Pendleton Fabric Expertise – A Story of Generations

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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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.

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.

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 Patriotic Blankets for 2018

As an American company with strong roots in the West, Pendleton Woolen Mills weaves blankets with  meaning and beauty. Every blanket tells a story, and we have woven many blankets that celebrate American patriotism over the years, from the Grateful Nation  blanket that celebrates the contributions of our veterans, to retired blankets like Code Talker,  Chief Eagle and Home of the Brave. Here are some beautiful blankets to help us remember our patriotic spirit this Independence Day. To see more information on the blankets below, click the blanket name, which will take you right to the website.

Bighorn

 

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In 1825, the Bighorn River called famed mountain man Jim Bridger to build a raft of driftwood and ride it through the foaming rapids. Part of the river was dammed to create Bighorn Lake, but the spectacular canyon it carved remains, named for the Bighorn sheep that travel its rocky, treacherous paths. Located in Montana and Wyoming, about one third of the park unit is located on the Crow Indian Reservation. One quarter of the Pryor Mountains Wild Horse Range lies within the Bighorn Canyon Recreation Area.

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What’s on the menu? Pendleton Blankets at Eugene’s Inn at the 5th.

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When you’re welcomed to the Inn at the 5th in Eugene, Oregon, expect something special. This boutique hotel is earning glowing reviews on Trip Advisor, thanks to its warm, modern decor and attention to every detail of hospitality and comfort.

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One special detail is the Inn’s Pendleton blanket menu. Guests can let the staff know which of five Pendleton blankets best suit their style.

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Five Generations in Pendleton blankets

Today’s post is brought to you in honor of Native American Heritage Month. We received these photos from Sharon, and the words you read below are hers. We are honored to be part of this family’s traditions for five generations.

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Dear Pendleton;

“We are who we are because they were who they were”.

Since November is National American Indian Heritage Month, how fitting was it to take a picture of my daughter, Allie, in a beautiful Pendleton blanket. My parents have a picture of my Grandmother, Agnes, in a Pendleton blanket. I’ve always loved that picture and wanted to recreate it. Little did I know, my Mother, Christine, has a picture of her Grandmother, Ruth, in a Pendleton blanket. My mother and I decided to recreate the picture also.

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Heading for the Path of Totality? Your Ultimate Pendleton #eclipse2017 Take-Along List

The total solar eclipse of our lifetime is happening on August 21, just three short weeks away. The #eclipse2017 Path of Totality originates on the Oregon coast, midway between Lincoln City and Newport. If you’re planning to meet it there, remember that the Oregon coast is famous for its summertime marine clouds, but the interior of our state should be prime viewing country in August.

We are EXCITED, here in Oregon. We’re preparing to host from from 300K to a million visitors!  No matter which estimate turns out to be correct, a LOT of people will gather in our state to share this once-in-our-lifetime experience. So let’s hope you have your accommodations planned, your reservations confirmed, and your patience in place. It’s going to be an amazing adventure, but all life’s adventures require planning and preparation. We have the top ten take-along Pendleton pieces to make sure you have a fantastic trip, whether camping, glamping, or just stepping outside to see this wonder of astronomy.

  1. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate

We can’t stress this enough. Central Oregon is high and dry, with gorgeous dry vistas and rolling hills.

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Keep yourself in the best possible shape to enjoy the scenery and the eclipse by drinking lots of water. Our Klean Kanteen water bottles are a practical and beautiful way to hydrate.

2. Throw Some Shade with a Pendleton Hat

During the day in August, Central Oregon can be hot, hot, hot. Weather should still be fine at 10:30 AM, but you’ll be there all day, amazed and celebrating.

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Arnelle Lozada @arnelle

Stay cool with the Outback Hat (shown in Putty). The light color keeps you cooler in the sun. If you like cotton hats, our Breezer and Hiker hats are great, too.

3. Another Way to Stay Cool

Bandanas! We’re showing the Pueblo Cross bandanas, but we have plenty of colors and styles available (like this Silver Bark pattern, which is gorgeous).

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These will cover your head, catch sweat at your neck and wrists, and keep your eclipse glasses secure. Plus they are fun way to enjoy Pendleton’s traditional patterns.

4. Don’t Forget the Dawgs

Traveling with your best friend? Some of the country in the Path of Totality is rugged and remote.

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You can’t count on services, so our Pendleton Pet travel food and water bowls are important.

5. Layer Up with a Pendleton Wool Shirt

Wool is nature’s original performance fabric. It can keep you warm early in the morning and late at night, and actually can help you stay cool in high temps.

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Arnelle Lozada @arnelle

We have styles for Men and Women in those plaids that say “Pendleton!” from a mile away.

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Garin Wood @garinwood @ultmo

6. Claim Your Spot with a Pendleton Towel

We wish you all a cool spot by a river for viewing. A Pendleton towel can be used for warmth, as a sitting space, or for shade.

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Our towels-for-two in Serrado  

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and Fire Legend

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7. Luxury Seating: Pendleton by Sunbrella Floor Cushions

A touch of luxury for your viewing spot that you’ll love to take home; the Pendleton by Sunbrella floor cushion.

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We can’t speak highly enough of the fabric and workmanship in these outdoor fabrics—they have a depth and dimensionality that amazes us.

8. Pendleton Blankets: Camp Blankets and Serapes

Pendleton’s Camp Blankets were developed for actual cowboys, who needed a sturdy, practical bedroll on the range.

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Our Serapes also make awesome camping blankets, thanks to their unnapped finish, which is smooth enough to stay free of campsite detritus.

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So take your choice! These are excellent bedroll blankets, and are also great for wrapping around your shoulders as you sit around the campfire at night, watching stars and making memories.

9. Socks for your Tootsies

It’s cold in the tent overnight! Snuggle into some Pendleton socks.

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These beauties are National Park themed cotton blend, and we have so many more to choose from. Your toes will thank you.

10. Campfire Coffee

We know you’ll spend the balance of Monday celebrating, sharing your photos on Instagram (if you can get a signal!) and meeting other eclipse-watchers who are camped near you. Tuesday morning will come all too soon.

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Brandon Tormanan @b.tormanen

When it’s time to wake up and smell the coffee, use one of our Oversized Pendleton Mugs. They are durable and beautiful, with lots of patterns to choose from.

And remember: WEAR YOUR ECLIPSE GLASSES.

Thanks to our brand ambassadors for their photos. You can see more of their work on Instagram:

Arnelle Lozada  @arnelle

Garin Wood  @garinwood   @ultmo

Brandon Tormanan   @b.tormanen

Volunteer Profile: Trevor Nichols, Teacher-in-Residence for Rocky Mountain National Park

rolston_5y7a0416Trevor Nichols is a science teacher at Abraham Lincoln High School in southwest Denver. He’s in his fifth year of teaching AP Environmental science, Earth System science, and Earth Science for English Language Acquisition students.

Trevor comes to teaching with a degree in wildlife biology. He wasn’t intending to teach until he was inspired by a lecture given by Dr. Paul Angermeier, a professor at Virginia Tech. Dr. Angermeier’s message was strong: if you want to make a difference in conservation efficacy, go into education and teach young students about the natural world.

Trevor took this message to heart.  He teaches at a high school with a broad student demographic, in a neighborhood where some students rarely venture outside an eight-block radius of the school. The Rockies are right next door, but it’s not uncommon for a student to graduate without ever having made a visit. Trevor hopes that science education can help to repair the ongoing disconnect between youth and the natural world.

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That’s why, every summer for the last four years, Trevor had finished up his school year in early June, and moved up to Rocky Mountain National Park to take up his post as Teacher-in-Residence. Working with the incredible educational program in place at the park, he designs and implements lessons for student groups that range from kindergarten to community college.

The educational program at the park gets high marks from Trevor. “They’re aligned with quality standards up there that cross into the classroom and support teachers with their work. I can’t say enough about the resources and quality of the experience. Some programs for upper level use actual field methods—giving the kids a real experience of what a natural resource manager may do for the Park Service.” Field experiences provide exposure to correct scientific methods and possible careers.  Most importantly, it connects kids to the wonders of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Says Lindsey Lewis, Trevor’s volunteer coordinator:

I can’t think of someone with a better rapport with their own students and coworkers than Trevor.  He arrives each summer having given his all to teaching all school year and sees his time at Rocky as a way to continue to contribute but also as a time to relax and recharge.  Of course, his idea of relax and recharge might be a bit different than most folk’s idea.  As he spends his free time during the summer hiking, summiting Rocky’s high peaks, and backpacking on longer weekends.

He spends his time in the office providing feedback on curriculum development and correlating programs to education standards as well as advising new interns and education instructors in techniques and educational theory.  He also assists with training as he knows more Latin than most regular park rangers.  He loves to identify flowers and even grasses by their Latin names.  When he finds one he doesn’t know or can’t remember he’s immediately looking it up and sharing it with others. 

During field programs he is quick to create a rapport with his students of the day.  Being a former hockey player who stands well over 6 feet tall, his presence is not easily missed but his calm and patient demeanor allow him to work with students of all ages.  He has a way of making learning fun and taking the fear out of the unknown for students.  He easily laughs at his own mistakes and is quick to help others handle their own challenges in the same way – with an easygoing and positive attitude.

Trevor, thank you so much for your efforts and outreach on behalf of Rocky Mountain National Park.

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Photos of Trevor Nichols courtesy Trevor Nichols, used with permissions.

Rocky Mountain photography by Pendleton brand ambassador Kate Rolston. See more of her work HERE.

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A Woodenboat Adventure: Greg Hatten in Rocky Mountain National Park

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Our friend Greg Hatten took a trip to Rocky Mountain National Park this year. it brought him some memories, some nostalgic and some frightening. Says Greg:

Rocky Mountain National Park was established in 1915 and is one of the most visited parks in the entire National Park system. It’s located in north central Colorado and has so many incredible natural features it can take days to experience them all.

It was the first National Park I ever visited and when I was 10 years old Smokey the Bear seemed real, the Park Rangers in their pressed wool uniforms and flat brimmed hats were super heroes, and the park itself was an outdoor paradise just waiting for me to explore each year on family trips.

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With all the beautiful waterfalls, hiking trails, snowy peaks, and colorful meadows of the Rocky Mountain National Park, the feature I most wanted to see on my recent trip was the headwaters of the Colorado River.

In Rocky Mountain National Park, the 1,400 mile Colorado River comes to life as a babbling little brook several hundred miles upriver from the Grand Canyon. A few weeks ago I trailered my fully restored and freshly repainted Portola across the plains of Kansas toward the headwaters of the Colorado River.  I had a lot of miles to think about that experience.

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Since it was before Memorial Day, the park area seemed to be just waking up from winter.  A few of the campgrounds were opening and most were unoccupied, new park rangers were still training for the upcoming season, and patches of snow were as numerous as the visitors were sparse.  

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The river snaked its way in lazy “s” curves through a valley that seemed to have 1,000 shades of green and then it rounded the corner and disappeared into a deep, dark canyon in the distance. We set up camp on that scenic stretch of the Upper Colorado River just outside Rocky Mountain National Park with towering bluffs on one side and dramatic peaks on the other.  The flat valley beside the river had a rough-hewn log fence that ran the length of the river and when we set up our cots and canvas tents, it looked a little bit like a civil war encampment.

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dsc00520-copyThere are adventures galore in this post! You can read the rest here:  Greg Hatten at Rocky Mountain National Park

Pendleton for the National Parks: SHOP

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A new blanket for Jackson Sundown, Pendleton Round-Up Champion

Note: In honor of the new blanket honoring Jackson Sundown, we’re sharing an older post about one of the great riders of the American West. It explains our company’s long and rich connection with the Pendleton Round-Up, and tells the story of Jackson Sundown, a real-life hero and icon of the west.

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Sundown was the first Native American to win the World Saddle Bronc Championship and crowned the All-Around Cowboy at the Pendleton Round Up in 1916…at the age of 53! He was the nephew of Chief Joseph and his life spanned from the Indian Wars to frontier settlement. Pendleton has created a Jackson Sundown blanket that is only available at two locations:

Tamastslikt Cultural Institute
47106 Wildhorse Blvd.
Pendleton, Oregon 97801
541.966.974

Pendleton Mill Store
1307 SE Court
Pendleton, Oregon 97801
541.276.6911

Let’er Buck!

The Pendleton Round-up  is going on this week—an amazing rodeo adventure in Pendleton, Oregon. Our designers travel there for inspiration, entertainment, and to watch our westernwear in action on rodeo competitors and fans. Oregon Public Broadcasting has a video titled “Pendleton Round-Up: The Wild West Way”  that’s well worth watching, and Cowboys & Indians magazine has some great background.

Among the historic images, you’ll see this shot:

This is Roy Bishop and Jackson Sundown posing at the Pendleton Round-Up. This image actually made the fashion blogs in 2009, when recreations of Roy Bishop’s fringed coat and Jackson Sundown’s oval-print shirt were part of Pendleton’s Centennial offering. But the story is about more than fashion history. This photo is about rodeo history.

The association of Pendleton Woolen Mills and the Round-Up goes back to the very beginning, when along with his brothers Clarence and Chauncey, Roy Bishop established the first mill at its current location in Pendleton, Oregon. The brothers combined their production and retailing expertise with an idled mill, a river, and fine fleece provided by local wool growers. Back then, PWM was a blanket company. Our first and most valued customer was the Native American, and the Bishop brothers worked hard to fill the strong demand (we still sell approximately 60% of our blankets to Native customers every year).

The Bishops were key to the conception of the first Round-Up. Rodeos are big business now, and they were big business then. It was an undertaking to get to a rodeo, especially for a working cowboy. The Round-Up needed something special to draw the crowd. It was unheard-of to include Native Americans to a Western rodeo, but Roy Bishop rode out to meet tribal leaders and invite their participation. He was politely received and quietly listened to, but he left without receiving a definite answer.

The rodeo’s starting date approached, and still he waited. On the morning before the rodeo began, Roy stepped out on the mill’s loading dock. In the distance, he had his answer when he saw the dust of the tribes as they made their way to the Indian campground. The cooperation between the Columbia Basin tribes and the Pendleton Round-up, unique among modern rodeos, continues to this day.

So what about the other person in this photo?

Jackson Sundown was born Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn in 1863 in Montana. During the Nez Perce war of 1877, he rode with Sitting Bull, retreating to Canada with the Sioux. He eventually returned to Washington, then to Idaho, then to Montana, supporting himself by working, breeding and breaking horses.

In 1912, at the age of 49, Waaya-Tonah-Toesits-Kahn began entering rodeo events in Canada and Idaho using the name Jackson Sundown. The crowds went wild when he tied his braids under his chin, lifted his sombrero and started the ride, his wooly angora chaps streaming.

He took so many prizes that other riders refused to challenge him. Stock owners pulled their animals when they saw his name on the list of possible riders, as after Jackson Sundown rode a horse, it might be so thoroughly mastered that it never bucked again.

Jackson Sundown entered the Pendleton Round-Up several times, placing but not winning. In 1915, in a controversial decision, he placed third and decided to retire from rodeo riding. But a sculptor named Alexander Phimister Proctor prevailed upon him to try one more time. In 1916, he did. Jackson Sundown came out of the gate on a horse named Angel, and the spectacular ride that followed has become legendary. The crowd went wild, and threatened to take down the grandstands board-by-board if Sundown wasn’t awarded the title he had so clearly won.

At twice the age of his competitors, the lanky six-foot tall Indian not only won the bucking championship, but the all-around title as well. He lived out his life on the Nez Perce reservation, raising horses and passing on his skills until his death in 1923. He’s been inducted into more rodeo and athletic halls-of-fame than we have space to list. He is a key character in a novel by Ken Kesey, The Last Go ‘Round.

Jackson Sundown is also featured in a terrific documentary called “American Cowboys.” This is a detailed look at the frustration of competitive riding for contestants of color. It was playing at the Tamastslikt Cultural Center just outside Pendleton, which is a fantastic place to learn about the history of the tribes of the Columbia Basin. It may or may not be part of their permanent installation, but this documentary includes footage of Sundown riding. Sadly, photographs of him riding rare; this may be the only one.

It is sad that a man who possessed such incredible skills in horsemanship isn’t shown during more of his competitive rides. But there are plenty of images of Jackson Sundown showing his deep understanding of a wardrobe’s role in a great performance. Chaps, hat, and that aloof expression. Jackson Sundown had it all, a fact well-illustrated by this logo for the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum. Yes, that is Jackson Sundown.

So today, in honor of the Pendleton Round-Up, please enjoy these images of Jackson Sundown; Nez Perce warrior, compatriot of Sitting Bull, bronc rider, horse breeder, main character, documentary subject, fashion blog icon, Round-Up Champion and Inductee into the Hall of Fame at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum.

And a true proponent of individual style.

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Rocky Mountain National Park: Taking a Blanket Home with a #pendle10parks Explorer

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The Rocky Mountain range stretches for over 3,000 miles, from New Mexico to the northernmost reaches of British Columbia.

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Rocky Mountain National Park is one of many national parks in the range; in Canada, Banff, Jasper, Kootenay and Yoho; on the US side, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier and more.

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Rocky Mountain National park was dedicated on September 4, 1915, and became America’s tenth national park. At 14,259, it was also America’s highest. That has changed in 101 years. Currently, it’s one of the five highest parks in the lower 48, because Denali beats everything, obviously.

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Rocky Mountain is still one of the America’s largest parks, at 416 square miles and 265,769 acres of wilderness. It hosts over three million visitors per year. Motorists enjoy the highest paved road in America.

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Hikers, campers and climbers are drawn by its 35 trailheads, 260 miles of horse trails, and the gorgeous waterfalls that tumble through the park’s almost 500 miles of streams and creeks, including the headwaters of the Colorado River.

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Those are some impressive numbers. But the park’s visual splendor is even more impressive.

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Since a quarter of the park’s land is above the treeline, it offers a rare chance to experience the alpine wilderness. Wildlife is abundant and varied, with 280 species of birds and 60 types of mammals, including moose, elk, black bears, mountain goats, mule deer, the ever-present coyote and the famed bighorn sheep. These massive (non-wool producing) sheep have become symbols of the park. That’s why they are featured on the Pendleton blanket label, shown here on the coffee cup.

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And here’s the blanket:

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Rocky Mountain National Park

Blanket: Colorado’s Rocky Mountain ecosystem rises from lush grassland and forests to sub-alpine, alpine and barren alpine tundra in blue, green, gold and grey stripes.

Label: Bighorn sheep bask in the sunny lowlands, reintroduced after near-extinction.

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Our #pendle10explorer Kate Rolston did a breathtaking job of taking our Rocky Mountain National Park blanket home to its park.

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You can see more of Kate’s work here: @kate_rolston

And remember, your purchase of our National Park Collection helps support preservation and restoration of America’s Treasures.

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