Product of the Month – January 2021
I have chosen to write about the Black Yak fair trade woolly jumper simply because I’m a new convert. Black Yak is a brand that people ask for by name. We have lost count of the number of people who see our Black Yak jumpers in the shop and stop to tell us how many years they’ve had theirs and that it’s still going strong. They have a fantastic reputation for being strong, long-lasting and really warm.
The truth is, I was avoiding them. Don’t get me wrong, I love how they look, and people always tell me how much they love theirs. Quite frankly, they do sound fabulous. The problem (or so I thought) is that they are 100% wool and I am extremely sensitive so I assumed they would be itchy and I’d never be able to wear one. But there was a particular one on our rail that kept catching my eye and I just had to give it a try.
The first time I tried the woolly jumper on it wasn’t nearly as itchy as I expected so I was pleasantly surprised. It was just the neck and cuffs I struggled with – the bits where my base layers didn’t cover. Digging deep into the depths of my wardrobe I found my answer. An old long-sleeved polo-neck top that I hadn’t worn in donkeys’ years. Put that on first with the jumper on top and surely I would be fine?
I was more than fine: I was over the moon. Chuffed to bits, as we say around here. The sleeves were long enough to keep the cuffs of the woolly jumper off my wrists, and the neck was high enough to allow me to keep my head attached to my body. I was grinning like my favourite Alice in Wonderland character and quickly decided to buy myself another so I could wear one while the other is being washed.
A few months on and I’m still feeling chuffed about it. I can go to work (when we’re not in lockdown) wearing one of my jumpers instead of a coat. Although there is heating in the market arcade, with the doors opening and closing every time someone comes in, goes out, or walks past, it can get a bit draughty. In previous years I’ve kept my coat on which was helpful in keeping me warm, but because it’s bulky it made me even clumsier than usual (and I’m usually very clumsy. Very clumsy and working in a gift shop. What can go wrong?) The jumper has a little less bulk and no big pompom-adorned pixie hood swishing about behind me like the one on my glorious coat. (My glorious coat is also of the Black Yak brand and is lined with soft fleece and incredibly warm and comfy, but that’s for another day.)
The jumper is the perfect length: long enough to keep my back covered when I’m sat down but not quite touching the seat, though I guess this depends on the wearer’s shape and size. The sleeves are neither tight nor baggy, and when pushed up they actually stay up which is perfect for those of us who prefer to wash the dishes by hand. The roll neck is high enough to keep chilly breezes out, but not high enough to touch my chin and my higher-necked base layer keeps the wool off my neck perfectly. I love the drop shoulders which are perfect for those of us with wide frames as they don’t cut into the armpits like some can and they also give the wearer a casual, relaxed look.
Washing the Black Yak Woolly Jumper
To wash the woolly jumper the care label instructs us to wash by hand in cold water. This is where I am glad we have a “hand wash” program on our washing machine. Woollen jumpers should not be tumble dried so I try to lay mine as flat as I can, which in our house means draping them carefully over an airer. Although a little less than ideal, this hasn’t caused me any issues so far. Once dry, I like to fold the jumper and keep it on a shelf rather than a coat hanger to help prevent stretching. Putting them on coat hangers has never caused a problem for Richard’s Black Yak jumpers, but if you have a shelf you might as well use it.
Who Made My Clothes?
A question that we are increasingly encouraged to ask is, “Who made my clothes?” Black Yak woolly jumpers are hand-crafted by happy knitters in Nepal. Working on a fair trade basis many knitters work from home, fitting the work around their family commitments, while others find working in a workshop is better. On top of paying a fair price, Black Yak also pays school fees for children of their producers. Health benefits are included in the package, plus occasional gifts of mobile phones, bicycles, or whatever is needed. Work is guaranteed throughout the year, including during pandemics!
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, many multi-national companies with rich shareholders quickly cancelled orders, leaving garment makers with nothing, and many were out of pocket. In high contrast, the caring people who import fair trade garments honoured their agreements, ensured orders were paid for, and they even helped finance adjustments required to allow work to be carried out safely. Black Yak are a member of the British Association for Fair Trade Shops and Suppliers.
Coupon Code (January 2021 only)
I promised you a coupon code! You can use this any time before 31st January 2021, 10pm (GMT), and it will knock a whopping 20% off all clothing and accessories in your basket. When you’re ready to check out, go to your basket and type JANSALE into the box that says “coupon code” then press return. The discount will show further down the page.
One little reminder – you do not need a PayPal account to buy from us. We use the PayPal checkout service to process card payments as this keeps all your data safely encrypted (nobody ever gets to see your card number). You can pay with your card without opening an PayPal account. The reason it says PayPal is simply because they want to advertise themselves wherever their service is.
Next week’s blog post will be Fair Trade News and we’ll be discussing the 10 principles of fair trade. It’s not just about money!
Take care of yourselves and each other and stay safe.
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