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.
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:
This rug is made from a “North Country Cheviot Mule Hog” fleece from Marwhirn Farm in the village who keep Scottish Blackface Mules and North Country Cheviot Mules.
Hogs are “teenage” sheep who have brilliant quality wool thanks to not having yet had lambs. The stress of lambing can sometimes affect wool quality so when I work with a hog fleece, I’ll know that usually the wool is going to be lovely.
North Country Cheviot Mules are sweet natured, very pretty sheep with their silky soft, springy, creamy coloured wool. They’re the result of crossing a Blue Faced Leicester tup with a North Country Cheviot ewe. While Cheviots have dense, springy, tightly packed wool, the Blue Faced Leicester has luxuriously long and silky wool. As you can imagine, the combination of these characteristics brings about a sheep with a truly lovely fleece.
If you look closely at this fleece you’ll notice a faint patch of pink wool right in the middle, (see second from last photo in gallery). This is marker spray and is perfectly normal, in fact most fleeces have patches of coloured paint on them somewhere. When I get to work on a fleece, one of the first things I’ll do is to pull out any coloured wool, but sometimes a little bit remains because it’s actually quite tricky pulling out chunks of wool without compromising the shape of the rug. As I made this rug using “the whole fleece, face-down method”, I took away as much of the pink wool as I could, but removing any more would have made the top of the rug quite narrow and the rug would have lost its nice shape. The gentle washing methods I use don’t remove these stains (in fact nothing will remove them to be honest!) but to me they tell a story about the sheep and the farm the sheep lives on and what she has been up to this last year.
Rug measurements taken from the back: approx. 37 inches in length from top to bottom measured at the longest points, and approx. 26 inches across the middle at the widest part. These measurements don’t include the locks, the locks measure between 5 and 6 inches making the rug appear bigger when it is laid face up.
Please note, although I soak, wash and rinse each rug I make, (sometimes I’ll wash a rug several times over depending on how adventurous the sheep has been on her travels through the pastures and what she has collected on her fleece over the year), it’s likely you’ll still find little “meadow reminders” hiding away in the wool. Hopefully not too many though! I go through each fleece after it’s been washed and dried and pick out any remaining “meadow bits”, but as you can imagine, it would be impossible to remove every single little seed.
I’m a huge fan of using homemade and/or organic products for everything around the house, including washing wool. This rug is washed in “Sonett” olive oil laundry liquid for wool and silk. It is then rinsed in spring water with a splash of our homemade apple cider vinegar with a few drops of organic lavender oil (as a moth repellent).
A little disclaimer: although I soak, wash and rinse each rug I make, (sometimes I’ll wash a rug several times over depending on how adventurous the sheep has been on her travels through the pastures and what she has collected on her fleece over the year), it’s likely you’ll still find little “meadow reminders” hiding away in the wool. Hopefully not too many though! I do go through each fleece after it’s been washed and dried and pick out any remaining “meadow bits”, but as you can imagine, it would be impossible to remove every single little seed.
Finally, if you’re wondering how to wash your rug yourself, please don’t worry, I include an info sheet of “woolly washing tips” with every rug I send out.