Wool Blankets: Everything You Need To Know
There is something sumptuous about wool blankets and it goes far beyond acting as a simple barrier between you and the cold air outside, taking the chill off those cool summer evenings and of course, providing that little touch of decoration in a room.
Just looking at a beautiful blanket warms up the “inner you” and provides that little feeling of luxury and comfort that comes in all shapes, sizes, and fabrics.
But for me, it’s got to be a one-hundred-pre-cent blanket that is made from the finest, super-soft wool that simply oozes comfort and there are a lot of choices out there.
I have my own selection of blankets, which are designed here in South Wales, made in the UK and delivered across the globe, through my company Welsh Otter, a business I started 3 years ago after turning my back on the corporate life and a lifetime of inspiration from all things Wales and Welsh.
My name is Kim and here, I am going to talk specifically about wool blankets and give you an overview of the main types of wool that blankets are made of, how to choose your blanket and most importantly, how to take care of them.
A woollen blanket is a fine investment as it can last you a lifetime, especially if you give it the love and attention it deserves.
So, let’s begin!
What Exactly Is A Wool Blanket?
When you think of wool, you will naturally think of sheep or young lambs, but wool also comes from other animals including goats and camels!
And sadly, wool production is declining, with many farmers not finding it cost-efficient to shear their sheep in relation to cheaper, synthetic alternative fabrics that have sprung up over time.
Not all wool blankets are created equal however, so you must look out to make sure what you are buying is one-hundred-per-cent wool and not a mixture with other fabrics.
I am passionate about Wales, which was once primarily known for its wool production, shipping wool all over the world, and some two thousand years before the industrial revolution, you can read all about the Welsh woollen industry here.
Wool has been used to make blankets for centuries and it has many advantages over other textiles, which I will cover in this article and it’s sustainable, which is very important to me personally.
Benefits Of Wool
Wool is a natural fiber and it’s also renewable – every year sheep produces fleece and other animals produce hair which makes it both natural and renewable.
Wool is breathable – it has a large capacity to absorb moisture and sweat next to the skin, plus it is water-resistant to a certain degree due to the natural oils that are present in the fiber.
Believe it or not, wool is flame retardant and doesn’t readily catch fire. If it does, it extinguishes itself when the source of the flame is removed.
Easy care – woolen fibers have a natural protective layer which prevents stains from being absorbed and they also pick up less dust.
It’s biodegradable – when a natural merino fiber is disposed of it takes only a few years to decompose and puts fertility in the soil for crop growing. Many synthetic fibers take much longer to degrade.
Wool is durable – a single fiber can be bent twenty thousand times without breaking and still have the power to recover and return to its natural shape.
Wool Blanket Types
Alpaca, Merino and Cashmere are names you will here when you research wool and depending on what you are looking for in feel and price, you will find many differences between the quality of the many blankets out there.
Here are the main types of wool:
- Merino – A luxury wool produced from merino sheep originally from Spain, but now mainly existing in Australia and New Zealand.
- Lambswool – wool from the first shearing of young lambs which is excellent for bedding and blankets because it’s breathable, which regulates your body temperature, hypoallergenic and it is also resistant to dust mites!
- Shetland – a durable wool coming from sheep in the Shetland Islands, north of Scotland.
- Cashmere – one of the softest fibers in the world coming from cashmere, pashmina, and other breeds of goat.
- Alpaca – made from the fleece of Alpaca, a type of South American camel which produces soft and luxurious wool like merino and cashmere.
- Angora – a breed of domesticated goat from Turkey, producing a luxurious fiber known as mohair.
- Qiviut -- a delicate underwool from the Arctic Musk Ox, softer than cashmere, it is one of the most sought-after fibers in the world because of its rarity, softness, and warmth.
- Camel Hair – coming from the Bactrian camel, found in China, Russia, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Turkey, Tibet, Australia, and New Zealand it refers to the fur of the camel, but more generally applies to the fiber made from pure camel hair or a blend of camel hair and another fiber.
Wool is also what is termed an “active fiber,” which is breathable and reacts to the temperature of your body and it is also water and flame resistant...to a degree.
Wool blankets are also a great investment and when looked after carefully, they can last a lifetime.
They will also naturally insulate you and keep you warm in the winter and cool in the summer, making it the perfect choice for a blanket or throw.
How To Choose Your Wool Blanket
There are 3 simple factors to consider when choosing your blanket:
- Size – what size of blanket are you looking for... be it a bedcover for a king size bed or a double bed, or are you just looking for a “throw,” which is a smaller blanket you can use to put over your shoulders to keep yourself warm in winter, or a lighter version to take the edge off those slightly chilly summer evenings, plus you can use them purely for decorative purposes. Another option is a knee rug which is a smaller size designed to place over your lap on chilly evenings! The choice is yours.
- Type & Purpose – you’ve seen the main choices of wool above, so now it comes down to the look and feel of what you want. Be sure to check the feel of the product if you can because they all differ in their own way. You must also consider the purpose of your blanket and how durable you want it to be. Are you looking for a beautiful blanket for your master bedroom suite or a more durable option for your next camping trip? Consider these factors carefully!
- $€£ -- now we come to the crunch...how much are you willing to pay? Although wool is a completely natural product if you are buying a one-hundred-per-cent wool product of course, you do get what you pay for. Cashmere and merino wools are expensive, but they are super-soft and luxurious. Some wools are cheaper, and they may be itchy if for example you have them directly on your skin, such as when you wear a jumper, or have a blanket directly on your skin.
As I said earlier, wool blankets make a great investment and when taken care of properly, which I will cover later, they should last a lifetime, and this is another factor to consider when making your purchase.
If you really want to splash out, then you have the option of having a custom blanket.
You can design and personalize your very own blankets, which will of course, be exclusive to you.
Imagine having your very own blanket or throw with your name or initials expertly crafted on it this is obviously a high-end and luxury option, but you know what?
You’ve got to spend your hard-earned money on something right?
And if you want to talk further about custom blankets, then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me directly:
And we can talk about custom blankets and blankets in general – maybe over a virtual cup of coffee!
How Do You Wash Your Wool Blankets?
It’s that time when your beautiful wool blanket starts to smell a little musty and you notice a little dirt build up on it.
Wool is a natural, sustainable, and renewable material that is more resistant to wear and tear than other textiles.
But that doesn’t mean that you should be in a rush to wash it!
Wool is an incredibly resilient fiber and that means it doesn’t need frequent washing – in fact, you can do a great cleaning job by not washing it.
When you wash any product, you will risk doing damage and we’ve all been there when we have washed something that is too hot, resulting in shrinkage and when our favorite clothes become faded over time due to the amount of times they have been washed.
As wool is a natural product, you will run the risk of stripping away some of the natural oils that are in wool, so some people simply air their blankets and give them a good shake to remove any obvious debris.
But there will be times when the blanket becomes dirty and will require washing and of course, it is much easier to simply put your blanket in the washing machine and be done with it.
Always Check The Label
It sounds obvious but I can assure you that many people simply throw their blankets in the washing machine, and this can prove disastrous – wool requires gentle cleaning and handwashing is preferable, plus you should use a gentle cleaning agent that will not damage the natural oils of the product.
If you are going to wash your blanket in the washing machine, then use a low temperature and use a gentle wash that is as short as possible. Again, check that the cleaning agent will not damage it.
Now we come to drying – please don’t put your blanket in the dryer or try to vigorously wring out the water.
This can cause damage and especially when you have the super-soft, luxurious wool fabrics.
You can dry your blankets by laying them flat and on some towels to absorb the water or hang them over a clothesline carefully to support the weight of the blanket.
If you do accidently put your blanket in the dryer and it shrinks, there is a way to try to get the product back to its original size.
Fill a bathtub with warm water and a little baby shampoo, which will help the fibers relax. Next you kneed the wool gently, then lay it flat and very gently work it back to its original shape.
Then you repeat the process in cool clean water and re-shape once more; you should now have your blanket back to the original shape.
This process will also help should you wish to soften your wool blanket or throw, because you feel it is a little too hard or itchy.
You can also have your blanket professionally dry cleaned, which is a good option if you want to deep clean your blanket without exposing it to water, but there is always the effect of the chemicals used in the process, to consider which some people say over time, could shorten the lifespan of your product
How To Store Wool Blankets
Nobody wants moths or other insects to get near their clothes or blankets, so you must be careful when it comes to storing.
Excessive heat or dampness can damage wool fibers so if you are not going to use your blankets for an extended period of time, you need to consider storing them properly.
Always clean your blankets before you store them – moths are attracted to perspiration and stains, so don’t omit this step and moths do like wool!
Mothballs and crystals are effective when it comes to protecting against moths and other insects, so you can add them to your sealable container before storing.
You can search online for a variety of blanket storage boxes, and they are a great investment when it comes down to getting the most life out of your blankets.
Wool blankets are a great investment, they are natural, sustainable and whatever your budget they will offer many benefits over their synthetic counterparts, whether you are choosing some bedding for the home, or a robust blanket for those camping trips.
For me, nothing beats the luxurious feel of super-soft wool and the insulating properties of keeping you warm in the winter and cool in the summer make wool blankets an excellent companion in the home...and they are decoratively versatile.
You have many choices when it comes down to blankets and don’t think that wool is confined to sheep and lambs – wool can be made from the hairs of goats and camels as well.
If you really want to go the extra mile you can choose to have a customised and personalised blanket to combine luxury with individuality.
It is important to take care of your blanket when it comes to washing and cleaning as it is a natural product, which although it is durable, it can be damaged by excessive heat, so be sure to read the label when it comes down to cleaning.
Your wool blanket can last a lifetime and an important part of the care process is to ensure that you store it correctly – they are loved by moths and other insects, so make sure to use mothballs and crystals when you are looking at your storage options.
Finally, if you want to talk more about blankets or other textiles and gifts then please don’t hesitate to get in touch with me.