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Take an Old Stripy Scarf…Upcycling Knitwear

Every week I visit four charity shops in my home town of Hexham, and go behind the scenes to my bins where waste knitwear is collected. I sort through the woollies, and take what I can use in my upcycling. I’m very particular, and only a certain gauge of knitwear will do, and only the best quality and colours make it into my basket.

Every now and then I get real gems, like the week I got several Fairisle jumpers and made this coat, resplendent in patterning: (incidentally, this coat now resides in America )

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The other week I pulled a stripy scarf out of my bin at Tynedale Hospice – I love getting stripes, and a scarf is so useful! But oh my goodness! The colours in this one were absolutely fabulous! Here it is in close up:

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I soon set about making piles of jumpers and seeing what I had in these colours on the shelves. I had a couple of felted jumpers for bodices – one purple, the other a deliciously soft green cashmere.

The scarf I decided would make excellent hood trims, and indeed it did! Two of them, with spare left over for pockets.  I took this photo one evening, and just love it!

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I sometimes make coats without hoods – I often say there’re like Marmite, you either love ’em or hate ’em! This stripy scarf and the possibility of using all those colours in a hood was just too good to pass on.

These coats deserved hoods, and hoods they got!

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I’ve got the Green Gathering coming up as my next event, and I’m taking these beauties with me if they don’t sell first – in fact, I’m going to keep this short and sweet again this week as I need to hot foot it up to the woolly garret where another coat is in the making.

I’ve love and leave you with some more photos of the two coats that came about as a result of a stripy scarf in the rag bin, and also give you the link to the sweatercoat section of the shop so you can find out more about them and do some window shopping. – Actual shopping is of course very welcome too!!

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How the Woolly Pedlar got her Name

Back in 2011, my little upcycling business, The Woolly Pedlar was born, and I’d like to tell you how this came about and how I stumbled across the name.
I had left teaching and was looking to start a new venture. I was considering all aspects of my life, my interests and skills and thinking of how these could be married in business. At that time I was blogging about living sustainably and writing The Bridge Cottage Way. Through this, I had set up a knitting group. A friend said she didn’t want to learn to knit but had seen these recycled wool armarmers by Katwise on the internet and wondered if I could make her a pair. It was from this first pair of armwarmers that my idea to set up a business upcycling wool knitwear came about. Needless to say, my armwarmers have improved somewhat since the first pair.

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So that’s the ‘Woolly’ part of the name explained, now to explain the ‘Pedlar’ bit. As a family we have always gone to music festivals. This first started with me back in 1984 when I went to Stonehenge Free Festival, and then my first (and last) Glastonbury in 1985. My kids have all grown up loving festivals, and two of them have performed in festival bands over several years. I have had many a happy hour dancing to bands at stages powered alternative energy, be it wind, sun or pedal power. Indeed, at Eden Festival which we love, there is a venue with a row of bikes which powers the Board Walk Stage. There’s nothing finer that being on a bike providing the power for the mighty Mungo’s HiFi Sound System. 

Mty stall at the Green Gathering Festival

My stall at the Green Gathering Festival

I had the idea to get a bike linked to my sewing machine so I could sit at my tent, making armwarmers, while happy punters pedalled away providing the power. This was how the ‘Pedlar’ part of my name came about. With a bit of re-jigging of the spelling, and linking it to the selling of one’s wares as a pedlar. The name, ‘Woolly Pedlar’ seemed a good’un. I love my business name, and often get comments from customers that they do too. The Woolly Pedlar is about so much more than just jumpers. The Woolly Pedlar is me, with all that entails!

Unfortunately I have never got around to make that bike powered sewing machine, but I do get on my bike to deliver my woolly wares to my local village shop at Bardon Mill. So I guess I really the woolly pedaler!

 

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Featured image of sheep on a bike was painted by Lisa Edoff

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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!

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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.

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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)

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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.

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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!
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It was a hard task, choosing photos for this blog, as you’ve been great at sending me photos, and there are dozens more I could have chosen. If you’d like to see more, hop over to Facebook, and have a look through my ‘Satisfied Customers’ album. If you are a happy customer, and have a Woolly Pedlar creation, do send me a photo, either through social media or by emailing me – sue@woollypedlar.co.uk   I love to see your happy, smiley faces wearing my work. If you’d like to browse my current collection, then head over to the website shop here on this website.
Thanks for reading!

 

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Zerowaste – Upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more.

By now you probably know that I upcycle preloved wool jumpers and make all sorts from them, with the aim of keeping textiles out of landfill and from going to waste. I won’t go into details of all the products I create from recycled knitwear – you can head over to the online shop to see for yourselves what I’ve been making lately. Upcycling means to take waste and turn it into something more useful or aesthetically more pleasing. This is hopefully what I’ve done with this petite purple sweatercoat made from recycled jumpers, which I finished a week ago. This is not the end of the story however. I want to show how I take waste, and upcycle it until there is nothing left to waste at all. Zerowaste – literally!
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The panels and sleeves for this coat were made from lambswool jumpers rescued from Hawick knitwear when the factory went into administration. You can read what I wrote about that in a previous blogpost entitled ‘The Sad Demise of Hawick Knitwear’. The bodice is a very shrunken cashmere jumper rescued from the rag bag in a local charity shop.

So, when I’ve finished making my sweatercoats, do I throw the scraps away? Not on your nellie! Those long enough, and especially any spare sleeves get cut into strips to make armwarmers:

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It doesn’t stop there either! I still had some grey pieces left over, too short for armwarmer strips, but as long as they are 10cm each way, they can be cut into squares and used to make a cushion. I grabbed a felted pink cashmere jumper and cut off the button band to make the fastening on this cushion and hey presto, a lovely lambswool and cashmere cushion made from my waste. That’s zerowaste in my book!

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But it doesn’t stop there. Left with a pile of scraps that are now diminishing in size, and are no longer useful to me, I pass them onto my friends who are proggy matters. For those of you who are not familiar with proggy matting or proddy matting as it is called in other parts, this is a northern tradition where scraps of wool fabric are poked through a piece of hessian with a ‘prodder’. Ali Rhind explains in much better in her video on Hooky and Proggy Matting. If anyone is coming along to Woolfest in June, I’ll have a table loaded with bags of woolly scraps for you. I’ve also written a blogpost about this ‘The Art of Proggy Matting’
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So there you have it – upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more. Zerowaste, and helping keep textiles out of landfill.

 

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