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Junking 101: Pendletons

Posted on: Monday, August 25, 2014

“We have lost much of the past in this country ,and tradition is no longer an easily found commodity, but tradition is alive and well at Pendleton. A pioneer Oregon family continues to manufacture the blankets their ancestors produced specifically for sale to American Indian men and women. A Navajo woman still dances to ancient rhythms in her Pendleton shawl. A Zuni family still bury a loved one in a jet black Pendleton robe. The tide of history washed away the last of its competitors many, many years ago. Pendleton alone remains.”
-Barry Friedman


All photos are from Friedman's Chasing Rainbows

“Life if perfect with a Pendleton!” is Sharpie-inscribed above Barry Friedman’s signature inside a copy of his book, Chasing Rainbows: Collecting American Indian Trade & Camp Blankets. If you have spent any amount of time scouring fleas and thrift stores for items made by this coveted brand, the moment you happen upon one, life does feel pretty perfect. And from decades of collecting these woolen wonders, he knows the feeling well. Though Pendleton’s name carries weight for many of us—sparking notions of bright, geometric patterns concomitant with Native American traditions—their inherent value goes much deeper than current trends and tastes. The tale of Indian trade blankets weaves together the white man and indigenous tribes into a symbiotic relationship after the Indian Wars that carries on through today. If you’re looking for a truly vintage Pendleton, and need a good lens to filter see through the loads and piles of blankets, read on before your next shopping trip.



The Indian Wars results forced independent Native American tribes onto undesirable reservation lands, at the mercy of government aid. Having penned free, nomadic spirits in foreign land, the Native American way of life would be forever changed. Around 1890 Traders settled on reservations, selling trinkets and wares of the West to white consumers as they traveled through, except for the Indian trade blankets, these were made exclusively for the Native American consumer, who used them for dress, sleep, burial robes, etc. At this same time, the Navajo began weaving rugs to sell to traders. So Anglo made blankets designed for Indians’ use and Indian made rugs designed for Anglo homes flooded trading posts and woolen mills manufacturing trade blankets began to sprout.



There were many competing companies with their own distinctive patterns and weave from 1890-1942, but Pendleton Woolen Mills outlasted them all as the only surviving manufacturer of Indian trade blankets, and made more than all the other mills combined. The company got their start in 1896, and more than one hundred years later, we still want one. With a deluge of their blankets, robes and couch covers out on the market, developing a collector’s eye takes talent and work. We are here to get you started. Though this post is hardly comprehensive in it’s overview of how to spot a highly valuable blanket, it will get you shopping more keenly and understanding more clearly what a truly vintage Pendelton is (for more detailed information, check out Barry’s incredible book, Chasing Rainbows, to start—an enjoyable and fascinating read).



The first blankets turned out by Pendleton Woolen Mills had rounded corners and stopped being produced in 1908—if you find one of these, “Eureka!”, you’ve struck gold. These are the most valuable Pendletons. A word of caution, though, Knight Woolen Mills also made round corner blankets, and a Pendleton from 1896-1904 will most likely bear no label (few survived as they were made of cardboard). Find one with a cloth label reading “Gauranteed to be a Pendleton-Pine Fleece Wool,” you can rest assure that blanket was made between 1904-1908, and you should give Barry Friedman a call.

Joseph Rawnsey began working for Pendleton under an ownership change in 1901, and remained their cornerstone designer until his death in 1929. His ability and talent being unsurpassed, blankets made during these years are highly coveted (next only to the round corner blankets): specifically the spectacular, vibrant-colored patterns from the 1911 sales catalog—Pendleton’s first full color catalog. Two of his designs, the Harding and the Chief Joseph patterns still remain in Pendleton lines to this day.



Pendleton Woolen Mills lived up to their slogan, “Where quality decides we always win,” making their blankets from virgin wool and processing the wool with house made soaps. For a few years they wove for the Cayuse Blanket Company in the 1920’s, making a more inexpensive version with cotton warp and 17% reprocessed wool.



Fringe or no fringe: shawls are the fringed blankets intended for women and blankets sans fringe were made for men and called robes. Neither one is more or less valuable than the other, but a couch cover will trump both. Color schemes can hype value, too, with bold primary colors—black and red being tops—as the most desirable.


Pendleton couch cover

Pendleton trade blankets come in eight different design categories, according to Friedman, in order of most desirable to collectors:



Overall: a repeating pattern fills entire the entire surface of the blanket—this is generally the ‘busiest’ sort of pattern.



Banded: In banded blankets, patter is confined within…duh…bands. Areas of solid color separate the bands from one another.
Center Point: features either an individual design element—usually a cross, star, or diamond—in the middle of the blanket that dominates the pattern or a series of the same dominating elements in a horizontal or vertical band across the blankets center.



Six-Element: features two identical large elements reported in three rows.
Nine-Element: features three identical large elements reported in three rows.



Framed: a single large design element in the center of the blanket is surrounded by solid color. An intersecting design running the length of all four side ore h blanket forms a ‘frame’ for the central element. These are exclusive to Pendleton.
Striped: are just that—stripes and nothing else. Every manufacturer made striped patterns, which have always been a great favorite of all the tribes.
Pictorial: features…yes, that’s right…pictures!

Conditions to be aware of which devalue blankets are shrinkage and pilling. If a blanket is less than five by six feet or if the edges pucker when lain flat, it’s been shrunk. Other marks of wear may add to the value for some collectors, and are referred to as relic condition, while other prefer a blanket in ‘like new’, or mint, condition.

Labels can give you a good indication of when the blanket was made. Familiarize yourself with the evolution of labels below, to give you a good indication of when a blanket was woven.


Here is a quick timeline of dates to help place blankets and determine value:
1896-1901: round corner blankets made on dobby looms with only straight line patterns
1901: Jacquard looms replace dobby looms, allowing for increased intricacy and designs with curvilinear patterns; first Pendleton shawl made
1902: bales of twenty assorted robes sell for eighty dollars
1904-1908: round corner blankets with cloth labels
1908-1909: Pendleton Woolen Mills falls into financial difficulty and mill idles until bought by Bishop family (who still owns it today!)
1901-1929: Joe Rawnsey designs for Pendleton Woolen Mills
1910: Tepee patterned blankets hit the market
1911: Pendleton’s most elaborate catalog issued
1924-1929: Cayuse blankets manufactured
1926: Harding pattern coined
1929: Stock market crashes
1930: Chief Joseph pattern coined; patterns become larger designs with diamond, cross and star motifs, using sunset colors of browns and oranges.
1942: all woolen mills converted to war efforts and marks the end of the Indian trade blanket manufacturing era. Any blanket dated prior to this year is of high value!



Ultimately, finding the perfect Pendleton comes down to what you enjoy, this is the most important value to consider. Whether you collect Pendleton’s as a hobby or just love a good wool blanket as the Winter chill sets in, know that wherever you see one, Native Americans are still using them right alongside you—and may we all find some warmth in kinship through our mutual love of these spectacularly woven trade blankets.

The Weekly Six: Back to School Edition

Posted on: Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Before we open our doors for the week, check out our top six vintage picks. We constantly update our inventory, and we want to keep you in the loop of the new things coming in! So, without further adieu, we bring you:

1: Time for show and tell! Pick up a globe while back to school shopping, and share with all your classmates where you adventured over summer break (and make your teachers think you studied geography all summer long).




2: A book shelf? Trophy stand? With school just around the corner, it's time to get your room looking smart with new decor for all those books you'll be studying and awards you'll be winning. These iron and wood shelves also house plants and travel relics, whatever your fancy.






3: These wallets, aka lunch money pouches, are so beautifully embossed and stitched, we can't seem to get enough. From foreign to Fossil, we have one for everyone! 





4: Snuggle up to Autumn with this wooly blanket. Whether for sick days or movie nights, a good blanket is always in order.


5: Time to STUDY. It won't seem like such a bad word with a fringe kimono duster to wrap yourself up in. While these double as robes, blankets and loungewear, they also work great for sick days. Feel better and more comfortable whatever you're up to in these beautiful wraps!



6: Back to school shopping is never complete without a first day outfit. Hit the snooze button a few extra times, and still strut onto campus feeling ready for the year in this truly vintage sweater. It will remind your mom of her school days and the favorite sweater she used to wear.




Etsy Shop is Live!

Posted on: Monday, August 18, 2014

Ruby Rose's Etsy all vintage shop took a vacation this Summer (rumor has is she went road tripping), but is back up and ready for you!



From wood carved salt & pepper shakers to vintage framed paint-by-number landscapes to official trail canteens and bow ties, the online shop is a great way for our friends far and wide to shop local in SLO wherever you may go.



Hip, Hip, Hooray for Jenn Young!

Posted on: Friday, August 15, 2014

One of our Ruby Crew members, Jennifer Young, just published her first book! Picture Perfect Social Media is a simple how-to for budding photographers and social media-lites alike, covering camera basics (how to even pick the right camera for you!) to styling secrets with food, travel and portraits. 

We couldn't put it down, and already feel the photography bug biting! Three cheers for our girl Jenn Young: hip, hip, hooray!

We decided to get the story behind the book from our ever talented friend, enjoy:

photo from I ART U blog



How did you get your start in photography, or were you born with a camera in hand ;)?


Photography has always been a passion of mine, but I actually didn’t start pursuing it as a career until about four years ago! I think it was bound to happen as becoming a photographer has been one of my many dreams. :) Prior to photography, I studied music my entire life and ended up earning my Masters in Clarinet Performance, so I didn’t have a lot of time to pursue other passions. The short version to how I got into photography is that I started an art and lifestyle blog that I shared my personal photo work on. I’ve been really lucky to have met a lot of people that have helped me and mentored me to be in the place that I am today. I am so thankful!


photo from I ART U blog



What's a typical day for you look like?

I usually start my day with a hot cup of tea and some kind of mind-clearing activity. This could be anything from reading, flipping through a magazine, taking my dog Dexter for a walk, rearranging furniture or cleaning (yes, call me crazy but I love to clean!). After this down time, I’ll typically go to the gym or my favorite yoga studio, Spark

I find it so important to carve out time in the morning for myself, doing the things that I love and being active. I function the best this way and it gives me a good foundation for the day so that I can then focus my time and energy on my business and others.

After getting some sweat out, I tend to schedule meetings with clients (or meet with a friend for tea!) in the late morning. Being around people fuels me so I find this is another very important part of my day. I then head to the office (which used to be my home until very recently)! A lot of admin work, replying to emails, and editing happens in my workspace. I’ve been particularly excited for this part of the day as I am now working out of the newly opened Huckleberry Market! Being around other creatives while working has been an amazing experience. It keeps me on task more too. :)

I try to leave work by 6. Try being the key word! The most beautiful thing about the freelance life is the flexibility that you have, so I am always open to starting and ending my work day at different times.

My evenings are simple—spend time with the husband, cook dinner, go to the dog park, visit with friends, watch a film...






What motivated you to write Picture Perfect Social Media?

I think I got really lucky. :) My publishers found my work on Pinterest and contacted me from there. Social media can be really great sometimes!

Who do you hope picks up a copy?

Anyone and everyone who is interested in taking better photos not only for social media, but for themselves personally. My hope is that this book approaches photography in a simple, not-too-technical way that is comprehensible by a wide range of people.

Are there more books in the future; what's next?
I don’t foresee any more books in the near future…unless it’s a personal project! I’ve been scheming...


photo by Jennifer Young



If you were stuck with one camera for the rest of your life, what would it be?

Although I’ve learned mainly on digital, I think I’d have to say a Contax G2 (I don’t own one…yet!).

Ok, you have a camera in hand, the day off, and a free ticket to anywhere in California. Where do you go and what do you shoot?

If you asked me this question every day for the rest of the year, I think my answer would be different from day to day. Generally speaking, I would buy a ticket to somewhere I’ve never been before. I’m inspired to shoot in new places! I love photographing people, places, cultures, food, nature…the list goes on. You can pretty much put me anywhere and I’ll find something I enjoy shooting. :) I’ve been considering a trip to Albion…


photos by Jennifer Young



How do you stay inspired as a full time creative? What's your secret?

I don’t think I have any secrets, but my top 5 things that help me stay inspired are: travel, exercise, experience new things (learning a new skill, explore a new place, finding a new hobby, etc. etc.!), be outside in nature/disconnect from technology, and connect with others. Basically anything that helps me grow, maintain current relationships or build new ones, or expand my outlook on life!

A word for aspiring photographers and fellow dreamers?

It’s so cliché, but pursue your passions. I can’t express that enough!


photo by Jennifer Young

The Weekly Six

Posted on: Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Before we open our doors for the week, check out our top six vintage picks. We constantly update our inventory, and we want to keep you in the loop of the new things coming in! So, without further adieu, we bring you:

1: Rev up your wall art with this vintage Chevrolet fender. Ideally suited for car lovers and creative minds, this truck salvage is a made-in-the-USA memoir that'll run for forever.





2: Time to discover your inner socialite and throw a dinner party! These ornately gold and green drinking glasses will bring just the right amount of bourgie to the table, to impress your guests without over doing it. Add craft whiskey and a big ice cube to these cups and they're assured to be back the next week.





3: Canadian tuxedo jackets! Canadian tuxedo jackets! We have loaded up on denims for Fall, and these jean jackets are just the right amount of worn. Show em a little love and they will be your Velveteen Rabbit, and go with you anywhere.





4: Always wished you could shrink that velvety, fringed rug up and place it on your bed? Well, your wish has been granted! From magic carpets to pillow cases, this piece is surely the work of a genie. Dream of whole new worlds with this pillow beneath your head.





5: Date night, day shopping, and dog walking: this purse is light enough to take anywhere, and cute enough to catch a few eyes as you stroll past. Who could resist this dainty leather flower centered on this strappy purse?





6: For the golden hour when you arrive home from a long day at work, and just need to rest awhile. A high-backed chair with plush upholstery (in wonderful condition!) will usher you into an evening of good thoughts and thoughtful conversations in your living room among family and friends.





Pimp My Ride: Pick-up Truck

Posted on: Friday, August 8, 2014

Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.
-Jon Krakauer


For the second half of our Pimp My Ride series, we took to the woods. Embodying the man who with every tick of his eight hour days at the office grew a little paler, a little more distant, a little more weary. So to stave off apathy, he threw his tackle box, books, and a few thermoses of coffee and soup into his old Toyota truck bed, and left at 4:59p Friday afternoon with his girl at his side.





He drove and drove until his nostrils smelled water and his face felt the cool breeze coming through the rolled down windows.








And for the weekend they floated, fished, read and relaxed the days away. They lived the simple life from dawn til dusk, until they returned to wax professional from nine to five again--tanner, engaged, and a little more inspired.




We all need a break every now and again, wouldn't you agree?



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