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 colourful 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 the “upside down way” as the fleece was more or less intact when I unrolled it.
That said, as I started to work on it I realised this fleece was going to test my patience. Using the “upside down method” sometimes means doing the odd bit of “suturing” but this one needed several repairs and I spent three long days in my shed with the fan heater for company whilst stitching bits of fleece back together like a jigsaw puzzle. Happily, the rug turned out lovely and the repairs melded together perfectly in the felting; the end result is a thick, snuggly rug and a happy me! 🙂
The rug measures 29 x 21 inches measured on the back at the widest parts (not including locks). Locks measure between 2 and 4 inches and are silky soft with an attractive crimp running through and defined tips.
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 OK 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 and makes them very unhappy.