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.

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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

Read All About It!

Not exactly Harpers and Queen or Vogue, but hey, it’s exposure none the less. I’m in Women’s Weekly this week! It’s in the issue dated 12 July and is on sale in your newsagents now!

 

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It’s a nice piece, (even though I don’t knit, as the front cover says) with lots of photos and family members – there’s Hannah and John, my two youngest, and Mari, who is my eldest son’s girlfriend, in the centre. It’s interesting that they pick up on the whole recycling and looking after the planet concept, which is after all where The Woolly Pedlar sprung from, when I was writing a blog about living sustainably, The Bridge Cottage Way. 

July-2

In other news, you’ll also find The Woolly Pedlar in this month’s issue of To Knit and Crochet, published by the Knitting Network, so thanks to the two journalists involved, who looked down the Google tube for upcyclers and found me! The power of the internet knows no bounds

July-3

Thanks must go to Mari, Hannah and Tom, my models! Cheers guys 🙂

 

The Sad Demise Of Hawick Knitwear

A year ago, on my birthday to be precise, I drove my van up the beautiful A68 through Northumberland to Carters Bar on the border of England and Scotland, took a left, and meandered through beautiful scenery to the town of Hawick, home of the Scottish knitwear industry, or so the sign told me as I drove into town.

I’d sent an email to Hawick Knitwear, a few weeks before, asking what they did with their waste. My business is about upcycling waste and saving it from landfill, and I was in need of another supplier of knitwear. The guys there couldn’t have been more accommodating. They had even raided the secretary’s stash of chocolate biscuits as it was my birthday. I had a meeting with the head of sales and the waste manager, and showed them some of my woolly wares. I took with me a sweatercoat, some little ponchos and baby blankets, and the men looked at these appreciatively, and although a far cry from the smart jumpers made by Hawick Knitwear, they made encouraging noises about my work.

Up until then, they explained, the waste had been sold to carpet manufacturers where it was shredded, but if I was prepared to negotiate a good price, then they would save some garment panels for me. I was also taken into a large stockroom and asked if I could do anything with ten boxes of lambswool jumpers without head holes. Bingo! I had found myself a supplier of the finest lambswool and cashmere.

For the next year, thanks to the waste from Hawick knitwear, I made dozens and dozens of ponchos, bedspreads, baby blankets and throws, and sold these at events such as Hexham Farmer’s Market,  Woolfest and The Green Gathering as well as online from my website and through social media. Partly thanks to Hawick knitwear, my business flourished during 2015.

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I let my stock of materials dwindle over Christmas to make way for family staying as the guest room has previously been piled high with boxes of Hawick’s waste knitwear. In the new year I emailed Hawick to arrange another delivery, as I needed to hit the ground running and get making again. To my horror I got a reply to my email saying Hawick had gone into administration, and the guy I had been dealing with was now unemployed.

I phoned the administrators and was told that they were trying to find another buyer for the business, but if I wanted to register an interest to buy any stock, they’d be in touch in due course. A month later, I was headed for the last time, up to Hawick to buy half a tonne of waste knitwear that had been taken off the machines. The factory workers had only been given four hours notice of the factory closing when they had gone back after new year, and so had just walked away, jumpers half finished on machines.

I had been offered four tonnes of waste knitwear, but after doing the sums with my accountant husband, we decided the rental of a storage unit for that would amount to ten year’s worth of knitwear for me, wasn’t affordable. As it is, I’ve had to rent a storage container, and now have enough knitwear for the next two years.

I find it so sad that this major employer in the small town of Hawick has gone. It is devastating for the town and the workforce. The chap who met me last week had been with the company for thirty-nine years, and both his sons had also worked there. I’m sure the reasons for its closure are many and complex, but the question of cheap clothing manufactured abroad by people living and working in shocking condition must come into play. Luxury knitwear made in Britain would appear to be a dwindling market.

I went into the factory to collect my knitwear, and found it’s emptiness and silence a stark contrast to the bustling and happy place it had been before. So sad, and my heart goes out to all those who have lost their jobs, and to their families for whom it will have a knock on effect.

I do hope the remaining stock will go to a good cause if it isn’t sold. I would hate to think of it going into landfill when there are refugees in desperate need of clothing. I think I maybe should email the administrators once and find out what is happening to any unsold stock. There are after all, containers heading off to Syria and Dunkirk that could be filled with Hawick’s waste.

So I now need to get busy. I have a container full of waste knitwear to work with and four boxes of beautiful thread that I managed to save from the skip. I’m looking forward to making lots of beautiful things with the fabulous lambswool. I will also have to be mindful of the fact that I’ve lost a supplier in the long term, and will need to find another.

I’d love it if you hopped over to the online shop on the website for a browse of my latest designs. You can follow me by signing up to the blog and newsletter on the homepage of the website at www.woollypedlar.co.uk