Sheepskin receives a misplaced special worship when new. Folks treat it like it’s never been dragged through a hedge by a sheep. As though, just now, it has become sensitive to grass or soil. Yet as soon as the poor thing gets dirty folks will relegate a sheepskin to the Pet League. This said, when you understand what a sheepskin is, you can then think much more freely about how you can use them.
Firstly, a sheepskin is a sheep’s skin. Dartmoor sheepskins come from animals that have been slaughtered for meat. Sheepskin will have served the sheep just as well as it will serve you. The changeable British weather will be kept at bay by thick, curly woolen fleece. Wool fibers are hollow and handle moisture and temperature as a connected environmental whole, making sheepskin all-season.
Wool is exothermic, meaning that whilst it absorbs moisture it gives out heat. Water molecules have the opposite polarity to wool fiber, when they collide they produce heat.
The individual fibers are hydrophobic, which comes in handy when you need to shake off a summer shower. Augmenting this ability to shed water comes one of sheepskin’s best known and most loved properties: its ability to wick moisture away from the skin.
It isn’t the wool itself but the structure of the fibers that allows wool to absorb upto 30% of its own weight in water. That it can do this whilst continuing to exhibit excellent thermal characteristics and still feeling dry, is unique and special. Man has yet to come close with his plastic fabrics. Also, at the end of its long life, sheepskin has the good grace to rot away harmlessly.
Into this mix we can toss the quick drying and machine washability of the modern sheepskin, and you have a mobile comfort-rug with numourous uses, some of them utterly horrendous.
For picnics. Not to serve food on (except during high winds when cups etc can be nestled) but for sitting and laying on. Sheepskins are really hard wearing.
For festivals. Laying your head in a sheepskin is a level of self care that nurtures the soul whilst it soothes the body. Plan ahead, take some luxury with you. And bog roll, take bog roll too.
For long distance. Long rides on uncomfortable seats are bad for the mood. Might we suggest a soft moisture-wicking sheepskin?
For camping. Hiking is one thing, but for most camping trips a vehical of some sort is involved. In these cases take a sheepy. You will (almost) always have a better nights sleep with a sheepskin under you.
Because you care. Sheepskin emits zero endocrine disrupting chemicals. It’s a safe (and instant) baby bed. Stuck in bed for long periods? Use a fabric that actively helps, rather than just copes. Sheepskin excels at personal care.
Sandy beaches. These are awful with sheepskins. Avoid woodland twigs and leaves too, as these make a right mess. Instead leave the sheepskin inside the camper van or tent and have a No Shoes policy.
Food service. Great at picnics, I said, not great for serving food on. Bowls can be snuggled into fleece in order that they stay the right way up, but don’t let kids mash flakey pastry into sheepskin (unless they really have to).
On hot summer nights. Wool might have scientifically significant properties affecting how water and temperature interact with it, but on a hot night you want cotton.
Leisure vs pet care. Keep cats (and similarly possessive creatures) away from sheepskin, unless you are of weak will and the animal has completely possessed your soul. Pets love sheepskin.
Amature baby changing. Possibly the worst thing that can happen to a sheepskin is a baby art-painting liquid yoghurt food with a coloured spoon from a pot marketed with cartoon dinosaurs. No one knows if dinosaurs ate bacteria riddled milk, but let’s suspend cynicism and assume it tastes good. This abomination (or pinnacle of natural parenting, depending how you look at it) is marginally pipped at the post for most awful sheep skincident by a common place sheepskin usage: Baby changing. Handled badly this can make adoption seem more attractive.
Normally, parents and careers are sufficiently skilled in baby wrestling before they take on the Outdoor Nappy. Sometimes, however, an unskilled relative or street drunk will step in to assist. Observe them managing a baby, preferably someone else’s, before letting them gain access to your precious sheepskin (or baby). If the carnage has already happened already happened, roll up your sleeves (and your sheepskin) and click here.