A blanket is a piece of soft cloth large enough either to cover or to enfold a great portion of the user’s body.
It is usually used when a person goes to sleep or is otherwise at rest. It traps radiant bodily heat that otherwise would be lost through convection, helping to keep the user warm. Many children and adults use a blanket as a comfort object.
The term arose from the generalization of a specific fabric called Blanket fabric, a heavily napped woolen weave pioneered by Thomas Blanket (Blanquette), a Flemish weaver who lived in Bristol, England, in the 14th century. Earlier usage of the term is possible through its derivation from the French word for white: blanc. According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the word was used a noun as long ago as the 14th entury.
William Shakespeare is recognised as the first person to use the verb blanket, meaning to ‘cover with or as with a blanket’. In the play King Lear, published in 1608, the character Edgar says: “My face ile grime with filth, Blanket my loynes, else all my haire with knots.”
By the end of Queen Elizabeth’s reign, blanket making had become an industry, and Yorkshire became the key industry location. The wool industry played a huge part in the history of British export, and contributed
to building the strength of the British Empire.
A Hudson’s Bay point blanket is a type of wool blanket traded by the Hudson’s Bay Company in British North America, now Canada and the United States from 1779 to present. The blankets were typically traded to First Nations in exchange for beaver pelts. The blankets continue to be sold by Canada’s Hudson’s Bay department stores and have come to hold iconic status in the country.
A sleeved blanket is a body-length blanket with sleeves usually made of fleece or nylon material. The product has been marketed by various brands as the Snuggie, Snuggler, Doojo, Toasty Wrap, and Slanket, with varying sizes, colors and qualities of materials but similar basic design.
An electric blanket is a blanket that contains integrated electrical heating wires. Types include underblankets, overblankets, throws, and duvets.
Although the thick and cozy fabric is associated with warmth, it can be used in other ways. Home Security Guru, an online platform that provides tips on home safety, says that one can extinguish small fires by covering them with a wool blanket. This is because wool blankets cut off the oxygen that the fire would need to keep burning.
Because of its eminent use, the word blanket has been associated with many expressions. For instance, the common idiom “blanket term” is used when describing wide range of similar things. “Blanket drill” means sleep. A child who was born out of wedlock is said to have been born on the wrong side of the blanket.
Another common idiom is “wet blanket”. It is used to describe someone who ruins fun. For instance, if a teacher is always serious and does not allow laughter and jokes in the classroom, that teacher can be defined as a wet blanket.
The largest picnic blanket measured 1,760 m² (18,944.41 ft²) – it was woven at the Melin Tregwynt Mill in Wales, UK, for Waitrose Ltd and was laid out for the first time in Durban, South Africa, in April 2008.
The largest hand-knitted blanket (non-crochet) is 3,952.21 m² (42,541 ft²) and was achieved by Kanika Kapur (India) in Dubai, UAE, on 13 September 2019. This giant blanket was made by Kanica Kapur and her team and is then going to be be cut into several parts and sent to orphanages around the world.
The largest crochet blanket is 17,188.57 m² (185,016 ft²) and was made by 67 Blankets for Nelson Mandela Day, the Department of Correctional Services and the Nelson Mandela Foundation (all South Africa), as measured in Western Cape, South Africa, on 22 April 2016.
The largest polar fleece blanket is 98.80 m2 (1063.474 ft2) and was achieved by Dreamtex Ltd (UK) on behalf of In the Night Garden, at Alton Towers Resort, Staffordshire, UK, on 24 May 2015.
The largest blanket fort is 625.79 m² (6736 ft² 136 in²), and was achieved by Murderboat Productions & Rumpl (both USA) in Portland, Oregon, USA, on 9 Dec 2018.