Special Gifts for Special Grads – Pendleton Blankets

A young woman lays on her stomach on a Pendleton Olympic National park blanket, in a field of tall, dry grass. She is painting a watercolor.

Photo by Hannah Ward Art

Graduations and Journeys

Life is a journey, and a graduate is setting out on an entirely new path. A Pendleton blanket makes a perfect companion on that journey; warm, soft, with made-in-the-USA quality that will last for generations. Here are a few ideas for your new grad.

Park Series Blankets

Does your graduate love the great outdoors? Consider our National Park Series blankets. These striped patterns are some of our favorites, with colors that reflect the geography and flora of the parks for which they’re named. The blankets and throws have special patches, inspired by the window decals travelers were given at the gates of America’s earliest parks.

In a vintage photograph from the 1920s, a smiling woman in a Model T Ford points at her windshield to show off her National Park stickers.

The Glacier National Park blanket, by Pendleton. A white background with a stripe of black, yellow, red and green at each end.

Glacier Park, shown above, is a favorite. Size selection varies by style, but these blankets can come in twin, full, queen and a new throw size. See them here: Pendleton National Park Series blankets

For Those Who Serve

For the graduate who is entering the United States Marine Corps, nothing could say “congratulations” more than the new The Few, The Proud blanket. This special design is approved by the USMC.

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The Eagle, Globe, and Anchor is the official emblem of the United States Marine Corps. Each element signifies the Marine Corps mission and legacy. The anchor reflects the naval tradition of the Marines as part of the Department of the Navy. The globe represents readiness to serve in any part of the world. The bald eagle, symbol of America, holds a ribbon in its beak that reads “Semper Fidelis,” or “Always Faithful,” a reference to the unending valor and loyalty of the Corps.

See this blanket here: The Few, The Proud

Off to the Dorms

For those headed to the dorms, a Pendleton Camp Blanket is a terrific choice.

Yakima_Camp_Beauty

This 100% wool blanket is inspired by the bedroll blankets found on the packs and saddles of trail riders and shepherds in the American west. At night, these blankets were unrolled for a night by the campfire, under the stars. Not a bad companion for a new grad’s journey!

A Yakima Camp blanket in heathered taupe, with bands of red, green and tan at each end. By Pendleton.

There are quite a few color and size options. See them here: Camp blankets

Also available in a throw size here: Camp Throws

For the Heroes at Home

Some graduates begin training as an EMT and/or firefighter as soon as they are done with high school. Firefighters are a special breed, who run into the buildings that most of us run out of. If you have a graduate who will be training for this profession, consider the Wildland Heroes blanket.

The Pendleton Wildland Heroes blanket shows bands of geometric designs that also include evergreen trees, with a dark forest green background, light blue trangles to symbolize water, and yellow and orange accents that represent the threat of wildfires.

The scent of smoke fills the air. An orange glow lights the horizon. Mother Nature is on alert, and Wildland Firefighters stand ready to defend her. These brave men and women hold the line against fire’s destruction with team effort; digging lines, running hoses, saving structures when they can. In Pendleton’s tribute to Wildland Firefighting, bands of deep forest alternate with lines of flame, lighting trees endangered by flame. A portion of this blanket’s sales help the Wildland Firefighter Foundation, which supports families and injured firefighters in times of need.

See more information here: Wildland Heroes

A Favorite

And you can’t go wrong with an iconic pattern like the Chief Joseph design.

The Chief Joseph blanket in grey, turquoise, green, white, and orange,by Pendleton

It’s available in a color and size for everyone, including a special cherry pink that benefits N.A.R.A.’s Native women’s health program.

See all your options here: Chief Joseph Blankets

A Pendleton blanket is the gift of a lifetime. If you’re looking for a different type of gift, large or small, we have plenty of other suggestions at Pendleton-usa.com. And wherever your graduates are heading, we wish them well.

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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.

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Answering Questions about Pendleton

The original (and current) Pendleton WOolen Mill in Pendleton, Oregon.

Claims and Questions

Thanks to our friends who have brought some claims circulating on social media to our attention. We owe an enormous debt of respect and gratitude to the Native Americans and First Nations people who choose our blankets, and care deeply about this relationship. We understand that it’s important to speak the truth.

Our Mills

Pendleton’s mills are our pride and joy, and both are well over a century old. Keeping them updated is a priority and a challenge, but we think it’s worth it to keep weaving in the USA. Our mills are subject to inspections, and when problems are identified, we take immediate action to resolve them. We have earned third-party certification for sustainability (read more here), and our management is committed to providing a safe and healthy work environment for all employees.

Political Donations

We respect the right of current and former employees to make political donations to candidates they personally support. These donations are not endorsements by Pendleton.

Pattern Origins

Pendleton supports the Indian Arts and Crafts Act of 1990. We make our blankets for Native Americans, but we don’t claim our products are made by them. Our company’s history is always part of our marketing and sales materials, and is available on our website.

Pendleton blanket patterns are developed by in-house designers. Some are based on historic designs created to serve the Native American market. Blanket stories, told on hangtags and on the website, credit the inspirations and traditions behind the patterns. We also commission Native American artists to create designs, and adapt existing artwork (usually paintings) into blankets. These artists are always compensated and credited by name for their work. You can learn more here: Native artists.

Pendleton is proud to support organizations that serve Native Americans, veterans and America’s National Parks. Our relationship with The American Indian College Fund spans more than twenty years, and our endowment to the College Fund provides scholarships for Native American students. Pendleton also makes annual donations to NARA (Native American Rehabilitation Center) to support outreach and health care for Native American women.

In 1909, Pendleton was one of many mills producing wool blankets for Native Americans. Now, over a hundred years later, we are the only mill still weaving wool blankets for Native Americans here in the USA. Native Americans were our first, and are still our most valued customers. Thanks to everyone who has written in support of our shared history and friendship.

We hope we have answered your questions, but if you have more concerns, please write to us at PendletonWM@penmills.com and we will respond. We are listening.

Pendleton logo label that shows a drawing of a bald eagle, and the words: "Pendleton since 1863 Highest Quality Made in the USA." This blanket is sewn onto all Pendleton's traditional wool blankets, which are still 00% made in the USA.