Sherpas are people who live in the mountainous regions surrounding the Himalayas and over the generations have undergone genetic changes that give them the ability to live at high altitudes where the oxygen content is low, and still allows them to exert themselves to act as porters and carry heavy loads while climbing. A sherpa blanket is a fleece that has been similarly adapted to withstand the coldest of temperatures. The name has come from the clothing that these hardy ethnic people use to protect themselves from the bitter Himalayan cold.
These blankets are made of fleece, a fabric made out of polyester. It has two completely distinct sides, one which has a side that is knit smooth, while the other side has a fleece-like texture resembling the fleece of a real sheep. It is fleece that is widely used as a lining for jackets or beds for pets. These fabrics made of polyester are warm even though they are very light in weight. They are soft and easy to work with while being resistant to water. I find these blankets have a variety of finishes including that of Sherpa fleece, with the brush finish being the most common type. The overall effect of using Sherpa fleece is very similar to real sheep's wool, without the scratchiness.
Comfortable to Use
I find that these blankets feel like a sweatshirt on the side of the front of the blanket, while the back is fuzzy. Sherpa blankets are thick and will feel like two materials stitched together. They make for perfect blankets that I can wrap around myself on a cold winter's day when I am settling down to read a good book. What I find pleasing when I use this blanket is that I get all the added thickness of a blanket and its comfort, while not having to deal with any great weight. And the fact that it is the fuzzy side that is touching my body, ensures that the blanket never slips off, even when I toss around in bed, as I am inclined to do.
Not only does this blanket feel good, but the wide variety of colors on the front side can make it look just as good. You can even get some of these blankets with a printed design on the front that looks great in my bedroom or any other room in the home where I snuggle under this blanket. Sizes in which these blankets are available can make it useful for a couple to use. These blankets are not scratchy like I find some cotton blankets are. These are blankets that do not trap heat, and this allows them to be used in my home year-round.
Caring for Sherpa Blankets
Sherpa blankets do not need to be washed very often, as they will mostly be used inside a home and not be exposed to the pollution of the outdoors environment. Even so, I consider washing them once a year with my washing machines in low-temperature settings. I find it is best to avoid fabric softeners and I never use bleach. Spin cycles I use are gentle settings. I also find it advantageous to wash the blankets by themselves and never with any other clothes, as the fleece can collect lint. If there are any stains, I prefer to use a mild detergent to hand wash that area before putting it in the washing machine.
These blankets are best air-dried instead of tumble dried in a dryer. I ensure that I hang them up in a warm dry place where it can remain undisturbed for a couple of hours. Once they are dried, I fluff up the blankets so that they feel and look as before. If I find the fleece is matted, I use a brush with bristles on the fleece in different directions till the matted parts are eased out. If the blankets have any lint from the washer, a lint roller helps me remove any lint that is trapped in the fleece.
During the long winters when these blankets are in constant use, I do take the trouble of airing the blankets once a week, as somehow it leaves them smelling better. I hang them out on the window sill for a few hours, preferring to do so when the sun does not shine directly on them.
Sherpa blankets can be used all-year-round, but in case the weather is warmer, and I do feel the need to store them, I do make sure that the blanket has been properly air dried and cleaned before I do so. Storing blankets for long times can affect the fleece, so periodically I make sure that these blankets are aired so that it also prevents any musty odor from building up.
Buying the Blankets
These blankets are available in most large bed linen stores in cities. Make sure that you decide on the sizes that will be the best for the various members of your family that will be using them. I also make it a point to look at the colors that I have in the various rooms that the blankets will be used so that I can match the outer face of the blankets to those colors. Sherpa blankets can also be found in different sizes including one for babies. You can also find these blankets online. Look for reliable brands.
I always buy the best brands and look after them properly. These sherpa blankets leave me and my family warm and snug through the coldest of winters.