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:
Scotch Mules: This rug is made from a Scotch Mule hog fleece. I was fortunate to get a trailer full of amazing 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 pale cream or ivory, almost white wool which is long and lustrous. It has a distinct crimp running through it and a curly 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.
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. Secondly, hog fleeces are from the first clip so will still contain lambs wool (ooooh 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 delightful!
Fleece Description: The wool is pale cream in colour and “squishy and bouncy”. It is a weighty rug for its size, the wool is densely packed and has a fluffy-fuzzy quality to it. The locks are tightly curled and at the end of each lock there’s a special curly curl. These “tip curls” are special because they are the original lamb’s wool. Lambs are born covered from head to toe in thousands of tiny curls which are still present in a hog fleece. In older sheep’s fleeces this curly lambs wool is no longer be present and this is what makes hog fleeces so special.
This fleece also has a cute anomaly to it; at the top end of the rug there’s a small patch of brown wool. This darker wool comes from a recessive gene and is a reminder that sheep in days gone by were not white at all, rather they were varying shades of dun, brown and black.
Rug measurements: taken from the back: approx. 35 inches in length from top to bottom, and approx. 21 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”).
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. You might also notice a little wool shedding, this is perfectly normal and is due to the fleece having being washed. Once the fibres settle, shedding shouldn’t be a problem.
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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