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First Go At Dyeing With Mimosa

Despite selling the highest quality powdered inner root bark Mimosa, we hadn’t done any dyeing with it… until last weekend. With the delivery of a new set of natural dyes and life in general we hadn’t had a chance to get to the fun part; having a play around with the products themselves. We didn’t get the vivid purples we were expecting, but as with all home dyeing experiments, we learned something and there is always next time!

Tie dyeing with mimosa hostilis powder
The Material Is Tied Up – After the pre-treatment, the excess is squeezed out and the material is tied up.

fine powdered mimosa inner root bark ukFine Powder Mimosa Goes In The Pan 

Not Quite What We Were Hoping For!

Although we were hoping for the famed vivid purples we ended up with a soft pinky brown. Looking forward to having a play around with different auxiliaries and seeing the full range of colours from all of our products.

 

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COMING SOON: The Nose Cosy!

small piece of sheepskin covers exposed tip of nose

Here at Dartmoor Sheepskins we listen hard to what you need. You told us your nose was cold, we give you the Nose Cosy™ Sheepskins for keeping your nose warm on a cold winters day.

How often have you cursed the cruel winter chill that brings with it the predictable running, sore and generally very sorry for itself nose. The sight of the pitiful red beak has become all too common on chilly winters mornings, we have for too long taken for granted that this is just the way of the winter months and accepted the fate of our poor facial features.

We say no more! Your nose is important and it deserves to be taken care of, and how better so show it the love it so badly needs that with a soft and fluffy nose cosy.

Made from the richest and fluffiest fleeces, carefully selected for comfort and resilience, your nose cosy will provide style and protection so you can say goodbye to red winter noses and hello to warmth and protection.

 

COMING SOON: The Strapless Nose Cosy, timeless, sexy, on fleek.

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One More For The Woad

woad paint on face of child

The earliest example of humans using pigmentation occurred around 36,000 years ago, dyed flax fibres were found in a cave in the Republic of Georgia dating back to 34,000BC while in Pakistan a piece of cloth dyed with Madder was recovered from an archaeological suite dating back to 3000 BC.

It has taken us a little while longer here at Dartmoor Sheepskins to catch up, but we now offer our own range of natural dyes, from the arresting blues of Indigo, the vivid purples Mimosa to the unique brown heartwood of the Acacia Catechu tree.

Woad and Indigo have a history that dates back to the Picts who used Woad as body paint (the name Pict means painted) and have been used commercially as late as the 1930s to dye police uniforms.

The traditional methods for producing Woad were a lot less pleasant than the modern day techniques with urine playing a big part in the production, Queen Elizabeth I banned any production of Woad anywhere near her as she found the smell so offensive.

In traditional production, after harvesting, the leaves were chopped and made into balls that were left to dry, Woad balls were valuable, so much money could be made from growing it that in the mid 1580s restrictions were made on the amount of Woad that could be grown as it was feared it would threaten grain supplies.

Once dried, the balls could be stored, when needed they were broken down and water and urine were added, the mixture would then be left to ferment before being used for dyeing.

Whilst we wouldn’t recommend dyeing your finest silks in vats of fermented urine, no matter how far away from the queen you happen to be, if you fancy trying your hand at traditional dyeing our natural dye range be found here.

 

 

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Full range of natural dyes ready for pre-order!

We are delighted to announce our new range of natural dyes, including ecstatic Marigold, vivid Mimosa and essential Indigo.

natural dyes from plants mimosa fungus woad
Head over to our shop for Indego, Mimosa, Marigold and more.

Our new range of natural dues has arrived in and we can’t wait to get started with this exiting new colour range. Along with the single plant dyes of Bio Indego, Mimosa Hostilis and Pomegranite, we also now have a new vivdly bright mix dye made from Marigold and Tesu. As well as this, we have manages to source some natural Lac dye, harvested from trees inoculated with Kerria Lacca insects, this amazing dye can produce colours ranging from soft dusty pink through vivid purple and scarlet red.

 

 

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The Top 5 Ladies Sheepskin Slippers available in the UK right now

It’s halfway through the school holidays and my son has taken to calling me Daaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. As such it’s somewhat of a comfort to think the school holidays are nearly half over. I’m just a glass nearly half full kinda guy.

But it does make me reflect that he’ll be my little boy for a relatively short time, my daughter is off to university already. So we must treasure our family, even if they drive us up the wall sometimes.

It was in this spirit that I compiled these Top 5 Ladies Slippers, these are slippers you will want to give to the woman in your life – giving them will feel good, because wearing them is going to make her feel special. Every time she puts them on it’ll be like you are cuddling her feet.

Enough from me, to the footwear!

In 5th place

sheepskin moccasin

‘Charlotte’ by puresheepskin.co.uk

First one the list is this classic, for me the quintessential sheepskin moccasin. Comfortable, practical, and lasts for years. Practical, that’s the word that stands out. Nice and practical, outdoor sole and all that. Yum, practical.

In 4th place

sheepskin ankle boot with laces

Finsbury’ by justsheepskins.com

I can start to get excited about slippers at this stage, this is a classic FMB, with good ankle support and the potential for fun in the snow. It’s a girl next door FMB, but it’s sill an FMB.

In 3rd place

pink slip on backless sheepskin slipper

Ladies Wooly Sheepskin Slippers by justsheepskin.com

Oh come on, tell me you can’t imagine putting your naked foot into this. Tell me.

Look me in the eye and tell me.

In second place

handmade sheepskin booties in harlequin pattern

Handmade Slippers by suziessheepskinboots.co.uk

You already know if your partner would like these handmade sheepskin booties, they come in loads of colours, and like our sheepskins, each one is created by hand.

Taking first place

red woollen slippers 'piped' with cream wooly lining

‘Babushka’ by celticandco.com

These are the ones. Look at that. Look at them! How awesome are these? How chuffed is she going to be with these! It’s almost like you’ll be a fisherman!

Well done you, she’ll love you for it!

 

We’ll be stocking a range of ladies sheepskin slippers, and slippers for men, all made in the UK. But for now why not consider our range of sheepskins, ideal presents, and of the utmost luxury!

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Everyone knows sheepskins are sexy, but how do you deal with the aftermath?

Sheepskin baby

Everyone knows sheepskin is sexy, but how do you deal with the aftermath?

Kids are hard work, no one would deny it. And before they even arrive you get told all sorts of things you should have prepared; the cot, the nursery, the specialist bum wiping aids. It just goes on.

tiny baby on sheepskin fleece
Creative Commons photo by Jody Morris (https://www.flickr.com/photos/jodydigger)

If all goes well by your second kid you won’t be flapping about all the things you’ve yet to acquire, in fact, you probably have almost everything already because there is little in the way of specialist equipment you actually need. So naturally whilst I recommend sheepskin for babies, (they’re good for sleeping on, amongst other things) I don’t think you need to add it to anyone’s birth plan just yet.

Buy a sheepskin as a present for an expectant mother by all means, but hold back from trying to persuade anyone about the best thing for babies to sleep on, they are getting that advice from everyone else already. Better still, give them one of your old ones, tell them how you even used it as a changing mat with your little ones. Tell them that you like the way it helped your children stay cool in the summer, but any further than this and you might even put them off.

If, however, you are still in the (ahem) early stages of baby making and were fooled by the title of this post, you might want to check out this post on machine washing sheepskins.

 

 

 

 

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There’s a reason Australian sheep ranchers invented Ugg boots, and it wasn’t because they wanted to look like trendy white girls

Leather boots are no good for a man who wrestles sheep for a living

Sheepskin ugg Boots on some lovely feminin legs

Seriously, there’s a reason Ugg boots were made, and the clue’s in the wool. Sheep wool contains lanolin, which is corrosive to leather, Australian shearers have been wearing sheepskin boots since the 1920’s.

The term ‘ugg’ is in generic use in Australia and simply means sheepskin boots, in fact it was only in the 1980’s that the name “Ugh” was trademarked.

There’s a couple of theories put forward as to how the boots were named, ranging from an early manufacturer’s wife exclaiming that they were ugly, to being named after the Fug Boots worn by British Pilots during World War I.

I’ve got a different theory though, and it centres upon the social skills of Australian sheep shearers….

I wonder if the boots were named in honour of the kind of men can who wrangle a sheep in the crook of their right arm, whilst simultaneously shaving it with their left, whilst living hundreds of miles away from their nearest neighbours.

The whole thing was over within was over within twelve seconds and the only sound that came out of his mouth was “Ugh” – Australian Sheep

Wherever the name comes from, it was more recently that the boots became “cool”…

In the 1970s, ugg boots became popular among competitive surfers. After movie theatres in Sydney banned ugg boots and ripped jeans, the footwear became somewhat popular in the youth market as a sign of rebellion – Wikipedia

As well as the symbolic rebellion embodied in ugg boots, the surfers enjoyed the warmth of sheepskin after a day spent in the sea. The boots were tough and warm, and could stand being close to the fire on a cool evening on the beach.

We don’t sell sheepskin boots, but we do sell sheepskins for the same reasons.

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Want to keep your baby cool in the heat of summer? Use Sheepskin.

Keep baby cool in summer on a sheepskin

I do like surprises; one which delights me is the cooling properties of sheepskin.

In the heat of the summer some of the wisest professional drivers will be sitting on sheepskin. And some of the happiest babies will be sleeping on them.

The fleece of sheepskin has excellent insulating properties and it is also resistant to flame and static electricity. Wool is considered by the medical profession to be hypoallergenic. Sheepskin is a natural insulator, and draws perspiration away from the wearer and into the fibers. There, it traps between 30 and 36 percent of its own weight in moisture. Wikipedia

This advice about keeping Babies cool in the summer heat (from eczema advice site, Scratchsleeves.co.uk):

“protected from the sun and using sheepskin liner in the pushchair can really help keep your little one fresher – the open pile of the fleece allows air to circulate under the body so they don’t get as hot and sweaty (but do steer clear of this if your baby’s eczema is triggered by lanolin, which is derived from the natural oils found in wool). On really hot days, we have a couple of cold packs that we slide under the sheepskin to keep the kids cool on the ride into town”

We bought our first sheepskin for our baby girl to sleep on, chiefly because it felt instinctively right, nothing else seemed soft enough for our tender little baby, we only found out later how good our choice had been. It seems that children who have spent time on sheepskin may actually carry benefits for the rest of their lives.

German researchers found babies who had slept on animal skin in their first three months of life were much less likely to develop asthma and allergies by the time they were 10. They say microbes found in animal skin could help protect against asthma and allergies by strengthening the immune system. Mail Online

Here at Dartmoor Sheepskins we can’t choose your motivation for wanting a sheepskin, whether it’s to soften a bed for a loved one who is immobile, whether it’s to keep the driver comfortable on a long journey, or, like us, because it’s the only thing soft enough for new born skin. We can’t even choose your sheepskin – only you can do that, but we CAN guarantee that you’ll be getting the highest quality tanning, on sheepskins as unique and special as your family.

 

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Making Sheepskins – the second oldest profession in the world

How old are sheepskins, in terms of human history, how did we get to where we are today?

Sheepskins get just one mention in the Bible, and not a terribly nice mention at that:

They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated.

70's Only Fools and Horses star, David Jason, as Dell Boy

After the 70’s sheepskin coats of Dell Boy and Minder fame became unfashionable, a small group of people met in a pub in the West Country to decide what could be done to promote the product they believed in. They had little money, but a great love of the product. The public at that time were seeing sheepskin as hard wearing but unfashionable.

That small group commissioned a family run public relation firm called Wordsworth:

Wordsworth undertook a successful low budget local and national press campaign, portraying Sheepskin in a new light as soft and sexy, rather than practical and hardwearing. The Clothes Show began an immensely influential BBC TV run on winter Sunday afternoons, regularly attracting audiences of 6 – 10 million across the nation and internationally – Industry Report

What followed was a whirlwind for the industry, Vivienne Westwood exhibited models wearing skimpy sheepskin bras and knickers and the public imagination shifted beyond the hard wearing sheepskin coats of the 70’s and into the more deserving soft and sexy place sheepskins inhabit today. A £2000 prize was offered to design students and Clothes Show presenter, Jeff Banks, helped to promote these new sexy outfits and accessories far and wide.

In fairness though, our earliest ancestors; who were using hides and skins long before the times of biblical stonings, were probably after the more practical aspects offered by sheepskin, its warmth, for example, perhaps being instinctively drawn to its hypoallergenic nature, and almost certainly the way it draws moisture away from the skin, keeping the wearer feeling fresh (it’s still used today by the medical industry to prevent pressure sores).

How long have humans tanned sheepskins?

In the stone age, fur was crucial to survival in the northern world and a sheepskin cape was found on a bog body in Denmark that was dated from 365-116 BC. Here in the UK, skins were being tanned along side the Thames since Roman times, in fact the tanneries only ceased production in the 70’s, meaning Del Boy’s coat could very well have been made right where the well loved Only Fools and Horses was set.

Deep in the West Country, where our sheepskins are made, is the last stronghold of the UK tanning industry.

The Industry is now [in 2006] quite clear that ways must be found to ensure the two thousand year old UK tanning tradition, currently vested in the South West of England region, is passed to the next, properly trained and equipped generation of woolskin technicians, scientists, designers and professional management. – industry report

At Dartmoor Sheepskins we think sheepskins need to move on from Del Boy, move on from Vivienne Westwood’s soft and sexy, and inhabit a well deserved place as a daily luxury in family life. Nearly all of our friends have sheepskins in their homes, most of them bought one when they had a baby on the way, just like we did, many have several sheepskins. We hope you too can find your own perfect bespoke sheepskin with us. Tanning skins may be ‘the second oldest profession in the world’, but a freshly laundered sheepskin is every bit as luxurious as the day you first snuggled it.