I have on my desk a small, simple book: Ceremonials of Common Days, by Abbie Graham. It has been there for several months. The little antique volume was given to me as gift from one of our very sweet Weekend Workshop guests. Published by The Womans Press in the 1920s, it smells the way an old book should smell, but I can tell from the pages and cover that has been handled with care over many decades.
The sections of the book are divided into ‘Ceremonials’ for each season. The old-fashioned passages describe the passing moments that make up any ordinary day, but it is each of these exact moments and objects that make that day so very special.
When I returned to Alabama over a decade ago to start the project that has become Alabama Chanin, I had NO IDEA that this simple project would surround me with stories of cotton, mill work, and, quite honestly, the history of the small community where I grew up. This blog is proof to the fact that I am STILL learning – each and every day.
While researching the post about Sweetwater Mills and reading William McDonald’s books a few weeks back, I came across Rick Bragg’s book, The Most They Ever Had. As an avid reader and, quite honestly, a Rick Bragg fan, I was surprised that I’d never read this book before. I have followed his work for years: from Anniston, Alabama, to The New York Times, through all the novels, the Pulitzer, to the controversy surrounding his departure from the Times. (Full disclosure, I know some of the parties attached to The New York Times scandal and have a few thoughts on that myself – we will save that for a later day or a face-to-face conversation.)
Over the last weeks (and months), we have been introducing our new patterns, stencils, fabric designs, plus patterns from our newest book, Alabama Studio Sewing + Design. Hands-down, our Paisley has been a favorite new design and I was excited to see that EcoSalon even did a feature on this iconic pattern last week. As we just finished a round of world-wide fashion weeks, we witnessed the classic paisley in some new interpretations.
Shakerag Workshops have been taking place on the campus of St. Andrew’s-Sewanee School for some eight years now. Among the rolling hills of the Cumberland Plateau, Shakerag operates as a community where artists + those eager to learn a craft come together in a creative learning environment. Similar to our sewing workshops, the instructors work closely with students in a full-immersion studio course. This summer, I am eager to travel here with our studio Directress, Diane, to teach sewing, to learn, and explore the Sewanee Hollow.
We will be teaching Open Design: Sewing and Construction during the week of June 17-23, 2012, as part of the second session. This is how I intend to spend my days at Shakerag: coffee + breakfast, sewing, delicious lunch, more sewing, and a relaxing yoga session or a hike on the St. Andrew’s-Sewanee Perimeter Trail. To end the day, a locally-sourced dinner- featuring adapted recipes from A New Turn in the South- followed by enrichment + faculty artist’s lectures. And of course, Hugh Acheson’s lecture, Wednesday evening, June 20, 2012, is a welcome interruption in the schedule. Continue reading
As I flip through the pages of this gorgeous book, I am captured by the beauty and magnitude of the universe. It makes me feel small.
However, I know in my heart that the work that we are doing makes a difference. I am grateful that through the workshops and lectures, we are able to travel and share our stories and ideas.
More importantly, we meet so many people who teach us. Because of the book series, website, and this blog we are able to share that wealth of knowledge and to connect across the globe. Maybe we are not so small.
As Einstein said, in so many words, “It’s all relative.”
Congratulations are due today to Chris Hastings, Rob McDaniel, and Sedesh Boodram for championing last night’s Iron Chef America. I have had the pleasure of getting to know Chris over the last few years and sharing all that the Southern Foodways Alliance holds common for us. Chris, chef and co-owner of Hot and Hot Fish Club, is a guest speaker at many events across the South and is the Alabama spokesperson for Wild American Shrimp. A giant round of applause for all that Chris does – aside from winning Iron Chef.
And another round of applause for Rob – the gracious host of our One-Day Retreat at The SpringHouse Restaurant this past January. We ate beautifully that weekend- shrimp and grits with cured bacon, miniature fried sweet potato pies, and a sampling of classic Southern dishes from SpringHouse’s menu.
And, finally, congratulations are in order today for Octavia Spencer. Originally from Montgomery, Octavia won the Best Supporting Actress Oscar last night for her role in The Help. In her acceptance speech, she first thanked her family- then the state of Alabama. Yes, Alabama love…
Melanie – my editor – recently asked if I would send her a hi-resolution photograph of one of our embellished fabrics that she could use for her computer desktop background. In talking about this simple act, we decided it would be nice to share these photographs with everyone.
Thus was born our Desktop of the Month series. Each month, a different photograph will be available to download from our Resource Downloads page, which you can use as your desktop background. Each Desktop of the Month will be available for one calendar year, when we replace it with a new image for the current year. Though we only have one week left in the month of February, we decided to start early (or late) and include our ribbon embroidered Climbing Daisy, which was featured in our Cotton Ribbon post today.
Thank you to those of you who shared your thoughts on the intersection of Fashion + Craft. We are truly inspired and excited by everyone’s interest in the conversation.
As it was difficult to choose a “best” entry, we decided to place everyone’s name in a hat and draw names.
Congratulations Margaret on winning our Anna Sui (+ Alabama Chanin DIY Dress). We hope you’ll wear it fashionably and proudly!
I’m almost certain she’s the coolest person I’ve never met.
Several pieces of evidence have led me to this conclusion; the first is this article from the NY Times and the second was probably the conference call that spurred our upcoming Visiting Artist event. Natalie and I were hunched over the speaker phone in my office exchanging ideas about “loom rooms,” home-made bitters, and interactive art exhibits with a very agreeable Levine.
She ended the call saying she had to open her art gallery/skate shop a few blocks away.