Alabama Chanin is a celebration of deep Southern roots merged with contemporary style. As a company, we strive to connect to those roots by integrating age-old skills and techniques into our current work. Along the way, we have made new connections, created relationships with friends and pieces that play a role in our story. There are those that have been with us from the beginning and others that have come and gone, but one thing remains constant, they stay with us through memories.
We have the ability to link objects and feelings to those memories; a lifetime of emotion can be evoked from a single touch or sighting. Maybe your grandmother’s wood-handled kitchen knife brings back memories of your education in chopping vegetables without losing a finger. Or perhaps your mother’s overflowing recipe book holds all of the secrets needed to prepare for your very first dinner party. The rocking chair you built with your grandfather holds a feeling of accomplishment within its structure.
We will host our first One-Day Retreat of the fall season in New York’s beautiful Hudson Valley on Sunday, September 16th. Our day will be spent in a restored nineteenth century factory and will feature local food from Barbara Goldstein of Blima’s.
We were able to talk to friend Melissa Auf der Maur from Basilica to find out a little more about the history of the space, future plans for the center, and where to spend the rest of our weekend in the Hudson Valley.
Below we share what learned – which includes lessons on historic preservation and roof gardens.
If you’ve called or stopped by the studio lately, perhaps you’ve met one of our newest team members, Erin Stephenson. Erin has her hand in many pots here these days, doing everything from writing, to graphic design, to closely monitoring our organic cotton crops. Her ability to seamlessly handle multiple projects makes her an excellent fit here at Alabama Chanin – since all of us have to pitch in to keep the place running, frocks sewn, and fabrics shipped.
I met Erin at a lecture at nearby Athens State University. She’d recently returned to Athens, Alabama, from New York, where she was working after studying Architecture at Cooper Union. Erin says that, while she was living in New York, a friend attending school at the Fashion Institute of Technology showed her one of our books – and she was shocked and proud to find that the author was from her own community.
The lecture in Athens was on a rainy day, and while I believe many people stayed home because of the rain, at the last minute Erin decided to attend. Something about her story and personality urged me to invite her to an upcoming Weekend Workshop at The Factory. She took the workshop, was very quiet, watched, listened, learned, and we went our separate ways.
About the same time, without my knowing, Erin started a blog, just to keep a journal of things that she was interested in, things that she made and cooked, and general “life in the south.” She wanted to find a way to explore, rediscover, and document this place where she grew up. She took up sewing as a hobby, making many of our projects. She says it was very therapeutic and calming to stitch and make.
For the August Desktop of the Month, we are featuring the backside of fabric using a backstitch. These stitches were made with our Button Craft thread on our 100% organic cotton jersey fabric.
We believe that this is a simple reminder that beauty can be found behind the scenes and out of the spotlight. The things that support and hold us all together are as essential as they are inspiring.
If you’re not familiar with the backstitch and would like to learn the technique, along with many others, reference our Studio Books Series which include how-to sections, complete with images and instructions.
This hi-resolution photograph is for use as your computer desktop background and can be downloaded from our Resources page.
Photo thanks @Rinne Allen
Every summer in our part of the world is hot, so hot that you barely want to move. And this summer seems particularly, endlessly hot. By the end of August, we will all be looking forward to the coolness that comes with fall. Until then, Maggie and I are cooling off with afternoon dips in the pool, ice cream treats from our local shops, and recipes from People’s Pops: 55 Recipes for Ice Pops, Shave Ice, and Boozy Pops from Brooklyn’s Coolest Pop Shop - which can be compared to eating lightly sweetened, frozen fruit on a stick.
My friend Nathalie Jordi and her partners at People’s Pops started making their incredibly popular ice pops in Brooklyn, New York, during the summer of 2008. From their website, “We transform local, sustainably grown fruits and herbs into creative, delicious hand-made ice pops and shaved ice…” Check out their blog here.
Luckily for us, their book, the self titled People’s Pops, was released at the beginning of this summer season. Fitting their commitment to local, sustainable community, the recipes are organized by season, which makes it easy to select ingredients from the farmer’s market or right from the garden.
The book is a delight to the senses, filled with simple recipes using common popsicle ingredients like strawberries or cherries, and not-so-common ingredients like cucumber and violet, or honeydew and ginger. Jennifer May’s beautify photographs capture the popsicles’ textures and colors, and some of the many people who enjoy them. Reading through, it is hard to decide on which recipe to make first.
“Sustainability is the forerunner of greater diversity and choice, not less.”
- Paul Hawken
In the book Fashion & Sustainability: Design for Change, our friends Kate Fletcher and Lynda Grose tackle the issue of sustainability in the fashion world. Within its pages you will discover practices that have the potential to transform the fashion system for the better. From framework to production to design practices, Kate and Lynda break down the topics that matter when it comes to the design process of the fashion industry.
Their work challenges designers and manufacturers to consider their practices and the impact they have on the environment. Reduce, re-use, and recycle are words we hear often, but this book offers real ways to integrate those words into daily practices. Not only that, it shares how to do so with little cost or interruption to the manufacturing or creative processes; you might even say it enhances these processes by challenging creators to explore new methods and materials.
From Eye Magazine:
H: So, what are you thinking right now (aside from ‘what an idiotic question’)? Is there anything at this moment, or this day, that makes you want to go out and make art?
K: I was out walking the dear dog (who is a sweet meal ticket – two books about him, one New Yorker cover and a back page) and I saw 500 things that made me want to make art. I ran into a father taking two kids to school. The girls were wearing green skirts and orange rain boots and one of them had a ponytail and was carrying a pink book and was pigeon-toed. Then I saw a man wearing a bowler hat with a feather and he was wearing an eye mask like Zorro made out of a twenty-dollar bill and I thought, ‘There is a God. Thank you, whoever is showing me this.’
I have become slightly obsessed with the obsessive use of the exclamation mark in today’s casual correspondence. In fact, last week, I had to ask someone in the studio, “When IS it OK to use this (highly over rated) punctuation mark?”
From The Elements of Style:
Do not attempt to emphasize simple statements by using a mark of exclamation.
It was a wonderful show! It was a wonderful show.
The exclamation mark is to be reserved for use after true exclamations or commands.
What a wonderful show!
Originally featured in Alabama Stitch Book in reverse-appliqué, these simple tea towels can be given a new look using what is essentially the opposite technique – applique .
For this project, our design choices include one Navy Tea Towel with Natural appliqué, whip-stitched with White Button Craft thread, and one Natural Tea Towel with Navy appliqué, whip-stitched with Navy Button Craft thread.
In March, Kristy shared a few of her favorite simple syrup recipes, which are a flavorful way to smooth your favorite cocktails.
Though gin is not my spirit of choice, the ginger and mint made this by far my favorite drink of the summer. As posted this morning, I have a particular love for ginger and I love to put a splash of this ginger syrup into a glass of Prosecco.
KRISTY’S GINGER + MINT + GIN
Ginger is such a versatile flavor that plays well with almost any spirit. This recipe uses it in a refreshing cocktail that’s great for welcoming summer.
For the ginger syrup:
1 medium piece ginger root, peeled and cut into ½ inch discs
1 cup sugar
¾ cup water
Combine the ingredients in a pot and simmer for about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and let steep for 10 more minutes. Strain off the ginger with a fine mesh strainer and set aside. Cool the remaining syrup.
For the cocktail:
1 ½ ounces gin (I prefer Hendrick’s for this cocktail.)
¾ ounce ginger syrup
1 large sprig fresh mint, stem included
Juice of 1 lemon
½ ounce spring water
Combine ingredients in a shaker with lots of ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of lemon.