Archive for the ‘Random’ Category

What’s the difference between Llama and Alpaca?

Posted Monday, September 28th, 2015 by Helen East in alpaca, our fabrics, Random, wool

Llamas and alpacas look very similar and are closely related, but there are a number of differences between them .   These differences stem from how they have been used and bred over thousands of years of farming in South America.


 A young Quechuan girl with her llama, which are stronger and less woolly than alpaca.

Alpaca have been bred for their fibre - which can be super-soft, light, airy and warm.  It's truly the fibre of Incan royalty and we at Cambridge Baby keep expanding our range of alpaca clothing as its durable, and up to 7 times lighter than wool for its warmth.

Llamas, in contrast, have been bred as useful, working farm animals - to carry loads, and to guard other livestock.  So they are stronger and larger than the pretty alpaca, and rather less furry to look at.  They are also quite independent-minded, whereas alpaca prefer to be in herds, rather like sheep.  If you look at their faces in the photos above and below, you can see the differences.

Alpaca taken by Patrick Furlong

Alpaca, bred for their fibre, are smaller and more woolly than llama.

But we discovered recently that Llama fibre can be just as lovely as alpaca.  A fleece consists of two layers, the guard layer, which is strong and straight, and makes good rope, while underneath  is the super-soft layer of down.  These are the fluffy fibres which make excellent clothing and, like alpaca, can be as fine or finer than cashmere, under 20 micron.  They usually have a hollow core, which gives extra insulating warmth, and a crimp (a kind of zig-zagging of the fibre) like merino wool, which also adds insulation.

Should alpaca and llama hair be called "wool"?  Most people say that it's not technically wool and should be referred to as fibre, but some say that it's fine to call it wool after it's shorn.  So, take your pick!

Alpaca and llama fibre, like most animal and human hair and wool, should be cared for gently.  There's not need to wash very often and the "wear then air" strategy works well.  If the times comes to wash it, use detergents designed for delicates, wash gently and dry away from direct heat.


We're lucky to now be stocking a hand-knitted llama cardigan for kids in sizes from 2 to 11 years.  We hope you enjoy it!




Royal wool for a Royal Cambridge Baby

Posted Thursday, April 30th, 2015 by Rachel King in Random

Given that Grandfather Charles has started to raise awareness amongst consumers about the unique, natural and sustainable benefits offered by wool, it seems likely that the coming Royal baby will be lucky enough to start its life dressed in organic wool.  We hope so.

When we saw that Pippa had brought organic cloth nappies back from Switzerland, we wanted to let the Royal Family know that they are available right here in Cambridge.  We've even got covers in Royal Blue.

Organic Blue Merino Nappy

We then got thinking again about what the Royal families Cambridge Baby favourites would be. We thought Grandfather Charles, Prince of Wales, would like this jumper that's hand knitted in Wales with Soil Association certified organic Welsh wool yarn.



Every baby needs a baby body, and these organic merino wool and silk ones have been gently treated with papaya and sugar cane enzyme which mean they wash brilliantly and will be still be in wonderful condition to hand on to any royal siblings or cousins that may come along.  We are sure that the Royals enjoy hand-me-downs too - and these are one of the most sustainable choices.

Finally the baby needs something to sleep in.  What do you think?  We thought these organic merino sleeping bags would be perfect. As they are sleeveless and breathable they are light weight enough for spring. We also thought that since they go up to big sizes, brother George could have one too.



 If you could kindly let them know of our suggestions, we'd be very grateful.  Just tweet our post to them, would you?!

The wonderful benefits of wool!

Posted Wednesday, March 18th, 2015 by Rachel King in our fabrics, Random, wool


Wool, nature's way of clothing sheep, has real benefits for you and your family. It's not only soft and fluffy, but naturally clever too.   Genius, in fact.

How wool works

  • Wool can breathe, absorbing water vapour from the body and releasing it into the atmosphere

This means that if you wear around you, sweat is easily and consistently wicked away from your skin keeping your or your child's skin healthy.  Soft Merino wools are fabulous next to the skin, and non-itchy for most people.  

  • Wool can dynamically respond to the environment and help regulate temperature

Wool moves moisture away from your skin faster or slower, depending on your body temperature and the environment.  This is because is has evolved naturally to help keep sheep comfortable as temperatures change - and it does the same for you and your baby or child.  In this way, it helps keep the body's temperature stable even if you warm up through exercise, cool down through sitting still, or are affected by changing external temperatures.  Your body has to do less work, and it's more relaxed in a way - and wool helps the body relax into sleep too.

  • Wool can clean itself (oh yes!)

This benefits you as you don't have to wash it very often.  In fact, most natural wool clothes can be hung up to air and then worn again - the "wear then air" approach.  

  • Wool repels rain (think: sheep)

It's not entirely waterproof of course, but it's surprisingly showerproof and what's more, it can absorb water without feeling cold and wet.  You know how cotton gets cold when it's wet?  Wool stays warm and dry-feeling for much, much longer.  This is great for kids on the beach in Spring or in muddy puddles, and great if you're hiking in the Lake District too. 

  • Wool is good for summer!

Because wool can respond dynamically to what's going on around it, it's an excellent year-round fibre.  Fine layers of wool work brilliantly as underlayers in winter and top layers in summer - and it's also naturally UV protective too.  

Wool is a natural "high-performance" fabric - it's naturally good for your skin and body. Because of this, it's very helpful in keeping you and your family healthy, relaxed and rested.


The science and structure of wool

Let's have a look at how it does all these things.

Wool consists of three layers.

  • The first, keratin, is a moisture-loving protein that all animal hair has. It is designed to maintain a stable body temperature. Think how useful this is to babies, athletes and your own day-to-day living.
  • The second layer is a scaly covering. The overlapping scales are tiny, but as they rub against each other they push off the dirt. So it is self-cleaning, as anyone who's put their baby in wool knows.
  • The third layer is a filmy skin which keeps the rain out. Wool is quite water-resistant, as duffel-coat wearers and sheep can testify.

So, you can see already that it's pretty amazing, and a healthy thing to have next to your skin.

Now, the two outer layers have tiny pores which allow moisture to pass through to the keratin core, which absorbs it. So, if the temperature increases or the wearer becomes more active and begins to sweat, the moisture is wicked into the central core. Your body heat then wicks it out towards the surface, where it is released into the atmosphere.

In this way, it helps you and your baby maintain a stable temperature and keeps you and your baby dry and comfortable by absorbing and releasing sweat. It even does this "dynamically", which means it does it more when needed, and less when not needed. Wow. It's just the best thing, don't you think? No man-made fibre can equal this.

To keep these abilities, wool does need to be looked after. But with 99% of washing machines now having a wool cycle, this is quite easy. Just use a liquid detergent for wool, or a drop of your own shampoo, and set the temperature on your wool cycle to 30C.

More wool facts

  • Wool is naturally antibacterial. This is due to its lanolin (wool fat) content - as wool becomes moist, some of the lanolin converts to lanolin-soap, which helps keep the fabric hygienically clean! Combining this with it's self-cleaning properties, you can begin to understand why wool underwear doesn't get smelly. It smells fresh for ages.
  • Wool can absorb around 33% of its own weight without feeling wet. This is heaps more than man-made fibres, which typically absorb only 4% before feeling wet and uncomfortable. It's much more than cotton, too. It means that your baby is more likely to stay warm and dry if he/she dribbles or possets, and you can just give a quick rub down rather than having to change him/her so often. Making your baby happier, and your life easier.
  • Wool is a great insulator. It is warm in winter and cool in summer (think vacuum flask). This is because of all the "waves" in the fibre, which lock in air. It may seem strange to us to use wool in the summer, but many Bedouins and Tuaregs use wool to keep the heat out! (They use camel and goat hair as well as sheep's wool.) This is why sheepskins are such a great choice for prams, strollers and carseats, keeping your baby comfortable and so making your life easier.
  • Wool is "bouncy" - the springiness of the fibres gives it good elasticity - it stretches really well and goes back into shape well too. This means that it's very easy to put on your baby - and to take off of course too. Much less fiddling around with arms and things. Making your baby happier, and your life easier (did I say this before?).
  • Wool fibres can be bent and twisted over 30,000 times without breaking. (That's just an interesting fact. I can't relate that to your baby...)
  • Roman togas used to be made of wool. (ditto...)
  • Finally, wool is a very safe fabric and fire-resistant. It's harder to ignite than most synthetic fibres and cotton. It has a low rate of flame spread, it doesn't melt, or drip, and if it does burn it creates a "char" which self-extinguishes.


No man-made fibre can yet duplicate all of the properties of natural wool. How did sheep do all that?

The Cambridge Baby Story…

Posted Thursday, October 30th, 2014 by Helen East in Random


"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.

Cambridge Baby fans best campsites

Posted Thursday, June 26th, 2014 by Rachel King in Random


We asked our lovely Facebook fans to recommend their favourite campsites so that we could share them with you. I can't wait to grab our merino vests, sheepskins and Sleeping Bags and head to the great outdoors to try a few, though I think the Norfolk one is more realistic for me than the Australian one. Enjoy looking and exploring. A huge thank you to all our readers.

  • Roundhill campsite in the New Forest. We were there just last week and it was amazing. Big, forest all around and cows and horses grazing freely in the campsite. Nice and clean and very kid's friendly.  

          For further information go to Cool Camping and Camping in the Forest       

  • Holmsley in the new forest. Beautiful and many happy memories

          For further information go to Camping in the Forest - Holmsley

  • Hooks House Farm in Robin Hood's Bay- amazing views and they have regular star gazing nights where you can have a look at the sky through telescopes. . You can unzip the tent to look over the cliffs down to the sea, stunning  
  • Seaside Caravan Park- it's on a site with lots of statics but you can camp right on the cliff so it's easy to imagine you have no neighbours.       
  • Woodhill park in north Norfolk- they have amazing family bathrooms which are a godsend with a 1 yr old.  
  • DOC campsites in New Zealand super cheap with incredible views, they are fantastic, just a long way to go for the weekend 
  • Bodwrog on Llyn Peninsula, beautiful sunsets overlooking the sea, countryside walks, white beaches and decent showers
  • Boe Rigg - it's where we had our first ever camping trip when lo was 8 months old. Great facilities and a lovely spot - hope to go back soon    
  • Dernwood Farm this summer.. It looks idyllic, a big plus for me is the car park is completely separated by woods from the camping area so no worries about cars with the kiddies about! · ·          
  • site near Inverness beautiful views we go there often it's so special it's even where my oh surprised me by proposing on the waters edge x
  • Red Squirrel in Glencoe. Breathtaking scenery, and campfire friendly          
  • Mannix Point camping park amazing views! situated in the ring of Kerry, Ireland
  • The fantastic Beara Farm in South Devon. Right next to the Dart River, Steam Train goes hooting past during the day. Run by the lovely Farmer John. Fabulous.  For more information go Beara Farm
  • Sandy Balls (tee hee!) in the New Forest. Beautiful location, brings back memories of going to New Forest as a child and lovely clean facilities!
  • Yew tree Canterbury fabulous location, we loved it here x
  • Ling's meadow near Thetford - a tiny eco campsite
  • Our back garden! No proper camping for us until our ASD little one is able to understand not to just unzip the tent and run off in the middle of the night
  • Blackberry Wood campsite in the South Downs. You pitch your tent in your own little glade in the woods and light a fire...or you can stay in the field in a converted helicopter or double decker bus. The kids can roam the woods.
  • We recently enjoyed a long weekend at the Hop Farm near Maidstone. Loads to do there, I recommend it. ·
  • I've only been camping once to Little Oasis and it was magical
  • We spent two weeks camping in Hollands Wood campsite in the New Forest last summer- it was the perfect spot with kids, between nature and a warm shower! A little too busy for me, but for them it was perfect!
  • Wild Sierra Glamping, Andalucia Spain. Pure air, pure water, no traffic, no light pollution.
  • Trevedra sennen cove cornwall, peaceful paradise.
  • Bigbury on Sea for me too. Just got back from a long weekend at the end of half term. Fab view and beaches lovely.
  • Fidden farm, Isle of Mull. Stunning views of rugged coastline and crystal clear waters. Wool vest was worn entire camping trip by our 1 year old!
  • Amazing wild camping on a cliff on the great Blasket Island off the west coast of Ireland! Breathtaking and very, very basic.
  • In Australia in the Flinders Ranges... you never knew what little critters would try and share your sleeping bag!11
  • Herding Hill in northumberland....views of hadriens wall at sunset were gorgeous. Great facilities (baths!!!!! drying room, handmade pizza delivered to your tent), ducks, rabbits and alpacas... family and dog friendly and within close proximity to lots of educational (but fun) roman forts.
  • Rendlesham Forest in Suffolk - about to take our 2 year old Hope the weather stays this good
  • A tiny one in Blakney Norfolk that doesn't even have a name we ust know its as Jennys campsite. Practically on the beach and just fab
  • Thorpe Hall in Rudston (Yorkshire Wolds). Lovely quiet campsite with excellent facilities for families and friendly staff. We love it as it's affordable and perfectly placed to explore the Wolds and the Yorkshire Coast.
  • Pen Pont, near Brecon. Beautiful, peaceful with organic farm shop stocked from their walled kitchen garden (by a river with swimming spots - keep an eye on intrepid explorers)
  • Lough key forest park camping situated in the middle of the forest in Ireland!