Recycled wool blankets: from shoddy to splendid

Recycled wool blankets: from shoddy to splendid

Recycled wool blankets: from shoddy to splendid

In recent years, we've all become more focused on how our shopping choices can impact the planet. Seeking out pre-loved goods is ever more popular and sustainable brands are creating stylish products from all kinds of recycled materials. While wool already scores highly in terms of sustainability, we've been asking ourselves: how can we make our wool blankets even more environmentally friendly?

This blog post will answer some common questions about the fascinating world of recycled wool and reveal two exciting new recycled wool blanket collections from The British Blanket Company.

stack of random recycled wool throw blankets from The British Blanket Company in warm colours

Recycled wool, what is it? 

When we talk about recycled wool, there are two main types to consider: pre-consumer and post-consumer. Pre-consumer recycled wool is fibre and yarn left over from manufacturing, while post-consumer recycled wool comes from re-processing old garments.

Pre-consumer recycled wool

is woollen fibre and yarn left over from the manufacturing industry. This could be remnants of yarn left after weaving a batch of blankets or offcuts from cutting clothing patterns, for example. Rather than being thrown away, responsible manufacturers collect the scraps of wool and send them to specialist fibre recycling facilities where the material is shredded back to fibre, re-spun and used again. Sometimes, longer woollen yarn remnants can be re-worked into creative textile products.


Post-consumer recycled wool

is recycled wool that has been re-processed from old garments. Donated clothing that isn't fit to be resold is carefully sorted by colour, shredded back into fibre and re-spun into yarn. Some environmentally responsible clothing brands are now operating circular textile take-back schemes whereby shoppers can return unwanted or damaged knitwear for recycling. Recycled wool, cotton and even cashmere yarns can be created in this way, giving old clothing a new lease of life as new garments and home textiles, including recycled wool blankets.


What is "shoddy" wool?

Shoddy is an historical term for recycled wool, rag wool or any woollen textiles or yarn made by shredding existing fabric and re-spinning the resulting fibres. Shoddy was pioneered in 1813 by Benjamin Law in Batley, Yorkshire, and the area is still the centre of textile recycling in England today. Utilising recycled wool is important for reducing the need for new raw wool in textile manufacturing. 

New technologies and processes in the wool recycling industry mean that shoddy wool yarn is far from inferior. By meticulously sorting and blending colours, recycled wool holds exciting possibilities for creating beautiful, high quality woven and knitted products, while helping to protect the environment at the same time.


Is recycled wool made in the UK?

Yes, but sadly some recycled wool blanket companies source the recycled wool for their blankets overseas from India and China, even though high-quality recycled wool is made right here in the UK.

Iinouiio (an acronym for "it is not over until it is over") is a pioneering force in the world of closed loop textile recycling. This Yorkshire-based company is passionate about continuing the rich history of wool recycling and forging a bright future for the industry. The company is a reborn version of wool recyclers Evergreen, which flourished in the 1990s and even partnered with iconic brand ESPIRIT to develop a collection made from post-consumer recycled yarns. Unfortunately, Evergreen faced a catastrophic fire in 1995 and was forced to close down. Fast forward twenty years and, in the era of sustainability and growing resistance to climate change, founder Dr. John Parkinson was able to rekindle his vision from the ashes and develop wool recycling for the future.

woman at a UK weaving mill makes recycled wool throw blankets for The British Blanket Company

warp threads of a random recycled wool throw blanket from The British Blanket Company online shop

The British Blanket Company's random recycled wool throws are available in a variety of colours - every batch is different!

Is recycled wool any good? 

When considering purchasing recycled wool, it's natural to have reservations about its quality. But, rest assured that recycled wool maintains excellent quality and durability, owing to the inherent longevity of wool as a material.

The texture of recycled wool differs a little from that of new wool as the process of shredding and spinning old wool into new yarn results in shorter fibres and a slightly harsher feel. Whilst the recycled wool may not feel quite as sumptuously soft as pure new wool, a recycled wool blanket will still look great and keep you feeling nice and cosy.

The biggest advantage of recycled wool is, of course, the environmental aspect. While wool is a naturally biodegradable material, it's still prudent to reduce the amount of wool that ends up in landfill. By buying recycled wool, you can help the environment and enjoy beautiful wool products at a great value price.

close up of texture of a checked recycled wool throw blanket from The British Blanket Company
making a woven recycled wool throw blanket by The British Blanket Company

Join the circular textile movement today by opting for one of our unique recycled wool throws

How do you clean recycled wool?

You should clean a recycled wool blanket in the same way as regular wool blankets. If machine washing is suggested on the label, be sure to use a special cold wool wash cycle and choose a mild detergent. 

If your recycled wool blanket includes another more delicate fibre, such as merino or cashmere, dry cleaning may be recommended.

As always, the advice is to check the care label on the product or get in touch with the retailer for advice if you're unsure. You can read more about washing and looking after your blankets in our wool care guide.


How to wash a cashmere blanket

Cashmere is a fine and delicate fibre so should be dry cleaned only. Advise your dry cleaner that your blanket is made from cashmere so they can ensure their dry cleaning method is tailored perfectly and keeps your cashmere blanket looking its best.

ball of recycled wool fibres in warm colours

Wool is a naturally durable material, making it the perfect candidate for textile recycling

Can you get recycled cashmere? 

Absolutely! Recycled cashmere is a fantastic choice for many reasons. Firstly, cashmere normally comes with a higher price tag, so recycled cashmere is more affordable than new. In addition, by opting for recycled cashmere, you can help reduce the environmental impact of cashmere goat farming. So, if you love the look and feel of cashmere but are worried about either the price point or potential environmental harm, recycled cashmere is the way to go.

recycled wool and cashmere throw blankets from The British Blanket Company folded in a stack


Recycled wool blankets from The British Blanket Company 

As part of our ongoing commitment to sustainability, The British Blanket Company is delighted to announce two recycled wool blanket collections. 


Recycled cashmere and merino wool throws - available from 7th August

We've partnered with our friends Turtle Doves to bring you a gorgeous guest blanket collection made from a blend of 50% cashmere and 50% new merino wool. Specialising in cashmere gloves made from recycled jumpers, Turtle Doves has partnered with Iinouiio to turn their cashmere offcuts into a range of luxurious woven throws. Available in four subtle colourways, each with a beautiful marled finish, they're available at The British Blanket Company for a limited time only.

Random recycled wool blankets - available from September

Coming to The British Blanket Company this autumn are random recycled wool blankets, woven in ever-changing colours from remnant yarns saved from the fabric industry. Each run of random recycled wool blankets is slightly different but equally beautiful, so get ready for an exciting surprise when yours arrives! They're great value, robust and practical, so perfect for picnics, keeping in the car or protecting furniture from pets.