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.
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, see how I make them here:
This rug is made from a collection of fleeces I have from our neighbours across the valley. They keep Cheviots who have luxuriously thick, bouncy, creamy coloured wool. Click here to learn more about Cheviot wool.
You may be wondering why this rug is browny, grey-black and distinctly bear like in colour, if Cheviots are traditionally creamy-white? Well, this would be a very good question and the answer is that while most Cheviots have light coloured wool, every so often a recessive gene pops up and a darker woolled sheep appears, seemingly out of nowhere.
These darker woolled Cheviots are very special and a reminder that early sheep were largely shades of brown, grey and black. The creamy coloured sheep we see today came about through many years of selective breeding, creamy-white wool being more desirable due to it being easier to dye.
The texture of the darker wool is also a little different from the lighter woolled Cheviots. It is courser and much less fluffy. The length and texture of the staples (locks) is also varied throughout the fleece with thicker, shorter locks near the top and very long flowing wool around the “britches” with a mixture of a bit of everything in between.
Cheviots get their name from the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. They are naturally friendly sheep and are known for being able to thrive in places other sheep wouldn’t. They are also known for being very kind and caring mothers.
This fleece comes from a “hog” (aka a “shearling”) so it’s lovely quality as still contains lambs wool. Furthermore, hogs being “teenage” sheep have yet to go through the stresses and strains of lambing and this is reflected in the quality of the wool.
Taken from the back, measurements are: approx 41 inches from top to bottom, and approx. 26 inches across the middle at the widest part. These measurements don’t include the locks, the locks measure between 4 and 5 inches with even longer more flowy wool around the britches.
I’m a huge fan of using homemade and/or organic products for everything around the house, including washing wool. This rug is washed in “Sonett” olive oil laundry liquid for wool and silk. It is then rinsed in spring water with a splash of our homemade apple cider vinegar with a few drops of organic lavender oil (as a moth repellent).
A little disclaimer: although I soak, wash and rinse each rug I make, (sometimes I’ll wash a rug several times over depending on how adventurous the sheep has been on her travels through the pastures and what she has collected in her wool over the year), it’s likely you’ll still find little “meadow reminders” hiding away in the fibres. Hopefully not too many though! I do go through each fleece after it’s been washed and dried and pick out any remaining “meadow bits”, but as you can imagine, it would be impossible to remove every single little seed.
Please also note, natural wool rugs can be prone to a little shedding after having been washed, particularly longer woolled fleeces such as this one. This will calm down once the fibres settle.
Last but not least, if you’re wondering how to care for and wash your rug, please don’t worry, I include an info sheet with every rug I send out