Picture a Lake District landscape and you may conjure up the image of a glittering lake backed by towering fells, with lovely Herdwick sheep dotted between the dry stone walls. This is the kind of scene that the founders of Cable and Blake, Rachel and Alice, fell in love with, and the iconic Herdwicks are the inspiration behind their beautiful fabrics.
December 2020 marks the third anniversary of Cable and Blake in Kendal who design, create and sell locally produced Herdwick fabrics that have been inspired by the surrounding Lake District landscape. We've partnered up to tell you a little bit about this wonderful local company: here it is in their own words.
A Passion for Herdwick Wool
When she moved to Cumbria from London, Alice, who is originally from France, fell in love with Herdwick sheep and began racking her brains for ways of using their thick, warm wool. Once sheared, this hardy fleece is often burned because it's undervalued, yet Alice was sure that there was a world of potential available in this natural resource. When she met Rachel, the two discovered their shared passion and the seed of an idea began to grow.
Whilst brining up her young family, Rachel retrained as an upholsterer and, when her three boys started school, opened her own business. From here the two partnered up, combining traditional skills and industries to develop the underappreciated Herdwick wool into a high quality, bespoke fabric. All of Cable and Blake's wool is sourced from local farms and woven on traditional hand looms, creating fabrics that hold a wealth of history and skill within every thread.
As well as bringing value to the local community, our unique designs and prints bring a modern twist to a Lake District heritage that stretches back for hundreds of years. We have collaborated with a number of local producers to create a range of products that can be purchased from our Kendal store or online via our website.
Though our shop had to close during lockdown, work continued behind the scenes. We've used the time to focus on some of the ‘back-office’ functions of the business like the website, the dreaded accounts, improving marketing collateral and many other things. As a very small team, we have to spread ourselves across the whole of the business from sourcing the yarn to weaving, dying, product creation, design, marketing, retailing, and so on. Though that means a lot of work, it also means that every single person in the business is fully involved in the process.
During the second lockdown, even more has been achieved: we created a sample book of our amazing Herdwick fabrics, including the 13 vibrant Lake District-based colour ways, which is now available to businesses. We also finalised exciting plans to move to a new, larger and improved shop just two doors down from our former place on Highgate in Kendal!
We are excited that a collaboration between the local creative businesses is now available. ‘Petal. Wool. Print’ is, we believe, an industry first. It gives brides a new way to preserve their wedding bouquets by turning them into a beautiful keepsake. A selection of foliage and flowers are steamed onto our Herdwick fabric, leaving a dye that makes a beautiful, unique botanical print. The fabric can be used, for example, for a wall-hanging or a cover for a cushion, lampshade or footstool. We are delighted to be working with Green House Floristry and Deborah Dawn (botanical eco printing) on this unique offering.
The last piece of good news is that we are nearing completion on a new range of prints for our Herdwick fabric. We have been working with an incredibly talented young designer, Izzie Castle, from Lancaster and are really looking forward to sharing the designs. Izzie has got an innate talent and has been able to get a meaningful understanding of what Cable and Blake is all about.
The Future is Local
Sadly, our co-founder and friend Alice passed away earlier this year, and is greatly missed by the whole team. But her legacy lives on in the beautiful creations that she helped bring to life.
Looking forward, we are keen to expand our work on our beautiful, hardwearing (50k Martindale Rub Test) Herdwick fabrics for use in upholstery and soft furnishings. That said, we will always maintain our showroom and shop in Kendal as that provides a great way of meeting fans of all things Herdwick, and to promote our ever-increasing Herdwick product range. We are enormously proud that pretty much everything we sell is produced in the the counties neighbouring our home and business: Cumbria, Yorkshire and Lancashire. Now that's a Northern Powerhouse!
Find out more:
This is a guest blog written by Rachel Cable of Cable and Blake. Find out more and visit the online shop on their website, or pop into their new shop on Highgate, Kendal.