Sunday, June 29, 2014

Best Birthday Weekend.....Ever!

Ready for a whirlwind of pictures? Let's start with the Mobile airport on Friday morning. Why the heck is this crazy vintage car in the lobby?

No idea, but how funkilicious!

The trunk is a veritable confection of dinosaurs and disco balls!

My sister and I arrive with 5 minutes of each other at the Knoxville airport and make it to the hotel. They've filled the gift shop with Alabama Chanin clothes - must have this lime green fabric!

We take a little tour of the property before dinner and try out this fabulous swing on a 45-degree incline. If you face the mountains and get a good push, it is panic-attack-inducing.

At the champagne reception and dinner Friday night, I became a babbling idiot when meeting Natalie Chanin. I start with, "Oh my goodness, it's such an honor to meet you," and end with, "I made skirt." She actually gives me a hug at this point, but is probably patting me down for weapons, and can you believe they have seated me NEXT TO HER at the table?! Whoever made that executive decision, I am forever indebted to you. That woman rocks! After dinner, a fun mother-daughter sewing pair join my sister and me in the lounge, and we make friends with all the returning guests. Any time someone asks what we're here for this weekend, we pounce on them with our iPhones to show them what Alabama Chanin is all about. (Did I mention there were wine pairings with dinner?)

Okay, on to Saturday. This is a display of their wares, but I couldn't get all the swatches in the pic....OH, the swatches.

Okay, Natalie teaches the physics of sewing Saturday morning and we break open our kits. The plum couched skirt I chose to make is pictured below, but this is from a website (Polyvore? No idea what it is) with a huge pic, so forgive the size. This was listed for $1430 - DUDE!
Couched Anna's Garden Skirt | Alabama Chanin

Natalie came over and very seriously informed me that couching is one of the most difficult of the techniques, and was I fully aware of that. I told her I had done a full-length beaded Mardi Gras dress, and I was not here for relaxation. She said she liked my attitude. (Take me now, God, I have hit the pinnacle of my existence! This is like when one of their designers told me my color choices were good together, but SO MUCH BETTER!) Okay, so then there's lunch and a few more hours of sewing while Natalie tells us the history of Alabama Chanin and some other very entertaining stories. After that, I collect my sister, who's been cross-stitching, napping, and generally relaxing in the room, and we go for a walk around the whole property.

It commences to raining pretty hard, so we take cover first in a boathouse on a lake, then again in a big gazebo by another lake. This is called "cray-cray selfie," and it is even before the wine.

Check out the awesome rainbow. God was smiling at me ALL weekend!

Oh, and the wine! This is how it comes from room service - in mason jars! (And it comes from room service when the in-house bar is shut down for a private function, but you don't know that because you just walked in from the rain, so you line up with all the other people - who are related to each other - and wait 10 minutes before someone tells you this is a private party.....DOH!)

So then there is an excellent dinner with my sister, then a little dance party back in the room (because we must dance while there are no disapproving glances from embarrassed family members), then stitching till about midnight. Which brings us to today, and this is the Alabama Chanin crew. Kay is to the left, Olivia next (who helped me with my MG dress questions - so sweet!), and you know the other two.

SO, here is my progress thus far on the couched skirt. And couching means sewing strips of fabric around the stenciled design, and is far more enjoyable than beading, though not quite as fast as embroidering.

I think I can finish this in a couple of weeks, given that I'm on call starting tomorrow - bleh.

I may embellish some of the smaller shapes with a few of the beads I have left over from the MG dress...hmmmm.

I don't think it's too late to quit my new job and see if Natalie wants to open a branch of AC at the other end of the you?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Most Awesome Birthday Present Ever....

But first, of course, I have to show you something else since I've been gone a month. I lost my sewing mojo a while back, but the knitting one is always there since I can sit in the den with the family. I finished a shrug but can't drag myself upstairs to seam it together on the machine, so I started aNOTHER shrug to keep my hands busy. Then it got complicated so I decided to knit some little gifts for my 3 office employees, since they're doing such a great job. I also wanted to use stash yarn. I was going to do 3 dishcloths, but I ran out of washable cotton, so I decided to try a hairband in this organic cotton that can only be washed in cold and laid flat to dry. It has a big twist in the center, but I've done cables before, so what's the big deal?

Oh crap, I totally screwed that up...or did I? I just kept knitting after I verified with my mother that you work the cable stitches right to left as usual. Everything turned out fine!

Okay, so back to my birthday, which is Tuesday. Dean gifted me with a weekend at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee sewing with Natalie Chanin! WOO-HOO! It's one of those "away" sewing workshops with just 11 other women, and I picked a skirt with couching, since that was the most complicated-looking thing. (I mean, if you're paying for one of those expensive workshops and you've already made a dang Mardi Gras dress from her book, you've got to shoot for the stars, am I right?!) But not only that, he's also flying my SISTER in from Wisconsin with her cross-stitching for a girls' stitching weekend! How relaxing can it get?

So she and I board our respective planes tomorrow morning, enjoy a champagne reception and dinner tomorrow night with Natalie and the crew, then commence to sewing our hearts out. I'll post plenty of pics, but I'm quite intimidated about meeting Natalie, so we'll see if I get one with her or not. I imagine it'll be like meeting Sandra Betzina....or not. Our first meeting consisted of my mouth gaping open and saying the usual fluff while she sat down in front of me and lifted my shirt to measure my waist - GET to know me! (That was an SNL reference.)