|Crocheted top from Anthropologie|
|Socks from Anthropologie|
|Crocheted toys from PetSmart|
|Dress from FreePeople|
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.