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 from Marwhirn Farm in the village. I’m often at Marwhirn Farm as I help out in their garden. They have lots of beautiful Mule sheep and whenever I’m there I hear their happy sheep chatting away in the background as they go about their daily business munching grass and ruminating.
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.
Scotch Mules also have beautiful wool. Traditionally it is pale cream or ivory, almost white and long and lustrous. It has a distinct crimp running through it and a curly tip at the end giving these sheep a cute “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 “teenage” sheep at just over a year old and they have exceptional quality wool. This is for two reasons; they haven’t yet had lambs so all the stresses that go with pregnancy will not have affected the wool. Secondly, a hog fleece is from the first clip (the first time the sheep has been sheared), so still contains lambs wool plus another six months of additional wool growth. If you look closely at a hog fleece you’ll notice at the tip of each lock there’s a special little curl. This small curl is the original lamb’s wool.
Fleece Description: The wool is cream in colour and “squishy and bouncy” to the feel. It is a weighty rug and the wool is densely packed. The texture of the wool is silky with a touch of fuzziness. The length of the curls is exceptionally long on this fleece reaching up to 7 inches.
Rug measurements: taken from the back: approx. 33 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 5 and 7 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 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 about how to wash and care for your rug with every one I send out.