How can I reuse or recycle a sheep fleece?

The wonderful John B got in touch with my John the other day to ask if we could use a couple of sheep fleeces: someone he knows has been given the fleeces by a farmer client.

As I’ve just started spinning wool/yarn, the idea of a full fleece was appealing but also somewhat overwhelming – we said we’d take them if he’d been lumbered with them but otherwise it would be probably best to pass them onto someone else. Aside from spinning, we couldn’t really think of anything to do with them – then he suggested I ask on here for other uses.

We’ve covered man-made fleece jackets on here before but not the from-a-sheep variety. Apparently some people wash them and use them for insulation but there is a problem with moth-attacks.

What else can be done with them?

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7 Responses to “How can I reuse or recycle a sheep fleece?”

  1. Alexis says:

    you can use the fleece to make a rug – no spinning required, but you’ll need to “rig” up a frame or use a rigid heddle loom. the technique is very simple – you can see it in action here (I used yarn in this example – but staples from your fleece will work too)

    You can also see the technique – used with fleece – on pages 29-37 of “The Ashford Book of Rigid Heddle Weaving” by Rowena Hart (ISBN 0473084376) there are details there on how to prepare the staples, patterns etc.

  2. Bobbie says:

    Are the fleeces tanned? If so you can use them as is for a rug beside the fire or bed, they are wonderful. Here is a pretty one with some tips for care:

  3. Kara says:

    Aren’t fleeces sheared, not on skins? Anyway, they aren’t that hard to wash and put up for later, and while they are stored in airtight bags or containers (I use the giant Ziploc bags, which are infinitely reusable for this task), they make good mothproof insulation. As long as it’s stored in something reasonably airtight I have been able to store an unwashed fleece for over a year in my shed without any insect problems. You can add a little lavender, rosemary, or cedar oil to the final rinse when you wash a fleece to help keep the moths away.

    The fleeces can be wet felted into rugs. I don’t know about other countries, but in the U.S. there are several places that will take fleeces and turn them into quilt batting, spinning preparations, or even yarn for a reasonable fee. Really dirty or undesirable fleeces make good mulch.

  4. Alexis says:

    OH I did not even think about felting! if you look on youtube there are quite a few vids on how that’s done – so if you’re up for a bit of fun, and want to try something new I’d give that a go.

  5. Lizzy says:

    You could make a super-warm snuggly duvet if you filled a cover with it. Or just spin as much as you can.

  6. Laura says:

    lining hanging baskets or composting?

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