Ten Years Later – Woolen Blankets Washed at Home and Other Thoughts

Hello! Well, I’ve been creating this blog for over a decade now. That amounts to one thousand and four hundred posts (so far).

One of my first stories (found here) published on November 30th, 2011, was about the first time I washed a vintage secondhand woolen blanket at home in our washer and dryer. This old nugget has turned out to be the third most viewed post to date, continuing to be read by someone somewhere every day.

Before then, I’d not tried to home clean the blanket because, as do all pure wool items, it came with the recommendation to “dry-clean only” unless you want to risk ruining them. But my blanket was already old, hadn’t cost very much to begin with (I got it on ebay) and wasn’t being used because it was quite scratchy and needed a clean but I didn’t really want to spend the money to have it dry-cleaned (today, it costs $40 to $50 to do that). Well, I say it wasn’t being used, but that was until one day I saw that my mister Nick had found it pushed to the back of the linen closet, where it had been lingering for a few years, and pulled it out only to plunk it down onto the cat’s bed.

That’s when I decided this beautiful textile was not yet ready to be deemed a pet blanket, and I was going to try washing it in our home washer and dryer. I’d read up on felting wool and seen that it could be softened by agitation in hot water and drying on high heat. Certainly, this came with the guarantee that the wool would shrink, but I didn’t mind if this blanket shrank. So, I did it.

And since then, we’ve been using it every winter and cleaning it at home for a decade now. You’ll see by these photos, that it still looks great. I really quite love it, actually. It’s warm and cozy and always smells fresh and is perfect for a cold winter’s evening on the sofa.

So, I thought it was time to revisit that early post and to show people what this blanket looks like now. A couple more vintage woolen blankets have since joined it in the “wash-it-at-home” regime and have done just fine.

Now, knowing they can be cleaned at home, please don’t hesitate to pick up a woolen blanket at the thrift store or to pull an old one out of the cupboard because of the cost of dry-cleaning it.

Disclaimer : Only try this on pure wool (not blended), woven (not knitted), blankets that are not valuable nor precious to you.

Here’s a short video about the process …

Speaking of our dearly departed Eddie Boycat and this blanket, check out this post of his Christmas portrait photo shoot with the blanket as a back drop. We miss him so much.

Also, here are a few shots of these blankets being used during an outdoor “socially distanced” visit with my friend Meghan, on a cool November afternoon last year. Oh, how misconceived we were, believing that the pandemic would soon be over and we would be back to sitting inside, side by side on the sofa watching movies together. We all know how that has turned out.

↑ Nick can’t remember a time that this Hudson’s Bay blanket wasn’t in his life. His parents got it when they first moved to Canada from England and baby Nick would have played on it. He recalls it being on his bed while he was a boy and that he brought it with him when he moved to Toronto and went to university. He’s much more of a minimalist than I am, so I’m surprised and grateful that he hung onto it. He isn’t emotionally attached to it, though, and doesn’t mind that I wash it at home contrary to dry-clean only recommendations. He’d rather see it being used than reserved for good. ↑

A final thing about these photos, and it’s more a personal nostalgic point for me than it is of interest to you, but these were the last pictures of me that will ever be taken while I had long dark brown hair. Shortly after these were taken in November 2020, I stopped dying my hair, which is naturally lighter in colour and, I can see now, has become streaked with silver.

In a year, it has grown 5 1/2 inches, so not quite long enough yet to have all the dyed part cut off, so I’ve been wearing a lot of hats! In fact, in the video linked above, you can see the silver peeking out a bit. I’m not sure what I’ll end up doing with it — maybe go blond for a while — but that decision will have to be made soon as the hats are no longer able to cover the secret!

Thank you for reading. xo loulou

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