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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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Perth Festival of Yarn 2017

On the Road Again. More Tales from the Woolly Garret

You may have read my previous blogpost, where I wrote about how I did things differently this summer. Well, as autumn approaches, I’m back on the road again.

Perth Festival of Yarn 2017

Perth Festival of Yarn 2017

On Saturday I’ll be heading up to Perth to set up for Perth Festival of Yarn which is on the Sunday. I’m looking forward to this very much. The lovely peeps there are even organising a social night so we can all get to know each other the night before. Hopefully we won’t be too hungover for the show!

My Grandad was a Dewar and came from the Fife area of Scotland, so it’s with great pleasure that I’ll be taking to the road to sell my woolly wares at The Dewar Centre in Perth. More information can be found on the Perth Festival of Yarn website.

I’ve got lots of lovely new creations to take with me to Perth. I’ve made four garments in my ‘Mainly Monochrome’ collection, and I’m looking forward to seeing what folk think of these. These and lots of other woollies are in the website shop, just for this week, in case you can’t make it to Perth.

Harlequin Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Jumper Dress

Harlequin Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Jumper Dress

Sixties style block colour jumper dress

Sixties style block colour jumper dress

Upcycled ice blue and grey jumper dress

Upcycled ice blue and grey jumper dress

Elegant Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Dress

Elegant Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Dress

I’ll also have plenty of my popular woolly wraps and ponchos in a variety of colours. I’m loving this new autumnal range, which incidentally can also be found down at The Wool Clip shop in Caldbeck or online in Women’s Clothing.

Autumn Woolly Wrap, Ruana, Shawl. Recycled Wool Knitwear.

Autumn Woolly Wrap, Ruana, Shawl. Recycled Wool Knitwear.

I’ve got a few sweatercoats, ready for Perth, and I’ll be making lots more in the weeks to come. Keep an eye on social media (see at bottom of this post) to see what I’ve been making lately.

Recycled Wool Autumn Sweatercoat

I’ve been concentrating on jackets lately, and these are proving to be very popular. I’ve gone for a smaller hood on some of them, which is proving popular, especially when made from cashmere!

winter wool jacket cashmere hood recycled knitwear

winter wool jacket cashmere hood recycled knitwear

Of course I’ll have my usual stock of accessories, with armwarmers, hats and scarves.

Scarf & armwarmer set from recycled wool knitwear.

Scarf & armwarmer set from recycled wool knitwear.

After Perth, I’ll be back home for a couple of weeks before heading down to Skipton for Yarndale. Although it is in it’s fifth year, this is the first time I’m taking my woollies down there. I’m told it’s ever so friendly and a great show. I’m looking forward to catching up with some of my fellow woolly traders there as well as meeting customers old and new.

 

Yarndale 23 & 24 Sept 2017

Yarndale 23 & 24 Sept 2017

So hopefully I’ll see some of you either at Perth Festival of Yarn, or at Yarndale. Do come and make yourself known if you are at either shows.

You can still find a good selection of all my upcycled woolly wares in the website shop if you can’t make it to either.

As ever, come and follow on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to keep up with all my woolly pedlaring.

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The Wool Clip Team at Woolfest 2017

Woolfest 2017 – Doing it Differently

This year’s Woolfest was a very different weekend to the three previous shows where I had taken a stall and sold my upcycled woolly wares as an independent trader. (See previous blogposts such as: Wonderful Woolfest) Back in February I joined the Wool Clip, a co-operative of thirteen woolly women, based at Caldbeck in Cumbria. As well as having a lovely little shop, The Wool Clip is responsible for Woolfest, the UK’s premier wool gathering. This year was certainly going to be different, as I joined the team in the planning, preparation and running of Woolfest.

The Wool Clip Team at Woolfest 2017

The Wool Clip Team at Woolfest 2017

I must admit to feeling nervous as the new girl, but equally very excited. I drove over to the shop on the Thursday to collect stock, and then drove across country from Caldbeck to Cockermouth via Bassenthwaite. It is a glorious corner of the Lake District, and as my van rolled along the lanes, I felt very blessed to be working at what I do, and being able to work in such beautiful places.

 

 

The set up team had got the Wool Clip aisle all ready, with cool white linen tablecloths and backdrops, and beautiful woolly bunting. It didn’t take long to get my area filled, and I was pleased with the result.

Woolfest - My Stall in The Wool Clip Aisle

Woolfest – My Stall in The Wool Clip Aisle

I don’t find table displays easy, and my space was a fraction of the size I had had in previous years, so the setting up was challenging. However, everything I wanted to show was out on display, and I was very happy with my space.

The Woolly Pedlar At Woolfest 2017

The Woolly Pedlar At Woolfest 2017

In previous years I had slept in my van in the car park, but this year I had the luxury of a room in the newly built Premier Inn just 5 minutes walk from Woolfest. I had a really good night’s sleep, and the luxury of a hot shower before heading over to Mitchell’s Mart where Woolfest is held.

I love wandering around Woolfest early in the morning, listening to the noise sheep bleeting. There is an air of anticipation and excitement, as stall holders call out greetings to each other and lift the covers from their displays.

Herdwick Sheep At Woolfest 2017

Herdwick Sheep At Woolfest 2017

My first task was to greet folk at the door, and prevent anyone entering before 10am. It wasn’t long before a queue of excited fans of all thing woolly had gathered, and we counted down to doors opening.

Coatigan Fun At Woolfest

Coatigan Fun At Woolfest

Back at the stall there was a lot fun being had, with much twirling in coatigans. Lou pictured here on the left was one of the Wool Clip volunteers helping in aisle A. She was an absolute poppet and helped my customers, as did the other volunteers, when I wasn’t able to be at the stall.

A Happy Customer

A Happy Customer

It was great to see many familiar faces at the stall, as returning customers came back for more of my creations. Doris here now has three of my ponchos, all with matching bags!

Ruth in her Coatigan

Ruth in her Coatigan

Ruth, a fellow stallholder, bought herself this purple and turquoise coatigan, and says she’ll be wearing it at other shows and events. I think she looks stunning in it. Coatigans were definitely the best sellers, and I need to get busy making some more. Head over to Women’s Clothing to see what ponchos, wraps, dresses, jackets and coatigans are currently available.

Upcycled wool coatigans, jumpers and dresses

Upcycled wool coatigans, jumpers and dresses

Although we were all ridiculously busy, there was still time for some silliness!

Silliness at Woolfest

Silliness at Woolfest

The two days went in a flash! We were exhausted, and it’s taken me a whole week to recover, unpack the van and sort out stock. If feels like Christmas – you work really hard getting ready for it, and then it goes in a flash and you can’t wait for it to happen all over again next year.

My next event is my Open Studio and Garden Party, here at Bridge Cottage on 22/23 July. Please email me at sue@woollypedlar.co.uk if you’d like to come.
I’ll be a Perth Festival of Yarn on 10th September and Yarndale on 23rd & 24th September.

Meanwhile it’s back up to the woolly garret where I must get making more coatigans and jackets! I’m busy getting more dresses, bags, woolly wraps & ponchos on the website this weekend, so feel free to hop over to the shop and have a mooch!

Country Casual Upcycled Patchwork Wool Bag

Country Casual Upcycled Patchwork Wool Bag

If you are in the North Lakes, Penrith or Kewsick area, drive over to The Wool Clip shop in Caldbeck, you’ll find a good selection of woolly wares, including this lovely blue and purple hooded jacket. Though as there’s only one, once it’s gone it’s gone! All the other member of The Wool Clip also have fabulous displays in the shop, and one of us is always on hand to chat. There is a lovely cafe, other craft shops, and a pretty little village to wander round, so you could make a day of it!

upcycled wool jacket Wool Clip

Upcycled Wool Jacket available while stocks last at The Wool Clip, Caldbeck

The dates for next year’s Woolfest have already been set! See you there 🙂

Woolfest 2018

Woolfest 2018

 

 

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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.

 

view

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?
julie

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.

bike

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.

stall

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.

ponchos

blankets-&-bedspreads

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!

car-park-camping

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!

prize

 

 

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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.

GG14

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:

AW77

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!

CU1.1

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.

2-blue-jumpers-1

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.

2-BJ3

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.

2BJ12

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.

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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.

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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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