Pendleton, the company that turns out those great camp-y blankets and colorful Native American prints is a favorite of mine. So I was happy to recently tour the Pendleton Mill in Washougal, WA with Heidi where we watched the process of how loose sheep wool becomes dyed, spun, and woven into fabric for blankets as well as clothing. The mill is loud but fascinating, it seemed we were stepping into history as much of the equipment is original and the process is the same.
I pondered why the mill would offer tours. But its actually a very smart marketing move. If anyone else is like Heidi and I, we left rock-solid fans of Pendleton. We loved their designs going in, but to see the operation in its entirety; all the sheep wool, machines, people, and time that goes into producing their products gave us a new respect for the craftsmanship of their wool fabric.
Pendleton is a family owned business and based in the Northwest since 1893. Our tour guide said that many of the workers are long standing employees, and Heidi commented that the employees all seemed happy. What a feat that they have kept their mills here on American soil and not overseas. They have another in Pendleton, OR where the more in-depth prints are done.
So don’t be surprised if we nudge you into buying a Pendleton blanket or two. I’m itching to do-over a boys bedroom with the camp blankets. And we got a sneak peek at some of their newest designs for girls in beautiful pinks and purples. If you get a chance, take a tour.
The photo used is from Pendletons San Miguel Blanket Collection.