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Posts tagged ‘Thomas Kay’

The Limited Edition Guide Shirt: 9 Decades of Pendleton Wool Shirts

Limited Edition Guide Shirt for 2014 by Pendleton, photo by Taylor Painter

This fall, we’re offering a limited edition Guide shirt in an edition of 1863. Why 1863? Because, of course, that’s when our weaving legacy’s founder, Thomas Kay, arrived in Oregon. We made the shirt in an amber and brown ombre plaid that appears to be straight out of the Pendleton archives, but was developed just for this year. Each shirt has a hand-numbered label:

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This shirt model first appeared in our 1927 men’s shirt line. Back then it was called The Buckaroo. Thanks to the Pendleton archives, here’s a look at the Buckaroo’s debut (you can click to enlarge):

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Yes, we understand that it looks comical to the modern eye to have a man going hunting wearing a bowtie and trilby. Perhaps sportsmen really were that much more dapper in 1927.

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He also oddly resembles Peter Sellers, but this was long before Inspector Clouseau’s time.

But back to the Buckaroo. As a manufacturer of Native American trade blankets, Pendleton Woolen Mills was (and still is) headquartered in the west.  It made sense to capitalize on America’s fascination with all things western in the early part of the last century, so our garments were named accordingly. But despite the rodeo name, the Buckaroo was meant to be worn in a variety of settings. The dressiness of the shirt depended on the fabric, not the cut; plaids for hunting, solids for fishing, and broadcloth solids or stripes for “dress-up.” The plaids/solid demarcation is a bit baffling. Were the plaids better for forest camouflage? Would plaids startle the fish? Despite these marketing mysteries, America responded to this shirt line with enthusiasm. The Pendleton wool shirt became a wardrobe staple.

Pendleton wool shirt, Taylor Painter photography

Of course, you become a part of this history every time you choose a Pendleton shirt. The limited Edition Guide Shirt is available at pendleton-usa.com and other retailers. Enjoy some special shots of this shirt taken by Portland photographer Taylor Painter, who you should immediately follow on Instagram.

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Children and the Mills

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We are haunted by this beautiful shot of a young girl in the North Carolina mill where she worked. It was taken by Lewis Hines, who took over 5,000 photos of children while working for the National Child Labor Committee in the early 1900s. This photo is part of a feature in the Charlotte Observer about the efforts to identify unnamed subjects of those photos.

Child labor was part of life in early textile mills. Our own founder, Thomas Kay, got his start in Yorkshire mills as a bobbin boy in the 1840s. According to Wikipedia, “A bobbin boy was a boy who worked in a textile mill in the 18th and early 19th centuries. He would bring bobbins to the women at the looms when they called for them, and collected the full bobbins of spun cotton or wool thread. They also would be expected to fix minor problems with the machines. Average pay was about $1.00 a week, with days often beginning at 5:30 am and ending around 7:30 pm six days a week.”

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The boy above is Tony Soccha, a bobbin boy in the Chicopee, Massachusetts mill. And if you would like to know who the pensive little girl is in the photo above,  you can read the full story here.

Pendleton x Ural Motorcycles

Ural Gaucho Rambler

Pendleton is delighted to show you the Ural Gaucho Rambler, our collaboration with IMZ-Ural, one of the world’s oldest motorcycle manufacturers. The Gaucho Rambler pays homage to the famed Southwestern cowboy, or Gaucho.

Ural specializes in retro-inspired three-wheelers. This sidecar model is painted Pacific Blue with a sun-weathered canvas draping to echo the colors of the western sunset.  Each bike carries a specially labeled Journey West blanket robe for warmth under the starry night skies. Because every cowboy should have the means to rustle up some grub, each bike also includes a mess kit with coffee pot and cups, plates and a skillet.

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“Ural and Pendleton are two companies which at different points in time ventured out to find home in the American West, both of which endured many challenges and yet all the while maintained their authenticity,” said Madina Merzhoeva, Ural’s VP of Sales & Marketing. “This year Pendleton’s anniversary celebrates 150 years of weaving textiles in America and Ural marks its 20th year in the US. Paying homage to our beginnings and the pioneering spirit is what connects the two brands and inspired this collaboration.”

The partnership of historic brands was a natural fit. Only 50 units of the 2013 Gaucho Rambler will be manufactured, so saddle up and have some fun while you can.

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Thomas Kay should be in your mailbox.

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The Thomas Kay Collection should be arriving in your mailbox today via catalog. 

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 Joining our founder’s British roots with the sensibilities of the American West, the men’s and women’s apparel and Home goods in this collection tell the Pendleton story. We hope you enjoy!

Thomas Kay Gear, Made in the USA

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As part of this year’s Thomas Kay Collection, we are offering select gear that echoes our founder’s craftsman ideals. The gear in the Thomas Kay Collection has been carefully chosen to reflect American standards of craftsmanship and integrity.

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For nearly eight decades, Zippo® has been manufacturing lighters in Bradford, Pennsylvania. Their patented windproof lighter is an American icon in peace and war. For the Thomas Kay Collection, we offer this 1941 Replica™  in brushed chrome with a vintage Pendleton logo engraved on the side: “Where quality decides, we always win. Pendleton Woolen Mills.”

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We didn’t go far to find the next product; the Thomas Kay Leatherman® tool is made by the Oregon company that has been manufacturing this indispensible tool since 1983. A stainless steel Leatherman® is 18 handy tools in one; knives, pliers, scissors, screwdriver, corkscrew and more. Our version is engraved with our vintage tilted logo, and presented in a Pendleton jacquard wool pouch.

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The Thomas Kay Camp Stool is also made in Oregon by the hands-on craftspeople at Wood and Faulk. This ingenious design combines hardwood, Pendleton wool and rugged leather. It’s is comfortable, collapsible and easy to carry, thanks to the detachable strap. You can see the manufacture and some really beautiful shots over at their blog.

We’re proud of this group of American-made products, and of the heritage that inspired them. Remember, “Where Quality Decides, We Always Win.”

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Pendleton 150 press event for Fall 2013

Last Thursday at the Ace Hotel, the staff wore Beach Boys shirt, the room was full of the most beautiful Pendleton line imaginable, and the showroom was abuzz with press. If you were there, thank you for coming. If you were not, please enjoy a few photos!

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Will we see you tonight at our Portland Store?

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The Thomas Kay Collection: a Pioneer’s Legacy

photo of Thomas Kay

Pendleton Woolen Mills dates our founding to 1863, when an adventuresome young weaver named Thomas Kay settled in the brand new state of Oregon. The story of Pendleton began earlier in the mid-19th century when Thomas Kay was a bobbin boy in Yorkshire mills, working his way up to weaver before sailing for America to continue his training on the East coast.

In 1863, Thomas Lister Kay traveled by boat, burro and buggy to settle in the new state of Oregon. Using his genius for fabric, Thomas Kay staked his knowledge and integrity on the success of his mill, which soon turned out the first bolt of worsted wool west of the Mississippi. The Kay Woolen Mill was once the largest weaving facility in the West. It still stands as a working museum in Salem, Oregon, a symbol of pioneering spirit and innovative technology.

Thomas established a tradition of excellence by weaving the finest woolen textiles in America, a tradition he passed on to his daughter Fannie Kay Bishop and her sons. Six generations later, Thomas Kay’s descendants weave on at Pendleton Woolen Mills, heirs to his manufacturing legacy.  Every product is still “Warranted To Be A Pendleton,” an homage to Thomas Kay’s original commitment to quality.

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In recognition of our founder, we have launched a signature brand for Pendleton Woolen Mills; The Thomas Kay Collection.  Inspired by Kay’s desire to weave woolens of the highest merit, Pendleton offers classic and traditional apparel and accessories for Men, Women and Home for Fall 2013.

The Thomas Kay Collection embodies a heritage of fabric craft and discovery. Richly patterned jacquard, tweed and plaid fabrics are woven by craftspeople in Pendleton’s Pacific Northwest mills. Each item has been carefully fashioned to reflect Thomas Kay’s history, marrying proper English refinement with a distinctly American sense of style. The Thomas Kay label stands for 150 years of honesty, artistry and authenticity.

A fitting introduction to the collection is found in this motto from the Pendleton archives: “Where Quality Decides, We Always Win”

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If you’d like to see more about the Thomas Kay line, please visit our Facebook page.

Sheep to Shawl at the Mission Mill

Long time Pendleton fans might know that Thomas Kay was an English weaver who came to Oregon in 1863 to found the business that became Pendleton Woolen Mills. You can still tour Thomas Kay’s mill today, at the Willamette Heritage Center in Salem, Oregon.

A wonderful time to visit the center is the annual  Sheep to Shawl event. Each year in early June, the Center hosts the proud owners of sheep, goats, alpacas, llamas and yes, bunnies. Children shyly or boldly approach the animals, offering grass and exclaiming at the coats, eyes, hooves and odors, while their parents shop for handicrafts and exotic yarns.

One of the more popular exhibits is the sheep shearing. This skill requires so much strength. It’s true, the sheep aren’t usually excited about their haircuts, but they are so much more comfortable afterwards.

Tours of the old mill run regularly. These are offered year-round, so don’t wait for Sheep to Shawl to go if you’re curious.  The gigantic old looms, carts of spools and spindles, even the original time cards are still there. It’s a place to linger, to immerse yourself in a time long past. 

Pendleton is still busy weaving in the USA. We have two union mills in Pendleton, Oregon and Washougal, Washington, and those are state-of-the-art, modern facilities kept very busy producing the textiles for our blankets and apparel. The Thomas Kay Woolen Mill is a different kind of mill; a little dusty, a lot nostalgic, and full of a history that continues today in Pendleton Woolen Mills. Go see it, but until you can, here’s a slideshow.

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