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Posts tagged ‘Pendleton wool’

Types of wool explained: merino, lambswool, Shetland & more

types-of-wool-list-blog-postDo you know your types of wool? From Shetland to merino, it can vary widely. Earlier, we covered the differences between virgin and recycled wool. Today we’ll help you understand the main types of wool, including:

  • Merino wool
  • Lambswool
  • Shetland wool
  • Cashmere
  • Alpaca
  • Mohair

Quick note: Fibers are only wool if they come from sheep. So cashmere, alpaca and mohair (which come from goats and alpacas) are actually hair, not wool. Interesting, right? Now let’s get started!

Merino wool comes from Merino sheep, mostly found in Australia and New Zealand. Merino wool is finer (or thinner) than your average wool, which makes it softer, less itchy and more flexible. Our 5th avenue throw is a great example. It’s also cool, breathable and moisture-wicking, which is why merino makes for such a good base layer during hiking or exercise. Whether you’re hot or cold, merino wool keeps you comfortable—no wonder it’s so popular!

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Merino wool 5th avenue throw

Even within merino wool, there are several different categories. Not to get too technical, but the larger the diameter of the wool fiber, the coarser and more itchy it will be. Some wool fibers can be 25 microns in diameter or more, and your hair is 50-100 microns thick. In comparison, merino wool fibers are typically 24 microns in diameter or smaller. Fine merino is less than 19.5 microns, superfine is less than 18.5 and ultrafine merino is less than 15. For sweaters, socks, blankets and more, merino wool is an excellent (and premium) choice. Check out all Pendleton’s merino wool blankets here.

Lambswool is the finest, softest fleece that comes from a lamb’s first shearing, usually when the lamb is six or seven months old. It’s smooth, strong and flexible, plus it doesn’t need much processing. Lambswool is excellent for blankets and bedding (and allergy sufferers) because it’s hypoallergenic and resists dust mites. Like merino and all wool, lambswool is breathable and helps your body regulate temperature. Check out our plaid lambswool throw and see for yourself!

Shetland wool comes from Shetland sheep, originally found on Scotland’s Shetland Islands. Over 200 years ago, Sir John Sinclair praised Shetland wool as having “the gloss and softness of silk, the strength of cotton, the whiteness of linen, and the warmth of wool.” The fibers are 23 microns thick on average, making it generally thicker than merino. Shetland wool is known for being durable and hardy, as the climate on the northern island can get quite cold. That means Shetland wool is terrific for warm and toasty sweaters. If it’s too rough for your liking, layer it over a shirt.

sheep-photo-wool-blog-postCashmere comes from the fine undercoat of the cashmere (or Kashmir) goat and is known for being supersoft, delicate and luxurious. Most cashmere comes from goats in China and Mongolia. Fibers are about 18 microns in diameter, so about the same as superfine merino. It’s often expensive: Only about 25% of a cashmere goat’s fleece is used, so it takes the hair of two goats just to make one cashmere sweater. Some of Pendleton’s wool blankets, sweaters and coats contain cashmere to make the texture blissfully soft yet still warm and insulating—like this throw.

Alpaca hair is strong, silky, warm and durable…plus alpacas are cute! (They’re related to llamas.) Alpacas were originally bred in South America and especially prized in Inca culture in Peru’s Andes Mountains. Their hair is hypoallergenic, so if you’re allergic to wool, try alpaca. If not, alpaca and merino wool create a wonderfully soft and light yet insulating blend. Fibers are similarly sized as cashmere and fine merino. Several of our women’s sweaters and cardigans are made with alpaca yarn.

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Mohair is hair from the angora goat. It’s smoother than wool (and slightly more expensive) but not as soft as cashmere, so it’s kind of a middle ground. Fibers are 25-40 microns in diameter, roughly the same as Shetland wool and even some merino. Mohair is known to have a fuzzy texture, because the goat’s coarser outer hairs mix in with its fluffy undercoat. Like wool, it’s wrinkle- and dirt-resistant. Pendleton’s new boucle wool throw blends mohair with lambswool for warmth and unique texture.

Any other types of wool you’re curious about? Let us know in the comments below!

What is virgin wool? And is it better than recycled wool?

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Here at Pendleton, we use pure virgin wool for our famous blankets and shirts – but what is virgin wool, and why does that matter? Keep reading to learn the difference between virgin and recycled wool and what each is best for.

Virgin wool

Virgin wool is simply wool that’s never been used before–but that difference matters. It’s better than recycled wool because it’s stronger and higher quality. Pure virgin wool is naturally breathable in both cold and warm weather, water-repellent, durable and insulating. It also resists wrinkles, stains and odors. Even though you can dry-clean wool shirts, many people simply hang them up and let them air out, finding that to be just as effective.

Since virgin wool fibers haven’t been shredded like recycled wool, they’re more resilient—they don’t break or wrinkle as easily and can provide more stretch. A shirt made of virgin wool can last for decades—some Pendleton customers pass down their Board Shirts through several generations. Not something you can say about cotton or synthetic materials, right?

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Recycled wool

You wouldn’t necessarily think of wool in the same category as paper bags, aluminum cans and plastic bottles, but like those three, it’s recyclable. Recycled wool got a burst of popularity during World War II, when fabrics were rationed because wool was needed for military uniforms. As a result, civilians would recycle wool blankets into coats, or use the yarn from wool socks to knit sweaters. Very resourceful, right?

Recycled wool is also called “reclaimed wool” or “shoddy wool.” Recycled wool is exactly what it sounds like: wool that’s been used to make one product, then used to make something else. Recycled wool is great for insulation, cloth diaper covers, DIY rugs, polishing metal, applying wood stain, absorbing spills and more.

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However, recycled wool isn’t the best for clothing and blankets if softness is your goal. To recycle wool, the fibers are torn apart and respun, which lowers the quality. Recycled wool can be “a little more harsh or fuzzy,” explains a wool crafting site. Adds one yarn site, “Most recycled wool goods have a harsh feel to them.” At Pendleton, our goal is soft, premium wool clothing and blankets, which is why we exclusively use pure virgin wool.

Today, companies are legally required by the Federal Trade Commission to specify if wool is recycled. So if a wool garment isn’t specified as virgin or recycled, it’s probably virgin wool. Now the next time someone wonders, “What is virgin wool?” you’ll know the answer!

For pure virgin wool blankets, clothing and accessories designed to last for decades, shop Pendleton at pendleton-usa.com.

Help support the Adopt-a-Native-Elder Program

 

pwm_10_2016_-837_webThis authentic Navajo rug is being offered by Pendleton Woolen Mills in support of Utah’s Adopt-a-Native-Elder program. This outreach program helps Navajo elders, as they carry on the oldest cultural and spiritual traditions of the Dine People. Many elders are located in remote areas, living in hogans and raising sheep. The program provides food, clothing, fabrics, yarns and other needs. In return, the Elders share their expertise, especially in weaving.

For this project, Pendleton donated bales of dyed virgin wool, which ANE volunteers divided into bags and distributed after an Adopt-a-Native-Elder dinner. The Grandmothers were invited to choose their own wool, and were quite enthusiastic to be involved.

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The weavers returned fifteen completed rugs for judging. From a host of beautiful entries, this rug was the winner.

It was woven by Gloria Hardy with assistance from her mother, Louise. It is spun and woven from 100% Pendleton wool. Mother Louise spun the wool, and daughter Gloria designed the pattern and did the weaving. The size is impressive (48″ x 46″), and it is a beautiful pattern.

 

See the rug here: Hand-woven Navajo Rug

The stripes in the pattern represent the calm and steady wind of the desert sky. The crosses represent the Prayer of the Four Directions:  I pray with beauty before me, behind me, above me and all around me. May I walk in beauty.

 

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This rug is one-of-a-kind, authentically Navajo, and is being offered to support the fine work of Adopt-a-Native-Elder. Pendleton is proud to support Adopt-a-Native-Elder.

More information on Adopt a Native Elder can be found here: http://www.anelder.org/

See the rug and bid on it here: Navajo handwoven wool rug

PDX Adult Soap Box Derby, ADX Portland, and The Arrow

In early August, we got a shout-out on Twitter from Matt Preston, asking if we’d be interested in helping with the finishing  of his Soap Box Derby car. Matt is part the ADX Portland community, and we will talk more about the derby, but first we want to tell you about ADX. ADX brings together thinkers, makers, students and experts in a shared 14,000 square foot fabrication facility where dreams are made. Once you read about it, you will want to be part of it.

ADX

Now, back to the derby. Each year since 1997, Portland has been home to the PDX Adult Soap Box Derby. According to their website, “Now in its 18th year, the PDX Adult Soap Box Derby continues a beloved summertime tradition at Mt. Tabor Parkl—a community event that draws crowds of 7,000 – 10,000 people to watch a colorful and sidesplitting spectacle of 40+ coaster cars powered only by gravity, whimsy, and attitude.”

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Matt’s entry was framed but not finished.

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Would we be willing to furnish some of our wool to cover it? Oh you bet.

Matt made a trip to our Woolen Mill Store in Milwaukie, Oregon. With the help of our manager, Mary, he picked his favorite. You might remember this Serape pattern from our second collaboration with Doc Martens.

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It wasn’t quite “off to the races” yet. First, Matt went back to ADX for final construction.

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We were delighted to see that Matt was inspired by “The Point,” the Harry Nisson 70s classic.

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Arrow was a great best friend. Here’s a little clip for those of you who weren’t around back then.

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The derby was held on August 15th. We don’t have any images of Matt’s car in action. It was sidelined in a crash! Here’s what Matt had to say about it: The race was a great time and we got a lot of comments on our craft and on the wool covering. Unfortunately, our tire wrecked during the race and so the craft only got one good run in her, but we will be reusing the wool and structure for next year’s race and it will be even better!

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So, let’s all think good thoughts for next year. You can read about the festivities here. And if you want to watch “The Point,” you can do that right here.

You won’t regret how you spent this particular hour of your life.

Pendleton Heritage Umatilla Wool — VIDEO with Cameron Krebs

Krebs-3We are Pendleton Woolen Mills, and wool is what we do. Just watch and listen to Cameron Krebs, a wool grower from Umatilla County, talking about his family’s generations as wool providers to Pendleton Woolen Mills.

So here are some amazing wool facts for you, courtesy of us, from our trusty “Wool, A Natural” booklet, a little classroom staple for many years now.

Wool is a Miracle Fiber that Stands the Test of Time

Wool is a natural fiber, growing from the follicles of sheep. In a time of sustainability and environmental consciousness, this renewable resource remains longer-lasting and better looking than anything man-made. Even though advanced processing methods have made wool more versatile and easy care, man has not improved the miracle fiber itself. 

Wool is Naturally Resilient and Wrinkle Resistant

This is due to the ability of the fiber to spring back into shape after bending, creasing, or compression. Resilience gives wool its ability to hold a shape, resist wrinkles and withstand wear. This makes wool great for travel. It resists tearing because it’s flexible. Wool can bend back on itself 20,000 times without breaking (cotton only 3200 times before breaking/silk 1800 times/rayon only 75 times). Wool can be stretched or twisted and its cells return to their original position.

Wool is Naturally Comfortable

Wool fibers cannot be packed down. They spring back to shape keeping their open, porous nature. Wool provides the most warmth with the least weight. The air that is trapped inside (about 80% of wool fabric volume) makes wool an excellent insulator to keep the body at its normal temperature year round: warm in winter and cool in summer. Wool is the original outdoor “performance” fiber. 

Wool is Naturally Water and Stain Repellent

Wool repels light water, like a rain shower, because of the membrane on the outer scales. In very wet conditions, wool absorbs up to 30% of its own weight without feeling damp. And because of insulation ability, wool “breathes,” allowing the body’s natural moisture to pass through. The hairy surface of wool and its freedom from static make it the easiest of all fabrics to keep clean or to clean after soiling. 

Wool Maintains its Luster and Resists Fading

Wool has a permanent natural luster it never loses even after years of hard wear. It absorbs dyes until it is completely saturated so colors stay brilliant in spite of sunshine, perspiration and impurities in the atmosphere. No other fiber can be spun or woven into such a variety of weights, textures, finishes and colors. 

Wool is Naturally Flame Retardant

Unless it is in direct contact with flame, wool will extinguish itself. The denser the weave and the greater the fabric weight, the less likely it is even to char because of its smaller oxygen content. Fire departments and insurance companies recommend the use of wool blankets, rugs or coats to put out flames.

We will be bringing you more fun facts about wool this month, because January is an excellent month for keeping warm. And thanks to the Krebs family for their participation in this video!

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Getting Creative with the Rig

As most of our blog readers know, we have a wonderful resource for fabric in the Woolen Mill Store in Milwaukie, Oregon. One of our customers went custom on his truck, and we thought you’d like a view. He didn’t want to give us his name, but he was kind enough to give us the photos. This is pretty awesome, yes?

 

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Pendleton & Weddings

Here at Pendleton, we are so moved when people take the time to let us know the special ways they incorporate Pendleton into their lives. And that includes weddings!

Heather Bayles Photography

Quite a few editorial shoots use us for wedding or engagement photos.  But when we’re used as part of an actual wedding, as we were in the wedding of Zoe Fisher and Matt Johnson (photos by Heather Bayles Photography), we are incredibly proud.

Pendleton played a part in the engagement of Bob and Melba Stork. They were shopping in Pasadena, California on a spring day in 1951 when a store window with Pendleton shirts caught their attention. They looked at several patterns and decided on a red and green plaid as an engagement gift to each other.

Bob and Melba wore traditional bridal attire when they were married on October 27th, 1951, at St. Luke’s Catholic Church in Temple City, California.

Storks Wedding, 10/27/1951

After the wedding, they left for a honeymoon trip to the Grand Canyon, where they stayed in a cabin near El Tovar. Bob set up a tripod to capture a picture of them wearing their shirts as a newly married couple.

Fifty years later, their twin daughters and their husbands organized a golden wedding anniversary celebration for the Storks, their family and friends at the Grand Canyon. This photo was taken near the spot where the first photo was taken; a short distance from their honeymoon cabin.

Storks Anniversary, 10/2001

The Storks have worn their shirts as jackets many times over the 61 years of their marriage. They have been part of travels throughout the United States, and Melba says, “(they) are as bright, fashionable and warm as they were when we purchased them 61 years ago.”

Bob and Melba Stork were married 61 years on October 27, 2012. Bob is 93, and Melba is a bit younger. They still travel, but they won’t be taking their Pendleton shirts with them anymore. They are passing them down to their granddaughter, Lauren, and her fiance, Drew, who will be married this coming February. We will count ourselves lucky to get a photo of the “kids” in these shirts.

The next wedding we’re going to show you took place last winter, when Celeste Grewe and Joshua Bond said “I do” at Camp Creek Campground in the Mt Hood National Forest. After the bridal party wended its way through a snow-carpeted forest, the ceremony took place in front of the camp kitchen for the CCC workers in 1936.

Bond wedding photography by Mike at Powers Studios.

Josh and Celeste met while working at a local snowboard shop called Exit Real World (with whom we did a collaboration some years back). The mountain has played an important part in their relationship, so it was fitting that they were married at 2200 ft elevation.

Celeste had this to say; “We wanted our wedding to really reflect Oregon, and especially to give our out-of-town guests a great feel for the history of the state. Both our families raised us with Pendleton products. Pendleton has a longstanding history with Oregon and the Northwest. It was important to incorporate a traditional element into our wedding, which is where we got the blanket ceremony (plus it was really cold last February). It was also a wonderful way to ask our parents to be involved with the ceremony.”

First, the bride and groom were wrapped in Crater Lake National Park blankets by their fathers. This symbolized their separate lives. These blankets were removed and held by their maid of honor and best man. Then the mothers of the bride and groom wrapped them in a white Glacier National Park blanket to symbolize their shared future.

The Crater Lake blankets were presented to the mothers as gifts.  Celeste said of the Glacier blanket, “It’s a show piece in our home.” She is happy with how the national park blankets hearken back to “…the early part of the 1900s, the national parks, and the CCC and WPA, and the 1940s time frame of the ring I inherited from my paternal grandmother.” As you watch the slideshow (photos by Mike at Powers Studios), watch for other Pendleton items on the guests and bridal party.

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To all of our friends who have made Pendleton part of their weddings, we say, best wishes for the future. May your beginnings be sweet, and may your lives together be wonderful. Thanks for letting us be a part of both.

Happy New Year!

Welcome to the Lobby

This is Shelley, the Visual Director for our stores.  We are lucky to have her creative visual input around the corporate headquarters. While down in the archives, Shelley found some sepia-toned prints of people at work in the Pendleton mills. She brought them up, dusted them off, and let them inspire some beautiful lobby windows with blankets, and Fall 2012 apparel from Womenswear, Menswear and The Portland Collection.

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Hope you enjoyed this tour of Shelley’s creative work. We are thankful to enjoy it every day. From all of us at Pendleton, have a happy Thanksgiving.

A sneak peak at what’s coming from Pendleton Home in just three months!

We recently  held a preview showcase for next year’s Pendleton Home line at the Ace Hotel in NYC.  We hope you like what you see…new colors, throws based on historic weaves from our rich company history, and familiar favorites like the National Park Series blankets.

And of course, more spa towels, because everyone loves the spa towels!

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As promised, the new Pendleton store at Portland International Airport.

Enjoy! We are definitely worth the trip.

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