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 beautiful Scotch Mule hog fleece. I was fortunate to get a bag of these fleeces from a friend of ours, Andy McQuaker who farms in the nearby village of Corsock. Andy has helped us with a lot of fencing work recently, he’s a real gem.
Scotch Mules are just great little sheep! There are several types of Mule sheep, but simply put, a Mule is a cross between a “hill ewe” and a Bluefaced Leciester (who is a lowland) ram. The breed of ewe can vary according to location; she could be a Scottish Blackface, (as in this case), a Cheviot, or a Swaledale. The ram though will always be a Bluefaced Leicester. Combining a hill bred, hardy mother with a lowland father brings about the best characteristics of both breeds. Mules are great sheep who inherit the excellent mothering instincts and hardiness from the hill ewe, along with the capability of producing multiple lambs and plenty of milk from the lowland ram.
Mules also happen to have beautiful wool. Scotch Mules have very pale cream/ivory wool which is long and lustrous. Sometimes, if you look carefully you can spot a tiny patch of brown or black wool in the fleece, as is the case with this one. There are two tiny dark patches of wool which are almost unnoticeable, but they are there if you look really carefully. This darker wool is a reminder that early sheep were not white, rather they were shades of brown, black and grey. I really like these little anomalies as they add character to a fleece.
The wool of Scotch Mules has a distinct crimp running through it and a curly a tip at the end giving these sheep a “shaggy” appearance. Depending on the breed of the mother, the texture of Mule wool can vary slightly from one sheep to the next. Scotch Mules have silky soft, very fine locks which are smooth to the touch.
Being a hog fleece, the wool is of great quality – hogs are “teenage” sheep who haven’t yet gone through the stresses and strains of lambing which can sometimes affect wool quality. Furthermore, being wool from their first clip also means it contains lamb’s wool making it ultra soft and long.
Rug measurements taken from the back: approx. 38 inches in length from top to bottom measured at the longest points, and approx. 28 inches across the middle at the widest part. These measurements don’t include the locks which measure 5 inches (with longer ones at the britches) making the rug appear bigger when it is laid face up and the wool splays out.
I really enjoy making rugs from Scotch Mule fleeces, they always turn into super pretty rugs with their long creamy curls and are incredibly soft to the touch.
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 in her wool over the year), it’s likely you’ll still find little “meadow reminders” hiding away in the wool fibres. 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.
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