About Blanket Fever
A collectors journey from Op-Shop to Museum
Why I have
They are part of our shared history
These common, everyday items - found in households from working class to upper class - were traditional wedding gifts, family heirlooms, dressers of beds, givers of protection, reliability, warmth, security.
The nostalgic comfort found in these handsome, practical objects resonates with most of us, we grew up with them, they were a staple in the boot of the car, they invoke fond memories at grandma & grandpa's house, they were just always around.
How it all started
An accidental collection
In 2010 I started buying one Onkaparinga travel rug each month from my favourite local vintage market, so that on movie nights there would be plenty to go around. Everyone had their favourite, even the cat had his own – a little red tartan one.
I stopped once I had half a dozen but soon after I came across my first 'panel' blanket and my eyes went gaga. That's when I started consciously always going to the linen section in an op shop or vintage store and to this to this day these remain my favourite style of blanket.
They were made from the 1930s onwards and have wonderful labels with old graphics and logos. Like the Physician blankets with their logo of a lady in bed, or the Laconia ‘Make Goodnight a Certainty’ slogan. I had many a blanket in poor condition just for its gorgeous label.
Blanket fever BEGINS
Setting a 12 month challenge
The original goal was to spend most of my spare time in one calendar year exploring the state of Victoria. And along the way to try and visit every single op shop (turns out there were more of them than I thought).
By then I was already a collector of many things, just one of those being vintage blankets. But soon enough this project took on a life of its own and within a couple of months it turned from 'road trips & op shops' into 'blanket fever'.
Fitting trips around flexible work all came down to what a friend called 'Dynamic Programming'. How do you get to a dozen op shops in one day when they are hundreds of kilometers away, only open on particular days of the week and with limited hours? The planning alone took hours and there were many pre-dawn starts.
I'll be forever grateful to the kind, generous women who opened up shops for me on their closed days or outside their open hours, so I could complete each section of Victoria.
Treats along the way
Seeing so much beautiful landscape at different times of day, finally appreciating those subtle Australian hues - all those lavenders and corns!
To get to hundreds of regional towns and visit their op shops that raise funds for vital community services.
To connect with fellow blanketeers online, then meet them in real life, form wonderful new friendships.
To get out of town, clear my head, do this project, build this Collection.
It was an incredible, unique year, that I'll never forget.
IT'S A WRAP
500 blankets later
Tasmania and a tiny bit of South Australia were added to the maps. I revisited my favourite op shops and after more than 1,000 visits and over 500 blankets passing through my hands, the journey ended.
Since then it's been a different kind of trip and my life has changed completely. Both the Collection and I have each moved on to new homes.
I was delighted that the National Wool Museum decided to acquire most of the Collection: we settled on the 50 best blankets representing as many woollen mills as possible and all the ephemera which included dozens of advertisements, signage and other blankety paraphernalia.
The approximately 100 blankets I still had left (and that I was ready to let go of) I sold individually on Instagram over six months, along with almost every other possession and collection I had. It was a mammoth task but incredibly rewarding - no regrets!
A massive thanks to the National Wool Museum for giving this lovingly gathered Collection a wonderful new home.