The Pure Wool Blanket. Pantries and Preparedness.

 It is winter in Australia and a wake up call.  As a cold front came in the majority of the population was told to brace for rolling blackouts or power outages.  I heard so many people say they were worried and how would they stay warm?    Along with this the cost of electricity has gone up and up.  There are a lot of people who are afraid to use the heating because they are worried how much the bill will be.    The days of not having to think about staying warm are over.  

We grew up in a comfortable home with a wood fire.  As kids were wore dressing gowns and slippers, had hot water bottles and warm drinks.  Outside we wore hats, coats and scarves.  Bed was warm and snuggly! 

In later years  I noticed on TV shows and commercials people walked around their houses in boxer shorts and a t shirt in the middle of winter.   Homes were obviously kept so warm that it was like summer all year long.  I think we can safely say those days are over.   

Where we live it is not dangerously cold.  We will get frosts and freezing nights but not extreme sub zero temperatures... I have never experienced those!   A really cold day here is 8C or about 46F.   A cold night  is 0C or 32F.... or a few degrees lower.   (It is a confusing system!)

I had a wood fire in the house when the girls were little.   Like I had they wore dressing gowns, slippers, warm pjs and had warm bedding.  By now we had heat packs instead of hot water bottles.   But hot water bottles still as a back up.   Also extra bedding for guests.

In recent years there has been the trend to declutter and toss out anything that doesn't "spark joy" and so the thrift stores have been filled with pure wool blankets.  And I have been buying them.  

A brand new,  pure wool,  blanket can easily be $400 and well beyond.  I have seen some for twice that.    But in a thrift store I mainly get them for $5 or so.  The most I have paid is $20 which were for King size ones.   I bring them home and wash them up in my homemade wool wash which makes them so soft and smell beautiful.  They come up so well.   You can find the recipe here... Wool Wash.

Rachel has a very lovely general washing liquid recipe which you can find here.  Soap Making Part 1.  This is Rachel's beautiful photo of her Laundry Liquid and her woollens. 

If you have ever wanted to make soap these recipes are a great super easy way to start.  

Do you remember when Texas had the big freeze and as their climate is normally not anywhere near this cold people experienced terrible hardship and some died.   The power went out.  Water pipes burst.   It was dreadful.   In part people were not prepared as it was just so unusual.  But I also wondered how many people didn't have enough warm bedding, clothes etc because they had ditched sleeping bags, blankets, spare quilts etc.  because they didn't spark joy?  This is in no way a criticism of the people of Texas.  It is a criticism of this trend to make yourself less prepared in the name of Instagram worthy spaces. 

Things that spark joy are relative.  I have explained it before this way.  On an ordinary day my wool coat does not spark joy.  Nope,  I don't like thick coats.   But this is not the reason to toss my warmest coat.  If the power is out, if I'm stuck on the side of the road because my car broke down in a storm..... yes NOW my coat would spark joy.    When the heating is out then is the time your extra bedding will spark joy!  When you know someone is cold and you have a blanket to give them... that is joy.  This kind of minimalism/decluttering assumes you can run out and re buy necessary goods in a crisis.   But it just doesn't work that way.  In a crisis is too late. 

I only recently discovered many people rely on gas for heating.  This seems to be the norm in Europe.  And now there are gas issues.  Also it is summer in Europe so there is time to prepare.  If there is no gas, or  rationing,  and if power was out,  how do you keep warm?  Now is the time to be prepared for that.  

Even though it is mid winter here last week I was still able to get another pure wool blanket at my local thrift store.   I got it for $4 because it was in the pet bedding section.   This amazes me but that is how it is.   I examine and look for the pure wool label.  I have bought damaged blankets and used those to fill pot holders as wool is the best for those too.   But mostly they are perfect.  Some even have beautiful satin binding.  

I keep one of these blankets in my car.   They can save a life in a fire or an accident.  If I was stuck on the side of the road in the cold I can keep warm.  I have a couple of blankets stored for each person in my family...  and I mean my grown kids, husbands and their kids.  I have more still incase we know someone who needs one.

I made pure wool rugs as well.  Nice and thick and warm.  Each Grandkid gets one.  A crochet blanket is always on the lounge for extra warmth. 

All these blankets don't take up much room in the house because most of them are stored between the various mattresses on beds.  Because wool is natural and breathes you can lay (or fold) them between a mattress and bed base or between two mattresses.  You can also use them as a woollen underlay, over the mattress protector and under your sheet.   This provides a lot of extra warmth.     I have six or seven blankets stored this way. 

What would you do if the electricity and gas were out in winter?  Are you prepared for that possibility?  How would you cook?  Now is the time to work on it.  

There are alternatives... if you would really be in trouble without gas or electricity there are highly rated sleeping bags for very cold conditions.  They might be a good investment.  I like things with natural fibres.  I have found blankets that are wool and mohair... wool blend even.  Do the best you can and think about it.

The wise woman is not afraid of the winter as she prepared and did stuff in advance! xxx 


  1. This is a great post Annabel. We live in the sub tropics, where it doesn't get that cold, but we have had an unusual cold and wet period this past week. It has been cold for us. We have plenty of woolen crochet blankets to add to beds. The Grandies are currently with us. They have a Granny made crochet blanket and Granny made quilt on their beds. I have several old chests around the house. In each of these are blankets and quilts that I have made. These get pulled out to make blanket forts or to snuggle up with on the couch. I bought a pure wool blanket, from the op shop, in not so great condition. I made this up into a coat for Freddie dog. The leftover blanket has gone into the sewing cupboard to be used for other projects.
    We keep two sleeping bags and two picnic blankets in our car. We have been caught before by flooded roads keeping us from getting home. Having the sleeping bags made such a difference to our comfort. We also keep snack bars and extra water in the car. We were able to help out others that were caught out.
    It is so important to keep extras to keep us and our families safe.

  2. Right on! This notion of purging everything that you don't need in the moment is rubbish and will only lead to more shopping at some point. I have an attic and articles get stored or brought down depending on the season and my needs. I have no need to shop for clothing, bedding or canning jars. They just move up and down as the season requires. I too love woolens; wear them all year.

  3. God bless you, Annabel. All these might be life saver for someone. I know I take notes from all 30 days of preparedness you have posted, think of them all and take actions. We say make your sledge in the summer and your carriage in the winter. There are hard times ahead of us and we must be prepared. We have no excuses in front of our children and family. And above all, women are very strong and creative - they could fight with the devil, if necessary. Thank you for everything, my friend. With love for you and all the bluebirds, Laura_s_world from Romania

  4. I agree with you. More realistic is the old William Morris adage “Have nothing in your homes which you do not know to useful or believe to be beautiful “

    1. I like this saying!! Thanks

  5. Such a wonderful message! Being prepared is not something that this generation has been taught. I see it in my own children. Life is a great teacher, however, and things are changing rapidly. Thanks for the reminder!

  6. Back when one of our daughter's had two in diapers she decided that plastic grocery bags did not bring her joy and threw all of them out. It wasn't too long before she remembered why she needed them for yucky diapers. So she came over to our house and took all we had. Snicker.

    I do have one pure wool blanket that I bought at a thrift store for $5 years ago but they are not really common in the USA in the South. Our weather is very much like yours but when it is both cold and dam it is miserable. I do keep piles of blankets here that are other fibers and when they are needed they will be here even though the kids keep telling me to clean out the linen closet and get rid of them.

  7. Living in Europe I cook on gas, the house is central heated with gas (and electric). The system also heats our water. The house does not have a chimney or other way to be heated. So yes, it has been a concern of mine. We have plenty of warm clothes and bedding. I have a small electric (ceramic) heater. That's it. I have dropped a hint with HB that we need to think about a way of cooking and heating if things really go wrong but he is not yet on board. I'll keep working on it.

  8. Knit hats, gloves, and scarves are small and easy to store but hats in particular hold in your body heat in cold conditions. It would be helpful to have a set for each person even in moderate climates.-Kathryn Washington State USA

  9. I live in a southern state in the US and I have the opposite problem--how to stay cool if the the electric goes out--I have a couple fans that are rechargeable and I have a couple small back up solar bars to recharge the cell phone, my fans and I often have to use a personnel air purifying machine--and my newest one is rechargeable and I still have my older one that runs on batteries--I also have to water and food as back ups in case of a power outage during a hurricane --and now there is the 'food' storage to worry about--so am working on stocking up in case that gets really bad!!
    enjoy all your ideas and you give me courage to keep working at the issues--I am a senior living in senior housing-so no chickens or gardens--!!!!
    hugs, di

  10. Your blankets are beautiful. It is very rare to find anything wool where I live. I agree with you about dressing appropriately for the season. I have noticed that some "fashions" make no sense. For example, at the moment our temps are in the upper 90's and often over 100, but it is the current style to wear a leather or denim jacket during the day ( mostly young folks) and then complain about the heat. But get to winter and shorts are the item to wear. This makes absolutely no sense. I'm not heating my home for winter shorts wearing, nor am I cooling my home for stylish people wearing jackets in the summer. Our electric bill has been going up and we have also been told that rolling blackouts are unavoidable.

  11. Dear Annabel,

    another great post. You described the trend in Europe very well - in recent years, many people have changed their stoves to gas stoves. Luckily I didn't. Winters are quite cold in my area, -10 celsius is not unusual. Occasionally, temperatures drop to -20. I really like to be warm in winter, so I prepare wood every spring and then I don't have to worry. This year, my husband and I prepared firewood for two winters.
    I like the minimalist style, but hey - it's just hard to be prepper and minimalist at the same time :). So I have a lot of blankets and comforters, just not the wool one. We don't have that kind of thrift stores in my country so it's hard to get such bargain. I really love fleece blankets and dressing gowns and keep extra sleeping bags. Sadly, people around me just talk - o, I hope it will be gas in winter and do nothing.
    Keep your love ones warm and safe.
    with love, Alenka from Slovenia

  12. Annabelle I love this post!
    We live in California as I am still working. I can also find pure wool blankets and homemade quilts for very little money on occasion.
    We have our retirement home in Texas and my mom spends most of her time there. Every time the car has gone from Cali to Tx, blankets, quilts and food hitch a ride. Water containers and filters have been shipped directly there. She would always say I don’t need any more blankets, food, etc.
    She was alone there during the Texas freeze and I was concerned, but I knew she had blankets, water and food. I was so grateful that I had followed God’s directions and she was prepared.
    You are so wise to encourage we readers this way.
    As always, thank you for your grace and your wisdom. It is a true blessing to us all.
    Much love, Patti in California

  13. Dear Annabel
    I SO agree ! Woollen blankets are a wonderful thing to have extras of. I love your idea of putting extra blankets as a woollen underlay on the bed. My son in law purges his jumpers every year- beautiful wool and cashmere ones! - I do very well out of this and this year have really appreciated the extra jumpers/sweaters to wear.
    Now off to put a blanket under the sheet on my bed!

  14. Here in the UK yes gas heating is very common, almost ubiquitous. But, a wood burner is no longer an option, due to particulates and the trend is very much pro electric. This worries me for two reasons, firstly the now exorbitant cost and secondly, what happens in a power cut? I still have a coal fire and will continue to do so until I am left with no option. On boxing day 2015, we had widespread floods, which took out all electricity, I was able to stay warm, cook something basic, make hot drinks and had a little light, but most importantly I had the comfort of the fire and that in my mind can't be overlooked. We are wandering blindfolded down a dark alley in my opinion, people need to wake up and see the trap.

    I don't have any wool blankets, but I do have plenty of other blankets, patchwork quilts, big bedspreads etc and I will not be getting rid of them! One patchwork quilt in particular is beyond repair, but it's still an extra layer of warmth, so it stays.

  15. A great post Annabel, and you are so right, even my own children reach for the air conditioner remote when they are cold instead of reaching for a jumper. I pull them up on it every time, I don’t know why they aren’t trained better!

    I thought of you this week when I heard about the looming egg shortage in Australia. I was scratching my head wondering why this was happening, when I stumbled upon a YouTube channel called her homestead skills, and the lady was reading out comments from her subscribers about all the shortages they were noticing, an Australian egg producers comment was read out and they got out of egg farming just a few years ago because of the rising cost of feed and farming supplies, it just wasn’t viable for them anymore, and this is what is happening and going to get even worse with all our farmers! It’s scary!

    I have been slowly building up my vegetable garden and making growing, cooking and preserving my priority every day.

  16. You are so lucky to have access to reasonably priced, pure wool blankets. I a cold climate in Australia and blankets at our charity shops are priced at $40-$80 each.

    Luckily l still have the pure wool hand-me-down blankets I was given when I moved out of home over 20 years ago. At that point they were 20 years old. My stepfather always gets a kick out of seeing the blankets from his childhood on the beds of my children.

  17. Another excellent post, Annabel! I have had a "thing" for wool blankets for about 15 years and bought about half of them at thrift stores, where the most I paid was $7. The other half came to me from friends who inherited them from mothers and grandmothers and wanted someone to have them that would appreciate them. Most of these were from the 1930s and '40s and had been lovingly cared for. I trash-picked one genuine Hudson's Bay blanket from the top of someone's garbage can on garbage day!!

    When we owned a vacation home, every bed and sofa had two wool blankets. When we sold the place, I gave two of the blankets to my son and daughter-in-law, who had recently bought a home, as spare bedding. I sold several to a friend who had a stall in a vintage shop and resold them for a lot more than I paid for them. I kept the mom and grandma heirlooms for extra bedding.

    The satin binding on many of the blankets was very worn or non-existent. You can buy blanket binding in fabric stores and it is quite easy to replace. For blankets with all-around binding, I didn't go around corners--when I got to the edge, I stopped, flipped the blanket and started over. I found a 3-step zigzag was the best stitch for this. Also, some of the newer blankets had binding that needed resewing just in places. In those cases, I sewed the loose binding by hand and then went around all of the binding with the 3-step zigzag.

    My home is heated with natural gas. Most cities in the US have natural gas that can be piped to any home that has a gas line in front of the house. I believe that most European gas is liquid propane, which must be delivered. This is also true in our rural areas. We had LP at our vacation home. I like to think that in any emergency, the natural gas will just keep flowing! We never had problems getting propane deliveries at the other house, but those were different times. We only sold the house a little over a year ago, but VERY different times.

    Thank you, Annabel, for another excellent and thought-provoking post. I've so enjoyed this week's comments, too...but then, I always do!

    PS My neighbors, who are big into "retail therapy," just had another huge yard sale. Among the things I spotted from across the street were 7 gas cans and at least two propane camp lanterns with cases. I called my son to see if he needed either one, and he doesn't. Guess they just didn't "spark joy" in my neighbors anymore! I can't imagine getting rid of anything you'd wish you had in an emergency!

  18. I am incredibly envious about your wool blankets. If we have them here in the states I don't know where to find them. I find your blog to be such an encouragement during these uncertain times. I agree with so much that you have to say and suggest. Our garden has been the absolute worst in the history of our gardening. I got enough green beans to do 16 pints and that was it. Normally I put away a minimum of 48 quarts/year. The entire garden's growth was stunted and my usually 5-6 ft. sunflowers only grew 2-3 feet this year. I am tempted to plow it all under and start again. Typically cold weather doesn't begin here until mid November but nothing about this year has been typical. Thank you for all your posts. I love them all.

    1. Denise, wool blankets were common in the US through the 1960s. I took a new one to college in 1964. Wool blankets were high-end wedding presents. They were generally well cared for--washed in cold water and air-dried--and lasted forever. Mention to friends that you are looking--they may have inherited wool blankets when older relatives died and don't use them, but will be thrilled to know that a friend will honor and appreciate them. You will occasionally find them at thrift stores and yard and estate sales. Expect to pay around $20 for what would cost $400+ new. You will learn to recognize them by color--the wool colors are duller than the shades you see in synthetics. I loved Annabel's space-saving idea of storing them between mattresses--never thought of that one!

    2. I will be watching. I would love to have a couple in my linen closet.

    3. I have found wool blankets at the thrift store by running my hand down the row of hung up blankets until I felt wool. Once you have touched one you can feel more. A good wash in Woolite and hang dry and they are great. In the US you will probably find wool stadium blankets(for sporting events with a team logo) or car blankets(usually plaid with a fringe) the easiest.-Kathryn Washington State

  19. I love reading your posts Annabelle, they always prompt me to think about what we already have and what to think about for the future.
    At the end of last year we moved from coastal NSW to inland NSW. We purposefully bought a house with a wood fire and we have friends with farms who are very happy for us to visit and cut firewood. It has been such a blessing! Our nights go into negative figures and the fire keeps the chill down.
    I also found winter weight, Australian wool quilts on a large sale and purchased them for all our beds.
    Like you mentioned, our kids have warm pyjamas (they love polar fleece onesies) and we don’t overheat our house.
    We love that our kids are all enjoying sitting in the top lounge room where the fire is (they are all teenagers), it’s cosy and warm and we spend time together!
    Our gas isn’t directly plumbed to the house, we buy it in bottles and we always have a spare, full bottle. We only use this for cooking and so I guess we always have a few months backup.
    We are waiting on our solar quote and I’ve asked them to include a quote for a battery system. Does anyone have this? What are your thoughts?

  20. Thanks for a great post Annabel, we too have plenty of wool blankets sourced over the years, I mend them and keep them going if necessary. I agree there's a balance between keeping home uncluttered but keeping supplies that are useful/ necessary on hand.
    We have fireplaces in the sitting room and dining room and keep at least two years worth of dry logs in the log shed. We have an oil fired range in the kitchen, we have discussed converting it to electric as oil is so expensive but in a power cut the Rayburn is invaluable, we can cook, heat water and cuddle up to it for warmth and electricity is expensive now too.
    A former work colleague always used to complain that she was cold at work. I politely suggested she wear more layers and bought some wool clothing for warmth and told her about my great buys in charity shops. (Cashmere jumper anyone). She didn't change and continued to be cold.

  21. What a great post! I live in Florida so it rarely gets real cold, but it can at times. And thank you for the wool blanket storage tip! I would have never thought to put in between the mattresses! Genius! I just love that idea! My sisters live in NC and I will pass that a long to them. Thanks! xoxo Bobbi

  22. John and I were just discussing this very thing this past week. I never went along with all the "get rid of almost everything," fad. There are so many YouTubers that preach bare bones minimalism. I have often wondered how they will feel after the SHTF.

    We have a whole house generator backup, but they run on natural gas. I brought up the subject of no natural gas with John, so he could have time to think through the process of alternative backups. We have multiples, such as a woodburning cookstove, a camp stove with oven (propane), propane grill; propane is stored.

    He decided to set up a propane area behind our fence. This will work well for five gallon propane tanks. However, they will only last so long, also. Currently, his heavy duty rack will store twelve five gallon tanks. He calculated how long each tank would last at burning two hours a day.

    The wool blankets are a splendid idea! Both of us are allergic to wool, so I think I need to get more heavy quilts to have on hand. Thank you so much for this post and the reminder. You are such a blessing.
    With much love,

  23. Beautiful blankets! I don't own any wool blankets, as they itch me terribly, but I have plenty of others. I am in TX and they sure came in handy during the Big Freeze. I have gas stove, oven, heat and hot water, and luckily I was able to cook and shower when we lost power for 3 days. If we lost gas, I was prepared with a propane burner. We also had oil lamps and a very small generator which powered a small space heater and kept our phones charged. I'm trying to stay prepared for anything. I am worried about losing power in the summer though - I can't take the heat these days. But we'll do what we can and pray for the rest!

  24. Definitely yes to the woollen blankets, and also to woollen jerseys (sweaters) in winter! We have homespun, handknitted jerseys that we live in at home during our quite cold winters. My knitting is pretty average, but the warmth is the whole point. I have also knitted up several blankets using up odd bits of homespun wool, using the old idea of "peggy squares", which are lovely for snuggling (I'm showing my age here, as I remember peggy squares from my childhood a long time ago).
    Keep warm, Annabel!
    Linda in NZ

  25. As Lana said, wool blankets in the Southern part of the US are practically unknown critters. What I have found in flea markets and thrift stores is old cotton quilts. These were handmade and filled with real cotton and they are both incredibly warm in the winter and breathable so cool for summer bedding. I can pick one up for about $25 which is a really good price for a quilt. I don't mind those that need new binding or are faded or have some places that the fabric is worn thin.
    I also have kept quilts bought as bedding but that aren't wanted now because I wanted something fresh and new. However, I knew the value of those quilts I once wanted on my beds and have kept them all. A pile of them makes an excellent pallet type bed for guests (usually grandchildren) and if the power were out they would certainly help keep us warm.
    Our climates are apparently alike and as a child we had no heat in our bedrooms, or most of the house. A pile of quilts went on each bed and we'd be so weighed down by them we could barely roll over in the bed, but we stayed WARM! We dressed appropriately for the weather, too. I'd rather put on a pair of socks and a sweater than turn up the heat. I wish I could get that across to my husband who prefers to pretend it's summer and dresses as though it were, but complains of being cold most all winter long.

  26. I may have told you that I found two thick beautiful queen/king blankets on clearance at the store.last month. The day they put them out on clearance it was very hot so I figured they thought people would not be wanting to pay for blankets. They had marked them down very cheap so I bought one medium weight and one heavy weight. They are now washed and ready to go. I have also been purchasing throws when I find them on clearance at the end of winter. Now I know I need to order two water bottles. A good friend has been telling me that for years. We heat with natural gas where I live.

    1. If you can find the old stone 'pig' hot water bottles I find those superior, they retain the heat for at least 12 hours. Even if they crack they can be filled with salt and heated up in the oven, or on top of a wooden burner. They don't perish either.

    2. Thank you! I looked online at hot water bottles and was confused by all the options so I turned the computer off. I will see if I can locate these.

  27. Wonderful post! :-) I do declutter, but with a purpose. Over the years most of tend to collect things that really just take up space and serve no lasting purpose. When we bought our home in late 2018 the biggest issue we had was no storage space other than a small linen cupboard and the pantry. Over time I have been mindfully going through every item we own to assess it's worth and purpose for the days ahead. For example, just this year by doing the mindful decluttering, I have opened up space in our bedroom wardrobe for storing jars of dehydrated vegetables, and plenty more empty jars which over time will be filled as well. In the linen cupboard, 1/3 now stores our stockpile of soaps, toiletries, and many other essential items we will need in the years ahead.
    Hubby emptied a space in his study to install an extra fridge and more pantry shelving along one wall...and of course, that pantry shelving is full of long lasting stores. I could go on, but I know you understand. :-)
    It's like in the garden, I plant anything and everything where there's a space and pray it comes up. Make room inside or outside and plan to use it for life needs in the coming months and years. Don't hold on to things (like books, nick knacks, 50 coffee mugs, and 40 unused picture frames etc) that once gone can offer good space for provisions.

  28. I am late to this post, but the suggestions of wool blankets and slippers, dressing gown & hot water bottles are all things I remember having as a child. I have all of that, but one extra I have added is sleeping bags for every member of the household. Usually bought on sale as the camping season ends and most supermarkets sell them. They aren't the type to camp out in during European Winters, but they could be opened up to top a bed for example?
    Love the colours of the blankets you have pictured! :)
    Heidi xxx


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