These aren’t the droids you’re looking for.
But if you got that reference, they may be the blankets you’re looking for.
Pendleton Woolen Mills is releasing a limited edition run of two new Star Wars-themed blankets, and some fans are itching to get their hands on them.
“I have to go get one,” Dan Emert said.
Emert, who lived in Pendleton for 23 years and now lives in Walla Walla, has amassed an extensive collection of Star Wars memorabilia, including action figures, ships, helmets, posters and T-shirts. His obsession with the classic sci-fi tale of good versus evil started in 1977 when he saw the original film at a movie theater in Salem.
“It made a huge impact on my little nine-year-old life,” he said. “I’ll never forget it.”
For certain fandoms, collectors’ items are a big part of the fun, and Star Wars is undeniably one of them. “Nerdy” websites like ThinkGeek wouldn’t be complete without an entire section dedicated to Death Star-shaped waffle irons and coffee mugs inviting users to come to the dark side.
Emert has a house full of such merchandise, and the Force is strong with his kids too — one of his adult sons bought a $400 light saber with his tax returns this year. One thing Emert hasn’t gotten his hands on, however, is a Pendleton Woolen Mills blanket made right in the town he lived in for most of his life. The last release of Star Wars-themed blankets in 2015 had already sold out by the time he heard about it.
This time, the company is creating 1,977 blankets (paying homage to Episode IV’s release date) in each of two patterns ahead of the release of “Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi” on Dec. 15.
A Padawan-sized blanket in warm shades of orange, brown and yellow depicts the wookiee Chewbacca examining a cluster of creatures called porgs that will be featured in the “The Last Jedi.” The full-sized blanket, done mostly in black, tan, red and turquoise, shows a silhouette of Rey, the heroine of “The Force Awakens,” surrounded by the symbol of the rebellion, the Millennium Falcon and other elements recognizable from past films.
The release is the company’s third of Star Wars blankets, producing a total of eight designs, in collaboration with Lucasfilm and Disney.
Austin Blythe, media relations for Pendleton Woolen Mills, said all of the Star Wars blankets are being made in Pendleton on the mill’s Jacquard loom. The process — which includes weaving, washing, drying, hand-finishing, inspecting and packing into custom boxes — can take several days to finish. The designs are created by the company’s in-house designers, who work with Disney to create something that will tie in well with the next film, including characters that have not been seen before.
“Even the color cues, we take from them to make sure it aligns with the tone of the film,” Blythe said.
Pendleton Woolen Mills has been working with Disney since the opening of Disneyland in 1955, when the company was invited to open a western mercantile at the theme park. In addition to Star Wars-themed blankets, the company also married its Native American-inspired aesthetic with Marvel comic book characters in 2016.
The newest limited edition Star Wars blankets are on sale by pre-order now on the company’s website (www.pendleton-usa.com) or by phone at 503-535-5444, with shipments beginning Oct. 25.
As a child, Emert had to pick strawberries and blueberries to earn money for the newest plastic Star Wars action figure, and “that money came slowly.” Now he is excited to order a piece for his collection that comes from close to home, “can last for a lifetime, and you can actually use it.”
“I guess it’s because I’m reliving my nine-year-old life,” he said in answer to a question about why he enjoys buying Star Wars-themed everything. “Now that I’m an adult, I can afford to buy all the Star Wars things I wanted when I was a kid.”
Contact Jade McDowell at email@example.com or 541-564-4536.