Posts

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.

Walking in Northumberland

That Old Chestnut – A Healthy Work Life Balance

We’ve just got back from our second 4 mile walk in a fortnight. When you live in beautiful rural Northumberland, it’s a crime not to get outdoors. No need for the gym with hills like these. It’s all about getting a healthy work life balance, which, when you’re self employed, is easier said than done.

Walking in Northumberland

Walking in Northumberland

I’ve had to give myself a jolly good talking to again. Having already left teaching due to stress related ill health, I could feel my health taking a tumble again in the run up to Christmas.

I’m just too darn driven. I have an idea, and I let it run away with me. I see an event, and not wanting to miss out, I book it. I work too hard, and I don’t allow myself enough down time.

That needs to change. So, instead of New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and get fit (I always need to do more of that), I’m resolving to do more for myself, to allow myself some time off to develop new hobbies and friendships.

It’s started well, with two fabulous country walks, and yesterday I went to my first art class in a very long time.  It was a life drawing class, though the model was the son of the teacher, and he kept his pants on!

I am also going to take some ‘Granny leave’. Our Hannah is expecting her first baby, our first grandchild, a little girl, and I want to be able to help her all I can. It would be terrible if I were too busy working to enjoy my first granddaughter. At very least, I need to find time for lots of granny knitting – I’ve finished this dear little dress.

I still plan to be making lots of lovely designs, selling online, and being an active member of The Wool Clip, with all that entails for Woolfest, but maybe not going at it at such a ridiculous pace.

Here’s to a healthy work / life balance.

 

Northumberland sheep farming

Northumberland sheep farming

 

The Woolly Pedlar

Tales from the Woolly Garret. Looking back at 2017

I’m on the wagon. The blogging wagon that is. I’d fallen off, and as I love to write, it seems that one of 2018’s New Year’s resolutions must be to get back on the blogging wagon.

As 2017 draws to a close, I’m sure I’m not the only one reflecting on how the year went and how things could be done differently.

I’ve had a wonderful year. It’s the sixth year of running my own business, and each year brings new lessons to learn. I’ve met and worked alongside some pretty amazing people too. I have loved being part of The Wool Clip cooperative, who have welcomed me into the fold. Caldbeck is such a pretty little village, in a stunning part of The Lake District and I’ve enjoyed my days over at The Wool Clip shop there.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

As a cooperative we run Woolfest, and last year’s Woolfest was a very different one for me, being the first year of helping to run the event rather than being a trader. I felt very proud to be donning the Woolfest pinny, and really enjoyed the event. Being part of a cooperative is teaching me about team work, and how every member has different skills to bring to the group.

The Wool Clip team at Woolfest

The Wool Clip team at Woolfest

Other woolly events that were most enjoyable were Perth Festival of Yarn and Yarndale. My hat goes off to both teams for two excellent events. I loved my road trip to Perth, and though Eva did an amazing job. I very much hope to be back this year.

Autumn Adventures to Perth and Yarndale

It was my first time at Yarndale – what a lovely show! I met up with my college flat mate who I hadn’t see for years. Sadly Jane died of cancer shortly afterwards, which came as a great shock. If I go to Yarndale again this year, I’ll be thinking of my friend, and hopefully meeting up with some of her friends.

Yarndale 2017 Blog

Best sellers at the events are always my sweatercoats, jumpers and dresses. I enjoy making these very much, and have some ideas up my sleeve for new designs for 2018. I’m thinking fit and flare swing dresses – a shape I love to wear.

I loved hosting my first Open Studio and Garden Party in the summer. It was great fun, friendships were forged, and much cake was eaten. We will be doing it again on 21 and 22 July in 2018. I hope lots of you will come. Do get in touch if you’d like help with accommodation. Helen from Stanegate Hideaways will be offering discounted self catering accommodation in her Shepherd’s Huts.

 

This year saw the opening of The Sill Discovery Centre, just up the road from here in the beautiful Northumberland National Park. I was delighted to be invited to sell a small range of my woolly wares there. It’s blooming cold up on Hadrian’s Wall. So my upcycled woolly accessories are going down a storm there. Kiddies’ ponchos are really popular there too, I think often as gifts for folk to take home.

 

Pixie Hooded Ponchos

Pixie Hooded Ponchos

My other local stockists have all done really well too. Mr Wolf in Hexham in particular did a roaring trade in kiddies’ ponchos. Mike down at Bardon Mill Village Store is also one of my favourite local stockists. He makes darn fine coffee, and has turned the village shop into a great meeting place, which is always full of folk. It was here that Jeremy Corbyn had bought his wife one of my woolly wraps.

 

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Christmas events left me battered and exhausted, and if I’m honest, totally deflated. What is it about the general public these days? Is it a recent thing to be so damned rude? Don’t get me wrong, I met dozens of lovely folk and made some great sales, but one event in particular saw the numpties out in their droves.

I suppose if you make weird and wacky clothes from recycled materials, then you are already sticking your head above the parapet. They certainly aren’t everybody’s personal choice, but I have lovingly designed and created them, and I wish folk would keep their negative opinions to themselves. It hurts. I think my ‘best’ comment this year was ‘Well, that was a perfectly good jumper til you started messing around with it’ how rude!!

Dealing with the general public is most definitely not one of my strengths, and I take my hat off to all in retail that have to put up with rude customers all year round. I also find the physicality of doing big events utterly exhausting. So, on reflection next Christmas will see me doing a couple of select events, and selling more online, through my Facebook page, The Wool Clip, and local stockists.

If you follow me on social media, or have read the latest newsletter, you’ll see that there is a massive stock clearance sale here on the website. Feel free to hop over to the shop pages and have a browse. I’ll be adding new items throughout January as I clear a path up in the woolly garret to make room for some exciting new designs for 2018.

Next year is going to be very exciting as we welcome my daughter, Hannah’s baby into the family. I thoroughly looking forward to being a granny. The baby certainly won’t be short of woollies and baby blankets!

Here’s the family, out for our traditional family meal on New Year’s Eve.

The Reed Family 31 Dec 2017

The Reed Family 31 Dec 2017

Thank you to all my lovely customers, friends and family who have helped me over the year. It’s been a great year, and I look forward to another year of upcycling jumpers

Happy New Year everyone!

 

 

Perth Festival of Yarn 2017

On the Road Again. More Tales from the Woolly Garret

You may have read my previous blogpost, where I wrote about how I did things differently this summer. Well, as autumn approaches, I’m back on the road again.

Perth Festival of Yarn 2017

Perth Festival of Yarn 2017

On Saturday I’ll be heading up to Perth to set up for Perth Festival of Yarn which is on the Sunday. I’m looking forward to this very much. The lovely peeps there are even organising a social night so we can all get to know each other the night before. Hopefully we won’t be too hungover for the show!

My Grandad was a Dewar and came from the Fife area of Scotland, so it’s with great pleasure that I’ll be taking to the road to sell my woolly wares at The Dewar Centre in Perth. More information can be found on the Perth Festival of Yarn website.

I’ve got lots of lovely new creations to take with me to Perth. I’ve made four garments in my ‘Mainly Monochrome’ collection, and I’m looking forward to seeing what folk think of these. These and lots of other woollies are in the website shop, just for this week, in case you can’t make it to Perth.

Harlequin Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Jumper Dress

Harlequin Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Jumper Dress

Sixties style block colour jumper dress

Sixties style block colour jumper dress

Upcycled ice blue and grey jumper dress

Upcycled ice blue and grey jumper dress

Elegant Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Dress

Elegant Black and Grey Upcycled Wool Dress

I’ll also have plenty of my popular woolly wraps and ponchos in a variety of colours. I’m loving this new autumnal range, which incidentally can also be found down at The Wool Clip shop in Caldbeck or online in Women’s Clothing.

Autumn Woolly Wrap, Ruana, Shawl. Recycled Wool Knitwear.

Autumn Woolly Wrap, Ruana, Shawl. Recycled Wool Knitwear.

I’ve got a few sweatercoats, ready for Perth, and I’ll be making lots more in the weeks to come. Keep an eye on social media (see at bottom of this post) to see what I’ve been making lately.

Recycled Wool Autumn Sweatercoat

I’ve been concentrating on jackets lately, and these are proving to be very popular. I’ve gone for a smaller hood on some of them, which is proving popular, especially when made from cashmere!

winter wool jacket cashmere hood recycled knitwear

winter wool jacket cashmere hood recycled knitwear

Of course I’ll have my usual stock of accessories, with armwarmers, hats and scarves.

Scarf & armwarmer set from recycled wool knitwear.

Scarf & armwarmer set from recycled wool knitwear.

After Perth, I’ll be back home for a couple of weeks before heading down to Skipton for Yarndale. Although it is in it’s fifth year, this is the first time I’m taking my woollies down there. I’m told it’s ever so friendly and a great show. I’m looking forward to catching up with some of my fellow woolly traders there as well as meeting customers old and new.

 

Yarndale 23 & 24 Sept 2017

Yarndale 23 & 24 Sept 2017

So hopefully I’ll see some of you either at Perth Festival of Yarn, or at Yarndale. Do come and make yourself known if you are at either shows.

You can still find a good selection of all my upcycled woolly wares in the website shop if you can’t make it to either.

As ever, come and follow on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter to keep up with all my woolly pedlaring.

On top of Great Cockup

Tales from the Woolly Garret. A Different Kind of Summer.

For the past several years, summer would see me packing up the van and heading off on the road to festivals to sell my woolly wares.  The Green Gathering down in Chepstow in particular, was a firm favourite. This year, however, I decided to do things differently.

The Green Gathering 2016

The Green Gathering 2016

 

I’m no Spring chicken. With Woolfest in June, Perth Festival of Yarn and Yarndale in September, then the mad period that is the run up to Christmas, I decided that we needed a break. (Head over to the Events page to see where I’ll be in the coming months)

Dear friends at The Green Gathering

Dear friends at The Green Gathering

I was sad not to be at the Green Gathering, as it is very dear to my heart with eco-living and green issues being a very big part of my life. I’ve also made some very dear friends there over the years. However, I am also part of a co-operative now, The Wool Clip. This has given me a permanent space in a shop to display and sell my woolly wares from. The need to go on the road isn’t so great.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria.

30 Years ago

30 Years ago

This year was our Pearl Wedding Anniversary. Thirty years of wedded bliss! We got the opportunity to rent a wonderful cottage in the Dudden Valley in the Lake Distrist and our three grown up kids all decided to come away with us for a week’s holiday in the Lake District to celebrate. We enjoyed some fabulous walking, fresh air and good company. I even got to the top of a mountain with the help of my son who is an outdoor instructor! You can see the weather wasn’t the best, but the sense of achievement, amazing!

Top of Harter Fell

Top of Harter Fell

More walking and letting it all go on the mountains took place the following week when my dear husband took me away to Over Water Hall. This is a fabulous country hotel in the North Lakes with amazing food, accommodation and general luxury. I felt very spoilt. We walked and walked, and couldn’t resist going up Great Cockup on our actual anniversary. Here I am enjoying striding out on the hills, and at the top.

Letting it all go

Letting it all go

On top of Great Cockup

On top of Great Cockup

My thoughtful husband had popped a miniature bottle of Prosecco into our picnic bag for the summit! The only damper on the day was the territorial buzzard who decided that we really shouldn’t be walking across her field! Scary stuff, but with a walking pole held high as if I were leading a party of tourists across London, the buzzard only swooped as low at the point of my stick. Needless to say we didn’t walk that route back to the hotel.  I don’t do fields of cows, and I certainly don’t do territorial buzzards.

My long suffering husband and me

My long suffering husband and me

My long suffering husband was glad we weren’t on the road doing festivals too. He also works from home  (as an accountant) and to come and help me set up stall means taking lots of time off work, which then needs to be caught up with when he gets back.

Apart from the walking and holidaying the the Lake District, it’s still been a busy summer. I hosted my first ever Open Studio and Garden Party – this was a roaring success, despite the stair rod rain! So much so, I’ve booked a date for next summer, and I hope lots of you will join me. Northumberland has so much to offer, and lots of folk are talking about making a weekend or holiday of it. My friend Helen from Stanegate Hideaways is offering 10% off accomodation in her Shepherd’s Huts if folk are coming to the event.

Summer in the garden

Summer in the garden

We love growing our own veggies. Last year with a summer full of festivals, the garden was sadly neglected. this year we’ve been able to spend much more time in the greenhouse and out in the veggie garden, and the fruits of our labour are coming in thick and fast.

The British weather has certainly been true to form of late. As I sit and type this, the rain is lashing at the windows and it’s blowing a hoolie. I’m damn glad I’m not doing the festival circuit this year. In fact, I’m off to make a bowl of porridge and a pot of coffee. Then it’s up to the woolly garret and on with the jumper making. I’ve been pleased to have had the time up in the woolly garret these past few weeks to really get my head down with designing and making. I’ll have lots of new creations coming with me to Perth Festival of Yarn and Yarndale in September.  The website and The Wool Clip shops are also full of lovely woollies. It’s been good to do things differently this summer.

Recycled Wool Autumn Sweatercoat

 

 

 

 

 

 

Well, that was fun! Open Studio & Garden Party 2017

I cannot let the week go by without writing a quick blog post telling you about all the fun we had this weekend at my first ever Open Studio and Garden Party.

In true British style, it hoyed it down all weekend! That didn’t damper spirits though, and the sound of chatter and laughter rung out from our conservatory. It was all a bit much for my husband, who went and hid in the greenhouse! Mind you, he did get the door fixed on it that has been waiting a while.

We had cake. Boy, did we have cake! I was so busy chatting to folk and helping with purchases that I didn’t get a chance for lunch, and had cake for lunch two days on the trot. I’m thrilled to say that we raised £107.32 for West Northumberland Food Bank from donations for cake.

The house, garden and woolly garret had never looked so clean and tidy, and I’d opened up the woolly garret for folk to see where I worked. Ever the teacher, I took great delight in showing these girls how my overlocker worked. The little one shrieked with laughter as the trimmings shot down the shoot!

The weekend such such a resounding success that I’m going to do it all again next year. the dates have been set for 22 and 22 of June 2018. Many are talking about making a weekend of it, as exploring this beautiful corner of Northumberland.

Helen from Stanegate Hideaways is offering 10% discount for booking of her Shepherd’s Huts and holiday cottages if you are coming to The Woolly Pedlar Open Studio & Garden Party. We also have two cracking Youth Hostels here, at The Sill and Ninebanks.

Sorry to mention the ‘C’ words, but I’ve also set the date for a Christmas open house on 2nd & 3rd December.

This has to be the quickest blog I’ve written, but I must get back up to the woolly garret and get jumper making!

 

 

Beltane Fire May 2017

Beltane Blessings! May Day Bank Holiday Clearance Sale

Beltane Blessings!  It’s the beginning of May, and I can’t believe how quickly this year has flown by already. Maybe that’s a sign of old age?

I was reading somewhere that on Beltane you should light a fire on the evening before, and keep it going throughout the night and day of 1st May.

Beltane Fire May 2017

Beltane Fire May 2017

We love a spot of fire here at Bridge Cottage. My kids have all grown up going to festivals and have learnt to juggle fire in various forms. This is our John juggling fire with a staff, with the camera on a slow shutter speed. Looks awesome doesn’t it!

Cherry Blossom in May

Cherry Blossom in May

As I sit here and write, I can see the cherry blossom in full flower. The garden is looking splendid, and if it wasn’t for a very chilly wind, I’d feel that summer is on it’s way.

With winter now past, (though we had snow here in Northumberland last week), I thought I’d have a jolly good clear out of stock up in the woolly garret. With Woolfest just around the corner, I thought I’d better make some room for some new designs.

Bank holiday clearance sale

Bank holiday clearance sale

So, I’m having a clearance sale. There are over 70 items at half price, but it is over on my FACEBOOK page. You will need to go and find The Woolly Pedlar on Facebook,  and then find the sale album. To bagsie an item, just leave a comment on the photo and I’ll message you with the necessaries. I’m sorry it’s isn’t on the website – I just don’t have the time to list everything separately!

Happy Shopping 🙂

 

 

Looking Back Over Five Years Peddling My Wool by The Woolly Pedlar

Looking Back At The Past Five Years Peddling my Wool

Looking Back Over Five Years Peddling My Wool by The Woolly Pedlar

Looking Back Over Five Years Peddling My Wool by The Woolly Pedlar

It’s been an incredible five years. Six years ago I had to give up my teaching career due to ill health, and here I am, celebrating the fifth year of running my own business. Those of you who have been following my journey will have already heard about how it all began, so I won’t go into that all now, but leave you to read that very first blogpost for yourselves: How The Woolly Pedlar Came About

The Woolly Pedlar at Audio Soup Festival 2012

The Woolly Pedlar at Audio Soup Festival 2012

Yes, that is me in a red wig! Back in the summer of 2012 I started peddling my upcycled knitwear at small festivals, and Audio Soup was one of the first. I just had my camper van, which is a converted builder’s van, a wooden table and a few woolly wares.

The Woolly Pedlar at The Green Gathering 2016

The Woolly Pedlar at The Green Gathering 2016

Look how it’s grown! I now have my own gazebo, complete with branding and a much wider range of upcycled clothing, soft furnishings and accessories. A far cry from the wooden table at Audio Soup! This photo shows my stall at The Green Gathering 2016, which is a festival that is very dear to my heart. It is about all things eco and sustainable, which is very much where I am coming from. I really do believe that we only have a finite number of resources on our precious planet, and we must all do our bit to live as sustainably as we can. I was thrilled to win an Ethical Trader Award both in 2015 and 2016 at The Green Gathering. Unfortunately I won’t be at the Green Gathering this year, but hope to return in 2018. Tim and I are taking a year off this year to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary!

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Stallholder of the Year Woolfest 2016

Talking of awards, I was absolutely blown away, when after two exceedingly busy days at Woolfest 2016, I was awarded Stallholder of the Year by The Wool Clip team who run the event. I adore Woolfest, which is in beautiful Cockermouth in Cumbria. Housed in the farmer’s mart, it is a two day event for all things woolly. things have moved on even further now, and I’m delighted to say that I am now a member of The Wool Clip. I will be in Aisle A at Woolfest 2017 and will be helping to run Britain’s premier wool event.

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

The Wool Clip, Caldbeck, Cumbria

 

Happy Customers Green Gathering 2015

Happy Customers Green Gathering 2015

Of course my business wouldn’t be where it is now without all my lovely customers. I’ve found that making one off, unique garments brings so many rewards. One of the best has to be meeting and getting to know my customers personally. Some of them have become good friends, and although some live in distant places, we keep in touch through social media. It’s an absolute pleasure to be making clothes for those who are looking for an antidote for boring high street fashion!

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

Jeremy Corbyn buys from The Woolly Pedlar

I’ve had some famous customers too! Some of you might remember the kerfuffle that surrounded Jeremy Corbyn buying his wife, Laura one of my woolly wraps from Bardon Mill Village Shop. I innocently wrote a blog about how thrilled I was to have a famous customer, and the right wing press twisted my story into ‘Where’s Jeremy Corbyn?’, suggesting that instead of dealing with party business, he was uncontactable up on Hadrian’s Wall, buying knitwear. I was very grateful to the journalist from the Guardian who put the whole story into perspective!

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

My quest to find knitwear to recycle has taken many twists and turns. When i started out, I would scuttle around Hexham like a bag lady, collecting wool knitwear from the charity shops. I still do this, and am very grateful in particular to Tynedale Hospice at Home, Scope, Oxfam and Save the Children who all put by knitwear that cannot be sold. I love a felted jumper! Scope have really stepped up to the plate, and now collect waste knitwear on a regional basis for me.

I also buy waste knitwear now from some of our knitwear factories. Up until it’s closure, Hawick Knitwear was great source of beautiful recycled lambswool. I’m still working through the half tonne of beautiful lambswool jumpers I bought when it went into administration. The House of Cheviot sell me their waste merino wool sock tops, and these have been made into my ‘thinking hats’.

I also buy recycled knitwear in bulk from textile recyclers. I have learnt a great deal about the rag trade, and where our waste clothing ends up. So much goes to landfill, and so much gets shipped abroad. We must do everything we can to buy less, and recycle and upcycle.

Getting Help from One Off Projects

Getting Help from One Off Projects

As my business has grown, I’ve had to get help! I was thrilled when Julie from One Off Projects came to my rescue. Julie is a self employed seamstress who runs her own business, but helps me sew now. Julie is now responsible for making many of my bedspreads, ponchos and woolly wraps.

Plus Size Moss & Mustard Upcycled Wool Jacket with Pixie Hood by the Woolly Pedlar

Plus Size Moss & Mustard Upcycled Wool Jacket with Pixie Hood by the Woolly Pedlar

From making those first pair of armwarmers, and Katwise sweatercoats, my range of designs has grown steadily over the past five years, and I’ll leave you to browse the website to see what is currently available.

As always, I owe a huge amount of thanks my family who have supported me over the years. They have put up with the house being taken over by wool, and have lost the entire third floor! My dear husband has got up early on countless mornings to help set up my market stall, and has even come in handy for modelling, which he hates!

Elf hats modelled by the Woolly Pedlar's husband, Tim

Elf hats modelled by the Woolly Pedlar’s husband, Tim

I have met some amazing, creative folk who also run their own businesses. I would like to give a special shout out to lovely Ceri from Oakwood Soaperie, Linda from Shanti, Shanti Colours of Nepal, and Emily from Wildflower Trading.  All are awesome women, who have shown enormous support and encouragement when those inevitable periods of self doubt creep in. We will all be in the park together for Hexham’s Spring Fair on 22nd April, and I’m looking forward to a jolly good catch up with these three.

Last but not least, I’d like to thank you all, my readers, followers and customers. Without you, I would not be where I am today. You are all awesome! Here’s to the next five years.

Sue Reed is The Woolly Pedlar

Sue Reed is The Woolly Pedlar