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The Throw Blanket Explained

01 Sep, 2023

If there’s one piece of home furnishing which brings utmost warmth and comfort, it is the blanket! But over the years, this bedding essential has evolved and given way to its counterpart, the throw blanket which seems to have become a placeholder in most modern homes today. From its functional advantages to composition, there is much to understand about what makes the perfect throw blanket worthy of a place in one’s domestic arsenal.

Images Via Pinterest, Above ( Images Via Pinterest ): A Traditional Full Sized Blanket (L), A Throw Blanket (R)

Telling Apart A Throw From A Blanket

It may be noted that while all throws are blankets, not all blankets are throws! For the majority, distinguishing between a throw and blanket comes down to their respective sizes and places inside the home. A blanket belongs on a bed and is usually the size of a bedspread, whereas a throw is often half the size of a blanket and is more suitable for sofas or loveseats and recliners.

Material and Composition Differences

A throw is often referred to as a lap shawl, indicating its light weight and versatile composition.They can also be more decorative than a traditional blanket since they are used more often in common living spaces. They are usually made of microfibres, linen, woven fabric, fleece and velvet. This allows a throw to be easily carried around the house or even be completely draped around the body.

Images Via Pinterest, Above (Clockwise) Wool is used to make blankets while Fleece, Velvet and Microfibre are some of the most common materials used to make throw blankets

On the contrary, traditional blankets are made of wool, woven acrylic, vellux and other synthetic materials which can effectively regulate body temperature which can drop naturally when one sleeps. Since throw blankets are typically not used for sleep purposes, they can be made using fabrics which do not possess the same quality to regulate body temperature as a traditional blanket.

Weaving and Finishes

Ideal for cotton based throw blankets, thermal weaves are rather loose and great for air circulation. On the other hand, knit weaves are more rare to come by in throw blankets as they can weigh down the material. However, quilting seems to be a common finishing preference for both traditional and throw blankets since it allows for layering of several fabrics while still resulting in a lightweight product.

Images Via Pinterest, Above Left: A Throw Blanket Featuring Quilting, Above Right: Throw Blankets featuring Waffle Weave


Cultural Variations Of Throw Blanket

The name ‘Afghan’ is a nod to the shawls worn by Afghanistan natives to shield themselves from the harsh desert weather. First mentioned by Thomas Carlyle in his book Sartor Resartus, this term  has come to be used synonymously with a throw blanket, especially the decorative variety which is knitted or crocheted putting together granny squares.

Above Left: An Afghan Throw Blanket Featuring Granny Squares, Above Right: A Dohar made with layers of cotton and fabric sheets.

Having its roots in India, a Dohar is made by layering cotton or flannel between 2 sheets and sewing them together. Not only can it serve as a throw blanket, it is also useful for summer nights when a simple sheet may not be enough to stay warm against air conditioning.

A Dohar is often just as warm as a throw blanket depending on the quality and density of cotton stuffing.

Originating in the Himanschal state of India, A Loi or Lohi Shawl is typically worn by men or farmers who work the hilly slopes where temperatures are bound to be low. This shawl is often the same size as a throw blanket and is woven using light angora wool, making them warmer than an average throw blanket.

Images Via Pinterest, Above Left: A Himachal Loi Shawl, Right: A Dhabla Blanket from the Kutch Region

Similarly, a Dhabla blanket has its roots in the kutch, a region known for its expanse of salt lakes and desert. The Dhabla is commonplace amongst the Rabari and Bharwad communities of Gujrat and is made using sheep wool. It often features an offwhite base with a colorful border decorated with regional motifs and patterns. Just like the Loyi and Afghan, a Dhable is also half the size of a blanket and bears all the characteristics of a throw blanket.

Images Via Pinterest, Above: A Handira Inspired Throw Blanket

A Handira is a traditional Moroccan wedding blanket, woven by local tribal women for the bride and while embellishments and patterns can vary from one community to another, the blanket is often made in neutral colors such as cream or ivory white. Its recent popularity has seen the style being adapted into throw blankets, indicating that a throw is culturally adaptable and a universal part of global homes.

The point of a throw blanket is not only to add style to the home, but also to serve as a home furnishing asset which can multitask. The more our living spaces evolve to accommodate other functions besides just the primary, the more likely we are to turn to home essentials like the throw blanket, which are meaningful and practical.