Thanks to Ari Weinzweig at Zingerman’s, I have been working on a “Vision of Greatness” for Alabama Chanin over the last few months (well, closer to a year to be more exact). However, over the last few weeks, I feel that I made real progress and worked out a growth chart and mission statement that is a good fit for both me and for our staff (more on that soon). Part of our Alabama Chanin growth mission includes committing ourselves to education on all levels and to finding even more ways to give back to our community.
Last month, we found a company – just around the corner from our own factory – who is doing just that.
In anticipation of our Visiting Artist Series with Faythe Levine, I’ve been reading through a weaving book that was re-discovered on our newly organized book shelves.
Weaving Without a Loom is the kind of book that summarizes a ‘living art’ that has periodically made appearances in stages of my life. (Sewing has had a constant presence.) Perhaps for others it’s knitting, pottery, or any combination of craft. I remember weaving with yarn and Popsicle sticks in elementary school- just as Maggie is doing now. I remember such joy when I completed my first crochet purse one summer vacation. We purchased a large floor loom last year with the intention of weaving rag rugs; however, the loom has yet to be warped and this has proven to be an intimidating task for me. (Anyone want to come and warp it for us?)
In Chapter 7 of Alabama Studio Sewing + Design, we present various methods of appliqué using a variety of stitches and decorative elements. These techniques include Appliqué with Beaded Parallel Whipstitch, Appliqué with Straight Stitch, Appliqué with Blanket Stitch, Appliqué with Backstitch, Appliqué with Beaded Straight Stitch, and Appliqué with Beaded Backstitch. This month, for our Desktop of the Month, we’re featuring Anna’s Garden Appliquéd with a Beaded Straight Stitch as shown on page 102; however, the chop beads in this version have been substituted with our white bugle beads.
Living in a community that has an abundance of farmland and agriculture, one might not think that ‘guerrilla gardening’ is exactly required. However, like any community, The Shoals is dotted with the occasional abandoned lot and neglected space in our downtown area. And we are of the opinion that most any space can benefit from the addition of colorful flowers.
During my visit to Berlin for the Hello Etsy conference, I noticed an abundance of green spaces and gardens that were situated on vacant lots throughout the city.
Having seen Maria Moyer’s recently-released collaboration with West Elm, I can’t help but visualize which surfaces in my home and at the Factory will best display the porcelain vases and tea lights. I’m certain there will be quite a few.
As a sculptor, Maria appreciates the ‘craft’ behind the design, which translates beautifully into her work. There’s a lovely purity of form paired with incredible attention to detail in each piece.
After our fall visit to the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, we learned about the South’s Forgotten Locavores, market bulletins, and how these newsletters helped heirloom varieties of vegetables and plants survive generations.
We subscribed to Alabama’s Farmers and Consumers Bulletin shortly thereafter and are happy to report that we received our first issue just in time for spring cultivation. Old- timey Tennessee Red Cob Corn and Cow Horn Okra will be great additions to my garden. Continue reading
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.