New organic cotton fabrics, organic pillows, and chocolate, always chocolate.
First of all, woohoo, we've added bunches of new fabrics including a fabulous new safari print. Check them all out. (Oh, and new yarns, including the best deal imaginable on bulk merino yarn, and pretty single-needle silk cases to go with our Ultimate Silk Knitting Needle Cases.)
Secondly, I've been thinking about sleep a lot lately. We've had many customer questions about pillow making, and I've had to admit that I haven't had the time or inclination to make my own pillows since children entered my life lo those many years ago. I know a lot about the concept and I've worked with a good many people who've made pillows, but making my own? Not a chance. My sewing time is dedicated to other projects these days, and I don't see that changing anytime soon. But many of our customers are more dedicated than I, and others are in the same boat as I am, and it's to all of you that I dedicate this entry. :)
The last time I bought pillows for my own personal use was, as they say, :mumble: years ago, inspired by a trip we took to Japan where I fell in love with the combined buckwheat and wool pillows. I couldn't find any once we returned to the states (and couldn't afford any in Japan), so purchased two organic buckwheat pillows from Many Moons Alternatives, (who now offer a glorious pillow covered with our Doodle fabric -- I wish they'd had it way back when!). We also have a melange of organic cotton and organic wool pillows around our house, all at least six years old and all suffering from various amounts of compaction. The buckwheat pillows have suffered much less than the cotton and wool ones thus far; of course, that could also be because they're MINE and the others shuffle among everybody else in the family and any unfortunate guests we may have. (The "newer" pillows we have we've purchased out of pity for visitors, but they soon get thrown into rotation with the rest of the bunch.)
In our quest for better sleep, adding the Luxurious Wool Pile to our bed made a big difference ... what would happen if we tried new pillows too? As I frequently do when going shopping, I started with the Co-Op America Green Pages, and the Co-Op America Business Network email list, because they're always a good starting point. On the CABN email list, I made the acquaintance of a man named Matt Harrigan, the inventor of the Green Pea Pillow.
If your average conventional pillow -- even your average "nice" pillow, the kind you'd find in those hotels that make a big deal about their oh-so-special bed setups -- is a handful of M&Ms, the Green Pea Pillow is a few deep roasted caramelized almonds double-dipped in dark chocolate. * Notice, please, that I'm not saying there's anything wrong with M&Ms (well, okay, besides the minor details of multi-national companies, and high fructose corn syrup, and nonorganicness, and food coloring, and annoying commercial jingles that still won't leave my head after 20 years of not having heard them, and and and... but you know what I mean), or that those particular chocolate-covered almonds are right for everyone. Like deep dark chocolate, intense and full of very strong strong flavor, the Green Pea Pillow isn't for everyone, but those it is right for just might fall in love. Indeed, Willie says it's like sleeping on marbles; he threw it at me in disgust after just one night and went back to his well-worn organic wool pillow. You don't want that pillow thrown at you, either -- it could be a weapon, with eleven pounds of dried organic green peas in it!
I've always loved dark chocolate, though, and loved this pillow too. What can I say, I was an angst-ridden teenager; isn't loving dark chocolate a prerogative? I found the Green Pea Pillow very comfortable; it molds to my head very nicely and was supportive of all the wacky positions in which I manage to sleep. Possibly because I have headaches regularly, I appreciated that the pillow tends to remain cool and that the peas seem to gently massage or press acupressure-like against different points of my head. I want to sew a new pillowcase, though, out of Hemp/Silk Charmeuse to keep it cooler still, instead of the organic cotton case it comes with. One thing that struck me about the Green Pea Pillow is that it's clear that Matt hasn't put a whole lot of work into the marketing and sales side of things thus far; the website still has some typos, the pillow wasn't packaged beautifully and didn't come with a fancy 3000-color brochure, and the like. Instead he's concentrated on the basics -- making a high-quality product in an ethical manner. It was very difficult for me to give up my test pillow for a few days to let other people try it, but I had to do so in the interests of science. It's possible that the green pea pillow is simply the next step in my pillow continuum -- from polyfill to down to buckwheat to peas? My husband's convinced I'll sleep on bricks next, while Winnie's betting on a pillow like King Tut's. (I have to point out, though, that my husband, who has always thought that buckwheat pillows are incredibly uncomfortable and who will only sleep on fluffy wool, actually really liked the Green Pea Pillow; he tried to fight me for it, but then thought better of the idea.)
Winnie couldn't sleep on the Green Pea Pillow at all, but appreciated it for propping herself up to watch movies or use her laptop and said it kept her neck cool; she very much preferred to sleep on the Organic Rejuvenation Pillow in millet from Serenity Pillows. Winnie slept on the same down pillow for probably twenty years, before leaving it in a hotel room (and oh, she was NOT fun to be around after doing so); where I want a firm pillow with lots of support and moldability, she needs a soft and comfortable pillow that can be broken in, pushed and mushed around, and give her support with a side of malleability. This pillow seems perfect for her; the wool's softness combines with the millet hulls' support to make for a much pleasanter person the next morning. In the interest of full disclosure, Winnie did remove a fair amount of the millet hulls from the pillow before getting the perfect feel; that's why there's a zipper, so people can customize their perfect pillows! (She's now going to make eye pillows with the extra millet hulls and our Topaz Hemp/Silk Charmeuse. ) The pillow was beautifully made and incredibly packaged -- it would make a good gift, if you know someone whose mood might be improved a bit by a better night's sleep. I'm looking forward to seeing the Neck Relief pillow as well, as it's a very unique concept that might be just what my husband needs (since I'm not letting him keep my Green Pea pillow), and I thought their Woolies organic wool pillow looked absolutely fascinating and might solve the compaction problem that we've had with wool pillows at our house thus far. On the chocolate spectrum, I'd class the Serenity Rejuvenation Pillow as a box of Lillie Belle Farms Lavender Fleur du Sel Caramels -- not my favorite candy, but amazingly incredibly good according to people who like lavender in their caramels.
In Santa Fe, we're lucky enough to house Sachi Organics, the brainchild of Lois Hamamoto, an amazing woman whose mission is:
To create products that provide satisfaction and joy and to develop markets for such products that sustain and enrich this planet and the peoples who inhabit it.
We at Sachi Organics believe we have quietly and creatively learned to communicate the joy of life through our products and the way we run our businesses. We hope you agree.
Can you imagine a better mission statement than that? I love it. I love their pillows, too, especially the Organic Buckwheat Hull Cylinder Neck Pillow. Like my mother I have to travel with a pillow (It's so disturbing to be turning into my mother ... and oh my goodness, it'll be even worse to be turning into my grandmother, if that ever happens!), and this is the perfect size to take on trips. It fits up against the car window, it stuffs in suitcases, it cuddles under my neck when I'm actually sleeping on a bed ... Sachi Organics' products feel good too. It's obvious that they're made with care for the earth, for the people who are making them, and for the people who will be using them. And on the chocolate spectrum? Sachi Organics would have to be the Sweet Earth Zebra Mints -- I've hardly met anyone who doesn't like them, and they're great for traveling.
So that's for the people who want to buy a pillow ... what about the people who want to make their own? First of all, writing this blog post has reminded me that I really do want to make my poor children new pillows of their very own -- and to their specifications. I know pillows are easy to make, and I've made them before ... just not, as I've said, recently. I need to do so, and I'm now resolved to have new pillows made by the end of the month. (See how I slyly wait until the beginning of the month to come to that conclusion, so I have three whole weeks to do so in?)
My older kiddo's asked for a buckwheat hull pillow, not too big but stuffed quite full, with a couple different pillowcases to choose from depending on mood: Silent Stumps and Desert Safari. Since I won't want the buckwheat hulls to poke out, I'll choose a bit heavier of a fabric for the pillow material, probably a canvas or twill. That should be easy enough. A local "natural grocers" sells organic buckwheat hulls in the bodycare section (go figure), so they're easy enough to find; I may add some lavender flowers or peppermint to encourage better sleep and sweet dreams.
My younger child's a bit more complicated, small surprise there. :) He wants wool and buckwheat together, so I'll have to figure out the details of doing so. Not at all impossible, just something that will involve a bit more thought in terms of proportions and the like. He also wants multiple pillowcases; he wants Orange Surrender (which he's always liked because it's so bright), Let It Grow, and Enchanted Forest. I figure I'm lucky I talked them down to multiple pillowcases from multiple pillows and multiple bed sets, so I can't complain too much there, and it's not like I don't know where we can get some gorgeous organic fabric.
*I feel the need to mention here that I had Intemperantia's chocolate-covered almonds once, more than two years ago, and haven't been able to get them out of my mind. At $17.60 for 1/3 of a pound of, and I quote, "100% organic chocolate covered almonds dusted with cocoa powder and 65% cocoa density," this would be an expensive addiction. However, should anyone from Intemperantia wish to send me some in thanks for this plug or to wish me a happy spring, or should anyone else wish to send me some in recognition of my charm and winning personality, I would most probably not say no. Indeed, chances are I would jump up and down gleefully and then begin savoring each and every one. I mean, uh, sharing them generously with friends, co-workers, and random strangers who I pass in the hall. Yeah, that.