To all of you from all of us here at Pendleton Woolen Mills. Have the best Independence Day ever!
Backpack by Hold Fast Gear
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?
On a clear day, the waters of Crater Lake are a shade of blue seen nowhere else. The depth of the lake, the purity of the water and the clean Oregon skies are the source of this unearthly hue. You really have to see it to believe it.
Crater Lake sits almost two thousand feet above sea level and is the deepest lake in the United States. As the National Park Service says, “Crater Lake has inspired people for thousands of years. No place else on earth combines a deep, pure lake, so blue in color; sheer surrounding cliffs, almost two thousand feet high; two picturesque islands; and a violent volcanic past. It is a place of immeasurable beauty, and an outstanding outdoor laboratory and classroom.” (source)
Of all the beautiful Oregon locations seen in the movie “Wild,” it is Cheryl Strayed’s slow saunter across the backdrop of Crater Lake that elicits the strongest audience response.
It’s really that blue-and that’s the blue we chose for our Crater Lake National Park Series blanket.
Crater Lake formed in the collapsed caldera of Mount Mazama, an ancient volcano. It is not fed by any streams or tributaries. The 4.6 trillion gallons of water contained in the lake accumulated through 7,000 years of precipitation, and some sub-surface seepage. This accounts for the water’s unbelievable purity.
The lake contains two islands. Wizard Island is a volcanic cinder cone formed by continued eruptions after the collapse of Mount Mazama. Its picturesque name comes from an earlier time in Crater Lake’s history, when the lake was named the “Witches Cauldron.” That name didn’t stay, but Wizard Island’s name did remain. Crater Lake’s other island, Phantom Ship, is a rock formation that looks exactly like a pirate ship sailing on the lake’s surface if you tilt your head and squint a little, and believe.
You don’t have to hike to enjoy this park’s best view. It’s possible to drive right to the Crater Lake lodge and visit a patio that stretches across the back of the lodge. There you can sit in one of the rocking chairs, order a huckleberry martini and toast the best view in Oregon. And if you’re ready for outdoor action, Crater Lake offers hikes, bike rides around the rim, hikes and boat tours that include a stop on Wizard Island. If you do travel by boat, keep your eye out for “The Old Man of the Lake,” a hemlock stump that has been bobbing around the lake for over a century.
The Klamath and Modoc tribes consider Crater Lake a sacred site, and have myths about its creation. Because of the scientific accuracy of the Klamath myths, it’s believed that tribal members witnessed the creation of the lake and fashioned their sacred stories accordingly. You can read more here: Sacred legends of the Klamath and here: Science and Myth, the creation of Crater Lake.
It was a cloudy day when Kyle Houck, our #pendle10park explorer, took the Crater Lake blanket home for a visit. As you can see from Kyle’s shots, the park is still beautiful.
#pendle10parks photos by: @KYLEHOUCK
Find out more about our Crater Lake blanket here: Crater Lake
Share a Crater Lake/Rogue River adventure with Greg Hatten: WoodenBoat Adventures
There are many, many products out there claiming to be green. From the sheep to the shelf, Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® passes strict standards of sustainability and stewardship, verified and certified. This means that if you were to take a Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® blanket and bury it, it would leave the earth better, not worse, for the addition. That’s a nice way to explain it, but we make blankets for you to use, not to bury. Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® products are designed to be delightful to touch, easy to care for and beautifully colored. And they are woven in the USA of 100% virgin wool.
Let’s start with our newest throws for 2016. The Wool Herringbone throw is a classic herringbone weave that has enough pattern and texture to be interesting, but works well with any of our solids, stripes or plaids.
Also, we have bed blankets in the beautiful ombre plaids you think of when you think of Pendleton.
Be sure to check out the classic plaids, stripes and checks, too. These new block plaids coordinate with the stripes, and they are just begging to be thrown over the arm of your sofa.
The block plaid throws coordinate back to our one-color Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool® bed blankets. Here are some of our solids and heathers.
Wool is a perfect choice for top-of-bed. There is a subtlety to the texture, nothing shiny or artificial about it, and the colors will remain true forever. Go warm with with traditional plaids, rustic with stripes and heathers, or keep it contemporary with checks. We have you and your bed totally covered.
Blake Lively agrees!
So give us a visit and see all our colorful ways to be green.
The American Buffalo, or American Plains Bison, is a majestic symbol of the American West. Its story is rife with controversy and tragedy, and its resurgence stands as an important step towards a new beginning. You can read some of that history here: Buffalo History. You can read about the recovery efforts here: Buffalo recovery
This month, a group of 89 genetically pure buffalo calves will return to the Blackfeet of Montana tribe. These calves are descendants of a small group of buffalo that were husbanded in the Canadian wilderness preserves.
According to Smithsonian.com:
Back in 1872, Chris Peterson of Hungry Horse News reported that a Salish and Kootenai Warrior named Running Coyote was having trouble with his tribe. As an apology, he and several friends rounded up buffalo calves on Blackfeet land and brought them over the Continental Divide to the Salish and Kootenai as a gift. The apology didn’t really work out, and ranchers Charles Allard and Michel Pablo took charge of the bison herd, eventually growing it to 300 animals over the next 25 years.
Near the turn of the century, disputes over grazing rights meant the herd had to be sold. Teddy Roosevelt reportedly wanted the animals, but Congress wouldn’t release the funds. So Pablo sold the buffalo to the Canadian government, which shipped the animals to Elk Island National Park, outside Edmonton, Alberta, where the herd has stayed for over 100 years.
To celebrate the return of these animals to the US, we want to share a look at our Pendleton buffalo blankets. The names link to pendleton-usa.com, where you can find out more information on each of these beautiful blankets.
The rare white bison occurs only once in every 10 million births. In 1933, a white buffalo was born in the wild on Montana’s Flathead Indian Reservation and was called “Big Medicine” to reflect his sacred power. Many Native American tribes consider the return of the White Buffalo the fulfillment of an ancient prophecy and the beginning of a new era for the peoples and Mother Earth. Tradition spoke of the coming of a herd of pure White Buffalo. The seven bison on this blanket represent the seven directions: North, South, East, West, Above, Below and Within. Together they symbolize wholeness for mankind and the earth. Prayer pipes signify mankind’s communication with the Creator. In the center of the blanket, within the circle of life, are four hands representing the diverse peoples of the world and a new beginning. Shades of brown and green reflect the natural beauty of Mother Earth.
We have been asked over the years if this blanket contains real white buffalo hair. There was a VERY limited edition of this blanket woven with the hair of a rare white buffalo (and those will have a special patch to identify them) produced in 2010. Sales of the blanket helped benefit a nonprofit that, among other endeavors, funded the buffalo sanctuary where a rare white buffalo lived. You can read about that here: White Buffalo Blanket
The buffalo was revered by many Native American tribes. The meat gave them food. The hides provided robes for warmth, tepee covers for shelter and shields for protection. Horns were crafted into bowls and arrowheads, and fat was rendered for candles and soap. The Buffalo Roam blanket captures the power of that mighty beast of the plains. The design by Native American watercolor artist Joe Toledo puts the sacred buffalo in perspective. Looming large in close-up and appearing smaller in the distance, it was ever present in the lives of the Plains Indians. Mr. Toledo mixes soft rainwater with his colors to reflect images from his Jemez Pueblo culture. His works are exhibited in collections in the United States, Canada and Europe.
The Buffalo Wilderness design recalls a peaceful time long, long ago. It was the time when millions of buffalo roamed grassy plains from Oregon to the Great Lakes, from Canada to Mexico. Today our National Parks protect the wilderness, and the remaining buffalo there roam free. One of the largest herds (more than 4,000) of free-ranging wild buffalo lives in and around Yellowstone National Park. It is thought to be the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously since prehistoric times. You can also see herds in Badlands, Grand Teton, Theodore Roosevelt and Wind Cave National Parks. A portion of the sales of this blanket are donated to the National Park Foundation to support projects in Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks (details at the link at bottom of page).
The bison, often referred to as the buffalo, is the largest land mammal in North America. A big buffalo can weigh a ton (2,000 pounds!) and stand six feet tall. And they can run as fast as 35 miles an hour. Long ago millions of these mighty buffalo roamed the plains, prairies and river valleys. It was a time when there were no houses on the hills. When countless forests were green and the trees grew tall. When deer grazed by mighty rivers. Today you can see wild buffalo only in our National Parks, where they are protected. You can see one of the largest herds of wild buffalo in the United States in Yellowstone National Park. A portion of the sales of this blanket are donated to the National Park Foundation to support projects in Yellowstone and Grand Canyon National Parks. The Prairie Rush Hour is a jacquard throw that measures 64″ x 64″. This blanket is also available in crib-size.
Buffalo are not typically associated with Navajo culture. So when contemporary Navajo artist Andrew Hobson discovered a story of how the buffalo evolved in Navajo creation stories, he was fascinated. Hobson’s original painting of the Buffalo-Who-Never-Dies of the White Buffalo Tribe inspired this Pendleton blanket. In the tale, Buffalo became angry with Holy Man for having two buffalo women as his wives. Holy Man killed the angry buffalo with magic arrows and wands. But to his dismay, all the buffalos began to die. Then sad, Holy Man brought the buffalo back to life and showed him how to revive all the other buffalo. The central figure shows the angry buffalo fractured in pieces to symbolize his death and journey back to life. Four buffalo tribes are shown inside protective medicine hoops, and the four sacred mountain ranges of the Navajo surround the central buffalo. The artist frames the work in the abstract rainbow symbolizing his personal Yeii, or protective deity. This blanket is part of the Pendleton Legendary Series.
The new blanket introductions are always a a highlight here at Pendleton. We work on these designs for a full year before we ever see a sample roll off the loom. Something magical happens when flat, fine-edged designs are woven in wool. The patterns we thought we knew are that much more breathtaking when translated into textile form. It is always exciting and a little mysterious.
If you’ve pored over out website or catalog, then come into a store to see a blanket in person, you know exactly what we’re talking about. There is a depth and beauty to a blanket that’s truly breathtaking. Well, wait no more! The new blankets are up at pendleton-usa.com. We have some beautiful new room settings to inspire you. The blanket names are linked, you can click for more information at our website.
Do you like warm colors and sinuous lines? Topeka Plains might be your pattern.
The Great Plains cover over 500,000 square miles of North America. Long ago, this vast expanse of steppe and grassland was covered by tall grasses that supported the Plains Bison. The Bison in turn supported the way of life of nomadic tribes that hunted and farmed the prairies, including Blackfoot, Cheyenne, Pawnee, Crow, Comanche, Arapaho and many more. Topeka Plains pays tribute to the waving grasslands of the Great Plains with a harmonious pattern of sinuous lines. The balance of this banded design reflects the balance of life among the Nations of the Great Plains.
Cactus Trail is another colorful pattern, with primaries set off by a background of Oxford grey. It’s a tribute to the Cactus to Clouds Trail in California.
Jagged white peaks rise beside rows of Saltillo diamonds representing desert flora–Cholla and Barrel cactus, Banana Leaf yucca, Ribbonwood trees, Pinyon pines, Manzanita and scrub oak. Steps and hooks symbolize a path travelled partly in darkness. This is the Cactus to Clouds Trail, an 18-mile hike rising 10,300 feet from Palm Springs, California, to San Jacinto Peak. Built by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression, it is privately maintained by local hikers who install markers and maintain water caches along a challenging trail with the greatest elevation increase in the United States.
Infinite Steps (on the wall) is part of our new contemporary collection.
Through careful arrangement of color and shape, Infinite Steps creates a three-dimensional staircase on a two-dimensional plane. This is an optical illusion–an illustration that tricks the brain into seeing what is not actually there. The traditional craft of quilting uses many optical illusions in its patterns, such as Carpenter’s Color Wheel, Tumbling Blocks, Pinwheels and variations of the Log Cabin pattern. Infinite Steps pays tribute to the precision and planning quilters use when creating these dazzling effects.
Boro Patchwork is also part of the contemporary collection.
Boro patchwork reflects the value of ‘mottainai’ or ‘too good to waste.’ The word Boro, meaning ‘rags,’ describes items of clothing and bedding that have been patched and repaired many times. Boro clothing was worn by peasants, merchants and artisans in Japan from the Edo period through the early Showa period. Patches are often worked in hishizashi, personal stitching patterns developed by menders. Some Boro items are sewn through generations. The beautiful indigo shades of repaired cotton and rough-spun hemp work together in a subtle patchwork that reflects a culture’s devotion to preservation.
That is just a taste of what you will be seeing at pendleton-usa.com . Visit us often to see what’s rolling off the loom at our USA mills!
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!
Ed. note: in honor of Valentine’s Day, we bring you a repost on our “Love me” blanket with Curtis Kulig. Enjoy!
Curtis Kulig has left his signature mark all over the world. He’s achieved star status in the art scene, yet remains “SoHo’s most unexpected nice guy,” according to the New York Times. What else could you expect from a Midwesterner who has made his way in New York City based on one ubiquitous phrase:
We are pleased to offer Curtis Kulig’s collaborative blanket with Pendleton Woolen Mills. Kulig brings his two-word manifesto to life in black and cream. Titled ‘Hermann,’ the design takes its inspiration from famed psychologist Hermann Rorschach to offer what Kulig calls “a bit of Love therapy.”
The title is spot-on, as Kulig’s art relies on the response of the beholder. “love me” might be two simple words, but the response is always complicated. Is it a request, a demand, a plea? Is it made in the spirit of humility, desperation or celebration?
Said Kulig, “My dear friend Lindsey Thornburg asked me if I’d like to work with Pendleton and that’s what started the conversation. They are an amazing brand, truly American, and the craftsmanship that goes into every piece is incredible. I’m really honored to design a one of a kind blanket for them.”
The Curtis Kulig “Love Me” Hermann Blanket is produced in Pendleton’s original mill in Pendleton, Oregon. A patch and certificate authenticate the blanket as part of a very limited series. It’s tied with ribbon that bears Curtis Kulig’s signature mark:
This combines for a meaningful presentation, which is currently available at pendleton-usa.com.
Bring your Pendleton blanket and find a spot while it’s still dark. Watch the sky turn from black to deep blue as you listen to the calls of waking birds. Hear the rustle of ocean air as it raises waves to lap against the shoreline and skims through the forests of this peaceful paradise. Look to the distance, where the sky meets the Atlantic, and wait for the first rosy rays to brighten the horizon.
This is how you welcome daylight at Acadia National Park.
Acadia National Park is our easternmost national park. Its 47,000 acres reserve most of Mount Desert Island off the Atlantic Coast. Cadillac Mountain, named for French explorer Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, sieur de Cadillac, rises on the eastern side of the island. Its granite summit catches the first daylight in the continental United States each New Year’s Day.
Acadia National Park is part of the area known as the “Dawn land” by its original inhabitants, the Wabaniki people. A confederacy of five First Nations and Native American nations, the Wabaniki includes the Abenaki, Maliseet, Mi’maq, Passamaquoddy and Penobscot people. Ten thousand years before Mount Desert was sighted by Samuel de Champlain, these Algonquian-speaking natives lived in settlements along the Eastern seaboard.
Acadia’s Atlantic coast is a wonderland of ancient, lichen-covered boulders and rugged shoreline. President Woodrow Wilson established it as Sieur de Monts National Monument on July 8, 1916. On February 26, 1919, it was named Lafayette National Park. The name was changed to Acadia on January 19, 1929, to honor the former French colony of Acadia.
George W. Dorr is called the “father of Acadia National Park,” but its financial benefactor was definitely John D. Rockefeller, Jr. He paid to develop over 50 miles of gravel carriage trails, with features that include 17 granite bridges and two historic gate lodges that remain today. Along the paths are many cut granite “coping stones,” which act as rustic guardrails, and are known as “Rockefeller’s teeth.” The Rockefellers helped greatly with the reconstruction of the park after the wildfires of 1947, which destroyed over 10,000 acres.
Today, as one of the most-visited parks in the country, Acadia welcomes hikers and bicyclists to its trails. Forty different species of mammalian wildlife call Acadia home, including (from the small to the large) red and grey squirrels, chipmunks, white-tailed deer, beaver, porcupine, muskrat, foxes, coyotes, bobcats, black bear and moose. Acadia National Park is aided in preservation efforts by the Friends of Acadia, which has worked to create a private endowment that will maintain the current 44 mile carriage trail system in perpetuity.
Acadia National Park is waiting to welcome you, and the dawn, every morning. And it’s open now.
Photos by our intrepid #pendle10parks explorers:
Nikolai Karlov – @nikarlov (shots 3, 4, 5 & 6)
David Okoniewski – @oakcanoeski (shots 1 & 2)
See our Acadia National Park products here: SHOP