Friday, January 13, 2012

Who Is Making All Those Crocheted Items?

Have you noticed how many big name companies are carrying crocheted items?
Crocheted top from Anthropologie
Socks from Anthropologie
Crocheted toys from PetSmart
Dress from FreePeople
This is not a new trend; I know that as far back as the 90's, Walmart and other department stores were carrying crocheted doilies, tablecloths and even bedspreads and some clothing. I loved looking at all these things, and I still do, but I have the same question now that I did back then:
Who is making  all of these items?
Once at a convention this subject came up, and a woman I didn't know said, "They are made in third world countries, by poor women, and prisoners who are too weak to do other labor." Someone else said, "Oh, no, all of that stuff is made by machines," and the conversation turned to whether or not there is a machine that can make crochet. (There isn't; there is one that does a type of open-weave knitting that is called 'crochet' but no machine can do the loop-into-loop movement that it takes for true crocheting.)
Anyway, I wanted to ask the woman more about her 'third world countries' comment, but I could never locate her again. I don't know if she had first hand information on the subject or not, but I would love to find out.
I feel torn on this subject. On one hand, if the people (probably women) who are making all of these things are being paid fairly for their time and talent, I want to support them. I have made my living from crochet for the last 30 years, and I want to help others who are trying to do the same. On the other hand, if the crocheters are working 2 weeks on a dress and being paid only 2 dollars for it, I cannot in good conscience support it.
Most of us who have tried to sell our crocheted items know it is difficult to make a profit. People are just not willing to pay for all the time it takes to make a doily, afghan or toy. Now, just imagine all the people an item has to go through to get it into a big, nation-wide retailer, with each person along the way wanting to make a profit from it. Even though some of the dresses and other items are rather pricey, I wonder just how much  the person who actually crocheted it makes?
There are some 'fair trade' companies who do pay the crocheters a fair wage for their work, but  these are few and far between. I am afraid that most of the folks who are doing the crocheting are being exploited, and that breaks my heart.
If you have any information on where any of the crocheted items that the big retailers are selling are made, I would love to hear from you.


Anonymous said...

I have been making doilies for over 40 years. Some I sell on Ebay & some I give as gifts. I know how hard it is to make any profit. I believe that 3rd world countries are the source of these retail items. I do not buy these items as I can make them myself.....
I would like to know where they actually do come from.
Have a great day!!

Chain Stitch Crochet said...

Kathryn from CrochetConcupiscence was just talking about that the other day. I tried to find the post I read where she was talking about it to leave for you to read but couldn't find it. Why do they call it crochet, when it's actually not true crochet? Because it looks like it?

Ann said...

Yes, Mr. Lick Lick, it is the same reason they sell things that are knitted and call them crocheted; because they know crochet is popular and a lot of people can't tell the difference.
I try to read Kathryn's blog whenever I can; she has so much wonderful information!

Ana Luisa said...

I, too, believe that a lot of these crocheted and knitted items are being nade in the poorer countries. Just read the labels.

Anonymous said... was just one place where I found something that looks like it could be a "professional manufacturer of crochet products." Their contact information is in China. I'm sure that the women who are making these items are not paid what they are worth but at least they are providing something for their families. It makes me sad because I know what goes into making anything crocheted.

byhooks4u said...

I too crochet doilies, give them away, sell them on etsy and it is hard. There are people who only want to make the sale. I use only what I consider to be the best of threads,my patterns are paid for (will not use copies or give copies away)and spend a great deal of time creating heirloom quality doilies. I am proud of the doilies I make. I will not purchase something from a shop or someone who doesn't think much of their own product to charge a fair price. If you value the product you make then let the price reflect the quality of the workmanship. If you are only trying to get the sale by undercutting the next guy, shame on you..Sorry for the rant..but I am sure there are others that ask how can they sale it for that? It doesn't hardly cover the cost of the yarn or thread. Just my opinion.

crochethuahua said...

It seems to me they are made in poor countries. If you'll notice the patterns are easy ones to work up fast. I feel sorry for those ladies.
I don't understand how some women can undercut you by charging 99 cents for a doily on eBay. It makes people think that's all doilies are worth.
Why do some people buy crocheted items from a store when they can buy better quality things from us?

crochethuahua said...

I just saw a crocheted top in Harper's Bazaar and they wanted a fortune for it and it was made of one of the most basic stitches.