Friday, January 10, 2014

A Pendleton Classic: The Harding

Everybody loves Pendleton, everybody. When it's gloomy out, there's just nothing to compare to the feeling of a warm wool blanket to wrap yourself in. Pendleton has been an Americana staple since it opened it's doors in Oregon in 1909. 

One of Pendleton's more classic patterns and one of my personal favorites is the Harding blanket, currently in stock at both shops. 

Pendleton began in 1895 when  a large plant was enlarged and converted into a woolen mill which made bed blankets and robes for Native Americans. This venture failed and the mill went idle. In 1909, the Bishops reopened the facility and constructed a new, more efficient mill building with aid of a local bond issue. In September of that year, the first products emerged from the new finishing department and the tradition of Pendleton Woolen Mills began. 

The production of Indian blankets resumed as the Bishops applied intuitive business concepts for quality products and distinctive styling. 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. Under the direction of the Bishop family, Pendleton expanded into other areas of woolen manufacturing. In 1912, the addition of a weaving mill in Washougal, Washington, broadened its capability for fabric variety, including suitings. 

The first Harding jacquard blanket was presented to Florence Harding in 1923 when she and President Harding visited the West to dedicate a portion of the old Oregon Trail. At that ceremony, local Cayuse and Umatilla chiefs presented the First Lady with a Pendleton robe inspired by the already-famous Chief Joseph blanket.

 This robe from Pendleton's Heritage Collection is comparable to a twin blanket, the size originally used as a ceremonial robe by Native Americans. It is ideal for foot of bed, draped over a sofa or chair, or hung as unique, historic wall art.