I have been rather busy lately playing around with a new little hobby making pretty little Welsh blanket dolls. I still love to make the smaller items such as Welsh blanket hearts and bunting but I am really enjoying making these little Welsh Lady’s. I source the vintage Welsh blankets form local vintage sales, charity shops- (I found a small piece form the 1920s) and good old eBay and never cut up anything unnecessarily. I have even been lucky enough to have been given some blankets from friends and whenever I am given something I try to make something special for them in return, as it makes them smile and that’s what makes the world go around. I try to find out as much as possible from the Welsh woollen Mills the blankets were made and add a little information on a little passport for each doll.
I’ve learnt a few new things along the way, and what do they say? “learn something new every day its good for your braincells”…!!! so lets share my new found knowledge with you.
The Welsh woollen industry was very much part of every Welsh household in the years gone by- Carding(brushing) and spinning wool and cloth weaving were part and parcel of the domestic duties in the Welsh homes. The fulling mill, or pandy, on the bank of a stream, was where the the weavers of the Welsh neighbourhood would wash the wool ready for spinning and weaving on hand looms. Urine! yes Urine! was collected from households to use in part of the washing process apparently it was a good detergent as far as wool was concerned.
The smaller width blankets are usually the older blankets as they have been made on a hand loom and are generally worth more. Sometimes they were sewn together in the middle to create a larger blanket.
In 1850s, the power loom was invented; as a result of this new invention there were woollen mill factories popping up everywhere making blankets, quilts, carthenni (fringed bed toppers), tweeds, and knitting-yarn and you could say there was a “boom” in the Welsh weaving industry for a little while. From these many factories came the beautiful vintage blankets you can find today. My favourite has to be the tapestry style where there is a reversible double weave cloth creating the beautiful tapestry design on both sides. You can see why these beautiful Welsh Blanket’s,were traditionally given as wedding presents and handed down as heirlooms they are superbly designed and weaved.
Unfortunately as with everything it seems that woollen products could be made cheaper else where and the Welsh weaving factories started to decline, among other reasons, but there are still some weaving today making and designing new Welsh blankets. So I think it is important to look after these little Welsh heritage treasures and keep them as heirlooms or refashion them into something else if they are too worn out.