Pendleton is excited to announce that tours of our Washougal, Washington and Pendleton, Oregon mills are now open! If you’ve ever wanted to watch our beautiful fabrics being woven, you can at our two USA mills. These tours showcase the vertical operation that brings Pendleton’s iconic wool blankets and fabrics to life.
A Little PWM History
The Pendleton mill was originally built in 1893, and has been operating as Pendleton Woolen Mills since 1909. That is the year when Fanny Kay Bishop realized what an opportunity the idled facility held, and urged her three sons to buy and revive it. The Bishop Brothers restored and improved operations with the support of the Pendleton community.
The Pendleton mill has always specialized in traditional wool bed blankets. These are woven on jacquard looms to give our blankets curvilinear designs that are often different on front and back, for a reversible option. The company acquired the Washougal mill in 1912 to expand its range of fabrics, with specialized looms for plaids, herringbones, stripes, tweeds…all the weaves found in clothing textiles and plaid blankets.
In the early 1900s, the Pendleton mills were two of over 1,000 woolen mills operating in America’s 46 states. Today, they are two of the remaining four woolen mills in the United States. Both mills are continually updated for sustainability and innovation. Each mill offers a unique view into Pendleton craftsmanship.
The mill tour in Washougal, Washington walks guests through every step in the making of Pendleton wool blankets and fabric. This includes:
– Raw wool: sourced from local and global wool ranchers
– Dyeing: state-of-the-art dye color lab to ensure color control and matching
– Wool carding and spinning: turning wool into yarn
– Weaving on dobby looms: creates Pendleton’s famous plaids, stripes and solids
– Finishing touches: washing, hand inspection and boxing
The mill tour in Pendleton, Oregon offers guests an inside look into:
Those of you who have been shopping with us know that our Woolen Mill Store is a unique location among Pendleton’s 30+ stores. Well, we are here to tell you about another unique store you’ll want to see in Oregon.
This store marks the return of descendants of English Master Weaver Thomas Kay to the site of his namesake mill. In 1863, when Kay came to Oregon, he played a strong role in establishing the state’s wool trade and eventually opened his own mill in 1890. Thomas Kay’s grandsons, Clarence, Roy, and Chauncey Bishop, went on to open Pendleton Woolen Mills in 1909, and the rest is, well, history!
What You’ll Find
The new WHC store is small but mighty. In a charmingly industrial space, it features goods from Pendleton’s two USA woolen mills: table cut fabric and remnants, with a sewing and felting craft focus.
Shoppers will also find a curated assortment of Pendleton’s iconic apparel, home, gifts, and accessories.
Throughout the store, informative displays and graphics tell the story of Oregon’s wool industry, alongside the history of Salem, Oregon’s state capitol.
Other displays show our historic (but state-of-the-Art!) mills over the years, and explain our philanthropic partnerships, and key elements of our company’s growth from our deep Oregon roots.
The Willamette Heritage Center
Along with shopping and special events, visitors to the Willamette Heritage Center can take a self-guided tour of the Thomas Kay mill, the place where Pendleton’s weaving legacy began. And speaking of the Center, there is so much more to see here.
The Willamette Heritage Center connects generations by preserving and interpreting Mid-Willamette Valley history. The fourteen historic structures on site house permanent and changing exhibits, a research library and archive, a textile learning center, and rentable event spaces. The five-acre campus is also home to retail shops, art galleries, cooperative artist studios, and offices for our partner organizations. (source)
Since 1964, the Mission Mill Museum Association (now the Willamette Heritage Center) has worked on the restoration and interpretation of the Thomas Kay Woolen Mill. Learn more about the Willamette Heritage Center here: https://www.willametteheritage.org/
We are excited for this new store, with Pendleton returning to where we began.
When you visit our store, you’ll see a one-of-a-kind banner celebrating the materials and craft that is the heart of the Woolen Mill Store.
Measuring 8′ x 12′, the banner was designed and created by Pendleton’s Marketing team. The design is based on the Mt Hood graphic on a vintage shirt box, which is also used in our current Born in Oregon logo.
How We Did It – and there’s a video!
The pattern was enlarged onto a full-sized paper pattern using a slide projector.
This pattern was cut apart and used to trace the shape of the mountain and the shoreline.
The sky and lake shape are made from the same fabric – the face and reverse of a wool denim. The 150+ stylized trees were cut from a wide range of plaids, stripes, jacquards, and solid fabric, including our Sunbrella outdoor fabrics.
The richly colored fabrics, all in shades of blue, were appliqued together with a fusible bonding, and then machine quilted with a layer of wool batting and a solid cotton backing fabric. This secured all the fabric layers and created a diamond patterned stitch design over the entire surface. The quilting was done by Nancy at Just Quilting in Portland. You can find her at @justquilting on Instagram.
Once quilted, the layers of needle felted trees and the logo were added on top, and the banner was bound on all sides in felt by store staff. The logo was created using 3-D logo letters wrapped in wool yarn and sewn to the sky area of the banner. Shading on the lake is created with airbrushed fabric paint, the only element not sold at the Woolen Mill Store. The larger trees at the bottom, are created by freehand needle felting.
As Promised…the Video
Here’s a behind-the-scenes movie of the process.
This is a celebration of hand crafting, and a fitting salute to our quality materials and the work that our customers create. Here’s a closer view, and we hope you’ll visit us to see it in person soon.
We’re offering amix and match sale on some of your favorite crafting goods. Buy three, get one free on on yarn, felted wool, kits, and knitting tools!
But that’s not all!
We’ve extended the 20% off sale on Melton fabrics and our Pendleton Eco-Wise Wool fabrics. This special group is 20% off, limited to stock on hand and while supplies last. These are beautiful fabrics and customer favorites for apparel, crafts, and upholstery projects.
We have all kinds of ideas for these fabrics for all skill levels; come into the store and check them out!
We would love to see you at our beautifully refreshed store.
As many of you know, we have finally completed (most of) our store refresh. It started with our exterior, with a bold new paint color scheme, and beautiful lit signs, and some landscaping.
Inside, there are always finishing touches. We’re preparing the classroom area for the resumption of classes, and adding shelves and bins to accommodate all the wonderful new supplies we have for you here at the Woolen Mill Store.
Here is a peek at the process of setting up the new floorplan:
Hard Work and Beautiful Results
We hope to see you soon to share the fruits of our labors. Come see us at: