What are felted fleece rugs? 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:
North Country Cheviot Mules: This rug is made from a “North Country Cheviot Mule hog fleece from Marwhirn Farm in the village. I’m often at Marwhirn as I help out in their garden, snipping and pruning away to the background tunes of sheep baa-ing and cows moo-ing. You couldn’t meet a nicer farming family and I really love going there. As a result, working with fleeces from Marwhirn is a joy.
North Country Cheviot Mules are truly lovely sheep with their silky soft, springy, creamy coloured fleeces. This cute breed is the result of crossing a Blue Faced Leicester tup (dad) with a North Country Cheviot ewe (mum). While Cheviots have dense, extremely 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 beautiful fleece.
Hog wool: A “hog” fleece is something really special. Hogs are teenage sheep at just over a year old and they have brilliant quality wool. This is for two reasons; firstly, they haven’t had lambs yet so all the stresses and strains that go with pregnancy will not have affected the sheep or their wool. And secondly, hog fleeces are from the first clip, so will still contain lambs wool (oooh lovely!) plus another six months or so of additional wool growth. In a nutshell, I really love working with hog fleeces, the wool is extra thick and soft just simply lovely!
Fleece description: What jumps out at you looking at this fleece is the sheer denseness of the wool. This is typical of Cheviot wool which is extremely springy and tightly packed. The creamy-white wool also has length to it and is silky with a beautiful sheen. Each lock of wool is “puffed out” with a cute crimp running along the length and is tipped by a small curl. This curly tip is lamb’s wool, it is still present on “hogs” because they have never been sheared before. The silkiness and length of the wool comes from the Blue Faced Leicester, while the tightly packed locks and fluffy denseness comes from the Cheviot. Cheviot wool is very special, it has a “helical crimp” which means that each and every wool fibre is like a tiny coiled spring. This makes Cheviot wool exceptionally soft and warm. It is also very fine, and in fact, Cheviot wool was always traditionally used for spinning into yarn and making fine knitwear.
Rug measurements: Taken from the back of rug: approx. 39 inches in length from top to bottom, and approx. 26 inches across the middle at the widest part. These measurements don’t include the locks which measure 6 inches.
Organic ingredients: 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, (usually 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 is not squeaky clean like a commercial sheepskin. It is also likely you’ll 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 and piece of hay.
Rug care: 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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