Yes, I am still at yarn geek! I cannot help it after so many years. Anyway, Pendleton Woolen Mills circa 1909 is famous for their blankets and I have been a fan for a long time. Not only are they know for their history, but the quality and design of these items have made them sought after by collectors!
Blanket central! They are just beautiful! If you are not familiar, they are mostly wool and relatively thick…warmth and durability are paramount. They are about $250 a pop but some are below $100. They are all dry clean only so while I would LOVE to own one, with dogs and camper life, it is really not practical! Still, I love looking at them.
Pendleton makes fabric (by yardage), accessories such as winter hats, gloves, etc plus apparel. They are quite famous for their flannels as well. FYI the Indian design inspiration (the original owners were English) was mainly born from their local customer base and the very large Native American population of the PNW.
Ok, so this building is still a fully functioning mill. I took the tour, of course and it is in many ways, much like the yarn & knitting mills I have seen in my sweater making career….the sheep are shaved, the fibers are cleaned and dyed in another facility in Oregon. The loose dyed fiber is shipped here to be carded (think a million little combs separating all the fiber) and these feather-weight sheets are created (sometimes called sliver)….next they are gently twisted to create a roving.
The roving, seen at the top is then twisted tightly and put on the bobbins or spools toward the bottom (steam is usually applied as well to “seal” the twist)
Then, cured yarn is wound onto plastic cones…these cones here are about 5-6 pounds of woolen yarn each!!!! I love the colors!!!
Since this wool comes mainly from local sheep and the local sheep are the fuzzy, kinky haired kind, this wool is more puffy and rough (think old fashioned Irish sweaters VS the soft Merino wool garments you might own…just to totally geek out…Merino wool typically comes from Australia and New Zealand and the sheep have long straight hair…and finer micros per fiber and just so you know Cashmere (from goats) has the finest micron, typically…but I digress in to sweater loser-ville).
In this day and age, computer programs are set to these huge looms were this operator monitors the progress. Newer looms like this can make a twin sized blanket, in a jacquard pattern, like this, in about 20-25 minutes….ah, technology! Thousands of tiny needles hard a work pulling and pushing the many colors of yarn!
Finally, the yardage comes off the looms and is hand and visually checked by a quality control person. After final inspection, these lovelies are shipped back to the other facility for finishing (another washing, steaming, blocking, applying the edges/tassles, etc to complete the finished blanket!!!)
Ok, more than you ever wanted to know about knitting wool blankets but it really is something to see.
I could go on and on but will spare you!