Thursday, September 26, 2013

Wise Effort - Alabama Chanin Fabric Tasting Party

 As I continue to work on an Alabama Chanin inspired dress for my daughter, (going on - maybe 6 months now) with each stitch I cant help but think about a very inspiring evening last spring at A Verb for Keeping Warm.  

It was an Alabama Chanin Fabric Tasting party, done as a benefit for the Verb dye garden.  Can you imagine?  An informal stitch-in where fabrics and thread and beads and sequins were supplied by Alabama Chanin, where one could experiment with techniques with the actual materials they use.

When I arrived the place was mobbed!  There were stacks of gorgeous samples on the cutting table with everyone choosing their fabric sets (so generously we were able to take 3 pre-airbrushed and 3 plain fabrics to use as our samplers, thread and any beads or sequins we might want to use.)

Once the fabric selection excitement settled down, Kristine and Natalie spoke.  One thing Natalie Chanin mentioned that has stuck with me these last couple months was how she employs local women in her town in Alabama to handsew the gorgeous garments that Alabama Chanin is known for.   How she would find that they would come and go because of a family emergencies, who else in the family would be the one to caretake when an emergency (large or small) would happen but the woman, the daughter, the mom, the sister.

It makes me reflect about how skilled these women are - to not only be such amazing textile artists but also - if they are the primary caretakers for their family - how little time really there is to fit it all in.  How much focus you have to have to drive yourself to have such beautiful stitch lengths, or beading skills.  To be able to learn to do it, and do it for work.   It is humbling.

It also reminds me of what Edward Brown in the Tassajara Cookbook says of Wise Effort.  If we do everything with wise effort, it will be done well. No matter the job, large or small.  The classic "before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water."

Chop wood, carry water, and stitch.  Repeat.

(photos by me of the event.)


  1. i love this post! wish i could have been there. sounds like such a dreamy way to spend an evening...

  2. Love your work, it's wonderful and also wonderful to notice the Dali - ShuangLang touch in the dresses you make. A touched zaidjen from Holland from Ilse Al who really loves Dali :-)