Barn Swallow Shawl: Stitch Work

I love Natalie Chanin's work. I love the hand work and all those stitches and how the designs incorporate the stitches not merely as "fasteners" but also as important aesthetic elements. Her stitches feel intentional and thoughtful and necessary and I like that very much.

I've just finished my second Alabama Chanin project. This is my second barn swallow shawl (modified from the "rose shawl" pattern). You can see my first one here and the makings of this second one here. They are made entirely of up-cycled thrift store t-shirts.

This one is a gift. It will soon be packaged and sent on its way. It's an offering of gratitude and thanks for continued love and friendship.

And I tucked a special secret note into the underlining of this shawl. An added reminder that this one was made with love.

I always love to look at the underside of embroidery and applique. Something about the silhouettes of the shapes pleases my eye. How the applique on the front becomes abstracted from the underside--as if the stitch work left a shadow underneath. This look at embroidery and applique always makes me think of Lisa's beautiful work.

Lately, most of my studio time has been spent crafting utilitarian objects. Some for me. Some for the baby on the way. Some for friends. But as we rush around to prepare our home and our hearts for this sweet little babe due to join us in just 6 weeks--I can't help feeling like I'm 6-weeks out from an exhibition or production deadline. The to-do lists, research, websites, shopping lists, and design sketches feel very much like preparing for a big show. Perhaps, this is just the biggest show yet!

Hope you like the shawl. And hope you are having a happy week, friends.



  1. Love it! I just requested the Alabama Stitch book from another library so I can get some ideas. I always need a shawl for work since they keep the library cold and I've been saving old t-shirts to upcycle myself. Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. 1. One of my projects for the fall is to teach myself to sew. (I have failed my mother for 34 years thus far)
    2. Your work is very pretty.
    See #1. I have special admiration for things I can't do.
    3. The little note inside reminds me of when my parent's would re-do a room in the house, and let us write all over the walls, to tuck our memories safe within the walls of our greatest protector. (You know the one) I still wonder what in the world I wrote. I bet they are gems.

  3. Really beautiful. There is something about hand stitching combined with humble fabrics that so deeply touches the soul. xo

  4. I love Alabama Chanin's work. I used to live five miles from her studio ... before she set up her studio. Maybe that would have enticed me to stay in Alabama!
    I can't believe it only six weeks before you're due! Go with the nesting, it's a wonderful feeling. And get plenty of sleep now, while you can!

  5. Love seeing the process!

  6. Like? Love your barn swallow shawl.

  7. Looks gorgeous to me. xolj

  8. belly: oh, fun! i love wearing these shawls as much as i love making them. and the double layer of t-shirts makes for a cozy satisfying weight. happy stitching!

    beth: you can totally teach yourself to sew! you certainly can. like anything else, there is a starter-friendly place to begin and then you can get as advanced as you like later on. and i love the story about the notes in your house.

    victoria: thank you! i agree completely. there is something that resonates in humble fabrics and so much handwork. it vibrates at a different pitch, i dare to say.

    kathryn: oh, that might have convinced me to stay in alabama too. but i've never been there! thanks for the kind words about nesting. it's hard to surrender to the urge and also feels like the only thing to do.

    lari: so glad you do.

    gracia: aw, thank you, friend.

    louise: thank you, thank you.


Thank you for your comments, friends. I like to think we are creating a dialogue in this space--building a virtual community.