Southern Agenda

Common Threads

Cross, catch, or slip, every stitch tells a story. Natalie Chanin, founder of the sustainable design company Alabama Chanin, created the nonprofit Project Threadways to uncover, preserve, and share them—both stitches and stories. “Textiles are so intertwined with many areas of the South, from the cotton fields to the sock and T-shirt mills now gone,” Chanin says. “Our textile stories—rich, complicated, sometimes brutal, sometimes beautiful—are disappearing, too.” Project Threadways’ 2023 Symposium (April 20–22), in Chanin’s home base of Florence, aims to keep those stories humming, with presentations and workshops. In one event, Viola Ratcliffe of Birmingham’s nonprofit Bib & Tucker Sew-Op will describe how quilting-centered programs have inspired a new generation. “I hope we motivate people to create their own art,” she says. “I hope we also spark a passion to find and support those doing good in this space.”