Today is the International Workers Day and in Norway, and it is still a public holiday. I am enjoying the day knitting socks! As working conditions in my part of the world are pretty much regulated by law the day might have lost some of it’s significant.
However, the tragedy in Bangladesh last week just reminded me that I am a lucky one. Many of the women and men working in the collapsed building were making clothes, probably for the European or the North American markets.
Often when I buy clothes I hope that the people that make them can earn a descent living from their work. I have found it is very hard to get any information about workers conditions when I buy clothes form big chain stores and high street stores. Like most people I end up buying my cloths where they have things I like at a reasonable price – and I try not to think too hard about who made them, under what conditions and how much are they paid.
Now hand knitting and home sewing is not like that. I have pretty good control over the working conditions! The sofa, a movie and maybe a bit of chocolate…
I think about these issues because I am in the clothing business myself some how – and I have had all my professional life in politics. Designing knitting patterns for garments I must pay close attention to the fashion trends. I am also quite interested in the wool industry, and as for ready-to-wear clothes, I like to know that the wool I use comes form happy sheep and had been processed by people that get a decent salary for their work.
One of the things that makes me feel it is worth while to design knitting patterns is that I assist others in making their own garments. I know there is not an over production as most people are knitting what they will wear them self and give as gifts. I have been known to “mass produce” when I fall in love with a design! Many knitters share a photo of their finished product with me and tell me how proud they are of their work. That makes me proud too. I know they will treat their garment well and look after it so it last a long time. It will not be treated the way many treats cheap clothes; wear them a season and throw them away…because they were so cheap. If you have that tendency I would recommend you to donate your clothes to a charity or a thrift shop. That way they get a second chance.
I am in serious danger of getting too serious here! I really hope the woman or man who made my favourite pair of trousers I am wearing today can feel a bit proud of what they are doing, and I will treat the trousers as if I knew the ones who made them!