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 very unusually coloured beigey-brown Scotch Mule hog fleece and comes from our neighbours across the valley at Craiglearan Farm.
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” (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 though will always be a Bluefaced Leicester. Combining a hill-breed, hardy mother with a lowland father brings about the best characteristics of both. 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 lustrous. It has a distinct crimp running through it and a curly tip at the end giving them a cute “shaggy perm” appearance. Depending on the breed of the mother, the texture of Mule wool can vary slightly from one sheep to the next. In this case I was fortunate to be able to make a rug from a coloured Mule fleece which is very unusual. The brown colouring comes from a recessive gene which has almost nearly been bred out of commercial sheep. Every so often the proverbial “black sheep” pops up out of nowhere and this rug is an example of exactly that, although to be nit picky, it is more beigey-brown than black.
Fleece Description: As I worked on this fleece I fell in love with the dainty nature of it. It is a small fleece from a small sheep and the curls are much finer than other Mule fleeces. It is exceedingly soft and the dainty curls feel predominantly silky with a hint of fuzziness.
The curls range in colour from mid-brown through to lighter shades of brown through to beige, milky coffee shades.
Fleece stain: There is a further anomaly to this fleece. On closer inspection you will notice an emerald green stain in the middle, bottom half of the fleece. This is stock marker and cannot be washed out. Please click here for further info about fleece stains. As a general rule I remove wool which has coloured marks on it however in this case I left it in. I felt it would be a shame to remove such cute little curls just because they had the misfortune to be sprayed green. Also, the fleece was already on the smaller side, so removing chunks of wool would have made the final rug really tiny.
Rug measurements: taken from the back: approx. 29 inches in length from top to bottom, and approx. 23 inches across the middle at the widest part. These measurements don’t include the curls locks which measure between 2 – 3 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 which is a brilliant 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.