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Design meets Heritage: Where we Make Our Special Edition Blanket Collections

Design meets Heritage: Where we Make Our Special Edition Blanket Collections

October 05, 2020

Irish Mill team in 1950s

The mill that weaves our merino lambswool blankets has a rich heritage. Here's an image of the team, taken in the 1950s.

 

The British Blanket Company has always been particular about finding the very best suppliers for our blankets.

We want to be able to guarantee a quality that our customers can trust in. We love partnering with small, local producers that weave British heritage into every strand. So for our British Bird Special Edition blankets, we have worked closely with our mill and yarn producer to select the very finest yarns in the perfect colours to weave the best quality British blankets.

There were aspects of lockdown that were reminiscent of a Britain of the past. A time before traffic drowned out the sound of nature around us. Our British Bird Blankets celebrate the beauty of the British landscape, using the best of British craftsmanship to do so.

British Birds Collection blankets folded on shelf

Blankets from our limited edition British Birds collection

 

From grassy field to cosy fireside

The journey from woolly sheep to beautiful throw is a long and complex one, with processes that have been practiced for hundreds of years. From the initial shearing and washing, wool is then blended, dyed and carded before it can be spun into yarn. The coloured yarn is woven into patterned fabric, which is then cut, hand-stitched and finished.

sheep stands in field

We're honoured to work with some fantastic British producers and proud to be part of the continuation of the rich heritage of spinning and weaving techniques in the British Isles.

Here we show you a little bit behind the scenes of where The British Bird Blankets take shape, from our yarn producer in Yorkshire to our wool mill in the Republic of Ireland.

Our Yorkshire Yarn Producer

Nestled among picturesque rolling hills is our yarn supplier in West Yorkshire. Established in 1978, the mill sources high quality sheep’s wool which it dies, cards and spins into yarn. The yarn can then be used in knitting or be woven into fabric, as with our blankets.

 wool spools in a box

The mill has a long-standing relationship with their wool suppliers, prioritising animal welfare in their choice of supplier. There are a range of stringent quality checks on all of the wool to triage according to texture and fineness, so that the mill can produce a range of yarns.

sheeps wool is spun into yarns at the Yorkshire factory

Wool is spun into yarn on the factory floor of our Yorkshire yarn producer.

 

Creating Colour

 Across the twelve different varieties of yarn, there are over 500 colours represented. Colours are reviewed and refreshed every year so that they are up to date with fashion trends, as well as responding to customer feedback. So this was the perfect place to select the exact colours we wanted for our premium British Birds range.

wool swatches for British Birds wool blankets collection

 As well as solid colours, some of the yarns are what is known as “melange”. A melange colour is created by blending a selection of different colour components into the same yarn during the spinning process. The result is a single shade made up of a mix of base colours, giving an additional depth and richness to the palette.

melange wool yarns used for British Birds blankets

 

Supersoft Merino Yarn for our Finest Wool Blankets

When it comes to our Finest Collection and the British Birds Collection, we wanted the softest, finest wool available. And so we chose the Merino lambswool yarn. Merino sheep are known for the high quality of the wool they produce. And by using wool from each sheep’s first shear – when they are around 7 months old - the resulting fibres are as soft as they come. Merino wool also has a natural crimp to it, which increases its insulation properties. This is how the blankets are able to feel so warm whilst being incredibly lightweight.

merino lambswool special edition blankets blue and yellow

Our British Birds blankets, made from finest merino lambswool in melange yarns

 

Our Irish Mill

It is impossible not to feel inspired the moment you arrive at the weaving mill that we work with to produce our Finest Collection and British Birds Collection. Situated in a quaint seaside village on Donegal’s Atlantic coast, the mill is set against a glorious backdrop of sea and rolling green hills. Here the yarns from our yarn supplier are woven together on large looms to create the final designs for our blankets.

Blankets being woven at the mill in Ireland

Quality is at the very heart of everything the mill does. Founded in the 1950s, this family-run mill builds on a rich heritage of wool weaving, combining traditional techniques with contemporary design.

Throughout its history the mill has moved from hand-woven tweed in the 1950s to Irish linen in the 1990s and then back to wool. The skills and knowledge have been passed down through the generations and the results are always spectacular.

merino lambswool blankets woven at the mill in Ireland

Behind the scenes at the mill in Ireland.

 

The patterns and colours of the fabrics here take inspiration from the stunning landscape, and visitors are always struck by the vibrant colours of the yarns as they are woven on the looms.

The British Birds special edition blanket 'Robin' being woven at the mill

Our special edition 'Robin' blanket from The British Birds Collection is woven at the mill in Ireland.

 

Our British Birds Designs

It has been an exciting process collaborating not only with our suppliers but also with our customers to create our special edition British Birds designs.

Through our British Birds Facebook poll we have been able gather opinions from a range of customers, in order to design something truly special that celebrates the beautiful birds of Britain.

In the noise of the 21st Century, these delicate creatures are so often overlooked, and their songs go unheard. So we hope our Special Edition collection can bring some of the beauty of British wildlife into your home. These blankets truly are as British as you can get. And you can order your own piece of British heritage right here, in one of our five new designs.

UPDATE! The British Birds Collection is on sale now - shop now to secure one of the limited edition designs and receive your free watercolour prints.