The Blanket Factory | A Family Run Textile Business in Todos Santos
We cruised south on Highway 19 towards San Jose del Cabo from Todos Santos, admiring the desert's stark contrast to the sea, relishing in how undeveloped the coastline still is. I saw a wooden sign with “The Blanket Factory” hand painted in red and a small building on the side of the road and recognized it as a recommendation from a travel blog I follow.
“Would you guys want to stop?” I turned to the back seat and asked our friends. By this time we’d passed the blanket factory, but I was persistent. The other female in the car responded, “I’m up for whatever,” which her boyfriend translated into, “She wants to stop.” That was enough for me to take a car vote and when it ended in a dead tie (women: yes, men: no), I pulled the we’re-on-vacation-and-don’t-know-when-we’ll-be-back card and my husband pulled a U-turn at the next possible opportunity.
Two boys played soccer in the dirt parking area as we pulled in and a group of 4 or 5 middle aged travelers were already in the shop picking out rugs. It was just before dusk and that sweet yellow light cast its glow on the buildings, their surrounding desert and the dusty parking lot. A cat sauntered over from a carport to say hello and the four of us (all animal lovers) made sure to baby talk and give it some lovey before turning towards the initial draw of the stop: The Blanket Factory.
A loom lives outside the shop on a covered patio of sorts, as well a hammock and two hammock chairs. Kelly (my husband) wasted no time in settling in at the hammock while the rest of us entered the showroom. Long tables piled with blankets and rugs filled the middle of the room and lined the perimeter. More textiles draped in layers from the ceiling to the table tops on each wall. The two women running the show greeted us with warm smiles and hellos, gently offering assistance as needed.
The group that had arrived before us pooled their money to make a purchase (The Blanket Factory only accepts cash) and after they left, the younger of the two women, Maria, walked around with a huge stack of twenties in her hand, chattering away in Spanish with our friend Zac. Through their friendly banter (it makes such a difference to travel with someone who speaks the local language!), we learned that The Blanket Factory is a family run business, started by Maria’s mom Justina (the other woman in the store), who’s been weaving blankets since she was 13 years old. The business seems to be doing well – Maria’s smile sparkled with braces – and has been around for over 30 years.
Tempted by the chair hammocks, we asked how much they were and wondered out loud how we would get one back to the US on a plane. The wooden half circle made the chair too large to fit in any of our bags. Carry it on?
"Yes, yes, just carry it on!" Maria took the chair and showed us. With the wooden U tucked under her arm, she walked a few steps and said, “This is my carry on,” over her shoulder, before dissolving into a fit of giggles. We laughed.
We wandered out of the shop onto the patio with the loom and Maria followed us out, offering to show us how it worked. She explained that each color has a certain number of rows and that after each pass of the yarn, the loom pushes the thread firmly down to create a blanket or rug. When Justina saw that Maria was showing us the loom, she came outside to join in the lesson. Maria told us that Justina was the real expert and that everything she learned about the trade she had learned from her mom. Justina started pedaling the loom, building into a dance-like rhythm.
“¿Es como aprendio usted bailar?" Zac joked as Justina pedaled on, sending the spool shooting from one side to the other with each step. Zac did a little Cuban step to reiterate the point, and both Justina and Maria broke out into deep belly laughs.
Even though we ended up not buying anything, Justine and Maria wished us well as warmly as they welcomed us. “Adios!” we hollered one last time before getting back into our Jeep to continue the drive back to our Airbnb – full, happy hearts despite empty shopping bags.
For more inspiration for a trip to Todos Santos, check out a full guide via GLDMNE, one of our favorite travel bloggers, here.