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 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.
The thought of taking my daughter Maggie to her first grade class tomorrow morning is heart-wrenching.
How do we begin to understand?
There is no way.
Our broken hearts go out to the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School, the city of Newtown, Connecticut, and our nation.
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.
The musical legacy of our community is rather incredible; you don’t have to look hard or far to find a wealth of talent in the Shoals. Dive bars, back porches, and BBQs are all likely places for impromptu jam sessions. If you were living here during the 60’s or 70’s you probably have a story about the Rolling Stones, Wilson Pickett, Paul Simon, Cher, Lynyrd Skynyrd, or any number of the musicians that recorded at FAME Studios or Muscle Shoals Sound (shown in the photo above at 3614 Jackson Highway in Muscle Shoals, Alabama).
In the 1940’s, you may have heard Sam Phillips, founder of Sun Records, DJ-ing on the Muscle Shoals radio station, WLAY. Phillips has credited the station as inspiration and influence on his later work.
This once legendary music scene has experienced resurgence recently with artists like Bettye LaVette, the Black Keys (see video below), Band of Horses, and Alicia Keys traveling to the Shoals to produce, record, and work. And while we love that our great history, amazing engineers, and studios are attracting big names, it is our local musicians that we adore – the hometown heroes that are pursuing their dreams and doing what they love, all while dealing with the daily grind. We will begin highlighting some of the incredible local bands and musicians that call the Shoals home, starting with the very near and dear Doc Dailey & Magnolia Devil.
It’s no secret that there seems to be a disconnect between the worlds of fashion and craft. The terms, themselves, can be a bit polarizing despite their incredible commonality.
Alabama Chanin is no stranger to straddling that line between the two; to us, craft and fashion definitely go hand-in-hand. On a recent weekend, I spent some time catching up on a pile of magazines and some of the images I found make me think that the larger fashion world is beginning to see the commonalities, too.
Keep an eye out as you peruse your favorite fashion publications. You might be surprised at what you find. The images above from the September issues of W and Vogue (yes, it sometimes takes us a while to get through them) made us smile; craft and fashion, moving together at last.
P.S.: For those of you who joined us or followed online during MAKESHIFT: SHIFTING THOUGHTS ON DESIGN, FASHION, COMMUNITY, CRAFT & DIY, a series of events and talks during NY Design Week, you probably know how strongly we feel about bridging the gap between DIY, design, and high-fashion. We hope that our efforts may be paying off. While we can never know for certain what is sparking this monumental shift in philosophy, I can’t help but feel that all of us are helping to pave the way. Let us know what you think in the comments below.
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.
In a world of mass-production and over-harvested resources, I find it a delight and a luxury to come across a responsibly crafted product, especially around the holiday season. Unsurprisingly, living, producing, and creating sustainably has become a skillful artistry, and sustainable craftsmanship and process is quickly on its way to being the ultimate in luxury production.
It has been extremely encouraging for me to see the Slow Design movement taking root around us. One may see such artistry in the culinary world, as so many chefs joyfully curate the finest, locally raised ingredients with which to design. From olives in Georgia, to Alabama milk, I find hope and inspiration all around me.
And it truly is a luxury, one that I hope may become more common than not, that each of us will know the source and quality of their food. The openness regarding the source and quality of sustainable dining holds both the chef and the diner accountable, allowing both parties to take pride in their choices.