Category Archives: THE SCHOOL OF MAKING


Red can be a naughty color — red-light districts and bordellos. It is both the color of Satan and the color of the Roman Catholic Church. Stevens notes that red was a color often associated with divinity; medieval and renaissance paintings show Jesus and the Virgin Mary in red robes.

Red is for happiness — Indian brides get married in red saris. Red for good luck — the one-month birthday of a Chinese baby is celebrated with red eggs.

Red is rarely an accident.

“A textile is not dyed red by chance,” Stevens says. “No you use red for a specific reason whether it’s for love, for fertility, for happiness — you made it red on purpose.”

From: The Color Red: A History in Textiles

Read:  A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of Desire


A Time to Sell Green, Not Greed

By SUZY MENKES From the New York Times:

September 13, 2009  

“Fashion’s Night Out” — an evening of open-house shopping last week in New York and other major cities around the world — was designed to brace up nervous customers and convince them that consumption is joyous.

But it also proved that there is more to e-commerce than buying online.

The key “e” words were “emotion” and “energy” during this Vogue-sponsored fight against retail gloom. After a long period of credit-happy consumers and easy sales, stores and designers are having to work much harder to engage customers and make them feel that their purchase is worthwhile.

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Thanks to Laird Borrelli-Persson for this lovely review on

About Spring/Summer 2010:

The Alabama Chanin Spring/Summer 2010 collection is a nod towards the new American luxury with simple, clean lines.  Doeskin, silver blue, nude and coffee are combined with white in simple stripes and elaborate floral embroideries.

The stripes and harmonious colors of the collection were inspired by Agnes Martin: The Nineties and Beyond, the colors and richness of HEATH Ceramics, the photographs of Slim Aarons and the worn red of an empty paint bucket found on the side of a road.

Agnes Martin’s paintings from The Nineties and Beyond include titles such as “Beautiful Life;” “Love & Happiness” and “A Little Girls Response to Love” – the mood of the collection echoes these titles and whispers to a clear, crisp spring day.

More pictures and look book coming soon…


While I love a good apron and The Gentle Art of Domesticity, cleaning has never been a particularly sexy task around our house. However, I loved the article below that ran in our local paper on Tuesday of this week.

It makes me happy that living clean is going mainstream.

Some great recipes are available here.

Maggie loved mixing the ingredients with me in the kitchen last night.

BUT, I still swear by Mrs. Meyers Lemon Verbena for washing our clothes…

*Make your own apron like the one above with the Bloomers Pattern available as a pull-out from our Alabama Stitch Book.

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I stumble across more and more about Classicism these days.

Stylesight writes about it this month:   “Words such as Heritage and Craftsmanship – ones that we have heard much of recently – are more than just the buzz labels du jour. Rather they form a bridge to a past many consumers look back at longingly.”

Revival of Classicism – Overview by Renee Labbe


While looking out over the water from the balcony of a mansion on Shelter Island, Kurt Vonnegut tells his friend, Joseph Heller, that their host makes more money in a single day than Heller will ever earn from his novel, Catch-22.

Heller responds, “Yes, but I have something he will never have.”

Vonnegut questions, “What’s that?”


Untitled 10 by
David Schoemer via Lee Cerre
& a thank you to Conrad Pitts for sharing this story. . .


Thanks to Maria for sending over this fantastic review of Strategy for Sustainability: A Business Manifesto from Kevin Roberts at KR Connect: Nature’s 10 Simple Rules

Adam Werbach’s book offers a great list of Nature’s 10 Simple Rules for Business Survival. In this list Adam draws from nature a tough bottom line for sustainable business. “Nature is far harsher than the market: If you are not sustainable, you die. No second chances and no bailouts.” I’m not usually a fan of rules but these ten make sense to me. They are big-scale – forest-scale. Ocean-scale. Planet-scale. I’ve jotted down my own thoughts on each one. I’ll share them with you here – five this week and five next.

Nature’s # 1. Diversify across generations. This idea has certainly inspired me to write a number of posts here that I’ve called Stella’s World. Of course they are about my and Ro’s first grandchild but they are also about what change across generations can really mean. How few companies have that aspiration! In principle we all want our businesses to thrive across generations, but how few succeed. Adam tells me that fully one-third of the companies profiled in Jim Collins’ Built to Last as out-performers, are now under-performers. Think Ford and Citibank. They lost the juice of excitement, wonder and delight and got lost in expectations and self-obsession.

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I loved that this article found its way to USA TODAY:

On tiny plots, a new generation of farmers emerges

What if the story was rewritten like this:  

In tiny factories, a new generation of manufacturers emerges The wave of young manufacturers in tiny factories is too new and too small to have turned up significantly in manufacturing statistics, but people in the manufacturing world acknowledge there’s something afoot. For these new manufacturers, going back to the factory isn’t a rejection of conventional society, but an embrace of making products for market as an honorable, important career choice — one that’s been waning in the last decades. It’s about creating something real — the stuff that touches peoples life — and at the same time healing the Earth. Says one small manufacturer, “The America that I want to live in will support people who are willing to work their asses off, who want to do good things for their community. We’re patriots of place. Here I am, I’m doing my part.” Three factors have made these small, organic factories possible: a rising consumer demand for organic and local merchandise, a huge increase in product markets nationwide, and the growing popularity of community-supported programs.

Read the story again & replace the word farm with factory, food with product:  
On tiny plots, a new generation of farmers emerges

A standing ovation to our farmers – young and old - who are choosing to make a difference…  

*Photo Elizabeth DeRamus