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!



Take an Old Stripy Scarf…Upcycling Knitwear

Every week I visit four charity shops in my home town of Hexham, and go behind the scenes to my bins where waste knitwear is collected. I sort through the woollies, and take what I can use in my upcycling. I’m very particular, and only a certain gauge of knitwear will do, and only the best quality and colours make it into my basket.

Every now and then I get real gems, like the week I got several Fairisle jumpers and made this coat, resplendent in patterning: (incidentally, this coat now resides in America )


The other week I pulled a stripy scarf out of my bin at Tynedale Hospice – I love getting stripes, and a scarf is so useful! But oh my goodness! The colours in this one were absolutely fabulous! Here it is in close up:


I soon set about making piles of jumpers and seeing what I had in these colours on the shelves. I had a couple of felted jumpers for bodices – one purple, the other a deliciously soft green cashmere.

The scarf I decided would make excellent hood trims, and indeed it did! Two of them, with spare left over for pockets.  I took this photo one evening, and just love it!


I sometimes make coats without hoods – I often say there’re like Marmite, you either love ’em or hate ’em! This stripy scarf and the possibility of using all those colours in a hood was just too good to pass on.

These coats deserved hoods, and hoods they got!


I’ve got the Green Gathering coming up as my next event, and I’m taking these beauties with me if they don’t sell first – in fact, I’m going to keep this short and sweet again this week as I need to hot foot it up to the woolly garret where another coat is in the making.

I’ve love and leave you with some more photos of the two coats that came about as a result of a stripy scarf in the rag bin, and also give you the link to the sweatercoat section of the shop so you can find out more about them and do some window shopping. – Actual shopping is of course very welcome too!!




Zerowaste – Upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more.

By now you probably know that I upcycle preloved wool jumpers and make all sorts from them, with the aim of keeping textiles out of landfill and from going to waste. I won’t go into details of all the products I create from recycled knitwear – you can head over to the online shop to see for yourselves what I’ve been making lately. Upcycling means to take waste and turn it into something more useful or aesthetically more pleasing. This is hopefully what I’ve done with this petite purple sweatercoat made from recycled jumpers, which I finished a week ago. This is not the end of the story however. I want to show how I take waste, and upcycle it until there is nothing left to waste at all. Zerowaste – literally!

The panels and sleeves for this coat were made from lambswool jumpers rescued from Hawick knitwear when the factory went into administration. You can read what I wrote about that in a previous blogpost entitled ‘The Sad Demise of Hawick Knitwear’. The bodice is a very shrunken cashmere jumper rescued from the rag bag in a local charity shop.

So, when I’ve finished making my sweatercoats, do I throw the scraps away? Not on your nellie! Those long enough, and especially any spare sleeves get cut into strips to make armwarmers:


It doesn’t stop there either! I still had some grey pieces left over, too short for armwarmer strips, but as long as they are 10cm each way, they can be cut into squares and used to make a cushion. I grabbed a felted pink cashmere jumper and cut off the button band to make the fastening on this cushion and hey presto, a lovely lambswool and cashmere cushion made from my waste. That’s zerowaste in my book!


But it doesn’t stop there. Left with a pile of scraps that are now diminishing in size, and are no longer useful to me, I pass them onto my friends who are proggy matters. For those of you who are not familiar with proggy matting or proddy matting as it is called in other parts, this is a northern tradition where scraps of wool fabric are poked through a piece of hessian with a ‘prodder’. Ali Rhind explains in much better in her video on Hooky and Proggy Matting. If anyone is coming along to Woolfest in June, I’ll have a table loaded with bags of woolly scraps for you. I’ve also written a blogpost about this ‘The Art of Proggy Matting’

So there you have it – upcycling, upcycling and upcycling some more. Zerowaste, and helping keep textiles out of landfill.


Upcycling in the Garden

Sometimes I miss the old Bridge Cottage Way. This was the blog that I started writing several years ago about living sustainably, and which eventually led to the birth of The Woolly Pedlar – a long story which I won’t go into now, but can be read in the first post I wrote on this website called ‘Let Me Introduce Myself’. This month we’ve been really busy in the garden and I thought it would be nice to share with you some of the upcycling projects that have taken place. After all, recycling and upcycling doesn’t stop with jumpers here. Mr Tim and I are forever trying to find ways of reusing things and buying less.
The big project for us this year and indeed the past couple of years, has been the building of a straw bale build sauna in the garden using largely reclaimed materials. We’ve used wood from the garden, old tractor tyres, woolly clippings for insulation and even gin bottles for the window. I was very good at helping with that bit! 😉

gin-bottle-window  There is so much I could write about building the sauna, and so much we have learnt. The frame has a reciprocal roof, and that in itself is worthy of a whole chapter, then there are the straw bales, lime plaster and earth roof. We’ve even made little oil lamps from jam jars, with a rolled up t shirt as a wick and using cooking oil. Again, I feel this could warrant it’s own blogpost on another occasion.

Let’s turn back to the garden itself. One of my pet hates in this world is the amount of packaging and plastic that gets used and thrown away. Every weekend there are queues of folk heading for the garden centre to buy plastic pots and trays. With that in mind, I wrote a post about saving plastic cartons to reuse as plant pots, and to date ‘Reduce Plastic Consumption by Reusing Plastic Containers as Plant Pots’ has been one of my most successful posts, with thousands of hits! I won’t repeat it here, but will leave you to follow the link yourselves.
strawberry planter


We’ve been having a bit of a clearout in the garage, and I came across this old redundant veg rack, which I’ve turned into a strawberry planter – the idea being that the strawberries should hang down over the side. Mind you, if this apocalyptic weather we are having this Spring/Summer doesn’t sort itself out I don’t think they’ll be many strawberries at all! I’ve lined the baskets with some of the wool jackets I find for my making my bedspreads to keep the moisture in and prevent the compost falling through the holes. The compost too is homemade!

This old Vax cleaner has also be put to good use rather than going to the tip, and is used for growing chives.




10361444_10204212808469967_7880140687656242864_n   I’m told these wooden cable reels sell for a lot of money on Ebay, and I was lucky enough to get hold of one for a tenner! They make great tables for outdoor eating – and for drinking as you can see! Oh dear, that’s two references to drinking in one blogpost now, you’ll be thinking we’re plonkies!



We love eating outdoors, and have had our friend Harry make us a pizza oven from stone found lying around and taken from the bed of the little stream that runs through the garden. We used clay dust that was going spare from a local pottery mixed with soil for the clay to build it with, and it is absolutely fantastic! I guess this too could warrant another post all by itself another time!



We got the idea for using a wheel rim as a fire pit from Solfest – the festival we’ve gone to as a family for the last ten years. There, you are allowed to have fires by your camp as long as the fire is contained in a wheel rim. Jolly good idea! I also like to take the old washing machine drum along which serves as an excellent barbeque.  I use saucepans and kettles put on the top to cook the family proper dinner on it, and again wrote a post over on the Bridge Cottage Way about making a Washing Machine Drum Barbeque if you fancy a read.


I’m sure there are lots more fun ways to use what would otherwise be going to the tip around the garden. I’m sure if I went for a wander around ours, I’d find more to share with you. However, it’s lashing down with rain, so I think I’ll stay put and leave it there for this week. Do post a comment and share any other good upcycling tips you have for around the garden.

Thanks for reading this week, and let’s hope the weather improves as we move into June and can get out and enjoy the garden!