The Craftsman Collection – From Our Hands to Yours

Three blankets hang over a branch.

A new collection

In 1909, three Bishop brothers opened a mill in Pendleton, Oregon, to weave trade blankets in dazzling colors and patterns. Over one hundred years later, we are excited to bring you The Craftsman Collection celebrating the history, artistry, and craftsmanship of our blankets.

For the introduction, we chose three patterns with stories to tell; Canyonlands, Journey West, and Sierra Ridge. These patterns have been recolored and specially dyed to evoke vintage blankets. One side of each blanket is napped for softness and warmth. The reverse is unnapped, to smoothly showcase the geometry of our exclusive Pendleton patterns. Hand-cut rounded corners recall the shape of blankets from the earliest days of the mill.

On the loom: Canyonlands

Canyonlands celebrates the amazing natural wonders of Utah’s Canyonlands National Park.

Canyonlands Craftsman Collection blanket by Pendleton

To quote the National Park Service, “Canyonlands invites you to explore a wilderness of countless canyons and fantastically formed buttes carved by the Colorado River and its tributaries. Rivers divide the park into four districts: Island in the Sky, The Needles, The Maze, and the rivers themselves. These areas share a primitive desert atmosphere, but each offers different opportunities for sightseeing and adventure.”

See it here: Canyonlands, Craftsman Collection

Journey West

This dynamic blanket celebrates the pioneering spirit of our founder, weaver Thomas Kay, who journeyed to America from England, arriving in Oregon in 1863. Its design was inspired by a blanket discovered in a 19th-century European mill that included the designer’s notes and calculations handwritten neatly along the sides.

Journey West Craftsman Collection blanket by Pendleton

The pattern highlights the universal appeal of geometric shapes and lines. The hooked patterns inside the large diamonds are common symbols of luck and prosperity. Its quality and beauty is a tribute to the generations of weavers that have continued Thomas Kay’s legacy of quality and excellence.

See it here: Journey West for the Craftsman Collection

Sierra Ridge

Sierra Ridge is the third offering in the Craftsman Collection. The Sierra Nevadas are the traditional grounds of many Native peoples. The Sierra Miwok, Mono, Kawaiisu, Northern Paiute and Tubatulabal tribes have lived and hunted here over the ages. The Paiutes called the range’s highest granite peak Tumanguya, or, “the Very Old Man.” Also called Mt. Whitney, it is the highest point in the contiguous United States. The mountains of the 100-mile range are represented by stepped peaks, with arrows guarding the streams and rivers of the Great Basin watershed.

Sierra Ridge Craftsman Collection blanket by Pendleton

See Sierra Ridge here: Sierra Ridge for the Craftsman Collection

Packed with care by hand

Each blanket in the Craftsman Collection is labeled and hand-packed in a special box with a presentation card.

Special commemorative box for the Craftsman Blanket COllection by Pendleton

If you’d like to learn more, you can see the blankets here: Pendleton’s Craftsman Collection Blankets

Pendleton Fabric Expertise – A Story of Generations

A Century of Weaving

Pendleton textiles are renowned for their quality, beauty and craftsmanship. Where did we learn to make fabric like this? Our expertise is generational, earned over a century of weaving in America.

The Beginning

The company known today as Pendleton Woolen Mills actually had its genesis in one mill; the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill in Salem, Oregon, founded by Thomas Kay, a master weaver from England.

A photo of the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill in Salem, Orebon. This 2.5 story building is red brick with rows of white-trimmed windows.

Thomas Kay brought extensive knowledge to his own mill, after a career that started in his childhood as a bobbin boy, and grew into management of large mills in the UK and the US before he finally opened his own. He specialized in fabrics for tailoring, and produced the first bolt of worsted wool west of the Mississippi.

The Next Generation

His daughter, Fannie Kay, became her father’s protégé in her teen years. She learned weaving and mill management at her father’s side. Fannie Kay became Fannie Bishop upon her marriage to Charles P. Bishop, a prominent Salem merchant. Their three sons opened the Pendleton Woolen Mill in Pendleton, Oregon, in 1909. That mill is still running today! The Kay/Bishop history extends through today’s Pendleton. The Bishop family still owns and operates Pendleton Woolen Mills. And Pendleton’s fabric expertise grows each year, as we challenge ourselves to do more with wool.

Today’s Mills

Fabric weaving was once a major industry in the United States, with more than 800 mills in operation. Today only a handful of those mills remain.  Our facilities in Pendleton, Oregon, and Washougal, Washington, are two of the very few woolen mills still operating in North America.

Pendleton, Oregon

This photo is a vintage postcard image of the Pendleton, Oregon woolen mill. The building is grey brick, with rows of windows trimmed in white, and large front doors on the first, second and third floors at the front of the building.

The Pendleton, Oregon mill opened in 1909, taking over a defunct wool-scouring plant on the banks of the Columbia River and transforming it into a full mill under the direction of Clarence, Roy and Chauncey Bishop. The location had been scouted by Fannie Kay Bishop, who encouraged her sons to make use of the existing building, the nearby Columbia River, and the supply of high quality wool fleece available from local sheep ranchers.

The company’s original products were wool blankets for Native American customers. Today, the Pendleton mill is open for tours. Travelers can watch those world-famous blankets being woven on two-story looms.

Washougal, Washington

Our Washougal facility sits on the banks of the Columbia River at the entry to the scenic Columbia River Gorge. The Washougal community helped fund the startup of this mill in 1912, and it has been a major employer in this small Washington town ever since.

A vintage sepia-toned photo of the Washougal woolen mill owned by Pendleton Woolen Mills. The mill is two stories tall and in the photo, it is dwarfed by two water towers.

The additional mill gave Pendleton the ability to weave a wider variety of fabrics.

AirLoom Merino (found in our Sir Pendleton shirts) and Umatilla woolen fabric (found in so many of our flannel shirt styles) are both woven in Washougal, as well as fabrics for the women’s line.

Its roots may be historic, but the Washougal mill is a 300,000-square-foot model of modern efficiency. Mill owners come from around the world to tour it, and to learn about Pendleton’s weaving techniques, dyeing processes, and fabric finishing.

The Fabrics

Pendleton Woolen Mills has maintained the quality and craftsmanship of its textiles through decade upon decade of manufacturing in its own facilities. This allows us to maintain quality control from start to finish, from fleece to fashion. Our state-of-the-art computer dyeing technology controls water, dyes, heat, and more. Carding machines, looms and finishing processes are also computer-controlled, allowing for minute adjustments to guarantee uniformity of weave, weight and hand.

Eleven different Pendleton woolen fabrics in a line, showing the different weights and patterns woven on the Pendleton looms.

We can perfect it because we control it, and it shows in our fabrics. We will be exploring some of those special fabrics in the months to come. We hope you’ll follow along.

PWM_USA_label

What is virgin wool? And is it better than recycled wool?

Wool experts

a Shetland sheep

Here at Pendleton, we use pure virgin wool for our famous blankets and shirts – but what is virgin wool, and why does that matter? Keep reading to learn the difference between virgin and recycled wool and what each is best for.

Virgin wool

Virgin wool is simply wool that’s never been used before–but that difference matters. It’s better than recycled wool because it’s stronger and higher quality. Pure virgin wool is naturally breathable in both cold and warm weather, water-repellent, durable and insulating. It also resists wrinkles, stains and odors. Even though you can dry-clean wool shirts, many people simply hang them up and let them air out, finding that to be just as effective.

Since virgin wool fibers haven’t been shredded like recycled wool, they’re more resilient—they don’t break or wrinkle as easily and can provide more stretch. A shirt made of virgin wool can last for decades—some Pendleton customers pass down their Board Shirts through several generations. Not something you can say about cotton or synthetic materials, right?

A wool weaving loom

Recycled wool

You wouldn’t necessarily think of wool in the same category as paper bags, aluminum cans and plastic bottles, but like those three, it’s recyclable. Recycled wool got a burst of popularity during World War II, when fabrics were rationed because wool was needed for military uniforms. As a result, civilians would recycle wool blankets into coats, or use the yarn from wool socks to knit sweaters. Very resourceful, right?

Recycled wool is also called “reclaimed wool” or “shoddy wool.” Recycled wool is exactly what it sounds like: wool that’s been used to make one product, then used to make something else. Recycled wool is great for insulation, cloth diaper covers, DIY rugs, polishing metal, applying wood stain, absorbing spills and more.

bags of scoured, undyed wool fleece

However, recycled wool isn’t the best for clothing and blankets if softness is your goal. To recycle wool, the fibers are torn apart and respun, which lowers the quality. Recycled wool can be “a little more harsh or fuzzy,” explains a wool crafting site. Adds one yarn site, “Most recycled wool goods have a harsh feel to them.” At Pendleton, our goal is soft, premium wool clothing and blankets, which is why we exclusively use pure virgin wool.

The FTC

Today, companies are legally required by the Federal Trade Commission to specify if wool is recycled. So if a wool garment isn’t specified as virgin or recycled, it’s probably virgin wool. Now the next time someone wonders, “What is virgin wool?” you’ll know the answer!

For pure virgin wool blankets, clothing and accessories designed to last for decades, shop Pendleton at pendleton-usa.com.

Range Rover Classic – The Pendleton® Edition

Happy New Year!

It’s going to be a wonderful year to travel our National Parks, thanks to the centennial of the National Park Service. To inspire your own travels, we have a guest blogger from Germany, Eva Maria Kindler. Eva tells the story of her love affair with a vintage Range Rover, and how a side trip from her family’s vacation to America’s wilderness areas resulted in some beautiful inspiration

Range Rover interior with Pendleton fabricA Love Affair

Today, I am giving you a free pass to my feelings. A story about true love and a passion that I am losing my head over. It’s, of course, about a car.

vintage Range Rover on a road

Only love makes a few thousand dollars annually at the repair shop and seven gallons per 60 miles tolerable (I know, this might not be much for an average American car, but for us Germans that’s A LOT).

A vintage Range Rover parked by a woodpile

But I have a few rational points in my defense, or you may call it self-delusion:

dashboard of the vintage Range Rover

I bought it for only $1,000 and a bottle of Tanqueray Gin from the owner of Chelsea Farmers Club in Berlin, a quirky British Concept Store. Besides, the carbon footprint of this old car gets better every day.

Vintage Round-Up sticker on a car window

What it’s about

In fact, it’s about something else: (under)statement, British lifestyle and the successful and credible synthesis of Salon and agricultural utility-vehicle. The Range Rover Classic (RRC). Many praises are sung of the Range Rover Classic as the first, true SUV on this planet. I am not dwelling on that. It’s simply a cool ride.

Vintage Range Rover, on the road

It has character: attractive, comfy, with plenty of room (again, for a British car) and a survivor. Perfect for pulling out bushes in the garden, which I’ve done several times. By the way, my car is from 1994, but looks 20 years older. Only a car is allowed to do that.

Range Rover interior with Pendleton fabric

This year, I was up for something crazy. That is, taking out the door mats to see what was underneath. Long story short: it was painful and costly. But the whole six weeks in car rehab were all worth it. The RRC came back fresh and strong in a beautiful matte-green finish (it took me 2 months and 5 cans of spray paint to find the right tone).

A vaccuum flask and coffee cups on the  hood of the Range Rover

While the car was having its face lift, we took a six-week family road trip throughout the American Northwest and the Rocky Mountains. We had a lot of time to think about the inner beautification of the car. The roof lining was hanging down. So we asked ourselves the question, how, from a design perspective, the iconic British fits together with something truly American.  Or: do American patterns go with a British National Monument? Of course!

So we took a little detour to Pendleton Woolen Mills and bought 7yd 2ft of heavy wool fabric and took it back to Germany.

Range Rover interior with Pendleton fabric

Range Rover interior with Pendleton fabric

Typically, the fabric suitable for the roof and door lining is as thick as a t-shirt. We took a wool blanket to our local saddlery and asked them to do the job. What can I say! They did a great job. The result is better than we expected. We call it the Range Rover Classic Pendleton Edition.

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Tomorrow, I am taking the car back to the repair shop. There are new things to be fixed. I drive the car to the garage, and jog back. Doing something for the Carbon Footprint!

A denim jacket hangs on a car door.

Original post here: The Waldfrieden State

Pendleton Heritage Umatilla Wool — VIDEO with Cameron Krebs

Two men (Cameron Krebs and his father) stand in a flock of sheep. The younger man is holding his toddler-aged daughter in his arms.

Wool is What We Do

We are Pendleton Woolen Mills, and wool is what we do. Just watch and listen to Cameron Krebs, a wool grower from Umatilla County, talking about his family’s generations as wool providers to Pendleton Woolen Mills.

Properties of Wool

So here are some amazing wool facts for you, courtesy of us, from our trusty “Wool, A Natural” booklet, a little classroom staple for many years now.

Wool is a Miracle Fiber that Stands the Test of Time

Wool is a natural fiber, growing from the follicles of sheep. In a time of sustainability and environmental consciousness, this renewable resource remains longer-lasting and better looking than anything man-made. Even though advanced processing methods have made wool more versatile and easy care, man has not improved the miracle fiber itself. 

Wool is Naturally Resilient and Wrinkle Resistant

This is due to the ability of the fiber to spring back into shape after bending, creasing, or compression. Resilience gives wool its ability to hold a shape, resist wrinkles and withstand wear. This makes wool great for travel. It resists tearing because it’s flexible. Wool can bend back on itself 20,000 times without breaking (cotton only 3200 times before breaking/silk 1800 times/rayon only 75 times). Wool can be stretched or twisted and its cells return to their original position.

Wool is Naturally Comfortable

Wool fibers cannot be packed down. They spring back to shape keeping their open, porous nature. Wool provides the most warmth with the least weight. The air that is trapped inside (about 80% of wool fabric volume) makes wool an excellent insulator to keep the body at its normal temperature year round: warm in winter and cool in summer. Wool is the original outdoor “performance” fiber. 

Wool is Naturally Water and Stain Repellent

Wool repels light water, like a rain shower, because of the membrane on the outer scales. In very wet conditions, wool absorbs up to 30% of its own weight without feeling damp. And because of insulation ability, wool “breathes,” allowing the body’s natural moisture to pass through. The hairy surface of wool and its freedom from static make it the easiest of all fabrics to keep clean or to clean after soiling. 

Wool Maintains its Luster and Resists Fading

Wool has a permanent natural luster it never loses even after years of hard wear. It absorbs dyes until it is completely saturated so colors stay brilliant in spite of sunshine, perspiration and impurities in the atmosphere. No other fiber can be spun or woven into such a variety of weights, textures, finishes and colors. 

Wool is Naturally Flame Retardant

Unless it is in direct contact with flame, wool will extinguish itself. The denser the weave and the greater the fabric weight, the less likely it is even to char because of its smaller oxygen content. Fire departments and insurance companies recommend the use of wool blankets, rugs or coats to put out flames.

We will be bringing you more fun facts about wool this month, because January is an excellent month for keeping warm. And thanks to the Krebs family for their participation in this video!

Cameron Krebs, a Pendleton wool grower, holds his duahgter in his arms and stands with his mother and father, looking at a flock of sheep grazing in a cottonwood grove.