We spend a good bit of time in the kitchen, planning meals and testing out new recipes to share, while I spend evenings trying to please the taste buds of my picky eater. I’ve found that kitchen twine has a number of uses, including trussing or tying meat when cooking or when you want to keep a stuffing firmly placed inside of something. Use it to tie fresh herbs in a bouquet garni or bouquet garnish (see recipe below) or wrap bacon on the outside of your roast or bird. I also use my twine for tying up birthday presents and pony tails—and stuffed animals at my house are often doctored with bits of twine. You might also try making our Knotted Necklace with this twine. It is thinner than our Cotton Jersey Pulls but made in the same way.
Twine, especially for use in the kitchen, shouldn’t be made from synthetic materials (they can melt or chemicals can seep into your food), and we’ve found this organic, non-toxic option works perfectly.
Follow instructions for the Woven Farm Chairs (or Friendship Chairs) on page 95 of Alabama Studio Style to make your own chair with our Hearts stencil.
Read about our Makeshift 2012 Chair Workshop at Partners & Spade and start a conversation in your own community.
I’ve mentioned this a few times here on the Journal: I am a grandmother. And in the photo above, you see our sweet Stella Ruth. Her hands, clearly visible, are surrounded by my son Zach’s, my dad’s, my grandmother’s, and mine. That’s right—five generations. You may have seen pictures of five generations in newspapers and on blogs but when it happens to you, it does feel somewhat monumental.
This is my second five generation photo. The photo at the bottom is 20-year-old Natalie with four-month-old Zach, my father at 40, my grandmother at 60, and my great grandmother, who we called Granny Lou, at 80. (While I am definitely not promoting teenage pregnancy, it makes it easier to get to five generations into a photo when you each have a baby at 20!)
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,
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.
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 Sticks + Such 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.
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 our Mokuba 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 holiday stocking is a staple for any mantle during this time of year. This version livens up the basic version with some quick embroidered details. Make some in a variety of colors for everyone in the family (friends and pets, too). Use our HANDMADE HOLIDAY kits or scraps from your own workroom.
Some months back, a bowl of tea towels became a permanent installation on my kitchen table. We use them as napkins for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and just about every moment in between.
I found one in the car yesterday that had served as an impromptu placemat for one of my daughter, Maggie’s fruit pops. I also used them as burp cloths and bibs when she was younger.
Purchase a set here, a DIY kit here, or make some yourself using the simple instructions from Alabama Stitch Book. There are colors and styles to match any kitchen. If you are like me, you will find endless uses for them.
From Alabama Stitch Book:
“Tea towels were originally handmade lined cloths specifically designed for English ladies to use to dry their teapots and cups after washing them. With the advent of the Industrial Revolution and textile manufacturing, machine-made versions of these towels became readily available, and consequently they became a more “disposable” item. However, women like my grandmothers still chose to make their own. I have inherited some of their tea towels, which they made from flour sacks they cut into rectangles, embroidered, and beautifully finished on the edges. My grandmothers used these towels in bread baskets, as tray linters, and as little gifts for friends and neighbors. One of my grandfathers used one of these towels as his napkin at just about every meal of his married life.”