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. Our neighbour had already given me a big bag of fleeces in May, mostly cream in colour, but there were two dark brown ones in the bag which to me is like finding the penny in a Christmas pudding! I’ve already used those brown fleeces to make into rugs so when our neighbour rang us out of the blue last week and asked if I would I like some more, obviously I jumped for joy!
Our neighbour was due to send the rest of his fleeces to the Wool Board but noticed he still had a small number of dark brown fleeces. The “Wool Board” prefer the creamy ones so I was really happy to be given the opportunity to ‘rescue’ some of his brown fleeces!
With this in mind, when I took this fleece from its bag a few days ago I thought I would try something a bit different. I was inspired by the different shades of brown which ran through the fleece in swirly patterns. Some parts of the fleece were grey-brown, and other parts were almost black. I wanted to showcase the natural patterns and the best way to do this would be to keep the fleece intact and felt it “as it came”.
This is easier said than done because it is rare to find a fleece in a complete form. Most fleeces have a few holes and bits dangling off them by the time I get to work on them.
This is fine normally because the way I make rugs is to deconstruct the fleece and lay the locks out individually so it doesn’t matter if the fleece is a bit broken up.
This time however I wanted to showcase the swirly patterns and so I decided to get to work with my darning needle! The fleece was fairly intact but had some big rips running through the middle and some holes and thin bits near the top. I love a sewing challenge so I flipped the fleece over so the locks were face down, and got to work sewing up the torn bits.
Once I was happy the fleece had been repaired, I carefully slid it onto a large piece of cardboard and then slid it like a pizza onto my felting table. Then I added the wool batting to make the base and felted it as I do normally.
The end result is a rug which is pretty much how nature created it, the swirly patterns are there and it looks really cute 😊
This rug is fairly large, measuring approx. 43 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 about 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.
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 slight shrinkage if machine washed.
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