We chose to start our Goldfinch collection with a small weaving group in Kathmandu, Nepal. We were interested in so much of what they had to offer—incredible weavers, soft luxury fibers, an exotic sensibility and a willingness to work with our ideas and designs. Our first incredible journey there to meet them was in 2014. We worked together planning textures and color combinations which they then wove into samples on their old, clacking, wooden looms. One of our early favorites—which has now become our String Stripe throw and our String Stripe shawl—resulted from a mistake the weaver, Ranjan, made while he was working on one of our ideass. He was weaving with a different color than we requested and, when we discovered the error, we had him change color in the middle of the piece rather than start over. Voila! We were excited about the accidental two-toned result! It’s often these serendipitous events that have spurned new ideas, strengthened our collaboration with our expert weavers and brought character to our hand-made designs.
The Nepali weaving group we use most often is headed up by Shiva, a master dyer. He lives in a lovely, tall, concrete house in an area outside the city limits of Kathmandu with his wife, children and father. Cows, chickens, homeless dogs and, of course, people, freely roam the neighborhood. The first floor of his house is the finishing department of his company where all products are detailed by the hands of a close-knit group of women who add the wonderful fringe, crochet, embroidery and labels. They sit together in a circle on the floor doing their handwork—each one working on a different piece—all the while chatting away in their native language. We’re always awed by their skills and believe the details they add are what set our collection apart from others. Our Red Line scarf, in particular, exemplifies many of the qualities and expertise of Shiva’s group—soft wool, a fine weave with a herringbone “red line” stripe, expert dyeing and handmade fringe and tassel detail. It’s simple, beautiful and to wear it is to be enveloped in a handmade cloud!
Cashmere and yak are other specialty fibers often used by weavers in Nepal which we’ve incorporated into our collection. For our Yak, Yak, Yak throw we’ve taken a classic chevron pattern, enlarged the scale, combined natural dark brown yak with dyed sheep wool and added a border stripe in a complementary color. The result is dense, extremely soft and most luxurious!
We would love to spend more time with our weavers in Kathmandu, but our trips to their workshops are limited because we are so far away. Between visits, as we work back and forth by email, phone calls and FedEx deliveries to produce our collection, we remain awed by their capabilities and enjoy helping them earn a good living to sustain their families. They are dedicated to their craft and work hard. We are fascinated with their process and skill. It’s a mutually beneficial relationship. They are also proud to have their work exported to the United States and we, in turn, are proud to bring it to you!