Let’s talk about sheepskins – breeds and qualities

Different breeds of sheep have different traits and wool styles. I like to offer sheepskins from rare and exotic breeds that are interesting and great decor. Here are some of the breed sheepskins that I offer:

  • Tibetan – these are a rare breed of sheep found in villages in Tibet and Mongolia. They are rare as most sheep farmers are turning to modern (and boring) breeds. These skins are known for the long, wavy, and extraordinarily soft and silky wool. Most Tibetan sheepskins are found in white and dyed colours, but I like to source mine in natural colours. Sometimes known as Mongolian sheepskins. These skins should not be used as rugs. Best used for draping over chairs and sofas, but I’ve seen nice cushions and jackets made out of them.
  • Jacob – These are a very old, and possibly the oldest sheep breed in Europe. They are a small to medium size sheep that are creamy white and spotted with black or dark brown spots. They are well known for growing 4-6 horns rather than the normal two. There are a couple of other very rare 4 horned sheep found in the MIddle East, but I haven’t been able to source skins from those. These sheepskins are expensive due to the rarity of the skins available. These can be used as rugs, but may felt easily if walked on a lot with shoes. No sheepskin should be walked on with shoes.
  • Icelandic – These sheep are found in Iceland. They are the only sheep found in Iceland in order to not infect the gene pool with other breed genetics. These sheep are known for producing wool that is fine, long, and straight. These skins should not be used as rugs as being walked on will felt the fine wool.
  • Hann – This is a Chinese breed that is getting rare dues to farmers turning to modern breeds. Hann sheep have two kinds, the thin tailed ones famed in mountainous areas, and the fat tailed type found in flat areas. I offer skins from the fat tailed type. These fat tailed type store fat in their tails that get very big and heavy, to help them live when there is little food. These are a carpet wool breed that are known for producing litters of 5-7 lambs at a time, rather than the usual one or two that other sheep produce. These sheepkins make great floor rugs.
  • Australian crossbreed – I use crossbreed sheep rather than merino skins because they have easier skins to work with and the wool is better to use as rugs. They have a lot of hair follicles per square cm which makes the wool very thick, unlike old breeds that have much fewer hair follicle density. These are the sheepskins i tan myself. Sourced from a local, tiny, independent abattoir.
  • European sheepskins – these are from crossbred or old breeds sourced in Europe where they have a much greater natural colour range in their sheep than we do. If they are shorter wooled they can be used as floor rugs, or draped over furniture. They come in fantastic colours, and are worth the extra expense.
  • Gotland – these are a very rare and very expensive type of sheepskin so I rarely offer them. They usually cost around $400 AU. They are known for their tightly curled wool.
  • Slinkskins – These are skins from lambs that are born dead, or die shortly after birth, usually due to the mother abandoning them before the farmer finds them. These are sourced from my local farmers. Used to make clothing like gloves and slippers, but also make lovely pillow slips, cushions, and dresser mats.

I’m still trying to source some other old breeds but it’s difficult, so you’ll have to pop back regularly to see what I have 🙂

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