Archive for the ‘Advice and ideas’ Category

Natural sun protection – from Merino wool

Posted Thursday, May 2nd, 2013 by Helen East in dressing for the outdoors, our fabrics

Aside from being fine, breathable and helping regulate temperature, a real benefit of Merino wool in the Summer is that it provides excellent natural sun protection.

Wool Silk Vest gives high sun protection

It absorbs the UV radiation before it can reach your baby or your child's skin - naturally! Here are the facts for you.  Research by Haerri et al (2000), Reinert et al (1997) and Hilfiker et al (1996)  shows that (more…)

Merino wool – studies show it’s great for sleeping

Posted Wednesday, May 1st, 2013 by Rachel King in our fabrics, sleeping

sleep well in merino wool

Even I was surprised by the University of Sydney study that wool bed clothes help you get a brilliant night's sleep - even in hot summer temperatures.

Merino wool - a very fine kind of wool from the Merino sheep - has fibres so fine that they bend easily and so don't scratch, preventing the itchiness traditionally associated with wool. This makes it way more comfy to sleep in than cotton as it moves with your body and is still soft on your skin.  But that's  not all.


Safe Swaddling

Posted Thursday, April 4th, 2013 by Rachel King in dressing your baby, sleeping

Swaddling can work wonders to calm babies and prevent them waking and scaring themselves when they fling their arms around. It  worked miracles with my little girl when she was tiny. Merino swaddling blankets are gorgeously soft. They also have the added advantage, that merino helps babies regulate their body temperature and wicks away moisture.

On a  recent programme on Radio 4 Paediatric orthopaedic surgeon Professor Nicholas Clarke highlighted how important it is to swaddle babies correctly, with their hips and legs free to move. Research shows that swaddling babies legs tightly to alter their natural hips open position can increase the risk of hip dysplasia and dislocation.

The Cocooi Swaddling Blanket in Merino Wool is specially designed with a pouch for the legs to allow them to move freely and for you to do a quick nappy change if necessary.

There is even a video to show you how to swaddle correctly. The key thing is to allow room for the hips to move.

Cocooi Swaddling Blanket in Merino Wool

Head to Toe: Wool is wonderful for Skiing

Posted Wednesday, February 13th, 2013 by Rachel King in dressing for the outdoors, our fabrics
Nick went to St Anton skiing and came back singing the praises of wool. He was dressed head to toe in wool including his pants. Skiing with Merino base layers Nick's been a massive fan of Merino Wool ever since his sister discovered the benefits of Merino in New Zealand 15 years ago. This year the whole extended family was wearing Cambridge Baby base layers. The best thing about wool for skiing is that it helps you cope with large temperature changes by reducing the heat transfer between the body and the environment. His woollies kept him warm in freezing blizzard conditions but when the sun came out he didn't have to strip off  and carry any layers. He was even able to keep some of his layers on for a bit of apres ski dancing!!! Another benefit of Merino (especially untreated wool like Engel's) is that it doesn't get smelly. Merino wool reduces the opportunity for odours to develop because it absorbs sweat and evaporates it into the air. Unlike synthetic fabrics, wool doesn't retain odours and freshens up just with airing out. In addition, the outer layer of wool fibres have a high concentration of fatty acids, which have anti-bacterial properties. The inner layers of wool fibre  bind with acidic, basic and sulphurous odours that make up body odour.  Nick was able to wear all his gear even his pants for the entire week.

What Nick Wore

Pickapooh Balaclava The teen size fits Nick. He said it was brilliant. He normally hates balaclavas, but this was super soft, didn't itch and could be rolled up into a hat when the blizzard subsided. Wool Zip Fleece Super warm, soft and breathable. Great for skiing and everyday wear. Long Sleeved Merino Vest Soft, warm, breathable layer that doesn't ad bulk and its anti-bacterial properties mean it doesn't get smelly.  Nick wears one as a base layer in winter and for cycling. Men Wool Silk Long Johns Soft, warm, breathable and flexible. Again these are brilliant for cycling. Nick took some synthetic long johns with him so that he could compare them with wool. But after one day's wear he found them intolerably itchy and was pleased to be back to his woollies the following day. Wool pants There aren't many pants you can wear for a week. Comfy, soft flexible and warm. Great for running, skiing and cycling and other sports. Their breathability may even improve your fertility compared to synthetic cycle shorts. Lambs Wool and Alpaca sock These make brilliant ski socks. As they are very smooth and slide easily in the boot. Alpaca wool is even warmer than sheeps wool so they'll keep your feet super toasty.

My son slept through… for the first time

Posted Friday, November 30th, 2012 by Rachel King in sleeping
My little boy is 19 months old. He doesn't do sleeping through. Which means its a very long time since any of us had an undisturbed night of sleep. Many people, including me have said its a good job he's cute.

Luckily for me my husband is a saint and since I stopped feeding him in the night he's done the brunt of the night missions. But I still wonder if I had undisturbed sleep whether many of the daily mishaps could be avoided. Every night two or three times a night we hear plaintive cries of Mama, Dadda, and most of the time he is sitting or standing in the cot. If you don't go to him immediately (no chance to get warmly dressed) he gets worked up into a frenzy. Sometimes patting works, sometimes you've got to make the chilly trek to the fridge to get some milk and then you're really awake. What worked getting my daughter to sleep through hasn't worked for my son. We've tried most things, but at the end of the day he just loves cuddles. My neighbour wisely said you just need to work out why he's waking up in the first place. However, there seems to be no pattern. We've tried all combination of bed clothes. Cotton pyjamas, Baby grows, fleecy baby grows but still no luck.  Having heard all the claims of children sleeping through with Merino wool sleeping bags  I was going to buy him one. But he's not used to sleeping bags and cried "stuck, stuck" when I tried one.  Helen suggested Merino wool all-in-one-Pyjamas.

They are brilliant. A beautiful ruby red colour with a little  embroidered sheep. On the first night I dressed him in a merino wool/silk vest underneath and then the pyjamas on top. He then poured goats milk all over himself....  argh!!...  but it just brushed off without soaking in.  And so I learnt first-hand about wool's water-resistant qualities.  Another amazing thing about Merino is that although it has liquid repellent qualities, it can also absorb up to 35% of its own weight in liquid without feeling wet. Making it perfect for dribbly teething children! Anyway the best bit is that he slept all the way through - the first time ever!  What luxury for me to get rest until 6am... and my husband... and my little boy too. Whether it was the comfort, warmth or breathability of Merino I'm not sure but I cannot recommend Merino wool Pyjamas highly enough - so lovely, such relief for us all.

How to protect your wool and silk from clothes moths

Posted Wednesday, September 19th, 2012 by Helen East in fabric care

When you put your lovely wool and silk things away over Summer, you want to be sure that in the Autumn they're still looking and feeling soft and beautiful.

The main worry when storing wool clothes is...  Tineola Bisselliella, the clothes moth.  The common clothes moth, or wool moth, is on the increase in Britain and if you've found small holes in your woollen clothes, it's the likely culprit.


Wool moth larvae are hungry for your wool and will also enjoy silk, leather, cashmere, alpaca and any other natural fibre - sometimes even cotton.  Their favourite is grubby, sweaty, smelly natural fibres - these are like cake crumbs to an ant, or tasty cheddar to a mouse - irresistable!

So here are our top 5 natural tips for keeping the clothes moth at bay.  If you're reasonably organised, we guarantee these will work!  But if housekeeping is not your thing, scroll to the end...

Tip 1 - Expose your wool clothes to light

This is so simple, and really works!  Unlike most moths, clothes moths don't like light or fresh air.  So, shake out those jumpers, beat your carpets outside, hang out your wool blankets in the sun and brush them.

Hang your wool clothes in the sun

It's a fact that the clothes moth larvae will wriggle away from the sun - and if they can't escape, the larvae will drop off your clothes.  Marvellous.  And if you brush your clothing too, you brush off or damage the eggs and break the cycle again.


The life cycle of clothes moths is about 3 weeks, so I try and hang out our wool blankets and sheepskins every few weeks on the line.  This also refreshes them, and seems to keep them lovely and soft too.

Tip 2 - Hoover them up

Clothes moths are on the increase.  One reason that's been given is that, as a nation, our home cleaning habits leave a little to be desired.  Hoovering and cleaning just what you can see leaves nooks and crannies for moths to breed in - the corners of the cupboards, around the skirting boards, in the carpet under the chair...

Clothes moths like to be undisturbed to breed.  We need to disturb them!  So turn out your clothes drawers and cupboards, and hoover inside them, move chairs and chests of drawers and hoover under them.  And then throw away the hoover bag!

Tip 3 - Lavender and cedar balls

Bags of lavender and cedar balls are the most natural moth repellents.  On the plus side, they are non-toxic and easy to get hold of.  Cedar oil will kill young larvae (though not eggs, older larvae or moths) and lavender acts as a repellent.  The downside is that the lavender will need replacing - it needs to be fresh to be effective, and the same for the cedar balls too.

Clothes moths don't like cedar balls

You can use lavender oil as well as lavender flowers, and you can replenish the cedar oil from your cedar balls or blocks directly.  As cedar oil needs to be in sufficient concentrations to protect your woollens, ideally you need to keep susceptible  clothing in sealed chests or tubs to allow the concentrations to build up.

We've found pheromone moth traps work really well too.  They're impregnated with the female moth pheromone which entices the male moth, which then gets stuck in the gluey sticky trap.  They're pretty good for keeping numbers low, but won't eradicate an infestation.

Pheromone Clothes Moth Trap

Tip 4 - Store your woollens clean

I used to wait until I had "enough" wool clothing that needed washing to make up a wool wash.  Now I don't, because wool moths love undisturbed, grubby wool.   Your wool washing basket is their perfect home.

So, wash your wool, silk, cashmere, alpaca and all your finest fibres fairly soon after they go in the washing basket and the moths will be kept at bay.

If you can, dry in sunlight.

Always store your wool clothes over the Summer just after washing so that they're nice and clean.   Dry cleaning is very effective too, though very often not an eco-friendly option.

Tip 5 - Freeze the clothes moth out!

Sealing and freezing is our top tip for long-term storage.  Many of our customers recommend vacuum bags: launder your clothes first, bag them with lavender or cedar, and seal the bags for safe long-term storage.

"I wash our woolens and then store them clean in the freezer. They are such treasures, I don't mind sacrificing the space." - Alison

"And if you freeze them in ziplocks, then you can take them out and store them anywhere, bug-free!" - Jennifer

How long should you freeze them for?  Most sites say 3 days, some are more cautious and go for two weeks.  After this you can free up your freezer space again, knowing you'll have happy healthy woollens come the Autumn. Otherwise four days in the freezer is enough to kill any larvae that are left, guaranteeing you hole-free beauty come the Autumn.

Freezing is a safe, effective natural option to remove clothes moths.

Summary - to protect your wool from clothes moths, remember

  • Sun and air
  • Hoover and clean
  • Store with lavender and cedar
  • Use pheromone moth traps
  • Seal and freeze!

And if you're not so organised...

I'd still recommend moth traps (they last for months, which even I can manage to cope with) and I'd also recommend not waiting to wash your woollens.  A couple of jumpers and a pair of socks is a good wool wash!

But if you're not a natural 1950s home-maker, let's face it, however much you love gorgeous natural fabrics you probably won't replenish the lavender, and vacuum bags just drive you mad.  Airing jumpers every three weeks or hanging out wool blankets is just not going to happen - and as for hoovering cupboards... honestly!  What an idea.

Moth balls are not a solution - they're often very toxic, generally smelly and their vapours can be carcinogenic.  Nice.  And chucking a few cedar balls in just isn't going to work.

Luckily there is a solution, though not a natural one.  Look into chemical paper strips - these are impregnated with modern chemical moth killers that are nowhere near as unpleasant as old-fashioned ones, and will kill off the larvae too.  You can even layer them touching your clothes, though you might prefer to protect your clothing from direct contact with paper.

And though this is not a natural solution, it's still better for you and for the environment to make your good quality clothing last!

Why is wool good for you?

Posted Friday, March 2nd, 2012 by Helen East in dressing your baby, our fabrics

Organic Merino Wool Baby Blanket by DisanaYou've probably noticed we use expresssions such as "breathable" and "regulates body temperature" a lot at Cambridge Baby.  Wool is naturally an amazingly clever fibre and here you can find out how and why.

I'm going to explain how wool can
  • breathe, absorbing water vapour from the body and releasing it into the atmosphere
  • dynamically respond to the environment
  • help regulate temperature
  • clean itself (oh yes!), and
  • repel rain (think: sheep).

The magic of wool

The magic of wool lies in its structure. Wool consists of three layers.
  • The inner layer or core is keratin, a moisture-loving protein that all animal hair has. It is designed to maintain a stable body temperature - to keep the body at a comfortable and stable 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.
  • A wool fibre's third layer, the top layer, is a filmy skin which keeps the rain out. Wool is quite water-resistant, as duffel-coat wearers and sheep can testify.
It gets even more amazing.

Wool breathes for youOrganic Merino Wool Hat by Disana

Now, the two outer layers of the wool fibre have tiny pores which allow moisture to pass through to the keratin core.  The keratin core can absorb this moisture.  So, if the temperature increases or the wearer becomes more active and begins to sweat, the moisture is wicked from the skin through the outer layers of the wool fibre into the central core. Then, your natural 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.

And wool is dynamic

Wool even does this breathing process "dynamically", which means it does it more when needed, and less when not needed.   It responds to the environment around it and does what's needed to the best of its ability. It's just the best thing, don't you think? No man-made fibre can equal this.

Looking after your woolOrganic Wool and Silk Baby Bodysuit

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 and dry away from direct heat. Because wool is self-cleaning, wool clothes that haven't been treated can be hung out on the line and "aired" and will start cleaning and de-smelling themselves. In the next blog articles, I'll explain more of the wonders of wool: how wool is also naturally antibacterial, how it absorbs water without feeling wet, why it's stretchy and easy to wear, why it's fire-resistant and more.