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.
A couple of weeks back our neighbour gave me an additional bag of brown fleeces as a surprise. He told me that British Wool prefer the more generic white/cream fleeces so I could have the brown ones if I liked. Needless to say, I jumped at the chance!! I prefer the coloured fleeces, they’re more interesting to work with with their pretty patterns. Also, the creamy-white fleeces can make me a bit snow blind if I work with one for too long, so I definitely prefer the darker colours.
When I took this fleece from the bag I could see it had the potential to make a lovely rug, but I could also see it was covered in all sorts of foliage, twigs, moss, you name it. It was as though the sheep had been to a party the night before shearing and her fleece was, for want of a better way of putting it; “in a right state”!
For this reason I decided to make a small rug. I was keen to use the fleece rather than discard it as it was so soft and pretty underneath all that vegetation. But at the same time, I don’t have unlimited time to pick through the locks one by one removing all the bits of vegetable matter.
So, being a girl who likes a plan, I decided to dedicate three days to picking through the fleece and to stop when the three days were up and go with the size of fleece I was left with to make into a rug.
Hence, this rug is a “smally”, it measures approx. 23 inches in length from top to bottom measured at the longest points, and approx. 17 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 a little bigger when it is laid flat.
You will notice the wool has been brushed out. I don’t normally brush, but if the fleece still has bits of hay/moss etc which refuse to come out in the washing process, I’ll brush it out to remove the final bits of vegetation. Needless to say, although I had picked through this fleece for several days, there were still some bits hiding away in the wool. (Not any more though 😊)
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.