As we wind our way through the Pacific Northwest, we passed through Pendleton, Oregon. Naturally, I insisted on a visit to the Pendleton Woolen Mills. I wrote last year about my Pendleton shirt, worn by my Dad in the 70s. And since my handknit blanket was suffering some setbacks, I figured I ought to get a blanket to keep warm at night.
The mill offers free tours, so naturally I was all for it. The tour was about 30 minutes long, and took the group through the entire process, from spinning yarn to weaving blankets to quality control. The tour started with how the yarn is made, from creating roving to spinning the yarn (pictured above).
Once the yarn is spun, it's wound onto larger cones for weaving. That helps reduce the time and handling it takes to work with the yarn.
Yarn is stored all over the place. This one corner had more yarn than I'll probably ever own.
We got to see a couple of different looms in operation. This one (above and below) is a jacquard loom. The green things go up through the ceiling and are actually the harnesses.
It's amazing to watch the looms in action - they go so fast, and can weave a whole blanket in a matter of minutes. If only I could weave so fast!
Blankets are sewn together before going through quality control and wet finishing. Wet finishing is where they wash the blankets to felt them and make them softer than they are when they come off the loom.
I loved that the forklift got its own upholstery!
Every inch of fabric is inspected by hand, both front and back. Any imperfections are noted at every stage of the process. Anything that falls below standards are treated as seconds.
It was incredible to visit the Pendleton Woolen Mills and see their dedication to quality and local manufacturing. I ended up buying two blankets, and now we're toasty warm every night!