I belong to a spinning guild, the type that spins fiber into yarn not the over active cycling kind. One of our members suggested a road tip to Florence Alabama to see the Alabama Chanin clothing factory. Florence is right next door to Muscle shoals and I knew from watching the music documentary “Muscle Shoals” which, by the way, is definitely worth watching, that Rob would also really like to visit. The plan was to arrive on the Thursday and we would visit Muscle Shoals sound studio together. And then separate on the Friday, Rob would go to the Fame Studio and I would do the factory tour.
Off we drove, avoiding as much of the motorways (Interstate) as we could and had a brief stop at a very local diner for lunch. We checked in to our hotel and were given a great room overlooking the Wilson Dam on the Tennessee river.
Off we went to meet our friend at the music studio. The tour was truly excellent and the list of stars that had produced their records there was awe inspiring. They still produce records there today, although the original backing band, The Swampers, are no longer involved. Back to the hotel for drinks and dinner in the hotel bar and being treated to live music.
Friday morning the weather was pretty bad so while Rob was off on his second studio tour, I went to meet the girls and have a look around the factory earlier than planned. Apart from getting a bit wet and wind blown the tour went really well. Natalie Chanin, the designer behind the brand, has built the business around a simple series of clothing pieces that are then elevated with a lot of hand stitching, appliqué and stenciled painted patterns. The completed pieces carry a hefty price ticket but you can also buy them in kit form and do the stitching yourself. Natalie also has a number of stitching and design books that she has produced and we were lucky enough to actually meet her. I bought her studio sewing and design book and she very kindly wrote on the inside cover for me.
We met back up with the boys and then drove into town to the famous local diner and ice cream parlor. Trowbridge has been in business at the same location since 1918 and it certainly lived up to its reputation, grilled cheese sandwich followed by ice cream with hot fudge sauce, YUM!
Back to the hotel for dinner and more live music and making plans for a detour on the way home on Saturday. We travelled back via Patches and Stitches in Huntsville, a delightful shop that caters for cross stitch, needlepoint, wool appliqué and quilting.