How The Blanket Got Its Name

30th Sep 2022
How The Blanket Got Its Name

Autumn is approaching, and the days a shortening and the temperatures dipping. For some people, the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness (© John Keats) is their very favourite time of year. It’s not difficult to understand why; the freshness in the air can bring about a sense of optimism and new starts, even as the summer blooms gently fade.

A change of season is also the perfect opportunity to make some changes to our wardrobes and home décor. Cosy cable knit jumpers, long boots, and scarves will be making a welcome return for some of us! 

You might also be tempted to buy some extra blankets and throws, which are perfect for snuggling up in front of the TV, or adding an extra layer to your bedding. They are also a great way of introducing a pop of colour or pattern to a room, without undergoing a lengthy redecoration process.

The blanket is one of those household items which you might assume existed since ancient times, but its modern form wasn’t invented until the 14th century. It is thought to be named after Thomas Blanquette, who was Flemish by birth, but lived in Bristol and worked as a weaver. He ran a textile workshop, and produced heavy woollen blankets.

However, Mr Blanquette may have acquired his name because he made blankets, rather than invented them. It was common in this era for people to be named after their trade or occupation, such as farriers who were called Smith, and so on. As Blanquette is a French word, it is possible some form of woven covering was already in use on the continent.

What is known however, is that Thomas Blanquette was a talented weaver and businessman, who ran a prototype factory. He recruited hand weavers who worked from home or small workshops, and gathered them as a single workforce to mass produce tightly woven woollen blankets.

These products were then sold at prices affordable to the general public, and soon they became hugely popular. This is not surprising, as until then, the majority of the population used animal skins to keep them warm at night. That doesn’t sound too cosy or comfortable at all!

The UK has never been short of wool of course, as our green and pleasant land is ideally suited to sheep rearing. In fact, British wool is regarded as some of the finest quality in the world, and we have over 60 pure breeds of sheep! This is not to mention cross breeds and rare breeds.

In fact, there are 7 different categories of British wool, from the very softest fine wools, which feel warm yet gentle next to the skin, to the coarser hill and mountain wools. It holds and absorbs dyes especially well, which gives wool products a special vibrant colour which can endure for many years. 

Wool can also be successfully combined with other natural and manmade fibres, to create products which are easy to wash and stand the test of time.