Throws & Blankets: What's in a Name?

Utilitarian, functional and at times essential versus insubstantial, fluffy and unnecessary, the terms 'blanket' and 'throw' often conjure up very specific snapshots in a readers mind.

From the moment we are born, blankets play a consistent, but largely unnoticed, role in our everyday lives, Whether wrapped in them as newborn babies, recuperating beneath them on the sofa when ill, sitting on them at picnics and trips to the beach or hunkering down beneath them on cold camping expeditions, we use them to keep us warm and dry. In more dramatic situations a blanket can also play a vital role in maintaining our body heat whether in the aftermath of a natural disaster or accident or following a high endurance sporting event.

But blankets can also take on a less functional, more emotional role when handcrafted for family or friends. These one off pieces, whether a traditional Welsh tapestry, a crocheted Afghan or a hand-stitched baby blanket embroidered with a name, can often become a family heirloom, appreciated not just for their appearance and the skill involved, but also the sheer number of hours that have often been involved in their creation.

Blankets, as we know them today are usually attributed to Thomas Blanquette, a Felmish weaver living in Bristol in the 14th century, who pioneered the production of a woven wool fabric. This is not to say that Blankets were named after Blanquette, instead it is likely that he acquired his surname from his trade and that the term blanket originally derived from the French word for white, 'blanc', referring to the undyed colour of the wool used. However blankets in other forms, existed long before Blanqette with many arguing that blankets are, in fact, prehistoric, with the first incarnations made of animal skin, piles of grass and woven reeds.

So what is the difference between a blanket and a throw? Traditionally, blankets are based on standard bed sizes, made slightly larger so they can be tucked in at the foot of the bed. Throws on the other hand are often smaller, designed to sit on the arm of a chair or back of a sofa. Blankets are also traditionally woven from one piece of cloth, usually wool or cotton, with the edges tightly bound in fabric to prevent fraying whilst throws can be made of a huge range of materials and often feature a fringed edge. For most people though, the main distinction between the two is based on their use. Blankets are seen as functional, designed to keep you warm rather than add colour or pattern to a room, whereas throws are mainly for decoration.

As the blankets or throws we stock are all both multifunctional and beautiful, suitable for throwing over a sofa or bed to add colour or wrapping up in to keep warm and we tend to use both terms interchangeably. As a double bed size blanket can also make a perfect throw to hide an ugly sofa and a colourful throw can provide warmth on a bed when needed this seems, at least to us, to make perfect sense.