Sunday, February 25, 2007

Fair trade, and a knitting update ( finally!)

I think Susan left a comment last time after I'd mentioned PG Tips (as they have free monkeys with boxes of tea at the moment, and yes, I did weaken and get one. So Monkey now has two baby monkeys to cope with.) Something to do with switching to the new blogger, but at the moment I'm not getting any email addresses through with comments (which is what used to happen) so haven't replied to most of them!

Anyway, I thought I'd explain (or try to) what Fair Trade is. Fair Trade means making sure that the producers of goods (tea, coffee, sugar, chocolate, cotton etc etc), often in developing countries, get a fair price paid. A lot of these producers fall victim to low prices and unfair competition (often caused by subsidies in rich countries, like American cotton). You can read more about fair trade here. I think that fair trade is quite "big" in the UK, we have about 2000 certified fair trade goods available here, and it's becoming much easier to get the products at local shops/supermarkets. I suspect the certification process isn't as advanced in other countries. Fairtrade Fortnight starts tomorrow, so it seemed opportune to blog about it! The stuff I buy that's fairly traded tends to be - bananas, sugar, tea, coffee, chocolate, breakfast cereal, jam/marmalade, rice and wine (I'm lucky, as my local shop is a Co-op, which is a strong supporter of Fair Trade as it fits in well with the Co-op's other ethical standpoints.). I'm trying to buy more fairly traded cotton, and I'm attempting to switch to only clothes that are organic cotton (because cotton uses a scary amount of pesticide in production, which is bad news both for cotton producers and the planet). But these are more expensive and, until recently, not available very widely (there are some links to some in my sidebar, under "Ethical Shopping"). It's quite hard to apply this to craft stuff. You can get Fairly Traded yarn, such as the recycled sari silk, or from companies such as Artesano and I would love to be able to switch to organic cotton, but haven't found much available (and much of it is from overseas, which means shipping, which has an environmental impact). I think it's also important to support local, British, producers, and am trying to concentrate more on locally produced yarns, when I do buy yarn (still on a diet!).

Incidentally, did anyone hear the World at One on either Thursday or Friday last week? There was a rather scarey interview with an American woman who'd wanted to recycle her Christmas cards, couldn't find anywhere in the US to do it, and ended up sending them to the Isle of Wight! Surely there must be somewhere in the US that recycles paper and card?!

And onto what I've been up to in the last few weeks...

I bought some fabric remnants from a shop called "Textures" in Penrith last year, and finally got round to making them into covers for the seat pads of my dining room chairs:



Hmm, colours don't come out well at this time of year!

My February skein from the Fyberspates sock club arrived:

and it's a gorgeous mixture of 90% merino and 10% nylon, hand-dyed in Wales (see, local production!)

And I had a bit of a sock disaster with the sideways sock pattern my godmother brought back from Harrogate for me. I did get gauge, and was making the adult size 5-6, but they've come out really tight across the heel and leg and at least an inch too long! They're not really wearable so I had to frog...

and found the Bakerloo pattern on Magknits, which you actually make to fit your foot measurements! = a much happier foot and sock! The yarn is the Austermann step with aloe vera in it.

11 comments:

Amy said...

That Christmas card thing sounds wrong to me. Every year our local newspaper lists different ways to handle unwanted cards. I don't know where she's from, but I don't think she tried very hard!

Nic said...

OOH I have to go and have a look at my sock yarn...it looks loads different to yours. I'll have to take pictures of it. It is a lovely colour though. I have finally finished my fyberspates socks!
I love that sideways sock. Much better than the first one ;o)
Fairtrade fortnight?! That means that we can eat Greens and Blacks and say that we are supporting fairtrade fortnight!! Don't panic everyone, I'm not actually that shallow and also haven't Greens and Blacks been bought out by Cadburys now?

dreamcatcher said...

What a difference in the two socks, the first pattern doesn't seem to have the proportions of a foot calculated too well! The seat covers look great too!

Kat said...

I love the socks. BTW what is frogging?

twigletqueen said...

Oooh, those are very nice socks! I admire you, I don't have the patience to make one pair of socks, let alone rip it all and start all overc again

nanatoo said...

Your seat covers are very nice, as is the lovely Fyberspates yarn. The first sock is surely for a little pixie ;) The other one is lovely though. I knitted a sock this weekend, which is very unusual for me :D

acrylik said...

You're very lucky to have a Co-op nearby, having just spent the weekend at a place where Co-op is the only shop I absolutely loved it - so many delicious and Fair Trade items on offer.

It's very frightening to hear about the woman who sent her cards to the Isle of Wight to be recycled, surely the airmiles involved wiped out the use of recycling anyway?

I just love your seat covers, they are beautiful.

Thanks for the link to the Bakerloo pattern - might just have to try that one!

Sue H said...

Yes, 'twas I who left the comment on your last post. Silly me thought that Fair Trade was the BRAND of tea you drink, hehe. Now I understand much better. It's a pity that Australia hasn't taken up that idea, as they are becoming more aware of that sort of thing, especially now that many of our products are being bought out by overseas companies. As for the Christmas cards, here in Oz, Planet Ark takes them and recycles them. It's advertised each year.
Love the seat covers, such a talented lady.
(qwarkus)

Mary Anne said...

You clever girl, with the chair covers and the sideways socks!

Queen Frogger said...

I love your seat covers! I can't sew but when I see things like that I wish I had the time to try!

Rain said...

I much prefer v.2 of the sock, it shows the yarn off really well. I love the yarn from the sock club, it's stunning.

Thanks for the links for the Fair Trade stuff, I like to get it if I can. Your seat covers look lovely.