Undyed British Alpaca blanket development weaving

November 30, 2023

A very special project that has arrived at fruition having been in progress for over a year. From finding a spinner willing to take a punt on our vision to sourcing the mill that would enable the development of these stunning blankets. The journey has been both fascinating and nerve wracking in equal measure, particularly when we took these blankets straight to production to avoid the risk of not having them in time for Christmas.

The day they arrived was a slightly terrifying moment, but thankfully we can say they have surpassed our expectations. Stunning. One of a kind pieces. 


To develop such a unique product we knew we would need to enlist the help of a professional. Amazingly we have a good friend to call upon. Olivia Johnson spent over a decade working for Scottish cashmere and fine woollen mills, developing woven accessories for luxury brands. She now consults on weave design and innovation within the industry.  Observing an increasing homogenisation of products on the market Olivia saw a need for craft-led innovation to re-connect designs with the materiality and integrity of the fibre.

Now, working on a handloom from her studio in South East London, Olivia uses the ancient process of hand weaving to drive her design developments. ‘I have the flexibility to play with pattern, sett (density) and structure freely and spontaneously. I am constantly responding to the weave I have just created, then developing on.  I can genuinely interact with the fibre I am working with - convene with the yarn - ask it what it wants to do. The results are often surprising, mistakes can be pushed further. Somehow I feel freer hand weaving, more inclined to break the rules.’

Alpaca blanket development work  Hand loom process in action  Washing of the development textile

For the alpaca blanket project Olivia worked alongside Freight to create two unique shades of un-dyed yarn using alpaca sourced from small UK farms. Inspired by the naturally occurring, subtle variation of the yarn itself and the irregular skittish lines of German-Venezuelan artist, Gego, beloved by Creative Director Adele, Olivia developed an entirely irregular ‘single collision plaid’ paring back a traditional check to just one, anarchic, off-set crossing of lines.  A broken herringbone structure was chosen to give the blankets beautiful drape and subtle texture. Two much plainer designs were chosen to accompany the single collision plaid, with just a tiny contrast selvedge border, simply showcasing the raw beauty of the alpaca.

  Undyed Alpaca yarn development work   Planning out the undyed Alpaca blanket designs   Development work on the Undyed Alpaca blankets

The collection has been manufactured by the small Lancashire mill that we have had a long-standing and loyal relationship with for nearly ten years. The bespoke alpaca yarn did not have to travel far to be woven - just 13 miles over the border from the brand’s spinners in Yorkshire.

 Yarn mill where the undyed Alpaca is produced   Machines that produce the Undyed British Alpaca yarn    Undyed Alpaca yarn going onto the spools for weaving

This yarn is constructed using British Alpaca undyed Tops combined with 30% responsibly sourced Merino Wool yarn to provide the softness and finish that you see. This yarn was a bespoke commission by Freight. The tops come from across the UK from an independent alpaca herd. There is no dye involved in this blanket. The colour is entirely unique to the animals at the time of shearing. No two batches will ever be the same. This is something else we love about this yarn. 

This new yarn is going to be in the Freight collection for quite some time. We hope in a number of different guises. But for now we will enjoy these blankets and their incredible warmth over winter and beyond.