13

Speaking of found things, particularly money...

Web-20181113_093056

Spot the $20 bill!

I have a couple of tins in which I keep my traveling sewing supplies -- various types of needles, thread, scissors, thimbles -- and at the bottom of one is a $20 bill. It's been there for a long time -- a few years -- and I can't recall why I put it there in the first place, but I keep forgetting about it and am surprised when I find it again... every.single.time. I doubt I'd even remember it was there if I was ever so desperate!!

Oh, Alabama!! It was a year ago that Kym & I were at the Alabama Chanin 3-Day Workshop -- I've been seeing FB reminders of that very fun trip. My "I Got Swamped" pin from Judy Hood's Swampette Tour is peeking from under some scissors in the top tin. I wish I was further along on my Car Jacket, but it's been out on my work table and I've definitely been thinking about it... even making a stitch now and then. *sigh*


Wrap it up - the Alabama lowdown

For over a year, I waited -- anticipated -- attending the Alabama Chanin 3-Day Workshop in November. I'd signed up almost immediately when it was announced, and it wasn't long before Kym decided to join me.

20171108_084048

We met at the airport in Nashville and drove to Florence, AL, home of Alabama Chanin.

20171108_123042

We settled into our comfy Airbnb, found a place for dinner, and awaited Workshop Day #1.

It was pretty great. Each of the participants (9 of us) had our own work table with basic supplies and materials. The clothing racks beyond held simple, unembellished examples of every DIY garment in every size for trying on. I was a bit smitten with the collection of chairs -- those shown here, as well as throughout The Factory & Cafe -- as I've been something of a collector myself (to the point that Rusty called a moratorium on chairs some years ago)!

20171109_121818

In addition, there were other garment racks, which I've shown before, that held embellished pieces in various colors & designs, which we could also try on.

20171109_121900
20171109_121900

"The Factory" is just that. Located in a large factory/warehouse type building, one very large space is divvied up with partial walls/partitions and curtains into spaces for retail, cafe, office, shipping, social media, design, fabric handling, stenciling, cutting, sewing, production, etc. Pretty much everyone, perhaps with the exception of some cafe staff, is at least knowledgeable -- but most likely has also performed -- every process/task/job within the company. It's pretty incredible, really. Natalie Chanin has employed some of the principles of Zingerman's Community of Businesses in the development of her own Alabama Chanin Family of Businesses, which include The School of Making, The Factory Cafe and Store, and Bldg. 14.

I could go to work in that factory everyday!

On that first day, we went over design possibilities, toured the factory, tried on garments, pored over swatch books, and each made decisions about the garment we wanted to make.

20171109_121207

I chose the Car Jacket, with the June's Spring stencil design.

We also had lunch at the Factory Cafe.

20171109_131012

I just had to have a Pimento Cheese sandwich!

And then I took about a million pictures of the June's Spring section of the swatch books!

20171109_113456
20171109_113456
20171109_113456
20171109_113456
20171109_113456

Those are all the same design, worked in different colors and in different/similar ways... all serving to blow my mind!

And then I took about a million more pictures of the exact same thing.

And also the next day. And again the day after that.

I could have spent three full days just looking at those swatch books, to be honest.

20171109_140002

I mean, look at that!!

With our orders being processed, we had a little free time before meeting up with the other participants for a local tour and dinner. Kym and I decided we had just enough time to dash out for a visit to The Wall, aka, Tom Hendrix's Wall, aka Te-lah-nay's Wall.

20171109_154527
20171109_154527
20171109_154527
20171109_154527

It's an incredible place, with an incredible story.

20171109_153545
20171109_153545
20171109_153545
20171109_153545
20171109_153545

Peaceful, beautiful, contemplative, surprising.

We could have spent a lot more time there, too, but I'm thankful we were able to find the time to visit at all. We went back to Florence and met our group at The Shoals Gold Record Room to board a trolley and go on a Swampette Tour of FAME and Muscle Shoals studios.

20171109_175708
20171109_175708

I had been looking forward to that for a while, having even made a special playlist way back in August, and it was truly fantastic -- everyone enjoyed it and most weren't music nerds! Our tour guide was Judy Hood, a Swampette by virtue of having married one David Hood, bass player and original member of The Swampers, and true enthusiast of music*, the history of the music and these studios in The Shoals, community, preservation, and more. She was a delight!

IMG_20171110_093747_423

Workshop Days 2 & 3 were spent exploring and learning more about garment construction and techniques. We had some lovely meals at The Factory Cafe (breakfast+lunch, brunch), and met Natalie; we had front-row seats at a talk/presentation she gave about the company's history. Everyone we met during the workshop was really wonderful -- Olivia, Maggie, Erin, Corey, Leslie, Bonnie, Diane (to name a few). Oh, to return someday... I still dream about the week-long workshops (either one, or both)!

20171112_101907
20171112_101907

On Sunday, Kym & I drove back to Nashville and another lovely Airbnb, first stopping to take photos of a cotton field. I had never seen anything like it before, though, if you cover the bottom part of that photo with your hand, it looks an awful lot like the snow-covered farm fields with which I am familiar!

20171112_141049

We stopped at Cheekwood Estate & Gardens on the way for a much-needed walk & nature break, and it was simply gorgeous.

20171112_131138
20171112_131138
20171112_131138

I was more than a little intrigued by at least parts of these pique assiette mosaic pieces (the term for which I learned just now -- who knew?).

20171112_131221

It was certainly not the most beautiful time of year to visit a garden, but it was far from ugly; I don't think there's ever an "ugly" season in a well-designed garden. They were just beginning to ready their holiday displays, so we even got a little peek at some of the lighted garden features (which were pretty cool even in afternoon light).

20171114_134215

I winged my way home and have barely had a chance to catch my breath since... Ali's shop remodel started the very next day, I'm trying to help with the kids as much as I can, Thanksgiving came & went, there was an ill-timed but previously planned (and much enjoyed) trip to Saint Louis, holiday party season is upon us, and Christmas is... what? 18 days away? Will I get my tree up???

I truly enjoyed every minute of that trip. I caught my breath only once at the beginning, when I realized that I'd be spending nearly a week with a woman that I'd previously met for lunch and a beer and to look at some art for a couple of hours, but we couldn't have gotten along better, and it was fun getting to know more about each other.

I've barely had time to even look at my Car Jacket project... ideas are percolating, and it'll be there when I'm ready!

*except rap. She told us that Dr. Dre/Beats Electronics is a supporter of the Muscle Shoals Music Foundation and that, as a grateful member of the board, she supposed she should learn to like it! More than a few of us suggested that Hamilton would be a good place to start!  ;)


In a Bubble / 17

I know that Thanksgiving is less than a week away.

20171109_102131

And Christmas fast approaching.

20171110_163204

I've watched since the trimmings of the season began edging out school supplies.

20171109_150744

And yet, I'm constantly doing a double-take when I see actual lights, decorations & full-on displays. I'm not ready for all the holiday hubbub.

20171111_151909

I feel as though I'm in a bit of a bubble... an Alabama bubble!

IMG_0966

Happy much? (Thanks for the photo, Kym!)

There's so much other stuff going on, even besides the holidays... but all I really want to do is clear off my work table and start sewing!

I would begin with an intense poring-over of Natalie Chanin's new book, The Geometry of Hand-Sewing, which I haven't had time to do yet, though I have been using it with great success to practice my "feather stitch" technique on my sampler.

20171111_155438

I'd pre-ordered my copy and picked it up at the workshop. We met with Natalie on Saturday, and she signed it for me... with a little laugh!

It's an incredible book with detailed instructions for working the stitches from either left-to-right or right-to-left, photos & diagrams --  including photos of the back of the work! -- and two die-cut plastic stitching cards/templates with various grids. Genius.

Though my Grandma Koenig had passed long before I picked up a needle, my mother would channel her, always asking to see the back of my project, intoning, "The back should be as neat as the front!"

20171110_144231
20171110_144231

They practice what they preach over there at Alabama Chanin! Those are shots of the back & front of approximately the same area of a piece from a sample book.

If you're interested in learning more about this type of work, Natalie & The School of Making have a new class on Craftsy (with, I'm told, more to come!) -- The Swing Skirt: Techniques & Construction.


Homeward bound / 14

Boarding a plane late this morning, arriving home sometime this evening.

We had an incredibly low-key & relaxing day in Nashville yesterday, mostly hanging out at our Airbnb house. We did venture out for lunch and to visit a couple of fabric stores, on a quest for some marking tools.

Jenisicecream

We also stopped at Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams and I don't need to wonder what the fuss is about anymore. That's Intelligentsia Black Cat Espresso. Yum.


Reality creep / 12

I got up this morning and did payroll for Ali -- to Wisconsin, from Alabama...

I packed up my stuff and wondered why in the world I didn't have my project kit & a few other Alabama Chanin incidentals shipped...

My suitcase has been expanded and is at capacity!

IMG_20171112_233232_912

We (Kim) drove to Nashville (I am Navigation!) and Cheekwood Estate & Gardens. We had a very nice walk through the Seasons, Herb, and Japanese Gardens, as well as a little hike through some of the Sculpture Trail.

There was a lovely exhibition on the sculpture work of William Edmondson, and of Bryant Fleming who designed the estate.

Posting this at nearly the 12th hour and internet is not so great... more later!


/ 11

This how my worktable looked at the beginning of Friday:

IMG_20171110_093747_423

Fairly neat and orderly.

IMG_20171110_125002_261

My project kit was the last to arrive, partly because I chose an obscure paint color for my stencil, but mostly because the Production Team at Alabama Chanin made sure it was perfect before presenting it to me; in particular, Corey, who mixed the paint and did the stenciling, worked the most amazing magic!

Inspiration is everywhere at Alabama Chanin, from the iconic sign...

20171110_163215

...to the bathroom decor.

20171110_114555

By the end of the day, my worktable looked like this (the neatened up version):

20171110_160628

I am working out a few things on a swatch that is in my actual pattern & colors.

Tomorrow is another day -- sadly, the last workshop day! The time is flying by and we are having a wonderful time!


Catch & Release: The Wisconsin Blingfish / 8

As this goes live, I'm winging my way to meet Kym in Nashville! We will hop into a rented car and drive to Florence, Alabama, for a long-anticipated 3-Day Workshop at Alabama Chanin! We've been planning this trip for well over a year, and... SO EXCITED!

I've been on my Alabama Chanin journey for a while now, and thought today would be a good time to share the story of one of my recent (unusual and crazy-fun) projects:

THE WISCONSIN BLINGFISH

Kay Gardiner, aka Mason-Dixon Kay, began working on her "newest oldest" sewing project, the Alabama Chanin Flag Quilt, on July 4th. It's a spectacular piece! It's also a bit overwhelming, even as a pre-cut and pre-stenciled kit.

After a week of immersion sewing, Kay was considering ideas to infuse her quilt with some personal style... by changing some of the thread & fabric colors, by adding embellishments, and by somehow involving friends.

I've "known" Kay for about as long as we've all been blogging. We met in person at Rhinebeck 2006, I think, and then again 10 years later. In between, we've chatted a little bit via Instagram & blog comments about knitting, of course, also about other projects & the kids & family & events, and quite a bit about Alabama Chanin projects these past few years. I was delighted when she asked if I'd be game to stitch a block of her quilt.

Um, YEAH!!

Bling-optional

She sent her "Wisconsin Fish," along with a spool of thread, and a small bag of iridescent semi-dimensional sequins marked "bling (optional)" -- which, HELLO, were never considered "optional" for even a second.

BRING THE BLING!

I immediately pulled out my own collection of sparkles to see how it all might work together -- adding a variety of seed beads, bugle beads, and more sequins to the mix!

20170902_140955

SEQUINS THIS WAY?

20170902_140955

SEQUINS THAT WAY?

Everything was kept quite secure with Wonder Clips, of course!

20170902_163411

THE PLAN FOR BUGLE BEADS WAS IMMEDIATELY CLEAR.

Eventually I did a little sewing. And some cutting... periodically laying out beads & sequins to see if I still liked them this way, that way, or another way.

20170902_163421
20170902_163421

My daughter Kate was starting her new job at the time, but frequently stopping home, and every time I'd call out, "Come and see my fish!" I'd show her what I'd done and run through ideas...

20170904_185309

I started off with mostly reverse applique, running stitch, knots on the back; with some beading and a little bit of satin stitch with embroidery floss. (FYI: satin stitch is harder than it looks!)

20170904_185403

The sequins, though! It was obvious to me that they needed to be fish scales... but how? My only experience with sequins was on my Catamount Tunic, and the inspiration for that project made it pretty simple & straightforward.

Obviously, I needed to expand my sequins knowledge, and my treasure trove of sequins inspo for this project turned out to be "sewing for belly dancers."

20170910_151720

I used a combo of sequins and sewed them on in rows to make scales.

20170910_154328

Initially, the rows were too far apart, so I filled in, and continued in a more dense pattern. I'm sure that looks tedious to some, but I really had fun doing it! Perhaps, as Kay says, we "have a skewed sense of what is fun..."

20170910_154357
20170910_154357

It was fun to figure out the little details as I went along... filling in bare "scale" spots with plain sequins; using red beads for the eye, outlining it with some metallic thread. I love the dimension and bit of sparkle and shine.

20170914_182026

I wanted some "lines" for the fish tail, so pulled out some more embroidery floss and sewed in some random sequins.

20170914_182026

I used only sequins -- fairly sparse -- for the belly (just beginning, above).

20170924_143805

I stitched "lines," too, for some of the other fins -- with and without sequins.

I had originally thought of using the metallic thread to work satin stitch the dorsal, pelvic & anal fins (*bling*)...

20170924_143751

... but holy cow, each of those things separately -- satin stitch & working with metallic thread -- is challenging enough! Instead, I used the metallic thread to back-stitch the outlines of the fins and sparsely fill in with running stitch.

20170926_150745

Finally, I signed my work.

Then I had to photograph it and send it back to Kay!

20170926_150759
20170926_150759

Alabama-Chanin_Mason-Dixon-Knitting_Wisconsin-Blingfish

Catch & Release... The One That Got Away... Some Fish... the Wisconsin Blingfish!!

I can't wait to see the whole quilt come together!!


Right Now: November - AC Style / 3

BREAKING NEWS...

20171103_075500

They were firing up equipment as I left for work this morning; Rusty sent this photo a little while later. (That's my house with the bunting still hanging.)

Anticipating... So much good stuff!

  1. New refrigerator delivery on Saturday (finally!) (y'all will be so happy when this is not.a.thing anymore)
  2. Hamilton on Sunday (matinee) with Maddy and her BFF Katy, followed by dinner at The Dearborn
  3. My 59th birthday on Monday (!!)
  4. A long-awaited vacation that begins on Wednesday:
    1. To Florence, AL, for a 3-Day Alabama Chanin Workshop
    2. Along with my first visit to Nashville, TN
    3. All with KYM!!!

Looking forward to... OMG. Alabama! The Factory! Muscle Shoals! Finally!!

I've long dreamed of attending an Alabama Chanin week-long workshop(s), but it just wasn't ever going to fit in financially or time-wise, so when the 3-day version was introduced last year... I pounced. I signed up practically the minute it was announced in September! Bonus: it was happening right around my birthday. Happy Birthday To Me!!

It wasn't long before Kym decided to join me... and the Airbnb booked by the first week of October! EXCITED MUCH?? I'd have booked travel then, too, but it was too early. I did put a reminder on my calendar about it, though.

Sewing... something EPIC as soon as I get to Alabama! I'm thinking Coat, but reserving final decision until we're actually there. We get to try on garments and see examples of finishing techniques. It's all certain to be incredibly inspiring... hopefully, not to overwhelming. I'm counting on experienced hands to guide us...

Listening... Hamilton soundtrack & and my "Alabama" playlists!

Wondering... What's up with you right now!?