How to collect: Welsh blankets
The Period: 19th and 20th centuries The Source: Welsh weavers and textile mills in Cardiganshire The Appeal: Bedcovers to be used as throws or simply collected for the sheer enjoyment of ownership
Whether woven on a handloom in a cottage, or made in a mill in Ceredigion or Carmarthenshire, antique Welsh blankets offer charming striped, plaid and herringbone patterns in all sorts of colour combinations. These can be muted or vibrant, depending on whether plant dyes are used or harsher chemical aniline dyes. In the 19th century, blankets were woven on a narrow handloom and two widths were needed to make a whole bedcover. These earlier blankets have a seam running up the middle where the two pieces of fabric were sewn together. The narrow looms were phased out in 1910, which means that any blanket with a seam is an antique. They are often simple in design – undyed wool decorated with a simple stripe created from a plant dye such as indigo – and they can be bought from £125 up to £300. In the 1880s, ‘tapestry bedcovers’ were woven at the mills – these are made of traditional double ply woollen yarn and have bold, reversible patterns; around £275 would be the starting point. From the 1930s to 1980s, fringed and plaid woollen blankets were woven in the mills – these are brightly coloured and cost from £65 to £135.