I risk sounding like a broken record, but I would risk anything to continue to talk about Alabama Chanin. There is something about it that is just so good.
I 'almost' finished my skirt this weekend. I had hoped to have it together for the party last weekend but it was not meant to be. Instead I wore my first piece, the Bloomers swing skirt. I remember last year at this time I was immersed in the stitching and that is when this love affair began.
It is a little difficult to describe it, but my friend Jennie and I liken it to crack. Good crack. The projects initially seem daunting...there is the stencil making and the painting and the cutting and the stitching. But it is something you can fall into and as with anything beautiful, the deeper the practice, the more the reward.
I wore my skirt today 'almost' finished because it is a thing of beauty. I love this piece as much as any of the others and with the making, I feel as if I have learned new lessons. Patience to let each stitch come when I have a few minutes, strength as my fingers become increasingly skilled, process as I try new methods of stencil cutting and painting...and the fact that a thimble is a very good thing when working with felled seams.
Meeting Natalie a few weeks ago and having the opportunity to thumb through sample books and witness the seemingly perfect stitching created by the hands of craftswomen, it shifted something in me. I realized just how generous this woman is to share her method of making with us. She created something from the impetus to change fashion, consciously left behind an industry that called her work excellent and returned home to support her community and her artistic self and then turned around and opened the doors to the knowledge, opened then wide, and invited us in to try it.
I felt terribly shy when I went into the trunk show, wearing my Bloomers skirt. All of a sudden doubt about my ability to make this stuff descended and I almost turned around and left. I get a little weird around people I really really admire. I did go in and almost immediately Natalie commented on the skirt, acknowledging that I had made it from the ground up. I stopped feeling shy and just decided to feel amazed. Standing in a room full of racks of couture Alabama Chanin pieces will do that to you. Right then I decided a few things ::
} I renewed my vow to live in jersey as often as possible.
} I want to always have a piece of stitching in progress to turn to when I need to make.
} We are going to the Doo Nanny next year in Alabama to share in a community of like minded artists. And apparently, the land it is held on has snakes and swamps and lots of good things the boys will like (this according to Natalie).
} I am making a version of this quilt that was hanging up at the trunk show.
} Someday I will make it to a workshop so that I can sit with others stitchers for a weekend and practice this most satisfying work with women (and men?) just like me.
And I want to share with you too. I know a lot of you reading are makers and I want to encourage you to try your hand at this making. It is powerfully beautiful stuff and once you get started, you may never stop. Thank Natalie for that...
And for the super great news that a third book is coming out next March. Just in time for me to bring it to Alabama for her to sign. Now, go here to get her books or go here to see some awesome gifts for Mama Day. I am getting the Mom shirt for sure...it says it all.