At The Weaving Mill a textile is not only a textile—it is also an intriguing puzzle to be solved, a way of making sense of our surroundings, a community builder. With this philosophical approach—and so much taste—Emily Winter, 35, has helmed this beloved local enterprise since 2015. At the time, the Chicago Weaving Corporation had decided to cease production, and their weaving equipment needed new stewards. Thus The Weaving Mill was created, to make use of the idle equipment while working in tandem with Envision Unlimited, an organization that provides services to people with special needs.
Through two programs cleverly named after the basic components of weaving, W.E.F.T. (Westtown Education for Textiles, composed of Envision Unlimited students) and W.A.R.P. (Westtown Art Residency Project), The Weaving Mill connects working artists and special needs artisans and encourages an environment of creative collaboration that’s reflected in their beautiful wares. Though a portion of their line—small batches of clothing and home textiles—comes from these programs, most of their output is designed, woven, and sewn at The Weaving Mill by a team of three people. Winter describes their aesthetic as “elemental, fundamental, colorful, rectilinear, textural, chance-oriented, responsive, and materially sensitive.” According to her, the purpose of The Weaving Mill is to “make useful and beautiful things, and make them well; build systems that work in relation to their context; and give attention to materials and to people.”
They clearly give a lot of attention to the weaving process itself, whose every fiber is highlighted in initiatives such as the Reverse Drafting Club, a mail-based fabric unraveling club, with nearly 400 members from all over the world. Another initiative is their Seed Library, where they donate seeds of plants used for natural dyes. An easy way to get involved with this fascinating organization is by subscribing to their newsletter and attending one of their open studio sessions. The next one will be on April 16 from noon to 4 PM.
The Weaving Mill
1801 N. Spaulding
best of chicago: buy Local
Best of Chicago 2022 is presented by