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The Fabulous Fleece Company Blog (2016)

Say hello to Hygge

Hygge is the biggest lifestyle and home interiors trend this winter - so what is it and how do you get it?

Perhaps the very first question we should answer is how do you say it?! Hygge is pronounced ‘hue-gah’ and is a Danish word for which there’s no direct translation into English. The word is loosely connected to the English word hug and the closest we can get to the meaning is ‘cosiness’ or ‘togetherness’ but hygge is so much more than that.

A better summary might be that hygge is a feeling or a mood of wellbeing that comes from more simplistic living and appreciating the little joys in life. The concept is said to have first developed in 18th century Denmark and continues to be an important way of life for the Danes today.

Hygge could mean sinking into a long hot bath or savouring a morning coffee and pastry. You can hygge curled up on a sofa with a good book or with friends gathered around the dinner table. Places can even be hyggeligt (hygge-like).

Considering Denmark has remained the happiest nation in the world for many years despite their long bleak winters, it’s easy to conclude that their daily practice of hygge might have something to do with the country’s contentedness.

Outside Denmark, the hygge life has been admired for a while but it’s in this second half of 2016 that the concept has really hit mainstream popularity - perhaps a reaction to our increasingly busy and digitally distracted lives.

Also, it should be said that the Danish don’t have a monopoly on hygge. Many cultures have elements that fit under the hygge umbrella - Sunday roasts cocooned in a cosy pub with a roaring fire anyone? However, the Danes seems to be the most successful at embodying and promoting such a lifestyle.

So with the hope some of this hygge happiness - and chic Danish style - can rub off on the rest of us, the booksellers shelves and bestsellers lists are brimming with hygge books right now. Recent releases include The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking (the chief executive of Copenhagen’s Happiness Research Institute), How to Hygge: The Secrets of Nordic Living by Signe Johansen and Hygge: The Danish Art of Happiness by Marie Soderberg (pictured above).

Although hygge is a philosophy and lifestyle that can be followed year round, many elements are particularly perfect for the colder seasons, when we’re seeking comfort and warmth to help us get through the long, dark days.

So how can we bring more hygge to our homes - and our lives - this winter?

Add ambient lighting

The number one item on the ‘getting Hygge’ list is candles. It’s no surprise that the Danes burn more candles per head than anywhere else in Europe.

The warm, flickering of candle flame creates a lovely, cosy ambience but a small corner lamp or the twinkle of fairy lights or can also add a soothing influence and give softer light to your living space. Remember, fairy lights are not just for Christmas!!

Slow down and relax

In Denmark, the pace of life is much more relaxed than here in the UK. The Danes see really embrace downtime and have tranquil spaces in the house to unwind and escape from the stresses of everyday life.

So try to rush around less - at least some of the time - to embrace the art of relaxing as it’s very hygge! That could include a spa session in the bathroom, cosying up in bed with your favourite book or doing some calming craft from your favourite armchair.

Why not try creating your own hyggeligt nook? Get tactile and add layers of soft textures with cushions, a sheepskin or knitted throw and a fluffy hot water bottle for ultimate comfort.

Spend time with family and friends

Hygge is a very social lifestyle and is best enjoyed with your nearest and dearest. Gatherings of friends and family by the fireside drinking wine and eating wholesome food, are very hyggeligt so invite friends and family round and get cooking.

Not just reserved for staying inside, hygge can also be found in the great outdoors and joy can be found from simply donning your warmest clothes and going on a winter walk with your favourite people. Also try to fully focus on what you’re doing and be in the moment when spending time with others - multitasking is not very hygge!

All the above sounds like just the tonic to get us through the winter so we'll happily hygge!

Ways to make your home cosy for Christmas

Image - www.neptune.com

Over the festive period in the coming weeks, you'll probably be spending more time at home indoors, gathering there with family and friends. With the wintry weather outside, you also want seek out places that feel inviting and warm when retreating from the cold.

So we've rounded up some inspiration for your festive home decorations, with ways to make your home as cosy and welcoming as possible this Christmas.

1. Create a warm welcome

You can evoke that Christmassy feeling before anyone even walks in the front starts with a lovely wreath on the door or decorations in the window. Keep things simple and use locally foraged foliage or berries for a lovely rustic look.

A few decorative touches in the hallway also help - such as a few lanterns or jugs of greenery and perhaps a sheepskin or animal skin on a hall bench if you have one, to set that cosy tone as soon as anyone comes indoors.

http://lavidaenrosayblanco.blogspot.com/

1. http://www.perfeitaordem.com 2. http://www.lookslikewhite.com

1. http://www.perfeitaordem.com 2. http://www.lookslikewhite.com

2. Keep the tree the star

If there's one time where we like tradition, it's at Christmas so we'll want to keep the tree at the heart of our decorating plans. We particularly like the idea of placing a Christmas tree on a vintage wooden sledge or in a wicker basket. Having a sheepskin around the foot of the tree also helps to make it a feature.

http://www.junkaholique.com

3. Feature the fireplace

After the tree, the fireplace in your main living space is another a key focal point for Christmas decorations, as it's something we naturally gather around. So adorn it with simple stockings and cosy candles, or fir garlands and pine cones for a natural look.

http://keltainentalorannalla.blogspot.co.uk/

http://www.ellaclaireinspired.com/christmas-home-tour-holiday-housewalk-2016/

4. Lay a top table

With feasting being a key festive activity, you'll also want to decorate the dining table well for Christmas. We really love the idea of hanging a large wooden branch above the table, like in the picture below.

Of course, we're also a fan of using of sheepskins as covers for dining chairs or benches. They look fab in dining rooms all year round but can really help add warmth and texture to that festive look at Christmas.

http://www.neptune.com/

http://www.idealhome.co.uk/dining-room/ideas-dining-room/country-christmas-dining-room-ideas-10-of-the-best-85463

For really simple and rustic style table decor, just add candles and foliage along the middle of the table.

http://decordeprovence.blogspot.co.uk/2011/12/beauty-at-christmas.html

You could also make a little festive feature on coffee tables too - we like this idea below of filling a tray with tealights in little jars and adding in a couple of reindeers!

http://www.franciskasvakreverden.no/

5. Set up some snug seating

Christmas can be such a busy time of year - whether it's coming home after a hard day at work, a day of sales shopping or sitting down after cooking festive feasts - so you need some comfy seating to sink into.

Your preferred place might be the sofa by the fire or an armchair in a quiet nook but for extra comfort this Christmas adorn it with a soft sheepskin or woolly blanket so you can really snuggle up. And relax...

http://villapaprika.blogg.no/

For something a little more bracing, how about creating a cosy seating area on a porch or in the garden? Perhaps to enjoy a hot chocolate around a brazier after a long walk. We particularly like the look of this one below...

http://skonahem.com/

For more ideas, visit our Cosy Christmas board on Pinterest: https://uk.pinterest.com/fabfleece/cosy-christmas/

Whatever you are doing this Christmas, we wish you a cosy one!!

The making of a Decto sheepskin

We always love it when a customer asks us to help them create their ideal bespoke sheepskin and so we were very happy to help when Allyson got in touch requesting a particularly large Rare Breed sheepskin.

Doubles and Quads are our most commonly requested bespoke sheepskin, with some Octos where 8 sheepskins are stitched together. However, to fill Allyson's generously sized living room floor, she needed a Decto sheepskin comprising 10 skins - one of the largest sheepskins we've made to date!

So we decided to document the process from start to finish to explain how we make our large bespoke sheepskins in more detail and show how much effort and skill is involved in creating them.

Selecting the right sheepskins

We start off with an initial phone conversation to understand your individual requirements in terms of size but also type of rug. Everyone's tastes are different and you may want your bespoke rug to an have even colour tone throughout - whether that's pale, mid or dark tones, and in greys, browns, blacks or creams. You might want some subtle variations to show the markings and natural qualities of the fleeces. Alternatively, you request a completely eclectic look, with a contrasting mix of skins combined to create a patchwork effect.

In selecting the skins to go together, It's not only colours that needs to match up. The composite fleeces need to be the same type and texture - whether that's silky or more woolly. The length of the fleece hair also needs to be consistent between them, as does the weight, or the sheepskins won't lay well together.

Given all this, picking out the different skins to work together as one item is one of the most time consuming parts of the bespoke rug-making process. We go through stock of hundreds of different skins to find compatible ones, as they have to match in many different ways.

Depending on how our current stock meets the brief, we may need to wait for another delivery to arrive from the tannery so this may process take some time and be determined by the culling time of the specific breed.

Once we have found enough compatible rugs, we start laying the skins out next to each other and photographing the combinations to email over to you and there's often quite few emails back and forth before finding the right one. being a bespoke service, we want you to be completely happy with the finished article.

In doing this, you may spot something that stands out to you that we've haven't seen. Sometimes, we need to leave a shortlisted selection overnight and view them again afresh the next day because we start getting what we call 'rug eye' from assessing so many!

Cutting the sheepskins

With the rugs decided upon, we then need to get them cut before sewing. We maintain that natural curvy sheepskin shape on the outer edges, but on the inside edges where the skins meet, some sheepskin is cut away to make two straight edges to sew together. The way we do this minimises the amount cut away though.

Having taking so long to select the perfect ones, we really don't want to go wrong and return to the drawing board again now so this needs doing carefully. Donna, our expert sheepskin and leather seamstress with over 25 years' experience sewing fleeces, will measure very precisely at this point before cutting.

This is because sheepskins are a natural product - they are rarely symmetrical and may come with a wonky shaped leg for example! So we need to even out these quirks to make sure the various sheepskins align in the right way.

Stitching multiple sheepskins together

With the skins cut, it's time to sew. For this we use an interlocker, a heavy-duty beast of a sewing machine that we call 'R2 D2' as its nickname!

Naturally, given the thickness and weight of the sheepskins, we need to use very strong thread to hold everything together.

Donna starts by stitching together two skins into doubles and then sews two doubles together, so you can see how the rug grows from there. As you can imagine, the rug gets heavier and are tricky to manoeuvre through the machine as it gets larger. You need strong arm muscles for this work!

Delivering the final rug

Once sewn and ready to dispatch, your rug gets bagged for protection first then and boxed with the most durable, heavy-duty boxes we can source! Given the weight of the final item, this is another good workout for us! We also mark it with fragile tape to ensure our couriers take care of the heavy package. From notice of dispatch, you have just 24 hours to wait for your finished rug to arrive.

We're thrilled to hear that Allyson was very pleased with her finished Decto rug and thinks it looks super. She kindly sent us a pic of her new extra-large Rare Breed rug in situ above. Ta-da! Seeing our bespoke rugs looking great in customers' own homes makes this whole process very satisfying.

If you're interested in creating your own bespoke sheepskin rug, call Lucy on 07796 801818 to find out more and get the ball - or should we say rug? - rolling!

Sheepskins and sofas - the perfect partners

Nina Holst @ http://stylizimoblog.com/

There are plenty of places - and uses - around the home for a sheepskin, but your sofa has to be one of the best. With the sofa being the natural place you really relax when you're at home during waking hours, the sheepskin really ups the comfort factor when you can enjoy its beautifully thick and soft texture.

In this sofa and sheepskin guide, we cover the different ways you style your sofa to include a sheepskin: What interior styles do sheepskins works with, what hues to choose and where to place your sheepskin... plus lots of pictures of stylish, sheepskin-adorned living rooms to inspire you.

Fitting with your style

The best thing about buying a sheepskin for your sofa is that it works with a range of interior decor schemes - whether it's Scandi style or monochrome minimalism, the industrial look, bohemian chic, or rustic country.

Below, this natural sheepskin works will with the warm tones of the wood shelving and exposed brick wall in this industrial look living space.

https://www.onefinestay.com/homes/new-york/franklin-place

Choose your hues

To really integrate into your room scheme, pick out a sheepskin in hues that echo the colour palette you already have.

In a Scandi style scheme, with a lot of pale wood and monochrome colours, go for a fleece that is either light or white, has a range of greys or choose one in bold black.

In a living room with industrial style touches, a rare breed sheepskin feature a range of creams and browns would look great with brown leather. There are likely to be warmer tones of cream and brown in a rustic look.

Then either use the sheepskin when layering up similar colours together on the sofa or place on a sofa that's a completely contrasting colour.

CREATE A CONTRAST

Placing a sheepskin on a contrasting coloured sofa can look great - such a light long-haired Icelandic on a grey sofa, like the picture below.

http://thatnordicfeeling.com/

We're also a big fan of the striking contrast created when a light coloured sheepskin is placed on a tan or dark brown leather sofa.

http://witandwhistle.com/2015/09/11/dream-couch

COMBINE SIMILAR SHADES

Alternatively, use a sheepskin when layering up similar colours together on the sofa with other cushion and throws. For great examples, see the images below with this combination of light neutrals on the sofa to the left and shades of grey in this Danish living room to the right.

1. Denise Keus - Casa El Campo for Pure & Original http://www.pure-original.nl/ 2. http://www.scandinavianlovesong.com

1. Denise Keus - Casa El Campo for Pure & Original http://www.pure-original.nl/ 2. http://www.scandinavianlovesong.com

Pick your placement

There's a choice of great ways to place a sheepskin on your sofa depending on your preference and usage.

ON THE SOFA'S SEAT PAD

Placing on the seat pad itself means when you sit down, the fleece adds extra cushioning plus you can run your hands through the soft texture either side.

Choose a larger sheepskin or end-to-end double to spread across more than one sofa cushion pads or place a smaller fleece on just one seat.

http://stilinspiration.elledecoration.se/

OVER THE BACK OF THE SOFA

If looking for comfort across the back, head and neck then drape your a sheepskin across the back of the sofa. It adds softness when you lean back plus makes the fleece more prominent feature of your living room to admire when you're not sitting in it.

Again an end-to-end double sheepskin is great choice for this use, especially if you have a longer sofa. Otherwise a large or extra large fleece would give you ample coverage.

NESTLED IN ONE CORNER OR OVER ONE ARM

If you tend to gravitate to one end of the sofa, towards the light of a lamp, the warmth of the fire or a better view of the television, then nestle your sheepskin into one corner so it's partially across the back and seat cover (like the image of the tan leather sofa shown earlier)

Draping your sheepskin over on arm of the sofa is another popular choice, like in this picture below.

http://www.detweedelente.nl

ON A MODULAR SOFA

Modular sofas that have a chaise longue type day bed on one end are becoming ever more popular and these are also great places to drape a sheepskin.

https://homedeco.nl/profile/manon0903/

Share your 'sofie'

You've heard of taking selfies with your phone. Home interior fans may have also heard of 'shelfies' - sharing a picture of your beautifully arranged shelves to share on social media. Well we are asking you to share your sheepskin 'sofie' - a picture of your sofa with your lovely sheepskin draped over it!

Here are some of the lovely 'sofies' that our Fab Fleece Fans have sent us so far...First up is Jane's rare breed quad sheepskin on her gorgeous brown Chesterfield sofa.

In the pic below, Imogen Thomas has nestled our rare breed sheepskin into one corner of her grey sofa that looks fab in her Scandi style living room.

And here's Susan Wilcock's Rare Breed sheepskin looking fabulous draped over the back of here sofa.

We'd love to add your 'sofie' to our gallery of Fab Fleece Fans so do send us your pics! For more visual inspiration, visit our Pinterest board: Sheepskins and sofas

How to help your dog get a good night's sleep

Our dogs need good quality sleep to heal, restore and rejuvenate their bodies. Kate Mallatratt explains how you can help your dog get a good night’s rest...

The average dog spends nearly ten hours in quiet sleep (non-REM) and around three and a half hours in active sleep (REM) in any 24 hour period, while puppies sleep up to sixteen hours a day.

Many factors can affect sleep quality. Consider your dog’s sleeping area carefully. His bed should be placed in a quiet part of the house, away from everyday hustle and bustle, constant noise and drafts.

Get the light right

At night, the room should be pitch black. If your dog's sleeping area is too bright there is less efficient production of the hormone melatonin, which can adversely affect circadian rhythm (body clock).

Electrical appliances give out strong beams of light and can illuminate a room. Please consider the effects of light pollution when choosing your dog’s resting area and, if necessary, takes steps to reduce the light coming from appliances and windows.

Consider room temperature too. A dog’s body temperature is marginally higher than ours and dogs generally prefer a cooler environment than we do.

Allow them on your bed?

Should your dog sleep on your bed? It depends. Sleeping locations are potential territories to be defended and if your dog has any history of guarding beds or growls when he is moved, he should not be allowed to sleep on your bed.

If his hostility makes you move away, his behaviour has been successful in his eyes and will be repeated. Do not tell your dog off for growling because he will not understand what he has done ‘wrong’, and this may lead to increased guarding if he feels threatened. He isn’t being naughty, he is simply telling you that your bed is a particularly valuable resource to him.

In this case it is best to avoid conflict situations where your dog might win by restricting access to bedrooms. On the other hand, if your dog will happily sleep on your bed and jump off when asked, there is no reason why he can’t make himself comfortable. Never wake a sleeping dog by touching him as you may startle him; always call him to you.

Choose the right bedding

Check the suitability of your dog’s bed. Ensure it is large enough for him to stretch out, allowing complete relaxation for deep sleep. Sleeping in a bed that is too small can cause musculoskeletal problems. There are many types of beds on the market to suit all needs. An elderly dog may need a firm bed for example, while a terrier may enjoy a ‘sleeping bag’ style tunnel bed designed for burrowing. Crates covered with a blanket make good beds. Vetbed bedding is excellent for lining beds and crates, as it is warm, can be cut to size and is easily laundered.

For the ultimate luxury, sheepskins make warm, soft dog beds that naturally repel dirt and liquids. With proper care, they will last a lifetime: wash using a wool detergent, air dry and brush out any mats with a coarse wire brush to restore the pile.

With a little forethought, care and attention you can improve your dog’s sleep quality and enhance his overall wellbeing.

__________________________________________________________________

This article was first published in East Devon One Magazine - one-mag.co.uk

AUTHOR BIO

Kate Mallatratt is a canine behaviourist and author. She is a founder member of International Canine Behaviourists and member of Pet Professional Guild for force-free training, and runs her business, Contemplating Canines, from East Devon, UK.

She takes a holistic approach to her own dogs’ care, feeding a raw diet, and using homeopathy and chiropractic to maintain their health and wellbeing. Find out more at: www.contemplatingcanines.com

Ideas for using sheepskins and hides outside this summer

We’ve loved spending more time relaxing outdoors lately during that recent sunny weather. Perhaps there’s the novelty factor as we don’t get to enjoy the alfresco life for much of the year here in Britain.

With the optimism that we still have some more warm and sunny days ahead of us, we thought we’d share some inspiration and ideas for enjoying your outdoor living area for summer.

As part of that, we’d encourage you to bring a sheepskin or animal hide in to your outdoor space this summer, whether you have a garden, a courtyard or balcony. It will add practicality, comfort and bags of style to your outdoor space, whether you are relaxing in solitude or entertaining family and friends.

Although you might see fleeces as an accessory to keep you warm in winter when it’s cool outside, sheepskins also help keep you cool in hot weather due to their moisture wicking properties. Read more on why sheepskin keeps you cool in summer here.

So here’s some inspiration and our round-up of reasons to take sheepskins and hides outside:

1. To soften hard garden furniture

Your outdoor furniture needs to be practical and weatherproof, and so is often made of wood, plastic or even cast iron. However, these are not always make the most comfortable materials to sit on directly, with their hard edges, or surfaces that your skin sticks to.

So use a sheepskin or hide as a chair cover on your seats or loungers. Not only are they great for sitting on but they are also big enough to go along the seat back and soften that area too.

design-decor-staging.com

Chairs made from wicker and rattan are also popular for using outdoors, but again their hardness and patterned texture requires more comfort.

livethemma.ikea.se

designsponge.com

2. To dine down low

Informal gatherings sitting on the grass are possible when the ground is dry in summer. You could simply use an animal hide or sheepskin as a more stylish alternative to a picnic rug.

You could also gather for eating around a low table, with the area around lined with ample cushions, some sheepskins to make a spongier surface to sit on. Bring out a coffee table from indoors or use some pallets to create a makeshift table to sit around.

A large cow hide placed under the table with room for seating around will also look fab.

stylemepretty.com

3. To lie back and lounge in comfort

Nothing says summertime relaxing like kicking back in a hammock but to increase the comfort factor, line it with a sheepskin. (Again remember sheepskins help keep you cool in summer.)

This has surely got to be one of the best ways to spend a lazy sunny day?!

Johanna Flyckt Gashi

If you’re lucky enough to have a swing bench at the bottom of your garden, use a reindeer hide or two as a seat cover. One of our customers - Caroline McKittrick - sent us this fab picture of her swing bench featuring two reindeer hides she’d purchased from us.

4. Make small outdoor spaces more inviting

If you don't have much outdoor space, you can still make a terrace, small courtyard or patio more inviting and comfortable for summer. Take small bistro dining sets, benches, or make a day bed from pallets and line with cushions, rugs, sheepskins or hides. We love the ideas in the pics below...

hannashantverk.blogspot.co.uk

5. Give your fleece or hide a good airing

Aside from any relaxation or entertaining plans this summer, the warmer drier weather is a great time to air your fleece or hide after a long time indoors. Simply hang it over a washing line or balcony for a few hours, in bright natural light but not direct sunlight, as this could cause hides to shed hairs and sheepskins to harden or shrink.

Read here for more tips on caring for your sheepskin or animal hide.

Don’t forget to add some finishing touches

There are plenty of other smaller touches for making your garden, balcony or terrace a more welcoming space to be on a summer's day - or evening, especially if you've got friends and family coming over.

If you’ve got a sideboard or old workbench outside, turn it into a makeshift bar area to prepare some much needed refreshment.

One it gets to evening, the fading light is a great excuse to add some festoon lights outdoors, which are very popular right now - or big hurricane lamps with candles to add some appealing ambience.

And if it cools off in the evening may want to add a brazier for a fire to sit around.

desiretoinspire.net

Get more inspiration on Pinterest

For more ideas like these, check out our Pinterest board - Outdoor living ideas for summer.

Helping a worthy cause with DIY SOS

If you watched the episode of DIY SOS: The Big Build that aired on BBC1 last Thursday (9th June) you will have been touched by the moving story of Joe Grafton (pictured above) and his 7 year old daughter Lucy in Hopesay, Shropshire.

The father and daughter had been living in a caravan next to their building site of a house for most of 2015 after suffering a catalogue of tragic misfortunes.

Joe’s wife and Lucy’s mother Jessica died suddenly from leukaemia in 2014, just weeks after a work accident left Joe with an injured back and unable to continue his job as a firefighter.

Amid such tragedy and grief, Joe was determined to complete their home renovations for Lucy. However, a 4ft wide stream was discovered under their home, which drained any remaining funds and ground the project to a halt.

Having suffered so much, they were a worthy cause for the DIY SOS team to help and so presenter Nick Knowles and his army of volunteers came to Shropshire to transform their building site into a homely country cottage in just 9 days. See the finished exterior below.

The transformation of the interior was just as impressive as the outside. That’s where we were able to make a contribution, by donating three of our fleeces to give Joe and Lucy years of comfort.

We were asked to help by Gabrielle Blackman, the interior designer who put together the stylish room plans for this DIY SOS build. Gabrielle has a great eye for beautiful yet practical interior design as you can see from these mood boards for the key rooms.

The living room features an Icelandic sheepskin on a leather butterfly chair. Upstairs in Lucy’s fantastic bedroom is an Icelandic sheepskin rug and in Joe’s bedroom, is a rare breed sheepskin rug on the floor between the bed and picture window.

Watching the programme certainly evoked mixed emotions - with the heartbreak of their story but also the heartwarming sight of over one hundred strangers coming together to give the father and daughter both a home and new hope for the future.

If you missed it, the episode is available to watch on Iplayer until the 8th July. Just have the box of tissues nearby - it’s a real tear-jerker: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b07gbtd3

Our sheepskin's debut on stage at English National Opera!

We were very excited when the English National Opera got in touch a few months ago, looking for a large sheepskin to feature in their forthcoming production of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde.

This epic drama of ill-fated love, is one of the best loved operas written by the German composer. Based on a medieval legend, it’s a romantic tragedy of love and death, told through sublime music. It lasts over five hours and explores the great themes of love, death and loyalty.

The Fabulous Fleece Company supplied the English National Opera with a Herdwick Quad sheepskin, to be worn around the shoulders of one of the characters.

We've not been able to get a clear shot of the fleece in action, but think we might be able spy it on the stage in the scene below!

www.eno.org

Tristan and Isolde is playing at the London Coliseum for 8 performances – June 9, 15, 22, 29 at 5pm and June 19, 26 & July 2, 9 at 3pm.

Visit the English National opera website for more details

Stylish refurbishment of The Bull Hotel in Bridport, Dorset

We love the wonderful county of Dorset, with its lush green countryside and stunning heritage coastline. And now we have a lovely boutique hotel to recommend to Fabulous Fleece customers venturing that way - The Bull Hotel in Bridport.

Why stay at The Bull? Well firstly it's in a fab location at the heart of the bustling market town of Bridport and just a short drive from that gorgeous Dorset coastline. Secondly, the hotel is packed with character and rich history - there has been an establishment where people can stay the night on this site since 1593!

But third and foremost, the hotel's wonderfully individual rooms have just been refurbished and they are now adorned with our soft and luxurious Rare Breed sheepskins to add extra homeliness and comfort!

A stylish makeover

The hotel re-opened this spring after two months closure while its interiors were transformed. Simple Simon, the talented interior design company behind The Bull Hotel's stylish makeover, wanted to add comfort and luxury to the unique rooms by including sheepskin rugs to some of the schemes. So we supplied them with the thick and beautifully soft Rare Breed sheepskins that you see here.

Each of The Bull's inviting and gorgeous new-look rooms has their own unique design and features… some have vintage roll-top tubs, or grandstand views of Bridport street-life from original bay windows. Three rooms even have a grand four-poster bed.

Taking a tour

Below we've highlighted four of the new-look rooms, although we're finding it hard to pick a favourite with each having its own quirky charms!

First up is no. 101 - The Gold Room - a deluxe double with a six-foot brass bed over looking Bridport's main street through huge bay windows. We particularly love that striking gold patterned wallpaper by Cole and Son.

Then there's the characterful room 202 - The Deep Blue - that celebrates the hotel's proximity to the sea where bright teal paint is paired with the wonderfully fishy wallpaper behind the grand bed.

We also love the look of Forest Four Poster room as a restful and inviting retreat. This Master Double features a stunning carved wooden four poster bed and an old Victorian fireplace in the ensuite that was uncovered during the renovations.

Then there's The Mews, which features an original 16th century archway that had been exposed and shows wonderful old brickwork behind. There's also more striking wallpaper - its colours really match with the tones of the sheepskin rug used in this room.

There are 19 individually furnished rooms in total - all absolutely gorgeous - plus a host of other fab facilities The hotel serves up wonderful food from a menu packed with local produce, plus there's the cosy Venner cocktail bar, a games room and even a pizza and cider restaurant in the old stables.

However, we're particularly enticed by the welcoming courtyard garden in the original stable yard - just the place to sit down on a warm summer's evening and enjoy a gin and tonic!

If looking for a stylish yet homely place to stay in the beautiful county of Dorset, we'd say this boutique hotel looks like the perfect bolthole. For more info, visit the hotel's website: www.thebullhotel.co.uk

Lovely shepherd huts

shootfactory.co.uk

In our opinion here at Fab Fleece HQ, there are few things better than enjoying the wonderful outdoors then having a welcoming and snug den to return to afterwards! So we love the idea of staying in - or indeed owning - a wonderful shepherd’s hut.

Why shepherd huts are so appealing

These structures set on wheels with their distinctive curved roof of corrugated metal have become increasingly popular in recent years and we can understand why. A shepherd hut is an enviable - and moveable - outdoor room to have in the garden as an office, somewhere for guests to stay in or to simply keep as a hideaway!

Shepherd’s huts have bags of character too, and appeal to our nostalgia for Britain’s rural heritage, with the huts originally housing the nomadic shepherds whose flocks enriched the agricultural land.

New huts on the block

That’s why we were excited to discover that a local Norfolk business we were visiting recently to have some furniture restored has started making shepherd huts.

Anglian Paint Strippers in Norwich has been paint stripping items, restoring and renovating period items like doors, fire surrounds and furniture for 25 years. However owner Simon Taylor also had in his mind the dream of making huts after first spotting one in a field near his rural home.

It was studying for a history degree specialising in vernacular architecture (which he is just about to finish) that gave Simon the push to actually do it so he set up the new business called Carriage Conversions.

Mike Harrington: www.mhphotographic.co.uk

More about Carriage Conversions

From his workshop, Simon and business partner Grahame Tolley, construct bespoke shepherd’s huts - as well as convert the carriages of old freight trains - to make the perfect outdoor rooms.

The main structure is usually made from new timber, but the interiors feature lovely old timbers, furniture and doors, to add character and a more authentic, traditional feel.

All the mod-cons

Despite looking traditional, Simon’s huts also incorporate the comfort of modern conveniences, with a fully insulated floor, wall and roof, double glazed windows plus electric lights, sockets and USB charging points.

The smaller one room huts can be fitted with a wood burning stove to keep you toasty, while the bigger structures and carriages can also include en-suites and mini-kitchens.

A great way to create extra space

There has already been lots of interest in them from visitors to Simon’s workshop. Simon thinks it’s because the carriages and huts offer such great value for money, as well as being a more interesting way to find extra space.

Buying a shepherd’s hut is cheaper and easier than having a house extension and doesn’t need planning permission, plus you can always take it with you when you move!

Mike Harrington: www.mhphotographic.co.uk

Perfect for holidays too

As well as being bought up for private dwellings, shepherd’s huts and carriages are also proving popular with glamping sites and tourism businesses looking for more interesting holiday accommodation to let. Simon already has one of his huts placed with a local Norfolk glamping site, with plans to install more next year.

An escape from modern life

It’s equally easy to see the appeal of shepherds huts for holidaymakers. As more people look to keep things simple and save the hassle of travelling far by holidaying in the UK, a hut makes a unique base to explore the great British outdoors and get away from it all.

Of course with the weather being so unpredictable, it provides a cosy retreat to return to and get the woodburner fired up. Having some sheepskin rugs and throws around the huts to snuggle up to will also help, of course...!

To find out more about Simon’s huts and carriages, visit carriageconversions.uk

For further inspiration, visit our Pinterest board of Lovely shepherd huts!

More colourful fleeces to celebrate Holi

Today is Holi - the springtime Hindu festival of colour traditionally celebrated in India where people take to the streets to throw coloured water and a powdery paint known as gulal at each other.

Now, we are not going around Fab Fleece HQ today throwing coloured powders at our sheepskins. However, it does seem like a good day to announce a new and colourful addition to our bespoke sheepskin offering.

We can now offer a range of colourful dyed sheepskins due to popular demand. Perfect if you want a sheepskin in a more colourful hue than those found naturally in our fleeces.

Here's a list of the colours available:

  • Jet Black
  • Mink Brown
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Slate Grey
  • Warm Beige
  • Otter
  • Butter Cream
  • Lilac
  • Aubergine
  • Cerise
  • Flame Red
  • Fuchsia
  • Pink
  • Cornflower
  • Jade Green
  • Teal
  • Tarragon

Call Lucy direct to discuss your dyed sheepskin requirements on 07796 801818 (between 9am and 5pm).

Inside the Traditionally British Home at Ideal Home Show 2016

As we blogged last week, our sheepskins are featuring at the Ideal Home Show in London this year after TV presenter and Interior Designer Linda Barker approached us to supply them for styling in her Traditionally British Home.

So we're thrilled that we can now share with you some more images of the Traditionally British Home with our sheepskins in situ in the lounge!

These fab images are courtesy of Ceril Campbell at www.cerilcampbellinteriors.co.uk who has very kindly allowed us to share them with you here. Her blog post on the Ideal Home Show is well worth a look to get a good flavour of the entire show: http://styleyourlifeblog.co.uk...

Thanks Ceril!

http://www.cerilcampbellinteriors.co.uk ; http://styleyourlifeblog.co.uk

http://www.cerilcampbellinteriors.co.uk ; http://styleyourlifeblog.co.uk

http://www.cerilcampbellinteriors.co.uk ; http://styleyourlifeblog.co.uk

Ways to freshen up your home for Spring

http://www.lonny.com

The days are getting longer, with the clocks going forward next weekend. The buds and bright flowers are bursting out all over to add some much missed colour. It still feels a bit chilly outdoors but it definitely feels like time for a freshen up indoors with our home interior, especially as we get ready for celebrating Easter and enjoying the long weekend break.

Here’s our round up of styling ideas to add a little springlike freshness to your home:

Bring the outside in

One of the biggest joys of Spring is all the trees and greenery starting to bud and bursting into flower right now, so bring their fresh cheeriness inside. 

Make the most of the new season's flowers and fill a vase with Spring blooms. Tulips and daffodils are the classic choices but how about displaying some branches of sunny yellow forsythia or beautiful cherry blossom in a simple white jug. 

http://fadedcharmcottage.blogspot.co.uk ; http://pinklemonadedesign.blogspot.co.uk

http://fadedcharmcottage.blogspot.co.uk ; http://pinklemonadedesign.blogspot.co.uk

For something more understated, add some sprigs of ferns and other greenery into a collection of glass bottles as a mantelpiece display. For purists who like white, place some sprigs of white flowers in mini milk bottles or display some pussy willow branches in a simple vase.

http://heatherbullard.typepad.com ; http://cottagefence.tumblr.com

http://heatherbullard.typepad.com ; http://cottagefence.tumblr.com

Add a hint of green

As well as bringing in some greenery from outside, the colour green remains on trend when it comes to furnishings and helps to add some freshness.  

Try introducing some olive or emerald green velvet by updating a sofa or chair for a real statement. Green velvet looks particularly fab paired with a natural cream sheepskin or white Icelandic fleece.

You can also add it in more subtly with cushions, curtain trims and other accessories. Introducing some botanical themed prints are also a good way to add that hint of green.

http://cupofjo.com/2015/08/san-francisco-house-tour ; http://www.lonny.com

http://cupofjo.com/2015/08/san-francisco-house-tour ; http://www.lonny.com

Introduce some pastel shades

That light and bright feel of spring can be reflected indoors by introducing some pastel shades which continue to be popular palette choice for on-trend interiors.

Soft rose pinks, light blues, pale greens and lemons all go well with a Spring look - they look great teamed with white walls and furnitures and rustic natural materials like wicker and wood. Introduce pastels with some chalk paint to upcycle wooden furniture, in soft furnishings or accessories.

http://vibekedesign.blogspot.com

http://vibekedesign.blogspot.com

Create an Easter centrepiece

Just like we seasonally decorate our spaces in winter for Christmas, Easter gives us another excuse to add a little seasonal style for Spring. It can simple as an Easter themed centrepiece for the dining table.

Make an Easter tree by gathering some large branches in a vase and hanging some simple egg decorations from it. Or you could fill a large glass vase or rustic basket with moss and pastel coloured eggs.

http://www.sarahkaye.com ; http://www.thecasualcraftlete.com/2015/03/24/easter-floral-arrangement/

http://www.sarahkaye.com ; http://www.thecasualcraftlete.com/2015/03/24/easter-floral-arrangement/

Taking the Easter egg theme a little further, using broken halves of empty egg shells as candles by filling them with wax, or as little planters, is also a great idea. You could even keep the eggshells in their cartons to display them.

http://norskeinteriorblogger.blogspot.co.uk

http://norskeinteriorblogger.blogspot.co.uk

Fab Fleeces at the Ideal Home Show!

Can you believe the Ideal Home Show has been going for an incredible 100 years, making it the longest running exhibition in history. The iconic British home show opened the doors to its 2016 London event at Olympia today, ready to welcome thousands of home loving visitors through its doors for the next 2 and a bit weeks.

The reason we're so excited about it this year is that our fleeces are making a star appearance. Interior stylist and TV presenter Linda Barker, who made her name on BBC interiors programme Changing Rooms in the 1990s, contacted us to supply her with our sheepskins for her house at the show.

Linda has styled some of our fleeces to feature in her Traditionally British Home set, sponsored by Thomas Sanderson Blinds

We're keeping an eye out for pics of our fleeces in situ but until then, here are some pics from today's opening day that Linda has tweeted on Twitter (follow her @ReallyLinda).

If you are going to the show, do take a look inside. The Ideal Home Show London 2016 runs from Friday 18 March to Sunday 3 April. See the show's website for more details:

http://www.idealhomeshow.co.uk

How to show your sheepskin some love

Love is the theme you can't avoid this weekend so we thought we'd join in by looking how to take care of the items you love, as well as the people! 

Our sheepskins are easy to instantly fall in love with, being such a luxurious and sensory interior accessory. You can enjoy a long-lasting relationship too - your sheepskin rug will last for years to come if you just give it a bit of regular TLC.

Here are our top tips on how to show your sheepskin some love and care for it over time.

Brush it

With time and use the fleece can become matted down and lose a little of its original fluffiness. The fleece's hairs are crimped, acting as mini springs, which is great for support and comfort. However the fibres, especially on the longer haired fleeces like the Icelandic and curlier Tibetan sheepskins can also get tangled.

However, this can be quickly remedied by brushing it with a metal pin style brush - such as our slicker brush. This will instantly restore that appealing fluffiness. 

Shake it

Along with brushing, the simplest regular task you can do to look after your sheepskin is to shake it vigorously to remove any small, loose particles. This will help to restore the look of the pile too. 

You can also use a vacuum cleaner on you sheepskin, but be sure to use a gentle power setting and with a non-rotating attachment.

Spot clean it

For treating small stains, you can spot clean your sheepskin by dabbing with some lukewarm water and a little wool wash.

Try to blot the rug to lift the stain, rather than rub it furiously as this risks damaging the fibres. Also use a clean white cloth - to better see the stain being taken out  - and move from the outside edges inwards. 

Wash it 

However, if your sheepskin has become a little dirty all over, you can pop it into the washing machine on a gentle wash, just as you would your best wool jumper. So make sure it's a cool wash (max 30 degrees) with a shorter spin. 

We always recommend using proper wool shampoo as these don't contain any harmful enzymes that could damage the fleece. You only need to use a small amount each time. Some people also swear by adding a tablespoon of glycerine to the fabric conditioner drawer to help keep the back nice and supple.

Larger sheepskins that won't fit in your machine - like trebles, quads and larger - can be hand washed in the bath with wool shampoo. Just make sure the water is cool.

Dry it

You have to be careful not to skimp on this stage and do it right or the back of your sheepskin can stiffen and shrink too much. Firstly, reshape on a flat surface and give it a good brush while damp. 

Then leave it to air dry slowly but not in direct sunlight or next to a heat source like a fire or radiator. Also completely stay away from using the tumbler dryer or an iron. Give it another good brush through when dry.

Love it like new

Follow the simple steps above and your sheepskin will be restored to its original glory and ready for many more years of love!

Why sheepskins are good for your health

Sheepskins have many natural health benefits - providing support for pressure points and achy limbs, regulating your body temperature to improve circulation plus being kind to skin and bacteria repellant. Recent research shows sheepskins can even help promote more restful sleep.

The start of new year often means having a renewed focus on our health and doing positive things for our wellbeing. But forget detox diets and jogging in January - using sheepskins can give you lots of health benefits too. Read on to find out why:

Sheepskins are supportive to relieve aches and pains

Sheepskins have naturally crimped fibres that form a cushioning support for your body. Scientists believe this is because each wool hair, or fibre, contains a three-dimensional spiralling crimp that acts like a miniature spring.

By absorbing pressure without flattening out and distributing weight evenly over the body, sheepskins take pressure off limbs to help relieve aches and pains.

Sheepskins regulate your body temperature

The natural temperature regulating properties in wool helps to reduce heat when it’s too hot, and increase heat when it’s too cold, so you stay at the right temperature.

In adults, keeping at the right temperature when sitting or lying down on a sheepskin can help promote better blood circulation.

This quality is also very useful for newborn babies - especially those who are premature or have low birth weight - as they cannot yet regulate their own
temperature.

Sheepskins reduce friction and discomfort

The outer layer of protein on a fibre of wool is very smooth, making it easy for sheepskin fibres to move against each other and accommodate movement.

So when on a sitting or lying on a sheepskin, your skin moves across the surface with less resistance to help reduce discomfort.

It’s particularly useful for people with limited mobility - such as the elderly or those convalescing after surgery. When sitting or lying in the same position for long periods of time, sheepskins can make them more comfortable and protect against bedsores.

Sheepskins deter dirt and bacteria

Sheepskin fleece is naturally resistant to the growth of mold, dust mites, and bed bugs.

It’s natural wicking properties, drawing moisture away from the skin, also prevent the conditions that allow bacteria to thrive.

Sheepskins are also breathable, allowing air to continue circulating around you when rest on them - again reducing the hot and clammy environment that bacteria loves.

Best of all, you can regularly wash your sheepskin to keep it clean. Just take care when doing so to keep it in tip-top condition - see our guide on how to wash sheepskin for more details.

Sheepskins are hypo-allergenic and soothe skin

Sheepskin contains a substance called lanolin which is similar to that found in human skin. It is kind to sensitive or inflamed skin so many believe it can help to soothe or desensitise rashes or skin conditions such as eczema.

Unlike faux sheepskins, which are carbon based fibres made from petrochemicals, sheepskins are natural products that have minimal chemical
irritants.

As sheepskin is resistant to flame and static-electricity, there is no need for added fire retardants. Our medical sheepskins are traditionally tanned using natural alum salt so no chemicals are used in the tanning process.

Sheepskins are moisture wicking for skin protection

Fleeces have this fantastic ability to absorb moisture without actually feeling wet. Wool can carry almost one-third of its own weight in water before feeling wet to the touch.

Wet skin can cause maceration and weakening of the skin over time, so this ability to wick moisture is a great benefit for both comfort and skin protection.

Sheepskins help to promote restful sleep

Due to a combination of the reasons above, sleeping on a sheepskin can help you get a better night’s rest.

It helps to regulate the microclimate around our beds, plus increases comfort and support. A double end-to-end sheepskin makes a great bed liner to sleep on.

Findings from ongoing studies at the University of Sydney suggest that using wool bedding products can improve how you sleep, particularly if you suffer from skin conditions like ezcema. See this Telegraph article on how wool bedding can make you sleep better for more details.

So there will no longer be need to count sheep because you can’t nod off!

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