We had the most interesting enquiry, it read: Can your dye last in sea water for three weeks?
We didn’t know. Nobody did. We wondered why you want a dye that only lasted three weeks as much as anything. What can you do in three weeks? Shoot a film? Shoot an underwater film…? Turns out it’s for dying seal pups on Farne Island, the National Trust rangers and volunteers tag the baby seals to track how the colony is doing. Once you’ve counted the seal, you paint it. I’m not saying all seals look alike, it’s just there are such large numbers.
There are between 15 and 20 islands depending on the state of the tide
Look out for the island’s colony of grey or Atlantic seals hauled up on the rocks or bobbing inquisitively in the sea. The islands have the largest breeding colony in England with some 2,000 pups born here each autumn.
David Attenborough declared Farne Island one of two places in Britain to see nature at its best. Tweeter @BarleySpillman asked “for those who can’t go abroad as easily, where in the UK offers the best opportunity to capture magnificent nature?”
Count us in
The National Trust volunteers count the seal cubs, then mark them to avoid counting them twice. The dye also allows the National Trust to keep track of mortality rates and watch for any trends. The task of the dye is simply to mark them for three weeks until their adult fur comes through. The dye needs to be safe, seawater resistant and to stick to the fur despite the natural oils that help keep the seals warm.
This year the rangers have experimented with our natural Madder Dye and we’ve just sent them some of our natural Turmeric Dye for testing. Like all our dyes they are both just plant material with nothing added or taken away. Both are considered non-toxic, which is a great starting point, however the real test will be whether it can survive in this challenging and unique environment.
Welcome to our new range of vibrant winter colours! Use the coupon code WinterCheer15 to save 15% right across our new (and old) dyes, incenses and perfumed oils. Perfect for you, perfect to give and perfectly priced. Winter is here, and it becomes more important than ever to bring beauty into your home. Our incenses are evocative and peaceful, our perfumed oils are delightful and fun (and at prices you can play around with). But right here I want to introduce you to our new range of natural dyes.
Pink soap story – At Dartmoor sheepskins we love unusual requests, most of our queries are around shipping times or fabric types but this one was unusual. We had an enquiry from Nicole from Les savons de Nicole who wanted to use our dyes to colour her hand made soaps. We have never thought of using our dyes for things other than fabric, wool and the such like so we were very excited by the new challenge.
We talked via email about various dyes and how they might work colouring soap without colouring people. We settled on madder which can be added straight to the lye water rather than infusing in oil first.
Voila! Pink Soap!
Nicole sent us some samples of the soap when it was made and they are beautiful! She said that she has only used a small amount of madder as this was her first try. She later sent a picture of some that she had made with more pigment and the results were equally beautiful.
Special thanks to Nicole for the beautiful soap and the interesting enquiry! If you would like to see more of her work you can check out her Facebook page here. If you would like to try our madder for any of your own projects you can get some of your very own here.
Whether it’s Sheepskin to the Shetland Isles, Frankincense to Frankfurt or Mimosa to Margate – for one week only we’ll post your purchases for free to wherever you are in Europe. Enjoy free shipping until November 7th with Dartmoor Sheepskins using the coupon FreeSheeping.
Subscribers to our newsletter get special deals and exclusive offers with every email. We never send spam. This week they were the first to find out that we will be shipping our entire range throughout Europe, for free. Just place your order and use the discount code: FreeSheeping.
Please note: FreeSheeping is a stand alone discount and cannot be used on sale items or with other discount coupons.
We specialise in unique natural substances, luxury lamb fleece, sacred incenses and perfume oils. We believe that luxury shouldn’t cost the earth. That’s why we source all our products ethically and sustainably. Stuck for a stocking filler? Take a look at our economically priced perfume oils – just £4 a bottle!
Give some unique tea, for free.
Why not give our beautiful colour changing Butterfly Pea Tea, as a present? We offer generous (and very pretty) samples for free, just pay P+P. Adults love the taste, and that it’s loaded with antioxidants, everyone loves the colour! Serve with a slice of lemon for a light refreshing cup of tea, squeeze the lemon to adjust the colour and flavour.
You bring the gold! Our Frankincense,Myrrh and other sacred woods and resins are beautifully evocative. They transform the way a room feels with aromas that fill the senses and delight. Try smudging with Palo Santo to clean a room and calm life down. Use our Copal to restore energy and cheers things up. Burn Frankincense and Myrrh and you’ll see that it is as relevant now as ever. Real incenses make Christmas golden, take a look at our range of incenses.
For the ultimate in luxury we recommend sheepskin. Used by man for thousands of years (and with very good reason!) Proper Dartmoor Sheepskin costs less than you might think and each one is unique. It is a quality product that will last for generations. Tanned the traditional way on Dartmoor for the utmost in softness and care. Cuddle a sheepskin, for less than you think. See our range here.
We stock a full range of natural dyes, free from petrochemicals, and these can make excellent and economical gifts. From Mimosa Hostilis to marvelous Madder, we even supply dyes for marking seal pups! If you want to keep in touch, sign up below.
These beautiful perfume oils are sometimes clean and airy, other times erotic and primal. Which ones work for you?
capture the essence of fine woods and flowers. Ethically sourced from artisan perfumers creating beautiful and evocative fragrances. These oils are not to be missed. Each one made with cold-pressed flower oils and steam-extracted woods and resins. Sometimes vibrant, othertimes dark and musky. At just £4 per bottle you can afford to mix and match, and make blends as gifts.
Our full range of Indian perfume oils for you to try:
A sheepskin rug from Dartmoor Sheepskins will always be of a superb quality. Tanned the traditional way, on Dartmoor, they have a sumptuous fleece on a hard-wearing hide. These are products that last for generations and are machine washable using these simple instructions.
We will help you get the right sheepskin.
Each sheepskin rug is unique, with the pretties varying by a huge amount. Because we are a small company we can find the right one for you. Place your order and leave a comment on your order us to let us know which one you’ve fallen in love with. We’ll find one to compliment your home.
Who will get to snuggle it first?
When your sheepskin rug arrives home you are not going to want to put it on the floor. Be sure to take the time to snuggle it first. Sleep on it. Plunge your hands right in. It might even end up on your bed, being used to soften a pushchair (or to keep a baby cool in summer).
Dartmoor sheepskins are remarkably good at wicking moisture away from skin. They will also help prevent bed sores when people are imobile or sick. We can supply the right sort of fleece to help yourself or a relative. Feel free to let us know how you plan to use yours.
Why choose a Dartmoor sheepskin rug?
For hundreds of years sheep have roamed Dartmoor, free from fences and pens, living a life outside. Over the same period tanneries around Dartmoor have developed the methods still at the peak of global sheepskin quality, still in use today.
When you handle a Dartmoor sheepskin you can feel how different it is to the generic products offered by bigger stores. These hides are whole, not made from pieces stitched together. These fleeces are thick, durable and machine washable at 30 degrees Celsius.
Feel free to join our mailing list below for exclusive offers and discounts (we respect your privacy and don’t send spam).
“But this is Dartmoor”, I said, as it was explained to me that the tannery, one of the oldest and best tanneries in the world, could no longer sell sheepskins locally. The Axminster Carpet factory was closing, with the loss of 300 jobs and the factory shop, which was where sheepskins were sold. An idea was forming. But could we make it work selling just sheepskin?
Could we really run a shop that sold just sheepskin?
The tannery would continue as most of their business was in producing products for larger stores. But it felt wrong that they had to produce standard products, all the same, for the likes of IKEA and John Lewis. Not that there’s anything wrong with a sheepskin from either of these places, it’s just that sometimes non-standard is, well, nicer.
So we started DartmoorSheepskins.co.uk, an online shop specialising in these larger, thicker sheepskins, often patterned or with beautiful brown spots. Each unique, each one hand picked from the tannery. We fell in love with them and wanted them in our lives. We wanted to bring them into other people’s lives, as well as supporting an ancient craft.
Since then we have grown into the store we have today, still called Dartmoor Sheepskins. Our range of products has grown with our customers. We now sell:
The more we looked into the industry, the more we knew we wanted to sell sheepskins. Millions of people eat lamb, and millions of lambskins are destroyed as a waste product of the meat industry. Only 0.45% of sheepskins are ever tanned.
Sheep are generally raised outside in the UK. There is simply no reason to keep them indoors, so they enjoy a life on the land. The sheepskins we source are raised on Dartmoor. Read more about the ethics and the industry here.
Agarwood has a rich woody scent with fresh spice, faint floral hints, tobacco, leather, honey. A pleasant masculine fragrance. Strong. Agarwood is one of the most expensive woods in the world, but our oils are just £4 for an 8ml bottle. Have a look at our range here.
Butterfly Pea Tea is a delicious refreshing brew, rich in antioxidants and beautiful in colour. It responds to a little lemon juice by changing from blue into purple, see try it both ways to see which you prefer. Kids love to play with it and it’s good for them too.
We look forward to serving you, if you have any questions or suggestions we’re all ears. Remember, we started selling just sheepskin! Feel free to join our mailing list, where we give subscriber discounts and exclusive offers.
We have been so lucky to get guest blogger Lucy Lepchani to talk about the use of natural mordants. Mordants are a huge part of determining the colours and final results of your dye projects and if you head over to Lucy’s blog you can see some of the beautiful and varied results she has achieved, check it out here.
“I have stuck with the least toxic and most affordable/accessible ones so far, which are salt, vinegar, tannin from rhubarb/blackberry/oak leaves, alum (bought as a powder) soda ash/washing soda, and iron. Some dyes don’t need mordants: lichens, turmeric and oak.
How I use them: first, make sure the wool is washed of any commercial fastening or detergent. careful not to felt it in the process – heat is OK – agitation makes felt. You can use soda ash but I hate how it makes wool brittle. Iron is my favourite: keep some rusty nails or steel wool in a jar of spirit vinegar. After the wool is washed and rinsed, or, as I do, after the dye is in the pan, add a good sloosh (I am so slapdash, a sloosh is a small wineglass full) of iron mordant and let the wool soak for ages and ages – ages x 2 meaning a few hours or a day.
Using alum must be done in advance – I use it with all kitchen ingredient things (not turmeric) but it must be used in equal parts with cream of tartar or th wool is horribly sticky.
Iron makes colours slightly murky (I love these) alum makes them quite as-they-are, and I hear that tin and copper make the colours brighter but I haven’t made natural versions of them yet. I want to. That will involve copper in vinegar, and tin likewise. Slooshes are my mainstay of amount, I have yet to discover how they work. I have just ordered a teeny amount of copper sulphate to save time/see if its worth the trouble of using copper in my palette. If so, I will be harassing plumbers for their leftovers forever.
Also – vinegar brings out the red in colours, bicarb accentuates blue. With an alum mordant, you can get a range of pinks, mauves and blues from red cabbage. salt is my go-to if I’m having self doubt about a mordant, I just add a teaspoon or so into the mix.
You can check out Lucy’s blog here, and our range of natural dyes here. Thanks for the inspiration Lucy.
I don’t know if Androids dream of electric sheep, but I often catch my mobile staring into space. So, what is best Android app for watching space? Whether you enjoy space watching from the dark skies of Dartmoor, or from the city centre in the middle of the day. Here’s the Dartmoor Sheepskins top 3 space-watching apps.
The NASA app brings you stunning images and video from around the solar system. Find out what NASA scientists and engineers are up to, on a mission-by-mission basis. Learn about the motivation behind nearly 200 projects. One, for example, is seeking an asteroid to land on, in order to grab a boulder. A boulder which NASA will then put in orbit around the moon! Although not immediately obvious, the aim is up-skilling in readiness for a manned mission to Mars.
NASA add several stunningly high resolution images each day, each one poster material. You’ll also get meteorological events as seen from space, the Californian fires have featured in recent days – they are huge. One image shows the mapped magnetic field of the sun constructed by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory. One can’t help wondering how these observations will be informed by the just launched mission into the sun.
You could let your child use the NASA app without feeling guilty, just as long as you don’t mind them disturbing you when they find something that blows their mind (which they inevitably will).
NASA include a flight schedule, sighting opportunities and a little rotatable globe with plus images and information for each relevant project. The simplicity of layout coupled with the depth and spread of content, make this a must have space-app. The shear beauty of the images make this the best Android app for watching space. If you have room in your life (and on your phone) for just one space app – make it this one.
2. ISS Live HD
Watch the earth from space, live from the international space station. The app is clean and easy to use, contains loads of content laid out simply. Watch live in real-time or various augmented videos with stars and streetlights added using a brilliantly composed overlay of high resolution images taken by cosmonauts.
Track the station, see today’s schedule – having given permission for ISS Live HD to use my location I can see that today the ISS will pass overhead five times. It won’t be visible for any of them due to daylight, but it’s nice to know somewhere above me are a bunch of scientists working hard in a tin can hurtling so very very fast around this pale blue dot.
Global (and exceptionally polite) chat with translate function that performs like the familiar Google product. Google have also provided Street View of the interior of the modules of the space station, you can get a sense of how small both the space station and the earth really are.
This app is geared towards satellites in the sky and it has some really cool features. Select your satellite and then scroll through the timeline watching its orbit on a couple of globes and a world map.
Heavens-Above adds predictions of ‘Iridium Flare’ which is the reflection of the sun in some solar panels. It’s an effect that surpasses a simple reflection, and can even look like a stunning ball of coloured light. Sometimes bright enough to see during the day if you know where to look.
… the brief but dramatically bright flashes are predictable night sky events easily seen with the naked eye, even under heavily light-polluted city skies. The flares are caused by sunlight bouncing off Iridium communication satellites, a constellation of 72 probes launched between 1997 and 2002.
You might want to download this free app and give it a go soon. The satellites run by Iridium are being upgraded and will soon stop ‘flaring’. Work is set to be completed by the end of 2018.
Aiming, or even finding, the satellite couldn’t be simpler. Just aim the device at the sky, I found laying down was easiest. Aim the reticule at the satellite on-screen and you will be looking towards it in real life.
Some, but not all satellites are the large cylinders with solar panels for ears (or arms depending on how much sugar you ate as a child). I was intrigued to find a number of Russian rocket bodies and an amateur radio satellite weighing just 29kg.
Heavens-Above isn’t the best Android app for watching space, but it is fascinating to play with. For a limited time it might mean you get to see one of the last Iridium flares ever to be seen in the history of planet Earth. Stick it on your download list and lay down in the garden for an hour.
Spaceship Earth – what is the best Android app for watching space?
The most striking thing about all three apps is the amount of international involvement in space projects. No country could claim dominance. If the European Space Agency launches a satellite then it’ll be tracked and serviced in part by NASA. Look up into the sky at any time and you will find Indian and Russian equipment. No matter what is said down here upon the earth, on board the International Space Station the only language is of discovery, survival and cooperation.
The list of people who have gone into space includes; Italians, Canadians, French, British, Chinese, Germans, Japanese and of course Russians, Americans and a dog. The point is, space is a big project and we only get to the next level by working together. I’ll leave you with one last point of interest. Do you know why rockets are launched as near as possible to the equator? Well, the earth rotates at more than a thousand miles an hour eastwards. Launching eastwards therefore from the equator lends the rocket more than 900 miles an hour extra, for free, without adding extra fuel. Go on dive in, download an app and look up at the sky.
Happy space watching, wherever you are!
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