Ten trips around the sun. A lot happens in ten years: birthdays, anniversaries, growth, loss, happiness, struggle, and joy. I daresay that each of us has experienced all of these things in the last decade. But, for Alabama Chanin, we are crossing an entirely new milestone: the tenth anniversary of the publishing of Alabama Stitch Book, our first book—the one that taught us so much and helped define who we are as a company.
Ten years ago, we thought the idea of writing a book would be an exciting and relatively quick journey. After all, Natalie had already written a handbook, of sorts, for our artisan stitchers to use, explaining our standards and how to make each garment. What more was there to do but flesh those instructions out and tell some stories about how the company came to be? Perhaps if Natalie had known more about exactly what goes into writing a book, she might have said no to the proposition. But she didn’t, and we expanded to create the other members of our family of businesses.
The laborious process of writing a book means sending drafts back and forth to an editor, nursing sore feelings, pouring your heart out, and letting other people parse it for content, clarity, comma splices, and a dozen other things you never imagined at the beginning of the journey. When the document is finally finished, it feels something akin to birthing a baby, and then sending that baby out into the world to be judged and graded and loved, or tossed aside. Thinking back to writing those first pages brings feelings of vulnerability and pride.
Alabama Stitch Book was a key to the birth and development of The School of Making. When the book was first released, we were so excited that people were responding and actually taking our words and ideas and putting them into practice. But many people didn’t have access to the materials we recommended, or simply wanted to use the same tools that we used. What began as a small store meant to provide resources for our book readers grew into so much more. It led to more connection with you, our strong community of makers, and it gave us the courage and security to expand. More books and more workshops, more designs, and greater aspirations. It can honestly be said that the birth and growth of The School of Making gave us the courage and security to expand our collections, create The Factory Café and Store, and conceive of our machine-made line and Bldg. 14. All of this growth can be traced back to our humble Alabama Stitch Book.
Now that ten years have passed, our publisher has released a special edition of Alabama Stitch Book with a new cover and updated introduction. We want to honor each of you that have been with us since the very beginning and welcome those who are newer to our making community. For that reason, we are also re-releasing some of our original kits featuring garments from Alabama Stitch Book (the Rose Shawl, bunny rabbit, and swing skirt kits to name a few). For us, this anniversary is more than a walk down memory lane. It is a celebration of how we have grown and changed and how we have worked together alongside one another and each of you. Happy anniversary indeed!