By Zoe Helene
The Year of the Horse was everything it promised to be, and I sure felt a mad dash to the finish line. Whoa, baby–!
2015 is the Year of the Lamb. Some call it the Year of the Sheep, Ram, or even Goat, and they’re all wonderful archetypes. The lamb, however, is special: lovable, pure, innocent, gentle, affectionate, trusting, vulnerable, peaceful, playful, lively, friendly, joyful, fresh, feisty! That’s good medicine.
You can’t help but smile when you look at these super-sweet little faces. I raised two lambs when I was a girl in the whop-whops of New Zealand, and they’re even more adorable than anyone can imagine. They’re as smart and communicative as they are cuddly, and each individual has a distinct personality. (They also grow up to be fabulous sheep, by the way).
These delightful lamb-inspired goodies are eco-friendly, lamb-friendly, ethically produced, made by artisans and/or support creativity, antique, vintage, recycled or re-purposed, and support good causes.
HANSA Handcrafted Little Black Lamb and Little White Lamb ♥ Hansa is known for making the most “true to life” soft sculpture art plush animal toys. Highly trained artisans handcraft each individual heirloom quality toy in a socially and environmentally responsible studio. Each piece is carefully cut by hand and meticulously sewn together inside out, a brilliant internal stitching technique that allows the artisans to create realistic, expressive toys representing most of the animal kingdom. Hansa makes many amazing exotic animals as well as domesticated animals, each with its own personality. The Hansa mission is not just create great toys, but to educate adults and children about animals and their lives, to help them to “understand, respect and appreciate the importance of our co-existence with all animals, in nature's circle of life.” Every animal toy comes with a teaching tag. Learn more about How Hansa Toys Are Made.
TAMARA ADAMS Portrait of Woman with Lamb ♥ Tamara Adams’, original popular contemporary folk art is featured in paintings and reproductions in collections and juried exhibits around the world. She is best known for warm, colorful images that express the sacredness and mystique of feminine power and pay tribute to “the beauty, mystery and strength of the female spirit.” This modern interpretation of an archetypal image, typical of her work, shows a genuine connection between the woman and the lamb. Fine prints, original and commissioned works are available online at Goddess Gallery.
VINTAGE 1960 Leaping Lambs Cotton ♥ If you can sew, you can do so many things with this fabulous rare vintage retro lamb fabric. You can find wonderful vintage fabrics online an in local stores and markets, and searching for them is half the fun. This one is from Bingus Pingus.
CRAZY FOX DESIGN Handmade Lamb Fingerless Gloves ♥ These fun and funny little lamb friends in periwinkle blue will keep your hands happy and your fingers free. (You can also wear them over another pair of fingered gloves if you need more warmth.) They’re handmade by designer Sabrina Romiti and are available in sizes from toddler to adult. Romiti clearly enjoys expressing herself through her line of unique accessories. “The shop is me!” she says, explaining how it all comes from an innate love of “light, love, freedom, learning and experimenting.”
SPECK & DRESSEL Bellytime Baby Lamb Blanket ♥ Janet took time off to take care of her children after working in the New York fashion scene for a decade. She works from home, creating stylish, practical goodies for parents. This upbeat, vintage inspired lamb print is sweet, and the soft, handmade blanket looks warm and inviting. “It’s perfect for the bellytime that is so important for the developing child,” Janet explains. Janet also provides skillful monogramming upon request. She donates a portion of bath and body product sales to “All For The Love of Animals,” a group created by her animal-loving kids. Proceeds are used to buy much-needed supplies for animal shelters.
PERSIS CLAYTON WEIRS Springtime Kittens with Lamb Jigsaw Puzzle ♥ A gentle newborn lamb rests on a soft bed of golden hay, soaking in the morning sunshine, enjoying the company of several curious barn kittens and a busy nesting mama bird. The illustration is typical of Persis Clayton Weirs, who learned to paint friendly farm animals and wildlife by closely observing them around her home in rural Maine. Puzzles are fun, intelligent mind games that can be social or solo and can introduce kids to an important metaphor for so many life experiences. This one is printed with soy- based inks on recycled board and made in the United States by SunsOut, an animal- and earth-friendly company that donates a portion of proceeds to Best Friends Animal Society, a nonprofit that helps homeless animals.
VINTAGE 1950 GERALDINE CLYNE Ba Ba Black Sheep Pop-Up Book ♥ Geraldine Clyne’s mid-century Nursery Rhyme Pop-Up Books are special, creative and influential. You can find this charming children’s collectable sold solo or in a set, usually of six, on Tolleth House Vintage. It makes a hip, unique gift or trendy decor that will only become more valuable as time goes by. The set includes: Ba Ba Black sheep, Old King Cole, Mary's Lamb (another lamb!), Sing a Song of Sixpence, There was an Old Woman and Hey Diddle Diddle.
YES & AMEN Treasured ♥ Junelle Jacobsen is a photojournalist who’s “all about daily adventures” and a deeply spiritual woman who “fell in love with the littlest lambs!” This precious lamb image and many others just as sweet are available as prints and eco-friendly greeting cards at Yes & Amen. This image shows a tiny, vulnerable newborn lamb under the arch of her mama's warm, wooly belly is perfect for Mother's Day.
Our family moved from the United States to Aotearoa (New Zealand) in 1974, back when most Americans would twist their heads and at best say, “Is that in Australia?” This was long before the internet and the Lord of Rings movies, although I do remember hiking into Middle Earth to read the books, which my older brother sent to his little country sisters from the States.
Back then, up to 14 passengers were allowed to travel on container ships, and our father wanted us see the island for the first time as the Maori people did—as “the land of the long white cloud.” As we arrived at our new home, we witnessed fluffy white clouds hovering above a long, dark, flowing strip of land on a curved horizon, a magical, mystical memory that never fades.
Our ocean journey took three long weeks from New York through the Panama Canal and then over seemingly endless blue. I turned 10 the day we landed, and while a big part of me had bought into Daddy’s Big South Pacific Adventure, another part of me, a subconscious part, was traumatized by the intense distance we’d put between our little family unit and our greater tribe of friends and extended family that was close, colorful, and intensely supportive. I experienced an onset of depression and anxiety, and it was hard to put a finger on a cause or cure.
As it turns out, an orphaned lamb named Karaki did the trick. We drove many miles down steep winding “rough metal” outback roads to find him. The kiwi farmer showed me how to heat up milk and glucose in a baby bottle on the stove and how to test the milk’s temperature with a drop on my arm, but it wasn’t until I put on my gumboots and walked out to feed the sweet little wooly baby that it happened. The moment I offered Karaki the bottle, he accepted with full trust—not just the warm milk but my offer of love and lifelong friendship as well. Our bond was immediate and intense, and with that bond I was able to bond with the spirit of the island.
Years later, my love for lambs remains strong. They’re dear little beings, and they grow up to be fabulous sheep. Karaki did, and even after we set him free to run with the wild sheep, he walked for miles just to pay us a visit on occasion. I'm certain that our friendship set me on the vegetarian path, which will forever mystify my carnivorous mother, but that's another story for another time.
This one's for you, Karaki. I am forever in your debt.
Main photo by Junelle Jacobsen
Zoe Helene is a Multidisciplinary Artist and Environmental Activist who is building a global network of sustainability trailblazers called Cosmic Sister . As Sustainability Correspondent, Zoe works tirelessly to help communicate messages of hope, conscious living, and informed pro-activism to a wide audience.