Vibernum at Bridge Cottage

Tales From The Woolly Garret: The January Blues

So, the tree’s down and the kids have left to go back to their respective homes. The house is quiet and cold. The van is still full of stock from Christmas shows, and the workshop is in a right old state. There is Christmas cake and chocolate to finish, even though the scales have reached a new high. The post Christmas lurgy has also struck and Lemsip has replaced gin as my drink of choice.

This time of year that can be tough for some. Just yesterday over on Twitter, someone I follow was asking if it was ok to say that she was ‘down’. Yes it is, it’s January, it’s cold and dark, and some of us are worn out from the run up to Christmas and the frenzy of Christmas markets. The January Blues can bite hard.

I must admit to feeling briefly low. I get so used to having the two elder ‘kids’ around, and it feels like a part of me is missing when they go. Go they must, however, as they have exiting your lives to lead, and we’d annoy the pants of each other if they stayed around for too long.

I also made the mistake of stepping on the scales – bad move! That should wait until at least two weeks after Christmas, if at all. To combat all the cheese we had a lovely run out to Caldbeck where we visited The Wool Clip and went for a long walk. For those who aren’t familiar with The Wool Clip, it’s a beaut of a shop full of all things woolly and run by the same co-operative who organise and run Woolfest. The countryside and villages around Caldbeck, which is on the north eastern edge of the Lake District, are stunning. It’s amazing how a good walk, a bit of woolly retail therapy and looking at horizons lifts the January Blues. I resisted cake at the cafe too and went for the carrot and parsnip soup.

I loved visiting The Wool Clip and met Emma from Hole House Bags who was running the shop that day. The blues were starting to lift!

I also got quickly back up in the woolly garret and began sorting my jumpers into piles. This is always exciting, as new possibilities of colourways and potential projects get planned. I can’t wait to get sewing again! I have an exciting new collection panned based on a photo I took whilst Cycling Around Orkney. I’ll keep that under wraps though, until I’m ready to unveil the collection. Needless to say, I have an awesome pile of jumpers, with colours to beat any blues into submission.


Today I got out in the garden, and used the trug my husband bought me for Christmas. My one New Year’s Resolution is to get out in the garden more and to grow more veggies this year. Those of you who used to follow my blog The Bridge Cottage Way will know how important this is to me, but woolly pedlaring took over last year, and the garden was sadly neglected. I find getting outdoors to be one of the best ways of beating the blues, January or not! I got into the greenhouse and weeded in between the winter veg. It was great to be back connecting with the soil.

We have a rather unruly Vibernum near the greenhouse which has burst into flower. It is a wonderful sight, with a heady scent. The perfect antidote to the January Blues.

 If you’re feeling blue, I hope it doesn’t last, the days are getting lighter, and Spring is on its way!





It’s all gone a bit ‘backendish’ as they say in Weardale

Before we moved to Bridge Cottage, Tim and I lived in Upper Weardale, in an old leadminer’s cottage which we’d renovated ourselves. They had a saying in Weardale (well in fact they had a lot of sayings, this is but one of them): ‘It’s all gone a bit backendish’. This feels like the  right word for today. It would seem summer is thinking of retreating, and signs that autumn is on the cusp are all around. In fact, as I write this, I need to go and find a woolly wrap or light the fire!


As I drove past the conker tree last week, I noticed the leaves beginning to yellow, and Mr Tim has just ordered an apple crusher for the million, zillion apples that are about to fall. Mind you, having said all this, yesterday was a blazing hot day! This weekend we are home alone without ‘kids’ for the first time in twenty-five years. It is odd to say the least, but we’re ok with it too, and I sat with feet up in the garden, a glass of chilly white and a good book by my side.  It soon turned cooler though and we lit a fire in the recycled washing machine drum while Tim tested the LED solar lights he’s been rigging up on the sauna and for my stall.

The weather hasn’t been as kind today, so after a long lie in and breakfast in bed, I’ve been working on the website. One of my favourite products are my bedspreads. Having just decorated our south facing spare room, I now have the perfect space to get my double and kingsize bedspreads photographed, and have now listed several of them online. There are a couple of new ones, including these two. You can find all my bedspreads, blankets and throws in the soft furnishings department of the website shop.




It feels like it could soon be time to get snuggly!

Christmas bookings are all in now and the diary is looking really full. If you’re wondering where I can be found during the run up to Christmas, then check out the Events tab. Here too, is the list so far:

  • Sept 10th Hexham Farmer’s Market , Hexham Northumberland
  • Sept 18th Rothbury Vintage Fair, Rothbury, Northumberland
  • Oct 22nd Hexham Farmer’s Market
  • Oct 29th Pop uP Shop at Treacle Wool Shop, Morpeth, Northumberland
  • 10th – 13th November Brocksbushes Christmas Fair Stocksfield, Northumberland
  • 19th -20th November – The Hearth, Horsley, Northumberland
  • 25-27th November, Alston Moor Crafts Christmas Fair, Town Hall, Alston, Cumbria
  • 26th November, Jesmond Alternative Christmas Market, Holy Trinity Church, Jesmond, Newcastle
  • 10th December Hexham Christmas Fair and Hexham Farmer’s Market

So, without further ado, I’d better sign off for this week. There’s loads more to tell you, but that will have to wait for this month’s newsletter which will be out soon

Bye for now, and thanks for reading.

Now, where did I put those armwarmers?


It’s Good to be Back

I wonder if any fellow artists out there are like me, and have a restless night’s sleep before an event? I usually fall asleep as soon as my head hits the pillow, but on Friday night it took ages to get to sleep then I tossed and turned, and woke at five, a full hour and a half before I needed to get up. Call it nerves, excitement, adrenalin, call it what you will, it isn’t conducive to having the energy to run a stall the next day!

Stall-HexhamThe Woolly Pedlar was back in Hexham Farmer’s Market! After a summer away at festivals, I was looking forward to rejoining the other producers at my local Farmer’s Market. I had been watching the forecast over the coming week, which had been bathed in an Indian Summer, with crisp cooler mornings, and lovely warm sunny days. The weatherman said this was all going to change at the weekend, with wind and heavy rain on Saturday morning.

Now, some of the other stallholders (Billy from the veg stall especially) had previously remarked how it only ever rained when I was there! So, watching the forecast carefully, I was worried that I was going to jinx the market yet again.

Sure enough, I woke far too early at five, and listened to the rain starting to hit the windows.

I need the help of my husband to set up my stall, so at 6.30 I woke him up and we grabbed some breakfast before driving the van to Hexham. I needn’t have worried about a thing. The rain was gentle and the welcome from Peter, Hexham Farmer’s Market’s main man was awesome.


After a big bear hug and a lovely warm welcome back to the market, I felt immediately at home again. We have a lovely community amongst the other traders and townsfolk in Hexham. Shop owners such as Mary from Gaia in Market Street, took the trouble to stop by and wish me luck for the day. I really enjoy being part of my local town’s trading community – we are such a supportive bunch.

Well, it rained cat and dogs all morning, and despite having a stall full of lovely new ponchos, jumpers, sweatercoats, baby blankets, armwarmers and scarves all I sold one one baby blanket and one pair of baby legwarmers!

What’s more, I had forgotten my knitting!!!! Five hours of sitting in my tent watching the rain!

Still, I had a lovely day, commiserating with my fellow stallholders. One of whom gave me a bag of free watercress she’d picked from her river the day before. Julia, The Moody Baker was next door and we gave each other a big soggy cuddle when we were feeling bleugh!

I really hope that the next Farmer’s Markets I’m attending (10th & 24th October) will be kinder to us stallholders – preferably cold and crisp – the ideal weather for selling woollies!

11-AprilIf you want to know where I’ll be selling my woolly wares next, hop over to the Events Page.

Local Stockists can also be found on the website.
If you are not local to the north-east, there’s always the website shop, and if you don’t see what you are after then get in touch – bespoke orders are a pleasure!
dollIf you are in Hexham on 10th or 24th October, then do drop by the stall and say hello. If you are clearing out any wool jumpers then bring them along and you’ll get a discount voucher for use on the stall or online.

It’s back upstairs to the woolly garret for me tomorrow. With just two weeks to go til the awesome Festival of Thrift, and a much depleted rail of jumpers following a brilliant summer of selling at festivals, I am feeling the pressure to build up my Christmas stock (sorry to mention the C word in September!)

So, good night one and all, I’m off to watch This is London ’90.


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!