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Think I’ll keep this one!

It’s a tough call, modelling ones’ own work, especially when like me, you’re on the hefty side and have pretty poor self confidence about how you look. I was interested to see that fellow woolly artist ‘Woolly Wormhead’  felt the same and this week bit the bullet and modelled one of her own beautiful knitted hats over on her Facebook page (not I might hasten to add that Woolly Wormhead is at all hefty).

My punters say they’d far rather see one of my upcycled woolly creations on a real person rather than a dummy, but living out in the sticks with three men in the house, and my beautiful daughter having moved out, I’m rather stuck!

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I’m probably biased, but I think my daughter Hannah, is drop dead gorgeous, and being a slim size 10/12 looks great in practically anything I give her to model. It’s funny how we see ourselves. She doesn’t agree with me!

A friend once said I should model my own designs as there would be a lot of very big women out there who would love to see a large lady in the photographs! Hmmmm, I’ll take that as a compliment, I think!

So this week I bit the bullet and put on some of my new jumper dresses. Two of them clung to my large posterior so badly I had to resort to the mannequin. Another was so tight across the boobs it has spurred me on to try and shed a few pounds, and is one of those photos that could be put on the fridge door to deter the evening munchies. However, when I put a photo of me modelling the orange stripy jumper on my Facebook page, I got tonnes and tonnes of compliments. Bless you all! It did me the power of good.

Just that very afternoon, I’d sat down on my bed oppsite a mirror, and got a nasty shock. Sitting down in front of a mirror in the week after Christmas when you have gone up another dress size is not to be recommended. So, the barrage of compliments about how I looked in the new jumper dress were a total but very welcome surprise.

So, with that in mind, I think I’ll keep this one!

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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.

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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!

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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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