Dear Friends at Pendleton;
Our first day on the Colorado started with a river rat breakfast, a ranger briefing of the do’s and dont’s of the Grand Canyon National Park, and a final equipment check before pushing off from Lee’s Ferry in the late morning sun on a beautiful March day in the canyon.
The oars flexed light and the boat rode high as the afternoon wind picked up. After less than ten miles of sluggish rowing, we pulled into our targeted campsite. I eased the 1962 replica Portola to shore, tied up to a sand stake, “unwedged” the yellow dry bag from the side hatch of the boat, grabbed three oars and trudged up the steep bank to our first campsite on the 24 day adventure.
I would be crashing in “canvas and wool” each night – a nod to the natural material of the ‘62 trip we were so carefully trying to replicate. A wool camp blanket from Pendleton and a David Ellis bed roll of canvas would be my mattress and comforter for this trip (with an occasional canvas tent for foul weather and photo ops). The natural fiber of cotton and wool seems more “authentic” and consistent with the spirit and intent of this adventure.
On Wednesday, March 21, Greg Hatten and company left Springfield, Oregon to start a Grand Adventure; the recreation of a historically significant trip on the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon in boats that “linked” Oregon to the history of river running through that National Park.
The March 10th edition of Vancouver’s The Columbian profiled Pendleton’s Washougal, Washington mill. Reporter Cami Joner examines the key to Washougal’s longevity, remarking that “…The busy Washougal mill is evidence that textile manufacturing is not dead in America.” Read the full article here, and stay tuned for more as Washougal approaches its 100th anniversary of producing fine Pendleton textiles right here in the USA.
Photo by Zachary Kaufman, courtesy of The Columbian, copyright 2012
Pendleton’s Legendary Blankets are admired and treasured for their intricate, intriguing patterns and excellent quality. These original designs are inspired by Native American art, legends, belief, ceremonies and heroes. Native artists such as Lillian Pitt, Terry Whetstone and Joseph Chamberlain have designed for the series. Every design is exclusive, and each blanket has a commemorative label telling the design story. All blankets are napped, felt-bound and made with pure virgin wool in the USA.
The 2012 Spring legendary blanket is based on an original design by Chickasaw artist Dustin Mater. The blanket is rich with symbolism common to several tribes of the Mississippian/Muskegon culture of the southeastern United States. Mater’s design represents the annual rebirth of the Earth through the spring rains.
This weekend (starting March 3rd, 2012), collectors will have a chance to purchase Pendleton’s Vintage Collection Blankets at 20% off during the Retired Blanket Sale.
These blankets were introduced in 2008 to offer the aged allure of a vintage wool blanket to boutique customers and collectors.
Our 2008 wholesale catalog copy described the blankets: “At first glance, these lovely blankets seems to have been discovered in the hacienda of a beloved grandmother. But they are newly woven in our own Northwest woolen mills. The blankets reflect both our reverence for Pendleton history and the wealth of design inspiration in our design archives. We have given these fresh interpretations a luxurious finish with the rich patina of age – a fitting tribute to our heritage. The stonewashed, distressed surface lends the feeling of a well-loved and well cared for heirloom. The colors are softly muted and the hand is sumptuously soft.”
What these beautiful words can’t describe is the hard work, experimentation and sheer number of blankets that went into refining the “aging” of a Pendleton Vintage Collection blanket.
“We burned through so many of them!” says Robert Christnacht, the head of the Pendleton Home Division. “We wove and finished the blankets in our mills, minus any labels. Then we sent them to an outside commercial laundry, where they were washed and shrunk down to the right dimensions. It was a huge job to get the process right, because we wanted to take out a certain amount of color and we needed the right appearance and hand. Time after time, we’d pull a load of wool mush out of the machine. We’d have to start over.”
Barrett Christie is an accomplished athlete who has won more medals in the Winter X Games than any other female competitor. She competed in the 1998 Winter Olympics as part of the first US women’s snowboarding team. She oversees the design of women’s snowboards for Gnu Snowboards, including the Gnu Barrett Christy Pro Model, the most enduring women’s pro model snowboard on the market.
When Barrett needed an eye-catching graphic that still looked like a serious snowboard, she approached Pendleton. The result is our newest co-branding effort; a limited edition snowboard from GNU, featuring a graphic based on our Day of the Dead blanket. Every board comes with a specially labeled Day of the Dead blanket.
Life in the Pacific Northwest is very, very busy for Barrett. She’s a serious competitor and product developer, as well as a mom. But she recently found a little time to talk to us about the new design.
Karen: I’m sure you’re always looking for inspiration. What initially drew you to Pendleton?
Barrett: My husband I have a collection of Pendleton blankets we’ve won as prizes at the Mt. Baker Slalom. We’ve won a lot of races, so we’ve won a lot of blankets.
Along with springtime, the Northwest Flower & Garden Show is coming soon. From February 8th through 12th, the Washington State Convention Centerwill host a beautiful array of events and vendors.
The display gardens will be amazing!
Pendleton Woolen Mills has partnered with the show in supporting the Seattle Children’s Play Garden, through the sale of a special edition of our Counting Sheep blanket.
When an especially unique vintage Pendleton garment comes through our design areas, it can cause a stir. It’s like a new baby. People from other divisions come to visit, photos circulate in email, and everyone asks a lot of questions. What was it called? When was it made? And most importantly, what will we do with it?
A jacquard coat that came to the sewing room of the Men’s division was no exception. The Crossroads pattern was bold and dramatic, and the coloration was unique. Menswear decided to bring it back, so Fabric Design got to work redesigning and coloring the pattern. Womenswear and Home saw the possibilities…and that’s how a corporate jacquard is born.
From the sheep to the shelf, Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® passes strict standards of sustainability and stewardship. That sounds admirable, doesn’t it? But those lofty words would mean nothing at all if Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® products weren’t soft, richly colored and delightful to touch.
There are many, many products out there claiming to be green. Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® has been Cradle to Cradle Certified© by MBDC, a respected product and process design firm dedicated to promoting sustainable production. If you’re curious, you can find out more here. The best way to explain it? If you were to take a Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® blanket and bury it (but please don’t!), it would leave the earth better, not worse, for the addition.
Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® is an innovation in the Umatilla wool we’ve woven for over a century that uses nontoxic biodegradable dyes. Pendleton is known for the depth and intensity of our colors. Vegetable dyes are not as stable as chemical dyes, and the formula took some tinkering, especially the red spectrum. But with a great deal of trial and a reasonable amount of error, we produced Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® that we could guarantee for quality.
So maybe you want to wrap yourself up in environmental responsibility this year, or maybe you just want something beautiful, wooly and Pendleton. In either case, we have plenty to show you.