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 with a bit of a story attached. A few months ago I spotted a notice on Twitter from a rare breeds farm announcing they had some fleeces up for grabs that would otherwise be going to British Wool to be made into commercial products. When I saw they had Jacob fleeces I contacted them immediately as these are very special fleeces and one of my favourites to work with.
Jacobs 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. Interestingly, it is thought that the Jacob sheep originated in the Middle East and came to Britain via Spain on the Armada although nobody knows for sure. One thing we do know is that they get their name from Jacob in the book of Genesis in the old Testament of the Bible where it is written that Jacob “took every speckled and spotted sheep from his father-in-law’s flock and bred them to produce even more spotty sheep”. Who knows, perhaps the forefathers of the Jacob sheep we know today did indeed originate in the Middle East?
This rug is unusual because Jacobs are normally tri-coloured with brown, white/cream and beige wool. This fleece however is very light in colour (as you can see from the photos) it is mostly creamy/white with just a few patches of dun/taupe around the edges.
Jacob wool is on the finer end of the wool micron scale and if made into garments can worn next to the skin without that scratchy feeling you might remember from those knitted bobble hats made by elderly aunties when you were little.
This fleece has short very dense wool through the main body of the rug and longer locks at the “britches”. It is very cuddly and very tactile.
The rug measurements are: 34 x 22 inches measured on the back at the widest parts (not including locks). Locks measure between 1.5 and 3 inches and are dense and “puffy”.
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 farm jobs I do. 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.
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 but don’t worry too much, I send out detailed care notes with every rug I make.