A Steep Learning Curve

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For an old lady of 52, it’s been a steep learning curve over the past two and half years as I’ve learnt how to: set up a Facebook business page; open and use a Twitter account; write a blog, The Bridge Cottage Way using Blogspot; discovered the world of Instagram and Tumblr; set up a profile in LinkdIn and Google; began to get to grips with uploading photos and text to my website.  My latest foray into the world of technology has been to learn how to use Mailchimp.

I have been wanting to send out a newsletter for some time. For two reasons: Firstly, many of my customers are not on Facebook, Twitter or the like, and therefore do not get news of where I’ll be selling my woolly wares next, what I’ve been working on, or any of the woolly upcycling banter that occurs.

Secondly, those of you on Facebook will realise that unless you continually ‘like’ or comment on a person’s posts, then they disappear out of your new feed. News feeds, are of course, by their nature, transitory, and therefore information is moving on all the time. A newsletter may well address this issue by arrving in folks’ inboxes and staying there til deleted.

So, I give you The Woolly Pedlar’s Newsletter – a monthy update of my woolly goings on. – click on the words!  The next one will be in January when I will be revealing the launchdate of the online shop! Exciting times indeed.

 

Upcycled Rag Wreath by The Woolly Pedlar

Upcycled Christmas Rag Wreath. Christmas Needn’t Cost the Earth

Why buy gawdy plastic decorations when you can make a beautiful upcycled Christmas rag wreath using scraps of waste fabric? Christmas is coming and very soon it will be time to get the Christmas decorations out of the loft and get the tree up. I try not to buy into the total commercialism that surrounds Christmas, and ever since I was a child, helping my mother make polyfilla and yoghurt pot bells, I’ve always liked to make my own decorations as much as possible. Here’s a very simple to make Christmas wreath that uses scraps of fabric, in my case, all the woolly off cuts I’ve been saving from making my upcycled jumpers and sweatercoats. 1507605_696832753718827_6809927092886123894_nI’ve collected a bath full of scraps and have donated lots to proggy matters this year, but still have sackfuls left. I came across this idea searching on Pinterest, and decided to give it a go myself. I’ve used my woolly scraps, but I’ve seen these made equally effectively with satin, linen or any other fabric you have to hand. One tip though, if using linen or satin, tear your fabric rather than cutting it, as this gives a nice finish to the wreath.

IMG_3877 To prepare your fabric, cut or tear into strips of approx 3 inches, or 10cm wide, although this is approximate, and if there are tatty bits, this can all add character to your wreath. You need a piece of wire that when bent into a circle is the size you want your wreath to be. You don’t want it too big or your wreath will be floppy and loose its circular shapes with the weight of the fabric, especially if, like me, you are using wool.

 

 

IMG_3879It’s now just a case of pushing the wire through the fabric at fairly regular intervals and folding the fabric over one way then the other as it goes onto the wire. Repeath this until the wire is full, leaving a small gap at either end. Using pliers, twist the ends together, and cover with a piece of tape to prevent any sharp egdes poking through.

You can create a pattern using colour and texture, or just add the fabric at random – it’s up to you.

 

 

10268440_697413103660792_2815866676261580455_n  I quite like my wreaths left as they are, but you can add embellishments such a shiny buttons, sewn on leaves, or a twist of tinsel for extra sparkle. Tie a piece of ribbon at the top, and Bob’s your uncle, an easy but very effective wreath, and an excellent way of upcycling left over scraps of material.

I’ll be selling wreaths at the local Christmas Fairs I’ll be attending – see the events page to see where I’m popping up next.

 

 

 

IMG_3928Of course you do not have to stick to the traditional red and green Christmas colours. I have made this purple wreath for my daughter and her housemates, as purple is her favourite colour.

I’m getting together with some of my girlfriends just before Christmas to have a ‘Christmas Makey Day’ when we intend to make more wreaths, and other homemade and upcycled decorations.

Christmas really doesn’t have to cost the earth!

 

 

 

 

Let Me Introduce Myself by the Woolly Pedlar

How The Woolly Pedlar Came About

How exciting, my first blogpost on my new website! Many of you may well be used to my musings and may have been following The Bridge Cottage Way blog, about living sustainably, for some time. I have now decided to move all my writing over to this new Woolly Pedlar website, which I hope you will enjoy.
For those of you who are new to The Woolly Pedlar, a warm woolly welcome to you, and I hope you enjoy my posts. Let me tell you how it all begun.

I started writing The Bridge Cottage Way when I gave up my teaching career of twenty five years due to ill health. I have always believed in living well with what we have, by buying less, reducing waste, and growing as much fruit and veg as we can. It was about all this, that I wrote about in the Bridge Cottage Way.

It was through The Bridge Cottage way that the Woolly Pedlar was born.  Kyle, a friend of my son and daughter, had asked me to teach him how to knit.  Kyle’s brother and girlfriend were expecting their first baby, and Kyle wanted to knit something for them. Together we hatched plans to form The Bridge Cottage Way knitting group.

How it all began

Another friend got in touch when she heard about the knitting group, and said she wasn’t interested in learning how to knit, but wanted me to make her a pair of Katwise armwarmers, which she had seen on the internet. Katwise is from the USA and makes upcycled ‘sweatercoats’ and armwarmers from recycled knitwear. She has a huge following, and has made her tutorials for making armwarmers and sweatercoats available to purchase and download online. She has given her blessing for folk to use these, and make and sell their own, and only asks that she gets a mention from time to time.

Upcycled wool armwarmers

Upcycled wool armwarmers

I explained to Claire that these weren’t knitted, but were made from recycled jumpers and needed an overlocker  (a four thread sewing machine that cuts and sews as it goes)  to make them. I had always fancied getting an overlocker and with the money I got from leaving teaching, bought my first one – a small, domestic machine.

It wasn’t long before family and friends all got a pair of   armwarmers for presents, and my mind had started working overtime with the possibilities of making more. I downloaded Katwise’s tutorial for making sweatercoats, and despite some pretty poor first attempts, gradually perfected the task until I had made some that I thought were saleable.

I loved trawling round the charity shops and hunting out local jumble sales where I could find wool jumpers to recycle. This fitted perfectly into my way of life and love of reusing what we have to reduce the drain on the planet’s resources, as well as appealing to the creative side of my personality

Well that was back in 2011, and I have since then bought an industrial overlocker, and have completely taken over the top floor of our house. I registered as self employed in March 2012, and now work full time as the Woolly Pedlar, upcycling knitwear into a whole host of products, which you will be able to find in my online shop, and when I’m out and about selling my woolly wares at markets and festivals.  Head over the the EVENTS page on this website to see where I’ll be popping up next.

 

 

I love my work, and take a great deal of pleasure from working with colour and texture, and am now designing my own range of clothes, soft furnishings and accessories from recycled jumpers. I am meeting some lovely folk along the way, both fellow artisans, and the loyal army of customers that have discovered my work. My health has improved dramatically from when I was forced to leave teaching, and I now look forward to the future, and lots more woolly pedlaring to come.

To get all the news about new products, where I’ll be popping up next, and general upcycling banter, sign up to the newsletter here:

Newsletter Sign Up Form

Just before I go, a few thank yous – to my long suffering husband and three children for being there for me when I needed you all.

and to cool Terry from TWDA   for helping me with this new website.

Thanks for reading this first blogpost. See you soon!