To keep yourself warm this winter, curl up with a cosy blanket just like the one your grandma used to have.

Geelong Textiles Australia, who have been weaving Australian wool and wool blend upholstery fabrics for over 40 years, set out to repurpose their leftover upholstery yarns to save them from going to landfill.

The team decided to use them for blankets, and Geelong Weaving Mill was born. 

Textile designers Ana Petidis and Gemma Glazik got to work to develop weave designs and colourways using the available yarns. The result? One-of-a-kind releases of retro-inspired blankets in robust woollen yarns.

“The philosophy behind Geelong Weaving Mill is to repurpose surplus woolen yarns leftover from our commercial weaving operations,” marketing and account manager Claire Roussac says. “We want to reuse these valuable resources of Australian grown wool in a functional way, rather than contributing to landfill.

“Taking inspiration from vintage ‘70s checks and traditional woolen styles, each new blanket release is unique and will not be made again.

Various Geelong Weaving Mill blankets hanging on a railing

“This allows us to make unique colour combinations in limited runs, celebrating Australian wool that is not superfine in softness but is super durable and long-lasting.”

The mill is situated in the heart of one of Australia’s historic wool and textile regions, housed at the original site of the Geelong Returned Sailors and Soldiers Woolen and Worsted Co-operative Manufacturing Company, established in 1920. 

“Our blankets and fabrics are woven on site in Geelong,” Claire says. “The blankets are then milled and washed in Melbourne before they return to us to be cut and stitched by our production assistants.

“Our people are dedicated to their craft and are professional and passionate about offering quality Australian-made products.

“It was important to us to use commercial grade Australian woollen yarns that are both warm and sturdy, making them built to last. You don’t need to be precious with these blankets, unlike other fine grade yarns.” 

Claire says Geelong Weaving Mill weaves reducing waste production into many of its business practices. 

“We work closely with our yarn suppliers, dye house and finishers to ensure best sustainability practices and traceability in our supply and production chain,” she says.

“Repurposing our yarn to create products in this way refrains from using additional resources like electricity, water and oil, and our yarn’s robust nature means the blankets can be repurposed again and again into coats, dog beds, accessories and more.

“We reuse as much packaging as possible to minimise the need for new materials. This includes cardboard fabric rolls, plastic bags for roll coverings and cardboard boxes. Where that’s not possible, we choose Better Packaging Co. compostable bags for our online orders. And we use recycled and Forestry Stewardship Council certified paper products and environmentally friendly inks where we can.

“Being Australian-made is a core value to us. We’re passionate about supporting our local textiles and related manufacturing industries, product developers and makers.”

Woman facing away from the camera holding a blanket

As a result, their blankets are stocked and bought by retailers and consumers who are equally passionate about supporting local makers and products.

“Our blankets are stocked by online and retail stores whose customers want Australian-made blankets that are designed for adventure,” Claire says. “Whether you want to take them out and about, to the beach, the bush and beyond, or you want to come home and snuggle up on the couch, they’re meant to complement your lifestyle.”

As well as blankets, Geelong Weaving Mill also offers designers and makers the opportunity to purchase quality Australian-made fabrics by the meter. 

“Our range is offered in white and natural as preferred for print, making it suitable for screen and digital printing,” Claire says. “There are a number of printers prioritising their fabric supply to ensure it is Australian-made, so the market for this product is growing. 

“We use cotton that is accredited Oeko-Tex 100, linen that is certified European Flax and wool that is certified Australian eco-wool.

“Our upholstery range is of commercial quality and offered in numerous colour options. Our fabrics are versatile and can be used for many applications.”