Sunday, 1 January 2012

About Period Blankets. Part 3.


Factory made dyes were unknown by the early settlers. They made their own dyes. White walnut bark was used to produce a light brown colour called butternut, the hulls of the black walnuts produced a dark brown, sumac bark produced a dark blue colour while black sumac produced purple and Indian paint root and black oak balls produced red. There was also an insect, the cochineal, which produced red dye when boiled. http://www.watersheds.org/history/furnishings.htm

Red- and blue-dyed blankets and duffields were traded for beaver-skins with the native Americans of Virginia and New England,
From: 'Witney borough: Economic history: economic life 1500 to 1800', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 14: Bampton Hundred (Part Two (2004), pp. 77-88. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=116956  Date accessed: 30 December 2011.

Not only 'famously white' blankets, but also other specialized heavy broadcloths including dyed duffields, cuts for hammocks, wednel for horse-collars, and tilt-cloths for barges. (fn. 37)  Rugs were also mentioned, (fn. 38) and in 1716 unscoured Witney cloths used for waterproof coverings or clothing were mentioned in a poem by John Gay, implying that they were widely known. (fn. 39)
From: 'Witney borough: Economic history: economic life 1500 to 1800', A History of the County of Oxford: Volume 14: Bampton Hundred (Part Two) (2004), pp. 77-88. URL: http://www.british-history.ac.uk/report.aspx?compid=116956  Date accessed: 30 December 2011.

Coverlets of 18th century America were twill-woven with a linen warp and woolen weft. The wool was most often dyed a dark blue from indigo, but madder red, walnut brown, and a lighter "Williamsburg blue" were also used.  Weissman, Judith Reiter and Wendy Lavitt: Labors of Love: America's Textiles and Needlwork, 1650-1930, New York, Wings Books, 1987, ISBN 0-517-10136-X, p. 80-97
American Woven “Coverlids”

“Others, like the blue, orange, and black bed rug…..” http://www.history.org/foundation/journal/winter07/weaving.cfm

1688 James II, of England, prohibited exportation of un-dyed cloth from England to help bolster the home industry for English dyers over that of the Scottish dyers. http://www.straw.com/sig/dyehist.html

 This is evidenced by writings such as Gervase Markham's The English Housewife, in which he suggests that a woman take her wool to the dyer, but also gives her some recipes should she wish to dye it herself.

Wool - naturally white sheep wool takes dyes extremely well and was the staple fabric for hundreds of years in Europe. Naturally coloured sheep were also common, and coloured fleece could be used both for its original colour and overdyed to make darker colours. http://fibers.destinyslobster.com/Dyeing/dyehistory.htm

Blankets were made of wool, linen, or the mixed cloth linsey-woolsey, and came in a variety of colours and patterns. Most were white or off-white; other colours were black, yellow, blue, red, brown, orange and green. Striped and checked blankets were also common. Locally manufactured blankets were issued to the troops at various times during the war, usually as a result of the donation by, or confiscation from, local civilians. (Originally published in The Brigade Dispatch, vol. 30, no. 2 (Summer 2000), 11-14) John U. Rees, © 2000, 2003. http://www.revwar75.com/library/rees/variety.htm

A full point measured 4 - 5.5 in.; a half point measured half that length. The standard measurements for a pair of 1 point blankets was: 2 ft. 8 in. wide by 8 ft. in length; with a weight of 3 lb. 1 oz. each. Points ranged from 1 to 6, increasing by halves depending upon the size and weight of the blanket.

A 1725 invoice listing merchandise for a trade company in Green Bay listed 2-point blankets, and a 1766 invoice from a Philadelphia company listed 4-point, 3-point and 2 1/2-point watch coats. http://hrd7.tripod.com/hbc/hbc.html
The points are the short black lines woven into the blanket just above the bottom bar or set of stripes. They are about 4 inches in length, unless they are half points, in which case they are 2 inches in length. The "point" system was invented by French weavers in the mid 18th c. as a means of indicating the finished overall size (area) of a blanket, since then, as now, blankets were shrunk or felted as part of the manufacturing process. The word point derives from the French empointer  meaning "to make threaded stitches on cloth". Our first pointed blankets were made in 1780, although we had been selling unpointed blankets since our founding in 1670. http://www2.hbc.com/hbcheritage/faq/pointblanketfaq/

Editor’s Notes:
From all accounts so far no particular weight/points of Hudson Bay blanket was sold in any particular area, all sizes were available from 1 point to 6 point blankets in increases of half

Hudson Bay Blankets.
PLEASE NOTE: It appears that the point system on blankets was not introduced until 1780ad, although Whitney were supplying blankets to the Hudson Bay as early as the 17th century.
17th century plaid or "Plaide"

"Bed Cover" 1740-1760.

Obviously there were blankets being made in the homes. There were “spinsters”/spinners who spun other people’s wool fleece for them if required, just as there were weavers who would weave other people’s spun yarn. Daniel Boone’s Grandfather was a weaver in England.
Found in 1812.

Plant dyes were used to dye cloth, and the colours chosen were personal choice.  The bottom line is that you can use whatever colour you want within those available from local plants.




Made in England, my blanket dyed brown. It was pink!!!

By Griffing.


 Le Nain 17th century.

 Le Nain 17th century.

No comments: