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Hexham Farmer’s Market

I am absolutely delighted to have been accepted into the fold of the Hexham Farmer’s Market for the past three weeks as a guest producer. The market is held my local town of Hexham, on the second and fourth Saturdays in the month in the historic Market Place in the centre of town.

540-templateIt’s an early start, but that’s ok, I’m a morning peron anyway. Unfortunately my husband isn’t and I do need his help to put up my stall. He’s a brick, however, coming down with me to get there for 7am, and then returns again in the afternoon to help take the stall down.

It’s a wonderful market with often well over 20 stalls selling a wide range of produce, all made within 50 miles of Hexham. I have been next to The Moody Baker on all three occasions and am working my way through their excellent pies and pasties! So far the cheese and potato are my favourite! Opposite me are a couple who make cheese – their lemon and ginger curd cheeses are amazing, and a dollop of that on an oaty biscuit is divine! We have meat producers, and an organic veg stall, local rapeseed oil, plant producers, wooden spatula carvers, a French patisserie, and I could go on and on! It’s a great market – so much so, it was recently nominated for the BBC’s Food and Farming awards.

daisy-and-ponchos For the four and half hours it’s open, the market is bustling with people, many of whom come week after week with their shopping bags, and unlike most supermarkets, stop and have time to chat to the producers about their work and wares.
I’ve loved seeing some of my old (and young) customers dropping by the stall wearing past woolly purchases. Daisy here, whose parents own the fabulous children’s shop, Mr Wolf down in Market Street, is wearing her Red Riding Hood poncho which was bought for her for Christmas.

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Gwen here on the right is a friend and local artist, who paints wearing my armwarmers to keep her fingers warm, and had popped by get another pair. Gwen is typical of so many kind friends and fellow artisans who have dropped by the stall to offer encouragement and support, and for that I’m really grateful.

Bridget-Gubbins Bridget and her friend here on the left came all the way from Morpeth last weekend wearing their Woolly Pedlar coats to say hello and wish me all the best too! Bless you all!

recycle-your-jumpersI’m hoping that word will get out that this is a good place to bring unwanted woollen textiles to recycle. This week I’ve accepted a commission from a lady who dropped by the stall and asked for a poncho to be made using her old cashmere jumpers which have seen better days. I love helping folk hang on to their favourite jumpers by upcycling them!

After selling his sister a pink bedspread and matching cushion from the stall, I was asked to make a ‘Beano’ style bedspread for a young man’s bedroom.

Beano

It was great fun to make, and I collected stripes, some racing check and lots of primary colours. This is the result, and I’m happy to say he was delighted with his bedspread. I even managed to find him a toy Dennis the Menace in a local charity shop to go with it.

bblI’m really pleased with how colourful the stall looks with all the bright colours in my clothes and blankets. A customer took this photo for me of my hooded baby blankets looking really bright and cheerful against the sandstone of The Moot Hall.

I’ll be back again at the market on Saturday 28th March – do come along and say hello if you’re going to be in Hexham that day. If you’ve not been to Hexham before, you’re in for a treat. The Guardian once wrote about our town that it is:

‘Cute as a puppy’s nose, and as handsome as Clark Gable’ I must say that I agree.

Thanks for reading – do leave a comment and sign up to the blog so you don’t miss out on any! Til next time. x

 

Well I never did, we’re in the paper!

Last week I wrote about the launch of the online shop, and I’m pleased to say that Monday saw me going to the post office with an armful of orders. We’ve been debating over on my Facebook page, about packaging and whether I should reuse old carrier bags and other packaging or continue to use the purple biodegradable packaging from Eco Mailing Bags that have served me well, and look kind of stylish. The latter won.

After Monday, however, the online shop has gone very quiet. Well, it is February, and we are still recovering from Christmas. It’s a good time of year, before the festival season begins, to spend some time on new designs and promotion. I’m working on a new design for wheelchairs users, the Woolly Warmer, but more of that at a later date.

I’ve been going through my ‘Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook’ and emailing newspapers and magazines to see if they would like to do a feature on my woolly pedlaring. You know the Geodie saying, ‘shy bairns get nowt’! So far, I’ve contacted some of our local north east publications, and am up to ‘C’ in the alphabet with the national ones.

I was delighted when 2 days after my email, The Journal newspaper phoned and did a telephone interview, and then sent a photographer round straight away. The photographer was lovely, really enthusiastic about my work took lots of photos and a video.

By Thursday I was in the online edition and by Friday, I was in the paper itself – Quick work boys! The photographer said The Chronicle might also pick up on the story, which would be great.

We had talked on the phone, the journalist and I, about my memory blankets, amongst other things, and this was one of the angles he took in his report.

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As with this blanket here, I make throws or bedspreads using the jumpers that have belonged to a loved one. This one here is made from cashmere jumpers that belonged to a lady’s mum. She had lots of old cashmere jumpers that the moths that got into, and as her mother hated throwing anything away, thought it would be a good idea to see if anyone could make anything from them. I cut out enough rectangles to make this bedspread, a memory blanket for her.
I’ve recently been asked to make a 21st birthday blanket using football shirts and tops the family have collected

 

I’ll leave you to read the newspaper article yourselves. Here it is, with the photo they used.  Good to get some publicity, and here’s hoping some of the nationals get in touch too!

http://www.thejournal.co.uk/north-east-analysis/analysis-news/northumberland-woolly-pedlar-seamstress-brightens-8587967

meOne thing the Journal failed to mention was that I’m making my first appearance next weekend on Valentine’s Day, at our local Farmer’s Market. It’ll be good to get the Woolly Pedlar tent out for the first time this year and join Hexham Farmer’s Market. I heard this week they’ve been entered for the Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards in the best marker category. Good timing! It’ll be great to be part of this vibrant bustling market. It you’re anywhere near to Hexham on 14th Feb, do pop along to the farmer’s market and say hello. If you’ve got any old jumpers that getting chucked out, then bring them along too – I give rewards!

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It’s been quite a day!

It’s been quite a day, and so much so, that I took myself off for a walk in the woods at Allen Banks to calm down!

IMG_1905 compToday at 9am the online shop went live after week of non stop work making enough stock to do it justice.

We’ve pulled out all the stops during January and the shop went live with 87 different upcycled woolly products. There are the cutest baby blankets and kiddies ponchos, ponchos for big people, jumpers, hoodies and sweatercoats. To keep the extremities warm, there are armwarmers and infinity scarves, and for the home, there are the warmers blankets and bedpsread, plus a scattering of cushions.

snow-2All of these have had to be made, which involves looking for jumpers to recycle, washing them, cutting and designing and sewing. Then there is the photographing. They say that a good photograph is essential for selling products, so I’ve had to put down the iphone and get myself a new camera. Mind you, I’m having a lot of fun with it. I had planned to upload photos and descriptions in the evenings this week but soon realised just how long a process this was. It actually took three solid days to get eveything uploaded.

So, with my laptop balanced on my knee, sitting up in bed this morning, and in contact by text with Terry, my webdesigner, we pushed the button!

This is a dream come true! I’m running my own business with its own online shop. Who’d have thought, when I was struggling with chronic back pain and forced to give up my teaching job, that in a few years it would all be in charge of my own little business

I’ve really felt the love and support today from friends and family, both virtual and actual. As I tweeted and Facebooked about the launch this morning the support came pouring in. Wishes of good luck from Amsterdam, Canada, and all over the UK. Fellow crafters and makers retweeting and sharing statuses, and other local businesses in the Hexham area showing support and solidarity.

Thank you one and all, for your love and support – it’s been quite a day! Oh, and there have been quite a few sales too 🙂

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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.

 

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:

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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!