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.