Juniper and Bliss
Who would have thought that woollen baby blankets hand-dyed with daffodil heads could be so beguiling?
‘These days this is what luxury is all about,’ says Yasmin Hossain of Juniper and Bliss, producers of the Baby Bliss blankets, part of a range of products for the home using natural plant based dyes. ‘Everything is so speeded up, it is an indulgence to savour products lovingly made by hand with natural ingredients. It is all about patience.’
J & B have captured the zeitgeist. ‘It is a sustainable zero waste brand without a chemical in sight, with a light environmental footprint.’
Here at Doddington Place Gardens we are delighted that dye made with spent daffodil heads is so attractive. Instead of chucking all our tired old daff flowers on the compost heap, they are off to Yasmin to be harvested. It is a mutually beneficial arrangement.
Yasmin, who has a background in fine embroidery and design, in the past worked for many well-known brands including Beaumont & Fletcher and Agent Provocateur. She set up J&B, an Anglo-Belgian enterprise, in 2017 with her Belgian business partner, Katy Castiau. The organic textiles are produced by artisanal co-operatives in India and the manufacturing is executed by a Belgian atelier protégé employing 40% mute and deaf people.
Some products such as Kind Blankets are made in-house in Kent, where Yasmin is based. The eco-printing for the Everyday Dress and Eco-print pillows is also in-house. ‘We work with artisans and co-operatives in India, Scotland, Finland and Italy, wherever we find like minded partners to collaborate with.’
Recently she has been experimenting with dahlia heads. What flower will her beady dying eye alight on next, one wonders? The possibilities are endless. She can’t pass a bush without looking at what she can sustainably rob. She shows me small knitted squares of wool dyed with a whole host of different plants. A purist through and through, she even uses water from a natural spring in Oare just outside Faversham for her dye recipes. Friends and local restaurants such as the Goods Shed in Canterbury and The Yard in Faversham keep avocado skins for her. To learn her techniques, do watch a YouTube video ‘DIY Plant Dyes From Your Garden by the Mid-Sized Garden.’ And sign up to their instagram account to see the full range of glorious colours that can be achieved with natural dyes @juniperandbliss.
The baby blankets are knitted in garter stitch ‘as your grandmother would have knitted,’ using luxuriously soft Blue Faced Leicester wool by a network of knitters in Faversham, Kent. ‘It is a very springy and bouncy wool.’ They are totally organic and an unusual medley of colours (the pink is made with avocado skins and stones).
Organic plant-based dyes produce harmonious subtle ranges of hues as can be seen in J & B’s scarves. These cotton scarves, handwoven by master weavers in India, are dyed in a plant dyers’ co-operative with indigenous Indian plants including sandalwood, vetiver, basil and neem. Each batch is subtly different depending on the dye bath.
J & B’s bedlinen is exquisitely soft organic cotton handwoven in Gujarat, stonewashed seven times to ensure the compelling softness. Aloe is used to enhance the whiteness. If white isn’t your bag, Yasmin also collaborates with the renowned natural dye supremo and indigo artist, Betty de Paris. Once you have touched a sheet, you will want to order a set of bed linen immediately.
‘They are good for the skin,’ says Yasmin. ‘We believe in the importance of connecting to the restorative power of nature when we sleep and recuperate.’ They have the additional advantage of not requiring ironing. The only caveat is that they must be washed with an eco-friendly washing powder.
Watch this space: Juniper and Bliss is bound to be successful.