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. Each year I am fortunate to get a trailer full of amazing fleeces from a friend of ours, Andy McQuaker who farms in the nearby village of Corsock.
Scotch Mules are great little sheep. There are several types of Mule sheep, but simply put, a Mule is a cross between a “hill ewe” (mum), and a Bluefaced Leciester, lowland ram (dad). 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 will always be a Bluefaced Leicester. Combining a hill-breed, hardy mother with a lowland father brings about the best characteristics of both breeds. Mules are multi-talented sheep with excellent mothering instincts and hardiness inherited from their mums, and the capacity to produce multiple lambs and plenty of milk inherited from their dads.
Mules also have beautiful wool. Scotch Mules traditionally have pale cream or ivory, almost white wool which is long and silky. It has a distinct crimp running through it and a curly tip at the end giving these sheep the cutest “shaggy perm” look. 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 young sheep at just over a year old and they have lovely quality wool. This is for two reasons; firstly, they’re too young to have had lambs yet so all the goodness that would go into making a lamb goes into the wool. Secondly, hog fleeces are from the first clip so they still contain lambs wool, plus another six months or so of additional wool growth. I really love working with hog fleeces, the wool is extra thick, soft and cuddly.
Fleece Description: The wool is pale cream, bouncy and densely packed. The staple length is unusually long on this fleece making the rug seem very glamorous. The locks are curly and at the tip of each lock there’s a little curl which is the original lamb’s wool. Lambs are born covered in thousands of tiny curls which are still there in a hog fleece.
Rug measurements: taken from the back: approx. 37 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 between 6 and 8 inches with longer wool 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 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 normal and is due to the fleece having being washed. Once the fibres settle, shedding shouldn’t occur.
Rug care: I include an info sheet with all the “woolly washing tips” you’ll need with every rug I send out.