It was at the Edmonton Weavers’ Guild where Kim McCollum of Gather Textiles first started weaving. She recalls standing in front of a giant floor loom and being surprised that she hadn’t heard about modern weaving practices before.
“I’m a really crafty person, and I’ve always loved making things and textiles specifically, and I was just shocked that this amazing way of creating cloth using this huge old-fashioned tool was kept under wraps.”
So once she had felt like she had made this remarkable discovery, she became immediately enthralled with it. Once mastering the fundamentals of weaving, she herself began teaching with the Weavers’ Guild, where she was able to share knowledge and grow a sewing circle of friendly weavers.
Before weaving, McCollum was working as an occupational therapist, but she eventually quit her job to pursue her Master of Fine Arts. There, she met her future co-owner, Angela Kelly, a sewing expert. The two founded Gather Textiles and now have their own storefront and studio warehouse on Fort Road that sells looms, tools, patterns, yarns and other materials.
Something important to the ethos of Gather Textiles is a focus on locally sourced productions. McCollum and her partners at Gather knew about a massive influx of wool from the ranching industry that was being wasted, with nobody knowing how to produce the material into usable yarn.
But now Gather Textiles, along with wool expert Kalea Turner-Beckman, were able to take the material that would have gone to waste and turn it into usable yarn in their Parkland Blanket Wool, which is produced and dyed using all local and natural materials.
McCollum emphasizes that weaving is very much a community practice. It’s why they work in guilds. It’s a traditional craft dating back thousands of years and relies heavily on knowledge sharing and collaboration through weavers. For that reason, it was essential to McCollum for Gather Textiles to weave together a community for the craft she loves.