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.
This rug is made from a collection of fleeces kindly given to me by our neighbours. They keep a flock of Cheviots who have gorgeous fleeces; long woolled and luxurious.
Cheviots are usually creamy-white in colour, but sometimes a dark brown one pops up out of nowhere.
Last month our neighbour was due to send the rest of his fleeces to the “British Wool” to be made into carpets, but he noticed he still had some dark brown ones and asked me if I would like them. “British Wool” prefer creamy fleeces but I love the coloured ones so of course, I was over the moon to be given the opportunity to ‘rescue’ some of his brown fleeces!
When I took this fleece from its bag and pondered what sort of rug to make with it I noticed to my delight that it was in almost perfect condition. This is quite unusual as most fleeces have matted bits, thin bits, daggy bits, pine needles/straw/moss embedded into the wool, all sorts of things which I need to sort out before I can even think about a rug.
This fleece however was a dream. So I decided not to deconstruct it as I would normally, but felt it as a whole. Not only was the fleece in great condition, but the patterns of different shades of brown looked really pretty so I thought I would leave things just as nature had intended.
Being so large, it took a while to felt and was more than a little tricky to work with. It barely fitted onto my felting table and kept threatening to slide off. But I don’t give up easily, I persevered like a baker making a gigantic loaf of bread, working the fleece, bashing it and rolling it. Eventually, after several days, it succumbed to the felting process and I celebrated with a cup of tea and some apple crumble. It had taken me days longer than normal to get it felted, but I think you’ll agree it was worth it 😊
This rug measures approx. 50 inches in length from top to bottom measured at the longest points, and approx. 27 inches across the middle at the widest part. These measurements don’t include the locks, the locks measure approx. 3 inches making the rug appear bigger when it is laid flat.
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. The bigger the rug, the longer it takes. This rug took me well over a week to make, see how I make them here:
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.
Sometimes, you might also notice some coloured stains on the wool, these are due to the sheep being marked by either the “tup” at “tupping time”, or by us for various reasons; giving the sheep their annual vaccinations or wormer etc. I will write a page all about this in due course and add it to our website. Of course, if your fleece does have a stain this will be shown in the gallery photos.
Finally, 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. I will include more detailed washing instructions with the rug when I send it out.