Sling it over your cold shoulders at the beach. Cocoon yourself on the couch. Or drape it artistically over your doona. Wherever it is that you like to feel cosy and comforted, you can add an extra layer of warmth with a well-made blanket. Luckily, we have a few remaining factories in Australia producing yarn and weaving it into luxury, lightweight throws and durable recycled wool blankets for camping. We’ve picked out some of our favourite locally made woollen wraps, plus a couple of foreign numbers (including cotton and Mongolian cashmere ones).
With names like Apple Chains, Carrot Slaw and Oats, Curio’s 100 per cent merino wool blankets sound like they’d be recommended as part of a healthy diet, and perhaps they should be. (After all, blankets = self-care.) Founder Georgie Brunmayr launched the brand in lockdown 1.0 and she sources her wool from Victoria, New South Wales and Western Australia. Each chequered blanket uses two kilograms of yarn, taking around two hours to knit by machine at a factory in Melbourne. Most blankets are knitted to order, and can be made in baby, queen or king size ($240–$650). “We use fine merino wool not only for its sumptuous warmth and comfort but also its material integrity,” says Brunmayr. “Wool by nature is stain-, odour- and wrinkle-resistant, requiring little maintenance and infrequent washing.” Curio’s checked and chain-link patterned blankets come in striking contrasting colours such as lilac and grape or mushroom and light blue. Shipping is free within Australia.
One of Australia’s oldest weaving mills spins dead-stock wool (otherwise destined for landfill) into hard-wearing, camping-style blankets for Brisbane-based Seljak Brand. Sisters Karina and Samantha Seljak set up the closed-loop company in 2016, offering a service where the recycled blankets could be collected at the end of their life – free of charge – to be remade into blankets once again. Seljak now uses three mills – in Australia, Lithuania and Italy. The lightweight but tough Swell blanket ($329) is made in Geelong, whereas the softer Lune blanket ($329) is made in Lithuania with yarn spun in Italy from old woollen jumpers. For every blanket sold, Seljak donates $5 to the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre. You can find stockists nationwide. Seljak offers free shipping too.
LA-based Australian designer Marc Hendrick launched Slowdown Studio in 2015, starting with tapestry-style woven cotton blankets. Each one is created in collaboration with artists, including illustrators Eija Vehviläinen from Finland and London-based Marnie Cox. The blankets are spun and woven in North Carolina with locally grown cotton. You can order directly or via Australian stockists such as Koskela in Sydney, Jardan in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, and Pinky’s in Melbourne. Each $360 blanket comes with a postcard of the artwork you’ve selected, such as these abstract nudes in the jungle by Uruguayan artist Maite Garcia. The throws are large enough to toss over your sofa, bed or backyard chair. Some customers hang them as wall art. Each piece is fringed and usually has a contrasting underside pattern. Koskela offers free shipping on homewares Australia-wide. Jardin’s shipping starts at $15, while Pinky’s has a flat-rate delivery fee of $6.95.
The Tartan Blanket Co
“Like a hug made of wool,” Edinburgh’s Tartan Blanket Co says of its super-soft lamb’s wool and cashmere blankets, designed in Scotland and woven in Mongolia. The tartan blankets ($125–$300) are naturally insulating, breathable and hypoallergenic. They come in pink check, lilac gingham, cinnamon tartan, and other striped and block styles, including berry, olive, slate and denim. The company also sells recycled wool blankets with a more durable feel, sourced from preloved wool woven in India. The mustard herringbone blanket ($150), for example, is 70 per cent recycled wool and 30 per cent mixed recycled fibres. They’re hardy enough to withstand a machine wash and have a soft, brushed texture with decorative fringing on opposite sides. Get free shipping to Australia when you spend over $150, or find the blankets at Koskela and Merino & Me.
Launceston is home to Australia’s only mill capable of both processing and weaving wool. Also the country’s oldest working textile mill, Waverley Mills has been producing yarn since 1874. Blankets take four to five weeks to make, using bales of wool transported from New South Wales and around Tasmania. There are luxury merino and alpaca blankets, plus an upcycled range – the mill has salvaged some 60 tonnes of discarded yarn, from which it makes blankets finished with whipstitch edges. Its charcoal knee rug ($199) is what you’d take camping or on a picnic, whereas this mint merino wool throw ($299) is what you’d want to snuggle up with when diving into full hibernation mode. Shipping is free when you spend over $150.
Victorian textiles company St Albans has been manufacturing fine throws, blankets and apparel since 1951. Owners the Gough family count three generations of knitting and weaving mohair, alpaca, merino, cotton, linen and cashmere, drawing inspiration from textile designs found all over the world. Its soft and luxurious alpaca Sassy throw ($350), made using Peruvian alpaca wool, has vibrant rainbow-coloured checks. St Albans says its structural designs create highly durable products, and it works with its supply chain to ensure animals and workers are treated fairly. Its mohair throws, which come in bright green, marigold yellow and vibrant pomegranate, are the most resilient – made with yarn from Angora goats farmed in Australia and South Africa. Its knee-rug collection has mohair and alpaca wool styles starting from $150. Shipping is free within Australia.
Geelong Weaving Mill
Based in one of the historic textile regions of Victoria, Geelong Weaving Mill is one of those long-established mills employing skilled weavers and workers in a trade that’s dwindling but not yet lost. In fact, it’s the Australian mill Seljak Brand uses for its recycled wool blankets, and a resurgence of demand for locally made goods has sustained the fabric craft in the area. Geelong Weaving Mill works with its suppliers to use local, robust and long-lasting wool that’s not super fine but can be reused or remade into coats and other products, such as dog beds. Its generously sized, lightweight blankets are made from 100 per cent Australian wool. They’re colourful too. The Jellybean ($200) has a bold tartan effect finished with a mint blanket stitch; the Drifter ($145) has pastel stripes with complementary stitching; and the Happy Camper ($125) is a vivid green with a fringe in the same colour. Each one will soften with use. Standard shipping is $10 for the weight of two blankets.
In the early days of the pandemic, a New Zealand wool farm and mill and an Australian small brand-management studio decided to pool their resources to give something back to the community. They designed limited-run luxury blankets – each individually numbered, featuring a light grey base with gold and ecru shades weaved through. For each blanket sold, $50 would be donated to the NZ Women’s Refuge, paying for two nights in crisis accommodation for women and children affected by domestic violence. A year on, we’re still impacted by the pandemic and blankets are still available to purchase (all made to order). Each throw (NZ $360) or blanket (NZ $525) is hand-finished and comes with an embroidered label and certificate, packaged in tissue and a black giftbox – inspired in part by a historic mill in Wellington that created woollen blankets for sick families during the 1918 flu epidemic.
Partners Phoebe Sung and Peter Buer design blankets, bath mats, rugs and other homewares from a studio in Brooklyn, New York. The couple works with a family-owned company in New Jersey to knit all its animal-printed blankets, which feature long, outstretched and abstract “skins” in zebra, cow, crocodile and leopard patterns. (It’s not as gruesome as it sounds.) Each colourful, cartoon-style blanket is woven with 80 per cent recycled cotton and 20 per cent polyester, and is available in two sizes (US $130–$210). They’re made in small-batch production, and the limited range includes a baby-sized koala blanket (US $130), which kinda looks like it’s posing for a school photo. Shipping starts from US $40. Sydney’s Koskela is also a stockist.
Fitzroy interiors company L&M (formerly Linen & Moore) sells a range of cashmere mix throws in rich, warm colour combinations like eucalyptus and gum, earth and bone, and oatmeal and chalk ($211). Each one is 90 per cent Australian wool, 10 per cent cashmere, which gives it a silky-soft texture. Shipping is free on orders over $150 Australia-wide.
Additional reporting by Julia Baker, Emma Do and Miriam Kauppi.