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Thursday, 24 November 2016

Ethical Brand Sundried: Review & Discount Code plus free Water Bottle

What is Sundried?

Ethical brand Sundried describes itself as selling 'premium ethical activewear'. You can shop here, using code FITPIXIE for a really generous discount, plus free water bottle (worth £10) until the end of November.

Sundried comes recommended by athletes, personal trainers, by the press (and now me!). When a brand comes this highly recommended there is a lot for it to live up to. I've checked out what's on offer:

information and image belong to

The Products:

This was the outfit I chose from Sundried: the Breithorn Bra, Ruinette Tight and Tour Noir Tank.

image from

image from

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Both bra and leggings are just available in the one colour, and although the tank also comes in white I again opted for black- it's always safer with a brand that's new to you as it doesn't show sweat or become transparent (although I don't think I really needed to worry in this case).

Their range is quite small meaning that there is not a huge choice, but I think this is a smart move, as we all need good basics which perform well. The classic style choices mean that these can easily become workout wardrobe staples- good for any workout in any situation, and worn with any other brands if you want to mix and match. It can be exciting to look for next season's freshest colours and most dynamic prints, but actually when you are shopping for gym wear that will last a few seasons then basic block colours are a much smarter option. They are also pretty classy!

Their designers have also come up with products which evoke serious training. I love that the women's range is every bit as powerful-looking as the men's, and apart from the sexy cut-away in back off the the top, nothing is overly feminized. I like this partly because of my personal tastes, but also because I wear sportswear to work, and whilst sometimes I like to have some fun with it, other times I want to look like I mean business.

First Impressions:

My Sundried products oozed quality. They felt substantial and well-made, and a brief check of the finishing techniques confirmed this. 

A quick try-on also showed that they were sleek and elegant, with fantastic attention to detail: see for example the draw string on the leggings- a lovely and useful touch, but also unobtrusive, plus the flattering contour lines which run down the legs are also reflective.

The fit is good, and I didn't feel like I'd have to be adjusting things as I began to move. I really like a racer-back top, so this one ticks those boxes. I am short waisted, and so the cut-away on the back of the top sits quite low on me, but that's not a disaster. 

If you're bold enough to wear just a bra top in the gym then this one would be ideal- it's completely opaque and fits nice and snug, and a brilliant energetic red.

image from

Putting Sundried to the Test:

When you're teaching the last thing you want to be doing is worrying about your clothing and having to adjust things, especially as your class participants are all watching you, all the time. 

Happily, everything stayed in place and continued to feel comfortable through my workout. Sweat didn't show on the black fabric, and I'm pleased to report the leggings are completely opaque (I have a trusted method for checking this!). 

As the Sundried fabric seems a little bit thicker than some other brands, it did feel the tiniest bit hotter than some other sportswear, but I'll take the quality and security of more substantial clothing than cheaper pieces anyday. 

Sundried seems to be a no-nonsense brand that isn't really about looking good at the gym, it's about knocking out those reps. You will look amazing in Sundried, but that's a by-product. 

information and image from

Ethical Credentials:

Or, why should you buy Sundried?

Here's what Sundried have to say about their fabrics:

"We want our fabrics to work towards a better impact on the environment and do this by producing our fabrics in Portugal with the mitigation of harmful substances, pollution and other environmental hazards. We are audited by The Low Carbon Innovation Fund to ensure we minimise the carbon footprint throughout the full lifecycle of our clothing through its design, manufacture, distribution, use and disposal"

That's pretty impressive- it's great to find actual specific information, rather than the bland positive statements you can see on some 'ethical' brand websites. I'll be returning my Sundried products to them for recycling when they (eventually) wear out. 

And here's part of what they say about their ethos:

"We believe you cannot be a health and fitness brand without promoting health throughout your company, from production to purpose. Sundried’s factories are based in Portugal where our staff are paid fairly and respected. We take pride in our partnership with Portugal which allows us to bring our products to you"

You can read much more about this here- it's well worth a click. They also donate to Water for Kids

They are pretty impressive ethical credentials! 

Price & Value:

Shopping ethically usually costs a little more, and that is probably true of Sundried, depending on where you shop (there are plenty of regular sports brands who are more expensive). However, from a quick glance through the online market in activewear it is clear that they are not at the top end of the pricing. 

Price, though, is different to value. Given the quality of these fantastic products, and the ethical policies of Sundried, I would say that it is well worth investing in these items which benefit from being classically styled and of superior quality. 

Once you have taken advantage of my generous FITPIXIE discount, the prices look even more manageable. 

Any downsides...?

For performance, style, and quality my Sundried products score pretty highly, but are there any downsides?

Packaging...? My items came in beautiful zipped pouches. These are lovely quality and definitely add to the feeling of luxury. They may be useful for storing damp clothing in for travelling perhaps, or keeping delicates away from other items in a hold-all, but apart from that they seem a little superfluous. I'd rather not have these in future so it would be nice to be able to opt out.  

In Conclusion:

From my experience putting Sundried to the test, I would thoroughly recommend them for great gym basics that you can feel good about. Their ethical policies do them credit, and their well-designed pieces function well. 

Don't forget you can shop with this special discount code: FITPIXIE

Is it just me... ... ...?

I'd just like to add one thought as a little post scriptum: these black designs with a touch of red take me back (courtesy of The Language of Things by Deyan Sudjic, p66) via the original Golf GTI to the Walther PPK handgun. Powerful imagery indeed! Whether we consciously know it or not, we respond to the designs around us with all sorts of intrinsic and learned responses, which I am sure the Sundried design team were well aware of when they chose black with red accents for their serious,  no-nonsense designs, meant I am sure to inspire us to respect our bodies as astonishing pieces of engineering, and to be the strongest, most efficient athletes we can be. So, if you thought the Ruinette was just another pair of black leggings, perhaps think again?

Friday, 11 November 2016

Thoughts on a Yoga Weekend (plus discount code)

I'm thrilled that I've recently begun my Yoga teacher-training. This feels like an achievement in itself, as there are so many providers out there that it's difficult to know what course to enrol on- what will give you the right tools to be the best teacher you can be? 

This is me fired-up for my first day of intensive face-to-face teaching in my Tibetan-orange top, from Asquith (N.B. Discount Code at Asquith for you is FITPIXIE20). I felt like I ticked all the right boxes for a thoughtful outfit, but how would I fare when it came to being a thoughtful student? 

asquith london
Use code FITPIXIE20 at Asquith xx

I was a little nervous- I hadn't completed all of the pre-course study (there's a lot of it!), I haven't been doing yoga for the recommended 5 years, I don't yet know all the Sanskrit terminology, and there's not a single asana in my yoga repertoire which I don't want to improve... 

But, I needn't have worried: all of us students seemed to be feeling the same way, but the best part was when we started the first morning not with introductions, but with yoga. That was Liz (the tutor)'s ingenious way of putting us all into the right frame of mind.

yoga studies
Just Some Entry-level Reading!

Of course, over the intensive weekend there was far too much to take on board for me to summarise here, but here are the key things I've taken away from my weekend: 

1) I know nothing. This is said not in self-deprecation, but because I feel the way for me to get the best out of my studies is to acknowledge the huge gaps in my understanding. This statement becomes a permission to ask the obvious questions, and to be open to the answers. 

2) Being good at yoga and being a good teacher of yoga are two entirely different things. This is also a pretty obvious and yet entirely liberating thought. Of course you have, as a teacher, to know what you're talking about, but you don't have to always be the best in the room at getting into the splits- or whatever it might be. Your rôle is to inform and guide your class through their own practice: it's about them.

3) It's my interpretation that a lot of what people teach in classes called 'Yoga' is not yoga (I can hear you gasping at the controversy here!). Do you have thoughts on this? I'd love to hear them, so leave me a comment if you want to weigh in! 

yoga teacher training
Namaste Kitty

And one further thought: I'm learning to trust the process. So, when Her Furriness decides it not study time for me by sitting on my book, then that's OK!

Namaste xx

Saturday, 22 October 2016

Sportswear Fabrics Explored

Here's quick follow-up from my last post (about being turned onto the wonders of merino), exploring a few of the other more-sustainable fibres available for sportswear. Bamboo is quite popular, but there more alternatives:

The Good Fabric Guys

1: Tencel (Lyocell): can be made from a variety of wood fibres. Suppliers like EKO (Earth Kind Originals) use eucalyptus tencel for their T's, leggings, and vest tops. This is a soft, absorbent fabric which is very strong when wet or dry, and the process used to make eucalyptus tencel fabric is relatively low-impact as it is done in a 'closed-loop' way, with any chemicals being recycled. It is also biodegradable. Eucalyptus is fast growing, and can be really beneficial to an environment (e.g. can be used to drain swamps and therefore prevent malaria). I thoroughly recommend EKO garments, especially their simple T's and vests, as they are super soft and really comfortable, allowing for great freedom of movement when doing anything active. They also retain their shape when washing, and a good proportion of their manufacturing is done here in the UK. See here for more on EKO.
Photo Credit: Earth Kind Originals

2: Recycled polyester: companies like My Mantra Active do stock a range of leggings and swimwear made from recycled polyester. I bought a pair of leggings and am pleased to report that they are soft and comfortable, and have washed well. They are not too hot for intensive workouts. It seems there is more choice in recycled polyester garments if you live in the US or Australia, but I am hoping we Brits will catch up on this sometime soon. Most local councils and some charities provide clothing banks where you can donate old polyester for recycling- I have a few wrecked workout outfits which are heading that way! The good news is that polyester can be endlessly recycled. 

recycled polyester leggings
Recycled Polyester Leggings from My Mantra Active

3: Coffee. Yes really. We Are Star Seeds are developing fabrics made from coffee fibres, and which are designed for being active in. Although disappointingly there doesn't seem to be anything made from coffee on sale quite yet, I'm sure it will be available soon, and as I find that quite exciting I will be checking in regularly on their website. Great to see exciting new plant-based fibres being developed like this! 

The Not-so-good Guys

Some other sportswear fibres explored: 

I often see sportswear made from modal. This is a manmade fibre classed as semi synthetic, as the fibres do come from beech trees (which is obviously a natural source) but have to be blended with another material to make fabric. This takes a lot of resources to make into fabric. Beech trees are also slow growing.

Polyamide: this term does apply to naturally occurring molecules, but on garment labels it refers to synthetic man-made fibres (natural polyamides include silk). They can feel nice and soft as if natural, but polyamide is basically nylon. Nylon is not biodegradable, and as it is meant to be extremely durable it is also difficult to recycle. 

Something for the Future of Sportswear Fabrics?

As an aside, another fabric you may not have thought about for work-out apparel is linen. My Sweaty Betty 'Wild Thing' T is a linen blend: 83% polyester and 17% linen. Ok, so it isn't the most eco-friendly gym wear, but it is soft, and really light on the skin. I'd love to see more linen used like this- specifically for exercise, as linen is cool to the touch, really hardwearing, and anti-bacterial. The linen garments we tend to think of are cut and sewn from fabric which is woven (like shirts), but I don't know of any reason why linen shouldn't be knitted and made into more stretchy items (like T shirts). Please pursue this, sportswear brands!

Linen Blend Workout T
Linen Blend Workout T

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Wool Week Review: Intensify Seamless Merino Leggings From Sweaty Betty

It's Wool Week

Perhaps you are wondering what on earth this has to do with sportswear or fitness. If that's the case then you've probably never come across a performance-wear style like this one: Sweaty Betty's Intensify Seamless Merino Leggings. 

In my quest for more ecological sportswear I have been curious to try a woollen item like this for a while, and so Wool Week coupled with a chilly morning, coming hot on the heels of a Sweaty Betty sale seemed like the perfect time. 

intensify semaless merino leggings review
Wool Leggings from Sweaty Betty

Winter Running: 

There are plenty of reasons not to go running through the winter. For me they've included a touch of asthma that is aggravated by the cold, a niggling knee, painful chilblains, the darkness, the cold, the rain, the mud... ... ... and just generally wanting to hibernate. I tend to stop running and retreat to more indoor workouts, but I do miss the fresh air, the scenery, and the mental re-set that running outdoors gives me. This winter, though, I'd like to keep up what has become a pretty regular habit of stepping out about three times a week. I know I'll be a lot more likely to keep it up if I have suitable kit. 

Why I Bought Wool Leggings:

You'd be forgiven for still being puzzled about why I bought wool leggings, but wool is breathable, naturally elastic, odour resistant, biodegradable and warm. But if you're still unconvinced, then I'd suggest you take a look here for more info. 

sweaty betty merino leggings
Putting Merino Sportswear to the Test

Style and Fit: 

When I unwrapped these leggings, in my hands they felt like a really luxurious pair of tights, and when I tried them on this is still how they felt. I bought a Size Small, and they are nice and snug without being tight. There is a large soft waistband and cuffs, and the seamless design means nothing digs in or irritates. They seem to be totally opaque too. I love the stylish blue panels, and there is a drawstring on the inside, plus very discreet SB branding at the ankle. The length is perfect on me (I am about 5'5").  So far so good, but I was still none the wiser about what they would be like to run in. 


It was supposed to be 7˚ at home this morning- not exactly freezing, but colder than it has been in a while. Plus, once you factor in a less built-up environment, shady locations, and that cold air whizzing past you... OK I admit I am a total wimp in the cold! My ears were cold, my hands were cold, my arms were chilly, my ankles knew about it, but my legs... toasty! 

I have to say, I was really impressed with the performance of these leggings; all the things I was worried about, like whether they would be itchy, whether they would become too hot once I was moving, whether they'd lose their snugness as they got damp, whether they would show embarrassing damp patches... well, none of that happened. I was warm without being hot, and I remained totally comfortable through my whole run (which is about 3.5 miles). The fit stayed snug, the freedom of movement was perfect, and they didn't chafe. Even the process of taking them off at the end seemed more pleasant than peeling off wet polyester-type leggings. 

In short, I'm converted! I will be looking to pick up a similar top to wear for running in due course. Here is Sweaty Betty's current selection of merino.

Wool Sportswear for Wool Week
Wool Sportswear for Wool Week


The instructions say to wash these leggings as wool, which you can do in the wool cycle of your washing machine. However, I decided to soak them in Eucalan for half an hour or so, squeeze them out well then hang them on the line: simple! 

Other Uses:

Apart from the times that I will be running in these, I can see that I might wear these under looser trousers or a dress on really cold days when I am not even working out, as an extra comfortable thermal layer. 

Points for Improvement: 

As I may have mentioned, I love these leggings. However, that doesn't mean I wouldn't like to see some improvements: I've referred to them as 'merino' which they are, but only 51%. Even if the whole product cannot be wool, I'd like to see that other percentage with as much natural fibre in it as possible (cotton? bamboo?). 

I'd also like to see the merino used as organic, or at least cruelty free. Some methods of producing merino can be cruel (google 'mulesing' if you must), and this is largely avoided by organic production. Also, British wool would be brilliant, to support our native farmers.

I'd like to see more natural fibres and sustainable production all round from Sweaty Betty. 

In Short: 

In summary, I am thrilled with these. I am extra thrilled that I bought them in the clearance, as the original price was typically Sweaty Betty. Whether I would replace them at their original price or not would depend on my finances at the time, although I do think they are probably worth it. 

Responsible Sportswear is the Future
Responsible Sportswear is the Future

Tips for Winter Running:

Whether you walk, do yoga, use an outdoor gym or like to run outside, here are my top tips for you if, like me, you think you might struggle to maintain your good habits over the colder months: 

Warm up, cool down and stretch: Allow your body time to adjust to what you're asking it to do. Injuries and muscle soreness aren't any fun, so don't rush this important step in colder weather. 

Be safe: from investing in reflective items, to telling someone where you are going there are lots of steps you can take to maintain your personal safety. If you don't want to exercise alone in the dark then why not start an informal club and arrange to meet friends and work out together? Knowing that other people are expecting you is also a great way to stay on track with your exercise goals. 

Get the right kit: if you're not convinced by the whole wool leggings thing, then take a look around for some other examples of outdoor workout gear. Surely here in the UK a waterproof top layer is a must?! I know workout gloves are on my shopping list, as are proper socks (I tend to only buy the short trainer-liner type ones). I want to be armed for whatever the weather will throw at me, plus I know that if I have invested in outdoor kit I will feel duty bound to get out and use it. 

However, having said all that my final piece of advice would be this: if you really don't want to work out then don't: what is the point of punishing yourself? I mean, if you're feeling a bit lazy but you know you'll feel better for some exercise, then give yourself a pep talk and fasten those running shoes, but winter can sometimes be tough enough anyway with lack of sunlight and all those nasty viruses. Be kind to yourself, and do whatever it is that will make you feel good. 

 cat knows quality fibres
Her Ladyship has an eye for a quality!

Thursday, 6 October 2016

Sweaty Betty for Breast Cancer Awareness Month

Top Quality Sportswear:

Sweaty Betty

I have some pieces from Sweaty Betty which are undoubtedly some of the best gym wear I've ever used: classy, functional, and great quality are attributes that we all like, right? 

I don't tend to promote the brand overly though, as I feel they are a little behind the curve in speaking out about ethical practices and eco materials. Having said that though, I did buy some woollen running leggings in their sale and am just waiting for some chilly weather so that I can try them out- I will let you know how they work out for me! 

Charity Initiative: 

However, they have a current promotion which everybody can get behind: with October marking the start of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, they are donating £1 from every Sweaty Betty sports bra purchased this month to CoppaFeel!, a charity on a mission to raise awareness among young people.

Well done Sweaty Betty, I'd love to see more brands getting involved in this type of initiative. 

You can use this handy guide to see which bra is best for your workout: 

Sweaty Betty

Thursday, 22 September 2016

My Favourite 3 Instagram Accounts

For nearly a year now I have been happily snapping away on Instagram. At first I was sceptical, but I've come to love both posting and browsing those little squares of delight. 

There's something about a square photo which fills me with nostalgia for my first experiments in photography on a Rolleiflex camera, which just seemed so cool. 

I thought it would be nice to share with you my three favourite Instagram accounts and tell you what I like about them. 

At third place is MySweatLife. Not only is this girl gorgeous, but her cheery face is indicative of the motivating captions she always writes. She doesn't pretend that getting and staying fit is easy, but every time I read her words I end up fired up to put 110% into my next workout. She is pretty honest about her whole journey, so she posts plenty of before & after shots, and what I love best about this is that she perfectly illustrates the point that strong is so much better than skinny, and that weight is a relatively useless way of judging your progress. Thanks Kelsey for all of the fitspo!

At second is georgina_mariee, the beautiful yogi. I am captivated by her filmed sequences, which she expands into tutorials. Again, the main thing I love about this girl is her openness and honesty about the battles she is fighting, and her empowering words of encouragement. There are many many instgrammers who post beautiful shots of themselves doing yoga, but few of them seem as keen as this girl to see their followers get there too. Plus, she even occasionally posts the clips of her falling- how real is that?!

And at Number 1 I put Michael James Wong. I discovered this chap thorough the online yoga class platform Udaya, and now his little phrases have entered my family lexicon: "take what you want, leave what you don't" is a big favourite, as is "option three: stay and breathe" whenever I am having a bit of a freak out (you might have to go to Udaya for that one to make sense!). So I look to his Instagram account not only for yoga inspiration, but pearls of wisdom for life in general, all spoken with a really endearing humour and sense of perspective. 

Thank you all for the inspiration and motivation, and for sharing your stories with the world. 

Are you on Instagram? Why not connect with me there- I'd love to see the pretty little square windows into your journey too! 

Tuesday, 26 July 2016

My First Time Coasteering and Review of Cornish Rock Tors

Continuing my series of 'First Time' posts, my first experience of Coasteering is reviewed here:

What is Coasteering: 

Coasteering is exploring the coastline through swimming, entering caves, climbing rocks, jumping off them, observing the landscape, and engaging with plants and creatures at first hand. And a chance to see such things as seals if you are lucky. 

Cornish Rock Tors:

Endorsed by the National trust, Cornish Rock Tors have been providing beach activities for a decade. Our escapade left from Port Gaverne, close to Port Isaac in the North of Cornwall. 

cornish rock tors review
Add caption

Who is it for?

Although all jumps into the water are optional, I would say this is not an ideal activity for anyone with serious vertigo. Or a jellyfish phobia. Or a fear of entering caves. Or a problem with being in open water. Having said that, a guided excursion like this is a great way to challenge yourself. 

A fair degree of strength and fitness is helpful, and a spirit of adventure is probably an essential for enjoying coasteering. There is a consent form to fill in, with only a small section where you declare any medical conditions, so nothing like standard gym PAR-Q form. If you are unsure whether you are ok medically to do this sort of thing you absolutely should check in advance with your GP. 

Is it safe? 

We were fully equipped with a buoyancy aid and helmet. Very clear instructions were given on how to communicate with simple signs once in the water, and there were three guides the 10 participants in our group. They were all qualified lifeguards, and carried safety equipment. The instructions for climbing and jumping were always clear, and the guides had endless patience with us asking for clarification as we needed it. 

In short, I felt very safe at all times. 

coasteering north cornwall
Yep, I'm in that huddle!

Was it Exercise?

I was far too engaged with the experience to notice at the time whether I was physically working hard. However, after two and a half hours I did begin to feel tired and a little cold. I woke up the next day with the tops of my pectoral muscles feeling like they had been worked. Looking back though, with all of the swimming, climbing, and scrambling over rocks we must have used up a lot of calories. 

The cost:

Introduction to Coasteering sessions like this cost £40 per person. If you have a large family this is clearly going to work out as an expensive activity. However, I'd say it is worth every penny, and the chances are that it will be a real highlight of any holiday and something that you won't forget easily. Cornish Rock Tors also offer  vouchers, which would make an amazing present. 

coasteering cornwall review

Top Tips:

My first piece of advice is a more general one: chat to the Cornish Rock Tors staff, and make sure that coasteering is for you. They are very friendly and extremely knowledgeable, and quick to answer email queries. So if you have any questions that might seem silly I would recommend that you put them out there and put your mind at rest. 

But here are my top 3 specific tips:

1. Take the opportunity to borrow a winter-weight wetsuit (included in the price). In my experience and that of the other women in our group, the ladies ones come up a little small, so I would recommend you go up a size. Be aware also that there isn't really anywhere to change. If you are particularly shy or need to put your swimsuit on then there is a public loo close by, but our group all changed into wetsuits in the road outside the office. 

2. Carb load! Ok, that's an exaggeration, but do make sure you have eaten well and kept yourself hydrated before you head off. Coasteering can be a chilly experience, and if you are not used to being active for a few hours at a time, let alone exerting yourself by hauling your own body weight up rocks etc then I imagine this may be a shock to your system. If you haven't eaten then I expect you will start to flag. Ditto hydration.

3. Don't try to park at Port Gaverne. There are public carparks in Port Isaac, which is only a stroll away. 

port isaac
Port Isaac

In Summary:

Coasteering is a magic experience. It takes you away from all of your comforts and/or millstones, depending on how you see day-to-day essentials like your phone, your handbag, perhaps even your watch. Leaving behind everything like the need to be bothered with how you appear is a liberation which lets you properly relate to the beautiful Cornish landscape around you in way that you otherwise just wouldn't.  

Taking a guided excursion like this gives you the confidence to know that what you are doing is entirely safe, and shows you things that you probably wouldn't notice, from a buoy lodged tight in the top of a cave, to rare anemones

The guides clearly love what they do, and that is infectious. Their respect for the Cornish coast is evident. 

Going with a family or partner is a real bonding experience, but joining a group if you are by yourself would also be really fulfilling I think. 

I loved just being out in the water, seeing the coast literally and figuratively from a whole new perspective. I'm also thrilled that I jumped off all of the highest points on offer. I'm naturally cautious, but after a few smaller jumps I really wanted to go for it on this trip. 

So, thank you Cornish Rock Tors, we had a brilliant time and can't recommend you highly enough. We'll be back for Intermediate Coasteering

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Ethical Sportswear Brand: Silverstick Review & Interview

Ethical Activewear

It's always pleasing to discover a homegrown sportswear brand standing up for their ideals. So I was excited when I came across Silverstick: based in Lewes in East Sussex, working with organic cotton and producing a bijou range of sweats, tees and accessories for ladies and gents.

ethical sportswear 

Adventure Goods

Silverstick refer to their products as adventure goods. Even a quick browse through their site will show you that they mean business: classic shapes and styles with no extraneous details give no concessions to trendy, which is admirable. 

A glimpse at their Outdoor People tab gives you an idea of their market: these tough garments are meant to be put through their paces by serious outdoor types who surf, skate, ski... and let's face it are just cool. Yes, these are ethical products, but they are made to be worn hard. 

organic and fairly traded sweater...

Product Review:

I chose an Arugan Logo Sweat in ash marl to review. I was looking for a simple jumper without a hood to throw on after yoga, for bike rides, or to keep the sometimes chilly Cornish wind at bay.  

Made from organic cotton, fairly produced and individually screen printed with eco friendly inks there is nothing to quibble about, but do these beauties stand up to the test...?

...featuring the Silverstick logo

Product Characteristics 

My first impressions were of a top quality item: feeling plush and squishy in my hands, the jumper promised to be really snuggly and it didn't disappoint! It is nice and warm without being over hot. I guess this might be partly down to the fact that it is 100% cotton- most sweats these days are polyester blend 

It is very nicely made, and the placement and scale of the print are pleasing. 

Priced at £49 this is not a budget buy, but the quality means that I would call it very good value. 

I have washed my jumper (after I wore it for a muddy bike ride- whoops!), and it feels just as new as before. This was a pleasant revelation as often sweats can deteriorate after just one wash. 

My only comment would be on the sizing: this is a unisex item, and so women are advised to go down a size. I stuck with XS, which is described as a 10-12. I usually wear an 8-10 (which would have made me an XXS here), and it is pretty snug. Personally I love the fit, but I wonder how many size 12's would find these dimensions comfortable? 

I particularly like the narrowness of the sleeves, and the length and the neckline are also great. 

lovely quality & fit

Would I buy again?

I would definitely buy from Silverstick again. The supremely lush quality means that although not budget items, their sweats seem to be well worth the money. When I need joggers I will look here first. I'd also be tempted by their t-shirts- I love the tree print, and also some of the gents styles like the bike. 

Moreover, I want to make ethical choices with my purchasing power, and smaller eco-conscious brands like this who are flying the flag for homegrown design and a short (and entirely transparent) supply chain deserve not only our respect but also our cash. It's easy to blame fast fashion for unethical practices and exploitation, but activewear is still part of the garment industry, and if we want anything to change in these businesses we have to vote with our wallets. 

I also want to wear natural fibres which, when they can be repaired/re-used/recycled no longer will eventually biodegrade back into the natural environment, and seeing as most sportswear is made from polyester this is not always easy. 

All credit to Silverstick for everything they have achieved so far. 

still messing around in crow pose...

...and working on my inversions!

Q&A with Sam from Silverstick

I was lucky enough to be able to put a few questions to Sam, co-founder of Silverstick. Enjoy this little window into the world of an independent eco-conscious brand. I particularly love the "buy once, wear often, love forever" attitude:

How long have you been running Silverstick?
The Silverstick journey started in 2010 when a love of adventure and the environment inspired us to create a collection of T-shirts for people who enjoy outdoor sports and activities. We wanted to put the outdoors and sustainability at the foundation of our design. Buy once, wear often, love forever was epitomised by our made for life ethosSince then we have expanded our mens and women's ranges, continuing to develop products with an active ethos and strong connection to nature. We call them adventure goods as they are perfect for exploring the ocean, the trail and the mountains.

That's an interesting name- where does it and your bird logo come from?
Our bird logo symbolises the freedom of the outdoors and commitment to create clothing in harmony with nature. The name Silverstick is inspired by the sports and activities our customers do in the outdoors. Stick is a general term to denote a surfboard or a skateboard. 

As a brand, what is your primary aim?
Our primary aim is to create clothing for outdoor people in a way that doesn’t harm the environment. This starts at the design phase thinking about the purpose of the garment and how we can optimise comfort, durability and style in each piece. All our garments are constructed from high quality fabrics in accredited factories that go the extra mile to get all the details right. Our customers want clothing that they can rely on and will last a long time, which is obviously better for the environment too. On top of that we only use GOTS certified organic cotton. This is cotton that has been grown naturally without the use of chemicals or pesticides.

Who is your typical shopper?
Our clothing appeals to a broad range of outdoor people, whether you are a keen mountain biker who goes riding every week or you are having a laugh trying to surf for the first time. All our customers are united by a love of adventure and the natural world.  

What's the best part of your job?
Seeing people in our clothing enjoying the outdoors and getting positive reviews from customers. We are very lucky that we are still an independent company owned by our two founders. This means we have complete control over everything we create. We make things based on a set of principles and it is great to see people out there enjoying the outdoors in clothing that doesn’t cost the earth. 

What is your favourite thing that you sell?
If I was to pick out one item it would probably be our logo tee. This was the first style we ever did, so it has an emotional pull for us. It brought together the active, high quality and eco-conscious strands of our design ethos. We sourced high quality organic cotton fabric, created an active fit, flatlocked every seam for greater comfort and hand printed the tees with our bird logo in eco friendly inks. We wanted to make the perfect T shirt for adventures in the great outdoors.

Who is your heroine?
There are many people who have inspired us on our journey so far. We are a small company up against much bigger ones. So anyone who keeps going and overcomes set backs is a particular inspiration to us. One person who is currently doing this is the surfer Bethany Hamilton who survived a shark attack and is now competing on the professional tour.

How would you like to be remembered?
That we left only footprints…

With grateful thanks to Sam at Silverstick

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

My First Time... Bell Ringing

On Campanology

"Bell ringing", I thought. "That'll be good exercise" I thought...

I have a really nostalgic, sentimental attachment to the sound of our local church bells, and how they ring out every 15 minutes, not to mention the joyous sound they make to accompany such occasions  as weddings. I'm not at all religious, but these ancient sounds speak more to me of community than worship. 

I had in mind that bell ringing would be great physical exercise, and a bit of a challenge to the part of the brain that learns patterns and timing, much like playing anything musical is.

bell ringing for exercise
The church bells inside this tower are huge!

I intended to write this post some time ago, after my first session bell ringing. But, to be honest, I was slightly perplexed after that first hour and didn't know what to make of it- as a craft or an exercise. 

However, I've been to a couple of sessions now, and I am beginning to get a small understanding- despite not having actually heard myself ringing a bell as it has been silenced to save the neighbours any annoyance.  

Is it fun?

Well... sort of. I suspect bell ringing is a lot of fun once you have reached a standard of competency and can understand enough to work in a team and create beautiful patterns. This takes time though, and if I am honest I am finding the learning somewhat frustrating. 

bell ringing for fitness
The bells are all hung at different angles,
because they actually move the tower when they ring

on campanology for fitness
Church bells: nostalgic, romantic... complicated!

Is it good exercise?

Given that I have only rung for an hour at a time, my interpretation of this is a little bit limited, but my impression is this: if you lead a sedentary lifestyle, I would imagine that standing on your feet, engaging your core to balance yourself, and raising your arms above your head to pull down continuously would be a welcome challenge to your fitness. 

I, however, have not found bell ringing physically hard work. If anything I have a tendency to over-pull, but this in itself is a challenge to me to learn how to be more controlled and precise, as I come to understand more about the rhythm of both of the strokes of the bell. 

Precision and coordination are also involved in moving the rope in such a way as to give it a smooth movement up and down- if for no other reason than to be able to catch it when you want to. 

church door

Do I recommend it?

Given that bell ringing is by its nature a team exercise, I would say that if you can find yourself the right teacher and a social crowd, and you have some time to dedicate to learning about what is a really complicated craft, then I think you are likely to enjoy bell ringing.

Personally I have not made up my mind whether I will stick with it...