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Posts from the ‘Pendleton manufacturing’ Category

Special Edition Scarves Made in the USA for the Holidays

This holiday season,  wrap yourself in Pendleton luxury with our beautiful Siskiyou Muffler.


Woven in four exclusive jacquards, these scarves interpret our heritage with contemporary style.  We thought you might enjoy knowing the stories behind the patterns; Siskiyou, Harding, Soft Grey Stripe and Ram’s Horn.



Siskiyou Wilderness via Wikicommons

The Siskiyou Mountains range across southern Oregon and northern California.Siskiyou means ‘bobtail’ in the language of the region’s Native Americans. Legend has it that as a party of rider crossed the mountains, a bobtail horse went lame and had to be abandoned high in the peaks. The range was known by that name ever after. The Native American horse and footpaths eventually grew into a trade route for early trappers and merchants. Thomas Kay, founder of the Pendleton weaving legacy, sent many goods south on the Siskiyou Trail. This pattern’s geometric points echo the peaks and ravines of the Siskiyou Mountains.



Hardings meeting Chiefs

The Harding jacquard, one of Pendleton’s earliest designs, is named for First Lady Florence Harding. This distinctive pattern was commissioned by chiefs of the Cayuse and Umatilla tribes in 1923, when President and First Lady Harding visited the Pacific Northwest to dedicate part of the old Oregon Trail. Pendleton’s weavers modified a Chief Joseph pattern for a fringed shawl for Mrs. Harding. The blanket has been in our line ever since. For our muffler, we’ve taken a tonal approach in shades of tan and cream.

Soft Grey Stripe


Navajo rugs and blankets are beautiful works of art, with early examples bringing hundreds of thousands of dollars at auction. Chinle Navajo weaving is named for the town where weaver Mary Cabot Wheelwright developed this unique style. Her goal was to revive traditional weaving methods and the use of vegetal dyes. Our Soft Grey Stripe weaves distinctive geometrics in subtle hues of charcoal, graphite and sand, translating the Navajo Chinle tradition into a distinctly modern jacquard pattern.

Ram’s Horn


Vintage Pendleton Shirt Ad

Never turn your back on a ram. A stylized ram’s head with curling horns pays tribute to the mighty ram in this pattern from the Pendleton archives. We talk a lot about lambs when we talk about wool, but there would be no lambs without rams, would there? This jacquard pattern has dynamic loops and curls with a navy and green coloration that hearkens back to Black Watch Tartan.

The Pendleton blend of history, tradition and fashion is present is each of these beautiful mufflers. Best of all, they’re made in the USA. Available at

Made in the USA label

Fannie Kay Bishop, a True Modern Woman

Fannie Kay Bishop is beloved figure in the history of Pendleton Woolen Mills. She was daughter to Thomas Kay and wife to Charles P. Bishop, with whom she had three sons who would open the first official Pendleton Woolen Mills in Oregon. She was also a progressive thinker who gently chided her son Clarence in 1914, “…for your own happiness I would be glad if you had a loving, capable wife…a woman that would appreciate you and be your equal in every way.”

Fannie Kay was an immigrant who came to America, the land of opportunity, at a very young age. She was born on November 29, 1857, in Shipley, Yorkshire, England, the first of ten children born to Thomas and Ann Kay. She emigrated in 1860, after her father had found work in NJ and before he came west to found the family dynasty of Pendleton Woolen Mills. Fannie characterized herself as a “true tomboy” who spent her childhood climbing trees, stilt-walking, sledding and watching Union soldiers march and drill. Fannie also accompanied her father to the mill, watching him work and learning at his knee as he managed various mills across the country.

She came to work at the old Brownsville, Oregon, mill at age fifteen, after Thomas Kay was hired to resurrect it. She was passionately interested in wool processing and manufacture, questioning her father, observing operations and eavesdropping on her father’s conversations with the mill hands he invited to the family home. “I spent all my spare time in what to me was the fascinating pursuit of learning all about the woolen mill,” she said years later.

In 1874, she began keeping company with Charles P. Bishop, the son of her school’s principal. They married in 1876 and had their first son, Clarence, in 1878. He was followed by Royal in 1881 and Chauncey in 1882. With her guidance and encouragement, these young men opened Pendleton Woolen Mills in 1909.

The correspondence between Fannie Kay Bishop in her sons, preserved nearly in full in the Pendleton archives, is full of loving encouragement, sound advice, and practical business sense. In a letter dated September 10, 1910, she wrote, “The only thing needed for any success is confidence, harmony and patience with one another. Without that there is no use to struggle on as there can be nothing but ultimate failure.”

One of the more interesting aspects of Fannie Kay Bishop’s history was her political campaign for the state legislature in the early 20th century. Although women were not allowed to vote in national elections until 1920, a few progressive states passed women’s suffrage earlier; Montana in 1914, Washington in 1910 and Oregon in 1912. In 1922, Fannie Kay Bishop threw her hat in the ring with the following campaign position card:

We apologize for the hard to read text, but it is as follows:

I am respectfully submitting to you my candidacy for nomination as one of the four representatives from Marion County, feeling that I can render public service that you require. My long life in Marion County is an open book, on the pages of which I have endeavored to write achievements worthy of our County and State. Your attention is respectfully called to the pamphlet containing the statements of Republican candidates for details concerning my platform. I will faithfully endeavor, when elected, to voice the expressed desire of my constituents, to advocate legislation for a businesslike consolidation of administrative branches of the State government and for tax reduction, and will favor such measures as comment themselves as being for the public welfare.

Truly yours,


Fannie Kay Bishop didn’t win office in Marion County, but she was a pioneer in many ways. As a truly modern woman, her passionate participation in the political process was balanced with her call for “confidence, harmony and patience.” She’s a proud part of the Pendleton legacy.

A sneak peak at what’s coming from Pendleton Home in just three months!

We recently  held a preview showcase for next year’s Pendleton Home line at the Ace Hotel in NYC.  We hope you like what you see…new colors, throws based on historic weaves from our rich company history, and familiar favorites like the National Park Series blankets.

And of course, more spa towels, because everyone loves the spa towels!

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As promised, the new Pendleton store at Portland International Airport.

Enjoy! We are definitely worth the trip.

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Stitch magazine: creating with fabric + thread, and Pendleton, too!

The latest issue of Stitch has a “Spotlight on Wool,” and Pendleton and our Woolen Mill Store are featured all through it! If you’ve ever had any questions about how to sew with wool, this issue of Stitch has the answers. From the rich history of American wool fabrics, to wool quilting and making your first wool coat, the Spotlight on Wool issue is full of project ideas, information and inspiration.

We’re lucky to have four Portland wool experts featured in this issue:

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Washougal Celebration

At the gateway to the Columbia River is Pendleton’s Washougal Mill. Buildings both old and new are shaded by a silver oak, standing when Lewis & Clark made their journey west. Please enjoy our anniversary celebration, with generations of mill workers, Pendleton’s founding family, and city and tribal dignitaries.

Our new store at the PDX airport opens soon!

We’re pleased to announce the opening of our first store at the Portland International Airport. This location will showcase Pendleton’s heritage for travelers from all over the country and the world. Doors will open on Saturday, August 4th, with a grand opening celebration planned for Thursday, Aug. 9th at 10 a.m.

The new store’s expresses Pendleton’s ‘green’ sensibilities. Upcycled fixtures and shelving made from reclaimed barn wood work alongside gears salvaged from our mill. Various vintage carts, wagons and display pieces add to the aura of industrial heritage. “We took an Industrial Chic approach to the design,” says Robin Crowell, Retail Division Manager for Pendleton. “You’ll see replica mill-style lighting and various elements of a working mill interior, galvanized pipe, specially designed wool fabric for fitting room curtains along with distinctive wallpaper and stained concrete floors throughout . . . all taking the sensibilities of the mill and translating it into a dynamic retail setting.”

This dynamic translates into an exclusive merchandising mix, with Menswear and Womenswear in an extensive assortment of iconic Pendleton plaids and patterns. A rich collection of blankets will include plaid and tartan throws and National Park blankets, and the Native American-inspired jacquard Trade blankets for which Pendleton is so well-known. Beginning in September, shoppers will find The Portland Collection for Fall 2012. This collection offers a fresh perspective on Pendleton’s iconic textiles as seen through the eyes of three independent and talented Portland designers. To mark the grand opening, Pendleton will host a ribbon cutting and an American Indian blessing along with store specials throughout the weekend.

For now, we invite you to enjoy a slideshow tour of the store in progress. You will see a lot of Shelley Prael in these images. The slideshow starts with her scrubbing away a century of wear on the gears that eventually grace the store’s walls. Shelley also designed and created the dressing room wallpaper, a collage of vintage ads from Pendleton’s past. As Pendleton’s visual director, she has been hands-on through the creation of this exciting, unique space. We want to extend our heartfelt thanks to Shelley for her vision and hard work in bringing our new store to its opening day!

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PENDLETON’S WASHOUGAL MILL: 100 Years of Weaving in America

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.

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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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The Columbian Profiles Pendleton

 The March 10th edition of Vancouver’s  The Columbian profiled Pendleton’s Washougal, Washington mill. Reporter Cami Joner examines the key to Washougal’s longevity, remarking that “…The busy Washougal mill is evidence that textile manufacturing is not dead in America.” Read the full article here, and stay tuned for more as Washougal approaches its 100th anniversary of producing fine Pendleton textiles right here in the USA.  

Photo by Zachary Kaufman, courtesy of The Columbian, copyright 2012