Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Bonnie Old Blankets

There is nothing quite like an old Scottish pure wool blanket for warmth, beauty and comfort. Most of the examples I come across here in Ayrshire are from the now defunct Skeldon Mill on the bonnie banks of the River Doon - and I've blogged about these on The Scottish Home before. But blanket weaving was widespread in Scotland and occasionally I come across other lovely examples. Just last week, I found two splendid soft woollen blankets with the label 'Lammermuir', registered in Scotland and Canada. I haven't been able to find out anything more about this presumably old blanket mill, although there is a new company - Pride of Lammermuir - in the foothills of the Lammermuir Hills, making the most beautiful traditional woven textiles.

People used to acquire these as wedding presents - some of them seem to have been put away and saved 'for best' and never used, which is a shame, since these are the most forgiving of textiles, and can usually be washed, even in a machine.

They look fabulous used as throws on a couch, or chair, or to dress a bed - or on children's beds. You have to be careful that a child with sensitive skin doesn't react to the wool, but I've found these blankets to be so soft that it's seldom a problem. Sadly, here in Scotland, these vintage blankets are so often thoughtlessly cut up for 'dog blankets' which seems like a crime to me.

In the old days, most village weavers would have woven their own blankets which were then taken to be treated at a 'waulk mill'. You can often see this term in placenames, especially in Southern Scotland, and in fact we have the remains of an old waulk mill just outside this village - and documentary evidence that the landowner, up in his big house, would sometimes have been paid rents in 'good woollen blankets'. Given the nature of our winters, they would have been very welcome indeed!


Ryan said...

My Grandmother in Glasgow had a wardrobe full of these blankets but as I remember they were a bit itchy on my skin when I was wee.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

I remember itchy blankets too, when I think about it! But these seem to be softer than most. Or maybe it's just the benefits of fabric conditioner!

Anonymous said...

I am trying to get a blanket made by the firm of Laidlaw in the Scottish Borders, any help would be appreciated.

Catherine Czerkawska said...

They turn up occasionally. Not very often, but from time to time. Keep watching my eBay shop!