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Pendleton blankets for children:
Muchacho blankets

Nearly everyone knows that Pendleton blankets are a highly prized, heirloom quality woolen covering. Whether you cover your bed, couch, wall, or whatever, a Pendleton wool blanket is an excellent choice for functional aesthetics in your home. But, what exactly is a Pendleton “muchacho" blanket?

My tousle-headed grandson playing on a Chief Joseph muchacho blanketMy tousle-headed grandson playing on a Chief Joseph muchacho blanket

If you know a little Spanish, the term obviously means “boy blanket.” However, Pendleton Woolen Mills has claimed the term to refer to their renowned woolen Indian blankets that are crib-sized. All Pendleton blankets are coveted for excellent quality, design, and durability. How natural that we should use them to wrap the smallest and most deserving among us!

In Spanish muchacho means “boy” and muchacha “girl.” It does not necessarily mean babies or infants. But the Pendleton muchacho blankets are genuine Pendleton wool blankets made in a smaller size (32 by 44 inches) than their traditional blankets. They are totally constructed in the USA of 82% pure virgin wool and 18% cotton. Muchacho blankets are perfect for laying baby on for tummytime, naptime, or anytime. You may prefer to decorate the nursery with it as a tapestry! Besides the few that I show on this page, check out all these other designs!

Painted Ponies
Painted Ponies reversePainted Pony reverse

Notice how the reverse side of each blanket shows the background colors of the other side. A Pendleton representative shared that this is the nature of the jacquard looms which are used to make all of the muchacho blankets.

Coyote Steals Fire
Coyote Steals Fire reverse

Pendleton blankets, including muchacho blankets, are designed around traditional Native American designs and folktales. This totally coincides with Pendleton's long-standing practice of providing trade blankets for various U.S. Indian tribes. This custom is inherent in the history of the original Pendleton Woolen Mill.

How Pendleton blankets are made

Recently, I visited the Pendleton Woolen Mill in Pendleton, Oregon, to see how these blankets are manufactured. They provide several guided tours each day. Trish, our Pendleton guide, walked us through the process.

Dyed wool being cardedDyed wool being carded

The wool used for Pendleton blankets comes primarily from Pacific Northwest USA ranches. It is washed and dyed before it ever reaches the Pendleton mill as 600 pound bales. At the mill, the wool is carded by machine to straighten out the fibers in preparation for spinning/twisting into the yarn used for weaving. The air in the mill was rather humid. Trish stated this was partly from steaming the fibers to preshrink and set them as well as to keep the air from becoming clouded with lint.


Carded wool is being separated into roving. Roving looks like yarn but is not. It can pull apart easily because it isn't twisted yet.1. Carded wool is being separated into roving. Roving looks like yarn but is not. It can pull apart easily because it isn't twisted yet.
Roving is being twisted into the yarn used for weaving.2. Roving is being twisted into the yarn used for weaving.
Examples of the process. Wish they had a sample of the sheets of carded wool before the roving process. You know the cobwebby stuff people drape around for Halloween? Kind of like that only thicker.3. Examples of the process. Wish they had a sample of the carded wool before the roving process. You know the cobwebby stuff people drape around for Halloween? Kind of like that only thicker.
Yarn and the punched paper design being fed into the jacquard loom on the right.4. Yarn and the punched paper design being fed into the jacquard loom on the right.
A jacquard loom. The vertical threads are the cotton warp; the dyed wool weft threads make the design.5. A jacquard loom. The vertical threads are the cotton warp; the dyed wool weft threads make the design.
Rolls and rolls of finished woolen blanket fabric before inspection.6. Rolls and rolls of finished woolen blanket fabric before inspection.

Close-up of the punched paper design feedClose-up of the punched paper design feed

Pendleton blankets are woven on jacquard looms using American cotton for the vertical warp thread. Cotton is used largely because it is a strong fiber but has minimal stretch to it. The weft threads are the woolen colors that are woven according to specific designs. Our tour group expected to see computerized looms, but the closest we came to that is this punched-paper feed which guides the loom during the weaving process.

        

Wild Horses
Wild Horses reverseWild Horses reverse

    

Inspection of fabricInspection of fabric

Pendleton prides itself on its personal involvement in the weaving of its iconic blankets. This is why the weavings are visually inspected by a real person! Twice! Each side of a roll of blanket fabric is scrutinized and marked for any imperfection so that only perfect blankets make it to the retail market. However, to minimize waste, Pendleton allows these culled but still beautiful blankets to be sold as “seconds” for a lower price in the back of the mill store.

After inspection, the woven fabric is cut into blanket sizes and bound with felt binding.

I asked Trish directly how Pendleton muchacho blankets differ from their regular woolen blankets. She said that there are only 2 differences: 1. The size is smaller, suitable for a crib 2. Some of the designs are specific only to the baby blankets.

The cost of a muchacho blanket

To give you a comparison, the cost of a Pendleton muchacho blanket is roughly similar to purchasing five or six boutique muslin swaddle blankets. Of course, buying a Pendleton for your own little muchacho or muchacha shows how much you value their presence in your life and gives them an heirloom that they can keep for when they have little ones of their own!

Care of Pendleton woolen blankets

To take care of your muchacho blanket, follow these wool care tips from crazycrow.com:

RECOMMENDED:

  • Brush the blanket occasionally with a lint roller or bristled clothing brush. Wool naturally resists most day-to-day dust and dirt because of its internal structure.
  • Dry clean Pendleton wool blankets. Some shrinking can occur even if you wash in cool water and lay flat to dry. This shrinkage will impact the finish and feel of the blanket. So if your muchacho/muchacha vomits on the blanket, dry cleaning is the best way to restore it to full use.
  • To store your Pendleton blanket, clean it first, then seal it in an airtight bag or other container.

Brief history

Pendleton Woolen Mills has been an American family-run business since its inception in 1863. Patriarch Thomas Kay, a British weaver, laid the foundation for the company, and family members throughout the years have designed, innovated, and marketed to bring the company through the 20th century. Kay's grandsons, the Bishop brothers, established the business as Pendleton Woolen Mill in 1909. This family business has continued into the 21st century with its integrity intact. Find out more about the Pendleton heritage here.

Conclusion

The celebrated quality of Pendleton blankets carries over to their line of crib blankets, called “muchacho” blankets. Many intriguing Native American-inspired designs are available, and new designs are are added from time to time. You will probably find at least one that makes you say, “Wow! That's gorgeous! I want that for (insert the name of your beloved baby)!” I know I did!

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