FAQ'S AND FACTS ABOUT SHEPHERD'S FLOCK® AND OUR SHEARLING PRODUCTS

 




Very Basic  Index For Information
Note that we have been watching what search terms people use to get to this page directly and have set up this very basic index to help you find what you are looking for faster. Note also that while much of this information is general in nature it is specifically geared toward our product line. You will have to hit your "back" button to return to the top of the page.
 
Basic Information on Shearlings Footwear Shedding
Care and Cleaning Independent Tanners Wink
Dyed/Dying Shearling Resoling  
Earmuffs Shearling Costs/Expense Shepherd's Flock® Home


FACTS

While you are searching the Web for just the right sheepskin product we would like you to keep just a few things in mind as you are comparing products and prices. A good product is made up of a lot of little finishing touches that are not always evident on your monitor screen. We believe we are just a little different of course and if you are actually here reading this we assume you are taking the time to do some real comparison shopping. We might as well promote ourselves a little.

We will start with some features you can see if you are looking closely at all the pictures on all the sites.

Short Cuff Shearling Slipper from Shepherd's Flock
Short cuff slipper, cuff raised to show the side.

We use as few pieces as possible when we make our items because we believe it creates a stronger and better looking product. The uppers on our slippers are only two pieces (plus trim on the short cuff). You will note that there are no side seams nor are they constructed of many small pieces. The trim piece on the short cuff slippers is not designed to be worn up. It is primarily structural in design and flares outward when flipped up.

Full Cuff Shearling Slipper from Shepherd's Flock
Full cuff slipper as it is normally worn.

Our mittens use full panels, no center seams and no cuff seams, just a front, a back, and a thumb. The only time we add a cuff seam is when our customers want a different color cuff instead of the normal fold over style.

Regular MittenStandard mitten back, no seams.

Cuffed MittenSpecial cuff. Upper mitten shows leather and seam, lower shows natural white cuff.

Hat crowns are all created from no more than four pieces and are sewn with a welted seam instead of edge stitched like many others on the market.

Stitching

This     

 Not this

What you can't see is just as important. Virtually every seam is double stitched to help guard against accidental unraveling. Products are all hand cut with a furrier's knife, not a press, which creates a much nicer wool edge. We take the time and effort to avoid as many blemishes as humanly possible, again, a nicer looking product. And as simple as it may seem we have, for many years, posted a flat fee for resoling our shearling bottomed slippers. The leather in the uppers is the expensive part. Why should you throw them out if the upper is still strong?

One last note. Aside from sundry items like the crepe soles, everything is 100% real shearling. So when you are comparing items be sure to ask if the entire product is the real thing, especially in footwear. You have a right to know how much of the product is shearling and how much is polyester. And, while you are at it, ask where the items are made. Except for the gloves we offer over the Internet, all of our products are made right here in Vermont (USA) from US and/or imported lambskins.

So, we may lose big time on the convenience side of the game (see ordering information) but that is because we still like doing business in the slow lane. We don't want to be a "factory" and have to worry about firing people or laying them off when business is slow (or we send production overseas).  So, whatever item(s) you order,  that item is cut, sewn, packed and shipped by one of two people (who also have to answer the phone and the email, maintain the website, try to stay as high on Google as humanly possible, do the accounting, etc.). Next day delivery, hah!
Besides, we really do like to talk to our customers. This "point and click" stuff takes all the enjoyment out of being a small business. 

Now that you have been kind enough to actually get to know us we are going to reward you by speeding up the rest of your search for that perfect shearling product. Hop on over to our list of competitors when you are finished here. We have cataloged most of the major and minor retailers for you. There is also a link on the ordering information page just above the privacy policy and in the text on our home page.

Enjoy your visit and thanks for coming.

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 

FAQ'S

The following are the most frequently asked questions we have heard both at the shows and festivals we attend and over the Internet. Some are much more apt to come up when we are dealing in person with people but every question and every answer on this page has been repeated hundreds, if not thousands, of times over the years.
   Thanks for being so interested.


GENERAL

What is shearling?

The very basic answer to that question is the skin of a sheep or lamb that has been tanned with the wool left on the hide.
We are going to confuse you for a moment but stick with us as we try to be as factual as possible. "A" "shearling" from what we can gather, is a sheep that has been shorn one time. Since sheep are not shorn in their first year this would be a sheep (lamb) that is over a year old. Mind you, we are not sheep growers but we found a great site from the UK that has a list of sheep terminology that is as complete as any we have seen. It is a nice site to visit as well.

If one is determined to be extremely proper, "Shearling" as a leather term is the skin of a shearling lamb only. The skin is tanned with the wool still on the skin and both the leather and the wool are processed for a variety of applications. If someone refers to a "shearling coat" for example, they are really saying "shearling lambskin coat". Yes, it could be a "shearling wool coat" but the retailer should tell you that right up front. Self styled experts will tell you that you can buy a "cowhide shearling coat" but that is just plain BS (pun intended). Confused yet? Just wait, there is more.

50% Polyester SheepShearling is also the proper term for what is commonly referred to as "sheepskin". To quote Stephen Johnson  who gave Rick the initial tour of AC Lawrence Leathers on his first day at work, "The distinction is basically that a sheepskin is technically just that, the skin of a sheep." Shearling, as a term, has continued to diversify a bit but it always refers to a sheep/lamb hide that is tanned with the wool left on the skin. While we prefer to use the proper term you will find the terms sheepskin and shearling interspersed on our web pages for technical reasons (more "hits"). All our products are shearling regardless of how we refer to our raw material. And, no, we don't resort to calling it "sheepskin shearling" or "shearling sheepskin" or, terminology once used by a Vermont firm no less, "100% wool shearling". Come on, use your head, if it is shearling there is wool involved. Maybe some enterprising farmer (or Monsanto®) has come up with a 50% wool, 50% polyester blend, genetically engineered lamb but we don't think so. And, if anyone were to do it it would not be a Vermont farm. Well, we hope not. We do, when speaking with suppliers, use the term "woolskin" quite often but it can refer to either the raw skins or finished skins.

The Federal Trade Commission currently regulates/identifies shearling under the "Fur Products Labeling Act" see section 301.9. This is probably a left over from the early/mid 20th Century when most shearlings were produced as something called "Mouton" which was/is a shearling lambskin with highly processed wool that was intended to mimic the appearance of beaver or seal. Mouton is the French word for sheep or sheepskin. It is the wool that was/is important in the processing. Mouton is still a specialized type of shearling and we use mouton in our traditional style ear muffs and for most of the colors in our covered band style ear muffs. However, shearling  is probably best known for its use in consumer goods that are made with the leather on the outside and the wool on the inside.

US Customs classifies a shearling as a fur (when it is tanned). However, if one imports a shearling coat, mittens, slippers, etc. with the leather on the outside, it is considered a leather item. But, a raw sheep/lambskin, except for certain types, would be considered in the same classification as cow hide. Told ya it was confusing. It gets worse.

Since the FTC classifies shearling as a fur it is the only item we know of that goes through a metamorphosis when it is imported. For example, a pair of shearling mittens comes into the USA as a pair of leather mittens (if the leather is on the outside which is normal) and, after Custom's clearance and introduction to the retail market, they (technically) become fur mittens. Cool, huh? Shearling is a wonderful example of good intentions on the part of regulators gone horribly wrong. Since it is a fur we are supposed to tell you if we use pieces, tails, bellies, or if the product is made from whole skins. Uh, what? Okay, shearling skins are about 8 square feet on average and a pair of mittens made from whole skins would be a bit on the large side not to mention at least $300 per pair. So, our products are made from pieces, not tiny little pieces from a scrap bag, but pieces none the less. We do use bellies but only when that part is suitable for the product and, tails, well, most sheep have their tails docked early in life so we do not see, much less use, any of them. Shucks, we are supposed to tell you that our products are made from "shearling fur". Odd, we always considered ourselves "leather workers" and not furriers. Who knew? We also marvel at the fact that our WW II Air Force personnel were outfitted in fur according to the definition of shearling by the FTC. Bet they had no clue how luxurious a job they actually had.

Time for a one question test to see if you have been paying attention. Shearling "fur" is what? No peaking at the next line now. We do not condone cheating.

If you answered "wool", congratulations you get a gold star.Gold Star Any other answer or no answer at all, go to the blackboard and write "I will pay attention in class" fifty times. Neatly, mind you. We don't condone slack offs either. Each line had best be readable.

Here we go, enter the "Wool Products Labeling Act". AAUGH!!!!!

Shearling, regardless of the mass confusion out there, is tanned and finished for a variety of applications. For applications that principally use the wool side, the leather is completely tanned (if working with a reliable tannery) but finished only slightly. Skin blemishes are of no matter as long as the wool is of high enough quality. The most attention during processing is paid to the wool side. The product is sold based on the wool character and its suitability for a particular application. Mouton for garments and accessories; woolskins for car seat covers, automobile buffing pads, quality paint rollers, applicators for floor urethane, and footwear lining are just a few of the many products that use the wool side of the skin only. We use car seat cover skins for our special style ear muffs and our seat belt covers. In all cases, the wool is trimmed by machine to the appropriate length near the end of processing.

The most recognized shearlings on the market are tanned and finished for both the skin and the wool and the skin is what is most visible in the product. In this instance hide/skin quality is extremely important and this is how the finished skins are graded. The wool is finished/clipped as well but it is of secondary importance. Most familiar is shearling suede. (a/k/a doubleface or twinface) Other finishes and embellishments are also common these days. Nappa is a smooth/shiny surface that is applied to the skin and is also fairly well known by the consumer. Distressed finishing techniques are sometimes used as are embossing and glitter processes. The number of different finishes available is rather amazing to us old timers, simply amazing.

Consumers need to be very aware that many companies are using the word "shearling" in an inappropriate manner. Under USA consumer protection law the term "shearling" is reserved for a specific type of leather/fur (as above). There is a blur between sheep/lamb hides which is acceptable but, "shearling" if used to describe any type of synthetic material is against regulations. This abuse exploded during the 2011 Holiday Sales season with even major designer labels and retail establishments using the term improperly (illegally). "Caveat emptor", let the buyer beware, is especially important these days. We have to add that if you have purchased an item which you believed to be shearling and it was a synthetic or even just basic shorn wool we highly suggest you file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (USA) or the appropriate consumer protection agency in your own country.

Are these products from your own sheep?

No, we don't raise sheep. That in itself would be a full time job if we wanted to try to make a living at it. (Most people we know who raise sheep would debate whether or not the phrase "making a living" can be used in the same book with "raising sheep".) We purchase our skins from major tanneries here and overseas and continue from there. The pattern designs are ours as is all the workmanship except where it is otherwise noted.

Do you tan hides?

AC Lawrence World War Two Contribution AwardThe business itself was a result of Rick's time working for AC Lawrence Leathers which was once the largest shearling tanner in the USA and the third largest in the world. Many a good person worked there and the "old timers" would gladly grace you with a story about WW II when the tannery was running at maximum capacity for our Air Force needs. So, this is our little eulogy for all those who worked so hard in a difficult job and a note of what fine people most of them were. We will remember you all quite fondly! (Click on the picture for the full size version and a readable caption.)
Rick "has done his time" working in various capacities from dealing with raw skins to serving as tanner and chief dyer, tanning and dying thousands of skins a day, but Shepherd's Flock
® does not tan hides. There are numerous companies that specialize in custom tanning for individuals. Contact with the tanner should be made in advance so that they may tell you how to properly prepare the hide for tanning. Improper preparation will often ruin the skin and make it impossible to tan. Our advice is to try them all out and see which tanner you are most satisfied with. We have heard good and bad comments about all of them. Please note that this list is posted as a service to our visitors. We do not specifically endorse any of these firms. Currently, these are the only ones we are aware of but we are happy to add to the list. Please let us know if we have missed someone.

Nugget International
222 Kemper St.
San Antonio, TX 78207
210-224-2361

Bucks County Fur Products
Box 204
Quakertown, PA 18951
215-536-6614

Lonestar Tanning
807 Massey St.
Smithfield, NC 27577
919-553-4629

Rocky Mountain Tanners
5965 S. Broadway
Englewood, CO 80113
303-293-2882
Stern Tanning Company
PO Box 55
Sheboygan Falls, WI 53085
920-467-8615
Promised land Tanning
228 Cameron Lake Loop Rd.
Okanogan, WA 98840
509-422-3814

Do you dye the skins/Are the skins dyed?

As stated, Rick served as chief dyer in his days at the Lawrence Tannery. Dying properly is a special process that requires two different dyes, one for the leather and one for the wool. (This may have changed. We will see where technology is now and post an update if/when we find out differently.) These are both done in a hot water bath with chemical dyes which is necessary to "fix" the dyes properly. If you purchase an expensive shearling product (working on the base value of our own products which we do consider expensive) the last thing you want is for the dye to transfer when it gets a bit wet or, if you take it to the dry cleaner, have the color vanish. So, no, we do not do any dying here. It would not be practical or permanent.

The second one is a much broader question, one we are actually happy to answer for everyone as it comes up a great deal with our first time customers. Note that we will be "countering" claims from some of the larger retail firms as we do check on what they are posting.
With the exception of the white we use for Ear Muffs, any style, and the long wool white we use for the Foot muff , The Hand Muff, and the trim on the Shaggy Brim Hats, everything we use has been dyed to some extent.
When speaking specifically about shearlings, though it applies to many other leathers as well, modern tannage produces a white leather and a white wool (unless there is natural coloration in the wool or staining from a variety of normal sources). The majority of skins are chrome tanned which actually gives them a blue tint when they are fresh out of tan and wet. Thus the leather term, "wet blue". But, when they are dried they are pure white.
The term "natural" when used to refer to the leather is a product of older, often vegetable, tanning methods which created a tan or brown color in the course of tanning. The leather color of the Bark Tanned skins we use for slipper soles is a very good example. This leather color is not dyed. The wool is often "tinted" during processing because the tan extract does impact the wool color and the tanneries add the tint to make wool color more consistent.

One specific note about wool coloration. In many cases wool is dyed or tinted a solid color or left in its natural color. There as also a process known as "tip dying" which produces a two color effect on the wool side of a skin. The "Tonka" color we use for our products is an example. When a skin is tip dyed the wool is either left its natural color or dyed a solid color first. The wool is straightened and combed and then the skins are sent through a large spray machine that sprays a fine mist of another color wool dye that settles only on the tips of the wool. We have used skins with a wide variety of color combinations over the years and, with modern methods, the dye can be stripped off of a dark color base leaving a silvery/white tip which is very striking. Contrary to some information we have seen posted, the basic reason for tip dying was to simulate the appearance of certain fur skins. When originally introduced, AC Lawrence produced three basic colors of tip dyed skins called Stone Martin, Ranch Mink, and Opossum. After a few years and most likely due to confusion in the market the colors became known as Stoney, Ranch, and Possum. However, the use of tip dying exploded and many combinations were/are produced solely because it is attractive. As a side note, the color that many, many retailers refer to as "natural color sheepskin" is actually known as "Stoney" in the trade. In 2011, we noted that one very large retailer was not only referring to it as "natural", they were also claiming it was undyed. Untrue, very untrue (shaking head).

So, we don't care what people tell you, if you are purchasing shearling from anyone, unless it is white it has most likely been dyed.
The same holds true for the wool. Yes, there are natural colored breeds. In many cases the wool on these skins is dyed dark brown or black to cover the natural coloration or they are left in their natural state and sold as rugs. The term "natural" when it comes to just wool coloration is normally a reference to wool that has been tinted during the processing so that lanolin staining is not noticeable, a creamy color. When it comes to wool, "natural" to us means white with the possibility of some slightly visible creamy coloration. (Primarily visible in the products that use the long wool shearlings.)

Where do your shearlings come from?

With the coming of 2007 we started doing business with a wider variety of worldwide tanners. This was not by choice but by necessity. The US is currently down to one shearling tanner of any significance and they control most of the raw skin trade as well. (When we started the business there were, at minimum, seven major domestic tanners.) As anyone in business knows, relying on one supplier is a recipe for disaster. Look at the auto industry after Fukushima. They had so narrowed their supply line that a disaster in Japan had a huge ripple effect. In our case, this was solidly underscored when that one tannery decide not to ship our orders during the holiday season in 2006. Of course we all know what happens when one company controls the availability of a given product as well.
Since the only place to go is "off shore" for suppliers this is what we do. Please also note that the UK and Australia, that is right, Australia, are both now down to one sheepskin tanner each as well.

Our skins are sourced from a variety of tanners which include that single one in the US but we simply can not afford to rely on them alone any longer. By 2005 the stage was set, overturned one might say, and the demise in the US shearling tanning industry was almost complete. We did hang on as long as we could. For country of origin information on the shearlings we use to make our products "click here". We are, however, pleased to mention that one of the two Chinese tanneries we do business with was recently awarded silver status by The Leather Working Group which is a group that supports good environmental practices in the tanning industry. We do NOT deal with companies that we do not/have not had direct personal contact with. We get many offers to sell us skins and/or products and we never respond to any of them. We do want to know exactly who we are dealing with. 

We should note that the suede we use, which covers most of our items, is domestically produced. While we can purchase suede from other international tanners, they tan for the boot industry and much of what they produce is like cardboard in character. Cardboard does not make a nice hat or pair of mittens. (We don't really think it makes a very nice pair of slippers either.) But, we are small, we have to deal with what the big boys want and hope we can retire before we have no choice in the matter.
We post country of origin information based solely on where the skin was tanned. In only two cases do we know, for sure (well 99% sure anyway), the country of origin for the actual skin. The above link offers the best information that we can give our customers.  Bet your local gas station does not post country of origin for what comes out of their pumps.

Why is shearling so expensive? (Frequently used search term.)

Sheepskins are a global commodity, just like oil. However, they are also a by/co product of the meat industry so supply can be limited by a variety of factors. When the demand is high the price goes up especially when supplies are low (like during the hoof and mouth outbreak in the UK in 2001) and demand the last few years has been driven by the good marketing folks at UGG Australia® and, of course, the people buying their boots as well as the knock off ones. This helps to explain why our skin prices rose 30% to 60% between the spring of 2010 and the spring of 2012. To put it in the words of Decker's Corp. (parent company of UGG Australia®), ".........as the result primarily of higher raw material cost namely sheepskin, which are up approximately 40% over 2011 levels and up approximately 80% versus 2010....."* But while their stock went down, we just kept on truckin' and producing basic items that are meant not to be fashionable but to do a job and not end up in the closet when the next big thing hits.
* Transcript Q4 2011 Deckers Earnings call. We are not nor do we want to be associated with Deckers Corp or UGG Austrailia® in any manner. This quote just underscores the reality of the market place.

Skin prices are relatively cyclical with fashion being the main driving force. We have seen many price spikes in our short history. However, ovine skins are unique in that the demand can come from the shearling side of the industry or the skin only side. Shearling prices can rise even if there is no demand as long as there is a demand for "de-haired" lambskins in particular. Straight lambskin is used for very fine garments. We have also seen instances where we simply could not get supplied from the tanneries because supply was so tight. We have posted a chart of sheepskin cost trends covering our 30+ years so you can see how volatile the market can be.

In the last year or so, what is interesting is the fact that Chinese firms are dumping finished product on the market for far, far less than what we pay for finished sheepskins. Even UGG Australia® is/was allowing retailers to greatly discount their products and offering substantial discounts of their own, something they have never done before but started doing in 2013. But we have seen little in the way of decreases in the cost of our supply.  Things do seem to have stabilized for now which is a good thing after having to our raise prices substantially twice a year for the last couple of years and still absorbing some of the increases in our material costs. However, and few will ever know this, even Decker's Corp is now using a "sheepskin substitute" in some of their Ugg@ products. To quote The Motley Fool, "To hedge itself against volatile sheepskin prices, the company introduced the UGGPure boot, a proprietary process using wool attached to a backing, which the company thinks has a promising future."  (Three Cold-Weather Retailers to Warm Your Investing Returns, 12/21/2013) If you don't believe that one, surely you can believe Reuters.

Do you use Australian sheepskins; they are supposed to be the best?

Okay, not to annoy our Australian counterparts, but why not New Zealand skins? Every sheep grower we know wants to visit New Zealand now or in another lifetime. That is on the “bucket list” for so many of the small growers we have come to know and love. We think the NZ folks are getting shafted here.
Marketing, our dear customers/potential customers, plain old marketing, is why Australian skins are understood to be the best and, in many cases, the retailer is doing slight of hand/redirect because the skins may be Australian but they are tanned in China and the consumer item is made in China although Vietnam is becoming a popular country for footwear production now as well.

We are going to be non committal here and attempt to give you the facts and let you decide and, no, we really do not want to do anything to damage the reputation of any real Australian tanner or consumer goods producer.  Likewise the NZ folks. We are all in this together.
Skins from Australia and/or New Zealand tend to be a bit more breed specific than our US skins. Yes, the denseness of the wool on the skin will likely be more consistent than found in domestic sheepskins and, the wool, in general, does tend to be denser.
Domestic skins are a wide variety of breeds/wool types but it is important to understand that it is all wool. At times we have worked with sheepskins that have such a silky wool people have actually accused us of sending them rabbit (honest).  But, we produce the best possible product we can and every skin we work with is different from another. We try to cut the skin based on the most appropriate use. That is what we do here, one skin, one product at a time.

In fact, this question is one that has been produced by the current retail market. No one ever asked us this when we started in business. Per an earlier segment, sheepskins are a global commodity. This makes it difficult to ascertain exactly where the skin comes from. The mega retailers who sell you something from sheepskin cannot absolutely guarantee where the skins they use originated. They don’t really care, either. Again, out of respect for our overseas counterparts, we do recognize their claims to be 100% Australian or NZ in nature. But we have our doubts about the mass market claims. US sheepskins are much sought after because of their size, especially with the boot makers. This would indicate that there is a high probability that what you may purchase is actually produced from a US origin sheepskin regardless of the claims being made. (We are going to pat ourselves on the back here. After we posted this little piece of information, Decker's Corp actually started admitting that they were not making UGG®  labeled products from 100% Australian sheepskins and that they were also using skins from Europe and the USA. Chuckle)

Aside from the specialty and easily noticed skins mentioned below, we would also caution you regarding other claims that some firms make. "We use just Merino sheepskin" is a claim that can rarely be backed up though you will find it used to describe slippers and other products offered by many retail establishments. This claim gets even more specific than the country of origin claims and the more specific one gets in origin/breed information claims the less likely it is true. It is also important to note that, in recent discussions with a source in Australia, we have learned there is much more cross breeding happening in the Australian sheep industry so the 100% Merino claim is becoming more and more questionable.

We must add that there are numerous specialty types of lambskin that still fall under the leather/shearling category. Most are not really suitable to slipper/boot production but make wonderful mittens, hats, coats, gloves, trim, etc. Some of those, but certainly not all are, “Icelandic”, “Spanish Merino”, “Toscana”, “Tibetan”, and “Slink”. The prices for items made from these skins will generally be much higher than products made from what one would consider standard shearlings.
As for our products, specifically, the only items that may be from Australian origin sheepskins would be seat belt covers, special ear muffs, or insoles. The long wool, natural white skins are also from Australian or New Zealand skins. We do, on occasion, use some non-US shearlings in other items when we are sampling from a new source of supply but these products will only be available at direct retail situations.

Do your sheepskins have lanolin in the wool?

This question has bothered us for a very long while. It never came up before mass marketing via the Internet. One could also say mass “copying”. Everyone copies what they see on someone else’s site factual or otherwise (and we have seen our notes copied word for word on other sites without appropriate footnotes). But, despite all attempts to get scientific evidence to support the claims regarding lanolin in sheepskin/shearling, we are left with no answers from chemists and those are the only answers that we can trust.
That being said we are going to give the public our opinion. This is opinion based on hands on experience in the actual processing/tanning itself as well as the time spent “table cutting” our products.

We do not believe this is a valid claim. In brief, the very first thing to happen after the skins are sorted and trimmed is they are put into what is known as “first wash”. We speak only of shearling skins but expect it is a universal process in all leathers. First wash is a 24 hour bath in very hot water and detergents that must be handled with heavy protective gloves and a face shield. The purpose is to remove as much foreign matter and grease as possible before the tanning process begins. Foreign matter of any kind may/will interfere with tanning. Because of this process it is unlikely that there is enough lanolin left to be of any consequence even at the very beginning of the cycle.
Further down the processing chain the skins will go through a dry cleaning process to absolutely remove any leftover grease and/or foreign material. Any reputable tanner will complete this prior to dying the skins. Note that some believe that first wash alone will be enough and do not do this process. Again, we do not believe that anything other than trace amounts of lanolin would be left after this process, especially after first wash is completed.  Between first wash and dry cleaning the skins are subjected to a variety of acids during the tanning process which we would assume would further break down/remove any "natural" lanolin.
At the end of the tanning process and at the end of dying a substance called fatliquor is added in which lanolin may be added. However, the fatliquor is primarily to lubricate the leather fibers and we have found no references to the introduction of lanolin during this phase of shearling production.

If the claims about lanolin are true it should be evident at the cutting table since we hand cut everything which requires a great deal of contact with the wool. During the winter season, when we are working many skins a day, our hands dry out to a great extent. This would be considered normal because of the moisture wicking abilities of wool. This is why sheepskin slippers are better than synthetics and plain leather slippers. The wool takes the moisture away from your feet and the air circulation helps them stay comfortable in all temperature extremes. However, if there really was a reasonable amount of lanolin in the wool the opposite should be true and we should feel as though we had put lotion on our hands at the end of a long day.
Again, this is our opinion and we are open to comments/corrections from anyone with a degree and experience in tan chemistry as it relates to shearlings. Note, we have seen so much misinformation on the Internet we only accept a degree and, yes, we actually do have to contacts to check you out. If you are real sure of your position, post "counter intelligence" on our FB wall so all can see it.
As a side note, if you put your hand into a sheepskin product and the wool or the leather feels really greasy, do not buy it. It is probably real grease and the skin has not been tanned properly. You will know what we mean if you do a little comparison shopping the old fashioned way. Ran into that with some seat belt covers Walmart
* was selling some time back. (Come on, of course we check them out! We check everybody out.) If one squeezed the leather hard the grease would run down your fingers.
* Not really sure, at this point, what the true name of the corp is but we are covering our rear ends here. They own the trademark, if there is one, we don't. Not ashamed to say that. Besides, we are just making an assumption here. Our attorney told us to always include the registered mark when doing anything for public consumption yet Walmart does not. Hmm, open season on their "trade name" ??

Are sheep killed in order to obtain their skins?

We have pretty much explained where the skins come from and we would leave this alone except for all the UGG Australia®* boot lovers who seem to think that UGGS (generic term) are made of shorn wool like that beautiful sweater your Grandma knitted for you. Fact, sheep are raised primarily for food. Fact, sheepskins/shearlings are a by-product of the food/meat industry although there is a discussion happening over whether or not "co-product" is a more applicable term. Any true leather is animal skin. For years pig skins were tossed in the dumps until someone figured out a way to turn them into a real fine leather. Anyone who knows that some fish skins are tanned please raise your hand.
Fact, UGG type sheepskin boots, any make or brand, are not simply wool sheared from the sheep no matter what people believe. The skins we use are not like Mink, raised only for the value of the skin. To the best of our knowledge, only Persian Lamb or Broadtail Lamb is a "fur" (raised for the value of the skin) and we do not use either.  Mickey D's anyone??
 

Will the products shed?

It takes some time for the loose wool in a new product to work it's way out. This is not shedding but simply wool that was cut when the skins were cut. Once the loose fibers are gone there will be no "shedding" of any kind. The wool in slippers in particular will wear off from constant "rubbing". We also wish to note for people who buy car seat covers (from other firms) that sheepskins do "photo degrade" in time. Constant exposure to conditions in a car's interior will eventually cause the skin to deteriorate. We have seen lots of complaints that people have posted in various forums on the Internet about constant shedding and wool coming off the skins in big clumps when the product is new. Leather is a natural product and problems do occur but what often creates this problem is very substandard tanning. There is a right way to tan and a "cheap" way to tan. We work with tanners that do the job correctly.

How do I care for my purchase?

Basic rules are quite simple and relate to many leather products in general. If the product happens to be worn in the rain or snow simply allow it to dry at room temperature. Never attempt to dry by a high heat source. Once the product is dry you can brush out most water spots with a soft bristle brush. Please store in a dry place as mildew can form and can never be completely removed. Never encase in plastic for storage, a paper bag or box is preferable. Moths will generally not bother the items unless you have real problems with moths anyway. If so, please store as you would a good wool sweater and think about calling someone who specializes in getting rid of the little critters.

How do I clean my purchase? (Very high on the most asked questions list.)

All of our products can be dry cleaned. Please choose a reputable leather dry cleaner as there are those who would say, "Oh yes, we can dry clean anything."
If you are careful, you can also wash the products. Cool water and an extremely mild soap, air drying away from heat and sunshine works well. Bleach, hot water, drying on a woodstove, etc. will destroy the product. You can visit our "washing" page for more detailed information. Please note that the washing instructions only apply to our products. We know our suppliers and their tanning methods.
But, if you wash a cotton shirt, it comes out more or less like it did when it was new. When you wash sheepskin it doesn't look "new" when it is dry. Therefore, because of the public's expectations, we tend to discourage washing. In addition, since we can't be around to supervise your wash methods, we cannot be responsible for any damage that occurs should you decide to wash your purchase.
Our absolute answer to the question is, "Consider having your product leather dry cleaned." We think you will be happier with the results.

Do you wholesale?

Yes, we maintain a limited wholesale clientele but we are NOT currently accepting new accounts. Contact requesting wholesale information should be made in the spring. We rarely accept new customers during the busy season as production is generally fully booked by August. Just don't expect us to be competitive with the imports from a price perspective. It just can't be done. If you want "cheap" please don't even bother to ask. It will be a waste of everyone's time.

Do you have a retail store?

No, we tried that and watching a store really interferes with production of the merchandise. The only way to purchase directly from us is by order or by meeting us at a show. We do not do any direct retail business here in Townshend. We have a very short list of retail stores which carry our products as well as many other fine goods. The list is not  complete as store participation is entirely voluntary. 

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 


FAQ'S FROM INTERNET CUSTOMERS

Why don't you have on-line ordering? (Most often asked question and complaint.)

Easy, to help us maintain a better level of service to our customers. We are T-I-N-Y compared to that mass of retailers out there so we can only handle a certain amount of business from our web site. We don't have massive statistics to share with you as hundreds of  people a day is nothing. But, if even 1% of the people who visited did a "point and click" on an item we would be in big trouble. By keeping ordering just a bit more difficult, (like picking up the phone is a struggle) we are more confident that we will be able to continue to fill our (your) orders and deliver as we promised. As an example, during the holiday season of 2005, at one point, we booked three days worth of work over one two hour period and that was over the phone. We honestly could not handle the volume that might come in through point and click once the weather starts to cool down.
We considered Google Checkout for some of the smaller items but since we are constantly fighting with MasterCard and VISA anyway, we don't need any more headaches. We would literally have to put your data on a computer just to prove to them it is safe. Go figure. We have a patriotic duty to remain old fashioned. You haven't seen us holding out our hand for a "bail out" so we are content to remain an oddity if that keeps us solvent, our customers happy, and customer's data secure.
We have been around for awhile (the trademark was registered in the early 80's if you don't believe us) and we still do face to face business with people so we have adapted all we have learned to the new world of ecommerce. All said and done the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival and the New York Sheep and Wool Festival combined force us to do more face to face business with people than the Internet will likely bring our way in a year. Try doing face to face business with thousands of people a day. 
Taking an enormous amount of orders is great until you realize you have to deliver. It is rather like getting a new credit card and regarding it as extra spending money.  We want to serve you well and that doesn't come about by over booking our production capabilities.

I want my order shipped by UPS®/FedEx®/etc.. Can you do it?

Well, yes, we can, but..... The simplest explanation is that, once again, we are T-I-N-Y which, according to those big shipping companies means we pay, big time, to do business with them. They give lots of discounts to the large customers and we get to pay full retail (so to speak) so, you will too. As an example, using UPS shipping rates for February 2013, to send a pair of standard ear muffs to a rural location on the West Coast our cost would be $17.26. Add a little for a box, say 75 cents, plus $3 for processing/packing etc. and we would have to charge you $21.01 for s/h for an item that retails for $15. Now, does that really make sense? And, let us go a step further. They charge us a surcharge because we are in Vermont, they charge us a surcharge because we work in our home and, in January of 2007, UPS effectively DOUBLED the shipping charges for our incoming skins. They didn't go up that much in their rates per pound, they just recalculated their dimensional rates. The exact same size/weight box went from $20 to $40 (Same size box now about $60). So, why should we want to give them more of our money? (And, all of those surcharges go into the price we have to charge for our products so you are already paying UPS a "surcharge" yourself.)
If you really want your item shipped by someone other than the Post Office, we will be happy to "FedEx it" for you as there is a drop box locally. There is a $4 fee charged for handling/processing of the order on top of the FedEx charges. We do not ship UPS as it requires a half hour drive (one way) to get to the nearest location and we would have to waste time standing in line as well.
Sorry, but the big package companies just don't want anything to do with us little folks despite what they advertise. Shhh... don't tell anyone, they drop some (sometimes, many) packages off at the Post Office for delivery. What is the point of paying one of them if they give it to the Post Office to deliver anyway?
(UPS® is, of course, a registered trademark of United Parcel Service and FedEx® is, of course, a registered trademark of FDX Corporation.)

We ship via First Class® and Priority Mail® to all US destinations. The charges that we list cover the actual cost of shipping, packaging materials when necessary, and the time it takes to process your order, pack it, communicate with you and get it to the local Post Office. Prices for the merchandise are set based on the cost of production of the merchandise only. We did an unscientific study in November 2010 of time spent on various "divisions" of the biz. For every 6 hours we spend actually making merchandise we spend four hours answering the phone, writing up orders, packing orders, shipping orders, seriously answering questions in a personal manner, taking care of the web site, doing social media, etc. If we weren't handling all the various processes ourselves we would have to pay someone else to take care of that "stuff" and, quite honestly, charge even more for s/h as we would at least have to pay them minimum wage. If we did, customer service would go down hill, big time, even with the best employee. (Priority Mail® and First Class Mail® are, you guessed it, registered trademarks of the United States Postal Service.)

Below are the actual rates that we would be charged for a coast to coast rural shipment as of February 2013 and include all the hidden surcharges. To compare, anything less than 1 pound we either charge $7.00 or $10.00 for s/h. Anything over 1 pound, we charge $11.00 OR $14.00 for s/h. Anything we charge $10.00 through $14.00 for is usually delivered in two to three days (in the USA). (The rates quoted below do not reflect the cost of shipping to Alaska, Hawaii, or Canada which WE do at our standard rates. Canadian shipments will take longer as we ship plain old Air Mail. ) For anyone who rolls their eyes at our use of the USPS, we have lots of issues with incoming deliveries via commercial carriers and USPS has about a 99.99% positive record with us. That is far better than this but also one of the reasons we stop shipping about December 15th every year.

Weight UPS FedEx
Less than 1 pound, ground 17.26 15.83
Less than 2 pounds, ground 18.78 17.14
Less than 2 pounds, 3 day 31.60 31.46
Less than two pounds, 2 day 38.73 38.56

Better still, if we ship a less than one pound box 10 miles down the road, UPS would charge $15.93 and FedEx Ground would charge $14.20. Just thought you should have all the facts in front of you before you request an alternate shipping method.  If the "big guys" had their way, they would eliminate all USPS parcel delivery so they could charge even more. (Except for the fact that they could no longer rely on the USPS for "last mile" delivery and save themselves a fortune.)

A bit more for your information so you can see how "stacked charges" work. This is an example from a recent bill (April 2013) from one of the major carriers for a package shipped to us by a supplier in CA.

Transportation Charge Base cost for a 13 pound box shipped ground. $15.50
Residential Purely because we work out of our house. $3.20
Fuel Surcharge Easy to get, never goes away even when rates change $1.66
Insurance Again, easy to understand but on a box worth $200 $2.55
Extended Residential We work out of our house and it is in the "sticks". $3.50
Grand Total Watch how this works on a $15.50 shipment. :) $26.41

Cool huh? Now, if the box was just slightly larger, like a half an inch, that would add a minimum of $10 to the above total. See why we ship via USPS?

We have had customers ask who signed for a package when it ends up missing in some business or apartment building. Well, no one actually gets a signature any more unless one pays extra. So, to have a signature at the end of the line, UPS charges $4.25 and FedEx charges $3.50. If you want to go the signature route, our charge will be $3.00 to do that.

I have these sheepskins, can you make something out of them?

Sorry, no. In most cases, skins that have been tanned by the  companies mentioned previously are not skins that we could effectively turn into products. It has to do with the fine sewing machines we work with, the thickness of the resulting leather, and the fact that most of them have too much wool on the skin to make a reasonable product from. In addition, and this is no small matter, if we cut into a skin that you own and make a mistake, we would be obligated to you for the value of that skin. If we cut into a skin that we own and make a mistake, we can recoup some of the costs by turning it into smaller product. We cannot do that with your skin(s) and, regardless of the "releases" we might transmit beforehand, we are good people who hold our customers/visitors in the highest of esteem and really try to "do right" by them. So, the answer is absolute, we will not work with skins that you provide. Better to make you unhappy now then, possibly, later.

I have this hat/pair of slippers/etc. that I like. Can you duplicate it for me?

Basically, the answer is no, we don't do duplication of items.

We met the daughter of a retired shoe manufacturer at a show (yes, people USED to make shoes in New England and New York) and she shared with us her father's answer to that question. "I can do anything. How many thousands do you want to buy and how much are you willing to pay?" Pattern design, even duplication, is a long tedious process and usually results in many failures before something even remotely marketable comes off the sewing machine. At the barest minimum, duplicating an item would require a day of pattern work and three or four test runs. So, while we know you must dearly love that item, are you willing to spend a minimum of $200-$300 for design work alone? 

I have this coat/item that needs repair. Will you do it for me?

Sorry, we do not work on other people's products, especially large, often expensive, garments. Honestly, all it takes is one simple mistake and the item is ruined and we do make mistakes. We don't like being in that kind of position of liability. Also, it comes down to doing the job right and how much that costs. More than the garment's original price in most cases. As for other items, we have had countless requests to repair UGG Australia ® boots/products. Not on your life.

Do you do?

Car Seat Covers?

No. For a really good seat cover you should do business with someone who specializes in that type of work. There are several on our list page to choose from.

Coats?

Spanish Merino Toddler JacketNot any more (except on a rare occasion for family). We did for many years when we could hand-pick the skins we purchased but once we had to order in our shearlings it got increasingly difficult to get a good color match of 6 or 7 skins needed to do a quality garment. At some point we may post pics on our Facebook page just to show we are telling the truth. Again, there are several firms on our list page that will sell you a coat. We are not willing to recommend anyone but we advise that you shop carefully and pay close attention to the return policy. A quality shearling garment is a good investment and we highly recommend purchasing one as they are both stylish and functional. But, you want to be sure you get what you really want as they are rather expensive. (Pictured is a size 2 toddler jacket with hood made from 100% Spanish Merino Lambskin, our make and design and a proud pic of our grandson from many years back.)

Custom Work?

Relative to the question about duplicating items, no, we do not. Technically we can do a lot. From a practical standpoint (that making a living thing) we would have to charge a amount relative to what we are not earning by producing our normal product line. You would not be pleased with the honest cost of the item. We do do special needs work, within reason, like footwear alteration, as well as special covers for belts, chair arms, etc. Now if Warren Buffett or Bill Gates wish to underwrite an entire year of our "take home pay" and then publicize how wonderful we are at what we do, we might take them up on it and do something "custom" for them.

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 


FOOTWEAR

Top Question of all times - How long do the shearling soles last?

There is no definitive answer to this question. There are many factors that determine the life span of the shearling on the bottom not the least of which are the habits of the user. Some people will wear through the bottom in a season and we can honestly say that we have had people whose soles (souls?) have lasted ten years. We believe the average life span is about two years though it could be much longer. We have to go by the age of the slippers we get back for resoling. Do note that wearing these on abrasive surfaces such as concrete and/or wearing them outside will greatly shorten the lifespan. So, we cannot promise you will get XX amount of time before the soles wear through.

One of the reasons finding slippers with just shearling soles, no added outsole, is so difficult is because sheepskin, unlike cow hide, is not sold by the weight (thickness). All skins vary in thickness and will vary from one part of the skin to another as well and they just aren't as durable as cow hide. Most others have abandoned pure sheepskin soles because there is no way to make any promises regarding longevity. (And because it is easier to use non-sheepskin in the bottom that way.) Our customers like the nice soft shearling sole so we are not planning on stopping production. This is why we offer resoling. This keeps the slippers going for as long as the uppers will hold a stitch but, again, we cannot promise you that they will last XX time before they wear through.

Honestly, it doesn't help that tanners keep going out of business. We have, over time, had 6 different suppliers for our slipper bottoms. When one closes its doors it takes some time to "educate" a new source of supply and then, a couple of years later, they are gone. But, in the end, we have to use what they ship us so we just hope they ship us something within our specs. "Within our specs" seems to be a constant battle and when you are small, why should they really care, right?
However, in 2008 we were able to get back to our "roots" so to speak. When we started and for many years after, we used a vegetable tanned shearling for slipper bottoms. As tanners went out of business there was no source for a decent quality vegetable tanned skin. This type of sheepskin tannage is used primarily for the underside of high quality saddles as it is firm and very durable. It is a different color on the leather side than what we were previously using as chrome tan is white and vegetable tan is a tan color (which is where the color "tan" probably came from).

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 


Number 2 Question of all times - Do you make slippers in ?? size?

Most people do not know how shoes are actually made and we will avoid the temptation to go into a long explanation here. Most people also do not know that the North Eastern USA was once the king of the footwear industry in the USA but we will leave that one alone as well.

We utilize the standard US measurement scale as the basis for our slipper sizes. In US measurement, each full size is 1/3" in length different from the previous/next size. Therefore, a half size is only equal to 1/6th inch difference in length. We do not do half sizes. Because we do not "last" our slippers there remains a lot of flexibility in how they will fit. How many of you remember the Brannock Device?  We have one sitting right by the cutting table.

The device was developed at a time when there were obvious standards that everyone used in the shoe making business making it easy to find the right shoe for your foot. These days most people just walk into a shoe warehouse or a department store and try on shoes until they get a pair that fits and that causes all kinds of variation in the shoe size people think they wear. There is no real consistency it would seem from one Chinese manufacturer to another when it comes to shoe sizes (and clothing sizes we might add). Since so many retailers just purchase their inventory from whom ever gives them the lowest price, how are you supposed to know what size your really wear? It seems to change all the time.

We have used the same patterns consistently for over 30 years. If you tell us you wear a women's 8 or 8.5 and you are a standard women's 8 or 8.5 we are going to send you a pair of slippers that has been proven to be a real women's 8 or 8.5 as we have sold thousands of pairs to people in that size range over the years. Consistency, that is important. Often we get slippers returned for exchange because they are too big but the foot measures out to be a lot smaller than we were told. In many cases this discrepancy is really due to width issues because width and length are both increased in increments and people are just buying large because the width is more appropriate to their foot.

Our sizes are set so that they will be snug in the beginning but will come up to the appropriate size with some wear. The wool on the bottom has to pack down or "felt" in order to give the foot more room.  Again, over 30 years of consistency and familiarity with the raw materials we work with.

We can and we do alterations when necessary but we don't specifically produce slippers in all the various widths from AAAA to EEEE. Don't let anyone fool you, no one does. Our slipper sizes are determined by the patterns we cut from, not by the size of the last like the manufacturers who produce for the larger market. Our standard patterns allow a generous amount of width, especially once the slipper has been worn for awhile and width seems to be one of the major problems we hear about.

If you have a problem with width, narrow or wide, then we can cut you a pair of slippers that more properly fits your foot.  Please don't call and say "I need a wide" for example. What is wide? Even the standard A to E width measurements aren't much of a help to us. We have seen EEE's that are perfectly normal width to ones that are 1/2 inch wider than normal. Many folks who use the term "wide" have never seen a really wide foot. We have.

As for shoe size the largest pair we have ever done was a size 20 and we have also done work for people with markedly different shoe sizes (one pair was 4 full sizes different from one foot to the other). If you need a single slipper then we will be happy to make you one at 1/2 the full pair price. (We encountered one competitor's site that claimed they made their own slippers yet made it clear they wouldn't sell in anything less than pairs. Our question is, "Why?") 
 
We do reserve the right to charge additional money for alterations, especially for larger pairs.
It must be understood that a foot tracing is essential to adapting the pattern to your foot. Without a tracing we don't know what the real situation is. Not to be "flippant" or disrespectful in any manner but we have had people who insist that they need alterations and yet refuse to send us a tracing. No tracing, no alteration from the normal pattern for your size. That is fair, right?

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 


Can I have a different outsole material?

People do ask us if they can have this sole material or that sole material and, in general, the answer is "possibly" but a one of a kind is very expensive. We do have minimums that we have to meet with our suppliers (do you want 100 pair?) and our machinery is only capable of sewing certain items. We have gone to great lengths to find the longest lasting soling material possible given our production capabilities. Anything different you may want in the way of an outsole will cost you at least what we charge per pair already and most likely more. We work with the belief that we should give you the best longevity we can for the money and we are satisfied that the crepe accomplishes that goal.

How are the crepe soles attached?
Do I get the wool on the bottom if I buy the crepe soled style?
Do the crepe soled slippers have a heel or arch support?

Plainly stated there is absolutely no difference between the shearling soled slippers and the ones with crepe soles except for the addition of the crepe. We use both cementing and stitching to secure the crepe to the bottom and have been very pleased with the durability of the final product. While the cement does most of the hard work, the stitching helps to keep the edges secure which is where most sole separation will start to occur. We currently do not produce a product with an arch support or a heel. So, yes, it does come with the wool on the bottom.

Crepe Soled Slippers  5/16" thick crepe outsole.

Which is better, the shearling sole or the crepe sole?

It is simply a matter of personal preference and personal habits. Many people simply don't like a slipper with a ridged bottom. However, if you are one of those folks who seem to run outside "just for a minute" in your slippers day in and day out you will be much happier with the durability of the crepe sole. It is a trade off. For comfort we suggest the shearling sole, for wandering out to get the mail or downstairs into the basement we suggest the crepe sole.

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 


May I purchase the scuffs without the crepe bottom?

Of course we could make them without the crepe bottom but they would not work out. The shearling is too flexible and would fold up under your foot every time you took a step. So, no, we do not make scuffs without the crepe bottom. Sorry.

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 


RESOLING

How do I go about getting my slippers resoled?

Simply package them up with a check for $19 and send them to our PO Box. The fee covers All Charges including return postage. If you send them back Priority Mail you can even get the box or mailing envelope free from your post office. Ask them for a Tyvek Priority Mail envelope (best choice) or a Priority Mail box.  If you can sleaze a package into your boss's UPS or FedEx shipment thus saving you the cost of returning them, drop us an email and we will send you the street address. Resoling takes up to three weeks  during June, July and August and six weeks during the remainder of the year. We do not do resoling in November, December or January so please do not return your slippers to us near or during those months. Please remember this is for the shearling soled slippers only and only our products. We absolutely do not/will not work on other people's products. Please be sure to put your return mail address, phone number, and email address on a separate piece of paper in the box with the check.

Why can't you resole the crepe soled slippers?

Planned obsolescence! No, not really. Two main reasons. Removing the sole requires the use of a solvent which is usually soaked up by the upper as well. The sewing machine needle we use to sew through the crepe is much larger than other needles so it creates larger perforations in the leather. By the time the crepe wears out the slipper is usually quite weak anyway and would never hold a new stitch with that needle. The new sole would likely tear right off.

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 


DOGS

Will my (child's/neighbor's/friend's/etc) dog eat my slippers?

This depends on the dog. Some dogs will never bother them at all, others will tear into them like a lion on a wildebeest. In the interest of full disclosure, we do have to make note that "The Boss" has instituted a special rewards program for dogs. (He is asleep, not watching us, and he never checks the website.) This rewards program covers all of our products but slippers seem to be the most popular. We told him it was really a "kick back" situation but he said that kick backs are illegal. Same thing to us but what do we know?
So, you may think that that dog is your best friend but money talks. The more damage and the more expensive the product the bigger the kick back.... errr.... "reward" when you purchase a replacement. Sleep with one eye open folks.
We do have to admit that we have had an occasional cat attempt to cash in. Mostly they just hide one somewhere where you will never find it but we have had reports of cats gnawing on them as well. However, "The Boss" created this rewards program for dogs only. We have our suspicions that he is really attempting to sway public opinion and show that dogs are more devious, evil minded, self centered, cunning, arrogant, etc., than cats. Haaa! Like that is gonna happen.

 

Contact "The Boss" with additional questions about Doggy Rewards.

 


EAR MUFFS

Are the frames adjustable?

No, they are solid and cannot be adjusted. They will fit most adults. We have available a slightly shorter frame (velvet covered only) and try to keep a few around for those who really need one. However, we have found that it is still too long for very young children. The total length of the normal frame from the bottom of one ring to the bottom of the other is approximately 17½ inches. The total length of the smaller frame measured the same way is approximately 16½ inches. The diameter of each ring is 3 inches. When in doubt it is best to order the standard length frame as they certainly fit the majority of our customers without any problem. Note, again, that the shorter ear muff frames are available with the black velvet covered band only. You can also adjust the length by turning the muff part up a bit on the pin. The only trouble is it is tough to explain in print.

Do you do the behind the head style?

No, we do not for a couple of reasons the first of which is lack of supply for the appropriate frames for this style. The second reason is that we do not think it would work since we line the inside with shearling. The wool is not a solid mass like cloth or "sherpa"  so they would tend to slide down off your head as you moved. Gravity would prevail. To date, we have not seen any of this style in shearling even on the big wholesale web site for China so there must be good reason. Of course maybe we just haven't gone to the right web sites but if Chinese manufacturers are not selling them, we doubt you can find them.

What are the ear muff frames made from?

Plastic. We don't know if anyone makes metal band ear muff frames any more. Please note that we do not make the frames. We get them from a supplier so we have no control over length or the components used in their production. They are assembled in the USA from imported and domestic components. Really, folks, we do not own a plastics factory otherwise we would be in the business of selling plastics, not shearling. That seems to be a very big misunderstanding.

Why the difference in price between the "standard" style and the "special" and "traditional" styles?

The "standard" style are made from pieces left over from production of our larger products. The "special" and "traditional" styles are produced from skins bought specifically for ear muffs and, in the case of the "special" style, seat belt covers. So, in the "standard" style, the price reflects only the cost of the frames and the labor involved. In the "special" and "traditional" styles, the cost of the shearling is added in. Other than that, the "standard" style ear muffs are only available in one color while we offer a selection in the other two ear muff styles.

Will they break?Ear Muff Frame

We assume people really mean, "Will they break under normal circumstances?" The answer to the first question is, "Of course they will, especially if it is twenty below and you rip them out of your pocket and pull them apart as fast as possible because your ears are freezing." The answer to the second question is, " Not generally under normal circumstances." It does happen once in awhile because nothing is ever perfect, and yes, as they get older they get more brittle. However, as you see by the picture our frames use a metal hinge and a wire for the muff base. Frames that are 100 % plastic are very apt to break apart at the hinge. If they do break after a period of time we will be happy to replace the frame so don't throw them away. The cost of frame replacement is $7 for the velvet covered bands, $9 for the leather or $10 for the shearling covered bands. This includes return shipping. Please be sure to put your return mail address on a separate piece of paper in the box/envelope with the check. That is "cost basis" meaning we make little, if anything, on the replacement. However, this offer is only extended to our customers with our ear muffs. We absolutely will not repair ear muffs that we did not produce. You buy from us, you get our service. Honestly, if they are not ours, take them back to whomever you bought them from for repair. That only seems fair.

Will I lose them?

Well, some of you will. Seriously, we sell you a pair of ear muffs and we will replace the band for you at a nominal cost. We have replaced the bands for ear muffs that hardly have any wool left on them they are so old. How on earth can a company stay in business when people fix and not replace their products? So, with the help of modern technology, we randomly implant a tiny little gizmo in ear muffs that makes them jump out of your pocket, hide when you set them down on the seat of a taxi or a train so you forget them, or make your pet attack them. That means we keep people coming back to purchase new pairs and, usually, a backup pair or two. Isn't technology just wonderful?

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 


CANDY'S BEAR

Is it jointed?

No, it just sits there and does nothing. However, you don't have to feed and water it either since it doesn't expend any energy by moving. :)

 

Contact us with additional questions.

 


SEAT BELT COVERS

Are they hot in the summer?

No, as a matter of fact the summer is when they are most welcome. They are strictly to keep the belt from rubbing on your neck. When one has a bulky winter coat on the coat will protect the neck. During the summer lighter weight clothing often allows the belt to chaff. If you scoff at the necessity then simply ask someone who doesn't fit the "normal" height most shoulder harnesses are set for. Believe it or not we have heard from a few accident victims who have informed us that the belt cover helped to lesson the belt bruising that can occur in a major accident. They were, of course, very grateful that they were wearing the belt. Belt bruising or not, it was better to be alive. 

Will your seat belt cover fit my shoulder harness?

Haven't found any they won't fit yet as long as they are installed according to the instructions included with the cover. It should be noted that because we specifically designed our cover for shoulder harness application it will not fit anything wider but it is usable for any kind of strap that is narrower and flat. Please also note that you have the option to purchase them in any length you desire. These ARE NOT to be used on seat belts that contain air bags.

Can you make belt covers for my child's car seat?

We could but we have researched this through our local chapter of "Safe Kids" and the answer is, "No." It is ill advised to do anything that may change the dynamics of the restraint system for children. This also includes children in booster seats. We did not want to answer this without back up and Safe Kids is a great organization. If you have young children you should check them out and see if there is an affiliate in your area.

What about covering other types of straps?

We can develop a cover for most any type of strap but we will need some details from you. Please email us and tell us what you want to cover. We prefer to do such work in the off season and may put you off for a time because of production responsibilities. The most unusual strap covers we have produced were for a fiberglass nose cone manufacturer who needed to cover the nylon lift straps as they were scarring the nose cones.

 


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