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Be childish, whilst there is still time

coin sparks cap. simpler things.

Enjoy the simpler things in life.

Remember to enjoy the simpler things in life, a friend of mine was recently hospitalised. He recovered, but the gentleman in the bed opposite didn’t. Witnessing a guy dying has changed my friend somewhat, and as he returns to health his focus has changed too. Now he urges that we all enjoy family and friends while there is still time.
This Sunday we took a slow family day walking around a car boot sale and we spotted some old fashioned strips of caps. The ones we used to play with when we were kids. At home in the garden we took them out and struck them with a two pence coin on a slab.
More fun was had from that 50p spent on simple caps played with in the back garden than days that have cost far more.

Lots of love from your friends at Dartmoor Sheepskins – have fun, take it easy, hug your kids, spark some caps with a 2p coin.

 

Barney give instructions on how to spark caps with a coin

 

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Out of respect for mice I will not use pesticide.

in focus bindweed root out of focus dug bed

So, I find myself with a conflict but have decided I will not use pesticide. 

Plants you want will die if you so much as look at them wrong. Bindweed, on the other hand, can regenerate a whole new colony if you leave behind a single millimetre of it’s brittle root. Surely, this is when you get the pesticide out.
 I have a rubber bucket full, heavy, with its brittle root. I’m even tempted to try weedkiller for the first time in my life, but this little fellow stops me.
I was working in my garden, trying to remove the insidious bind wind, my son called me over. We have a tiny little wood mouse living in our garden.  The wildlife on and around Dartmoor is part of what makes living in such a beautiful place all the more magical. This little fellow has been hibernating under a forgotten wooden board in the garden all winter. He has come out looking for food after the long winter months.
He was so bold that he even took a sunflower seed from my hand. Going about things the natural way is often slower and can take more steps to reach where you want to go, but it is at times like this that I am reminded the the journey can often hold as much joy as the destination.
Our garden may take a little longer to clear from weeds and our dyes make take a little longer than a quick spin in the washing machine but over all, today, I have the joy of enjoying the slower path.

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Natural Dye Kits Now Available!

Dye your own bag kit

Dye your own ethically sourced cotton bag with our super simple kits.

Natural dye kits! These kits contain simple instructions and all the ingredients you need to dye your own cotton drawstring bag. Each set of ingredients is ample for adding colour not only to the bag supplied, but also for dyeing/tie dyeing t shirts, pillow cases etc that you already have!

At just £19 they represent excellent value and a fun way to start your fabric dyeing career!

squares of cotton dyed in different natural colours
Which colour will you choose?

Each Natural Dye Kit contains:

  1. 20g Pack of natural dye (10g if choosing marigold and tesu)
  2. Plain cotton bag ready for dyeing
  3. 2 Pairs of latex-free gloves
  4. 20g Alum Powder
  5. Elastic bands (for tie dyeing)
  6. 100g Salt
  7. Simple Instructions

Super Dye Kit contains:

  1. 20g Pack of natural madder dye
  2. 20g Pack of natural woad dye
  3. 10g Pack natural marigold and tesu dye
  4. 2 Ethically sourced cotton drawstring bags
  5. 30g Natural alum mordant
  6. Elastic bands (for tie dyeing)
  7. 200g Salt
  8. 4 Pairs of latex-free gloves
  9. Simple instructions

stages of natural dyeing

Click HERE for our Natural WOAD Dye Kit

Click HERE for our Natural Marigold and Tesu dye Kit

Click HERE for our Natural Mimosa Dye Kit

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Introducing: The Lambkini!

Lambkini on male ready for the beach beachwear for men, made from sheepskin.

The Lambkini – Real Men Wear Wool.

As summer approaches we’ll be asked if our wardrobe will embarrass us on the beach, or indeed if our own bodies are up to the task of laying in the sun and attracting a mate. Don’t hide indoors this summer, instead tan your hide with a luxurious longhaired Lambkini™.

How often have you laid face down on the beach and cursed the way those tiny insidious grains catch in your soft, downy chest hair? No more will the irritation of microscopic crustaceans marr your sunny coastal man bathing. Finished your swim? No problem, just a quick shake and you’ll emerge from the water like Poseidon. Real men don’t let these things get in the way of being real – real men wear Lambkini™.

Pre order now to ensure that your summer is filled with comfort, style and dignity.

Coming soon: the new Micro-Lambkini™

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Sheepskin Seat Cover | Soft as a kitten, hard as nails

sheepskin seat cover on a motorbike

After an hour in the saddle without a sheepskin seat cover, many bikers experience ‘bikers bum’ and it can actually be quite sore.

It’s not just that some bikers are more suited to a Nissan Micra either, there’s nothing manly about ignoring the early signs of a pressure sore – quite the opposite. That’s why so many bikers are turning to a sheepskin seat cover, long used by the medical profession to make grandma more comfy in bed they serve admirably on a long haul. Not only this but they are surprisingly thermo-stable meaning your bum will stay cool in summer just as it will enjoy the utmost luxury on a cold winter morning.

The fact is, riding with sheepskin feels like a privilege.

One of the features you’ll enjoy with sheepskin is its ability to wick moisture away, keeping you dry (you understand I’m not for a moment suggesting that you have a sweaty arse, it’s just the other bikers, they have arses way sweatier than you).

The softest sheepskin makes for a perfect bikers holiday, in the summer it’ll be cool, in the winter it’ll be warm.

When you’re on a bike going fast you want the temperature to change slowly, so slowly that your own fat arse can heat the seat faster than those vibrating molecules can dissipate their energy. At speeds like this you really need sheepskin.

Bikers bottom? Long journey ahead? Don’t sweat that shit out, turn to sheepskin. These sheepskins are specially selected (each one is individually picked) to have a strong double layer of fur, pick a short cropped skin for easy care. Each skin is supplied whole, you simply cut the shape you need and apply to the sadle – you’re on the road, in utter luxury.

Your arse will thank you.

Sheepskins dry quickly in the tumble dryer, check out our cleaning guide.  Check out our range of sheepskins for your perfect partner.

Make YOUR arse happy, ride with sheepskin.

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Dyeing With Lac

lac dye with barney removing water from cloth

lac dye used for tie dye

Lac Dye is a fascinating product, made from insect secretion and harvested by inoculating trees with Kerria Lacca insects.

Cultivation begins when a farmer gets a stick that contains eggs ready to hatch and ties it to the tree to be infested. Thousands of lac insects colonise the branches of the host trees and secrete the resinous pigment. The coated branches of the host trees are cut and harvested to create the lac dye – Wikipedia

The results were way more purple than we were expecting, having originally been expecting a deep red result. This is a sign of an alkaline solution (acidic dye solution gives more orangey colours) – so much depends on the additional treatments used that each dye can produce a range of colours, sometimes dramatically different from each other. Indeed we expected this colour from mimosa dye, which in the event turned out brown!

Basic process:

  1. Wash fabric in alum and cream of tartar solution in warm water
  2. Squeeze out liquid, add fabric to Lac dye bath (1 litre warm water, 20 g Lac powder)
  3. Give fabric a soak in copper sulphate solution

Tie Dye:

  1. After the initial soaking, squeeze out the excess liquid
  2. Lay the fabric out on a table and twist from the centre
  3. Secure at intervals with string or elastic bands (the tighter you tie the less dye will get through and the more distinctive the final pattern will be
  4. Proceed to the dye bath stage

 

All our dyes come from ecologically aware producers, working to strict employment ethics and environmental responsibility standards. Our Lac comes from a producer certified by GOTS (Global Organic Textile Standards).

Rinse fabric treatments thoroughly

OK, it’s first efforts like this where you iron out the kinks, but not a bad tie dyed pillow case – deep rich purple colour (like what we were expecting from the mimosa)

 

 

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Why People Are Returning To Natural Dyes

Synthetic Dye Mauve can be replaced with natural Mimosa

The first synthetic dye ever discovered was mauve. Found accidentally by William Henry Perkin, who at just eighteen discovered a purple colour leaching out of some coal tar he was experimenting with.

He spilt some alcohol and the resulting solution stained his silk scarf purple. This was in 1856 and some of Perkin’s dyed samples remain colourfast to this day!  – And so William’s efforts to drive sales of his new synthetic dye lead to the birth of the entire chemical industry.

 

The Dyestuffs Industry.

The dyestuffs industry was largely based on chemicals obtained from coal tar, a black, viscous by-product of gas production from coal. Initially regarded as a useless and filthy nuisance, coal tar turned out to offer an unimaginably rich treasure trove of chemicals. It’s astonishing that until about 30 years ago, nearly all synthetic dyes were ultimately derived from coal tar (and not only dyes, but chemicals like carbolic acid, TNT and saccharin – Open Univerisy

The industry brought with it vivid colours and ease of use. However, with these advantages came toxic waste products and a reliance on fossil fuels. The dye industry produces over 500,000 tons of colourants each year. It disposes of it according to local laws – which are variable.

There’s been a reaction too against all manner of artificial colourings. Even within the last thirty years Smarties would have been used to test for allergies to colours. So maybe now is a good time to have a think about how we colour our world and to herald the return of some of the first pigments used by man.

Our range of natural dyes and auxiliaries are certified by GOTS – The Global Organic Textile Standard and are made by producers who care not only for the environment but also for their workers.

William Henry Perkin was somewhat a product of his time. While the industrial revolution was perfect for the launch of his industry, we feel that it’s time to properly move on. It’s time for a new revolution, a step forward to more natural dyestuffs and a sustainable management of people and planet.

 

 

 

 

 

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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 Bio Indigo Woad Dye click here.