Being Proud

Sometimes, on busy mornings when you’re throwing clothes in the vague direction of children in the hope that they will get dressed so that you can actually leave the house,  the issue of where their clothes are made seems about as insignificant and irrelevant as what David Beckham is having for breakfast, or something (apologies if you are obsessed with the oh-so-pretty footballing one, but you know what I mean. ) And then sometimes, something happens that makes you think about it. On Tuesday, 264 people died in a fire at a garment factory in Karachi, Pakistan. There were no fire escapes and the windows had bars over them. The workers inside had no hope of escaping.

The clothing industry in Britain and the West depends heavily on these kinds of factories churning out cheap garments, with workers treated badly and paid terrible wages. And all so that we can buy cheap clothes again and again. Countries like Pakistan need the income, and the issue is not about taking work from them, but ensuring that the people who make our clothes are treated like human beings.

We work with a t-shirt supplier who believes in offering workers a clean, healthy and safe work environment, fair wages, reasonable working hours and overtime pay, paid maternity leave and on-site health clinics run by health professionals. These are conditions that we all take for granted in the UK, but sadly are the exception in some parts of the world.  If you buy a t-shirt from us, you know that it was produced in a factory where workers were treated as we would want to be treated. Fairly.

This is what they say about their Well Made Clothing.

“To us, Well Made Clothing is about having
the best possible design, materials and details
on a piece of clothing that will be cherished
for years. It’s about getting that perfect feel and fit.
It’s about recognizing that there’s a lifecycle for
every garment we make and that each part of that
garment’s journey – from design to manufacture to
delivery and beyond – is an opportunity to benefit
everyone involved.
For us it’s about using the processes of
manufacturing cotton-based garments to have
a positive impact on the communities and on the
environment in which we work.
Crop care, water management and fair wages
in Tanzania or Pakistan may seem a million miles
away from a cool boutique in New York or a large
print factory in London but to us they’re all firmly
interlinked. ”

We’re really proud to work with people who feel like that.

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Armadilli.

I’ve always had a soft spot for armadillos (armadilli?? – please let this be the plural!), ever since my mum and dad used to read me and my sister a book called ‘But not the Hippopotamus’ – you can read an excellent summary of the book on this lovely blog here- it’s a classic, basically, and every page ends with the phrase  ‘but not the armadillo’. Long after we had forgotten the story, we still chanted ‘but not the armadillo’ at random intervals throughout childhood. You can imagine my delight (well, you can if you like, that’s not mandatory,) when I discovered a book for children called Milo Armadillo, featuring a knitted armadillo who has an inferiority complex because he is not the pink rabbit his owner had been dreaming of.  Ah, we’ve all been there, or thereabouts.

Anyway, I fell in love with the book partly because it is a lovely story, partly because I love the illustrations, and partly because you can get the knitting pattern. That’s right, you can make your very own Milo. Or, if like me, you need a knitted armadillo in your life – one of those unfulfilled desires you never realized you had – but you cannot knit to save your life, you ask someone to knit one for you.

Here’s the pattern for anyone handy with the needles and an armadillo-shaped hole in their life:  Milo

The other knitted thing I require from a book is the boy’s bobble hat from Oliver Jeffers’ masterpiece ‘Lost and Found’.
Anyone feeling a bobble-hat project coming on??

What I did on my Summer Holidays. Part II.

This is my new bike. Well, I say it is mine, it’s far too small, and actually intended for Polly, but ever since Richard rescued a vintage racing bike from a tip, and totally fell in love with it, I have been inspired to find beauty in old bikes. (I’m not in competition with a 1980’s racing bike, or anything…luckily, as I’m not sure I’d be winning. He took photos of it with him on holiday !!)  The bike was at our favourite recycling spot/second-hand emporium/tea shop venue, the Emmaus Village, Carlton.  It was £10. And it reminded me of being 7. We got halfway down the road from Emmaus before I decided that we HAD to go back for it. Bikes are lovely. Bikes mean freedom, and adventure – even if it’s just going to the park under your own steam. And this particular one seems to be shouting ‘put streamers on my handlebars!!’ Or is that just me??

It is funny, the things that inspire you. Last week, spending some quality raining/reading/beaching time in Devon and Dorset, I tried to hoover up as many lovely ideas as possible. New prints and new opportunities are stacking up for Autumn (season of mist, mellow fruitfulness and a happy return to production for S&A.) Autumn is actually my favourite season. It smells like bonfires, hotdogs and new school shoes. It sounds like Nick Drake. It very rarely gives you sunburn and it all looks very pretty. Seeing as I am a total stationery geek, the whole ‘back to school’ thing particularly appeals as well.

Here’s the top 5 things that have been trending in my scrapbook (yes, I actually keep one! I love it.  Cutting and sticking isn’t just for kids, don’tcha know.)

*Dinosaurs. We visited the fabulous DinosaurLand museum in Lyme Regis. Awesome. None of your hi-tech animatronic dinosaurs, more like plastic models of dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs, with lots of fake red blood everywhere. Loads of fossils and bones, and an impossible quiz sheet. Or, if you prefer more recent natural history, another room of stuffed animals with wildcats eating chickens. I kid you not – this was small boy heaven! And I know it was cool, because I bumped into Louisa from Luscious Juice Bar in there!! (From Lime Street to Lyme Regis…I like her thinking!) Polly drew some dinosaurs. We are currently in talks about her design-rights fees.

*Fantastic Mr Fox. The world has gone a bit fox mad recently, they are popping their little pointy faces up everywhere. Hopefully our own fox design t’shirts will appear very soon, but in the meantime I managed to watch the recent film of the Roald Dahl classic. It is quite breathtakingly good.

*Excellent toy shops. We stopped for a veggie/vegan lunch in Glastonbury on one of the more torturous journeys home from Devon we’ve had in recent years. The children had some holiday money to burn, so we nipped in to the Little Imp Toyshop (you have to love the place names in Glastonbury. The Cat and Cauldron, Heaven in Avalon, Look at my crazy shoes.com – it’s like Harry Potter, only with more incence sticks. ) Our own little imps were delighted, and once we had purchased a magnetic monkey and some actual fairy dust, (quality varies, I’ll have you know. This was good stuff,)  the lady told us her website offers free UK delivery! Just a pre-Christmas-nonsense tip there. I loved their stacking cups made from recycled milk containers!

*The H&M childrens’ homeware collection. It’s properly gorgey. I don’t know about anyone else, but I’ve had enough of pink flowery cutesy designs and football/car designs for kids. Neon wolves and grey and black stars are soooo refreshing. I suddenly feel the urge to buy multiple duvet covers. Oh dear.

 

*Fabulous places to take kids for brunch. Brunch is quite obviously the new afternoon tea.  (Though they are not competing for the same time slot. Soon I think, we will cut out traditional mealtimes all together, and have brunch, followed by afternoon tea, followed by a massive midnight feast, or something. I can’t say I’m against such proposals…) And there are a few places I’ve been over the summer that manage to pull off that enviable double-whammy of being both child-friendly, and design-conscious. And they support small local suppliers. Firstly, obviously, Fancy in Bedford. Famous for their sticky ginger cake and chocolate brownies, the savoury stuff is every bit as amazing. Try the bagel with onion chutney and cheese. 10.30 am perfection.

The other place in Bedford that I went to and loved was the Ground Floor Coffee Shop, based in the old Crayola Building off Ampthill Road. You can read my review of it in the marvellous September edition of the Bedford Clanger (and check out the brilliant  Photo a Day entries while you’re at it!) Quite simply, this place rocks. You can park your bikes or car right outside, there is plenty of space for any necessary running about, and they do magnificent brunches. Oh, and the vintage typewriter didn’t go unnoticed either…

And then The Town Mill Bakery in Lyme Regis is something very special indeed. With long benches and a help-yourself policy, it has that chilled-out, unfussy vibe that makes it suitable for wriggly kids; and the food is perfection. Freshly made pizza, bread, cakes, muesli, and locally made apple juice are all just waiting for you – cups hang on hooks above the tables – no agonizing wait for hungry post-beach breakfasts, or lunches, or teas…and it’s not even expensive. We went twice. I would have started camping outside, but that’s for next year’s plan for fun…