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Pendleton


One year ago this week my husband, Ron and I were in Portland, OR. Or rather we were on a cruise ship out of Portland traveling up the Columbia River and back. It was going to be a great cruise and scheduled as it was three months before our daughter was supposed to give birth to her first child, we were excited and happy go lucky as we headed northwest. We spent a fun couple of days in Portland before we stepped onto the boat. It was our 40th wedding anniversary so gifts were exchanged and great food was eaten and flowers were involved. Cool! The cruise was wonderful. We had a nice stateroom, the weather was perfect, the food was good, the scenery was a geologist’s dream and our fellow passengers, while many of them were decades older than us, were interesting and engaging. All went very well until a couple of days before we were due back in Portland when we got a panicked telephone call that our daughter had had an emergency C-section and Max, our first grandchild, was born weighing in at 1 pound 5 ounces. I could write a book about Max and his trials but here is the short answer – bless Peggy for stepping in to be Mom till we could get home, bless all the family and friends who held hands and took pictures and walked the dog and made everything work, bless the doctors and nurses at the neonatal ICU for their wonderful care of Max and bless the insurance company for making money one of the things our daughter and her husband didn’t have to worry about. But most of all bless Max who is and was a fighter and who reaches his first birthday this week as normal as any one year old ever born.

I have been well aware of Max’s approaching birthday but it was the delivery of a Pendleton catalog that reminded me of our tour of their mill and got me searching for the photos I took.

In those carefree days of our cruise, before Max was born, we stopped in Pendleton, OR for some time off the boat. One of the options for spending that afternoon was a trip to the Pendleton Mill. Wow! They could not have picked anything closer to my heart. Living in the greater Houston area we don’t own the kind of wool clothes we did when we lived in Tulsa, OK or growing up in the Chicago area, both of which have real winters with very cold temperatures and snow. My all-time most favorite wool suit was made by Pendleton. It’s long gone now although I still have a couple of Pendleton wool skirts in the bottom of my cedar chest. I would have to cut off major body parts to get back into them but I keep them anyway – there may be a psychological study there but we will move on….

Once we got to the mill we learned that the Pendleton Mill in Pendleton OR does not make the wool fabric that’s made into suits and other clothing. This is Pendleton’s jacquard mill where they make the tapestry blankets that you can see in the photo above and advertised in their catalogs (www.pendleton-usa.com).   These are wonderful blankets with detailed pictures. You can even order one specially made for you if you send them a photograph. I’m sure it’s expensive although I didn’t check the price. Our tour of the mill took us back to see the spinning machines, the looms, the piles of cones of wool yarn and the stacks of finished blankets. I asked if they had any of their merino wool for sale but was told they did not. It would have been pretty cool to spin up some of the same wool that goes into all their clothes and blankets.

The jacquard looms are impressive.  They are huge and loud and mesmerizing to watch.  They are all computer controled so once set up and turned on no weaver is required.  They can and do pick up one thread at a time for a pick of color so getting detailed photo-like pictures is possible.  They dress these looms with hundreds of yards of warp so they produce huge stacks of blankets....

I would have bought a blanket at the mill store but couldn't figure out how to get it home without buying more luggage.  And the store was totally ovrewhelming.  Too many choices, too many colors, too many wonderfully soft products.  It was really cool!