought a jumper from me one very wet market day when I was selling my woolly wares at an event celebrating Hexham’s twinning with the town of Noyon in France. It was raining so heavily the event had to be moved inside the Abbey for fear of being washed away outside. Jane bought a jumper dress, and then the next year, a jacket from me when I opened up my home for the Art Tour. I know Jane follows my newsletter and blog, and I was delighted when she came to find me at a recent Vintage Fair. She has had her eye on this sweatercoat for a while now, and tried it on yesterday. It was a perfect fit, and I think she looks absolutely fabulous in it – a perfect match for those fabulous Docs she is wearing.

Bridget

Like Jane, Bridget has also been buying Woolly Pedlar creations for several years now. I remember when she first came across my stall and remarked how thrilled she was to find alternative clothing here in the north east. Bridget has also visited me at home on a couple of occasions, bringing friends along to see my work. I overheard her telling another customer how she rarely bought anything else these days other than Woolly Pedlar. Thanks Bridget, you’re a star! This blue British wool dress brought out the blue in Bridget’s eyes beautifully, and it was lovely to see her again.

London,-Caroline-&-Elvis

I’m delighted to say that my ‘satisfied customers’ are not confined to the north-east of England. I have a growing global following, and this lovely family is no exception. Here we have, from left to right, little London, Caroline and Elvis from California. London got her poncho whilst visiting friends in Hexham, and then mum and dad, Caroline and Elvis ordered adult ponchos for themselves, which I shipped over to the States. Elvis also has a hooded jumper. As each item I make is unique, it becomes a personal experience and I love to see who is wearing them. Caroline has sent me some super photos over the past couple of years, and I’d love to show them all, but here is just one, little London at a baseball game, looking so cute in her tutti fruitti poncho. If you’d like a poncho , then you’ll find plenty to choose from online, or at any of the events I’m at (details of these can be found by clicking the Events tab on the website)

London

I try to get out and about around the country a bit over the year, and this summer, I’ll be heading off again in August to one of my favourite festivals, The Green Gathering. Last year’s Green Gathering was so much fun, and I must show you this fabulous photo of three very happy customers – all of whom have kept in touch via Facebook and some of whom have also bought more pieces from me. The lady in the super cherry red poncho writes her own blog as Compostwoman in The Compost Bin.

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Whilst women make up the bulk of my customers, let’s not leave out the men, and I’ll finish with this photo of a very happy postie, who’s wife bought him a pair of armwarmers and left a message saying how delighted he was as he could now sort through the letters without getting cold hands!
Postie

It was a hard task, choosing photos for this blog, as you’ve been great at sending me photos, and there are dozens more I could have chosen. If you’d like to see more, hop over to Facebook, and have a look through my ‘Satisfied Customers’ album. If you are a happy customer, and have a Woolly Pedlar creation, do send me a photo, either through social media or by emailing me – sue@woollypedlar.co.uk   I love to see your happy, smiley faces wearing my work. If you’d like to browse my current collection, then head over to the website shop here on this website.
Thanks for reading!

 

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Zerowaste – Upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more.

By now you probably know that I upcycle preloved wool jumpers and make all sorts from them, with the aim of keeping textiles out of landfill and from going to waste. I won’t go into details of all the products I create from recycled knitwear – you can head over to the online shop to see for yourselves what I’ve been making lately. Upcycling means to take waste and turn it into something more useful or aesthetically more pleasing. This is hopefully what I’ve done with this petite purple sweatercoat made from recycled jumpers, which I finished a week ago. This is not the end of the story however. I want to show how I take waste, and upcycle it until there is nothing left to waste at all. Zerowaste – literally!
purple-sweatercoat

The panels and sleeves for this coat were made from lambswool jumpers rescued from Hawick knitwear when the factory went into administration. You can read what I wrote about that in a previous blogpost entitled ‘The Sad Demise of Hawick Knitwear’. The bodice is a very shrunken cashmere jumper rescued from the rag bag in a local charity shop.

So, when I’ve finished making my sweatercoats, do I throw the scraps away? Not on your nellie! Those long enough, and especially any spare sleeves get cut into strips to make armwarmers:

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It doesn’t stop there either! I still had some grey pieces left over, too short for armwarmer strips, but as long as they are 10cm each way, they can be cut into squares and used to make a cushion. I grabbed a felted pink cashmere jumper and cut off the button band to make the fastening on this cushion and hey presto, a lovely lambswool and cashmere cushion made from my waste. That’s zerowaste in my book!

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But it doesn’t stop there. Left with a pile of scraps that are now diminishing in size, and are no longer useful to me, I pass them onto my friends who are proggy matters. For those of you who are not familiar with proggy matting or proddy matting as it is called in other parts, this is a northern tradition where scraps of wool fabric are poked through a piece of hessian with a ‘prodder’. Ali Rhind explains in much better in her video on Hooky and Proggy Matting. If anyone is coming along to Woolfest in June, I’ll have a table loaded with bags of woolly scraps for you. I’ve also written a blogpost about this ‘The Art of Proggy Matting’
sian

So there you have it – upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more. Zerowaste, and helping keep textiles out of landfill.

 

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Take Two Boring Blue Jumpers … Ecofashion!

I love a felted wool jumper! When I’m on a jumper gathering mission, and a shrunken jumper turns up, it means another sweatercoat could be in the making. I find my shrunken jumpers in the rag bags destined for waste by the charity shops in my home town of Hexham, and rescue them for upcycling. You see, a good, strong jumper can form the bodice and starting point of my sweatercoats, and are a very welcome find indeed.  The other week these two rather boring felted jumpers showed up, and I’d like to show you what I did with them in this week’s blog.

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After giving them a good wash to check for further shrinkage and to get rid of the eau de charity shop that sometimes pervades, the first task is to place them on a suitably sized mannequin to see where the waist lies.  I then take my scissors to them, chopping off at the waist, round the neckline and down the middle.  The finished size of the sweatercoat is determined by what size the shrunken jumper is. It’s all very serendipitous!

I also need to then decide what other jumpers are going to be put with them.

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I found this stripy scarf and thought I’d upcycle it into a waistband, and let it dictate what other colours were to be in the coat. I’ve got a workshop full of shelves of recycled woollies, and was able to pick navy, brown and turquoise blue jumpers to add. The tie belt is a nice addition which helps to cinch in the waist.
Sometimes the hardest dilemma is which colour thread to use. I like my seams on the outside for added texture and contrast, and in this instance I used a very light brown, beige thread which seamed to contrast well with the blues, and especially the navy wool.

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The full swirly skirt is made by cutting triangular shapes from the sleeves and the hem and hood are made from strips cut from the main body of my recycled jumpers. So, this is what I did with the first boring blue jumper on the left.

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As the resulting sweatercoat was fairly small , I had to enlist the help of my daughter Hannah to model it! Thanks Hannah 🙂

The process was exactly the same for the other jumper, a larger size, but I decided to stick with all dark blue jumpers and use a contrasting jade thread with these.

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So, there you have it, two boring blue jumpers, destined for waste by the charity shops as they had shrunk, given a new lease of life by upcycling them into wool coats. Ecofashion at its best!

If you’d like to see these and other sweatercoats I’ve made, then head over to the shop on the website, and go to Women’s Clothing, Sweatercoats.

2BJ11

Thanks for reading. See you next week 🙂

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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.

Thanks for reading this week’s blog – the sign up form for the newsletter and blog can be found on this page if you’d like to receive them regularly.

 

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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.
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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.

 

 

 

 

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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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In Celebration of the Apple

apple-1Those of you who have been following my musings since the Bridge Cottage Way days, will know I’m passionate about eating seasonally, and in this blog post, I am going to deviate from all things woolly and talk about how apples have dominated my week.

We’ve had so many windfall apples recently, and I’ve enjoyed stewing them with the few autumn raspberries or blackberries from the garden to have with my porridge. The rest I’ve left on the ground for the blackbirds and thrushes who hop around munching on them and sharing them with the slugs.

apple-3It was Apple Day this weekend at the Hexham Farmer’s Market. I was there with my stall, and Transition Tynedale were opposite with their locally produced apples and apple press, which kept us all going with delicious fresh apple juice. Other stalls had baked pies and other appley treats. The market was buzzing, and it was great to see so many folk out and about, buying local produce. The Woolly Pedlar had a great day too, with lots of sales, orders and several donations of jumpers to recycle.

apple-4My only contribution to the apple theme, was to make this autumn coloured sweatercoat, which, with a lot of poetic license could be likened to a Russet apple! Back home, Tim had also been juicing our apples, and I set about baking some raspberry and apple scones. I just added a few raspberries and chopped apple to a basic scone recipe – they were delicious and went down well with my daughter and her boyfriend for Sunday brunch.

apple 2 On Sunday I took a day off from woolly pedlaring, and made five jars of this delicious Apple and Lemon Curd. I’ve been wanting to make this recipe for Bramley Lemon Curd, taken from the River Cottage series of books, ‘Preserves’ by Pam Corbin, for ages. One of my Facebook followers has asked for the recipe – so here it is, copied from the book:

Bramley Lemon Curd

Makes 5 x 225g jars

450g Bramley apples, peeled, cored & chopped

Finely grated zest & juice of 2 unwaxed lemons

125g unsalted butter

450g granulated sugar

4-5 large eggs, well beaten ( you need 200ml beaten egg)

Put the apples in a pan with 100ml water & lemon zest, & cook til fluffy. Beat to a puree or pass thru a seive.

Put the butter, sugar, lemon juice & apple puree into a double boiler or bain suspended over a pan of simmering water. As soon as butter has melted, & mixture is smooth & glossy, pass eggs thru a seive and add to mixture. Make sure mixture isn’t too hot. (no highter than 55-60 deg). If mixture does split, take the pan off the heat and beat with a whisk until smooth.
Stir the mixture over a gentle heat and cook until thick and creamy. This will take 9-10 minutes and will be 82-84 deg on a sugar thermometer. Immediately pour into warm steralised jars and seal. Use within 4 weeks. Once opened, keep in the fridge.

I hadn’t made this before, and was really pleased with the result.

The other appley dish of the weekend was a blackberry and apple crumble and custard for Sunday dinner, which came after the Roast Lamb which I’d bought at the Farmer’s Market, which was accompanied by veg from the garden. To finish it all off, we had some super cheese bought from the Leaside Cheesemakers at the Farmer’s Market. Great to have so much lovely seasonal produce both at home and at our local market, and super that lovely seasonal British apples have taken centre stage this week.

HFM1I’ll be back at the Hexham Farmer’s Market in two weeks, on Saturday 24th October with some fab new kiddies’ ponchos for Halloween plus lots of other new upcycled designs. So it’s back up the stairs to the woolly garret for me this week, but with plenty of yummy stewed apples for my porridge before I start the day. Three cheers for seasonal eating, and three cheers for the British Apple!

 

 

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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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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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