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 Scottish Blackface Mule Hogg fleece I was lucky enough to get my mitts on from Marwhirn Farm in the village. They keep cows and sheep, among them Scottish Blackface Mules and Cheviot Mules. Click here for info:
Hoggs are “teenage” sheep who have brilliant quality wool thanks to not having yet had lambs. The stress of lambing can affect wool quality so when I work with a Hogg fleece I get quite excited because the wool is usually amazing.
Mules are the result of a cross between a Blue Faced Leicester and a local hill sheep, in this case a Scottish Blackface. Both these breeds have exceptionally pretty fleeces.
The Blue Faced Leicester has extremely soft, lustrous, silky long wool which falls in pretty curls.
The Scottish Blackface, (being a hill sheep) has slightly courser, very durable wool but just as pretty, falling in long wavy locks. I love working with Mule fleeces because they’re always really soft and tactile, (they inherited the softness from the Bluefaced Leicester as opposed to the slightly courser wool from the Scottish Blackface).
This rug measures approx. 39 inches in length from top to bottom measured at the longest points, and approx. 20 inches across the middle at the widest part. These measurements don’t include the locks, the locks measure approx. 5 inches making the rug appear bigger when it is laid flat.
The wool is very soft and has a silky feel to it. The locks are long and curly giving the rug a shaggy look.
Please note there’s a faint patch of pale pink marker spray on this fleece. It is barely noticeable, one of those things where you’d only see it if it’s pointed out, (see last photo in gallery). The pink stain affects about 12 locks of wool. Marker spray is common on most fleeces and obviously shows up more on cream wool. As it doesn’t wash out (unless industrially washed), I tend to discard any wool which is stained but sometimes I’ll leave it if it means removing nice quality locks. I think these ink stains gives the fleece personality and tell a story about the sheep. Please click here for further info on fleece markings:
Please also note, although I thoroughly wash each rug I make, there’s a high probability you’ll find small bits of hay/moss/seeds hiding away in the fleece. After the washing process I’ll pick out any bits of grass etc hiding in the wool fibres. This takes me a good few hours and I enjoy doing it, in fact it’s my favourite part of rug making and I take care to finish each rug off to look its very best. However, without resorting to industrial cleaning with a jet hose, it is likely there will be a few meadow sprinklings remaining in the wool. Please rest assured though, it will be squeaky clean meadow sprinklings!
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. More washing info will be included with the rug when I send it out.
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.