About Shmuddle Buddies

What’s a shmuddle?

A shmuddle is a shmushy cuddle. It rhymes with puddle.

Shmuddle Buddies are lovable friends that are good for children, families, society, and the earth. We use sustainable, eco-friendly materials. (We’re certified by Green America.) We don’t exploit our workers. We never make stuffed animals that promote violence, that make girls feel that they can’t climb trees and do math, or that make boys feel that they can’t host tea parties and play dress-up.

How are Shmuddle Buddies made?

Shmuddle Buddies are entirely handmade. Chief Shmuddler Jessica Butterick still makes most of them herself in Hollywood, California. But when things get busy, she gets a little help from some talented women here in the United States. She works with crochet professionals, movie costumers and set designers, students, and moms who love to crochet.

You’re sure they’re not mass-produced in a factory somewhere?

Positive. Shmuddle Buddies never come from factories. They’re never the product of child labor or unfair, exploitative labor practices.

What are they made from?

Shmuddle Buddies are made from the most eco-friendly, sustainable materials we can find. Usually, that means organic cotton yarn. A few Buddies are made from undyed wool or recycled fibers.

Many Shmuddle Buddies have fabric patches on them. Most of the fabric comes from (well-washed) vintage sheets, which tend to be more durable than regular fabric. Jessica sources the sheets from her grandmother and other people’s grandmothers. The rest of the fabric is hand-dyed cotton that Jessica picks up from the little shops she discovers on her travels.

Shmuddle Buddies are stuffed with recycled, hypoallergenic fiberfill. Organic wool stuffing is available for $20.

Tell me more about your organic cotton yarn.

Our yarn is made from color-grown, fair-trade Peruvian cotton. With the help of Peru Naturtex, over 100 rural artisan and Indian families grow the cotton the way they’ve been growing it for 5,000 years — by hand, on small farmyard plots high in the Peruvian mountains. It is grown without chemicals, pesticides, or genetically-modified (GMO) seeds.

The raw cotton is picked by hand, then spun into yarn in accordance with GOTS requirements. The yarn is dyed using wild botanicals. The process doesn’t use any chemicals. It’s certified organic and fair-trade.

Native cotton cultivation supports rural communities and women’s cooperatives. In fact, native cotton has already replaced several thousand hectares of clandestinely cultivated coca leaf.

What’s recycled fiberfill?

Shmuddle Buddies uses recycled fiberfill made from 100% post-consumer plastic bottles. In 2009, over 2,456 million pounds of plastic was available for recycling in the United States. To keep this plastic out of our landfills, we need to use it for something else.

Here’s how it works:

1. Post-consumer plastic is collected, sorted by hand, and cut into small pieces called flake.

2. The flake is heated, cleaned, and spun into yarn. The process uses very little water.

3. The result is a recycled fiberfill blend that is squishy, bouncy, and food for the earth.

Are there non-polyester alternatives?

If you’re not into recycled fiberfill, we get it. You can upgrade to organic wool stuffing for $20. All of our wool stuffing comes from a 100-year-old cooperative near Ashland, Oregon. It’s GOTS certified by Oregon Tilth.

Our wool comes from happy sheep raised on small American farms. The farmers shear the fleece and send it to the mill. The folks at the mill process it using mild, biodegradable detergent, and then send it to us. That’s it. No chemicals. No factories. Our wool is naturally dust-mite repellent and hypoallergenic.

Can you tell me more about your wool?

Sure! We love this wool.

Local flocks. Our wool comes from small farms in California and Oregon.

Sustainable farms. Our farmers are educated in sustainable farming practices that are good for people, the land, and the animals. In return for following these principles, the farmers are paid twice the normal market price for wool.

Sustainable grazing. Our farms don’t overstock their pastures. They rotate sheep to different pastures to allow vegetation to recover from grazing. Overstocking and infrequent rotation produces soil erosion, invasive plants, and the need to bring in outside feed. Proper grazing techniques reduce soil erosion, create higher quality wool, and reduce the risk of sheep acquiring internal parasites.

Guard dogs, not traps. Rather than trapping, poisoning, or shooting predators, our farms protect their flocks from predators by using trained sheep dogs and large animals like llamas. Predators play an important role in maintaining healthy ecosystems, so we scare them away instead of killing them.

Chemical-free. Our farmers don’t use herbicides or pesticides on fields where the sheep will be grazing. How do we know? Every year, U.C. Davis tests the wool to make sure it hasn’t been in contact with harmful chemicals.

Why don’t you use conventional wool?

We don’t use conventional wool because many standard wool-industry practices harm the sheep and the environment. They use chemicals that we don’t want touching our toys — or your kids. Here are some common practices that we oppose:

Carbonizing. Wool fibers are dipped in strong acids to dissolve residual vegetable matter. We avoid all chemicals possible throughout the entire process.

Chemical crimping. After carbonizing, wool fibers end up unnaturally straight. Then they get a chemical perm-like treatment to regain their natural crimp, coiled structure. Our wool has a natural crimp to it that lasts longer and provides superior resilience.

Dipping. At many farms, sheep are dipped in a pesticide bath. We don’t allow this.

Bleaching. To get the purest, brightest colors, most wool is bleached and dyed. Our wool keeps its natural white color, completely free of bleaches and dyes.

Harmful shearing. When the shearing process is rushed, sheep can end up with broken limbs and deep cuts. We work with highly trained shearers who are able to shear quickly and gently so that there is no harm to the sheep.

Mulesing. May farmers cut patches off of the sheep’s skin to discourage infection and to inhibit flies from laying eggs in the folds. None of our growers practice this method.