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The Science of Sheepskin

Modern high performance sheepskin combines the exothermic properties of wool with the hydroscopic quality of each individual wool fiber. The resultant fabric is as strong as leather, can absorb upto 30% of its own weight in water and can be washed and dried like a pair of jeans.

Man made fabrics can’t absorb water like sheepskin. This is because sheepskin’s absorbency doesn’t depend on surface tension (the physical property that makes water ‘creep’ up the sides of a jar). Instead, sheepskin ‘holds’ moisture within the air trapped between its wavy strands. Tight curly hairs inhibit air movement to such an extent that the space between them works in our favour, locking moisture comfortably away and producing heat as it does so.

Sheepskins produce heat as they absorb water

Wool is a hygroscopic fibre. As the humidity of the surrounding air rises and falls, the fibre absorbs and releases water vapour. Heat is generated and retained during the absorption phase, which makes wool a natural insulator. Used in the home, wool insulation helps to reduce energy costs and prevents the loss of energy to the external environment, thus reducing carbon emissions.” –Campaign for Wool

Sheepskins are naturally anti-bacterial, and will work surprisingly well as picnic rugs, particularly suited to nestling bowls and glasses away from the British weather. They also work well as baby changing mats and medical cushions – the moisture handling comes into its own on long journeys or when confined to a bed. Shake them out and they are ready for more.

Plastic isn’t fantastic

You can spend as long as you want snuggled up with a sheepskin. Unlike polyesthers, sheepskin releases zero endocrine-disrupting chemicals.

Fight fire with fur

Wool is flame retardant, see for yourself in this short video.

No only are man made fibers derived from oil, but they also lack the heat and moisture handling properties of natural sheepskin. Sheepskin is flame retardant. Polyesthers are fuel, the difference couldn’t be more stark.

Plastic fabrics break down at an astonishing rate. Each time a man made fabric is flexed it sheds millions of tiny plastic fibers that have ended up in our air, water and food. Microfibers are found in almost every living being on earth, whereas sheepskins are 100% biodegradable.

99.6% of sheepskins are destroyed each year over ethical concerns regarding fur farms and animal exploitation. All Dartmoor Sheepskins are by-products of the meat industry, which consumes 5.5 million sheep a year but preserves just 60,000 hides. We think that’s a waste, do you agree?

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SALE NOW ON – CBD Oil From Cannabis grown in the UK

THC is illegal in the UK, but many other chemical compounds present in cannabis are not. The good news is that the legal substances that cannabis produces can also have medical uses, and they are all becoming available under the heading CBD. Our CBD products are made from simple raw ingredients and contain no flavourings or anything artificial. George Botanicals grow cannabis in the UK (near Bath) and these products are produced under licence for use within the UK.

CBD is Cannabidiol, and it is found along with a spectrum of other goodies in these very precise 10ml dropper bottles. In this recent lab report you can see significant potential entourage effect with CBDV, CBG, THCV and CBDA in noteworthy quantities.

CBD lab report showing significant CBDV at 4.5%. George Botanicals British grown CBD. Contains CBDV, CBG, CBD, THCV and CBDA
Example of George Botanicals 20% CBD oil cannabinoid profile, showing significant levels of CBDv – Shop Here

Does CBD make you high?

CBD is a chemical substance found in cannabis that has medical benefits. It won’t get you high, because it doesn’t contain THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), the chemical in cannabis that makes you high.

NHS Guidance on Medical Cannabis

The NHS in their guidance on medical cannabis also warn about the quality, quantity, efficacy and legality of CBD products available on and off-line. One only has to read the descriptions of the oils, pills and potions to spot a number of ways that unscrupulous retailers could catch you out. The products we sell contain at least what we say they contain. They are produced under Home Office licence in the UK (0.2% THC is permissible under UK law as the minimum that is possible to reasonably detect, see recent lab report for example).

Sale Now On – Save £20 on British CBD oil.

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Love hurts (but it shouldn’t also make you bleed).

Rex is a loving chap, but very very sharp. He likes to climb onto Zarah’s lap slowly, using his sharp claws as grappling hooks. If he does this after walking through ink, he will leave a tattoo. Rex’s love hurts.

A cuddle from Rex can leave a purrmanant mark.

Rex likes to knead his owner, Zarah, with his savage paws. Zarah has no idea why he does this, indeed no one knows why any cat does it, all that we know is most of them do this at all stages of life.

“If your cat is curled up and kneading your lap while you’re petting him, he’s returning the affection and telling you he loves you right back. Unfortunately, this can be quite painful, since the happier he is, the harder he’ll dig in with his sharp nails. Try placing a thick, soft barrier between the cat and your lap, or gently place him on his back and pet his belly if it gets too intense. However, do not punish your cat for this behavior — he doesn’t relaize it hurts.”


Coping With Sharp-Clawed Cats

Making Rex safer and/or less painful has been a health and safety issue as well as a comfort issue. Cats walk and run through whatever is underfoot, they catch and eat rodents (and don’t use toothpaste). They might have impeccable personal hygiene, but antibacterial they are not.

Cat-Scratch Disease

It’s a thing. A particular bacteria (Bartonella henselae) enters the bloodstream via cat’s claws and the infection becomes systemic. It’s very rare, but it has happened. What’s more likely in an untreated case of Senior Cat Sharpness Syndrome is reluctance to cuddle on the part of the owner. Zarah had complained about this very symptom upon our first meeting. A few ruined pairs of tights and a holey jumper had turned the sight of Rex from an “ahhh” to “eek”.

What a surprise, a sheepskin fan, writing on a sheepskin website, is recommending sheepskins

Lots of different fabrics can work very well. Any fabric thicker than your cat’s claws will help. The only thing to watch for is thread on the carpet. For shear convenience and luxury Zarah opted to give Rex an old sheepskin. OK, that’s not entirely true. Rex himself claimed a nearly new sheepskin as his own, and no one in the family had the heart to complain. Rex is a very old man and any complaints would have landed on authentically deaf ears anyway.

At this point I’ll stick my neck out and suggest that most sheepskins will eventually end up at Pet Grade. But what if you are designing your perfect petting solution? Check out our clipped sheepskins. These have been shaved so that both layers of hair are the same length, leaving a very dense easy-care soft mat. Cats can plunge their claws into fleece without ripping shreds out of it, unlike with a woven fabric. The thick sheepskin hide prevents even the sharpest claws piercing through, and the hydrophobic fibers can be shaken in to a house-proud state in just a moment.

They don’t always land fur-side up, but they are always ready for use.

Some cats will prefer to scratch the “back”of the sheepskin, the thick sheep leather can be ideal for older cats to pull at their own claws (essential for cat self-care). This can have the added bonus of being warm and snuggly for the cat’s Prefered Human. Ask your cat which he prefers.

Don’t hurry to “retire” a sheepskin. If you have used and abused your sheepy over the summer, follow our simple washing instructions and you’ll see that cats aren’t the only things that get to enjoy nine lives. Until next time, happy sheeping!

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Competition time – Win a Dartmoor sheepskin! #WinADartmoorSheepskin

You could win a Dartmoor sheepskin by following us on Facebook and sharing our free competition! #WinADartmoorSheepskin.

How to enter:

  1. Like our Page.
  2. Share our Post (use the hashtag #WinADartmoorSheepskin)
  3. Leave a Comment.

To enter you need to do three things: Like our page, Share our competition post using the hashtag #WinADartmoorSheepskin and leave a comment.

We’ll only search on Facebook, posts made on other social networks are great for us, but won’t help you win.

We’ll pick the lucky winner at random from the comments and announce the winner on Facebook on our official page after 5pm on November the 5th (bonfire night). It’s a UK based competition. If you win from abroad we’ll arrange delivery at your cost (sorry about that).

Good luck from the Dartmoor Sheepskins crew!

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5 Brilliant uses for a sheepskin (and 1 awful one that will make you wrinkle your nose).

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.

The Good.

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.

The Bad.

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.

The Ugly.

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.

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Do sheep die to make sheepskins?

sheepskin laid on log

Sheepskin is a sheep’s skin, and it comes from an animal that has been slaughtered. Most Sheepskins (including ours) come from sheep that have died for meat. *Very* few Sheepskins are tanned. 60k out of well over 5 million sheep. This is sad. According to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation a lorry load of plastic fabrics gets burned or buried *every second*. This is the same fate awaits all these millions of wasted sheepskins.

 and has come from a sheep that has died for meat.

Sad because at the end of their long life, sheepskins rot away harmlessly into the environment. Not only this, during use sheepskins emit zero endocrine disrupting chemicals.

Whereas man made fibers, made from oil (with all its associated “complications”) emit chemicals that harm developing brains. Sheepskin doesn’t do this. What sheepskin does is help regulate temperature and moisture (just like it did for the sheep). Its exothermic nature means it warms up whilst absorbing moisture, this is *very* good in winter. 

It can absorb up to 30% of its own weight in water (although we all know I’m talking about sweat, right?) this quality is excellent in summer.

Further reading can be found on the excellent Campaign for Wool website (Dartmoor sheepskins is not affiliated with Campaign for Wool, it’s just a brilliantly laid out argument for wool), here it is.

You may like to read my blog posts where I go into a little more depth about the ethics and sustainability of sheepskins, or perhaps you’d like to view our range of Dartmoor sheepskins?

sheepskin being used as a changing mat in the park
All season baby care, click here to view.

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How To Make Your Own Blue Gin

If you are wondering how to make blue gin you’re in the right place! You can turn your favorite gin blue with the addition of edible flowers, we recommend violets and clitoria flowers (available here). Dried flowers come with the advantage of being storable although fresh flowers can look stunning in the glass. If using dried flowers the time required is reduced dramatically.

How to make blue gin

Instructions: Simply pour a little gin into a glass to make room for your flowers. Add about six flowers to a 70cl bottle (more for darker blue, less for lighter) and wait as the colour percolates throughout. After ten or so minutes you can invert the bottle to mix the colour. Don’t shake or you risk roughing up your flowers and they won’t look as good.

With fresh flowers you may need to leave them for a couple of days. Keep an eye on the condition of fresh flowers and remove them at the slightest hint of wilting or browning (this shouldn’t be a huge problem as long as the whole flower has been submerged in the preservative gin).

And that’s it, you have blue gin!

But why stop there? Clitoria flowers go through a dramatic and beautiful colour change. When you add citrus, your blue gin will transform into pink gin! Give it another twist of lime, It’s gorgeous!

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Why Wool? -Because at the end of its long and useful life, it has the good grace to rot away.

Why Wool? -Because at the end of the party it has the good grace to leave.

Wool has qualities that man can only dream of recreating. The first attempt was made in 1855 and we’ve been trying in vain ever since. Not only does wool wick moisture and retain heat (and all those other good things we have come to associate with wool), but it also has the good grace to rot away harmlessly into the environment when it is finally done (to be clear: I have *never* seen a sheepskin reach the end of useful life).

Campaigners from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation found a full bin-lorry of man made fabrics is being dumped or burned every second of every day. Much of this waste comes from wool replacement materials.

All Dartmoor Sheepskins come as waste from the meat industry. Less than one in two hundred sheepskins are tanned (the rest are landfill, or burned). To further compound the illogic of this we then extract oil from the ground and make plastic fur out of it. This causes a multitude of problems, including microfibers in our own bodies.

At the end of its useful life, wool can be returned to the soil, or the marine environment where it decomposes, releasing valuable nitrogen-based nutrients into the ground/ocean.

Campaign For Wool

Green, in unexpected ways

Step forward the Campaign for Wool with a series of short videos extolling the virtues of wool vs its synthetic counterpart. Take a look, we’ve worked with sheepskins for years and some of these videos surprised us. More available on the Campaign for Wool YouTube page.

Wool is a hygroscopic fibre. As the humidity of the surrounding air rises and falls, the fibre absorbs and releases water vapour. Heat is generated and retained during the absorption phase, which makes wool a natural insulator. Used in the home, wool insulation helps to reduce energy costs and prevents the loss of energy to the external environment, thus reducing carbon emissions.

Campaign For Wool

If you are already in love with natural fibers you may want to check out our specialist subject, and if that is your thing, you may like our range of natural plant dyes too! Keep it real – keep it wool.

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Behind the scenes at Dartmoor Sheepskins

Behind the scenes at Dartmoor Sheepskins

“People sometimes think we live in a huge house surrounded by sheepskins”

Wonderful natural products

All our products are sustainably sourced and natural. They are *exactly* as described – ground root bark will be ground root bark with nothing added or taken away, for example. When you and your children have worn your sheepskin down, and even the dog prefers something softer… at least it has the good grace to biodegrade, rather than sit in landfill for decades to come. I guess this goes some way to explaining why we do what we do.

“After a while we realised that our friends and family knowing our products were good wasn’t enough. We could tell people how good they were until we were blue in the face. People only really believe their own eyes, we have to show them.

British Sheepskin

While a Dartmoor sheepskin can always add a touch of luxury to any room, their practical durability make our fleeces suitable for year-round use.

Natural Dye

Roots and shoots plain and simple. Our powders are ground for days at a time, our flowers are picked at their peak. Nothing has been added or taken away.

Natural Incense

Fresh and vigorous fragrances to destress a modern home. Used for hardcore spiritual practice and beautiful for decluttering and mindfulness.

Gin Flowers

Make your own blue gin with these delightful Clitoria flowers, so named after their feminine shape. We love the colour they infuse in our favourite gin.

Palo Santo chips are excellent for smudging.

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Come home to a sheepskin, wherever you are.

Hard wearing and fully machine washable. Sheepskins are great to come home to wherever you are.

British summer often to throws a wobbly and that’s why it’s good to know sheepskins are easy to clean. Long-haired types will pick up twigs and other woodland detritus, so save them for bedtime. Keep newer sheepskins on a ground sheet or enforce a strict no-shoes policy. Housekeeping matters, wherever you sleep.

Machine washable at 30 degrees

Instant luxury seating, right by the fire.

As a sheepskin gets older you get less fussy about where you put it. It’s still the same sheepskin that was there at the birth of your new arrival, if no longer needed. It is still the same rug that helped you get out of bed on a cold morning. It’s just that tomorrow morning your day might not be starting at home.

Whilst a sheepskin might be nice on a trek, rolling into a sleeping-bag sized object is no excuse for the extra weight. Whilst we might boast about how easy sheepskins are to wash and dry, getting one wet in your rucksack won’t be fun to carry.

Where you can afford the luxury of a sheepskin is where you have a car. It’s no hassle to carry a rolled up sheepskin some distance, as long as you aren’t also lugging around everything else you need for the next three days at the very same time.

Where will you take yours?

A rug like the one above really comes into its own during a picnic, where bowls of food can be nestled into the fleece and stabilised even on the roughest moorland. The real question isn’t so much what will you use your sheepskin for, but where you will be when you use it.

Image with sheepskin washing instructions

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