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First book is planned. Tales form the Woolly Garret: Getting to grips with social media

The Woolly Pedlar Lives Again!……….but not as you know it.

There’s no rest for the wicked! I’ve been back from  a writer’s retreat at The Watermill in Tuscany for a week, the washing is all done, and the cupboards filled again. I’ve had a day childminding Daisy, been to my writing group and have a plan for my first book. Despite heading off to university in September, I am hoping to write this book over the summer. I am looking to write about my journey as The Woolly Pedlar, giving tips along the way on how to get to grips with social media. ‘You’ll only ever be like a farmer’s wife making jam’ was the comment thrown at me by a family member when I first mooted the idea of making a business from recycled knitwear. Light the touch paper and stand back! Having lost my teaching job through ill health, I was not going to sit around feeling sorry for myself. I built up The Woolly Pedlar from one pair of armwarmers in 2011 to be a successful business and an international brand. I couldn’t have done this without the use of social media and would love to share the knowledge and skills I gained in this area. As a creative entrepreneur, I feel I can relate to other creative folk, talking their language, without using a lot of technical computer jargon. I do not however profess to be an ICT expert!

Just this week, my husband had a client visit him (he’s an accountant) who spoke of how she’d love to be able to share what she makes on social media, but does not know where to start or how to do it, and it simply terrifies her. I think a book that is easy to read, interspersed with funny stories and anecdotes about my time as the Woolly Pedlar, might just go down a treat.

I’ve been toying with an idea for the title, and have been discussing this over on Facebook, both on my Sue Reed Writes page, and The Woolly Pedlar page. At the moment I’m favouring: ‘Tales from the Woolly Garret: Getting to Grips with Social Media’. I think that then leaves room for other volumes. Maybe, a book of short stories?
I’ve written so much over the past seven years over on The Woolly Pedlar website, (and you can hop over there and catch up on these on the blog page there), but I was heartbroken that some of the stories would disappear if I shut the website down. I want my story about how Jeremy Corbyn bought one of my woolly wraps and then was hounded by the press to be seen; I want my experiences selling my woolly wares at festivals and Christmas fairs to be written down ; I want to write about all the comments given by the general public; I want to tell all the funny stories from my Women’s Institute talks and other outings.

I would also like to develop this theme and offer courses and tutorials on using social media. I’ll be meeting with Cool Terry from TWDA next week to discuss how we can put out tutorials on the internet. Despite being of the mature variety, I learnt how use social media to my advantage. It’s never too late to learn, and using social media does not need to be daunting or overly time consuming, but it is crucial if you want to show your creations to a world-wide audience and sell your work.

If you would like to hear more, or have a suggestion for the book title, then do get in touch.

The Date is Set for My Retirement

 

Looking to the Future as I Announce my Retirement

Looking to the Future as I Announce my Retirement

I’ve been doing a lot of pondering over the weekend, and as a result, the date has been set, and I am going to retire on 1st May 2019.

I’ve decided finally to hang up my Woolly Pedlar coat  to concentrate on my writing and Nanny duties. I had hoped to carry on with The Woolly Pedlar part time, but I’m such an all or nothing kind of girl, that this wasn’t posssible. I’m off to so my MA in Creative Writing at Newcastle University at the ripe old age of 57, and I need badly to free up some time to concentrate on this.

Today is the eighth anniversary of The Woolly Pedlar, and it has been a glorious ride. I’ve learnt so much, and more importantly, have met so many wonderful people. However, it is time for someone else to pick up the reins. I would love to see the business carry on, rather than fizzle out.

Do you know of anyone who would like to pick up on a small business, recycling waste wool knitwear, then do get in touch. I am offering all good will, my social media accounts, website, machinery, designs, stock and materials to enable the new Woolly Pedlar to hit the ground running.

You can contact me at sue@woollypedlar.co.uk to express your interest. Deadline for applications is  Monday 22 April.

If you would like to buy any of the remaining stock from the website, I suggest you hot foot it over the the shop asap!

 

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!

Tales from the Woolly Garret – Poncho Love

Poncho orders galore!

Poncho orders galore!

Oh boy! I have been completely blown away by the response to my End Of Summer Sale. I have reduced adult ponchos and woolly wraps by forty per cent, so I guess that is a really good reduction, and I’m thrilled that so many of you have taken advantage of this. It’s awesome that so many of you are choosing upcycled, ethical fashion as your choice for autumn wear.

My ponchos and woolly wraps are made from recycled lambswool, washed, and then cut into squares and sewn patchwork style using an overlocker (or serger if you are from the USA). I am careful about my colour combinations, and like to use a contrasting or complimentary thread, with seams showing for added texture and interest. I’ve made loads of them over the past seven years, and they remain one of my best sellers.

Here are some of my happy customers wearing their ponchos

poncho wearing poster girls

poncho wearing poster girls

If you have bought a poncho from the sale, or at any other time, I’d love to see a photo of you! I have a ‘Satisfied Customers’ album over on my Facebook page, which you can appear in.

Woolly wraps are also in the sale, with forty per cent off, and we mustn’t forget this famous purchase!

Jeremy Corbyn buys a woolly wrap for his wife, Laura

Jeremy Corbyn buys a woolly wrap for his wife, Laura

All your orders will go out in plastic free packaging. I had to think out of the box when looking for strong plastic free packaging, and came across these three layer Kraft paper potato sacks from Jones and Cane. Customers have reported back that they are great, and can be reused as storage bags.

plastic free packaging

plastic free packaging

So, do head over to the website, while there are still some ponchos and woolly wraps in the sale! Don’t forget to send me a photo of your purchase if you make one.

Beryl & Col from Guru Boutique Darlington

In Tales from the Woolly Garret, One Door Closes and Another One Opens.

You know what they say, about doors closing and opening. Well, I had one door slammed firmly shut this month, as I was kicked out of The Sill, in Northumberland National Park. They were furious with me for suggesting their shop gave preference to Chinese made goods over local makers.  Within the very same week I was contacted by Beryl at Guru Boutique in Darlington, begging me to supply her shop with my woolly wares, and in particular, sweatercoats.

I don’t usually put my coats in other shops, as I find they sell really well from the website, but Beryl was quite insistent, so I agreed to meet with her last Sunday. Apparently one of my customers had gone into to the shop wearing a coat I had sold her at Woolfest. Beryl had fallen in love with them, and thought they would be a perfect fit for their shop.

Beryl & Col from Guru Boutique Darlington

Beryl & Col from Guru Boutique Darlington

As soon as I met Beryl, and her partner Col, I recognised a kindred spirit. Not only that, we actually had friends in common amongst the biker fraternity of Darlington. I used to live at the top of Weardale , and our neighbour at the time Dav, turns out to be a really good friend of theirs. Dav is quite a sight to behold, with a ginger beard that is formed into one long dreadlock that reaches the ground, which isn’t that far, as Dav is quite a short guy.

Upcycled sweatercoat by the Woolly Pedlar at Guru Boutique, Darlington

Upcycled sweatercoat by the Woolly Pedlar at Guru Boutique, Darlington

Beryl & Col chose a selection of clothing, which included a coat and jacket, and took it back to the shop. I was amazed to hear that the coat sold in a couple of days!! I was also chuffed to bits to see that they had arranged a photo shoot, and wasted no time at all in posting photos and videos to their Facebook page.

Upcycled patchwork poncho by the Woolly Pedlar at Guru Boutique, Darlington

Upcycled patchwork poncho by the Woolly Pedlar at Guru Boutique, Darlington

Waterfall shawl as modelled by Emily for Guru boutique, Darlington

Waterfall shawl as modelled by Emily for Guru boutique, Darlington

Waterfall shawl as modelled by Emily for Guru boutique, Darlington

Waterfall shawl as modelled by Emily for Guru boutique, Darlington

What awesome support, and what a lovely blossoming relationship. This feels like a far better fit that the corporate world of the National Park. It’s great when the little people can work together and support each other. Beryl tells me Guru Boutique has been trading in Darlington for 47 years. I’m very proud to be part of that story now, and am super glad of the awesome support that these lovely people have given me.

I’m busy making another coat to replace the one that has sold, and will be sending that, along with this super number in red, at the end of the week.

Red sweatercoat by The Woolly Pedlar, destined for Guru Boutique, Darlington

Red sweatercoat by The Woolly Pedlar, destined for Guru Boutique, Darlington

Red sweatercoat by The Woolly Pedlar, destined for Guru Boutique, Darlington

Red sweatercoat by The Woolly Pedlar, destined for Guru Boutique, Darlington

Thanks for reading my blog. Sorry it’s been so long since I have written one!

Just giving the heads up that I have started an End of Summer Sale on this website with all adult ponchos and woolly wraps on the website reduced by 40%.

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.

 

 

 

 

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:

 

 

 

Turn and Face the Strange – Facebook Changes 2018

So, Facebook is changing. Mark Zuckerberg has said that the changes happening to Facebook in 2018 will be the biggest that have ever happened in Facebook. I’ve been on a webinar, and listened to videos and podcasts, and this is how I see it happening, and what I plan to do about it as a business page.

Soon there will be two news feeds – one for friends, families and ads, and another for business pages and groups in a new ‘explore’ feed.  This means that it will be harder for you to find my posts and engage with them. As a business it will be harder to get my message and products across to you.

So, as a small business, I want to make sure that my posts reach people and appear high up in the new explore feed.

Facebook loves videos, especially ‘live’ videos, but what it does not like are videos from other channels such a You Tube. By all means, make a video and load it up to You Tube, but don’t go sharing that on your Facebook business page. Instead, be brave and do a Facebook Live video!

I am going to put my big girls’ pants on, on Sunday 28th at 3pm and do a Facebook Live post from the woolly garret. I’ve found an old painting easel to balance my ipad on, and will even hunt out some lippy. I want to show folk some of the sale stock, and will be running a free giveaway of two cashmere cowls. I’m planning on using Facebook Live as a visual newsletter, and plan to do regular Facebook Lives.  Do come and join in!

Cashmere cowl, neck warmer or snood, brights

Cashmere cowl, neck warmer or snood, brights

Facebook wants you to stay on Facebook, so keep links to outside websites and blogs to a minimum – I write a newsletter through Mailchimp and blog on the website, and will be encouraging folk to sign up for that even more now, so they can get all the news in their in boxes rather than relying on the fickle friend that Facebook is.

Another top tip is to make your Facebook posts interesting, timely and relevant to your audience. My followers love to see photos of the beautiful Northumberland countryside, and hear about how things are growing in the garden, as well as seeing news about what I’ve been making. I am very much an ethical business, and so will be inviting discussions on various ethical topics such as reducing plastic in packaging, recycling and reducing waste.  It’s about so much more than just selling products!

You can help by doing several things:

  • Select to ‘get notifications’ from The Woolly Pedlar
  • Comment on posts that are interesting to you – the more folk engage with posts, the more Facebook will share them.
  • Sign up to my newsletter and blog using the sign up form on the homepage of this website
  • Join in with the Facebook Live events over on The Woolly Pedlar page – the first one being Sunday 28th at 3pm.

Thanks for reading and hope to see you on Sunday 🙂

The Woolly Pedlar

The Woolly Pedlar

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