Crochet for Fair Trade

by AnneEMcGraw on November 9, 2010, no comments

I love crochet (and knitting). It’s a perfect combination of math and craft. The craft is very underestimated in both the time involved and the cost of quality. It’s very easy to go to Target or Walmart and purchase a hat or gloves that some 12 year old child in China got paid pennies to make. It’s another to recognize and support a fair minimum wage for quality handmade. We too often think of the term “fair trade” as a third world manufacturing term, and forget that there are Westerners who also need to be paid a fair trade for their hard work.

Living in Colorado, it’s difficult to find and buy hats or gloves at the big box stores that fit our weather needs. Mass manufacturing of knit or crochet wearables are done without climate specific conditions. You can buy the same knit hat in Mississippi as you can in Colorado, and yet they don’t work in both locations. For example, I bought a cute cotton knit hat and scarf set at the Gap in Mississippi. It was perfect for Missip. However, once I moved to Colorado, that cotton fabric got wet with the Colorado snow, became heavy and stretched and took forever to dry. More importantly the wind whipped through that heavy wet fabric making me feel colder. That is when I began making my own winter wear so I could control the material and density of the fabric.

I started making crochet and knit items for friends upon request. I had such a good response from word of mouth, I spread out and offered items in my Etsy shop and local consignment shops. However, I became disheartened with the low prices and competition of obvious oversea wholesale sellers. Even, local shop owners encourage lower prices to compete with the big box stores. There is still this idea that a single Westerner hand crocheting a hat should be paid a marketable price that competes with that 12 year old child in China manufacturing for Target. So, I stopped creating and offered my crochet items at a basement price just to rid myself of the inventory.

After, a conversation with a happy past customer. I got the bug again to create a new line of crochet items. This time, I wanted to change a few things in my line that would set myself apart from other crochet and knit items readily available in the masses. And that simply is Made in Colorado for Colorado. I decided not to just whip up as fast as I can, with big yarn and big needles and hooks, and focus on making items that were meant for our climate. That means, quality wool that will shed the wet snow and tighter stitches that close out those wind holes. But of course that means, the items take more time to make as I use a smaller hook, I use more yarn to create that density and I use a quality yarn that is naturally water repellent. The benefits are priceless if you’ve ever spent a cold night up in the mountains or tried to ski with the wind whipping through your hat. Quality yarn means the product will last longer and density means the yarn will not unravel or wear-out faster and creates smaller wind holes.

To pay myself a fair wage, I am offering these items at a fair, marketable price where I do earn a minimum wage and a profit.   If there is a wholesale interest for a large order, I can offer a discount, so please ask. It takes me about 8-10 hours to make a pair of fingerless gloves and about 6 hours to make a beanie. I don’t think many people realize the time involved when they want to think only about their own wallet. And well, that is why I am writing this disclosure to educate and explain to the public why “fair trade” needs to consider the Westerner when they consider their shopping. I am unapologetic. I also understand many will balk at my pricing, but for those that do, please continue to shop at Target. I am not the right client for you. I am the client for a consumer who wishes to keep it local and will pay a fair trade for my time, effort, expertise, and quality for Colorado winter wearables.

And without further ado, here is my Winter 2010 Colorado collection. Purchase here.

Heathered Brown Wool Fingerless Gloves with cuff

Heathered Brown Wool Fingerless Gloves with cuff measures 10" at forearm, 8" at wrist and is 10" long folded, 13" long unfolded. Made off 100% wool tightly crocheted. Washing instructions included.

Brown Heathered Fingerless Gloves

Brown Heathered Wool Fingerless Gloves 9" at forearm, 8" at wrist, 9" long no cuff

Thick Crochet Long Fingerless Gloves

SOLD!! Thick Crochet Long Fingerless Gloves, made with acrylic and wool blend, extra long. 18" long unfolded and 13.5" long folded. Stretcheds to opera length. 11" at elbow and 9" circum at wrist. Extra warm because you can wear it baggy.

Striped Fingerless Crochet Gloves

Striped Teal and Fuchsia Plum Fingerless Crochet Gloves 9" long cuffed, 12" long uncuffed. 10" circum at forearm, 7" at wrist. Made of StichNation Debbie Stoller Yarn 100% peruvian wool; wash in luke warm water and lay flat to dry.

Vintage Red Fingerless Gloves

SOLD!! Vintage Red Fingerless Gloves, measures 12" long cuffed, and 16" long opera length uncuffed; 10.5" circum at elbow and 8.5" at wrist.

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