Today’s Woolness & Me post was written by Sue Reed, aka The Woolly Pedlar, who is here to talk about ‘woolness’ in the context of the profound effect that working with wool has had on her outlook. The sustainable and recycling aspects of her practice also speak to our theme this week of Woolness and the Land.
I had struggled with stress-related ill health for some years, but it all came to a head when I was taken to casualty unable to move my arms or legs. I had chronic back pain and sciatica, too. The doctors couldn’t find any medical reason for my condition, and I was given various noxious painkillers and medication, none of which helped.
After a year of being on the sick, my teaching career of 25 years ended and I found myself without a job, in pain, and very depressed. To keep me sane, I started blogging, and wrote about living sustainably, growing food, and making and mending. The blog was called The Bridge Cottage Way after the house we lived in. As a result of this blog, a knitting group was formed, and I welcomed folk into my home. One lady asked if I would make her a pair of armwarmers using recycled jumpers in the style of Katwise, an American textile designer. These were sewn with an overlocker, and with the money I had been given upon ending my teaching career, I bought myself a domestic overlocker. I began to make armwarmers using recycled wool jumpers I found in local charity shops. My health only allowed me to work for short periods of time, but I could see potential in this. I started experimenting with other designs, and began to make jumpers and sweatercoats. By Christmas of that year I had enough to have a stall at a market and was completely gobsmacked with how well they sold.
A year after I had lost my teaching job, I registered as self employed and saved up enough to buy an industrial overlocker. I work full time now, recycling waste wool knitwear into a whole range of upcycled clothing, soft furnishings and accessories. I love working with wool, and have recently joined The Wool Clip, that woolly cooperative who run Woolfest. What’s more, my health is going from strength to strength and I no longer need painkillers.
Three cheers for wool!
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