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 is our number one lady for looking after our menagerie if we ever leave the farm. She is a real gem and we’re so lucky to know her.
I made this rug from a fleece belonging to one Christine’s adorable Herdwicks. I love Herdwicks, (or Herdies as they’re affectionally known around here). Small digression, but there’s a fabulous little shop in Keswick dedicated to the Herdy sheep, I have a Herdy sheep face mask in fact, check out herdy.co.uk
Herdwicks are extremely hardy sheep, spending their time roaming the fells of the Lake District in all kinds of weathers. They lamb outdoors too, no cosy lambing sheds for the hardy Herdy! Being a hill sheep able to survive a northern English winter, they have thick “double” coats and a special, unique “bristle” layer of wool which forms a protective layer in snow blizzards. Not only do Herdwicks have special, insulated wool, they’re also super cute with grey shaggy fleeces and white smiley faces. In fact, when you see a Herdwick sheep you just can’t help smiling 😊.
Herdwick wool is predominantly grey in colour but there are also white and beige locks in amongst the fleece. The wool consists of long, course locks, (almost like horse hair), super fine, soft mid length locks, and shorter, bristly locks. You can see just how varied the locks are in the gallery of photos.
This “Herdy rug” measures approx. 29 inches in length from top to bottom measured at the longest points, and approx. 20 inches across the middle (not including locks). The locks measure approx. 4 inches so when laid flat it looks a little bigger. This rug would make an ideal bedside rug or luxurious bath mat. 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 to snuggle into on chilly evenings.
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. 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 be gently soaked in warm water using a wool detergent followed by a refreshing vinegar rinse to keep the pH happy. It’s also possible to put it through the wool cycle in the machine, but please bear in mind there’s a slight risk of shrinkage.