A New Chapter Begins for The Woolly Pedlar

A new chapter begins for The Woolly Pedlar, as I become a part-time upcycler and textile designer, part-time childminder, and part-time student of Creative Writing.

In the last blog I wrote about my search for a new Woolly Pedlar to take the woolly baton and carry on the race to recycle waste wool knitwear. I’ve had a fair few folk interested in the business, and had a few enter into more serious discussions. However, for their own good reasons, all have decided that The Woolly Pedlar is not for them. The reasons for selling the business were that I was hoping to go to Newcastle University to do my MA in Creative Writing, and I was about to start childminding my granddaughter.

Childminding has now started, and I have Daisy for two days a week on average. She is a little poppet, and I am loving my Nanny days. She’s just turned one, and is so much fun!

I did apply to Newcastle University and was thrilled to hear this week that I have an unconditional offer, starting my MA part time in September. I’m very much looking forward to a new chapter beginning, with a focus on creative writing. I promised myself many years ago, that I would be writing by the time I was 60, and so with three years left to go, I look forward to fulfilling my dream

As for the Woolly Pedlar, I have decided in the absence of anyone to take over the business in the short term, to continue with it on a part time basis, making what I can, in the time I have available. I’m not at present going to be booking any major events or shows, and am not taking any orders.

I will continue to collect waste knitwear from some of Hexham’s charity shops, and look forward to making some new designs. This lovely jumper was found last week, and I’m collecting knitwear in similar colours to make a range of jackets and accessories with it.

What I make will be presented in a Facebook Market on a given night, once a month, with a code word being released at a given time. The first one will be on Friday 1st March at 8pm.

This sweatercoat will be going in to the upcoming market, and this week I will be making armwarmers and waterfall shawls from the left overs in the same colours, which I’ll add to Friday’s market.

Anything left after two days, from 3rd March will go onto the website.

It would have been such a shame to let the Woolly Pedlar fizzle out, and so I do hope you will join me over on Facebook for the monthly market, and continue to buy from the website.  Thanks for following and reading this update. If you’d like to sign up to the newsletter you can do so on the homepage of this website or by using this link:  NEWSLETTER

 

 

Time to regenerate. The Woolly Pedlar is For Sale

Time to Regenerate – The Woolly Pedlar is for Sale

Personally, I’m not a Dr Who fan, but I do like the analogy of regenerating, which is what I am hoping The Woolly Pedlar will do.  I am looking for  someone else, or a group of someone elses to take the reins from me, and become the new Woolly Pedlar. I have always promised myself that by the time I’m 60, I’ll have written a book, and this week I am heading up to Newcastle University to find out about doing my MA in Creative Writing in September. I’m 57 next week, so I have three years in which to get writing! I also begin childminding my granddaughter very soon, as her mum, my daughter, returns to work.

So, whilst The Woolly Pedlar is doing really well, and I’m still loving making clothes from your preloved sweaters, I feel that this is a good time to sell the business. Would you like to be the next Woolly Pedlar?  Do you have passion for fibre and wool, or for running an ethical business? There’s nothing to say that you have to run the business the same way as I have done, but with the sale, I’m offering all goodwill, my very active Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, website and branding. There is also the option to get the machinery and hardware plus any surplus stock. I would give all my designs and knowledge and work with you as much as I can to help with the transition.

So, if you know of someone, or a group of folk that would like to take over this thriving business, then do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!

Autumn Poncho Sale

Half Term Pixie Poncho Sale

There’s certainly a nip in the air up here in Northumberland for half term week. It’s bright and sunny mind you, and the autumn colours are looking glorious. To help keep your little ones warm and cosy when out and about collecting leaves and conkers, I’ve reduced all children’s ponchos on the website. I’ve taken £10 off all sizes, making a discount of around 25%. It’s free dielivery too is you live in the UK. I’m happy to send abroad too.

Autumn Poncho Sale

Autumn Poncho Sale

My ponchos are made from squares of recycled wool knitwear, with lots of lovely soft lambswool. They come in two styles, either with a pixie hood, or a round neck.

Pixie Hooded Poncho Age 1-3

Pixie Hooded Poncho Age 1-3

round neck poncho age 3-5

round neck poncho age 3-5

I designed these ponchos myself, and they have remained a firm favourite with customers over the years. They are easy to wear and pop on over heads without having to struggle with sleeves. As I wash all recycled knitwear first, they are machine washable, but please use the wool cycle.

You can find them over on the website in the kids and babies section, along with measurements and all the information you will need

They come in four sizes: age 1-3. age 3-5. age 6-9 and teen. Don’t forget that I also make adult ponchos. We wouldn’t want the grown ups missing out!

PIXIE PONCHO SALE

I’ll leave you with a rogue’s gallery of some of my pixie poncho wearing little peeps. If you get a poncho, I’d love to receive a photo.

Pixie Poncho Peeps

Pixie Poncho Peeps

 

Poncho orders galore!

Tales from the Woolly Garret – Poncho Love

Poncho orders galore!

Poncho orders galore!

Oh boy! I have been completely blown away by the response to my End Of Summer Sale. I have reduced adult ponchos and woolly wraps by forty per cent, so I guess that is a really good reduction, and I’m thrilled that so many of you have taken advantage of this. It’s awesome that so many of you are choosing upcycled, ethical fashion as your choice for autumn wear.

My ponchos and woolly wraps are made from recycled lambswool, washed, and then cut into squares and sewn patchwork style using an overlocker (or serger if you are from the USA). I am careful about my colour combinations, and like to use a contrasting or complimentary thread, with seams showing for added texture and interest. I’ve made loads of them over the past seven years, and they remain one of my best sellers.

Here are some of my happy customers wearing their ponchos

poncho wearing poster girls

poncho wearing poster girls

If you have bought a poncho from the sale, or at any other time, I’d love to see a photo of you! I have a ‘Satisfied Customers’ album over on my Facebook page, which you can appear in.

Woolly wraps are also in the sale, with forty per cent off, and we mustn’t forget this famous purchase!

Jeremy Corbyn buys a woolly wrap for his wife, Laura

Jeremy Corbyn buys a woolly wrap for his wife, Laura

All your orders will go out in plastic free packaging. I had to think out of the box when looking for strong plastic free packaging, and came across these three layer Kraft paper potato sacks from Jones and Cane. Customers have reported back that they are great, and can be reused as storage bags.

plastic free packaging

plastic free packaging

So, do head over to the website, while there are still some ponchos and woolly wraps in the sale! Don’t forget to send me a photo of your purchase if you make one.

Beryl & Col from Guru Boutique Darlington

In Tales from the Woolly Garret, One Door Closes and Another One Opens.

You know what they say, about doors closing and opening. Well, I had one door slammed firmly shut this month, as I was kicked out of The Sill, in Northumberland National Park. They were furious with me for suggesting their shop gave preference to Chinese made goods over local makers.  Within the very same week I was contacted by Beryl at Guru Boutique in Darlington, begging me to supply her shop with my woolly wares, and in particular, sweatercoats.

I don’t usually put my coats in other shops, as I find they sell really well from the website, but Beryl was quite insistent, so I agreed to meet with her last Sunday. Apparently one of my customers had gone into to the shop wearing a coat I had sold her at Woolfest. Beryl had fallen in love with them, and thought they would be a perfect fit for their shop.

Beryl & Col from Guru Boutique Darlington

Beryl & Col from Guru Boutique Darlington

As soon as I met Beryl, and her partner Col, I recognised a kindred spirit. Not only that, we actually had friends in common amongst the biker fraternity of Darlington. I used to live at the top of Weardale , and our neighbour at the time Dav, turns out to be a really good friend of theirs. Dav is quite a sight to behold, with a ginger beard that is formed into one long dreadlock that reaches the ground, which isn’t that far, as Dav is quite a short guy.

Upcycled sweatercoat by the Woolly Pedlar at Guru Boutique, Darlington

Upcycled sweatercoat by the Woolly Pedlar at Guru Boutique, Darlington

Beryl & Col chose a selection of clothing, which included a coat and jacket, and took it back to the shop. I was amazed to hear that the coat sold in a couple of days!! I was also chuffed to bits to see that they had arranged a photo shoot, and wasted no time at all in posting photos and videos to their Facebook page.

Upcycled patchwork poncho by the Woolly Pedlar at Guru Boutique, Darlington

Upcycled patchwork poncho by the Woolly Pedlar at Guru Boutique, Darlington

Waterfall shawl as modelled by Emily for Guru boutique, Darlington

Waterfall shawl as modelled by Emily for Guru boutique, Darlington

Waterfall shawl as modelled by Emily for Guru boutique, Darlington

Waterfall shawl as modelled by Emily for Guru boutique, Darlington

What awesome support, and what a lovely blossoming relationship. This feels like a far better fit that the corporate world of the National Park. It’s great when the little people can work together and support each other. Beryl tells me Guru Boutique has been trading in Darlington for 47 years. I’m very proud to be part of that story now, and am super glad of the awesome support that these lovely people have given me.

I’m busy making another coat to replace the one that has sold, and will be sending that, along with this super number in red, at the end of the week.

Red sweatercoat by The Woolly Pedlar, destined for Guru Boutique, Darlington

Red sweatercoat by The Woolly Pedlar, destined for Guru Boutique, Darlington

Red sweatercoat by The Woolly Pedlar, destined for Guru Boutique, Darlington

Red sweatercoat by The Woolly Pedlar, destined for Guru Boutique, Darlington

Thanks for reading my blog. Sorry it’s been so long since I have written one!

Just giving the heads up that I have started an End of Summer Sale on this website with all adult ponchos and woolly wraps on the website reduced by 40%.

Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

Rainy Day Activities – A Woollen Flower Brooch.

Having been out for a 5 mile walk this morning, enjoying what was a lovely Spring day, here in Northumberland, I’ve been spending the afternoon, experimenting with making woollen flowers. Woolfest will be announcing plans very soon, to ask everyone to bring a woollen flower along to the event,  and I’m working on making some crib sheets for how to do this for the Wool Clip shop, and to go on the website.

Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

I’m really pleased with this rolled wool flowers. which I’ve made from a piece of felted wool jumper. It’s really easy, and would make a great rainy day activity. Here’s how

  1. Draw round something round and cut a circle from your piece of felted wool. You will be able to experiment with size.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

  2. Cut a spiral into the circle, starting narrower at the outside, and getting wider towards the middle. The outer of your spiral will be the centre of the flower.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

  3. Beging to roll the spiral, starting from the outside,

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

  4. This is what it looks like when you have finished. The very end of your spiral can be used to cover the rough edges of the back.
    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

  5. Cut a couple of leaves from green felted wool.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

  6. Pin everything in place, with the leaves tucked under the last part of the spiral.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

  7. Sew around the edges using blanket stitch. You could also use a hot glue gun, or fabric glue, but I prefer to sew.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

  8. Sew on a brooch pin and there you go, a quick and easy woollen flower brooch. I guess you could sew a bead in the centre too if you have one. 
    I’ll be getting some kits made up for The Wool Clip shop, or send me a message here and I can get one to you. Happy crafting.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

    Rainy Day Activities. A woollen flower brooch.

A Hug For Vanessa

A Hug For Vanessa

I’ve just come back from jolly old Hexham town, and a lovely lunch date with my dear friend, Vanessa. We enjoyed an excellent bowl of butternut squash and red pepper soup, and a delicious fluffy cheese scone at The Tans Vegetarian Restauarant.

I had arranged to meet Vanessa, to hand over the ‘waterfall shawl’ I’d made with her mum’s cashmere jumpers. You see, Vanessa’s mum, Agnes had passed away recently. Being a lover of bright colours and cashmere, Vanessa asked her to make her something special that she could wrap around herself and remember her mum by.

As we ate our lunch, I asked Vanessa about Agnes. Vanessa told me about her love of design and clothing, having designed clothes herself as a young girl. Indeed, her parents had taken the young Agnes, over to Carlisle, with her dress designs, to have them made up for her. Agnes started work at a young age as a ‘tracer’. In the days before scanners and photocopiers, women were employed to trace engineering and mechanical drawings onto fine linen by hand. A very talented and skilled job. Vanessa remembers her mum telling her about being locked in a room as she was copying somethng top secret for the government, and being scared of the mouse she was locked in the room with.

Agnes brought Vanessa up to be an individual and actively encouraged her to be different from everyone around her. Agnes sounds enormous fun. She loved bright clothing, especially reds and purples, and would never have gone down the ‘beige route’ than so often befalls the elderly.

Vanessa remembers her mum with great fondness, as a loving mum, with a great sense of fun.

I was so very honoured to make this waterfall shawl for Vanessa from Agnes’ cashmere cardigans.

 

If you would like to discuss a memorial product, do get in touch. I have made bedspreads, throws and cushions in the past using a loved ones’ jumpers and cardigans. You can get more information on the Memorial Page on the website.

I have made other waterfall shawls, and while stocks last, these can be found in the Woolly Wraps section in Upcycled Women’s Clothing over in the shop.

I’m planning other colours in waterfall shawls, and all being well, plan to have lots with me at Woolfest in June.

Waterfall Shawl. Free form wool wrap

The Waterfall Shawl. Free Form Sculptural Textile Art.

The Wool Clip has put on an exhibition at the Upfront Arts Gallery near Penrith, called From Fell to Fabulous. As a member of The Wool Clip cooperative, I was asked to make a piece for this.

Taking inspiration from the mosses, lichen, and colours of my beloved Cumbrian and Northumbrian Fells, I set about making a sweatercoat.

From Fell to Fabulous. Upcycled Wool Sweatercoat

From Fell to Fabulous. Upcycled Wool Sweatercoat

We were also asked to make smaller pieces for the exhibition, and I thought about designing something new. My friend Vanessa had asked me to make her a free form wrap using some of her favourite cashmere, and from that, the Waterfall Shawl was born.

Waterfall Shawl. Free form wool wrap

Waterfall Shawl. Free form wool wrap

I am over the moon with this new design, and so it would seem are you, if the response over on my Facebook page is anything to go by.

Waterfall Shawl. Free form wool wrap

Waterfall Shawl. Free form wool wrap

I spent today, a very cold and snowy Easter Monday making another, and as soon as it was listed, it sold.

Waterfall Shawl. Free form wool wrap

I plan to make more, and will soon have them in stock at The Wool Clip, and will have plenty at Woolfest. By the way, tickets for Woolfest went on sale last week online.

Upfront Gallery, Penrith. Fell to Fabulous Exhibition.

Upfront Gallery, Penrith. Fell to Fabulous Exhibition.

 

The Upfront Art Gallery exhibition ‘From Fell to Fabulous’ runs from 30th March – 13th May 2018.

 

 

 

 

The Beast from the East

The Beast from the East Take Two – More Snow

More snow! It would appear we are in the grips of ‘The Beast from the East Two’. Driving snow and strong winds are making themselves known for the second time this month. This month being March. We are all in need of Spring.

The Beast from the East

The Beast from the East

My thoughts are with two groups of people today. The homeless and our farmers. I met a lassie in Cardiff this week who said her home was under a bridge. I cannot imagine what last night was like for her.

The Beast from the East 2

The Beast from the East 2

Living rurally in Northumberland, we heard our farmer up and about long before we were this morning, checking for lambs. What a week to be lambing! Not only are our farmers out in this awful weather feeding and searching for livestock, but many are out in snow ploughs clearing our roads too.

This lady had to be dug out of the snow during the first Beast from the east a couple of weeks ago on my friend Julie’s farm up in Allenheads here in Northumberland.

Over the hill in Nenthead and Alston everyone is cut off again. Hoping to get over to see my new granddaughter early next week. Last time the snow drifts were riciculously big. Hopefully not that bad this time.

What a snow day does give, though is a day to stay in, light the fire, pick up some knitting, or in my case, spend the day taking photos and getting new products onto the website.

Merino Wool Neckwarmer

Merino Wool Neckwarmer

Merino wool neckwarmers

Merino wool neckwarmers

You lot absolutely love my merino wool neckwarmers. I’m not surprised, as they are so comfy to wear, yet so warm and practical. It’s amazing when you take an old merino wool jumper or cardigan that’s been preloved but isn’t going to be worn anymore, and upcycle it into a funky new, bang on trend item. I love giving textiles a new lease of life. Hop over to Accessories to see what’s new.

Upcycled wool poncho and ruana

Upcycled wool poncho and ruana

I’ve also added this lovely poncho and woolly wrap to the website to celebrate St Patrick’s Day. Mind you, a couple of you reminded me that it was St Gurtrude’s Day too. Check out Women’s Clothing for these two and other upcycled designs to keep you cosy through these chilly days.

St Gurtrude's Day

St Gurtrude’s Day

I thought I’d give the baby section some tlc too, and have listed three lovely baby blankets. Made from supersoft lambswool and cashmere, babies find these comforting and warm.

Pale Pink & Cream Patchwork Wool Baby Blanket

Pale Pink & Cream Patchwork Wool Baby Blanket

Have you had a productive snow day, or have you wallowed in your pjs and had a lazy day?

 

Here’s hoping you’re keeping cosy, whatever you’re doing.

 

 

A Deconstructed Jacket

A Deconstructed Jacket

Jumping on the deconstructed band wagon, although I much prefer my apple crumble the old fashioned way, in a glutenous fruity heap covered in custard, than in its’ separated components a plate.

A Deconstructed Jacket

A Deconstructed Jacket

I made this jacket this week, and over on the Facebook, someone suggested it would be good to know if there were any stories behind the various parts of the jacket. You see, I take preloved jumpers. Wash them, then cut them up and make them into new things.

I’ve already written about the story behind another jacket I made a few years back, in Angela’s Jumper, when I was approached by a lady who had donated the jumper I made a jacket from recently to the charity shop I bought the jumper from for recycling.

Angela's jumper

Angela’s jumper

Here goes:

The trim for the hood, was a single piece of woollen fabric which had once upon a time been the front of an Argyle jumper. It was given to me by Linda who is part of The Wool Clip co-operative of which I’m a member. Linda’s business is called Moore and Felt, and Linda makes nuno felted scarves and corsages & brooches made from recycled jumpers. At a recent meeting Linda had donated a bag of jumpers to me. Often we share materials, or incorporate each other’s work in our designs.  So that was the source of the hood trim.

Moore and Felt at The Wool Clip

Moore and Felt at The Wool Clip

The bodice for the jacket is fundamental to the garment. It needs to be felted, and firm enough to carry the weight the other components of the jacket. Nothing worse than a floppy upcycle. This jumper came already felted, as many do, from one of my local charity shops. This seems a great place to give a shout out for my local Scope, Cancer Research, Save the Children, Oxfam and Tynedale Hospice charity shops in Hexham.

Hexham

Hexham

You’ll see me dashing around them like an old bag lady every week, as I go out the back to see what waste wool jumpers have been put to one side for The Woolly Pedlar. Even if a jumper is felted, has a hole or needs a wash, I gather them up, weigh and pay for them before bringing them back to the woolly garret.

I’ve just had a birthday, and I’m delighted to say my husband has bought me a silver machine (cue Hawkwind) for my jumper gathering. No more rushing around like on old bag lady. Maybe I should look into yarn bombing my jumper gathering trolley? All I need is a purple coat and ill-fitting red hat!

My Silver Machine

My Silver Machine

Back to the jumper. I loved the colourful band that goes down the front. Usually this is a button band, with button holes and buttons, but not this one. It came from a Scottish knitwear manufacturer in East Lothian, which hand loomed beautiful knitwear. I’d bought a box of end of line garments from them they were beautiful and have been used in other designs below. The band was all I had left, and I’d been saving it for something special. The colours match the hood trim so well.

Funky Wool Jacket with Long Pixie Hood

Funky Wool Jacket with Long Pixie Hood

I had also been keeping these lovely clasps for some time. They had come from a Norwegian jumper I got when I used to buy vintage knitwear from a guy in Hartlepool. Unfortunately this source of knitwear dried up. Shame, as I got some great knitwear from him.

Funky Wool Jacket with Long Pixie Hood

Funky Wool Jacket with Long Pixie Hood

The funky stripy waistband is a felted merino jumper, donated by a friend who is very skilled at shrinking her and her husband’s jumpers. I was told recently by my hairdresser that baby shampoo is great for unshrinking woollies as is softens the fibres, and with a bit of persuasion, woollies can get their shape back. This is only hearsay and I haven’t tried it yet.

The pockets are from a child’s jumper, also felted and sold as rags, but gloriously soft, and made from wonderful wool

The skirt for the jacket is actually made up from two blue jumpers. That reminds me of another blog I wrote a while back called Take Two Jumpers. One of the two came from Anne, seen below who has become a loyal customer, and who I met in person at last year’s Open Studio & Garden Party. Incidentally, I’m hosting this again in July if anyone wants to come?

So that’s the jacket. As I write this it’s for sale on the website – feel free to have a browse in the different sections of the shop. I’m off now to list more merino wool neckwarmers – definitely best sellers of the month!

Merino Wool Reversible neck Warmer in Lilac & Purple

Merino Wool Reversible neck Warmer in Lilac & Purple

Thanks for reading.