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Book Review

Letty Klein & Ann Brown’s

The Shepherd’s Rug

A Braided Wool Rug From Roving


By Eva Griffith


If you ever wondered what to do with all that wool you didn’t sell for the whopping 20¢/pound, wonder no more. This book may have the answer for you.

After braiding more than a couple of hundred rugs and still having a great demand for more, the authors-long time sheep-raisers and fiber artists-decided it was time to write a “how-to” book to help other flockmasters to increase their profit and joy from the sheep they raise.

The Shepherd's Rug Book Cover

As the authors advise us, in order to sell our wool successfully, we must first understand the fiber our sheep are producing. Not all sheep produce the same fiber!

To demonstrate this, the authors provide excellent illustrations and descriptions of different types of fiber a sheep may possess. Knowing what type of fiber your sheep grows will help you understand the potential value of the fleece.

Some sheep raisers do not realize how important the management of sheep fiber-wool-is if they want to produce a superior product. So all the stages of good wool production management are provided to guide them to success, described in sections such as:

  • Maintenance of sheep for quality wool harvest
  • Shearing
  • Skirting
  • Storage of wool

The book also tells how to select top-quality wool by look, sound and feel, plus how to wash, and blend wool.

If you followed the authors’ suggestions up to this point, you would have already substantially increased the value of the wool without even working it into a finished product.

The Shepherd's Rug has very clear, easy-to-understand illustrations
The Shepherd’s Rug has very clear, easy-to-understand illustrations

But to further increase your profit from your wool, the authors now focus on how to make braided wool rugs from rovings.

Since you’ll need no special equipment or supplies, the making of rugs can be a very inexpensive, but profitable venture. All you need to know is how to braid and use a sewing needle.

If in fact you’ve never braided or used a needle, there is no need to fret; you’ll find detailed illustrations with instructions on how to do it all.

(I personally don’t think it’s necessary to have rovings commercially-made from your wool. One can use hand cards or wool combs, or just pull and splice locks straight from the fleece, provided it’s clean, as instructed in the book’s section on the management of fleece.)

Suggestions such as how long or thick the strands and braids need to be to start your project, and how to connect the braids, will guide you along.

I found the section “Planning a Rug Size” very helpful. It describes in very simple terms how to calculate the correct starting sizes based on your intended finished size. Using the book’s wool requirement estimates, you can get a reasonabe idea how much wool it will take for any rug you make. Or conversely, how many rugs you can make of any size or mix of sizes, from a given number of pounds of your wool. There are sample calculations to make sure this is all clear-not just theoretical.

A 'rule of thumb' from The Shepherd's Rug.
A ‘rule of thumb’ from The Shepherd’s Rug.

The tips and techniques supplied will also ease and speed up your progress in rug making.

There are some breeds of sheep whose wool is better suited to rug making than others.

The authors happily provide a brief description of quite a few breeds and their wool traits as it relates to the art of rug making, such as: Luster, texture, softness, felting ability, etc. These aspects may help you before you start, by influencing your intended designs.

If you are thinking of trying your hand at rug making but are wondering what the finished product would look like, you may get an idea from the many beautiful full color photos of samples of rugs the authors made, using wool from Karakul, Cotswold, Dorset, Icelandic, Jacob, Leicester Longwool, Lincoln, Navajo-Churro, North Country Cheviot, Romney and Shetland sheep breeds and various blends.

In addition to all the marvelous photographs, the book has wonderfully informative drawings by Diane C. Howell, that make the techniques very quick and easy to understand.

After I finished reading this very instructive and inspiring book I knew exactly what I’ll be doing come wintertime: I’ll try my hand at braiding wool into rugs. What a marvelous treasure to pass on, or to sell! I hope you’ll give it a try too.


Call the sheep! bookstore (800) 551-5691 or visit our online bookstore to order your copy of The Shepherd’s Rug for only $24.95 + shipping.





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