February is technically a short month, but it was so fast and furious that I had to make conscious efforts to be mindful AND productive. March looks to be just as busy, but in the best way—full of things I want to do and people I want to see.

It is National Women’s History month, so we hope you will take time to revisit some of our favorite stories of Real Women and to share your own.

Here is what March looks like for me (deep breath):

March 2 – Dr. Seuss’ birthday, now known as Read Across America day. I’m currently working on several books, among them: The Optimistic Child by Martin E. P. Seligman, Encyclopedia of Needlework by Thérèse de Dillmont (in research for a possible new book on the tools of handwork), and revisiting Mary Renault’s The Last of the Wine.

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Last year, we launched our Friends of the Café Dinner and Factory Chef Series, which was quickly established as part of our Makeshift initiative. As with most things here at Alabama Chanin, the idea evolved over time from an interesting idea into something bigger. In 2015, we are continuing to host Friends of the Café dinners, combined with a corresponding workshop series—a branch of The School of Making. The series will combine our celebration of slow, sustainable, and inventive food with our ongoing conversations on craft, design, food, making, and community.

The initial idea for this series was simple—each month, The Factory Café would feature seasonal dishes inspired by regional chefs (or restaurants) that shared our values of celebrating place, artisanal craftsmanship, and good food.


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Pewter: a malleable metal alloy of tin, copper, antimony, bismuth and sometimes, silver or lead.

Early civilizations like the Chinese, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans are known to have used this soft metal in jewelry and tableware.

It is a rich shade of gray that has remarkable depth and presence.

A commonly used material in the Art Nouveau and Arts and Crafts periods.

Molten and cast

Polished or tarnished

A lustrous silvery-grey with purple and umber highlights

Pewter glows.

For a limited time our A. Chanin Long Sleeve Scoopneck and A. Chanin Fitted Rib Tank are available in Pewter. Today only, enjoy 20% off all available colors of each style.

And visit our Collection for a range of styles in our color Pewter.


P.S.: Click for more inspiration: pewter table ware and decor from The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s extensive online collection and Christie’s Auction House



”From a scientific point of view, it can be said he [Thoreau] documented for the first time how ecological succession works … The mechanism was animals and weather. Squirrels carry acorns so oak trees replace pine when the pines are cut down. And pine seeds blow over to replace the oak.” – Richard T. Forman

I started writing this piece about two weeks ago. I was talking about succession over trend with a colleague and she asked me to put down my thoughts about how that worked. And so I started…and as I was writing, the question of trend began to appear in the press and this story seems on one hand less important and on the other hand more important. I’ll let you be the judge. In any case, thank you for coming here. Thank you for reading:

There is a small stop at milepost 330.2 on the Natchez Trace Parkway called Rock Spring Nature Trail. I’ve been going to this spot on the Natchez Trace since I was a little girl. Perk, my maternal grandfather, used to take me (and all of the cousins) there en route to Colbert Ferry park on the “other side” of the Tennessee River from our home. From there, we would launch his small fishing boat and run the trotline of baited hooks for catfish (more on this boat and Perk’s trotline coming soon).

Rock Spring is a natural aquifer that merges with Colbert Creek where this nature trail now stands. The creek is a small, meandering stream of rare beauty (see the photo above)—named after George Colbert—who ran the Ferry that crossed the Tennessee River along the Trace before the days of a bridge.

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THE FACTORY | THIS WEEK 2.23.2015 – 2.28.2015


“I’m convinced of this, good done anywhere is good done everywhere…” – Maya Angelou

Here is what we have going on around The Factory this week, Monday, February 2 – Friday, February 6:


Our A. Chanin Long Sleeve Scoopneck and Fitted Rib Tank are now available in Pewter for a limited time.

Join us on Thursday, March 5th for dinner, featuring special ingredients and recipes from Zingerman’s with special guest Ari Weinzweig, Co-Founding Partner and CEO of Zingerman’s Community of Busineses. Cocktails begin at 6:30pm and will be followed by dinner at 7:30pm. Reserve your tickets here.

Reserve your tickets now for our Two-Hour Business Workshop with guest Ari Weinzweig. Ari will be sharing the approach to business that has led to Zingerman’s success. Tickets include training materials, presentations from Ari, roundtable discussions, and lunch from The Factory Café.


Monday – Friday, 9:00am – 5:00pm
Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm


Stop by any weekday at 2:00pm for a guided tour of our space, including The Factory, the Alabama Chanin production and design studio, and Building 14.


Join us for lunch at The Factory Café this week and enjoy a new menu every day.

Also don’t forget to take a look in our cooler – fully stocked with homemade ready-to-go items like pimento cheese and our carrot and ginger soup.

We offer freshly baked whole cakes as well. Our cakes are made from scratch, fresh from the oven – from our family to yours. Please provide 24 hours’ notice when placing an order.

Custom catering is now available for all events and occasions. Work directly with our head chef, Zach Chanin, and the Alabama Chanin team to create a menu tailored to your needs.

Café Hours:
Monday – Saturday, 11:00am – 2:00pm
*Lunch service begins at 11:00am but coffee and snacks are available all day.


Four Deviled Eggs
made with locally-sourced, farm-fresh eggs 4.95
(V) + (GF)

White Bean + Sausage Soup
topped with crème fraiche, served with toast 7.50

Magpie + Ruth’s Pimento Cheese Sandwich
served open-faced 7.45

Grilled Cheese Sandwich 4.95


Fried “Bologna” Sandwich
fried Mortadella served on house made ciabatta with a mustard aioli,
with your choice of chips, a drink, and a peanut brittle dessert  9.95

Red Beans + Rice
made with onions, celery, red peppers, chicken, and topped with crispy Fatback Pig Project Andouille sausage, served with a side of The Factory Salad 12.95
(GF) + (P) option

The Factory Quiche
made with gouda, spinach, and bacon, and topped with a homemade puff pastry,
served with roasted sweet potatoes and a side of The Factory Salad 10.95
(GF) option

The Factory Benedict
English muffins with pan fried Buckboard bacon,
poached eggs, and sriracha hollandaise sauce, served with Anson Mills grits 13.95
(GF) option + (V) option

 The Factory Salad
made with local greens, pomegranate seeds, radishes,
and homemade farm cheese, tossed in a house made pomegranate champagne vinaigrette, served with a soft-boiled egg 8.95
(V) + (GF) + (P) option + (NC) option


Fresh Cake
selection of our house made cakes 4.25

Homemade Apple Crisp
topped with freshly whipped cream 3.75

Three Chocolate Chip Cookies 2.95


Two Deviled Eggs 2.45

Side of The Factory Salad 3.95
(V) + (GF) + (P) option

Cup of Soup with toast 4.50
(P) option + (GF) option

Roasted Sweet Potatoes 3.25
(V) + (GF) + (P)

Vegetable of the Day 3.25
(V) + (GF)

Route 11 Potato Chips 1.50
(V) + (GF)

Half Magpie + Ruth’s Pimento Cheese Sandwich 3.95

Half Grilled Cheese Sandwich 2.95

Choose three of the sides listed above,
served with your choice of tea or coffee 10.95

We proudly serve organic and locally sourced vegetables and all-natural, hormone-free meats
from Jack-o-Lantern Farm, Bluewater Creek Farm, Anson Mills and other purveyors.

Please note: ingredients are subject to local availability,
and some dishes may become unavailable during our daily lunch service.

Enjoy your lunch on exclusive Alabama Chanin @ Heath Ceramics dinnerware


Gluten Free: items marked with this symbol (GF) are appropriate for those who choose to avoid gluten. If you have a gluten allergy, please let us know and we will take special precautions to avoid cross contamination.

Vegetarian: Dishes marked with this symbol (V) are made without meat, fish, or fowl.

Natalie’s Clean Detox: Menu selections marked with this symbol (NC) follow our 2015 clean diet detox program (see additional information) and include no beef, pork, eggs, dairy, gluten, or processed sugar. To the greatest possible extent, these dishes are made with whole foods and unrefined ingredients that are unprocessed or minimally processed.

Paleo Diet: Menu items marked with this symbol (P) are designed to be high in protein and fiber, low in carbohydrates and sodium and, to the greatest possible extent, free from refined sugar and dairy.

Photo by Rinne Allen


Saturday Brunch + The Week in Review

Join us tomorrow, February 21, for Saturday Brunch at The Factory Café. This week’s Brunch features our favorite Farm Breakfast with your choice of either bacon or a Big Bad Breakfast sausage patty or our French Toast made from fresh ciabatta bread.

As always, we will have selection of seasonal choices that highlight products from local and regional farms and purveyors.

View our Saturday Brunch menu here or check below.

Saturday Store Hours: 10:00am – 4:00pm.
Café Hours: 11:00am – 2:00pm.

The Factory Store + Café
462 Lane Drive
Florence, Alabama 35630

Call us: +1.256.760.1090 or email office (at)

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This take on our Long Fitted Skirt—one of my longtime favorite go-to pieces—is available for a limited time in our DIY Sewing Kit Collection through The School of Making. I own many versions of this skirt in a range of colors and wear them throughout the year, from one season to the next. The Long Fitted Skirt is fitted at the waist and flares to the hem, which has a slight train in the back.

This version is worked in our Anna’s Garden design using negative reverse appliqué with our medium-weight 100% organic cotton jersey—choose your fabric and thread color. This and all of our DIY kits can be personalized to your specific design choices and worked in any technique from our books or Swatch of the Month to embellish. Create your own version using the custom DIY kit.

View all DIY Sewing Kits and purchase your own Anna’s Garden Long Skirt kit here.


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“It is scientifically impossible to leave here unsatisfied.”
-Staggs’s Customer Taylor Smith

Less than five short miles from The Factory is a diner so well known in the Shoals community, locals simply call is “Staggs”—no elaboration is necessary. It is a place where social and economic barriers are ignored or discarded; everyone eats at Staggs, from mayor to millworker.

Staggs Grocery is located in East Florence, Alabama, an area that was once proud home to a booming textile district. The same family has run the market for generations. Taylor Wylie established the business as a meat market over a century ago, but the building was destroyed by fire. It was taken over by Wylie’s son in law, Lester D. Staggs, Sr., and his brother Webb Staggs and revamped into a meat market and grocery catering to families and workers in the textile district. Lynn Staggs, who currently owns and operates Staggs with his wife Pat, took over management after the passing of his father, L.D. Staggs, Sr.


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I’ve been thinking a lot about trends recently. Honestly, I’ve been thinking about them a lot—for a very long time. Quite some time ago, I read a plaque in a National Park about ecological succession that changed the way I looked at trends forever (more on this next Tuesday).

You see, ecological (or biological) succession is the process by which a community (or a business) slowly evolves over time. The opposite of trend.

Recently, The Business of Fashion published an article titled, “Do Fashion Trends Still Exist?” and I started thinking more.

And then, on the cover of the newest T Magazine’s Spring Women’s Fashion 2015—which was issued this past Sunday—there is a title that reads, “& the Post-Trend World of Fashion.”

On page 96, Deborah Needleman’s Editor’s Letter is titled, “The End of Trend.” She writes, “We live in what appears to be a post-trend fashion world — with no clear guidelines for our sartorial choices and an endless array of options. New shows and collections seem to be springing up constantly throughout the year, consumed hungrily and instantaneously around the world on a variety of platforms before the editors have even filed out the doors. So inundated are we with images that we’d be bored to tears with any single trend by the time it hit stores.”

She continues: “The solution is to rely on our own instincts, which is something that many of the women featured in this issue — musicians, writers, artists, Bjork! — have in common: an ability to filter myriad influences to create an unmistakable personal voice.”

“…an ability to filter myriad influences to create an unmistakable personal voice.”

The choice of style over trend.
The choice of your own voice over the voice of an authority.
The voice of the individual.

And so my thoughts on succession and how a collection—a style—should grow slowly over time emerge again.

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