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 Herdwicks. “Herdies” are iconic sheep of the Lake District where they graze the hills and fells, each flock instinctively knowing their patch. In sheep terminology this is called being “hefted” to a particular grazing area. They pass this knowledge on through to each generation from ewes to lambs every year so that each flock is familiar with their bit and will rarely stray or wander off. Herdies are not only clever little guys, they are also cute as buttons with their distinctive white faces and legs, and grey shaggy bodies. And if this isn’t enough, Herdy wool is just incredible! It is thick and course yet still soft and extremely snuggly. Herdwicks are one of the hardiest of sheep breeds in the UK so their wool serves an important purpose keeping them warm through the harsh winters of the fells of northern England.
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 Herdwick breeding ewes. It didn’t feel right for the rug to be nameless so I’ve christened it “Heather”.
The “Heather rug” measures approx 30 x 30 inches including locks. (Locks measure approx 6 inches). This rug would make an ideal bedside rug where footfall is light and barefeet will get to benefit from its softness. Due to its shaggy nature 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.
Please note, due to the nature of Herdwick wool which has a tendency to shed a wee bit, there is a little bit of shedding to this rug. This should settle down in time however.
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:
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. For more information on how to care for your felted sheepskin rug, click here: