The looms continue weaving in Washougal, Washington, as the mill celebrates 100 years as a key part of Pendleton Woolen Mills’ operations. Running three shifts a day, the mill’s 190 employees keep the dye house, looms and sewing rooms humming to produce the virgin wool fabric used in Pendleton products.
Washougal sits on the banks of the Columbia River at the entry to the scenic Columbia River Gorge. Pendleton was already operating a mill in Pendleton, Oregon, when the company acquired the Washougal mill in 1912. The additional mill gave Pendleton the ability to weave a wider variety of fabrics. Sir Pendleton worsted and Umatilla woolen fabric are both woven in Washougal, as well as fabrics for the women’s line. “The Washougal community helped fund the startup of this mill and has supported Pendleton ever since,” said Charlie Bishop, VP of Mill Operations. In turn, the mill has been a major employer in this small Washington town since it opened.
We take a lot of calls at Pendleton from people hoping to learn the value, the year, or sometimes just the name of a particular garment. We can’t help with the value, we try to help with the year, and we can almost always come up with the name. When a man calls and asks about a jacket, he’s usually trying to figure whether it’s a Topster or a Topsman, two very popular jackets from Pendleton’s past.
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.
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.
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.