THE HEART

I once had a close friend who was the most incredible painter, yet never sold a single piece of art. I (and everyone who saw her work) was certain she was destined for artistic greatness and critical acclaim, if only she could get people to see her work. She thought it unfair and ridiculous to allow a gallery to take a commission on her sales when she did all of the work. As her collection grew, her apartment shrank, and I decided to play hero – or at least middle man.   That was free of charge.

Unfortunately, my efforts met with failure after failure; despite interested buyers, the deal always fell through. Mostly she claimed the piece was in need of some minor finishing then failed to follow up, refused to return calls. How could someone struggling with bills be so unmotivated that they couldn’t even schedule a time to collect some cash? Finally I realized (and after a couple of cocktails she admitted) that she had no intention of selling those paintings- they simply meant to much to her.

You’d be hard-pressed to find an artist who hasn’t experienced this sort of attachment to their art. Investing so much of your time and energy into a piece shapes the way you view and how much you appreciate it. When I begin a project that I know is destined for someone-somewhere else, I take a moment to focus on that fact; I take a moment to hope it will bring happiness to the wearer. Then, I let it go.

It’s hard to see a piece of our clothing in-person and not touch it – strangers have been known to sacrifice their understanding of personal boundaries on more than one occasion. The beauty of hand-stitching is almost shocking in its simplicity, and even the most perfect looking stitches are not- that’s the point. It is impossible to conceal the artistry and expression in a garment that has been made by human hands. Diane, our head seamstress (who you will meet later),  can tell you which one of our stitchers is responsible for a garment with a quick glance… we wonder if she can tell their mood as well.

Alabama Fur (in the picture above) is one of the most time-intensive treatments in the collection; it can take several weeks to complete an all-over application. Every time I run my hands across a sample of it I can’t help but think of how much time it spent with the artist who made it.  Was it put aside at the same time every day in the name of homework assistance? Did it suffer through the new season of True Blood, or help with any important decisions?

The Alabama Chanin collection (in the best case scenario) is made from cotton that is grown in Texas, spun in North Carolina, knit in South Carolina,  dyed in Tennessee and North Carolina, and sewn by our incredible Artists here in Alabama. I’d like to introduce you to the people that take part in the making of your Alabama Chanin pieces, those that cut your fabric, pack the boxes that are mailed to you, and those that hand-stitch our collection on their own terms and time.  Each garment is hand-numbered and signed by the artisan who assembled it. Who made your favorite piece? Check the tag, and if you’re inclined, say hello when he or she is featured. We love learning more about our friends, fans, and clients. We hope you enjoy getting to know us a little better during the upcoming months.


REVERSE APPLIQUÉ BLOOMERS PIE

Labor Day in my family means delicious home-cooked food.  And while I won’t be indulging to excess this year, I still look forward to family get-togethers and the cooking involved.  While browsing my cookbook collection in preparation for our family meal, it occurred to me that covered pies are really just applique with dough. Fascinated by that concept, I began to imagine all of the things you could do with stencils in the kitchen. With this recipe for Reverse Appliqué Bloomers Cherry Pie, I start exploring ways to combine Alabama Chanin stencils with good home cooking – imagine the possibilities.

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A (PRE) LABOR DAY CELEBRATION

Please watch this beautiful film about the labor of making linen.

Thank you to our farmers in Texas, our spinners, and Green Textiles in Spartanburg, South Carolina, for laboring to spread cotton love.

Join the Texas Organic Cotton Marketing Cooperative for their annual Fall Field Day on Thursday, October 20, 2011, in the heart of the South Plains of Texas.

And thank you to Eric and Beth at Etsy for sharing the  Be Linen Movie by Benoit Millot with us!

I want to make a film about the production of our organic cotton.

EVERY GIRL NEEDS A GOOD TOOL.

So, how is it that I made it for half-a-century without owning my own tire gauge? Until last year, there was a full-service gas station that would graciously check my tires after a fill-up. Now, it is sadly closed. My Prius has a little sensor that tells me when my tires are not just right. I dread when that little light pops on.   It seems like a major ordeal to find a shop or mechanic that will check them for me.  Last week, I drove around the entire week with the tire light shining – nervous each time I glanced down.

I know it’s silly; but, it’s times like these I yearn for a man around the house.

Now, I am the proud owner of my very own tire gauge.  I can’t tell you how empowered I felt when I pulled up to the free air dispenser at my local gas station, whipped out my tool, and filled up my own tires.  You should have seen the looks (and heard the calls) from the cowboys in pick-up trucks.

Yes indeed, a girl needs a good tool.

P.S.: Did you know that you get approximately 4% better gas mileage with properly inflated tires?

(RE)DETOX – DAY 7

(Re)Detox – Day 7 – and I have to say that it is so much better to detox with friends than alone. We have been sharing lunches, telling stories, laughing, and, at times, commiserating.  This round has been easier for me (although I had a little slip on Friday night that involved a bottle of beer) and I continue to feel better and better.  I made this soup last week which was a favorite – and everyone wanted the recipe you find below.

The preparation is very simple – slightly off the plan since it contains tomatoes, but they are still growing in my backyard and dropping on the ground.  I will stop eating tomatoes in October when there aren’t any more good ones to eat.

My friend Sara cringed, “Seriously? No tomatoes? That is upsetting to me.”

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TWO WEEKS LATER


Thrilled to be back @ EcoSalon today and shocked that has it has already been two weeks since the last column! Head over there to find out why “Life Demands an Ice Skating Fee.”

Time always seems to pass much more quickly when you have a lot to do; so far, August has been no exception.

Although I’m far from packing for Berlin, I am already dreaming of which designs from the new collection will fill my suitcase. I’ve spent the last few days pouring over images and choosing which ones to add to the site next week. To be perfectly honest, I’m having a hard time narrowing it down -  that is a lovely problem to have.

I have, however, begun packing for Texas. The new collection and a tower of DIY kits for the Marfa Workshop will be traveling with me; this requires a bit more thought and planning, twenty pairs of scissors and a bag of X-acto blades means arriving extra early for your flight!

We would love to see you @ Fancy Pony Land for our trunk show, El Cosmico for a Two-hour workshop (there are a couple of spots remaining), or both!

Or, should you happen to be in Austin the following week, visit us at the Hotel San Jose.

Stop by and visit EcoSalon today and let us know what you think.  If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments below. The next installment will be here before you know it!

In the meantime, have a lovely weekend…

 

 

WABI-SABI

Biographies, philosophy, design, recipes, and all the subjects in-between are the stuff of my dreams. I would venture to say that I’ve found a treasure beginning with most library call numbers, and, of course, do my best not to judge any book by its cover. To say my love affair with reading is an important part of my life would be an understatement.

Our library at The Factory and the stacks of books throughout my home are growing at alarming (and satisfying) rates. I wish that time allowed me to discuss in detail all of the fabulous books that my friends, supporters, and my publisher have chosen to share with me. Robyn Griggs Lawrence’s Simply Imperfect: Revisiting the Wabi-Sabi House recently landed on my desk. The simple, unassuming (wabi-sabi) cover almost went unnoticed in the big stack of books I’ve been eager to conquer.

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