The pattern on this printed cotton is named after the River Wey, a tributary of the Thames that passes through Guildford and Weybridge. In the 1880s Morris began creating a series of patterns named after tributaries of the Thames including ‘Wandle’, ‘Lea’, ‘Medway’, and ‘Cray’. The ‘Wey’ design is one of this series of complex flowing patterns, which are widely seen as some of his most appealing designs.
Like other Morris & Co patterns designed in the 1880s, this pattern is printed using the indigo discharge process which reversed conventional dying techniques and began by dying an entire sheet of cloth a uniform dark blue. The pattern was then formed by applying bleaching agents to the cloth which reduced or removed the deep indigo blue as required. Other colours, such as the yellow in this pattern, could then be printed over the lightened areas.