Felted fleece rugs are totally “sheep friendly”. No sheep are harmed in the process of making them, hurray! They may look just like sheepskin rugs but if you turn one over, you will see the base of the rug is made entirely of wool, not a hint of hide in sight.
This rug is from a collection of fleeces from our friends who keep a happy flock of Herdwicks, Texel crosses and Mules. They have the same philosophy as us, running a small operation which allows them to get to know each sheep and build up a friendship with them.
I made this rug from a fleece belonging to one of friends’ Mule sheep. Mules are great little sheep – they are the offspring of a “hill bred” mum (in Scotland this would be a Scottish Blackface), and a “lowland dad”, (usually a Bluefaced Leicester). They’re specifically bred to bring the best characteristics of both types of sheep. They make terrific mums and are hardy enough to sustain a Scottish winter out on the hills. Mules have thick, lustrous coats which isn’t surprising as both the Scottish Blackface and the Bluefaced Leicester have long, thick, lustrous wool. I love working with Mule fleeces, each rug comes out great and they felt together really well.
This rug, it has to be said though, took some cleaning!! I selected a really soft fleece from a young sheep (the younger the sheep, generally the more lustrous the fleece). When I started working through the fleece however, I almost gave up, it was absolutely full of seeds, twigs, burs and all sorts. I’ve never seen anything like it! But I could see the potential beneath all the caked on dirt and bits of vegetation, the fleece was soft and really silky, I knew it would make a fabulous rug. Thankfully, it turned out to be worth all the effort, the end result is indeed a lovely rug 😊. The reason for the long story here is because this rug is smaller than I had intended to make at first. It would have taken me many more days to pick through the entire fleece to make a bigger rug and a girl only has so much time in the day!
This creamy coloured rug measures approx. 28 inches in length from top to bottom measured at the longest points, and approx. 19 inches across the middle (not including locks). Locks measure approx. 5 inches. This rug would make an ideal bedside rug or even a luxurious bath mat. It would also work well placed on a chair, ottoman or bench to soften a room, or simply draped over the arm of a sofa to snuggle into on chilly evenings.
Making each rug is a labour intensive but enjoyable process. It takes me several days to make a rug as everything is done by hand. See how I make them here:
My husband and I run a small holding in the Galloway Hills of South West Scotland. We keep a flock of Coloured Ryeland sheep as well as hens and two rescue dogs. We try to live as sustainably as we can and we like to use what we produce in creative ways.
In keeping with our holistic approach we like to use our fleeces in creative ways. In the past we sent all our fleeces away to be spun into yarn but now we keep most to make felted fleece items. Friends and neighbours have taken to giving me their fleeces too which is why I can happily offer many different types of fleeces. I love the way that by making these rugs, the same sheep can provide a rug year after year.
Please note, although I carefully wash and rinse each rug, you may still find tiny bits of hay/grass/seeds hiding away in the fleece.
Should you need to wash your rug they can be popped in the machine on a wool wash at no more than 30’c, or they can be gently soaked in warm water using a wool detergent followed by a refreshing vinegar rinse to keep the pH happy.