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James and Amy with their upcycled wool bedspread

A Special Wedding Present from Recycled Woollens

narrowboat

James and Amy’s narrowboat, Willow

James and Amy live aboard this beautiful narrow boat, which is called Willow. When they announced they were getting married, James’ mum, Pat, got in touch to see if I would make them a bespoke bedspread for a wedding present. It was to be a gift from Pat and her friend, Alison. They thought that the upcycled nature of my work, using recycled wool knitwear would appeal to James and Amy. I love making bedspreads, and I love even more when it is for a special occasion like this. I do love a good wedding!

Recycled knitwear destined to be upcycled into a bedspread

Recycled knitwear destined to be upcycled into a bedspread

So the first task was to collect enough recycled wool jumpers in the burgundy, cream and green shades that Pat had requested. All jumpers are washed first before dissected.  Once the seams, cuffs and collars have been cut off, the woollen pieces are cut into rectangles. Pat had requested that the middle square be left blank for something special they wanted to add.

Rail fence design patchwork bedspread

Rail fence design patchwork bedspread

Once the rectangles are all cut, they are places in groups of 3 and sewn together to form squares. The squares are then sewn up in strips. I use an industrial overlocker for this, and I like to have my seams on the outside. I used burgundy thread, to compliment the colours chosen.

The middle square was plain cream, which was waiting for Alison’s handiwork.

Insert for bedspread showing the happy couple's initials

Insert for bedspread showing the happy couple’s initials

It is tradition amongst the barge community, that when living on ‘the cut’ a boy would ask a girl to marry him by writing his initials above his girlfriends in grease on a lock gate arm, if she said yes, she would write hers above his on the same. James and Amy did this, and this is what Alison has translated into the knitted centre piece. A beautiful and tender touch!

Pat collecting her bedpsread

Pat collecting her bedpsread

Pat travelled down to me in south west Northumberland from where she lives near Berwick on Tweed, to collect the bedspread. It then went further on it’s journey to the south, where James and Amy were married last weekend.

James and Amy get married

James and Amy get married

Here is Pat, with the happy couple, James and Amy, and her other son, Sam. Congratulations guys!! I’m loving the dark blue trim on Amy’s dress and the willow pattern Doc Martin boots.

James and Amy with their upcycled wool bedspread

James and Amy with their upcycled wool bedspread

Pat gave James and Amy their bedspread on the morning after the wedding, and I’m delighted to say there were thrilled with it. It was an absolute pleasure to make, and I’m very grateful to Pat for asking me to make it for them.

The wedding cake

The wedding cake

Congratulations to James and Amy! Wishing you both all the very best for your lives together.

Upcycled Patchwork bedspread

Upcycled Patchwork bedspread

Did you know, my patchwork bedspreads can be bought off the shelf from the website, or from Robinson-Gay Gallery on Market St Hexham, or at one of my Events.

Bespoke orders are always a pleasure, and can be made to fit any colourway of your choice. Do get in touch if this is something I can help with.

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Beltane Fire May 2017

Beltane Blessings! May Day Bank Holiday Clearance Sale

Beltane Blessings!  It’s the beginning of May, and I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by already. Maybe that’s a sign of old age?

I was reading somewhere that on Beltane you should light a fire on the evening before, and keep it going throughout the night and day of 1st May.

Beltane Fire May 2017

Beltane Fire May 2017

We love a spot of fire here at Bridge Cottage. My kids have all grown up going to festivals and have learnt to juggle fire in various forms. This is our John juggling fire with a staff, with the camera on a slow shutter speed. Looks awesome doesn’t it!

Cherry Blossom in May

Cherry Blossom in May

As I sit here and write, I can see the cherry blossom in full flower. The garden is looking splendid, and if it wasn’t for a very chilly wind, I’d feel that summer is on it’s way.

With winter now past, (though we had snow here in Northumberland last week), I thought I’d have a jolly good clear out of stock up in the woolly garret. With Woolfest just around the corner, I thought I’d better make some room for some new designs.

Bank holiday clearance sale

Bank holiday clearance sale

So, I’m having a clearance sale. There are over 70 items at half price, but it is over on my FACEBOOK page. You will need to go and find The Woolly Pedlar on Facebook,  and then find the sale album. To bagsie an item, just leave a comment on the photo and I’ll message you with the necessaries. I’m sorry it’s isn’t on the website – I just don’t have the time to list everything separately!

Happy Shopping 🙂

 

 

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

Looking Back At The Past Five Years Peddling my Wool

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

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

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

The Woolly Pedlar at Audio Soup Festival 2012

The Woolly Pedlar at Audio Soup Festival 2012

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

The Woolly Pedlar at The Green Gathering 2016

The Woolly Pedlar at The Green Gathering 2016

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

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

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

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

 

Happy Customers Green Gathering 2015

Happy Customers Green Gathering 2015

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

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

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

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

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

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

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

Getting Help from One Off Projects

Getting Help from One Off Projects

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sue Reed is The Woolly Pedlar

Sue Reed is The Woolly Pedlar

 

 

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The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

Thrilled to be Joining The Wool Clip

The Wool Clip Members Photo by Sally Seed of Stoneleigh Communications

The Wool Clip Members Photo by Sally Seed of Stoneleigh Communications

I’ve been bursting to share this news with you for some time now. I’ve been invited to join fourteen woolly women over in Caldbeck, Cumbria, who between them run The Wool Clip. I’m over the moon to have been asked and am thoroughly looking forward to having a permanent base from which to showcase my upcycled woolly wares.

Let me introduce you to the gang. From left to right, standing: Pam Hall, Chris Crofts, Linda Chapman, Jan Beadle, Ema Allcock, Emma Redfern, Jean Wildish, Maud Mercier, Marion Rae, Me! Seated: Ruth Strong, Alice Underwood. Missing from the photo are: Debbie Lucas  and Cecilia Hewitt.

On Wednesday we will be heading over to Caldbeck to stock the shop and I am really looking forward to see what everyone has been making. The shop opens for the weekend of 11/12 Feb, and then full time from 18th February. Winter opening hours are 11-4.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

I have made a new collection, specially for The Wool Clip. It has been inspired by a photo of seaweed, found on an Orkney Beach, This is therefore called my ‘Orkney Collection’
You may remember reading about my adventures Cycling Around Orkney back in May 2016. This collection is exclusive to The Wool Clip.

Orkney Seaweed

Orkney Seaweed

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

The Orkney Collection, exclusive to The Wool Clip

You may also remember me telling you about winning Stallholder of the Year at Woolfest back in June 2016. Woolfest is my favourite woolly gathering, and is organised and run by The Wool Clip team of which I am now part of. So if you are visiting Woolfest in 2017, you’ll find my stall this year in the Wool Clip aisle, and I will be donning a blue pinny and helping run this fabulous event.

Woolfest 2016. Photo by Sally Seed Stoneleigh Communications

Woolfest 2016. Photo by Sally Seed Stoneleigh Communications

I’ll keep you all up to date with how things are going at The Wool Clip, and hope to see some of you there or at Woolfest this year.

Thanks for reading my blog and helping me celebrate this exciting step in my woolly journey.

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Recycling Textiles Bristol

The Bristol Connection – Recycling Woollens in the UK

We’ve been to Bristol for the weekend. ‘Come for lunch’ my in-laws said. Fine, except they live 500 miles away  and we are up here in Northumberland. Mind you, it was their diamond wedding anniversary and when you’ve been married for sixty years then I think a bit of effort from the family to gather for a lunch is in order.

We decided to fly to Bristol and then catch a train – not the most environmentally way of travelling I know, but I had to be back up north for a pop up shop at Treacle Wool Shop in Morpeth the following day.

At the same time, in my quest for second hand woollens to upcycle, and following a tweet seeking textile recyclers who were willing to sell back to buyers in the UK, I stumbled upon the Bristol company, Bristol Textile Recyclers.  Bingo! I could kill two birds with one stone.

So, Tim and I flew down to Bristol and enjoyed a night at Brooks Guest House, with a super meal at Pho. It was my first experience of Vietnamese street food, and the broth that gives the cafe it’s name, which was absolutely delicious, and it won’t be my last. I had the pleasure of meeting and being waited on by lovely Natalie who goes under the name of rosaliecreates on Instagram, who is a textiles students and is a fellow fan of all things woolly.

We enjoyed a walk through town to Bristol Textile Recyclers and were treated extremely well by Aimee there. Following a very interesting tour of the factory, we were taken to the board room where three big bags of recycled woollen were awaiting my attention. They were great! Just the job!

I am absolutely thrilled to have found a new source of recycled woollens. I’m also looking forward to making more connections down in Bristol and shall be looking for outlets that will be interested in selling my upcycled woolly wares.  So thank you Bristol and Bristol Textile Recyclers for a great weekend. I’m sure we’ll be back.

Recycling Textiles Bristol

The Woolly Pedlar does business with Bristol Textile Recyclers

 

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Memory Products

In Memory of Aline – Memory Cushions for the Family.

One of the lovely things about making bespoke and one off items, is that I get to meet the customer, and often on more than one occasion. Sometimes, as in this case, with more than one member of the same family. I have had the pleasure of making items for two sisters at different times.  I’ve made a baby blanket in red, white and green, with a rugby league badge on for Fiona. I think if was the Leicester Tigers. Her sister, Mari has bought one of my ponchos and looks absolutely amazing in it, don’t you think?

upcycled patchwork poncho

Upcycled patchwork poncho made from recyced wool knitwear

Whilst trading at the Northumberland County Show I had the pleasure to meet Fiona again, this time with her dad. They told me their  mum, Aline, his wife, had recently passed away, and asked if I could make a set of seven memory cushions for the family from her jumpers.

I’ve made a few memory products before, a cashmere bedspread for a lady whose mum had the finest collection of cashmere jumpers, many from Harrods, and some going back to the 1930s, and a lap rug for a lady from Hexham, from her late husband’s jumpers. (You can read about these over on the Memory Blankets page)

It was with great pleasure that I set about making the cushions from Aline’s jumpers. Her husband wanted a pair using a particular favourite jumper of his, with a red and navy stripe. Together we grouped the other jumpers into a colourway. Soft lilacs and turquoise with pink and navy was the result, and we decided on a lilac thread with seams showing for added texture and interest.

After cutting the jumpers into squares in the garden on a sunny Sunday afternoon, I began one morning last week to sew them. I told the girls I was making them that day, and by beautiful coincidence was told that this was Aline’s birthday. It made the making of the cushions even more special, and I thought of Aline as I sewed.

Memory Products, cushions

Memory Cushions from a Loved One’s Recycled Jumpers

Here they are, a pair for Fiona and Mari, one for Aline’s sister, and the red and navy pair for Aline’s husband.

Memory products cushions

Memory Cushions made from a Loved One’s Recycled Jumpers

 

Rest in Peace Aline

Memory Cushions

Memory Cushions handmade from your loved one’s Jumpers

Do get in touch if this is something I can help you with.

 

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It’s all gone a bit ‘backendish’ as they say in Weardale

Before we moved to Bridge Cottage, Tim and I lived in Upper Weardale, in an old leadminer’s cottage which we’d renovated ourselves. They had a saying in Weardale (well in fact they had a lot of sayings, this is but one of them): ‘It’s all gone a bit backendish’. This feels like the  right word for today. It would seem summer is thinking of retreating, and signs that autumn is on the cusp are all around. In fact, as I write this, I need to go and find a woolly wrap or light the fire!

BL9.1

As I drove past the conker tree last week, I noticed the leaves beginning to yellow, and Mr Tim has just ordered an apple crusher for the million, zillion apples that are about to fall. Mind you, having said all this, yesterday was a blazing hot day! This weekend we are home alone without ‘kids’ for the first time in twenty-five years. It is odd to say the least, but we’re ok with it too, and I sat with feet up in the garden, a glass of chilly white and a good book by my side.  It soon turned cooler though and we lit a fire in the recycled washing machine drum while Tim tested the LED solar lights he’s been rigging up on the sauna and for my stall.
sauna

The weather hasn’t been as kind today, so after a long lie in and breakfast in bed, I’ve been working on the website. One of my favourite products are my bedspreads. Having just decorated our south facing spare room, I now have the perfect space to get my double and kingsize bedspreads photographed, and have now listed several of them online. There are a couple of new ones, including these two. You can find all my bedspreads, blankets and throws in the soft furnishings department of the website shop.

BL24.1

BL22.1

 

It feels like it could soon be time to get snuggly!

Christmas bookings are all in now and the diary is looking really full. If you’re wondering where I can be found during the run up to Christmas, then check out the Events tab. Here too, is the list so far:

  • Sept 10th Hexham Farmer’s Market , Hexham Northumberland
  • Sept 18th Rothbury Vintage Fair, Rothbury, Northumberland
  • Oct 22nd Hexham Farmer’s Market
  • Oct 29th Pop uP Shop at Treacle Wool Shop, Morpeth, Northumberland
  • 10th – 13th November Brocksbushes Christmas Fair Stocksfield, Northumberland
  • 19th -20th November – The Hearth, Horsley, Northumberland
  • 25-27th November, Alston Moor Crafts Christmas Fair, Town Hall, Alston, Cumbria
  • 26th November, Jesmond Alternative Christmas Market, Holy Trinity Church, Jesmond, Newcastle
  • 10th December Hexham Christmas Fair and Hexham Farmer’s Market

So, without further ado, I’d better sign off for this week. There’s loads more to tell you, but that will have to wait for this month’s newsletter which will be out soon

Bye for now, and thanks for reading.

Now, where did I put those armwarmers?

AW77

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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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Are you on Instagram?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Bridge-Cottage

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

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

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

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

Ruana

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

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