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.
I made this rug from Star’s fleece. Star is one of our breeding ewes and has a special place in my heart. This is because when we first started breeding sheep we didn’t have much experience and needed help with our deliveries the first year that we lambed. When it came to Star’s turn to give birth I helped her deliver Wallace and Willow all on my own which was a huge achievement for me as a new shepherdess. So I have a special bond with Star and her lambs and will never forget the feeling of Wallace, shortly followed by his sister Willow, plopping onto my lap that night in the lambing shed all those years ago.
Star is a classic beauty like a 1940’s Hollywood actress. Maybe it’s her long eyelashes which she frequently bats, but she has a look of Snow White about her. She is also partial to apples, thankfully there is no wicked witch lurking in these parts!
Star, like most of our girls, is a calm and serene lady who likes to come over for a chat and a back scratch. Her favourite tickle spot is between the shoulder blades.
Star’s fleece is creamy-grey with flecks of beige sprinkled on the tips. It is soft and tactile and invites you to run your fingers through it.
On closer inspection you will see a tight crimp running through the individual wool fibres. This crimp is what makes Ryeland wool so springy and bouncy. You will also notice how fine the fibres are which is what makes the wool so soft and Ryeland sheep so cuddly.
The “Star rug “measures approx. 26 x 26 inches including locks. (Locks measure approx. 1.5 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 or bench to soften a room, or draped over the arm of a sofa. Alternatively it would make a great addition to a nursery as a baby rug.
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 at: felted fleece rugs at auchenstroan.
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.
We do not use chemicals on our sheep, we are lucky, there are not many flies up here in the hills. In the summer we spray them as a precaution, but use an organic product based on lemons which smells lovely. As we cuddle our sheep frequently and use their fleeces to make things with we prefer to keep things natural.
Until recently Ryeland sheep were considered to be a “rare breed”. This is partly why we chose to keep them as we wanted to boost numbers. They are also the ideal sheep for smallholders as they’re friendly and easy to handle. As an added and wonderful bonus, they happen to be a top quality wool breed.
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.