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 next door neighbours. They keep a flock of Cheviots who have luxuriously thick, bouncy, ivory coloured wool.
Cheviots get their name from the Cheviot Hills in Northumberland and the Scottish Borders. They are 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.
I got stuck into making this rug just a few days after picking up a big pile of fleeces with my trusty quad bike and trailer a couple of weeks ago. I knew each fleece would be lovely because I had hand selected them on shearing day so I couldn’t wait to get started.
This is a big rug because I was able to use nearly all of the wool from it. It’s normal for me to discard a fair amount of wool when I get started on a rug because some of it will be dirty/matted/broken. But I knew this fleece would be lovely because it’s a Hogg fleece. Hoggs are “teenage” sheep so have yet to go through the stresses and strains of lambing. This means their wool is of super quality and I couldn’t wait to see how it would turn out.
The rug measures approx. 42 inches in length from top to bottom measured at the longest points, and approx. 26 inches across the middle at the widest part. These measurements don’t include the locks, the locks measure between 3 and 3.5 inches making the rug appear bigger when it is laid flat.
The wool is very dense and has a springy, bouncy quality to it. The wool fibres have a helical crimp to them, (“spirally”), which is what makes it so bouncy. The locks are “puffy” and each one has a curly tip which disappears in older Cheviots. This curly tip is a leftover from the lamb’s fleece who start out in life with curls. The most noticeable feature about this rug is just how densely packed the wool is, it is quite a weighty rug.
Please note, there are two small patches of faint marker spray stains on this fleece, (one pale pink, one pale blue). These marks are barely discernible on the surface and you’d only notice them if you parted the wool and peered in closely. The pink mark affects about 3 locks of wool and the blue mark about 12 locks. These marks are very common on fleeces and are really important as they tell the shepherd information about all sorts of things, eg, number of lambs the ewe is carrying / whether she is pregnant or not and lots of other things, (please click here for more info) and also see the last picture in the gallery.
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.