2012: THE YEAR IN REVIEW

It’s the time of year when most of us start to look back at the past year to take stock and plan for the next. As a company, Alabama Chanin is no different. With a lot of help from our friends, we’ve brought the year to a (BIG) close with our first online Garage Sale.

This online event seems indicative of what an amazing year (decade) it has been. We were, quite honestly, bowled over by the outreach of support, excitement, and, well, love for what we do at Alabama Chanin.  (We will be doing it again soon. Check our events page for updates and/or join our mailing list to stay in touch.)

Looking back on the whole year, it’s staggering to see just how many projects we’ve tackled, people we’ve met, and journeys we’ve taken – all infused with the same love that we experienced during our Garage Sale. Honestly, I can hardly believe that so many things happened all in one twelve-month span. It’s been 12 (REALLY) good ones.

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THE GIFT WREATH

Homemade jams are wrapped in organic cotton jersey and tied with a cotton jersey pull; these jams are the basis of our wreath for today and are ready for delivery (as soon as my son Zach’s homemade bread arrives).

As I set off for the holidays (later this afternoon), I am thankful for your support this last (big, beautiful, exciting, glorious) year and grateful for each and every one of you and our entire Alabama Chanin family.

Peace on Earth,
xoNatalie

P.S.: Meet us back here on Wednesday, December 26, 2012 at 9 am (sharp) CST for our first-ever (online) Garage Sale, featuring items from our recent sample sale, trims, notions, fabrics, DIY Kits, and treasures galore.

 

DIY LIVING WREATHS

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 Landscape + Architecture 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.

 

ROSEMARY VODKA

Everything from roasted potatoes to strawberries and Prosecco  (sometimes in the same meal) have been flavored by my rosemary plants; I have been known to make flower arrangements (and wreaths) from the fragrant leaves and drink rosemary infused tea at the same time.  And while I use rosemary year-round, this evergreen bush is readily available in the deep of winter, when all the other herbs have died back. Perhaps for this reason, there is something about the flavor of rosemary that just feels like the holidays.

Rosemary flavored vodka has recently become a bit of a staple amongst our friends. It’s easy to make and looks absolutely beautiful when you include a fresh sprig for garnish. It’s been tested and approved in a modified screwdriver: just mix 1 ounce of rosemary vodka with the juice from one orange and serve over ice.  Rosemary vodka is also delicious with a bit of Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Small Batch Tonic or in your favorite Bloody Mary recipe, but the possibilities are endless. If you have a great idea for a rosemary cocktail, be sure to let us know in the comments section.

Make extra of this easy infusion for your upcoming holiday gifting.

Homemade in three days—can’t beat that.

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DIY ROSEMARY WREATH

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 .

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DIY JERSEY + WOOL WREATH

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.

Share.

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DIY ORGANIC WRAPPED WREATH

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.

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