To all of you from all of us here at Pendleton Woolen Mills. Have the best Independence Day ever!
Backpack by Hold Fast Gear
We sent our Grand Canyon blanket home to Grand Canyon National Park with photographer Krisitan Irey, celebrating 100 years of our National Park Service.
Kristin’s thoughtful shots at the rim of this natural marvel are some of our favorites. And the Grand Canyon is one of the recipients of our fundraising efforts. All year, through sales of our own and collaborative National Park projects, we have been raising money to help restore the Grand Canyon’s train depot.
The Grand Canyon Depot in Grand Canyon Village is the Park’s “front door,” used as a meeting place for adventurers for over 100 years. This National Historic Landmark is the Park’s most-photographed man-made structure. Pendleton’s contributions will help improve accessibility and preserve the character of this National Historic Landmark.
According to the National Park Service, “Nearly 230,000 visitors per year arrive at the Depot via the Grand Canyon Railway, which is an important component of the park’s transportation system. Currently the Grand Canyon Railway, owned and operated by Xanterra Parks and Resorts, runs up to two trains per day to the park from Williams, Arizona – saving approximately 300 daily vehicle trips during the peak visitor season.” That is approximately 50,000 cars, trucks and campers that will not add wear, tear and crowding to roads leading in and out of the park, thanks to the train.
Before the railroad opened in 1901, tourists had to fork over $15.00 for a three-day stagecoach ride to see the Grand Canyon. Upon arrival, they were accommodated in tent camps, a situation that didn’t change until the Santa Fe Railroad hired architect Mary Elizabeth Jane Coulter to design six iconic buildings for the park, mostly on the South Rim.
Her work still stands today, having become an integral part of this vast, commanding landscape.
So put on your boots, hop on the train, and go. The Grand Canyon is waiting.
Grand Canyon Park Series: SHOP
Ed. note: Please enjoy a visit with some volunteers we profiled last year; Jim and Ellie Burbank.
Our National Parks are protected and enriched by a small army of volunteers whose time, enthusiasm and energy are put to use in so many ways. Over the next year, we would like to recognize the efforts of some of the people who help protect America’s Treasures. Today, we’re going to start with Jim and Ellie Burbank. The words below come from Lauren Gass, Special Projects Director for the Great Smoky Mountains Park.
Jim and Ellie Burbank give selflessly of their time on a weekly basis to enhance and improve Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Residents of the great state of Tennessee, they embody the volunteer spirit. They are former operators of the Snowbird Inn in Robbinsville, NC. Ellie is a world-class chef and baker and Jim is a retired biologist with the Tennessee Valley Authority. Both are weekly hikers who thrill at any chance to introduce their friends and family members from across the U.S. and around the world to the wonders and beauty of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Jim is a key member of the Volunteers-in-Parks program, and the Friends of the Smokies Tennessee office just would not function very well without Ellie’s help.
Jim actually goes out and meets strangers and tells them about the national park in his work as a weekly educational interpretive volunteer in Cades Cove, and he meets plenty of them with 2.5 million people visiting this beloved valley in Great Smoky Mountains National Park every year. He also leads monthly full moon walks in the Cove for campers and families to experience the quietude of this mountain treasure at night. Jim also leads wildflower walks for other nonprofit organizations including Friends of the Smokies, and has helped countless hundreds of hikers differentiate between a yellow trillium and a trout lily.
Ellie acknowledges all of the contributions made to Friends of the Smokies, which involves keeping the organization’s donor records up-to-date and accurate, printing tens of thousands of acknowledgment letters each year, and she does it all in two days each week. She has volunteered with Friends for more than 14 years, and is the equivalent of another part-time staff member. Jim and Ellie dedicate substantial amounts of time to impart their love of Great Smoky Mountains National Park to others, and they take their volunteer work very seriously. They are extremely knowledgeable about the Park and its needs.
The Great Smoky Mountains national Park hosts over 9,000,000 visitors each year. Yes, you read that correctly–Nine. Million. Visitors. As the most-visited park in the United States, it needs the help of people like the Burbanks. We thank them sincerely for their generosity and commitment.
Learn more about helping to support our National Parks here.
Today, we want to talk about PDX Beer Week. As the website explains,
Portland Beer Week is eleven days of fun, educational, eye and palate opening eating and drinking events in the greatest beer city on earth. More than just a beer festival, Portland Beer Week is a celebration of craft beer culture and all of its tangents from food pairings to beer ice cream, artwork and design, film and science.
You owe it to yourself to check out the events for this, if you’re in Portland or anywhere near it. And of course, we’re so proud of our own newest entry into the world of craft brews, thanks to ROGUE Ales & Spirits.
The Crater Lake Lodge recently held a tasting, and we got serious thumbs-up for the brew’s crisp, clear, yet complex flavors.
You can find this beer at select Pendleton stores as well as the usual Rogue locations.
Welcome to the most visited national park in the United States, Great Smoky Mountains National Park. These misty mountains welcome nine to ten million visitors per year. The park covers more than 800 square miles in Tennessee and North Carolina, making it the largest national park east of the Rockies.
We sent our blanket home to the Great Smokys with one of our #pendle10park explorers. True to their name, the mountains were cloaked with heavy mist, caused by high elevation, 80 inches of rainfall per year, and a multitude of flora; 130 species of trees, over 100 native shrub species, and some 1,600 species of flowering plants.
The Cherokee called the region Shaconage, which translates to “mountains of the blue smoke.”
The park is home to many beautiful waterfalls that also play a part in creating that wonderful haze.
As an International Biosphere Reserve, the Park’s biological diversity is preserved and studied. A staggering 10,00 different species of plants and animals are recorded here, but there may be as many as 9o,000 more species of plant an animal life still to be identified.
With the help of a distance lens, our explorer encountered some of this wildlife, including one of the park’s 1500 black bears.
Elk, which were re-introduced to the park in 2001, are becoming more common. A herd of around 140 ranges on the North Carolina side of the park. Again, we promise that these beautiful shots were taken at a distance.
Great Smoky National Park is open 365 days a year, and park entry is free. Free! Yes, that means you have access to 850 miles of hiking (there is a fee for overnight camping. But it’s worth it to wake up and smell the coffee in a paradise like this.
Many thanks to our #pendle10park explorer, Ben Matthews.
See more of Ben’s work here:
Shop Pendleton’s National Park collection here: Great Smoky
In 2010, Pendleton Woolen Mills introduced our Tribute Series, paying homage to four of the American Mills that thrived during the Golden Age of Native American Trade blankets. Today, we will talk about Racine Woolen Mills, known for their intricate patterns.
In 1865, a Racine company began producing textiles under the name Blake & Company under the leadership of Lucien Blake and John Hart. In 1877, the company incorporated under the name of “Racine Woolen Mills—Blake & Company.” Racine Woolen Mills went on to become the premier producer and marketer of Native American Trade blankets.
Racine was well-established by 1893. Records show employees of 150 skilled weavers and gross sales of $300K, which was an robust amount for the day. Racine’s fringed shawls were produced under the “Badger State” label. These earliest shawls are relatively subdued by today’s standards, mostly plain with an in intricately designed border. Photos of these vintage shawls show the superior drape of the fabric. They were extremely popular with Native American women.
Native American women in Racine’s Ribbon-pattern shawls
Each of the companies in our tribute series has its own trademark specialty. Buell is known for faithful reproduction of Native American weaving patterns. Oregon City is famed for fanciful figural patterns and unexpected, riotous color. Racine Woolen Mills blankets are valued for unexpected, intense colors and intricate patterns. Diamonds, crescent moons, five-pointed stars, ribbon bows, compass roses, combs, waterbugs, pipes and feathers are woven with definition and clarity. The sheared finish of a vintage Racine blanket keeps the designs crisp and the hand smooth.
The famed Racine quality was maintained after production was taken over by another fine weaving mill, Shuler & Benninghofen, a mill that produced blankets for Racine until (approximately) 1915. Racine continued to merchandise and market trade blankets procured from different manufacturers until 1940 or so. They seem to have stopped offering wool trade blankets after that, though they kept on as a wholesaler of other styles of woolen blankets and goods until 1951, when Racine Woolen Mills closed doors for good.
Hidatsa Man by Edward Curtis
According to our friend Barry Friedman in his book Chasing Rainbows, “The last ‘genuine’ Racine blankets were made in the 1930s, when John Hart asked Paul Benninghofen to make one of the old patterns. It was a special favor, because by then Shuler & Benninghofen no longer produced trade blankets and Racine hadn’t contracted to have them made there or anywhere else in years.” The Racine blankets beloved by collectors come from the golden years of 1893-1912, and the Pendleton Mill Tribute blankets are re-creations of blankets from that period.
Racine #7 (available here): Muted colors were rare for Racine. The original blanket was woven for Racine Woolen Mills by Shuler & Benninghofen.
Racine #6 (available here): Tomahawks, Bows and Arrows
Racine #5 (retired): Banded Diamonds
Racine #4 (retired): A dizzying array of color, sawteeth and stars
Racine#3 (retired, with a limited number available here): Crescent Moon and Shining Star
Racine #2 (retired): Pipe and Feather – the other elements are two Navajo weaving combs, and an arrow under the pipe
Racine #1 (retired): Class Y in the Racine catalog, “Yuma” in the Shuler & Benninghofen catalog
Racine Woolen Mills has an interesting intersection with Pendleton’s history. In 1905, Racine Woolen Mills was furiously negotiating to buy a struggling mill in Pendleton, Oregon, with plans to increase trade blanket production by 300 percent. Those negotiations proved fruitless, and the Pendleton mill went silent in 1908. In 1909, Fanny Kay Bishop organized her three sons to take it over and transform it into the company we know today.
If Racine Woolen Mills had purchased the mill, who knows what the Pendleton story would have been?
The Teddy bear is a childhood constant; a quiet and cuddly friend to children for generations. But do you know where the Teddy bear got his name?
President Theodore Roosevelt was invited to go bear hunting in November of 1902 by Mississippi Governor Andrew H. Longino. The hunting party hunted in the woods near Onward, Mississippi. When the President, a noted sportsman and accomplished big game hunter, had not located a bear, the hunting party decided to take matters in hand. His assistants cornered a black bear and tied it to a tree. All President Roosevelt had to do was fire a single shot to bag his trophy. But Teddy Roosevelt was offended by the lack of sportsmanship in this enterprise, and refused to take his shot.
Of course, the public loved this story. Teddy Roosevelt was a dashing figure, well known for his years as a Rough Rider. His romantic writings about the American wilderness helped to inspire the creation of our system of National Parks. His steadfast insistence on sportsmanship on the hunt inspired newspaper articles and a famous cartoon by cartoonist Clifford Berryman.
According to history.com, what came next was a national toy craze:
Inspired by the cartoon, Brooklyn, New York, shopkeeper Morris Michtom and his wife Rose made a stuffed fabric bear in honor of America’s 26th commander-in-chief and displayed it with a sign, “Teddy’s bear,” in their store window, where it attracted interest from customers. After reportedly writing to the president and getting permission to use his name for their creation, the Michtoms went on to start a successful company that manufactured teddy bears and other toys.
Meanwhile, around the same time the Michtoms developed their bear, a German company founded in 1880 by seamstress Margarete Steiff to produce soft toy animals began making a plush bruin of its own. Designed in 1902 by Steiff’s nephew Richard, who modeled it after real-life bears he’d sketched at the zoo, the mohair bear with jointed limbs debuted at a German toy fair in 1903. ()
“Teddy’s bears” were an immediate and enduring hit with children.
They even inspired their own book series about the Roosevelt Bears! Author Seymour Eaton expounded on the international adventures of two bear cubs. Read about these books and see their absolutely charming illustrations here: Roosevelt Bears
Teddy bears remain one of the world’s favorite toys, and here at Pendleton, we have our own favorites. Our Teddys are National Park Teddys, to honor the president and the parks he helped inspire. We have bears for Glacier, Grand Canyon, Yellowstone (a grizzly, of course), and Badlands parks.
We love their park-stripe hats and muffflers, their huggable tummies, but most of all we love their floppy feet.
You can learn more about our bears here: Pendleton Teddy Bears
Pendleton Woolen Mills is proud to be part of the National Park Experience series with a new short film, “Canyon Song.”
Canyon Song follows the Draper family as they practice traditional indigenous farming methods in the Canyon de Chelly Wilderness.
As a portrait of two young Dine girls, Tonisha and Tonielle Draper, “Canyon Song” artfully positions the historic with the modern. The girls sing songs about social media (you should watch the closing credits to enjoy this) and visit the carnival. Tonisha participates in competitions that showcase understanding and reverence for Navajo culture.
These girls are the heart of the film, and their smiles, voices and joy will haunt you.
Spider Woman, one of the major Navajo deities, is traditionally said to live at the top of Spider Rock. In our research, we came across this description of her from an older book of legends:
The people gazed wide-eyed upon her shining beauty. Her woven upper garment of soft white wool hung tunic-wise over a blue skirt. On its left side was woven a band bearing the Butterfly and Squash Blossom, in designs of red and yellow and green with bands of black appearing in between. Her neck was hung with heavy necklaces of turquoise, shell and coral, and pendants of the same hung from her ears. Her face was fair, with warm eyes and tender lips, and her form most graceful. Upon her feet were skin boots of gleaming white, and they now turned toward where the sand spun about in whirlpool fashion. She held up her right hand and smiled upon them, then stepped upon the whirling sand. Wonder of wonders, before their eyes the sands seemed to suck her swiftly down until she disappeared entirely from their sight. (source)
Spider Woman is the original weaver, who wove the web of the Universe. She also played a key role in Earth’s creation as Tawa, the Sun God, sang the world into existence. Spider Woman made a gift of her weaving skills to her people as part of the “Beauty Way,” a Navajo tradition of balance in mind, body and spirit. She also has a fierce aspect. Parents would threaten their children with her wrath:
As children growing up at Spider Rock, Canyon De Chelly and Canyon Del Muerto, our grandmother would tell us of mischievous and disobedient children that were taken to Spider Woman and woven up in her tight weaving, after Talking God had spoken through the wind spirits to instruct Spider Woman on how to find and identify the bad little kids. Spider Woman would boil and eat the bad little kids, that is why there are white banded streaks at the top of Spider Rock, where the bones of the bad children still bleach the rocks to this day. (source)
Now, if that isn’t enough to make you behave…
It is a privilege to be part of a film that celebrates this harsh and beautiful country, and the people who live there. Please enjoy “Canyon Song.”
Photos courtesy of The National Park Experience.
See Pendleton’s Spider Rock pattern here: Spider Rock
Did you know that Pendleton holds a World Record? Well, now you know! It’s for a blanket, of course.
We think it’s fitting that the oldest and largest U.S. blanket manufacturer would make the world’s longest seamless blanket.
Here are the stats:
432 feet of seamlessly woven fabric equal to approximately 1 ½ football fields in length. The blanket measured 331,800 sq inches, 2,303 sq feet (more square footage than the average house in Portland, Oregon). The blanket required the fleece from over 50 sheep to produce.
380 pounds – so heavy, the blanket was rolled onto a giant spool and transported via forklift.
This is a Northwest effort; the yarn for the blanket was dyed, carded and spun at Pendleton’s Washougal, Washington mill. The 82% pure virgin wool/18% cotton blanket was woven in our Pendleton, Oregon mill. The blanket was washed, felted and bound in Pendleton’s Washougal, WA mill. Pendleton’s jacquard looms, which were used to weave The Largest/Longest Seamless Blanket required 778 minutes to weave. Typically the looms weave one blanket in 12 minutes.
The pattern is an archival design (since retired) that was part of our Heritage line. This is one of Pendleton’s oldest designs, dating back to the early 1900s.
It came to be called the Geronimo pattern after a photo of Chief Geronimo, who was photographed wrapped in a blanket in this pattern.
Chief Geronimo was of the Bedonkohe band of the Chiricahua Apache tribe. His bravery and heroism are legendary. Photo courtesy Barry Friedman
An extremely rare photo of Chief Geronimo and his followers waiting for battle. The Chief stands, unarmed, in front of the mounted warrior. Photo by C. S. Fly, March 1886
The World’s Longest Blanket visited the World Forestry Center in Portland, Oregon, and the Home & Garden Show. It was eventually cut and sewn into specially labeled throws with black felt binding. The proceeds of this sale went to charity. One of the throws is currently hanging in our Heritage hallway, if you’re ever in the neighborhood and would like to see one.
And that’s the story of our world record!
Friends in Canada sent us these photos of the ROOTS flagship store windows, featuring our collaboration with ROOTS and Horween Leather of Chicago.
You might recognize the pattern used from our Crossroads blanket:
Sometimes Canada is just too far away, isn’t it? Well, don’t worry. They ship to the USA.
Shop here: ROOTS x Pendleton x Horween