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Gearing up for National Tartan Day!

Monday, April 6th is National Tartan Day. Some of our readers live, breathe, eat and sleep tartans. They are steeped in their clan histories. They know the difference between the ancient, dress, hunting and standard versions of their clan’s tartan. But other readers aren’t quite sure of what exactly makes a tartan a tartan. How does a tartan differ from any other plaid?

We say it best with the title of one of our most popular Pinterest boards: All tartans are plaids, but not all plaids are tartans. A tartan looks like a plaid, but it is so much more than that.  A tartan is a statement of identity. Tartans were originally regional designs, worn as “plaids,” pieces of fabric worn slung over the shoulder. Scotland’s warriors wore their plaids with pride to announce their family affiliations and political loyalties.

The Dress Act of 1746 was enacted to prohibit the wearing of the plaid, as part of colonial suppression of the Highlands: That from and after the first day of August, One thousand, seven hundred and forty-six, no man or boy within that part of Britain called Scotland, other than such as shall be employed as Officers and Soldiers in His Majesty’s Forces, shall, on any pretext whatever, wear or put on the clothes commonly called Highland clothes (that is to say) the Plaid, Philabeg, or little Kilt, Trowse, Shoulder-belts, or any part whatever of what peculiarly belongs to the Highland Garb; and that no tartan or party-coloured plaid of stuff shall be used for Great Coats or upper coats, and if any such person shall presume after the said first day of August, to wear or put on the aforesaid garment or any part of them, every such person so offending … For the first offence,shall be liable to be imprisoned for 6 months, and on the second offence, to be transported to any of His Majesty’s plantations beyond the seas, there to remain for the space of seven years.

That’s right, tartans were illegal; inflammatory and subversive.

In 1782, the Dress Act was repealed through the following proclamation: Listen Men. This is bringing before all the Sons of the Gael, the King and Parliament of Britain have forever abolished the act against the Highland Dress; which came down to the Clans from the beginning of the world to the year 1746. This must bring great joy to every Highland Heart. You are no longer bound down to the unmanly dress of the Lowlander. This is declaring to every Man, young and old, simple and gentle, that they may after this put on and wear the Truis, the Little Kilt, the Coat, and the Striped Hose, as also the Belted Plaid, without fear of the Law of the Realm or the spite of the enemies.

When the Dress Act was repealed in 1782, tartans were no longer worn as ordinary Highland dress. They were adopted as the official national dress of Scotland. Tartan grew from regional plaid to warrior garb to a badge of kinship.  These patterns are a visual illustration of the bond between personal and political freedom.

We’re not tartan experts at Pendleton, just fabric experts. When we we use these designs, we do it with respect for the history of the design we’re using. Our designers refer to rare reference books stored under archival conditions in our design department (please don’t ask to see them because they will not hold up to visitors, we have to say no). We also use modern tartans, like Canada’s Maple Leaf, and our own Pendleton Hunting Tartan, registered with the Scottish Tartan Society in 1999.

Tartans have been part of the Pendleton offering since our earliest days, beginning with our motor robes. We call them that because we originally wove them to cover the laps of motorists in the earliest days of the automobile.


We’ve been making tartan shirts, Topsters, motoring caps and robes for men since the 1920s.


Women have always been part of the Pendleton tartan action, as well.


Today, tartans have taken fashion by storm, because these patterns are timeless, we return to them.


If you’re wanting to add tartan, but you’re not sure where to start, try Blackwatch tartan, the tartan that designed to look black from a distance.

This is also known at the Government or 42nd tartan, developed to wear by the Black Watch, one of the early Highland Independent Companies. From a distance, the pattern reads black. It’s the stealth tartan. Around here, we call it Highland Camo, and though it’s one one of our perennial bestsellers, it’s a challenge to photograph for a catalog. But we do, as you cansee if you pay us a visit at We have tartan items galore for women, men, and home.

Remember, Monday is the big day.

Sometimes, It’s okay to be set dressing: Casualife of Canada and Pendleton Woolen Mills

Casualife is Canada’s premiere outdoor furniture company. They recently ran a stunning series of ads using Pendleton Home products to set off their beautiful designs.



You can see the Diamond Desert bed blanket, as well as the Rio Concho pillows. Here is a little bit better view of our blanket, with its story below.


We found this treasure in a box of old photographs stored in our mill. Traditional Native American geometric weaving inspired its early 1900s blanket design. Beauty and balance, order and harmony are central to the Navajo world view. In this exclusive Pendleton pattern, arrows, triangles and serrated diamonds are arranged in perfect harmony, a reflection of hózhó, a Navajo word that embodies the quest for balance in life. The four strong stripes illustrate the balance and contrast between darkness and light. Diamonds represent the four sacred mountains that define the four directions and enclose the Navajo universe in the shape of a diamond. 


This beautiful shot uses the Rio Concho pillows in another colorway, and the Quill Basket blanket.


The Micmac (Mi’kmaq), a First Nations people of New England and eastern Canada, tell of a long-ago star that fell from the sky into the Atlantic Ocean and crawled to shore. The People called it “gog-wit” which means “eight-legged star fish.” The image appeared on petroglyphs in Nova Scotia 500 years ago. It later became the defining motif on Micmac quilled birch baskets—and the inspiration for this blanket’s central element. Porcupine quills are one of the oldest forms of embellishment found on hides and baskets. The Micmac artisans were so skilled at quillwork, the French called them “Porcupine Indians.” Their quill-decorated baskets set the standard for the craft, which flourished for centuries among Eastern, Great Lakes and Plains tribes. Later embroidery traditions using glass beads, which replaced quills in the mid-1800s, were built upon Micmac techniques and designs. This blanket’s intricate pattern and subtle colors, woven in our American mills, are a tribute to the ancient art of quilled basketry.

Both of these shots are magnificent, and we are proud to be eatured in them. But when we wrote to the photograp[her for permission to share them, they sent a couple of outtakes along with their release.

Wasn’t it W.C. Fields who said, “Never work with children or animals?”




Work is done for the day, right Mr. Jack Russell? Time to hit the open road…especially since it’s Friday!

C&I Magazine’s Spring Fashion Issue

Spring is getting here, we hope, and Cowboys & Indians is making us look fantastic in their latest Spring Fashion Issue.



 Our women’s Denim Shirt with an adorable afghan skirt!



Our Mixed Media Shell makes a perfect first layer.



Everyone loves our Frontier shirt.



Our original High Grade Westernwear wool shirt, the Canyon.


We always love to see what C&I does with Pendleton! Here’s one of our favorite shoots from a few years ago.


Apr_Cowboys&Indians_MWShirt_Spread2So go get your Spring on! It’s about time, yes?

Atlantic Video — The Gem of the Pacific Northwest: A Visual Ode to Oregon’s Seashore


Click here to watch the video: The Gem of the Pacific Northwest: A Visual Ode to Oregon’s Seashore

We urge you–strongly urge you–to click the link to watch this beautiful video posted by the Atlantic. It captures the charm and the chill of our home state’s seaboard. It begins with the moon, which is appropriate for a region that is controlled by the tides, and sometimes starved for the sun. There is swimming (in shorts) and surfing (in wetsuits), sitting on the sand (in sweatshirts). There are hardworking fishermen who buy our shirts to stay warm. There are the contented cows of the Tillamook County Creamery Association, feeding happily on the dense grass that grows in air that’s lush with moisture. Waves, trees and rock formations form a natural backdrop for mankind’s contribution; piers, docks and buildings that fight a constant battle to stay painted and standing under the constant barrage of mist, rain, wind and salt. We think this video does a perfect job of conveying why everyone in Oregon doesn’t live at the coast, and why everyone in Oregon secretly thinks we might want to.

We hope you can see some of this Oregon in our Journey West and Mission Mill blankets, which commemorate the westward journey and first mill of our founder, Thomas Kay.

jacquard_journey_west jacquard_mission_mill

Journey West is based on a piece of fine European weaving. The original blanket was discovered recently in a 19th-century European mill and included the designer’s notes and calculations, handwritten neatly along the sides. Our modern Pendleton designers viewed this historic work of art with reverence and used it as inspiration for our Journey West jacquard design. This design’s European origins echo the story of master weaver Thomas Kay, who began his training as a bobbin boy in English mills before coming to America to establish the family legacy that led to Pendleton Woolen Mills.  Mission Mill is named for the mill in Salem, Oregon, that was built (and rebuilt) by Thomas Kay after he made his way to Oregon. The Thomas Kay Woolen Mill turned out the first bolt of worsted wool west of the Mississippi. The old mill is a part of the historic Mission Mill Museum in Salem, Oregon. The Victorian colors and composition of the design are a nod to our founder’s English ancestry.

Oregon is a state of great natural beauty, climatic variability and bountiful resources. Thomas Kay must have understood that when he settled in Salem. Our state’s population continues to grow, but we want to warn those of you who are considering the Oregon coast as your destination: watch the video and pay attention. If you move here, you’re going to need blankets.

#pendletonpups on Instagram: Little Dogs Rule

We love to see your Pendleton lifestyle on Instagram. Please tag us with #pendleton to make sure we see you, and your #pendlepups!


Sad Pom! You have a treat and a Pendleton spa towel. Why so sad, little Pom?


Do Dachshunds dream of being Greyhounds? This one does, on a Chimayo throw. Did you know our Chimayo throw now comes in six different colorations? Well, now you do!


She can't resist either • sunbathing in #pendleton #puds @pendletonwm

A photo posted by Kerrie Inouye (@kerrie_inouye) on

A wee beach dawgie naps on a Pendleton spa towel. Our spa towels continue to be just the thing for beach and poolside, so take one along on your vacation this winter.


Rocco Pom received a Painted Pony baby blanket of his own, because clearly he is somebody’s baby. But he is not to be playing with the Lucky Bear, because that belongs to another baby.


@PendletonWM #ChristmasEve #party #Christmas #Pupster #SantaAnticipation

A photo posted by Lydia Marie (@lydiamrie) on

Tiny terrier on tartan. Say that three times fast.


Wee Frenchies recline on a Hemrich Stripe camp blanket. Our camp blankets continue to be a terrific choice for dorm rooms, sofa throws, and picnic blankets.


Some Rat Terriers have their close-up moment in a Chief Joseph blanket. This is Pendleton’s oldest ongoing pattern, in the line since the 1920s.


Millionaire seems to be enjoying my new #Pendleton blanket… I woke up to her wrapped in it. #momentswithsunday

A photo posted by Danielle💎💄🍻💃 (@bobsegerdanceparty) on

Tiny Dingo on a Pendleton, Snug pug on a Pendleton. It’s hard to ID these blankets, because they are shown on the reverse and there’s an Instagram filter on the shot.


Sunday Morning 🍞

A photo posted by TOAST MEETS WORLD™ (@toastmeetsworld) on

It’s a dog’s life for this sleeply spaniel, tucked in under a 5th Avenue throw in the Glacier National Park stripe.

ROXY x Pendleton. We <3 This.

Kelia Moniz Roxy9

We have a new collaborative partner with Roxy, a premiere surf and beach brand for women.


With several bikinis, two of which show strong 1940s influence, a coverup, towel, beach throw and more, it’s a perfect pairing of Pendleton’s surf roots and Roxy’s place in competitive surfing. You can see the entire collection here.

Our roots with surfing go back over fifty years, to the days when surfing was just coming to Southern California. The Majorettes were singing about Pendleton shirts, and The Beach Boys were The Pendletones, named for their wardrobe of Pendleton shirts.  Surfing, like everything else, has come a long way, especially in the area of women’s participation…and domination!


We love seeing the collection at work on champion Lisa Andersen in this video:

Roxy: 25 Years of ROXY with Lisa Andersen

And this video gives a close look at the production of the wool part of the collection, with narration from our company’s president, Mort Bishop III.

Roxy and Pendleton: Two Surf Brands

Yes, we are pretty proud of this one. Go check it out!

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On Route 66 with Pendleton and the Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue

You’ve probably bought yours, and you probably didn’t buy it to look at the blankets, but we are pleased as can be to be featured in the 2015 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit issue. Here’s a fun little move that gives you a look behind the scenes: Behind the Tanlines

Seriously, the movie fun to watch. It captures the reactions of locals as a bunch of bikini-clad beauties breezing into the small towns along Route 66. Between their sessions of stretching, pouting and posing, the models are a sweet and somewhat goofy bunch of women. Here’s a fetching still of Ariel Meredith to get you interested.



Yes, the photos were taken along Route 66, so our Americana design, Brave Star, was a perfect choice.



Sara Sampaio posed with the blanket, as well, and in the magazine you can see it with Ashley Smith.



Our Serape makes an appearance in the foothills with the natural beauty of Jessica Gomes.




Our Chimayo throw blends perfectly with the landscape, letting Nina Agdal’s beauty shine. It’s shown in Agave Stripe, and our photo below is the Coral version.






And of course, there’s the stunning Robyn Lawley with the Bright River blanket.




We also sent along a Route 66 blanket, but that doesn’t seem to have made its way in.

The magazine has other shots, equally as beautiful and risque enough that we are going to let you pick it up on your own to see them. Certainly these photos are gorgeous enough!

VOGUE cover shoot: Taylor Swift, Karlie Kloss and Pendleton


We were super excited to see these shots from the March cover shoot for VOGUE, featuring Taylor Swift and Karlie Kloss.





Yes, that’s our Chief Joseph blanket peeking around inside that beautiful Airstream trailer.


We love the combination of two traditional American firms, Airstream and Pendleton, making a backdrop for two young American style icons. The BoHo vibe is adorable, and their friendship is palpable.




All photos courtesy (source). Look for this issue soon on newsstands.



Curtis Kulig and Pendleton: #lovemewashere

In the spirit of love, here’s a little video shot when Curtis Kulig visited our mill to see his collaborative blanket in production.

From us to you with a little help from Curtis, Happy Valentine’s Day.

Canvas & Wool on the McKenzie by Greg Hatten

Our friend Greg Hatten writes about his “home water,” Oregon’s McKenzie River. Greg uses our Yakima Camp blankets and National Park Series blankets on his expeditions. You can learn more about the Parks and the blankets they have inspired here. But for now, just enjoy a trip on the river with Greg. 

far-campThe McKenzie River in the Cascade Range of Oregon is my “home – water” – it’s where I learned to row a drift boat and where I feel the most comfortable on the oars.  Her icy waves, aqua pools, moss covered boulders and challenging rapids bring me back again and again.  It’s a rock garden playground for a wood drift boat and a 90 mile paradise for native redside rainbow trout as the river makes its way down the valley and folds into the Willamette River on its way to the Pacific Ocean.

Tall stands of Douglas fir, western hemlock and red cedar line the banks and steep hills forming a solid curtain of subtle shades of green on both sides of the river. As the McKenzie cuts through the Willamette National Forest, there are small pockets and openings within the dense trees to camp alongside the river.

For 8,000 years, this river was home to Native Americans – mostly of the Kalapuya and the Molala tribes.  In 1812 it was explored by the Pacific Fur Company and was named for the expedition leader, Donald Mackenzie.

Camping in canvas and wool seems appropriate in this place and my mind drifts back in time 200 years as I set up the tent in a small clearing of towering  trees.  With so little evidence of civilization around us, it’s easy to wonder what those explorers in 1812 experienced as they reached this spot on the river, what they saw, how they camped, how they fished, and cooked and ate.

I spread a Pendleton blanket (Badlands National Park) over the floor of the teepee tent, unfurled the cowboy bedrolls and enjoyed the coziness of the shelter for a moment before starting a campfire .  The oars from the boat become a triangle “lamp stand” when lashed together and the camp lantern hanging above our campsite gives off a warm glow casting playful shadows on the ground and tent.  It’s a comfortable camp filled with nostalgia and authenticity.



Most of my river guests prefer an overnight experience that includes running water, indoor toilets, soft beds, clean sheets, and WIFI.  Not these guests! These guests requested a unique and rustic adventure filled with wood boats, canvas tents, wool blankets, and warm campfires. They wanted to get away from cell phones, computers, and modern conveniences.   It’s an unfiltered McKenzie River experience they seek – a direct connection to the explorers and pioneers that originally explored this McKenzie River Valley.

That evening we ate smoked salmon, fresh vegetables, pasta, and organic strawberries that were so sweet they tasted like they’d been soaking in a brine of sugar water.  After dinner the smoky smell of the campfire complemented the scotch we drank as we talked about the day and made our plans for the next.

Our canvas tent and bedrolls sat on a layer of pine needles and loose soil that created such a soft quiet cushion, sleep came easy.  We inhaled the evergreen aroma of pine and I wondered if it was the same smell two hundred years ago.  The sounds of the running river were close enough to hear but not close enough to disturb as we slumbered away under a canopy of dark swaying boughs overhead.

Morning came early and we broke camp quickly so we could get to the pressing business of river running in a wood boat.  The Class III Marten’s Rapid was on our river agenda and on my mind all morning as we navigated minor rapids and fished our way to the top of this most treacherous rapid on the McKenzie.  As usual, we heard it before we saw it with its low growl that warned of danger.  Two days before us, a drift boat hit the left wall so hard it left a mark on the rock – the moment of impact was captured by a photographer below the rapid and the picture was plastered all over web sites and facebook.


When the river is low in mid summer, the slot gets narrow and the holes get deep so we pull into an eddy behind “house rock” at the top of the rapid to catch our breath and confirm our line.  The path looks more complicated than usual.  We pushed out of the eddy and picked up speed.  We put the nose of the boat as close to the “can opener” rock as possible and then pulled hard to miss it by a foot.  A rebounding wave off the rock knocked us off course a little and sent us flying towards the wall on the left.  Digging the oars deep, slowed the boat just enough to narrowly miss the wall.  We immediately dropped into a series of sharp swells that tried to swallow the boat and soaked us with breaking waves over the prow.   It was a roller coaster ride with two big holes at the bottom, which we threaded and then pulled over to dry off and bail water out of the boat.  Quite a ride!!


Some of my favorite rapids on the river are below Marten’s.  They are technical but not brutal and the boat moved with elegance – threading rocks, skirting eddies and working in perfect harmony with the river. The afternoon was hot and sunny as we settled into a rhythm of rowing rapids and fly fishing for trout.



The last fish brought to the boat that day was a beautiful native redside rainbow trout, a fitting end to a throw-back adventure of Canvas & Wool on the McKenzie.











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