Pendleton Woolen Mills

For many years, I’ve promised myself a stop at the Pendleton Woolen Mill in eastern  Oregon. Pendleton wool has always been held in high regard by my family, probably because of my mom being from Salem where their first retail store was located. It’s not a familiar name to people in the mid-west.

IMG_2964I was trying to get from Boise to Salem as quickly as possible to meet my aunts for dinner at their retirement center. I promised myself 15 minutes to just look quickly, but I didn’t get out for about 40 minutes, and I never even bought anything!

IMG_2966The designs fascinate me. I knew I couldn’t afford a blanket, but I do have one already that Old Jules gave me, so it’s not like I don’t own any. I just wanted more.

I was pleased to see other products, like book covers and bath towels, and national park  mugs with designs specific to each national park. But on closer examination, all these products were made in China. So getting even a small item was  out of the question.

IMG_2969They did have a nice selection of “seconds” but even those were too expensive for my budget, especially at the beginning of a trip.



They have a small museum of historic Pendleton products and tribal artifacts, which are nicely presented.



IMG_2974I was glad I stopped. I know now that I don’t need to make that stop again, as most everything in the store is available online. My mom used to buy fabric there and make skirts and jackets, but I think those days are over… fabric from the source doesn’t save you money like in the old days. When I get to a place in life where I don’t have cats, I might treat myself to another blanket, though. The colors and designs are quite addictive!
IMG_2968Are you wondering why these designs are linked to the American Indians? It’s because they used to make Indian blankets.
From their website:
A study of the color and design preferences of local and Southwest Native Americans resulted in vivid colors and intricate patterns. Trade expanded from the Nez Perce nation near Pendleton to the Navajo, Hopi and Zuni nations. These Pendleton blankets were used as basic wearing apparel and as a standard of value for trading and credit among Native Americans. The blankets also became prized for ceremonial use.

You can find a complete history of the mill here.










7 responses to “Pendleton Woolen Mills

  1. Reblogged this on So Far From Heaven and commented:
    Is nothing sacred? They’re making Pendleton blankets in China now! Hokay. So be it. Mine are safely in a black garbage bag in a storage locker in Texas somewhere packed in mothballs. Now way the damned Chinese are getting their hands on them. Those non-Chinese made Pendletons have seen me through a winter-or-two and would have seen me through a lot more if I were up to the job and held up my end. But instead I’ve spent the past winter-or-two in a WWII goose down Army Mountain sleeping bag from back when good American geese provided the down. At least until I got to Kansas. And I confess it was warmer than Pendleton blankets. Even from wool sheared from good American sheep. Old Jules

    • I’m pretty sure the blankets were still made there in the mill. It was the towels and other products that had the Made in China sticker on them. For what it’s worth.

  2. Beautiful, beautiful blankets! It looks as though you could be just ‘as snug as a bug in a rug’! It’s so difficult these days trying to avoid the dreaded Chinese sticker.

  3. Nothing is as warm as wool to keep you warm. Wonderful designs and colors.
    The Chinese-made blankets bear the brand name: Pendleton? Are they outsourced there or making knock-offs?

    • The blankets themselves weren’t made in China, but the peripheral stuff was… mugs, towels, covers for e-book readers, etc. I assume the company found it cheaper to have them made elsewhere.

  4. Ooo, I like the fifth one down, first in the row best (of the big pattern chart).

  5. Another expression of beauty I’ve not seen before. Thanks.

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