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How much? For an Old Jumper! A Look at Pricing.

They say that pricing is one of the hardest things to get right. Too low and you undersell yourself, don’t make profit, your business won’t grow and you  don’t do other makers a favour as it makes their products look overpriced. Too high and you won’t sell it, or only to a very select few if you are in the right area.

The comment in the title, ‘How much? For an Old Jumper!’ was said to me by an old man at a local Christmas Market last year. I suppose technically it was an old jumper he was referring to, albeit several ‘old’ jumpers, sourced from my local charity shops, washed, then cut up, designed and sewn. I would just like to point out a few other costs that went into getting that jumper to the market.

  • I need a van to carry all my woolly wares to and from markets, that needs taxing, testing, maintaining and fuel buying
  • I had to pay several hundred pounds to be at that market
  • I need to pay myself a wage not only for the hours making that jumper, but for the hours searching for jumpers, washing and designing,
  • I need to pay myself for the time in between – setting up the stall, working on my website, and social media to advertise my work.
  • I need to pay myself a wage for standing at the market
  • I need to pay for my website and its maintenance
  • I need to pay for business cards, leaflets and advertising,
  • I need to pay for packaging.
  • I need to account for my skill, years spent growing my experience and all the mistakes and false starts along the way
  • I need to pay for my materials other than the ‘old jumper’ – thread, scissors, cutting mats, cutting wheels, storage boxes and bags, labels.
  • I need to buy jumpers – only wool jumper mind you, and I buy lots of them!

So, to the man who thought my handmade, upcycled jumper was expensive, but can I just point out, that is isn’t just about the time spent sewing and the cost of a second hand jumper or jumpers, it is about so much more. I value my skills and my business and that is why my prices are as they are. I’m sorry if you thought my work was expensive, of if you couldn’t afford it. On the flip side, these comments are few and far between. The majority of my customers think my work is reasonably priced for are unique and handmade garments. 

One thing that is imperative for dealing with the general public, is a thick skin and a smile!

me-jumpers

 

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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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The Highs and Lows of Using Facebook as a Small Business

Oh Facebook you fickle friend! You really have incensed me this week. It is not often I have a rant, and I do try to keep everything as positive as possible, but when I spend the best part of a day photographing, editting and listing a new product which I’m really excited about, and then the algorithm by which Facebook decides what should appear in your newsfeed deduces that my woolly wraps are only to be seen by handful of people, I’m left feeling utterly frustrated.

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Don’t get me wrong, Facebook can be tremendous, and I would recommend that anyone who has a visual product to show the world uses Facebook and other social media to their full advantage. Why wouldn’t you use a global platform to show the world what you have been making?

Facebook-for-Business

I first set up my Facebook business page, The Woolly Pedlar, back in 2012 when I left teaching and my little one woman upcycling business was launched.  I had watched with interest how Katwise used Facebook with Etsy and had what could only be described as a cult following. She only had to post an album of her latest creations and they would be seen and shared by thousands which led to a stampede when her sale started, with her sweaters selling faster than Glastonbury tickets.

happy-customer

Facebook has allowed me to engage with so many wonderful people. Do date I have 1,852 followers, and I have been sold many of my upcycled woolly goodies through the power of Facebook alone. I have an album which continues to grow, of photos sent by happy customers. In fact Phillippa who sent in the photo above, has just sent me another, this time of her daughter in one of my upcycled ponchos.

Gill

I have built relationships with my followers, some of them remaining virtual friends, and some of them becoming real life friends and colleagues, with us meeting at events and shows, and keeping in touch with each other via the Facebook page.

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One piece of advice I would give anyone who has a Facebook business page, is to build up a picture of yourself, what makes you tick, your personality and anything that supports your brand. Some of you will know my story, and that The Woolly Pedlar came about through my love of recycling, and living sustainably and through the writing I did of The Bridge Cottage Way. I try, therefore, to show folk more about me that simply what I make. After all. no one wants to engage with a page that simply bombards you with ‘buy this’ posts. Whilst there is a fine line to be drawn between exposing the ins and outs of one’s family life, I do think followers like to get a feel of you as a whole person, and of the lifestyle you have, as well as seeing what you’ve been making. The Woolly Pedlar is about so much more than just jumpers.

garden

I try to have time out every day for a mindful wander round the garden both for relaxation, and to get a photo ready for my daily ‘Good Morning’ posts which I’m told by my followers are greatly enjoyed. (or perhaps they’re just being polite)

I use Facebook to share my blogposts, newsletter updates, event news as well as showing how and why I make what I do.
Little and often has to be they key. I often get told ‘I don’t have the time for social media’ but if used little and often I feel it isn’t too time consuming. It’s a question of getting into the habit, but also of not letting it take over your life!

So why, if I find Facebook such a great marketing tool, am I so cross with it? A year or so ago Facebook decided that it wanted small businesses to pay to boost posts. I guess Facebook does need to earn its money somehow, and we had had a free run for sometime, but it seems to be doing pretty ok from advertising. So now, I find that any post with a link to my website, a £ sign, a size or anything that includes the words ‘website, for sale,’ or a price or size is guaranteed to be only seen by a few. So how the dickens do I get folk to see what is for sale?

I find when I ask my followers to comment on a post, as soon as the commnets come in, then the views start to soar. I don’t want to always be asking for favours to comment or share, and although subtle questions are asked to prompt comments, if not careful, these can sound contrived.

snowdrops

Just this week, one of my ‘Good Morning’ posts with a picture of my snowdrops was seen by getting on for a thousand folk, whereas my poor old woolly wraps were only seen by a handful. Yes, I had put the prices on my woolly wraps, with links to the website, but how else was I going to show folk what I had made, how much it cost and where it could be bought? Yes, I could put links to the website in the comments below, but not everything is as savvy as each other about navigating Facebook.

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I know other artists are feeling the same as me, and their frustraion about the way Facebook is operating is palatable. So please, I implore you, if you like what I make, and see one of my posts with new makes on do leave a comment!! It makes all the difference.
Of course there are other social media platforms, and I have a Twitter account, Pinterest boards, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, but honestly, there are only so many minutes in a day, and I do need to get on and make things!

Rant over! Promise next week’s blog with be without moans. Thanks for reading 🙂

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Green Inspiration

Those of you who have followed my blogging for a while and have read The Bridge Cottage Way, will know how inspired I am by my garden, and in particular my veggie patch. Ever since I was a nipper, helping my Nan with her greenhouse and selling her tomatoes and runner beans on the pavement outside her house, I have been inspired by growing things and the beauty that can be found outdoors in the garden.
frosty-cabbage

 

I wandered round the garden earlier this week with my camera, looking for inspiration and was gobsmacked at the beauty of the frost on the cabbages and kale.

It never ceases to amaze me just how many greens can be found in nature. Take this humble frosted cabbage for example, with greens running from yellow, through blue right through to the darkest, deepest forest green.

Take any patch  in the garden, and a multitude of greens can be found.

With this in mind, I set about making a sweatercoat in greens. Up in the woolly garret I had amassed a large sack of green jumpers, and a crucially thick, felted one to form the bodice, the mainstay of a sweatercoat.

(The bodice needs to be thick enough to hold the weight of the full skirts, and because of this the size of sweatercoat made is totally dependent on what felted jumper I can find at the time.)

I had a couple of yellowy green jumpers saved which blended so well with all the other greens, and taking inspiration from my garden wanderings, I set about making this green sweatercoat

 

 

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Once finished, I was delighted to see that after weeks and weeks of torrid grey sky and torrential rain, we had a beautifully clear sky and sunny day. I set up my tripod in the garden and photographed my new creation.

Once indoors, I set about editting the photos, ready to put my new sweatercoat up for sale on the website, and to my delight I noticed that the colours in the coat matched the surrounding greens of the Northumberand countryside perfectly.

Not sure what to call the yellowy green in the sweatercoat I went onto the Pantone website. For those unfamiliar with Pantone, it is an American corporation, based in New Jersey that is best know for its ‘Pantone Matching System’, a proprietary colour space used in a variety of industries, primarily printing, and is a very useful resource for giving names to colours.

To my delight, the yellowy green in question is called ‘Elfin Yellow’ – perfect! I have as a result, listed this sweatercoat for sale on the website as ‘Forest Green and Elfin Yellow Sweatercoat’. A title that is fitting not only to it’s colour, but to its style.

 

 

 

 

green-damask-wedding-gown-of-Queen-Mary-of-Habsburg-c1520

green-inspirationAfter seeing my posts about my new sweatercoat, one of my Twitter (@Woollypedlar) followers found this photo and tweeted it. It is of the green damask wedding gown of Queen Mary of Habsburg c1520. Here it is next to the green sweatercoat of The Woolly Pedlar, c2016. See any similarities? Pure coincidence!

 

 

 

 

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Christmas Markets Begin – Don’t Panic Mrs Mainwaring!

If there were a theme tune running through my life over the next few weeks it would be Benny Hill’s Yakety Sax. I often used to use this tune when doing sensory dramas in my former life as a special needs teacher when we wanted to show people rushing around like headless chickens. Any other fellow artists or crafters reading this may well identify with how I’m feeling. There is SO much to do, so much to make and just not enough daylight hours in the day!
Whose idea was it to turn the flippin clocks back? I don’t usually moan or grumble publically and like to always present a positive image, but when you’re sewing frantically and it’s dark at 5 because some ninny decided to put the clocks back then there is cause for complaint. I know of two people who refuse to take part in this and sometimes find themselves an hour late for appointments, but live by summer time all year round. As I enter mad old lady territory, I am very tempted to do the same.
It is as if someone has pressed the fast forward button on a tape recorder (for those of you who are old enough to remember taper recorders that is) and there just don’t seem to be enough hours in the day, minutes in the hours to not only make enough stock to do the Christmas markets justice, but to keep house and home together, do the shopping, cooking, housework and get my own family’s Christmas sorted. Mind you, the latter will have to wait til after my last Christmas market on 19th December, and with two grown up sons living at home, I will certainly be sharing out the chores!

Having said that, trading at numerous Christmas markets is wonderful, not only being a part of my lovely trader family again, but it does offer the ideal opportunity to buy wonderful, locally handmade presents – something I try to do every year now and which I’ll be writing about in another blog very soon.

So, without further ado, I will sign off and head up to the woolly garret, where a delicious pile of fuschia, magenta and navy blue jumpers waiting for me. Trouble is, it’s only eight o’clock in the morning, and everyone else is still asleep. My youngest son sleeps right underneath my workshop and says that my sewing machine sounds like a helicopter coming into land! Oh well, sorry son, I need to get on. Brocksbushes Christmas Fair is on 12th November in two weeks time.

Don’t panic Mrs Mainwaring!

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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.

Peter-2

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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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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To Etsy, or not to Etsy, that is the question…

Talk about having all your eggs in one basket! Don’t get me wrong, I love my new website, but internet sales have fallen in number since I moved all my internet shop over here.

SW17.1I don’t think it’s because folk don’t like my work anymore, or that it’s too expensive, I just think that I am competing with the big boys such as Etsy and Ebay in the search listings.

I’ll say it again, I love my new website – I love its design (thank you Cool Terry from TWDA and Gemma from Yellow Cherry Design), I love having my blog on the same site rather than blogspot. I love having the shop there, but I can see from the list of key words used to find the website that it is my brand that is bringing folk here. In other words, they are searching specifically for me, The Woolly Pedlar, however they are spelling it! (That’s another issue and one I wrote about in a previous blog: ‘There are 2 l’s in Woolly!)

AW27 I closed my Etsy shop originally when this website was created for many reasons, most of all being that I didn’t want to spread my stock too thinly or get in a muddle. With making one off items, it’s hard enough keeping track of what sells at Farmer’s Markets and events, and what sells online. I have on more than one occasion had to apologise when I’ve sold a pair of armwarmers at a market then had a customer order the same pair online. This means it is vital to keep online stock seperate from that which is destined for the stall.

 

IMG_4195This of course means I need a big stock and this was always a problem in the past, as I was in the fortunate position of selling my woolly creations as fast as I could make them. Not so any more! I have a fairy godmother in the form of Julie who I introduced to you in the blog ‘Getting Some Help‘. Julie leaves all the designing of coats and jumpers, and the making of scarves and armwarmers to me, but she is a whizz at making my patchwork ponchos and bedspreads. This has meant that I now have plenty of stock not only for Woolfest, which is my next big event (more on that later), but I now have enough to keep a good selection on the shop and to reopen my Etsy shop which I’ll do after Woolfest. Hopefully then I’ll catch those who are searching on Etsy or looking down the Google tube for something specifically handmade and upcycled.
I’ll let you all know when that happens, and who knows, I may even open a Folksy shop while I’m at it!

Back to Woolfest! Are you coming? This is my favourite event of the year, and takes place in the Farmer’s Mart at Cockermouth on the western edge of the Lake District. It is two days of everything woolly, a celebration of sheep and their wonderful wool, and I for one can’t wait! It is on 26th and 27th June this year. If you are coming, you’ll find me in row K and I look forward very much to seeing you there!

Woolfest-2015In the meantime, you can catch up with all my woolly goings on over on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – just search for The Woolly Pedlar, but remember, there are 2 l’s on Woolly!

 

 

 

 

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Finding Jumpers to Upcycle

I often get asked, ‘Where do you get all your jumpers from?’

When I made my first pair of armwarmers (see pic) 1st-attemptI got the jumpers for them from one of the charity shops in my local town of Hexham, or maybe even a combination of them. I can’t actually remember. Today I still get a good percentage of my woollies from my local charity shops. The whole purpose of why I’m doing what I’m doing, apart of course from making a living, is to rescue waste and turn it into better things rather than going to landfill – commonly known as upcycling. I therefore ask my local charity shops to keep a special eye out for anything that would normally be going to waste and save it for me. After all, holes can be cut around, bobbles shaved off, and grubby marks washed! I also buy off the shelf and find it best to set aside a day a week to check out what’s new in my local shops

I am really lucky in Hexham to have nearly all the charity shops on board, saving me their waste woollies.

Another wonderful source of good wool jumpers is the Scout’s Jumble Sale in a nearby local village. A love a good jumble sale and remember fondly when my kids were little and jumble sales were much more frequent than they are today.

dollI’m having a wonderful time at our local Farmer’s Market in Hexham where I’ve put out a collecting bin, where local folk can recycle their old jumpers. I’m more than happy to offer a discount or give a pair of armwarmers as a reward. It’s great to keep everything in the local economy too  – you’ll find me down at Hexham Farmer’s Market on every second and fourth Saturday ( next one is 25th April) with my stall full of woolly wares

 

 

 

 

 

BL4.3 As good as the local jumble sales and charity shops are, I found I was still needing more knitwear and in particular, patterned and Fairisle designs. I had a brainwave one day and emailed a knitwear factory up in the Borders of Scotland to ask what happened if they made a mistake in the making of one of their jumpers. I am happy to say we came to an agreement whereby I buy any waste from them whether in the form of odd panels, sleeves, fronts or backs, or seconds.

I also look out for sellers of vintage and secondhand knitwear on Ebay and in the north-east, and sometines travel with my van to secondhand clothing wholesalers.

So that’s it really. It does take a while to collect enough jumpers to stock my stalls throughout the year locally and at festivals. I put a lot of time and effort into collecting the right jumpers and I’m very fussy about the quality and quantity of wool in my products.

If you’ve got any more tips for sourcing sweaters, then do let me know! I understand there are much better opportunities in The States and Australia for finding waste knitwear – do let me know of your experience.

Thanks for reading!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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