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P, P, P….Pick Up a Poncho

Ok, hand’s up! Who had a poncho back in the 70s? I certainly did – crocheted by my Nanna. It was hideous! White and coral stripes with tassels, lovely! I think it might even have been acrylic.

We’ve been talking today, over on the Woolly Pedlar’s Facebook page, about what you would call a group of ponchos? There have been some great suggestions, from a taco of ponchos, a penchant of ponchos and my favourite, a tequila of ponchos. The urban dictionnary says it is a ponchulation which is just fabulous! Thanks to Jenny for finding that info out for me.

540-templateThis is me in my poncho now. I’d popped into our local Scope shop in Hexham, one of the places where I buy jumpers to recycle, and the manager took this photo. My ponchos are made by cutting out squares from jumpers that might otherwise be destined for the rag man. They may have a hole in or have felted. That’s not a problem for The Woolly Pedlar, I just cut out the good bits and then pass on the scraps to proggy matters! Nothing is wasted.

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I also make ponchos for little people, as Lacey here is showing. The style is the same, a little hood, which gives a cosy neckline, and warm, woolly squares.

We do diddy little sizes – 18-24 month, 3-5 years, 6-7 years, and then adult sizes

 

 

 

 

 

 

IMG_1263Lacey and her mum are wearing matching ponchos, and are off to find puddles! I’ll have a few matching sets. Online sales too from Feb 1st over at www.woollypedlar.co.uk

 

If you’re out and about in Hexham, then Mr Wolf’s is the place to find my diddy little ponchos, or come and find me at Hexham Farmer’s Market every 2nd and 4th Saturday of the month. The first one for me being on Valentine’s Day. Do pop down and say hello if you’re about. If you have any jumpers to recycle, bring them along!

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Mr Wolf’s have commissioned Little Red Riding Hood ponchos which are really cute and have proving really popular.  At the moment, these are exclusive to Mr Wolf’s in Market Street.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Knocky

Let’s not leave the lads out either! My ponchos make great festival wear for all the family – this first picture was taken at dear Knockengorrach, a wonderful wee festival up in the Scottish hills. I have made a few ponchos in this full blanket style, which keep you warm from head to toe .

earthy-ponchoI had already thought about making ponchos and then lo and behold, they started appearing on the catwalks of Vogue – brilliant! I do love  poncho,

 

 

 

 

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There are Two ‘L’s in Woolly

Have I ever told you how the name, The Woolly Pedlar (take note of the spelling) came about? We’ve always been lovers of music festivals in this family, and when I was thinking about setting up this little business, I had the idea of powering a sewing machine at festivals by bike power. That is how the name the Woolly Pedlar was born.

IMG_2298I put the name, Woolly Pedlar into Google and found a small knitting business, The Woolly Pedler – with an ‘er’. So I looked in the Oxford Dictionnary and found that this was the American spelling, and I should use Pedlar, with an ‘ar’ being British. Unfortunately for the lady with the ‘er’ this now meant that I came before her on the Google page. I am truely sorry for this if you are that lady and are reading this.

What I was not prepared for, were the amount of folk who get the spelling completely wrong! So much so, I have bought the domain names of ‘Wooly Pedlar’ , ‘Wooly Pedler’ and other misspellings.

There are two ‘l’s in Woolly!!! I mean to say, if you write the word ‘real’ and change it to ‘really’ there are two ‘l’s. The same for usual – it becomes usually! I don’t know if it is the ex teacher in me, but I must admit to finding just a little bit annoying.

So, if you’re looking down the google tube for me, please remember, there are 2 ‘l’s on Woolly.

 

Getting some help

‘Recycled, Upcycled and Handmade by Me’ has been the message on the sign above my stall for the last couple of years, and I’ve taken great pride in the fact that I’ve made everything myself.

However, The Woolly Pedlar brand has gone from strength to strength and I just can’t make enough to meet demand anymore. It’s time to get some help.

Meet Julie, who I met at Brocksbushes Christmas Fair and who is my knight in shining armour. Julie has her own small business, teaching sewing classes and working as a freelance seamstress. I will still be designing my creations, choosing the colours and making my jumpers and sweatercoats myself, but Julie will be joining the Woolly Pedlar team to help with sewing blankets, ponchos and other projects when I need a bit of extra help.

1234883_10151651157005958_129562289_nI’m also enlisting some help in cutting out squares for blankets and ponchos. My patchwork ponchos have been a best selling item this winter, thanks to ponchos seeing a revival on the catwalks. I’ve been over the moon with how popular they’ve been, both with adults and children. The lovely children’s shop, Mr Wolf in Hexham has sold dozens of little diddy ponchos for me. However, this has meant hundreds and hundreds of squares have had to be cut out from recycled jumpers. My lovely daughter Hannah has come to the rescue, along with another couple of students. I now give them a pile of jumpers in a particular colourway, a sharp pair of dress making scissors and a template, with the instructions to cut the jumpers into 4inch or 6inch squares, and pay them by the hour.

When I tentatively made my first pair of armwarmers, I had no idea that in a couple of years I would be employing staff! I am over the moon with how my little business has grown, and am looking forward to 2015, and having a well stocked online shop (announcement about this coming very soon) as well as plenty for folk to choose from at the markets and festivals I will be attending.

Don’t forget, to be sure of hearing all the news, you can sign up for my newsletter which will be delivered monthly into your inbox by hitting the subscribe button on the homepage or the highlighted ‘newsletter’ above

Thanks for reading, til the next time, keep cosy and all the very best

Sue,

The Woolly Pedlar

 

Looking Back on 2014

This has been the third year since giving up my teaching career for self employment to become an upcycler of knitwear, and I’ve had the most wonderful year. I’ve been off round the country in my van to some great festivals and events, met some inspirational people, developed new designs, and have begun to stock some local shops with my woolly wares. I’ve also launched this new website, which, in a few days will see my the addition of the online shop.

IMG_2298As I’m writing this, it’s -4 outside and very cold and frosty, but I’m casting my mind back to the summer. We had a gloriously hot and sunny summer, and I had a superb time travelling up and down the country with my van and stall. One of the highlights was the Green Gathering. The Green Gathering is held in the grounds of Piercefield Park near Chepstow and is a festival, where hedonism takes a back seat and like minded folk gather to celebrate, live and learn about eco issues. My upcycled creations went down a storm and despite the hot weather, I sold many a sweatercoat and jumper. I’ve sent off my application for the Green Gathering 2015 and hope very much to be there again.

 

IMG_2115Another prestigeous event in the woolly world is Woolfest, over in the Lake District, and I was delighted to have my application accepted for this. Held in the sheep and cattle Auction Mart in Cockermouth, this is a gathering of folk who are into wool in all its various forms, from sheep and alpacas, fleeces through to spinners, weavers, dyers and crafters of wool. It was the ideal venue for The Woolly Pedlar. It was quite a challenge to turn an empty cattle pen into a good display space, but with the help of my husband, some roofing latts and dust sheets, we built this stand, which I was really pleased with. I’ve applied to Woolfest again, so fingers crossed that I’ll be there again next year!

 

 

 

10846009_701481213253981_7689212052773473609_nThere has been quite a debate this year amongst my customers over the necklines on my jumpers. Some love the pointy hoods, other aren’t so keen. I’ve listened to everyones’ comments, and have taken them on board. I’ve developed this style which I’ve called the ‘Bardot’ neckline as it can be pulled down over the shoulders. It’s made using the bottom rib band of a jumper, sewn onto a wide neck. I was particularly pleased with this little number, which didn’t hang around for long, and sold at Hexham Christmas Market.

Ponchos are back in fashion, and I can’t seem to make them fast enough. I’ve developed a range of patchwork ponchos that go from a tiny 18-24 month size, right up to a large adult. I’ll continue to make these, as they have been one of my best sellers this autumn and winter.

 

IMG_0991  I’m a huge fan of the ‘Shoplocal’ movement and rarely venture further than my home town of Hexham for my shopping. We have a quirky little street in Hexham, called Market Street, and whilst some of the town is looking a bit shabby with empty shops, Market Street is definitely on the up. We have lots of high class independent shops there and I’m thrilled to be stocking Mr Wolf’s with my children’s ponchos and baby blankets. Following a request form a customer I’ve also designed baby legwarmers for use with slings to bridge the gap when trousers ride up, and they can also be found there.

My thick wool blankets and bedspreads are now being sold in the eclectic Robinson-Gay Gallery which can also be found on Market Street. Sarah, who runs the gallery with her husband, a craftsman in wood, has hand picked some beautiful art, and her gallery is well worth a visit.

The year came to a close with one of my favourite events, the Hexham Christmas Market. It was so exciting to see customers coming to the stall wearing their Woolly Pedlar jumpers that had been bought the previous year, now coming back for more. Thanks to all those who stopped by, bought and chatted.

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Jane and Lucy sporting their new ponchos at Hexham Christmas Market – thanks for all your support this year, girls

As well as working on the new website, I’ve also got my head around Mailchimp, and am now able to send out a newsletter direct to your inbox. Whilst social media can be great, not everyone is a fan of it, and Facebook can be fickle at times, so I thought an emailed newsletter would be useful to keep folk informed about new products and where I’ll be selling my woolly creations. To sign up for the newsletter hit the subscribe button on the website’s home page: https://www.woollypedlar.co.uk/

I’m told that a blog post should be kept short and sweet, something I’m not very good at! I could go on, and talk about so much more, but I’ll leave you now, and get on with the day. I would like to say a big thank you to all who have bought from me this year, and to those whose support and encouragement has helped me on my journey. Running my own business is a steep learning curve but a most enjoyable one. Bring on 2015!

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.