The Rebirth of the Traditional Mexican Blanket

A colorful mexican blanket with a cutting board of fruit on it
Elizabeth Magalski

In this spotlight, we go behind the process and discover how artisans in Central Mexico transform upcycled clothing remnants into Nipomo's vibrant blankets. This post breaks down step-by-step of how discarded fibers get made into upcycled yarn and how that yarn gets woven into traditional Mexican blankets. Plus, learn about the seemingly endless uses for these sustainably-crafted blankets.

Right now in Central Mexico the fragile artform of traditional Mexican blanket weaving is being revived. Once at risk of being lost to mass-produced machine-made blankets, the handwoven blanket is making a resurgence in a big way. Also right now someone is sitting in a park or curled up on their couch wrapped in this comeback kid that’s the catalyst for all this change — one of Nipomo’s brightly colored, heavyweight, but still so snuggly soft, handwoven blankets.

Nipomo was founded by the mother-daughter team of Elizabeth and Liz Clark. Elizabeth, the mom, grew up in Baja, Mexico and would take her daughter Liz on trips to Mexico to experience her cultural heritage. In Mexico, it’s very common for family members to work together and Elizabeth and Liz’s partnership running Nipomo is no exception. Now living in California Liz and Elizabeth travel to Mexico to work with artisans in the weaving community of Tlaxcala where Nipomo’s blankets are made. 

Nipomo’s beautiful and functional traditional Mexican blankets use vibrant heritage designs to celebrate the cultural heritage of Mexico, paired with modern colorways and motifs inspired by California style. 

Nipomo also uses recycled yarn, derived from remnant textiles, to create each blanket. 

Nipomo is committed to providing sustainable economic opportunities for its artisans by paying fair wages and ensuring safe working environments. Nipomo is helping to preserve the Mexican heritage art weaving by designing new modern motifs that appeal to a younger audience that can be created with this traditional craft.

“We have always been making the same designs here”, one of Nipomo’s artisans emphasized, “and now that we’re making these designs, we see them differently and we find them very beautiful.”

Behind the Process

The yarn used in Nipomo’s blankets is all made from upcycled remnants from the garment industry.

Raw Recycled Fiber

The process begins by taking the raw recycled fibers and beginning to thinning out the larger clumps of fiber into one consistency. 

Recycled fiber

The fibers are then brushed into thin layers of fiber and stacked. 

Thinning the layers

Once the layers have reached the desired thickness, the fiber is split into pencil roving, which is a long and narrow bundle of fiber.

Pencil roving

The pencil roving is spun into two-play yarn on bobbins, which are spindles or cylinders on which yarn or thread is wound.

Bobbins

The yarn on the bobbins is then transferred to larger cones before being sent off for weaving.

Larger cones for weaving

The cones then arrive to Nipomo’s community of artisan weavers the colorful yarns will be woven into blankets.

Spools for weaving

The first step is to prepare the warp for the looms by transferring the yarn from the larger cones that they come on to canillas, or smaller spools. 

Weaving

Each blanket is then woven using wooden floor looms. For the larger colored panels of the blankets, the yarn passes through a shuttle. For the more detailed sections of the blanket, the yarn must pass through the loom by hand.

The result of this detailed process? Earth-friendly, California style-inspired blankets rooted in Mexican heritage.

Nipomo Blankets:

Nipomo’s striking blankets are as useful as they are beautiful. The fabric and size of these pieces make them great for bringing along to the beach to use as a towel, for taking to a park to use as a picnic blanket, or for just lounging around anywhere outdoors or in!

They can also be used through the cooler months as blankets to keep warm around the campfire or cozy up with a mug of hot tea by the fireplace.

Each blanket also comes with a handmade vegetable-tanned leather strap for convenient carrying. And, when you’re not using these blankets, they make for great decorative throws to lay over a chair or sofa.

A few of our favorite Nipomo pieces:

Shop all Nipomo

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