In the second thinking piece, I mentioned the story of our logo - probably a less enthralling tale than that of the lovely lady Tamar, but quite important to us and what we are about.
It starts with Sue (of course!), who was born in Cornwall and was a Girl Guide. Therefore she has a fondness for things Cornish and, as it happens, also for knots.
But then, what is a knot for? Normally it is for joining things together, whether ropes to other ropes or ropes to objects. Bends are the type of knot used to join ropes together.
Our logo is a representation of a knot called a Carrick Bend and is named from the Carrick Roads, the wide and deep estuary which is the mouth of the River Fal, one of Cornwall’s largest rivers and is actually the third largest estuary harbours in the world. So the Carrick Roads has always been a place for big ships, like tea clippers and mail ships, with big cables attached to their anchors, and thus has a view on the wide world.
The Carrick Bend, sometimes called the Sailors Knot, not only joins ropes but is also very attractive. Unlike the Reef Knot it will not slip, and unlike the non-slip Sheetbend, which is actually the same as a Weaver’s Knot, it works best to join ropes of even thickness. It is also particularly suited for joining large or heavy or even inflexible ropes or for ensuring that joined ropes will not jam when going around a capstan or when wet. It is both easy to tie and easy to undo even after being stressed. It is first recorded in 1783. It is also used in heraldry and for decorative purposes and has a pleasing symmetry which works well in graphic and Celtic designs.
Therefore we have used it to represent not just the joining of things together but joining of equal things which require longterm strength – like joining us and our machines to our customers and their fleeces!
Having come up with the concept we then had a graphic made of it, to which we added our business name and for this we used a font called Nueva Standard, which works well with the knot, although it is less easily readable when used in text. So we use other serif and sans serif fonts for our websites, which are standardised to make things look consistent and were also selected to be easy to read on screen or in print.
The original design has been modified and updated over the years.
The first original was used for The Natural Fibre Company:
Then we made a more “arty” version for the first Blacker Designs logo, to distinguish them.:
Then we got arty with Blacker Yarns as well:
Or, for ballbands:
But it’s not very readable or clear, nor entirely a Carrick Bend ... nor necessarily illustrating that we are one business with one mission and one set of values.
So we thought it through a bit more and decided that the whole Blacker Sheep family should be united more clearly. Some of the logos took up a lot of space, were not easily usable for labels and online and had indistinct edges. So the current versions for NFC and BY, in line with Blacker Sheep above, emerged.
These designs may appear in black and white or brown and white and there is also a version with a knitted background which we occasionally use. And they may be long or square to suit different uses.
We also love the Carrick Bend knot used as braid, which we have as a watermark on some of our documents.
This watermark design was loved by Myra Mortlock, the previous owner of our business, who designed the popular logo braid for our original beanie hat for us, which I later also used in the cable welt and cable panel pullovers.
We have, however, maintained a degree of whimsy as we don’t like to be entirely serious! So we also have the little sheep icons and fibre thickness indicators which depict the degree of softness of yarns on our website.
The important thing here to note is that the fibre thickness is not the only determinant of softness of yarn, so we have the sheep as well!
Sheep are used in a slightly different format to illustrate degree of difficulty or expertise required in our patterns, as well as in headers and footers for our information sheets, patterns and websites, where the sheep have a wriggly line to walk along and are white at the top of the page and black at the bottom of the page.
Along with these we have also moved from having a fleece or wool background and fawn shading to a more neutral and almost white background for Blacker Yarns though we have retained the Gotland fleece for The Natural Fibre Company. This has been followed through in our print materials, most recently with our Blacker Yarns ballbands, which are now united rather than divided between the different yarn ranges, though you will gradually see this progressing as we don’t want to waste printed paper …
So, since 2005, we have gradually evolved to a clearer, more unified and more useful set of graphics and these are what you now see on all of our documentation.
And here is Myra's original photo of the first ever Natural Fibre Company beanie and mitts using our Carrick cable design, knitted of course in Gotland Yarn.