The Art of Proggy Matting

There is an old Weardale story about an elderly couple. The old fella was lying gravely ill in bed, and the doctor was called. His wife, feared the worst. However, to everyone’s surprise, he made a good recovery, and one day felt like getting up and breathing in the fresh Weardale air and called for his clothes. His wife, shamefaced appeared at the door and said

‘I thought tha were a gonna, so I cut up tha’ clothes for a proggy mat’

proggy-matThe Art of ‘Proggy Matting’ involves taking strips of wool fabric and poking them through a piece of hessian that has been stretched on a frame.

Here is a You Tube video by textile artist Ali Rhind on proggy matting

Hooky and Proggy Mats – A beginner’s guide bu Ali Rhind

The rug in this photo was made by my husband using strips of wool coat, nearly 30 years ago for our house in Weardale. It is still going strong and is now infront of the fire in Bridge Cottage. However, it is very much Lucy the dog’s mat. In fact she understands the command, ‘On your mat!’


wool-scraps As a by product of my woolly pedlaring, I get a vast amount of wool off cuts, often gorgeous felted wool in lovely colours. I hate waste, and as the whole nature of my business is upcycling waste I collect my scraps until I find someone who can find a use for them. Enter the proggy matters!

Although not exclusive to the north-east, this is a north-east tradition that is still going strong. So, let it be known that The Woolly Pedlar is giving away bags of wool scraps! I’d love them to be used in proggy matting!

I sell my upcycled woolly clothes, soft furnishings and accessories at The Wool Clip and have a bin there of wool off cuts for matting. You can also get in touch via the website if you would like any scraps.

II’d love you to browse the website and it’s online shop, and catch up with all my woolly goings on  Facebook, Instagram or Twitter

Thanks for reading!

The Woolly Pedlar

The Woolly Pedlar














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 🙂

IMG_1885 comp




Pondering Patchwork

I have got my hands on a load of thick wool jackets which were destined for landfill as they have the odd little hole in them and cannot be resold in the second hand shops. They are made from the most wonderful thick wool, but are too thick for making into my sweatercoats and jumpers. They are however, absolutely fantastic when cut into squares or rectangles and used in a patchwork fashion to make blankets and bedspreads.

IMG_4265To make my bedspreads, a cardboard template is used with a sharp pair of scissors, shapes are cut from the jackets before being laid out on the floor, and then sewn together with the trusty overlocker.







The one on this photo is loosely based on the log cabin patchwork design, though is my own interpretation of it, as the overlocker does not allow a true log cabin to be sewn.





I often use this design which I made up for ease of sewing. I cut rectangles, and then sew them into squares using three. I then sew strips of squares and then finally sew all the strip together to form the bedspread. This week I was pondering whether this patchwork form had a name. I asked the question on the Make Do and Mend-able Facebook group page, and found that is was not a Woolly Pedlar invention, but is known as the Rail Fence design. Well, you learn something every day!


IMG_0692I certainly had my work cut out with this bedspread. I was given a load of vintage cashmere jumpers by a lady, who recently lost her mum, had requested a memory blanket from them. They were jumpers that went back decades, and held a lot of memories for the lady of her mum. It was a pleasure to make, and the quality of the cashmere, even though the moths has got in and wreaked havoc, was sublime. I managed to cut around the holes and salvage enough cashmere to make this huge bedspread for her. I have a page on my website that explains more about the service I offer with memory blankets.

IMG_1975There is a discussion going on today on my Facebook page, about which finish folk like the best on my bedspreads and blankets. Perhaps you could help by leaving a comment below, or joining in the discussion over on Facebook? The question is, do you prefer the stitching showing, as in this photo of the blue bedspread. By having the stitiching showing, you get a more textured crinkly finish, with the stitching becoming a feature, and offering the possibility of using a contrasting thread for added interest.


IMG_4278 Or, do you prefer the most traditional finish with the stitching hidden, giving a smoother finish?

If you are visiting our lovely market town of Hexham in Northumberland, then you can see some of my recent bespreads on display and available to purchase at the wonderful, eclectic Robinson-Gay Gallery on Market Street.




Many thanks for reading. You can sign up for my monthly newsletter by hitting the subscribe button on the home page or following this link:

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I’ll love and leave you now, with a photo of the patchwork quilt my Great Aunt Vera made for my husband and I for our wedding, thirty years ago. It is a wonderful piece of work, with every tiny stitch handsewn, and made to the highest standard. It is a most treasured possession.



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.


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:

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!

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!