When we came across Blue Faced Leicester we knew at once that this was Mr Right. He ticked all our boxes, he was local, eco-friendly, amazingly warm, super soft with a gentle touch! He was perfect for slow living and Baby Bliss was only a matter of time!
Blue Faced Leicester sheep
The Wool & The Water
Inevitably, our first offering to the sustainable and naturally dyed Baby Bliss rage is the Bliss Blanket. It is hand knitted in England using super soft aran weight English Blue Faced Leicester wool, dyed with flowers and rinsed in pure Spring water from the Oare Marshes in East Kent.
Oare Marshes in east Kent
During the year long gestation we found many helpers and friends and the seasons flew by. What we had originally thought would be a patient task became a labour of love.
We fell for the wonderful Blue Faced Leicester for its fine fleece with a micron count of 24-28 microns, it’s lustrous shine and excellent drape, absolutely perfect for baby.
Counting Sheep by Philip Walling
The Blue Faced Leicester, an ancient British breed that has evolved from the 1750s breeding schemes, gets its name from its blueish black face which is scantly covered with white hairs. Known for being great personalities, inquisitive and friendly, the ewes are renowned as exceptionally protective mothers! We could not ask for more.
Natural spring at the bird sanctuary in Oare Marshes, East Kent
Foraging & Gathering
We wanted the blanket to be special for babies born in any season. So we collected dye stuff right round the year. The invitation from Amicia de Moubray to "take what we need" from Doddington Place Gardens, with its abundance of dye plants, opened up the wonderful world of an Edwardian historic garden; a truly pleasurable part of this story.
Collecting daffodils among wild anemones and primroses
Daffodils on the grounds of Doddington Place Gardens
Dried Daffodils in a copper pot
In spring we filled our baskets with daffodils growing among wild anemones beneath budding branches and in dappled woodlands.
Dahlias in the ghost garden at Doddington Place Gardens
In late Summer the head gardener’s messages had us rushing to the potting shed to pickup the dahlias she had collected from the herbaceous borders of the sunken garden or the dreamy silvery Edwardian ghost garden.
Lucy Adams, head gardener at Doddington Place Gardens
Dahlias in September
In Winter the organic restaurants and food market of The Goods Shed in Canterbury and The Yard in Faversham saved their avocado skins and stones to produce these wonderful shades of pinks in our dye pot.
Blue Faced Leicester dyed with Avocado
So bit by bit, by the end of the year, with the goodwill and help of our friends, we had collected enough fruits and flowers to dye the yarn and start knitting!
Blue Faced Leicester swatches dyed with Daffodils, Dahlias and Avocados
Sustainable & Local
Having looked into the effects of dye effluent on the soil, we took the decision not use any chemical or mineral additives like iron and copper in our practice as these are harmful to the soil. Instead, we follow an environmentally friendly and organic, albeit lengthy process to extract pigment. This way we can be sure that what we make is genuinely environmentally friendly and sustainable throughout the chain, from foraging to making.
The pastoral provenance of wool from the sheep in the dales, spring water from the marshes on the flight path of migratory birds, flowers from elegant herbaceous borders, coupled with a community of local knitters were all the ingredients we needed to launch our sustainable baby range. It is pure and simple.
Baby Bliss Blankets with different dye batches
And then it was time to put it to the test.
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