Sometimes, you pick something up, or buy something, and you wonder: ‘How ever did we manage before we had this?’ Last night, when it was a bit nippy, I snuggled up on the sofa under a lovely fluffy fleece blanket and I thought ‘Goodness, what ever did we do before we had fleeces?’
Well, of course the good old sheep’s fleece has been keeping us warm for thousands of years, one way and another. But what about this marvellous soft, warm, synthetic material that we have now? It’s available in every colour, is stretchy and easy to wash and is available in the lightest weight for sporty types right through to big thick fluffy weight for sofa snugglers, like me!
Usually referred to as ‘polar fleece’, it is used in jackets, hats, sweaters, gym clothes, blankets, and high-performance outdoor clothing. It makes an excellent alternative to wool if you are vegan and, what I really like, is that it can be partially made from recycled plastic bottles – how fantastic is that?
It was created in 1979 and the head of the firm that developed it, Aaron Feuerstein, chose not to patent it, which is how the material suddenly came to be produced so cheaply and widely. When I looked him up, I discovered Mr Feuerstein is an American philanthropist and has done several quite extraordinarily generous and good things in his long life, letting fleece be produced widely and cheaply being just one of them.
A lightweight, warm and soft fabric, fleece holds less than 1% of its weight in water and retains much of its insulating powers even when wet. It’s a good alternative to wool and can be made out of recycled PET bottles, or even recycled fleece. For the elderly, or anyone confined to bed, it’s a wonderful thing as it is so lightweight, providing softness and warmth but no painful weight.
It’s a pretty amazing fabric, but there are some disadvantages… it’s not windproof and, as I know to my cost, it does generate a high amount of static electricity, which causes the accumulation of lint, dust, and, wait for it… pet hair! I sometimes think I have more dog hair on my snuggle blanket than Welly has on his entire little doggy body – ugh!! But luckily it does wash and dry brilliantly… erm, as long as you don’t then try and iron it – big fail!
You can buy it cheaply and easily these days online and, because you don’t have to edge it, it’s a great fun product for making fancy dress outfits for children, or even adults, should you feel so inclined! It’s great for toys, cushion covers and the like and I am sure there are lots of crafty uses too…
And of course, we’d better not leave out that great development in leisurewear… the fleece onesie! While it is not a garment you will ever catch me in…ahem, I’m sure some people find them very warm and, well, cosy! I was stunned at the variety available online for adults, never mind babies and children. I think my favourite had to be this flying squirrel model (below)… sorry couldn’t resist that!
I’ll bet you have at least one item of fleece in your wardrobe, or somewhere around your house. So do you snuggle up, or do you go out jogging in yours? Or if you are not a fleece person, what couldn’t you live without…? Let me know, I love to hear all your comments!