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Monday, February 2, 2009

The Latest Information on Photo Blankets

By: Derek Renald


Photo blankets have been available for personalization and customization for many years now. With changes in technologies and photo clarity, these personal renditions of life have grown and changed as well. Photo blankets are available in a variety of style, but how can we know what each style offers. Comparing photo blankets is a great way to decide which is best for your needs.





Woven photo blankets are most often created from cotton or acrylic yarns. The images chosen for the blanket by the consumer appear as woven patterns. Taking an up close look at woven photo blankets, the consumer will notice individually colored yarns combined to make one large image. Similar to a woven rug, the end result is a clear image from afar, with a grainy result up close.





Woven photo blankets are finished in one of two ways. The edges will either be left in a fringe edging, where the yarn pieces are hanging freely, or in a bound edging. The fringe edging may have a tendency to fray after numerous washings or heavy usage. The bound edging, on the other hand, leaves the woven blanket with a border of color, similar to a photo frame.





Knitted photo blankets are produced in a similar manner to woven photo blankets. While these blankets tend to use both cotton and acrylic yarns as well, the photo image remains woven, in this case, knitted directly into the fabric of the blanket. The knitting result feels just like a knitted sweater. Again, the far away look of the blanket produces an overall total photo, but when an up close look is taken, separate yarn pieces, knots and colors render the picture unrecognizable.





Photo blankets that are knitted also have a stretchy quality unlike their woven alternatives. The photo knitted into the blankets tend to blur and disfigure when stretched. After a period of time, the fabric will lose the ability to retract and the image with remain stretched and deformed.





The yarns used in the manufacturing process of both woven and knitted photo blankets tends to vary, as does the selection process. Some companies use a machine and computer program to select the proper yarns colors through an automated process. This automation does make for a faster turn around time, but if the program is off on a shade or two, the resulting blanket may not look like the photo at all.





The second yarn selection process is completed through hand selection. Individuals choose each color by comparing different yarn shades to the original photo. While this process may seem more intimate, each human eye sees colors in a different way. A teal to one eye may look like a blue-green to another. The human selection process tends to yield a photo blanket resembling the original photo exacting as seen by the person choosing the yarns.





While hand selection and machine selection are both used for full color woven and knitted photo blankets, monochrome or black and white images are generally produced from two colors of yarn, black and white. Unfortunately, using only these two colors removes the residual rainbow of grays present throughout a black and white photo.





A photo blanket creation that is not produced from a knitting or weaving process is picture blankets. These photo blankets take the photo image and reproduce the same image onto a blanket surface. The production process is similar to the printing process of a digital photo and the resulting blanket is just as clear. When the photo is dyed onto or into the fabric, there are not separations of color as with the knitted product. Only sharp photo lines and images both up close and far away.





Unlike the woven and knitted photo blankets, picture photo blankets reproduce the image directly into the fabric. The colors are identically matched just as they would be with a digital photo print. Due to this difference in the manufacturing side of the blanket, there are no mistakes or color variances. The photo from which the blanket is created, is the same photo the blanket displays.





Black and white photo blankets are also available from the picture photo blanket process. Unlike the woven and knitted varieties, again, the picture is printed or dyed into the fabric using all of the colors present in the photo. If there are ten grays, ten grays are used in addition to the blacks and whites. The end product, when grays are used, tend to be clearer and display an increased depth of image.





Another difference between the woven and knitted varieties and the picture photo blanket is the ability to render an almost dual use blanket. The picture photo blanket is backed with a solid color fabric of the customers choice.





All three types of photo blanket creations are offered in various sizes. Ranging from a lap blanket size of 30” X 40” to a queen bed size of 60” X 80”. With every photo blanket the rule seems to stand that the larger the blanket, the larger the original photo image should be in order to produce the best end result.





The processing times for the photo blankets tend to differ as well. While woven and knitted photo blankets tend to take anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks to process (shipping time will be added onto the end of the processing time), the picture photo blanket processes in 3 to 7 days.





While the photo blanket is not a newcomer to the gift giving industry, never before have their been so many different photo blanket creation processes to choose from. Photo blankets can either be woven or knitted from yarns or dyed in to the fabrics. All three processes offer a different look, feel and end photo result. Whether you decide on a weaving process, knitting process, or photo reproduction process, your memory will appear on your photo blanket. The only way to choose which photo blanket is right for your needs is to learn about them all.





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