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?
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. (As with all natural fibers, ensure that baby is not allergic before using.) 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 Native American designs! Amazon even offers a couple Star Wars designs ;-)
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.
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.
On a trip to the NW US, 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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
To take care of your muchacho blanket, follow these wool care tips from crazycrow.com:
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.
The celebrated quality of Pendleton blankets carries over to their line of crib-size blankets, called muchacho blankets. Many intriguing Native American-inspired designs are available, and new designs are added from time to time, like the Star Wars Designs. You will probably find at least one that makes you say, “Wow! That's awesome! I want that for (insert the name of your beloved baby)!” I know I did!