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Blankets: Back to Basics

A little known fact about blankets is that the word itself; 'blanket' is commonly believed to be taken from somebodies name. The Flemish weaver Thomas Blanket, who lived in the English dock town of Bristol during the 14th Century, pioneered a special thick woollen weave to create sheets that would keep people warm during the very harsh English winters. Other linguists think that the word has been an adaptation from the French 'blanc' meaning white, as bed sheets were almost always white to save on dying costs. Of course, this is no longer the case and blankets can now be produced on large scale, in many colors and fabrics, for little cost to the manufacturer or customer. Here are a few basic things to know about blankets, including the different types of material.

Fleece blankets are one of the most popular types of blanket, because fleece can be produced using synthetic materials, but with a very similar feel and warmth to genuine wool. Most fleece blankets (especially synthetic fleeces) are treated to be fairly fire retardant - synthetic fleece is designed to burn rather than melt, which is actually safer because there is no danger of the material melting to skin. This makes them ideal for camping trips sitting around the fire or simply for snuggling up at home in front of the fireplace. They are also very easy to wash, and because of their lightweight weave will dry out easily. Another feature that makes fleece such a popular material is that it doesn't absorb water too readily if exposed in small quantities; rather, small amounts of water will sit in droplets on top the material, and will not soak in and saturate the blanket. Again, making them ideal for outdoor use.

Very different are plush blankets, which were originally made from mohair or worsted yarn, but now use a mix of cotton and silk, sometimes with additional synthetic materials. Plush is often used in the manufacture of stuffed toys because of its incredibly soft feel - this makes it wonderful for use in an exceptionally soft blankets. Plush blankets are wonderful to leave in the lounge room, for example, to always have on hand whilst watching T.V. For new parents, plush blankets are absolutely ideally suited to a baby's needs, because the soft material is suitable for their delicate skin. Most plush blankets have a silk-covered hem, meaning there are no rough edges at the ends of the blanket.

There are many more blankets to suit a whole host of different needs, including travel blankets, picnic blankets, eco blankets made from sustainable materials and even blankets with sleeves. Blankets have come a long way since the 14th century - mainly because modern technology such as central heating has meant different blanket materials need to adapt to different climates. Blankets such as super soft travel blankets, for example, are warm enough to keep of the cold chill of airplane air-conditioning, but light and breathable enough for an evening coming off the beach in a warm tropical country.

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