I once wrote a piece called, Hero, for the now-defunct Girl on the Street blog. The writing of that post led me to learn more about Alice Waters, her involvement in the Slow Food movement and commitment to all things sensual:
I received my copy of Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee this week and started reading it on a series of flights/travels that seem to keep me away from my own kitchen these days. It continues to surprise me how inspired I am by people who love, grow and prepare food.
This story, from page 28 of the book, made me think about how I want to eat in my own life:
“… and, though Alice was raised loosely Presbyterian and none of them was Jewish, they also always ‘set a place for Elijah’ – a Passover tradition of welcome to an uninvited guest. In fact, as often as not, somebody would turn up just in time to occupy Elijah’s chair.”
I decided on the airplane last night – as we roughly bumped down to our landing – that from this day forward I will always “set a place for Elijah.”
We have choices in what we purchase, consume and choose to support every day. We vote with our dollars for the brand of clothing we like, for the types of food we want to eat, for the toys we buy for our children. This letter, from a former colleague, reminds me to think before I spend. The impact of our dollars cannot always be measured by what we bring home in our bag:
I work as a designer for a large corporation and recently had the opportunity to travel overseas to see production of some of our products. This was my first visit to India and first time being in a factory this size. It was mind blowing to see the amount of consumption that takes place on a daily basis. I had no idea the number of garments being produced. The company we do business with operates around 46 factories in India and constructs 3 million garments every month! This is just in one country.
We were also able to see a large wash house where garments are washed with enzyme finishes and other chemicals to give a softer hand feel to the fabric. They are capable of washing 100,000 pieces every day with a variety of chemicals and finishes. Inside, stacks of pants piled in to huge bins were waiting to be washed in oversized washing machines. I can’t imagine the amount of power and chemicals used to accomplish their daily quota.
This trip changed my view of how much we consume. Seeing every size of every garment that’s going to every store really put this industry in a new perspective for me. At the company I work for, we move so fast and produce so much that we don’t take the time to ask ourselves what the customer really wants or needs and more importantly how much power and material we consume every day to make our products. For me, I will take from this experience a new outlook on consumption and begin asking myself how I, in my own way, can try to make a difference.
My mother taught me that it’s important to use the beautiful things in your life every day. She gave me her first set of china with the one direction that I should use it and enjoy it, not store it in a closet. I have taken her advice to heart with all of the things in my home. However, when you use textiles to enrich your everyday life (especially with a two year old), you’ll also need some of the old-wives’-tale wisdom my grandmother shared with me:
OLD WIVES’ TALE + WHAT IT MEANS
Don’t rub it in; dab it off — Blot; don’t rub it in more
A stitch in time saves nine — Get to it as quickly as possible to avoid more work
Out, then in — Start on the outside of a stain and work your way in
Absorb: Use cornstarch or talcum powder to blot stain
Bleach: Use 1 part lemon juice or white vinegar to 1 part water
Dissolve: Use all-purpose household cleaner as solvent for grease
Soak: Use 1/2 cup salt water per quart of soapy water
Wash: Use all-purpose cleaner like dish or liquid laundry detergent
AND HOW TO USE THEM:
Protein Stains: Soak, Bleach & Wash
Coffee and Tea Stains: Flush with Bleach, Soak & Wash
Tomato and Sauces: Dissolve , Soak & Wash
Oils Stains: Absorb, Dissolve & Wash
My new motivation for everyday cleaning are these great products from Mrs. Myers Clean Day. Aromathrapuetic Household Cleaners – how good is that? I love all the Lemon Verbena products and now sell them from our online store.
You can also visit their website for a larger selection: http://www.mrsmeyers.com/
The folks at Yee-Haw Industries
do amazing letterset printing. Each piece is designed, set and pressed by hand. I posted these beautiful cards by by Bjorn Rune Lie in the blue color way at holiday time.
*We are sad to see that Yee Haw Industries have now closed their doors. We’ll just treasure our cards even more now.
My two year old daughter loves everything about cooking and the apron is her new favorite kitchen accessory. This Little Girl Apron beautifully sewn by Jane and the Ducks arrived last week in a lovely little package, complete with our own Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.
We play in the kitchen now every day.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
- from Jane and the Ducks
2 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3.4 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375F. Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla extract in a large bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition.
Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheet. Bake for 9 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for 2 minutes: remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 5 dozen cookies.
From Small Is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas by Seth Godin :
Small is the new big. Recent changes in the way that things are made and talked about mean that big is no longer an advantage. In fact, it’s the opposite. If you want to be big, act small.
Consumers have more power than ever before.
Treating them like they don’t matter doesn’t work.
Multiple channels of information mean that it’s almost impossible to live a lie.
Authentic stories spread and last.
The ability to change fast is the single best asset in a world that’s changing fast.
Blogs matter. If you want to grow, you’ll need to touch the information-hungry, idea-sharing people who read (and write) them.
There are no side effects. Just effects.
Indulge short attention spans.
Aretha was right. Respect is the secret of success in dealing with people.
Do something that matters.
Small Is the New Big: and 183 Other Riffs, Rants, and Remarkable Business Ideas by Seth Godin
The Arts and Crafts in Contemporary Fashion and Textiles
William Morris said, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.” This is the essence of the Arts and Crafts Movement.
Joanne Ingersoll and The Museum of Art at the Rhode Island School of Design have put together an amazing show called Evolution/Revolution – The Arts and Crafts in Contemporary Fashion and Textiles which runs from February 11 – June 15, 2008.
We are honored to have two pieces included in the show. (A detail from one of our “Textile Stories” quilts is below.)
But, more important is that the Exhibition Notes are a wonderful document of the work that is going on today. While they are extremely beautiful, they are also beautifully poignant for the times in which we are living and working. Joanne has done an amazing job of addressing a difficult theme which could have easily lost its way and, consequently, given us a clear vision of where we are headed in the future.
Download the PDF version of the exhibition notes here thanks to RISD:
And read a review of the show by Greg Cook here:
I am hoping that the show will have legs and travel…
All of us @ Alabama Chanin send a warm thank you to Penelope Green for this great article in The New York Times about the present, and future, of Slow Design as an extension of the Slow Food Movement.
After seven years of living, working, laughing, sewing and growing in this house at Lovelace Crossroads, we are moving past “The Crossroads” and on to “The Factory.” (Home to “The Original Project Alabama.”)
Our new building, originally built in 1982 for Tennessee River Mills, sits in the heart of the industrial community that was a hub of textile production from 1976 to 1994, when NAFTA was signed. That textile community hung on through the year 2002, when the last vestiges of production were sold, closed down or moved overseas.
Steven, our production manager, once worked in the very room we will be occupying.
So, it is like a sweet homecoming to move up, move beyond and to finally have room to work on fabric yardages, new collections and other upcoming projects. A flagship store will be opening in The Factory very soon.
All of our contact information remains the same, only the location has been changed to incorporate our growing family:
Alabama Chanin (at) The Factory
462 Lane Drive
Florence, Alabama 35630
We will be updating our website over the next weeks to reflect our all of our changes.