Hi all! According to The Inverse Law of Blogging (that I just made up), the busier you are making things, the less you blog about them. Sure, the reverse isn't always true, but, phew. I've been making Christmas gifts left and right, developing new items for the shop, sewing pajamas, and knitting a super cozy cabled sweater for myself. I finished the back of the sweater yesterday and Christmas gifts are almost finished. Pajamas are hard to photograph, because I love them and I wear them, so they're always rumpled and unphotographable, and also because -- call me old fashioned -- it's awkward to take pictures of myself in pajamas for the internet. And in between knitting and sewing, I've been reading a lot.
There has been a lot written lately about the horrible conditions in garment factories in the developing world. One great thing about sewing your own clothes is that you remove yourself, at least partially, from part of that nasty chain. We still buy fabric that's no doubt part of it, and I hope that fabric companies step up to the plate and source responsibly and transparently. But the fact is that most of the fabric I buy is probably part of the problem, and that's something I'd like to learn more about in the coming year. I avoid clothes from Forever 21 and its ilk for the reason that these artificially cheap prices come directly out of the skin of people -- many of whom are women -- on the other side globe. Places where value is extracted from vulnerable segments of society through oppression or outright slavery. This isn't women working together in this proud, post-feminist march to equality and fulfillment -- it's saving a few bucks to enrich the people who run the show at the direct expense of these workers. And ignoring it, or minimizing it, makes me complicit, too. Shouldn't I think about my fabric purchases in the same way? Is that even possible?
So in the meantime, here's some interesting reading. These reporters talk to the people on the ground, allowing the voices of those closest to the means of production to have a voice, and not just to the people in the PR office or the C-suite. Both micro and macro matter, especially when the system thrives on the total, abject silence of those at the bottom.
Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt, NPR. The Planet Money team set out not just to make a t-shirt, but to follow its creation from seed to finished product. It's brilliant and a must-watch/read/listen.
I Tried to See Where My T-Shirt Was Made, and the Factory Sent Thugs After Me, Mother Jones. A reporter talks to women and girls working in Tamil Nadu, India. Who are they, what are the conditions, what's going on? (Mother Jones has a whole "Made In Hell" series, too, but the other articles are still in my Instapaper queue...)
I Got Hired at a Bangladeshi Sweatshop. Meet My 9-Year-Old Boss, The Star. She gets up close and personal with a factory in Bangladesh. First in a series.
Read anything good lately, heavy or otherwise? I'm late to the Divergent party, but I'm halfway through and it's crazy good. And I'm already overthinking my reading list for holiday travel. Look on the bright side, right?