How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Fleece In Three Easy Steps

Step 1: Make sure you are in a hurry when you shear. Wait until, say, the temperature goes from 20℉ to 70℉ overnight and the sheep (let’s call him Barney, just for fun) starts having heat stroke.

Step 2: Since you sheared Barney in a hurry before you’d planned to, you probably don’t have any nice, breathable pillowcases on hand to put the raw fleece in. No problem, use a garbage bag instead! Just for good measure, be sure to forget to poke holes in the bag.

Step 3: Store the bag in a location that receives several hours of direct sunlight every afternoon, and leave it there untouched for at least two months.

Ta-da! Your fleece is now magically transformed into a nasty, half-felted mess!

Yes, I ruined poor Barney’s fleece. It was still loose enough that I probably could have pulled it apart, but it would have taken a lot of force and still wouldn’t have been fun to spin. Since the fleece was in four mostly-intact sections I decided to try to felt the whole thing together into a faux sheepskin rug. I’d always wanted to make a Barney rug, since his dual-coated fleeces look so much prettier as long wavy locks than as finished yarn, and since this fleece was ruined anyway I didn’t have anything to lose by trying it.

I arranged the four sections as neatly as I could. I’m not 100% confident I got them matched up right; I almost think I got the britch and the neck at the wrong ends, but they wouldn’t fit together the other way so I left it as it is.

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Then I felted it section by section, dribbling a little soap over a small area of the cut ends, pouring boiling water over the soap, then agitating the wool with my (gloved) fingers. Incidentally, doing this while barefoot was not very smart. I scalded my foot twice. After I’d gone over the whole fleece, I dumped a bucket of cold water over the whole thing. The tutorial I was following didn’t say to, but I thought if it’s something you’re not supposed to do when you’re trying not to felt a fleece, it couldn’t hurt to try it.

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I call this masterpiece “Giant Wet Pancake Felt-Fleece”. It is important to note at this point that the whole process was accompanied by Mira screaming at me from the field. If I’m outside, I should obviously be paying attention to her, not fooling around with a big wet fleece.

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Spread out to dry on my patio table outdoor drying rack. All in all, it felted together better than I thought it would, though not as well as I hoped. There are a lot of gaps that will need to be sewn together, but the fleece as a whole is holding together fairly well so far. I’ll have to wait for it to dry before tacking the loosest sections together and flipping it over to see how it looks.

If this works out at all, I may try the same thing with Duke’s fleece when I shear him. He’s always too felted to do anything else with his wool.

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“Does this mean I’ll finally get my haircut?”

I think he’d make a very handsome rug indeed!

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8 thoughts on “How to Ruin a Perfectly Good Fleece In Three Easy Steps

  1. Poor Dear!! It’s not like you have nothing else to do but think about fleece in a bag. I guess this was a good experience that won’t happen again intentionally, but the rug sure looks nice!!

  2. That was way too funny……sorry, but all’s well that ends well. and you could sew him onto a backing of some sort to give it more stability. Burlap even or non skid something or other.
    Good job.

    • Well it wasn’t very funny at the time, but as you say, all’s well that ends well. I think I am going to tack it to a backing when I’m done sewing the cracks closed.

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