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.
I made this rug from a Jacob fleece I acquired from a farm in Devon. http://farmerdixon.co.uk/
Last autumn I happened to spot a notice on Twitter saying they had some fleeces up for grabs that would otherwise be going to British Wool. When I saw they had Jacob fleeces on the list I contacted them immediately.
Jacob sheep have THE MOST GORGEOUS fleeces, soft, thick and tactile. Not only do they have fabulous fleeces, they’re also fun sheep; full of personality with their two-tone, brown and white wool and four horns. There’s also a fair bit of legend and folklore attached to Jacobs, some even say they appear in the Bible!
I made this rug using the “upside down” method.
This is quite an unusual fleece. Traditionally Jacobs have brown and white wool; the brown normally ranging from dark charcoal through to light chestnut. This fleece however is much lighter in colour, the brown is a pretty shade of beige, which mixed in with the creamy-white looks a bit like a recently stirred cup of coffee.
This rug measures 30 x 21 inches measured on the back at the widest parts (not including locks). The locks are 2 inches and incredibly soft.
Due to the shortish locks (most Jacobs have 3 to 4 inch locks), this rug has turned out to be quite dainty and doesn’t weigh very much, I would describe it as a “mini rug” or a mat. It would make an ideal cat mat in fact.
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 and everything is done by me alone. The bigger the rug, the longer it takes. This rug took me several days to make in between all the sheepie jobs I do.
My husband Adrian and I run a small holding in the Galloway Hills of South West Scotland. We keep a flock of Coloured Ryeland sheep as well as hens and two rescue dogs. We try to live as sustainably as we can and we like to use what we produce in creative ways.
In keeping with our holistic approach we like to use our fleeces in creative ways. In the past we sent all our fleeces away to be spun into yarn but now we keep most to make felted fleece items. Friends and neighbours have taken to giving me their fleeces too which is why I can happily offer many different types of fleeces. I love the way that by making these rugs, the same sheep can provide a rug year after year.
Please note, although I carefully wash and rinse each rug, you may still find tiny bits of hay/grass/seeds hiding away in the fleece.
Should you need to wash your rug it can gently soaked in warm water using a wool/silk detergent followed by a refreshing vinegar rinse to keep the pH happy. It can also be popped in the machine on a wool cycle at no more than 30’c, however, please note there might be a risk of shrinkage or changing of shape, most rugs come out of the machine fine, but there’s always one… And last but not least, never use fabric conditioner/softener on wool unless it’s a “wool specific conditioner”, normal fabric conditioner/softener does terrible things to wool fibres.