Tuesday, April 21, 2009

An Old Scots Mohair Blanket from Newton Stewart

I recently came across this lovely old mohair blanket or throw, made in Cree Mills, in Newton Stewart - possibly in the 1950s or 60s although it's impossible to be sure. These old Galloway woollen mills closed in 1986 having been active for most of the century. They replaced a much older cotton mill on the same site, on the banks of the River Cree. People had told me about these wonderful old textiles in the past - how soft and light and fluffy they were, how warm, how stylish. But I hadn't seen one until this turned up. It was a little stale, having been stored, so I washed it, carefully. It's huge, and utterly gorgeous and I wish - in these somewhat straitened times - that somebody would start making more of these fabulous throws and blankets in Scotland again. I use old Ayrshire blankets all winter in this house - nothing quite so cosy against the drafts. I also put a couple of beautiful sixty year old Yorkshire blankets over our couches for the winter - leather can be chilly, but old wool with subtly colourful designs, transforms them. This vibrant and cosy Scottish throw is really a winter item - but I can imagine that it would make an excellent picnic blanket or a comfortable throw on a futon, or spare bed.


Scottish Nanna said...

Hi Catherine I love your blanket I remember them when I was little they were lovely and warm.
Hugs Mary,

throw said...

Looks great to me the Scottish style of throws and blankets.

Ruby Deluxe said...

I bought a Glen Cree mohair blanket today, in rural NSW, Australia, for the princely sum of $5. An absolute bargain and I gave it a gentle machine wash, it has turned out beautifully, and I am surprised it could be so old. I always buy mohairs when I come across them, as they remind me of my Mother and Grandmother, and I have a variety of different branded blankets.
Thank you for your article :)

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I can hardly believe the original post was so long ago, but I remember the blanket well, it was so beautiful. Very glad you found one and that it has turned out beautifully! I wish I could find some more like this.

Lorne Derraugh said...

At this exact moment I'm snuggled under the exact same blanket, in my sailboat, in Georgian Bay Canada. I wouldn't trade it for the world!

Unknown said...

Hello, I, too, own a mohair blanket, that my then mother-in-law brought from Scotland in 1971. I‘ve been using it ever since and like to snuggle under it on nights like tonight. It was made in the Glen Cree Mill.

Rachel MacDonald said...

That's lovely! My uncle passed away a few years ago, and my mother (his sister) was gifted the beautiful Glen Cree mohair blanket that was in his living room. It's so soft and warm.

I think she washed it as soon as she received it. However, now she can't remember how to wash it, and I think it could use a wash! Can it be machine-washed, hand-washed or do you need to dry clean it? Ours is orangey-yellow with yellow and green and white. Beautiful. I love to cuddle up under it. Thanks, Rachel in Canada.

PS. I'm a MacDonald of Clan Ranald. Some of our ancestors came into Pictou Harbour, Nova Scotia, on the good ship Hector from Scotland in about 1783. They built a replica of the ship and have a memorial set up to honour the Clan Ranald settlers who came.

PPS. How is it that the River near the mill is called Cree? Some of the indigenous people to this area of Canada are called the Cree. Then again, they don't call themselves Cree but Nehiyawak if I've got it right. Peace, Rachel.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

Hi Rachel and thank-you for your interesting comments!
First of all - yes, you should be able to wash it, but with great care. Treat it like a fine woollen sweater. Lukewarm water, with a little bit of gentle wool wash liquid, nothing harsh, definitely 'non bio'. Don't wring it, just agitate it very gently. Then rinse it in cool, clean water. I tend to add a little bit of fabric conditioner with the last rinse, just to soften it. Squeeze most of the water out of it, and then dry it flat and 'blocked out' into its original shape - you could put it on a large soft towel. The whole thing should be done quite quickly - don't leave it to soak at all - and then put it in a warmish, but not hot place, to dry out properly. Never put it in a machine, and don't tumble dry it! Good luck.

The Scottish 'Cree' name is interesting. Not sure of its derivation. It may come from a surname like Creich. But I do know that the river names in Scotland are almost all very old - pre Gaelic, pre Celtic even, possibly, so it may be a very old word indeed!