I was very worried but the team said, do it... So we turned our back on the street and hid – and customers love it. Maybe we all feel the same? And then, much to my surprise, three days later I read an article in the Wall Street Journal Magazine asking, 'if the blanket is the latest going-out accessory?'
Well... actually it is much more than a fashion statement.
In 1339, a man named Thomas Blanket (Blanquette) was granted permission by a local magistrate to set up a loom on which to make a ‘well raised surface’ fabric for use as a bed covering.
It took Thomas some time to get his curious concept accepted as, even in Shakespeare’s time, most people slept on a straw pallet. Only the very wealthy had the luxury of feather mattresses, furs and fine cloths for sleeping on.
By the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, blanket making had become an industry, and the wool industry played a huge part in the history of British export. Some of those export links live on today, such as the Basotho Kaross ceremonial blanket of the Basotho warrior, the colourful Hudson’s Bay point blanket of Canada and the symbolic wedding blankets given to newly married couples in China.
Blankets hold great cultural significance in many Indigenous communities. They were used in trade, given as gifts and even offered a way to record community history. I remember one especially beautiful Maori bark blanket at the Oceania Royal Academy show in 2018... utterly spellbinding.
So apart from the trade value and economic benefits and the huge cultural significance, a blanket is also very good for your health. Sleeping under a heavy blanket has been found to decrease anxiety and stress. The neurological reason is to do with the weight of a blanket on you because the extra pressure can stimulate serotonin production and serotonin has been found to help modulate sleep regulation, so you sleep better even in these uncertain times.
A Shared Passion
My friend Nick Vinson, Creative director and Wallpaper* 'Quality Maniac-at-Large', is the biggest blanket aficionado I know... his last Instagram post was outside Fischer's where two perfect Alpaca blankets were placed on the cafe chairs so he could enjoy his meal al fresco with a friend. Blankets are in the air and I had to ask him why he loves them and what would he recommend to read (snuggled up under a blanket of course!)
"In the mid 90’s I started collecting traditional Welsh double-cloth blankets (and learnt that in 1968 textile designer Ann Sutton travelled to Wales to design colour ways for the local weavers). These blankets are really weighty and her colours are beautiful," says Nick. Her definitive book on the subject, The Textiles of Wales is no longer in print but can still be found on specialist book sites.
"We have way too many blankets at home, there is one or two on every sofa and every bed, in shearling, in cashmere and in Alpaca. I was instantly attracted to your Connolly’s Clyde Blanket in cashmere for its weight; it's super soft and light but also really heavy and weighty, there is something very comforting about weight on top of you when you nap or sleep. I have started to carry a pair of blankets with me to Fischer's or La Fromagerie, as due to Covid-19 rules, I can only meet people outside. A blanket on the legs is way better that an air heater."
Begg, Scottish weaving at its very best
At Connolly we have always loved a blanket or throw... from the Ettrick Shepherd blanket used to protect lambs in the harsh spring of the Yorkshire Dales, to the super-weight Clyde blanket, hand-finished and possibly the heaviest weight cashmere ever produced by the factory in Scotland. But these beauties are only possible with our designer Lorraine Acornley and her talent and knowledge and the expertise of Begg, the weaving mill who we work with in Scotland.
Here is why each blanket they make is so special.
SHOP CONNOLLY BLANKETS
Image 1 by Robbie Lawrence
Image 2 Connolly Picnic Blanket Holder
Image 3 Connolly CB Blanket
Image 4 Connolly Clyde Blanket photographed by Matthieu Lavanchy for Matches Fashion
Image 5 Agnona Alpaca blankets at Fischer's by Nick Vinson
Image 6 and 7 the Connolly Rally Blanket by Chloe Lwin