Archive for October, 2014

The Cambridge Baby Story…

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

 

"It all began when...

 

"It all began when Helen realised what a great material wool is for babies' clothing. It doesn't absorb liquids like cotton does, so Baby does not get wet each time something unforeseen happens, and Mummy or Daddy doesn't have to go and change Baby all the time. And also it's cuddly and warm.  And that's how we like to keep the little ones!

"Helen being Helen, having discovered all these beautiful things, and being aware of how difficult it was to get hold of them in the UK, she started a business - Cambridge Baby.

"They ran it from their loft in their house until it almost burst. Nick being Nick, he built a lovely wooden shed using as much reclaimed wood as possible at the bottom of their garden, just behind the cherry tree. This now houses all their wonderful products as well as desks, and packing materials.

"Once or twice a year, Helen and the team go over to Germany, Holland, Italy and further afield to find out more about the natural clothing on the market and to discover new gorgeous things. (In Germany she stays with me, and that's great.) Helen and Nick also go to fairs and exhibitions around the UK to make sure they are selecting the best clothing out there and keeping up to date as the market changes.

"Helen, Nick and Rosy make sure all their woollen clothing suppliers are enthusiastic, family-run businesses who design and produce locally and ethically.  And all their organic cotton suppliers are actively trying to make the world a better place.

"I love the idea of buying "slow clothes" - clothes that have been produced ethically and traded fairly, and as both my children have loved wearing Cambridge Baby's clothing, I heartily recommend them to you.”

Dagmar Toews

Karlsruhe, Germany.

The Cambridge Baby Team

Thursday, October 30th, 2014

Who are the people behind Cambridge Baby?  It can be nice to know a bit about who you're talking to on the phone, or who you're corresponding with by email so here's the low-down on us!

webversionof US

 

Helen

Cambridge Baby started with Helen. After being given wool garments for her little girl, she realised how great wool is - it doesn’t absorb liquids like cotton does, it’s breathable, soft, combines beautifully with silk and cotton and comes in such a great range if textures – fine, fully, fleecy, wool crepe, wool terry… and as she couldn’t find woollen baby clothes in the UK, she started Cambridge Baby back in 2006.

Helen’s background is as an academic and she's a mine of information on fabrics and how to care for them. You might see her at trade fairs, looking for the best natural, organic, fairly traded clothing out there. She also sings beautifully! 

Nick

Nick is the engineer behind the scenes. He built and runs the Cambridge Baby website and also built from scratch “The Good Natured Shed” where your orders get picked and packed. He’s the one to ask about outdoors clothes for children and adults, as he loves skiing and sailing amongst other things includes his daughters in his adventures. If you speak to him on the phone about what clothes to get the little ones, he’s sensible and practical and will always tell you not to forget “a little something for yourself” – parents need comfort too!

Rosy

Rosy is our resident expert on twins, as she has lovely twin girls. Rosy knows our range inside out, as she goes to trade fairs to find ethical manufacturers making practical, useful and lovely clothes. Chances are you will speak to her if you phone us and that she’ll be the one answering your emails.

Rosy is sporty and active, and always on the go – she shares and her four children share interests in art, music and dancing. She is warm and caring and has a great sense of humour – just the person to go to for advice about specific clothing and tricky questions such as “which sleeping bag is best?” or “which outerwear would you recommend for my fussy toddler?”

Wendy

Wendy is a calming influence in the hustle and bustle that is Cambridge Baby. She likes making a positive difference for people and is immensely patient and caring. She is our resident colour expert: the colours swatches on the product pages are all her handiwork – making it easier to pick the right colours when ordering. You’ll see Wendy is a Lindy Hop dancer, so you might see her at the various festivals we have here in Cambridge. Then again, you might also see her in an orchestra, playing the cello. She’s multi-talented!

Agnès

Agnès loves being part of the team here at Cambridge Baby. What attracted her to Cambridge Baby was the care that is put into the clothes that we sell (see her blog post The Little Touches). Agnès picks and packs orders, answers the phone and emails, and love choosing the perfect items for the “Wear This With” section. She also keeps us all (gently) in order. When she isn’t revelling in the softness of Cambridge Baby clothes, Agnès is a passionate teacher – French (her native language) and martial arts where she teaches children in a local Kung Fu club. If you see her around Cambridge – most likely clad in Engel! – don’t hesitate to say “Bonjour!”

Rachel

Rachel has joined Helen to form our marketing team. You’ll see her comments on our Facebook page. She and Helen make our adverts and competitions too.

An active mum of two, Rachel cares about ethical issues. Having previously worked in the marketing department of an ethical chocolate company, joining Cambridge Baby was a logical choice. As her husband runs a cycle courier business (yes, it is Cambridge after all!), you will often see Rachel and her little ones and their Dutch school-run bike around Cambridge.

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The Story of Wool

Monday, October 20th, 2014

The story of wool began a long time ago, before recorded history, when primitive people first clothed themselves in the woolly skins of the roaming wild sheep that early hunters killed for food.  Mouflon sheep, pictured below, are thought to be the closest relatives of the earliest sheep mankind would have encountered.

Mouflon-sheep-2

In using sheepskins, early tribes had discovered a durable fabric which gave them what nothing else could give:  protection from heat and cold, from wind and rain alike, from a fabric which kept the body cool in the heat of the day and warm in the cold of the night, and which could absorb moisture without feeling wet.

Sheep then began to be kept for both their milk and their valuable wool. When a sheep shed its fleece, it could be spun and woven into cloth. This versatile animal was probably the second to be domesticated after the dog, the perfect shepherding animal.  Sheep, the shepherd and his dog - an image which has reverberated through the ages, symbolic of gentleness and leadership, of kindness and endurance, of man and nature in harmony.  And we know that sheep have been kept and looked after and wool spun from their fleeces for over 10,000 years in Mesopotamia, Asia and parts of Europe.

Sheep Rock Art from Coso

 

Early wool-making

Wool is a fibre man can never match. No other material, natural or man-made, has all its qualities. But we can refine and improve wool and have done so through selective breeding of sheep over the centuries and through continually improving processing techniques.

Simple processing was happening already in Northern Europe thousands of years ago.  To spin wool, early tribes they took the wool in one hand and drew it out, twisting it into a thread with the fingers of the other hand. The result was a thick uneven yarn. Later, a crude spindle was developed by fitting a stone or clay ring to the end of a short wooden stick, and such hand-spindles have become more and more sophisticated, as in this decorated Incan spindle below.

inca-spindle

The ring acted as a flywheel and enabled the drawn-out yarn to be wound on to the spindle. This method of spinning was used for thousands of years and is still used by communities in various parts of the world to make wool yarn.

 

Wool - the gold on the loom

 Weaving is the earliest form of fabric-making known, pre-dating knitting and crochet which only appeared a thousand years ago.  Early looms were simple and effective, and their close cousins are in use around the world today too.  

 

primitive-loom-and-a-girl-spinning-wool

 

Spinning and weaving wool were of such importance in everyday life that they are central to many stories and songs that have been handed down to us, such as those below, and of such importance economically to Britain that it's fair to say our wealth stems from our woolly history.

As in this Scottish slip-jig, wool really was "gold on the loom."

 

"Hark as the bee hunts for treasure

That's hid in the mountainy bloom

Me shuttle goes buzzing with pleasure

To gather my gold from my loom."

 

Other wool songs - 

The Spinning Wheel (Mellow the Moonlight)

The work of the weavers

A Gaelic waulking song (this would have been a work song) - a shame now we listen to music while we work, rather than make music together!

And I like this polished version 🙂

 

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 Information adapted from the British Wool Marketing Board and the International Wool Textile Association.  Photo credits - Mouflon sheep: von Netzer Ranch, Texas.  Sheep rock art: the Bradshaw Foundation.  Inca spindle: http://ancientarchives.wordpress.com/.  Loom: http://chestofbooks.com/

 

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