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Spring Time Hexham

A Lovely Spring Day in Hexham

Yesterday I had a lovely day in Hexham, my local market town. It started with me taking photos of the Spring flowers in the park. I thought I’d show you them here in my blog. I also want to sing the praises of Hexham town centre, with it’s beautiful park, ancient Abbey and quirky independent stores.

Spring Time Hexham

Spring Time in Hexham

Yesterday was one of those days when Spring was nudging gently against Winter. Although there was a chilly wind, the sun was shining, and I was looking forward to my Tuesday in Hexham.

Tuesday is my day for jumper gathering, and I can be found, like an old bag lady, scurrying from one charity shop to another, collecting the waste wool knitwear that they had put aside for me. I’ve written before about this  in my blog, Scope Step Up to The Plate.

This Tuesday however, I had a few other extras to look forward to. I was meeting my dear friend Anne for lunch at Hextol Tans having my grey hair coloured, and had a meeting with Cool Terry from TWDA who looks after my website for me.

The Bandstand, Sele Park, Hexham

The Bandstand, Sele Park, Hexham

Before I did all that though, I grabbed the chance to take some photos in the Sele park. The sunshine was glorious, and the Spring flowers splendid. We have a newly renovated bandstand here in the Sele Park at Hexham. I belong to Tynedale Community Choir, and we can sometimes be found here in the summer months practising our singing.

Hexham Abbey from The Sele Park

Hexham Abbey from The Sele Park

Hexham Abbey was looking glorious too, bathed in Spring sunshine, and is well worth a visit if you are ever in Hexham. It rises majestically in the market place, and is a sight to behold form every angle, both inside and out. I love to walk around the park and under the arch at the side and marvel at the sandstone architecture.

Hexham Abbey

Hexham Abbey

As I finished taking photos in the Sele Park, I spotted my friend Jeanette, sitting on a bench having a break in between her cleaning jobs. She shared her mocha coffee and croissants with me, and we had a lovely unexpected catch up.  A lovely surprise!

Sele Park, Hexham

Sele Park, Hexham

I left he park and went jumper gathering – another mighty fine haul from Hexham’s Charity shops! These are now in the washing machine at home, and will soon be being cut up and sewn into new creations. Head over to the shop on this website to see what I’ve been making lately.

My meeting with Terry at TWDA went really well, and I’d encourage you to take a look at all the other pages in my website here.  They’re all looking mighty fine!

St Mary's Chare, Hexham

St Mary’s Chare, Hexham

I met my friend Anne for lunch at Hextol Tans, which is on St Mary’s Chare, although the locals know it as ‘back street’ . Anne and I worked together at Priory School in Hexham, when I was teaching students who have learning difficulties. I was over the moon to find to two of the students we used to teach now working in The Tans – so good to see them! The food and service at The Tans is super. It is run by The Hextol Foundation, which is a local charitable company which is helping people who are disadvantaged in the workplace to get jobs, work experience, training and a sense of purpose. I for one will be making The Tans a regular stopping off place in the future.

The day was finished nicely with a trip to the hairdressers to get my grey hairs hidden, and then home when my other half was cooking buckwheat pancakes for our Shrove Tuesday tea.

With all the out of town stores rising up not only in our town of Hexham, but all over the country, I really do implore you to seek out your town centres. Visit those quirky independent stores. Hexham has an abundance of them, and they all need your business to survive! #shoplocal!

The Woolly Pedlar's Market Stall

The Woolly Pedlar’s Market Stall

I’m delighted to say that I’ll be in Hexham on Saturday April 22nd in The Sele Park, with the full kit and kaboodle, with a stall stuffed full of upcycled woolly wares. It is the Hexham Spring Fair and Eating Festival, with plenty to keep all the family amused. Do hope to see you there!

 

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work experience Berlin

Getting Help from Berlin

Nele has come from Berlin to Bridge Cottage, for six week’s work experience. She is studying Fashion Design at Berlin University and I’m delighted she has come to Bridge Cottage to learn about upcycling woollies, and to give me a hand. In case you’re wondering, Nele is pronunced N-ee-le, with the final ‘e’as in ‘the’, not Nelly as I first thought. Apologies for that, Nele!

work experience Berlin

Nele is on work experience from Berlin

It wasn’t long before Nele got stuck in. If you’re a fellow creative type you might understand the muddle that can ensue once the creative juices get flowing! Nele’s first job was to bring some sense of order to the woolly garret. I had stock all over the place which needed sorted into website stock, and stock for local stockists and shows.

 

Sorting out the muddle in the woolly workshop

Sorting out the muddle in the woolly workshop

Needless to say Nele has done a fantastic job, and not only can I now see the carpet, but all the stock is in the right place, neatly folded in labelled boxes, or hung on rails so I can now see what I’ve got in stock. As one of my Facebook followers said, ‘every crafter needs a Nele’

A tidy workshop thanks to Nele

A tidy workshop thanks to Nele

 

Nele’s next task was to make sure that everything listed on the website was actually in stock. When you make one off items, everything has to be listed separately, and it is all too easy to get in a muddle when doing shows, or taking stock to local stockists, if website stock taken to them. I hate having to apologise to customers online when I find I’ve sold an item they have ordered. My website stock is now in labelled boxes, all double checked, and I MUST NOT TAKE IT AWAY!!!

Nele checks stock against the website

Nele checks stock against the website

Today we have Sarah Loveland Photography here, who will be giving Nele and I lessons in taking indoor product shots. I have lots of new stock waiting to go on the website, and some of the photos on the website are far from adequate. There is also a bunch of shots where I have the most dodgy hair do ever! Nice poncho, shame about the hair do!

Nice poncho, shame about the hair do

Nice poncho, shame about the hair do

I’m enjoying having Nele here for reasons other than her enormous help. I studied German at school to A level, and to this day, I love speaking German! She is helping me to brush up on my vocabulary, and as we sit over lunch, we learn new words for the food we are eating in each other’s languages.

Nele is also young, so is a whizz with Instagram, and all the other tecchie things that this old luddite is having to learn. She is bright and young, and a breath of fresh air up in woolly garret.

I love Berlin too – a great city, which we visited four years ago. Here am I peddling along the East Side Gallery on the Fat Tire Bike Tour of Berlin.  (that isn’t a typo – that is how the company spells tyre!)

Fat Tire Bike Tour of Berlin

Fat Tire Bike Tour of Berlin

Nele tells me she is very interested in learning about upcycling, and slow fashion, and I’m looking forward to another five weeks of having her here with me in the woolly garret.

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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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Vibernum at Bridge Cottage

Tales From The Woolly Garret: The January Blues

So, the tree’s down and the kids have left to go back to their respective homes. The house is quiet and cold. The van is still full of stock from Christmas shows, and the workshop is in a right old state. There is Christmas cake and chocolate to finish, even though the scales have reached a new high. The post Christmas lurgy has also struck and Lemsip has replaced gin as my drink of choice.

This time of year that can be tough for some. Just yesterday over on Twitter, someone I follow was asking if it was ok to say that she was ‘down’. Yes it is, it’s January, it’s cold and dark, and some of us are worn out from the run up to Christmas and the frenzy of Christmas markets. The January Blues can bite hard.

I must admit to feeling briefly low. I get so used to having the two elder ‘kids’ around, and it feels like a part of me is missing when they go. Go they must, however, as they have exiting your lives to lead, and we’d annoy the pants of each other if they stayed around for too long.

I also made the mistake of stepping on the scales – bad move! That should wait until at least two weeks after Christmas, if at all. To combat all the cheese we had a lovely run out to Caldbeck where we visited The Wool Clip and went for a long walk. For those who aren’t familiar with The Wool Clip, it’s a beaut of a shop full of all things woolly and run by the same co-operative who organise and run Woolfest. The countryside and villages around Caldbeck, which is on the north eastern edge of the Lake District, are stunning. It’s amazing how a good walk, a bit of woolly retail therapy and looking at horizons lifts the January Blues. I resisted cake at the cafe too and went for the carrot and parsnip soup.

I loved visiting The Wool Clip and met Emma from Hole House Bags who was running the shop that day. The blues were starting to lift!

I also got quickly back up in the woolly garret and began sorting my jumpers into piles. This is always exciting, as new possibilities of colourways and potential projects get planned. I can’t wait to get sewing again! I have an exciting new collection panned based on a photo I took whilst Cycling Around Orkney. I’ll keep that under wraps though, until I’m ready to unveil the collection. Needless to say, I have an awesome pile of jumpers, with colours to beat any blues into submission.

 

Today I got out in the garden, and used the trug my husband bought me for Christmas. My one New Year’s Resolution is to get out in the garden more and to grow more veggies this year. Those of you who used to follow my blog The Bridge Cottage Way will know how important this is to me, but woolly pedlaring took over last year, and the garden was sadly neglected. I find getting outdoors to be one of the best ways of beating the blues, January or not! I got into the greenhouse and weeded in between the winter veg. It was great to be back connecting with the soil.

We have a rather unruly Vibernum near the greenhouse which has burst into flower. It is a wonderful sight, with a heady scent. The perfect antidote to the January Blues.

 If you’re feeling blue, I hope it doesn’t last, the days are getting lighter, and Spring is on its way!

 

 

 

 

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Happy New Year from The Woolly Pedlar

Tales from The Woolly Garret. Looking Back at 2016.

I’m in that limbo land between Christmas and New Year, when the fridge is still full of cheese and pavlova in varying states of decay, healthy walks punctuate the eating, and family and friends gather to drink and be merry. The pull up to the woolly garret to get making again is strong, with lots of new ideas buzzing around my head, but I’m trying to resist and get some much needed down time after the hectic run up to Christmas. What better way then to force a lie in, than to spend a morning in bed, laptop on tray, reflecting on the past year.

The Woolly Pedlar looks back at 2016

The Woolly Pedlar looks back at 2016

2016 was my fifth year of woolly pedlaring, turning the UK’s waste knitwear into new things, and continuing the fight to save waste and reduce the amount of clothing sent to landfill or abroad. It’s been another great year, with many new friendships forged and strengthened through my work. Running my own business continues to be a learning curve, and new challenges and discoveries appear at every turn.

I started 2016 as I expect many of you did, with some New Year’s resolutions. I work too hard at times, and forget to have time for me, resulting in overthinking and insomnia, so I began 2016 by joining Hexham Community Choir. I hadn’t sung since school days when I was in the choir at our all girl’s school, singing Hiawatha’s Wedding Feast. We’d had to ship in boys from the local boy’s school to sing the tenor and bass parts, and there I found my first boyfriend, Kevin. I was very nervous at singing in public, so grabbed a quick singing lesson from my friend Wilf, and then jumped right in. I loved it from the word go, and found singing can not only bring friendship and a wonderful sense of togetherness, but can bring a deep relaxation of the body and mind, with Mondays now giving the best night’s sleep of the week!

Looking Back at 2016 - Singing

Looking Back at 2016 – Singing

Of course there was the usual New Year’s resolutions to get fit and lose weight – happens every year! I note this morning that I am exactly the same weight as I was this time last year. Hefty to say the least! However, with a shiny new bike given to me for a wedding anniversary present, we set about planning our first ever cycling holiday. We settled on Orkney as it is relatively flat, although the wind is something else!  You can read all about my cycling adventures around Orkney. I was incredibly proud of myself though not in a hurry to repeat it!

Cycling Around Orkney 2016

Cycling Around Orkney 2016

I’ve had a fantastic year selling my woolly wares up and down the country, and have clocked up three awards.

At the County Show in Northumberland I won an award for being ‘special’. The judges loved my stall and work, but were unsure what category to put me in! I love that, and I guess I am a bit of an individual in more ways than one! One of the frequent comments I get about my work is ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before’ ….jolly good, I’d say, I hate being a clone!!

A Special Award at Northumberland County Show 2016

A Special Award at Northumberland County Show 2016

The highlight of the year for me last year had to be wonderful Woolfest. It really does the soul good to be surrounded by so much woolly love. I had a whopping stand, but managed to fill it, and had the most phenomenal weekend. To top it all, I was delighted to receive the ‘Stallholder of the Year Award’ from the members of The Woolclip who run Woolfest.

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

My third award this year came from the team at the Green Gathering, that eco-minded festival down in Chepstow, where I won Silver Ethical Trader Award. I love the Green Gathering, and enjoyed meeting many friends again there, both fellow traders and punters. I came away from the Green Gathering feeling that is was ‘ok to be me’ if you know what I mean.

The Woolly Pedlar at Green Gathering 2016

The Woolly Pedlar at Green Gathering 2016

It takes an awful lot of hard graft to make enough stock to do events like Woolfest and the Green Gathering justice, not to mention all the effort to get stock ready, pack the van, set up these events, man the stall with huge amounts of energy and enthusiasm, and then unload when we get home. I was ready for a holiday!

The Woolly Pedlar at Woolfest 2016

The Woolly Pedlar at Woolfest 2016

Tim and I found a quirky little farmhouse up in the hills of northeast Ibiza and set off for a week’s rest and relaxation in October. I promised my husband I would forget work and leave social media behind for a week.

The Woolly Pedlar goes to Ibiza

The Woolly Pedlar goes to Ibiza

However, just as we were leaving, a media storm erupted over my blogpost about Jeremy Corbyn buying one of my woolly wraps from Bardon Mill Village Store. I went from being elated at him buying one of my pieces for his wife, to being devastated at what the right wing press did with my photos and blog. However, I was soon delighted once again at all the support given through social media, and my Facebook page in particular, for both me and my little business, and for Jeremy, for taking time out to walk in our beautiful county of Northumberland and for buying from a small business making upcycled clothing. I learnt a lot from all this, and will in future be far more wary in my dealings with the press.

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

I had some great press coverage too over the year, with a lovely piece in Women’s Weekly about my woolly pedlaring. It was great to see them use so many photos of the family in it, and the write up was superb. I’ve also featured in Reloved, the magazine that focuses on upcycling in the home, and am in the latest issue of Read Me, our local magazine about Haltwhistle, where they talk about how I came to live and work where I do, in ‘The Road to Willimoteswick’.

Women's Weekly write about my woolly pedlaring

Women’s Weekly write about my woolly pedlaring

It has been a rollercoaster of a year in my hunt for wool knitwear to recycle. When Hawick Knitwear closed, I lost a valuable supplier. I was also buying vintage knitwear from a company that imported clothing from Europe and the States, which had in the past provided some wonderful knitwear, but that too dried up early in 2016. So the hunt was on! It’s amazing when you consider the amount of textile waste from this country in one year alone would fill Wembley Stadium, but it’s very hard to find textile recyclers willing to sell back in the UK. Many of the firms I contacted said they did not sort clothing here, but shipped it all abroad. After drawing blanks with many, I stumbled across Bristol Textile Recyclers, and bingo! I now having a new supplier of waste wool knitwear.

As well as buying from textile recyclers, I also buy from my local charity shops have been delighted with the help that our area manager of Scope has given me. Scope have really stepped up to the plate, and now collect waste woollen knitwear on a regional basis. This keeps clothing in the local economy which is good for me, good for you, and good for the planet!

Merino Wool Hats from waste sock tops from the House of Cheviot

Merino Wool Hats from waste sock tops from the House of Cheviot

It’s increasingly hard to find knitwear manufacturers in this UK, and with Hawick knitwear going into administration, the hunt was on to find others. The House of Cheviot has been one new discovery, and I’ve bought boxes of recycled merino wool sock tops from them which have made the most excellent hats. These are selling really well up at Walltown Crags on Hadrian’s Wall where walkers can sometimes be caught out by our chilly Northumberland weather.

Allendale Forge Studios stocks Woolly Pedlar

Allendale Forge Studios stocks Woolly Pedlar

The list of local stockists, and indeed some stockists further afield has grown considerably this year, with Farfield Mill down in Sedbergh now stocking Woolly Pedlar. The Allendale Forge Studios are featuring my woolly wares as part of it’s Winter Exhibition, and Studio 2 at The Forge has a good range of upcycled woolly goods. I’m hoping for some good sales from there over New Year as revellers gather for the Tar Barrels procession and bonfire at New Year. If you’d like to find out more about the Tar Barrels, here is a short film made by my friend Nat Wilkins that is a fantastic piece of social history: Tar Barrel in the Dale

Mr Wolf, Market St, Hexham

Mr Wolf, Market St, Hexham

In Hexham, on Market Street, Mr Wolf continues to do a roaring trade in my kiddies’ ponchos and Sarah Robinson-Gay has my bedspreads in the gallery. The Bardon Mill Village Store and Tea Room is where Jeremy Corbyn found my woolly wraps, and sales there have really taken off in the past few months.

Bespoke bedspread by the Woolly Pedlar

Bespoke bedspread by the Woolly Pedlar

It’s been a great year too for bespoke commissions, from coats to bedspreads, baby blankets for football supporting families and memory cushions for a special family. I love making bedspreads – you can really get into the ‘zone’ with one of these – mindful meditation at its best! This bedspread was made from Kirstie Adamson, a fellow artist who is a magazine collage artist. Do get in touch if I can help with a bespoke order.

The run up to Christmas this year as as busy as ever, with shows, fairs and events running right through November and into December. They are exhausting!! However, I love getting together with my fellow traders – it’s like a family reunion! Lovely too to catch up with loyal customers some of whom come wearing their woolly purchases from previous years. I was glad to hang up my woolly hat for Christmas, and have enjoyed a super time with the family. Here we all are on our annual visit to the Quayside in Newcastle for a family meal and group photo.

The Reed Family 2016

The Reed Family 2016

I’m having a massive sale beginning on 2nd January when I’ll be clearing out lots of stock to make way for some exciting new designs and collections for 2017. There will be 20% off everything on the website. The creative cogs are turning, and I’ll soon be back up in the woolly garret, head down, making more upcycled woolly wares for you.

In the meantime, I would just like to say a huge thank you to Julie from One Off Projects who helps me sew. There is now way I would have been able to have such a wide selection of stock without her help.

Thanks to my family and in particular to my husband Tim who has valiantly helped set up markets at the crack of dawn, lugging fixtures and fittings and bags of stock for me, and generally putting up with me being a stress head!

The biggest thank you of all has to go to you lot, my loyal customers. Without you, my little woolly upcycling business would not be the success it is. Thank you for all the support in 2016 on social media – those likes, comments and shares are so helpful in getting my work seen.

So here’s raising my coffee cup to us all, Happy New Year to you all!

Happy New Year from The Woolly Pedlar

Happy New Year from The Woolly Pedlar

 

 

 

 

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Jeremy Corbyn supports small business

Jeremy Corbyn Supports The Woolly Pedlar

Here at Woolly HQ, I am one very excited Woolly Pedlar. Jeremy Corbyn, the leader of The Labour Party, has just visited our local village shop, Bardon Mill Village Shop and Tea Room, and bought his lovely wife, Laura one of my upcycled woolly wraps!

Bardon Mill Village Shop

Bardon Mill Village Store and Tea Room, one of The Woolly Pedlar’s local stockists

Imagine my excitement when I heard that Jeremy Corbyn was on the same train from Newcastle as my son’s girlfriend, and not only that, but he had got off the train with his wife, Laura, at Bardon Mill. Now, Bardon Mill is only a very small station, and we only get half a dozen trains stopping there a day. It is, however, a gateway up to the magnificent countryside of Hadrian’s Wall and that was where Jeremy and his wife were headed for a well earned day off and walk in stunning countryside after all the hustle and bustle of the Labour Conference the previous week.

Hadrian's Wall at Steel Rigg, Bardon Mill, Northumberland

Hadrian’s Wall at Steel Rigg

As Jeremy and Laura walked up towards the village, my son Tom chatted to him about walking and the countryside around, and the route their walk could take.

In the shop, my son’s girlfriend and Jeremy helped Laura choose which woolly wrap suited her the best, and Jeremy bought it for her.

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Jeremy Corbyn chooses his wife a woolly wrap made by The Woolly Pedlar at Bardon Mill Village Store and Tearoom

 

I don’t know what your political persuasion is, and I do try to keep politics out of my work, but I am a huge fan of Jeremy Corbyn. I strongly believe in anti-austerity and equality, and believe that he is the best thing to have happened to British politics in a very long time. I was over the moon to hear that Jeremy liked my work enough to buy his wife something.

jc3

I am as pleased as punch that my upcycled woolly wares will be going back down to London with Jeremy and Laura. I hope they enjoyed their walk, and I hope my wrap kept Laura warm!

If you’d like a woolly wrap like Laura, Jeremy Corbyn’s wife, then head over to Woolly Wraps, in Women’s Clothing on the web shop and you’ll find a good selection.

You can also find out where I’ll be selling my woolly wares next using the Events tab.

Local Stockists can be found under ‘Customer Info’.

Jeremy Corbyn supports small business

Jeremy Corbyn support small business in north east The Woolly Pedlar

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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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Scope Step Up to the Plate with Recycled Wool Textiles

My quest for recycled wool textiles to recycle has taken many twists and turns over the last five years. I’ve bought from vintage sellers, knitwear factories, charity shops and have had donations from folk having a clear out. Recently I have lost two of my major suppliers. Hawick Knitwear went into administration at the beginning of the year, and one of my second hand wholesalers no longer has knitwear available. I wasn’t exactly panicking, but I needed to find new suppliers!

May-3
Hawick knitwear while it lasted was a wonderful find. I bought boxes and boxes of beautiful garment panels of the finest lambswool and cashmere. However, large groups such as Pringle pulled out of manufacturing their knitwear in Scotland, and Hawick was forced to close.  I searched for other knitwear factories and was shocked to find how few remain. Even Edinburgh Wool Mill tell me they no longer manufacture in the UK!

I have approached many of the textile recycling companies that get their stock from the ‘Cash for Clothes’ culture, but every time have drawn a blank. Batley in Yorkshire is home to several textile recycling depots, but they all tell me their clothing is not sorted here, is not for sale and is shipped abroad.

I have looked into the exporting of our second hand clothing and have discovered that there are mountains of our discarded clothing flooding the East African markets. Local textile manufacture and traditional textile skills are dying out as a result. Today, East Africa imports roughly $151 million worth of castoffs from Europe and North America, mostly collected from nonprofits and recyclers, each year*. That is a staggering amount of clothing. (*taken from ‘Ahead of the Ban on Used Clothing’ by Ecouterre).

The Guardian reports that ‘a massive 351m kilograms of clothes (equivalent to 2.9bn T-shirts) are traded from Africa alone.  The top five destinations are Poland, Ghana, Pakistan, Ukraine and Benin’

I have contacted the depots where our rejected second hand clothing end up and each time I have been met with brick walls.

So, thinking out of the the box, I approached the then manager of Scope, Hexham, Sheelagh,  to see if we could collect knitwear that was going to rag on a regional basis. This was a couple of years ago, but when taken to a higher level, there was not a great deal of enthusiasm.

Not satisfied to leave it there, I picked this up again recently, and sent out a random tweet on Twitter asking for recycled knitwear & tagging Scope in this. One of the big wigs of Scope picked this up and asked Sheelagh, now the area manager if there was anything Scope to do to help. Doh! We’ve been banging on for a couple of years about this.

I was delighted when Sheelagh invited me to speak at the meeting of the area managers in Newcastle this week to see if we could get the on board with collecting knitwear regionally and in some small part, stemming the flow of discarded clothing to East Africa.

I had ten minutes to get my message across – armed with laminated sheets explaining about the type of wool knitwear I use, and a few samples of my work, I went to the front, called order, and started my talk.

Result! They are all on board. Scope has stepped up to the plate and this week Scope will begin collecting waste wool knitwear on a regional basis to be recycled, upcycled and kept in the local economy.

Good news indeed! Thank you Scope.

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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!

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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.
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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.

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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?

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Phew! I’ve Found My Mojo Again

You’d have thought that coming back from my favourite festival, The Green Gathering, with the Silver Ethical Trader Award, would have me leaping up to the woolly garret, all fired up to make more coats and jumpers, scarves & armwarmers, but no, I temporarily lost my mojo.

A nasty troll incident on Facebook, and sales being down on last year, plus the exhaustion that goes with doing a big event, left me feeling rather flat, lacking in confidence and unsure of things. I couldn’t face sewing jumpers!

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The Green Gathering was wonderful. Beautifully chilled, in glorious surroundings, with southern sunshine.  It was great to see so many friendly faces again, some of whom have become good friends, like Kym here and Gretel in her lovely moss green coat, and sales on the Thursday and Friday to old and new customers were fantastic.

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Sales dipped and almost stopped as temperatures soared over the last couple of days of the Green Gathering, as woolly jumpers were the last things on peoples’ minds. I took advantage of this, and sat with feet up outside my stall lapping up the warm southern sun.

I do think I’ve worked extremely hard at my little business for the last four and half years, and sometimes I need to learn to take a break and do other things. So, with my daughter’s 23rd birthday coming up I decided to decorate her bedroom instead of going back to work. I know I can hear you saying, ‘that’s not a break’! I’m rubbish at doing nothing, and decorating her room was really satisfying.

I also took a couple of long afternoon breaks in the sunshine that appeared briefly last week, and Tim and I took time out yesterday for a walk along the beach at Embleton – one of my favourite places.

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Result! My mojo has returned!

I’m back to the blog, and have stocked a new shop up in Belford. I’ve arranged a Pop Up Shop in Morpeth, at Treacle Wool Shop, and the machine is once again humming away with new creations. Phew! I was worried there for a minute, but it would seem my mojo has returned, and talking to other fellow artisans it would seem that I  have not been alone in these feelings. Others too have reported feeling blue and generally lacking in va va voom lately. Maybe it has all been something out of our control, but I’m jolly glad it has passed!

Time to get going and get my Christmas stock made!

I’m just about to write my latest newsletter, so if you’d like to hear about my latest local stockists, or get the dates for your diary of Autumn and Christmas Markets, then look out for the newsletter in your inbox, or sign up to it here:

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