Alabama Chanin at the Edible Schoolyard

April 29, 2014

I've just returned from a weekend in Berkeley, CA, where I attended a fabulous one-day Alabama Chanin workshop at the Edible Schoolyard. I first read about the Edible Schoolyard over a decade ago, and was so excited to finally see the facilities and tour the gardens. Even though it was a Saturday, the grounds were teaming with students with friends and family. Alice Waters started this worthwhile project 17 years ago. It's really a fascinating story. Please click here for the full scoop.

My main focus for the trip, though, was to attend Natalie's workshop. Alabama Chanin was founded by Natalie Chanin. I've been completely enchanted since the first time I picked up one of Natalie's books, "Alabama Stitch Book". The hand sewn garments are so beautiful, useful, and are really comfortable. Then looking over their website I discovered their company philosophies were completely in sync with my own. Their use of organic cotton, mostly grown in the US; local US talent for sewing their garments; age-old techniques in a fresh, new way; near zero waste in their production practices; and slow design have had me hooked ever since.

I've been to Florence, Alabama to attend classes at "The Factory", but this was my first workshop outside of Alabama. I love going to Alabama. I clearly see why the phrase "Southern Hospitality" was coined. The whole experience there is just out of this world. Happily, I can report that the vibe was just as amazing in Berkeley. There is a wonderful synergy when all of us women get together and do what we love to do. There was laughter, new friends made, old friends reunited, great food, fellowship, even some tears, tears of joy and gratitude that is.

A huge bonus was meeting up with Sunne Meyer. She's also becoming a certified Alabama Chanin instructor like myself. We met at the week long workshop last November. AND another of our classmates surprised us by attending, Kate! All that AND getting to spend time with Natalie ~ my heart was brimming.

Kate, Natalie, Sunne & I in Berkeley at the Edible Schoolyard
(photos via Sunne Meyer)

I also got to meet Kristine Vejar from A Verb for Keeping Warm. I've been following her blog and have admired her philosophies for years. I visited her store in Oakland, and what a treat that was. Go here and see what they're all about. You won't be disappointed.

A little family reunion with my cousin whom I hadn't seen in years, rounded out this weekend to perfection.

One thing Natalie touched upon was mind mapping, FMRI, and how doing things like sewing, knitting, cooking, domestic making create the same type of brain waves that Buddhist monks create while meditating. Hmmmm, I think I'll grab my skirt project and go "meditate" for a while.


  1. AND THE DRESS you are wearing is just awesome! Did you put it together?


    1. Hi Catherine~ I just now saw your comment. Yes, I did. Thank you :) It's one of my more complicated pieces, but definitely worth the extra effort, especially when it's so much fun to do.