ABOUT WHITNEY CRUTCHFIELD
I have been a textile lover ever since my mom taught me how to sew a reversible Barbie skirt in our basement in rural Michigan. Since then, I have been deeply influenced and led into this fascinatingly intertwined textile community by a number of strong, talented women and men.
After obtaining a MFA in Fibers and enjoying the clean air of Colorado, I landed in Brooklyn, and it instantly felt like home. My textile obsession has materialized here in a number of different ways, including crafting at Martha Stewart, teaching at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, and Textile Arts Center, and designing textiles for a major teen apparel retailer.
My heart and passion, however, were not in the world of mass production and fleeting trends. So, with over ten years of weaving, dyeing, and teaching experience under my belt, I turned my efforts fully to sharing the magic of textiles through WE GATHER. Whether through creative workshops and events, carefully assembled at-home weaving and dyeing kits, or thoughtfully and ethically-made products produced right in the Brooklyn studio, I hope to help others experience the joy and meaning that comes along with a simple piece of cloth.
-optimism is my strong suit
-cheese is my weak suit
-I fully commit to a theme party
-I am a registered wedding officiant (find out about WE WED here) in NYC (looking at you, lovebirds)
-I never stifle a laugh
ABOUT WE GATHER
What do textiles mean to you?
You probably wear them almost every day. Perhaps, as a little one, you had a favorite blanket that was both your sidekick and safety. Maybe you treasure an old sweater because, no matter how many times you wash it, it still smells like a beloved person or place.
Textiles are one of the first things to embrace you when you enter this world, one of the last to comfort you as you leave it. They mark the thresholds of our lives, accompany us in our everyday experiences, and forge connections between us.
WE GATHER is here to spread the textile love. We aim to celebrate textiles and all of the wonder, history, and meaning that they hold. And we put all of those good textile vibes in your hands in a few different ways:
Our textile-based workshops in weaving, dyeing, stitching, and rug-making bring people together in a fun and creative environment. We emphasize light-hearted learning while giving you the tools and skills you need to continue your textile adventures. Whether you’re a total beginner or a lifelong textile enthusiast, we’ve got a space for you.
Our DIY kits bring the textile fun into your home, wherever that may be. We focus on beginner to intermediate skill-building with clear and careful instructions, and our kits are chock full of our favorite studio materials.
Our commission textiles are hand dyed, hand woven, and hand finished with love and masterful care in our Brooklyn studio (learn about our process here). We value a thoughtful design process that blends our clients’ ideas with our signature style. Commission textiles include handwoven home accents and handdyed fabrics and yarns, as well as special projects (take a peek at some recent projects here). Our goal in production is to minimize waste while creating functional, heirloom-quality textiles meant to be used and loved for a lifetime.
Idea and Material Sourcing
Once a WE GATHER product is ordered or imagined, we begin with some basic aesthetic considerations: What color will it be? How many stripes will it have? What size should it be? A sketch is created from these ideas.
Next, we assess material needs. We use only the coziest, most inviting natural fibers, focusing on cotton, silk, and wool. These fibers have been harvested and used for thousands of years, and that rich history is important to us. We make every effort to support other homegrown American businesses when selecting materials and source most of our yarns from Tennessee.
To prepare our yarns for dyeing, we wind them into bundles using a 100 year-old skein winder. We then tightly wrap portions of the yarn prior to dyeing to keep the dye from coloring those areas (a technique called resist dyeing).
Once prepared, we are ready to dye. We use only low-impact synthetic dyes, meaning they produce relatively low water waste, are safe to have right next to your skin, and contain so few chemical components that they can be safely washed down the average kitchen sink. These dyes also offer an immense range of color possibilities, which gives us the ability to make your color dreams come true. We mix our own dye colors to match the product sketch. The yarn skeins then take a nice dye bath and usually soak for about two hours. It is such a delight to watch the colors develop in the yarns; each type of yarn takes the dye differently. Because of our hand dyeing process and ever-changing conditions, each length of yarn is slightly different from the next, giving each WE GATHER product its own special character. We thoroughly rinse the dyed skeins and let them air dry, letting the energetic Brooklyn air breeze through them on a nice day.
Weaving and Finishing
Our weaving process starts by preparing the loom. WE GATHER’s primary floor loom (adoringly named Ruby) has lots of history - it has been in the hands of at least three different, loving weavers, and it gets better with age. We dress the loom with the warp yarns and wind them through the loom’s various moving parts. This is founded upon math and meticulous organization and is a repetitive, peaceful process. When the warp is ready, we begin weaving the hand dyed yarns to and fro, building the textile, pick over pick, layer upon layer. The voids in the resist-dyed yarns arrange themselves in ways that we don’t predict, often creating subtle and surprising patterns in the cloth. This part of the making process is very special; during weaving, the intended recipient is brought to mind, we imagine the meaning that the textile will have for that person or persons, and our joyful wishes for them become part of the product.
Once weaving is complete, we cut the textile from the loom. Any sewing construction is done in the studio on our vintage Singer sewing machine, passed down by Whitney’s grandmother. Any finishing knots are tied by hand. Finished products are given a final wash to make the textile as soft and sturdy as possible. And off it goes into the world.