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



Looking for waste wool knitwear

Finding Recycled Wool Knitwear – it’s easier said than done!

Recycling Textiles

Recycling Textiles

If we’ve not met before, let me introduce myself. I’m The Woolly Pedlar, upcycler of waste wool knitwear. I run a small business from my home in Northumberland, recycling wool textiles into new clothing, soft furnishings and accessories. My quest for recycled wool knitwear has taken many twists and turns over the last six years, but recently I have started to despair.

The Woolly Pedlar, upcycler of waste wool knitwear

The Woolly Pedlar, upcycler of waste wool knitwear

I’m coming up against many brick walls when it comes to buying recycled wool knitwear in bulk.
The statistics say that you could fill Wembley stadium with the amount of recycled textiles we throw away every year in the UK, but getting my mitts on it is easier said than done.
It would appear the vast majority of our recycled clothing is now shipped abroad for second hand clothing markets in East Africa and Eastern Europe. The Textile Recycling Association informs me that very few of the recycled textile companies are grading in the UK. It is more cost effective just to ship everything abroad, where our second hand cast offs are piled high in the market places of developing countries. This has huge knock on effects for the traditional textiles of those countries, and for the cotton farmers. It also means I cannot get my woollies.

Wool jumpers waiting to be upcycled

Wool jumpers waiting to be upcycled in happier times

My upcycling business has two main sources of recycled wool knitwear – one is the second hand clothing market, and another, knitwear manufacturers who produce waste. Indeed, I used to buy a lot of waste wool knitwear from Hawick Knitwear factory, up in the Borders of Scotland. However, Hawick Knitwear closed in 2016. You can read more about this in ‘The Sad Demise of Hawick Knitwear‘. I was gutted when this source of beautiful lambswool and cashmere dried up. The only UK manufacturer of knitwear I am currently buying from is The House of Cheviot. I use their waste wool sock tops to make my ‘Thinking Hats’ and ‘Coffee Cup Cosies’. If any other knitwear manufacturers are reading this, and generate waste, then please get in touch.

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

Recycled Sock Tops from House of Cheviot

This leaves the second hand clothing industry and charity shops. My home town of Hexham has six charity shops, and four out of the six save waste wool knitwear for me. You see, even if a jumper has a hole in it, I can cut out the good bits, and use them to make ponchos, bedspreads, bags and baby blankets. You know the saying, waste not want not!

 Patchwork style poncho using waste wool knitwear

Patchwork style poncho using waste wool knitwear

However, this can be patchy, and relies on the volunteers in the shops remembering to put knitwear to one side for me.

Scope have stepped up to the plate and have gone one stage further. They are attempting to collect regionally for me, and this, I think might be the way forward.

I contacted Kate Holbrook from Turtle Doves to see if she could help. Kate, like me, recycles knitwear, but specialises. Kate has put me in touch with The Together Plan, a small charity in London supporting communities from Belarus. I am delighted to say they are happy to supply me with a small amount of recycled wool knitwear. It’s also great that two ethical businesess such as Turtles Doves and The Woolly Pedlar have been able to work together.

If we could find a way to collect the waste wool before it goes to the big textile recyclers, then maybe, we can keep more of it in UK and the local economy, and I’ll be able to carry on making lots of lovely upcycled woolly goodies.

I’m off to get in touch with other area managers. If you are reading this and can help me in my quest, then please get in touch. I am after medium weight wool knitwear, (no chunky, hand knits or acrylic).

Looking for waste wool knitwear

Looking for waste wool knitwear

If you have been having a clear out at home and have any woollies you’d like to send, then please also get in touch. I’d be happy to pay postage and can offer a discount code for the website for your trouble.

Your Hopefully,

The Woolly Pedlar

Upcycled Coatigan from Recycled Knitwear

Upcycled Coatigan from Recycled Knitwear

Spring Time Hexham

A Lovely Spring Day in Hexham

Yesterday I had a lovely day in Hexham, my local market town. It started with me taking photos of the Spring flowers in the park. I thought I’d show you them here in my blog. I also want to sing the praises of Hexham town centre, with it’s beautiful park, ancient Abbey and quirky independent stores.

Spring Time Hexham

Spring Time in Hexham

Yesterday was one of those days when Spring was nudging gently against Winter. Although there was a chilly wind, the sun was shining, and I was looking forward to my Tuesday in Hexham.

Tuesday is my day for jumper gathering, and I can be found, like an old bag lady, scurrying from one charity shop to another, collecting the waste wool knitwear that they had put aside for me. I’ve written before about this  in my blog, Scope Step Up to The Plate.

This Tuesday however, I had a few other extras to look forward to. I was meeting my dear friend Anne for lunch at Hextol Tans having my grey hair coloured, and had a meeting with Cool Terry from TWDA who looks after my website for me.

The Bandstand, Sele Park, Hexham

The Bandstand, Sele Park, Hexham

Before I did all that though, I grabbed the chance to take some photos in the Sele park. The sunshine was glorious, and the Spring flowers splendid. We have a newly renovated bandstand here in the Sele Park at Hexham. I belong to Tynedale Community Choir, and we can sometimes be found here in the summer months practising our singing.

Hexham Abbey from The Sele Park

Hexham Abbey from The Sele Park

Hexham Abbey was looking glorious too, bathed in Spring sunshine, and is well worth a visit if you are ever in Hexham. It rises majestically in the market place, and is a sight to behold form every angle, both inside and out. I love to walk around the park and under the arch at the side and marvel at the sandstone architecture.

Hexham Abbey

Hexham Abbey

As I finished taking photos in the Sele Park, I spotted my friend Jeanette, sitting on a bench having a break in between her cleaning jobs. She shared her mocha coffee and croissants with me, and we had a lovely unexpected catch up.  A lovely surprise!

Sele Park, Hexham

Sele Park, Hexham

I left he park and went jumper gathering – another mighty fine haul from Hexham’s Charity shops! These are now in the washing machine at home, and will soon be being cut up and sewn into new creations. Head over to the shop on this website to see what I’ve been making lately.

My meeting with Terry at TWDA went really well, and I’d encourage you to take a look at all the other pages in my website here.  They’re all looking mighty fine!

St Mary's Chare, Hexham

St Mary’s Chare, Hexham

I met my friend Anne for lunch at Hextol Tans, which is on St Mary’s Chare, although the locals know it as ‘back street’ . Anne and I worked together at Priory School in Hexham, when I was teaching students who have learning difficulties. I was over the moon to find to two of the students we used to teach now working in The Tans – so good to see them! The food and service at The Tans is super. It is run by The Hextol Foundation, which is a local charitable company which is helping people who are disadvantaged in the workplace to get jobs, work experience, training and a sense of purpose. I for one will be making The Tans a regular stopping off place in the future.

The day was finished nicely with a trip to the hairdressers to get my grey hairs hidden, and then home when my other half was cooking buckwheat pancakes for our Shrove Tuesday tea.

With all the out of town stores rising up not only in our town of Hexham, but all over the country, I really do implore you to seek out your town centres. Visit those quirky independent stores. Hexham has an abundance of them, and they all need your business to survive! #shoplocal!

The Woolly Pedlar's Market Stall

The Woolly Pedlar’s Market Stall

I’m delighted to say that I’ll be in Hexham on Saturday April 22nd in The Sele Park, with the full kit and kaboodle, with a stall stuffed full of upcycled woolly wares. It is the Hexham Spring Fair and Eating Festival, with plenty to keep all the family amused. Do hope to see you there!


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.





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.


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