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 Sparkle’s fleece. Sparkle is mum to Ymogen our miracle girl, see her story here:
Sparkle is one of our breeding ewes. She is the smallest lady amongst our mums, but that is due to her short little legs as opposed to slimline figure. Luckily, being somewhat barrel shaped is a sign of beauty among Ryelands, so Sparkle would most certainly win a beauty contest! You can see her picture in the gallery. Sparkle has a rather fetching fleece, it is pale grey, extremely dense and very snuggly.
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. When you push down on the fleece with your hand it resists and wants to push up again. You will also notice how fine the individual wool fibres are. The fine diameter of the fibres is what makes Ryeland wool so soft and is particularly non- scratchy next to the skin.
The “Sparkle rug “measures approx 18 by 24 inches, (including locks). Locks measure about 1.5 inches. It would be ideal as a 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, being a smaller sized rug, it would make a lovely rug for a baby.
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.
We do not use chemicals on our sheep, we are lucky, there are not many blowflies up here in the hills so we can monitor the flock for flystrike by checking up on them and watching for changes in behaviour. Also, our flock is particularly partial to back scratches so by not using chemicals we’re happy to indulge them in one of their favourite activities knowing the only thing we’re likely to get on our hands is lanolin.
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 try to make optimal use of their fleeces so the sheep can contribute towards their board and lodging. We send some wool away to be spun into yarn but keep most back to make 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 your rug they respond well to a gentle soak in a wool/silk detergent followed by a refreshing vinegar rinse to keep the pH happy. You can also pop them in the washing machine on a wool cycle. For more washing and care tips click here.