In the last few months, I have been given two wreaths made from living materials. The one above comes from my friend Erica Rosenberg of St. Florian Fiber Farm—just outside of Florence, Alabama. The wreath below was lovingly made by Sybil Brooke Sylvester of Wildflower Design in Birmingham, Alabama.
There are so many ways that you can use elements from your yard, your community, and your environment to make your own wreaths and decorations. Follow our new Sticks + Such board on Pinterest and share with us what natural materials you are using for building decorations.
Weave the name of one of the Newtown, Connecticut victims into your handmade wreaths in memorial.
I have been somewhat of an herbalist since I was a small child. Plant names and properties have always come as second nature. While I struggle with the names and faces of people (sometimes people I have just met can go undistinguished an hour later), I have a recall for plants that sometimes baffles. It is almost like I have a memory older than myself when it comes to leaves and weeds.
Like Juliette of the Herbs (see the clip at the bottom of this post), I have planted many a garden—across the globe—and while each garden has its own story, every garden I planted has included rosemary. After a brief “settling in period,” this elegant (and evergreen) shrub grows tall and wide in the Alabama climate. There is an Old Wives’ Tale about perennial plants: “The first year it sleeps, the second year it creeps, the third year it leaps.” It’s true. I have two rosemary shrubs in my home that I took as small diggings from the garden of my last house—our old production office at Lovelace Crossroads. Five years later, those bushes thrive and have spiced many a lunch, dinner, and, yes, cocktail. Come back this afternoon for our Rosemary Infused Vodka recipe .
Our studio team made this wreath almost a decade ago. While it never found its way into production, I always loved the textural quality and combination of yarn and cotton jersey fabric. I purchased it at one of our many long-ago sample sales after finding it in the bottom of a box of other holiday goodies. Now, every holiday season, the wreath takes a proud place on my front door. (This year I hung it together with a larger fresh pine wreath.)
You will notice in the detail below that the wreath is made from our cut cotton jersey fabric in combination with crocheted elements (or appliqués). These decorative crochet elements were also part of a long-ago collection of garments combining fabric and yarn.
Since we’ve been discovering how well fabric and yarn work together, I thought we could share another way to incorporate the two beautifully. After a bit of head scratching, we were able to re-create patterns for the hand-crocheted elements (as closely as possible).
The wreath is approximately 13” in diameter and 40” in circumference and consists of several different parts: two approximately 50” braided cotton jersey ropes, two 6” DIY Rag Boas approximately 50” long, assorted crochet elements, assorted beads, a beautiful grosgrain ribbon, and a cotton jersey pull for hanging.
Keep in mind that this project can be made with ANYTHING you have available in your home. Substitute cotton cord or twine for our cotton jersey pulls. Substitute any appliques or trinkets you have for our hand-crocheted decorations. Add beads, and bows made from our Mokuba Grosgrain Ribbon; take away the beads or add three additional bows. You may also choose to use a base for your wreath as we did in the DIY Organic Wrapped Wreath and lash your Rag Boa and Braided Ropes to that base.
Do what makes you feel good.
I have to note that we started writing holiday posts about wreath making before the tragic massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School last Friday morning. It is incomprehensible for all of us to understand how that community will make it through the upcoming holiday season and beyond. For me, senseless tragedy can rarely be fully processed.
How strange that one of the traditional emblems of our holiday season—the wreath—is also a universal symbol of mourning. Both are traditions that seem to have grown out of ancient times and are simply variations of the never-ending ring that, on a deeper level, symbolizes the circle of life. You can find wreaths made as crowns of precious metals and gemstones, of bay leaves for athletes, of straw or stones, as daisy chains made by children, and as the rings of light that we associate with the halo.
We continue our holiday posts today, keeping the families of Newtown, Connecticut in our hearts. Over the coming days, you will find a series of wreaths that we dedicate to them.
While there is no explaining such a tragedy, sometimes the act of making (or doing) can help us overcome the despair we suffer for the senseless heartbreaking acts of this world.
Take 20% off our new One-Day Studio workshops. The perfect gift for the person who loves to make.
HOLIDAY SPECIAL: WAS $475 – NOW $380
Gift the Alabama Chanin One-Day Studio experience to work with Natalie and our in-house team for a day.
Choose a date or let them decide:
Saturday, February 2, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
One-Day Studio Gift
This project from Alabama Stitch Book, like our Handmade Red selection, and the Holiday Stocking, is another perfect holiday project. Made from two recycled t-shirts, you can get started with materials you have right in your own closet. (Don’t we all have a few t-shirts we don’t need?)
The project was posted originally on the Cotton, Inc., website in 2008 around the time of the launch of Alabama Stitch Book. Start practicing now because we have a great DIY Wreath coming up on Monday that is based on this technique. As we wrote in Alabama Stitch Book, the choice of color can add an element of character, which makes it a great way to experiment with color combinations and textures you might not have considered before.
(I also accused my dear friend Eva Whitechapel of whipping hers off from time-to-time for a bit of dusting.)
Happy Holiday Dusting…
I use ropes made from our organic cotton jersey fabric for wrapping all of my holiday packages (and for many other things–as evidenced in the DIY instructions below). If you have ever ordered garments or fabrics from our online store, you will have found your contents tied up in one of these Cotton Jersey Pulls. Follow the instructions below to make your own from scraps or from old t-shirts. You can also purchase a set of ropes from our online store in colors from White-to-Cream, Black-to-Grey, and Colorful– which includes a random range of our most loved shades. Look for more posts about how to use these pulls in the coming year. Anything you order from our online store between now and the end of the year will come shipped wrapped, tied with a Cotton Jersey Pull, and ready to gift.
Make something today for someone you love. They will love you for it. (I would; wouldn’t you?)
Start with the holiday version of our classic DIY Eyelet Embroidered Gore Skirt from Alabama Studio Style.
100% Organic. 100% Love. It’s the ultimate luxury.
With the publication of our Alabama Studio Book Series, we open sourced our beloved techniques that these living arts might be preserved for future generations. One of the things that we learned along the way is that people who are dedicated to one particular area of craft can also become converts to another area. The art of working with your hands seems to span all disciplines.
We have customers who are woodworkers, potters, scrapbookers, knitters, and crocheters. Particularly, knitters seem to find themselves at home making Alabama Chanin pieces. Perhaps loop-by-loop finds familiarity with our stitch-by-stitch method. Knitters Melanie Falick (my editor) and Mason-Dixon’s Kay Gardiner are now hand-sewing enthusiasts in the Alabama Chanin style.
I think that our Beaded Fern treatment lends a holiday feel to December’s Desktop of the Month. Up close, Beaded Fern resembles a holiday tree, but the glass beads can also catch your eye across a crowded room.
Perfect for your next holiday gathering…
Learn more about the Fern Stencil here, download the high-resolution Desktop of the Month here, and flip to page 121 in Alabama Studio Sewing + Design to begin stitching one of your own.