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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

 

 

Time to regenerate. The Woolly Pedlar is For Sale

Time to Regenerate – The Woolly Pedlar is for Sale

Personally, I’m not a Dr Who fan, but I do like the analogy of regenerating, which is what I am hoping The Woolly Pedlar will do.  I am looking for  someone else, or a group of someone elses to take the reins from me, and become the new Woolly Pedlar. I have always promised myself that by the time I’m 60, I’ll have written a book, and this week I am heading up to Newcastle University to find out about doing my MA in Creative Writing in September. I’m 57 next week, so I have three years in which to get writing! I also begin childminding my granddaughter very soon, as her mum, my daughter, returns to work.

So, whilst The Woolly Pedlar is doing really well, and I’m still loving making clothes from your preloved sweaters, I feel that this is a good time to sell the business. Would you like to be the next Woolly Pedlar?  Do you have passion for fibre and wool, or for running an ethical business? There’s nothing to say that you have to run the business the same way as I have done, but with the sale, I’m offering all goodwill, my very active Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts, website and branding. There is also the option to get the machinery and hardware plus any surplus stock. I would give all my designs and knowledge and work with you as much as I can to help with the transition.

So, if you know of someone, or a group of folk that would like to take over this thriving business, then do get in touch. I’d love to hear from you!

Half Term Pixie Poncho Sale

There’s certainly a nip in the air up here in Northumberland for half term week. It’s bright and sunny mind you, and the autumn colours are looking glorious. To help keep your little ones warm and cosy when out and about collecting leaves and conkers, I’ve reduced all children’s ponchos on the website. I’ve taken £10 off all sizes, making a discount of around 25%. It’s free dielivery too is you live in the UK. I’m happy to send abroad too.

Autumn Poncho Sale

Autumn Poncho Sale

My ponchos are made from squares of recycled wool knitwear, with lots of lovely soft lambswool. They come in two styles, either with a pixie hood, or a round neck.

Pixie Hooded Poncho Age 1-3

Pixie Hooded Poncho Age 1-3

round neck poncho age 3-5

round neck poncho age 3-5

I designed these ponchos myself, and they have remained a firm favourite with customers over the years. They are easy to wear and pop on over heads without having to struggle with sleeves. As I wash all recycled knitwear first, they are machine washable, but please use the wool cycle.

You can find them over on the website in the kids and babies section, along with measurements and all the information you will need

They come in four sizes: age 1-3. age 3-5. age 6-9 and teen. Don’t forget that I also make adult ponchos. We wouldn’t want the grown ups missing out!

PIXIE PONCHO SALE

I’ll leave you with a rogue’s gallery of some of my pixie poncho wearing little peeps. If you get a poncho, I’d love to receive a photo.

Pixie Poncho Peeps

Pixie Poncho Peeps

 

A Hug For Vanessa

A Hug For Vanessa

I’ve just come back from jolly old Hexham town, and a lovely lunch date with my dear friend, Vanessa. We enjoyed an excellent bowl of butternut squash and red pepper soup, and a delicious fluffy cheese scone at The Tans Vegetarian Restauarant.

I had arranged to meet Vanessa, to hand over the ‘waterfall shawl’ I’d made with her mum’s cashmere jumpers. You see, Vanessa’s mum, Agnes had passed away recently. Being a lover of bright colours and cashmere, Vanessa asked her to make her something special that she could wrap around herself and remember her mum by.

As we ate our lunch, I asked Vanessa about Agnes. Vanessa told me about her love of design and clothing, having designed clothes herself as a young girl. Indeed, her parents had taken the young Agnes, over to Carlisle, with her dress designs, to have them made up for her. Agnes started work at a young age as a ‘tracer’. In the days before scanners and photocopiers, women were employed to trace engineering and mechanical drawings onto fine linen by hand. A very talented and skilled job. Vanessa remembers her mum telling her about being locked in a room as she was copying somethng top secret for the government, and being scared of the mouse she was locked in the room with.

Agnes brought Vanessa up to be an individual and actively encouraged her to be different from everyone around her. Agnes sounds enormous fun. She loved bright clothing, especially reds and purples, and would never have gone down the ‘beige route’ than so often befalls the elderly.

Vanessa remembers her mum with great fondness, as a loving mum, with a great sense of fun.

I was so very honoured to make this waterfall shawl for Vanessa from Agnes’ cashmere cardigans.

 

If you would like to discuss a memorial product, do get in touch. I have made bedspreads, throws and cushions in the past using a loved ones’ jumpers and cardigans. You can get more information on the Memorial Page on the website.

I have made other waterfall shawls, and while stocks last, these can be found in the Woolly Wraps section in Upcycled Women’s Clothing over in the shop.

I’m planning other colours in waterfall shawls, and all being well, plan to have lots with me at Woolfest in June.

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.

Facebook Live 28 Jan 2018

Facebook Live

Facebook Live 28 Jan 2018

Facebook Live 28 Jan 2018

I did it! Facebook live that is.

There were a couple of clangers, like forgetting to put my lippy on, and forgetting half the products that I wanted to show.

I started by explaining how I made armwarmers when I first started woolly pedlaring, but forgot to have pair handy to show folk. Same with the bedpsreads I had hoped to show – oh well, I’ll just have to do another one another time.

Upcycled wool armwarmers in shades of blue

Upcycled wool armwarmers in shades of blue

Someone told me to talk as if you were talking to a friend. I had planned to do that. But actually once I started talking I felt far more as if I were on stage or in front of a class.

It was awesome seeing the comments coming in, and I especially enjoyed seeing that folk had tuned in all the way from Canada, the United States and Hungary.

I had propped my ipad up on an old painting easel, and put it to landscape, which worked well. What I didn’t get right was my hand written sign with the website on. I hadn’t reckoned on the mirror image, so it was all back to front!

Camera set up in the woolly workshop

Camera set up in the woolly workshop

The main purpose of the Facebook Live was to let people know the SALE is ending on 31st January. It paid off, and straight after the video went out, orders came in via the website. I’m thrilled this blue bedspread now has a new home. There are still some lovely bedspreads for sale though, and I hope someone makes the most of the SALE with them.

Upcycled blue bedspread

Upcycled blue bedspread

I also gave a couple of cashmere neckwarmers away, and asked a couple of questions which were answered correctly by Cathy and Pauline. I’ll be doing the same in the next Facebook Live I do.  I asked:

‘What was my dog’s name? – Lucy

And

‘Where does the Wool Clip cooperative have it’s shop? – Caldbeck

Cashmere neck warmer

Cashmere neck warmer

I’m planning on doing one once a month, to give me the chance to showcase new designs, but also to use it as a video newsletter. Hopefully it will bring plenty of folk to The Woolly Pedlar Facebook page, and I can get ahead of the changes to Facebook that are occurring. I plan to give something away with every Facebook Live to make it worth the while watching.

If you watched my Facebook Live, then thank you! I really appreciate the support.

If you didn’t, then here hopefully (if my tecchie skills are up to it) is the VIDEO:

 

 

 

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!

 

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

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