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 from a collection of fleeces from a friend’s farm nearby. Christine and her husband Russell run a smallholding in the rolling hills near Dumfries. They keep dogs, horses and a friendly flock of Mules, Herdwicks and Herdwick Texel crosses. Christine also runs a successful farm-sitting business and has looked after our flock on several occasions. She is a real gem.
I made this rug from a fleece belonging to one Christine’s “Mules”. Mule in sheep terminology means a cross between a lowland tup and a mountain ewe. In this case a Swaledale ewe and a Blueface Leicester tup. Mules are great little sheep as they carry the attributes of mountain sheep (excellent mothers and natural hardiness), and lowland sheep (prolific milk production and natural tendency to produce twins or triplets at lambing time.
Both the Swaledale and the Blueface Leicester are long locked sheep. The Blueface Leicester has a particularly soft fleece with fine fibres which I really enjoyed working with to make this rug.
If you look at other rugs I’ve made you’ll notice each one is named after the sheep who donated the fleece used to make the rug. In this case, as the fleece came from our friends we’re not sure which sheep it belonged to other than one of their Mule ewes. It didn’t feel right for the rug to be nameless so I’ve christened it “Martha”.
The “Mandy rug” measures approx 33 x 29 inches including locks. (Locks measure approx. 4 inches). This rug would make an ideal bedside rug where footfall is light and barefeet will get to benefit from its softness. It would also work well placed on a chair, ottoman or bench to soften a room, or simply draped over the arm of a sofa.
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.
My husband 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. We send some away to be spun into yarn but keep some back to make felted fleece rugs. 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 these rugs yourself, they can be popped in the machine on a wool wash at no more than 30’c, or they can be gently soaked in warm water using a wool detergent followed by a refreshing vinegar rinse to keep the pH happy.
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