Nestled in the Evora region of Portugal, the municipality of Reguengos de Monsaraz is nationally recognized for its handicrafts—especially the famous MANTAS DE REGUENGOS (reguengos blankets). For generations, wool craft has played an essential role in the region’s history, dating back to Portuguese royalty in the 16th century.
In the 1930s, António Durão created a workshop employing masters and apprentices in the art of woolcraft. Decades later Jose Rosa brought together the region’s manta producers and the workshop became Fabrica Alentejana de Lanificios, with improved design, quality and production techniques. He created the MANTAS DE REGUENGOS (reguengos blankets) brand image, and was awarded the Gold Medal at the Brussels Universal Exhibition in 1958.
In 1977 Mizette Nielsen, a Dutch artisan, took over the business, investing in the timeless tradition of heirloom blankets. While retaining the prestige and quality of the Reguengos fabrics, she introduced creative design innovations that kept the brand alive. Mizette added value and a new dimension to this iconic art that is part of the Alentejo’s cultural identity.
January 2020 began a new era, as three Portuguese visionaries took ownership of the mills. Their passionate for Allentejo’s wool craft tradition resulted in a commitment to local artisans, while introducing new products and repurposing traditional fabrics. The traditional weaving patterns and manual production of the MANTAS DE REGUENGOS (reguengos blankets) brand lend themselves to personal interpretation as clients can customize, blending ethnic beauty of the ages into contemporary design.
ALENTEJO BLANKETS AND THEIR RAW MATERIAL
For centuries, flocks of merino sheep have roamed Alentejo’s fields. Introduced by the Beri-Merines Berber dynasty, the breed is celebrated for the quality of its wool, characterized by its smooth, fine texture. To withstand the harsh Alentejo winters, the shepherds made the first fabrics for blankets and cloaks. Their simple patterns were tightly woven and waterproofed with an olive oil coating. These work mantas were part of the hired workers salary. The repertoire expanded to include more detailed traveling blankets and graves (decorative bed covers) which were socially regarded as objects of prestige. Only the best wool was used and the carefully selected dyes connected to the region. Patterns varied from elaborate, alluding to early Roman pottery, to simpler, pastoral themes.
Fábrica Alentejana de Lanifícios’ traditional craftsmanship, preserves the region’s history in Portugal’s rich cultural heritage. We promote Reguengos de Monsaraz and its regional traditions, sharing an ancient art in a responsible, and sustainable way. Fábrica Alentejana dos Lanifícios preserves all the time-honored techniques, elements and motifs passed down over generations.
Our weaving uses old artisanal manufacturing methods, where the most important work tool is the loom, unchanged through time. The weavers take their place at the warp beam (at the rear end of the loom), push the beater (adding each turn of thread to the fabric) and press down on the pedals, passing the shuttles (holding the wool yarn) through the warp. The shuttles are the only elements that have changed over time: and now include bearings! This change allows the shuttles to be woven through the warp more quickly and with less effort. Loom weaving was once physically demanding job performed mostly by men. The central part of the loom is formed by a harness. The harness frames the loom, holding the warp threads, fastened by two canes. Weaving patterns are “programmed” by special knots in the warp threads. Fabricaal’s goal is to ensure that this ancient knowledge persists; that it is valued, bringing work and prosperity to the region, generating economic and social sustainability.
ADVANTAGES OF WOOL
Wool is the basis of everything that is produced at Fábrica Alentejana de Lanifícios. It is a naturally sourced fibre, non-polluting, 100 % recyclable, renewable and durable. Merino wool is obtained from a very specific breed of sheep that produces the best wool in the world. There are some very special features that make merino wool the best option for decoration and protection:
IDEAL FOR REGULATING HEAT AND TEMPERATURE
1.Merino sheep live in places with great thermal variation; and their wool helps them adapt. Merino wool fibres regulate temperature and absorb moisture, while retaining heat. Thanks to its hygroscopic properties, wool reacts constantly to changes in ambient temperature, regulating the thermophysical comfort levels of surrounding surfaces, in hot or cold weather alike.
2. HIGH SAFETY SOLUTION - Wool is naturally safe. It does not promote the growth of bacteria and, thanks to its high water and nitrogen content, wool is less flammable than synthetic yarns. It is a flame-retardant material, used in the aeronautical and automobile industry.
3. RESISTANCE – Merino wool fibres are quite complex, just like the human body. They are basically composed of protein molecules known as keratin, and are thus very flexible and can be stretched by 30 thousand times or more in any direction, imparting added strength and stability to our crafted pieces.
4. ANTI-ALLERGIC – wool does not attract dust, so it is for people with mite or dust allergies.
5. ODOUR-FREE – since the proliferation of bacteria is hampered, it is odourless.
António Carreteiro, Luís Peixe and Margarida Adónis are the new generation of fábrica alentejana de lanificios and make part of wool d´Love Industria e Serviços Lda. They have changed their life’s and moved definitely to Reguengos de Monsaraz because they want to embrace and continue the tradition passed on to them by Mizette Nielsen: to consolidate the production and cultural heritage of the mills, sharing the comfort and durability of pure wool fabrics, while sharing our traditional weaves with the world, while preserving the quality, principles, patterns, techniques and the essence of the factory: hand-crafted products in merino wool designed by skilled artisans and their looms.