1 skein of Sundara Sock Yarn in Roasted Persimmon over Green Papaya, Seasons Sock Club, Autumn, October 2008 shipment: $25.

Average monthly per capita income in Cambodia: $24.16


Ashford Traditional single-drive, lacquered, single-treadle spinning wheel: $535

The gross national income per capita in Benin, 2006: $540

The theme of this year’s Blog Action Day is Poverty. All over the blogosphere, people are writing about poverty and how it relates to their little corner of the world.

I don’t hold a lot of illusions about people stopping their yarn stashing, eating out at restaurants, buying new clothes, going to the movies, or what have you, and donating all that money to charity instead while living a virtuous, ascetic life in the cheapest place they can afford. It’s just not the way things work in this day and age and place, for the vast majority of people. I’m certainly not saintly enough to live that simply. And despite their ideals, people have a strong tendency to want to spend their hard-earned money on fun stuff rather than donating it to someone they don’t know and will never meet.

Knitters, crocheters, spinners, weavers, let me suggest 3 simple actions that will change little about the way you live your happy, well-fed, yarn-filled life from day to day, but will make a difference (be it ever so slight) in fighting global poverty–and without making you feel guilty about spending your money as you please:
1) Download the AidMaker browser plugin and shop online as usual. When you shop from online stores like the Apple Store (or Ultimate Colon Cleanse, apparently!) while using this browser plugin, AGoodCause.com receives a commission, which (aside from operating costs) they then donate to the charity of your choice, at no extra cost to you. Let’s say you go to Amazon and buy Knitted Lace of Estonia or some Cascade 220 yarn–or even an Ashford Kiwi spinning wheel–they’ll donate 3% of your purchase price to the charity of your choice, without you spending an extra dime.
2) When you feel like you need a shopping fix, or decide you could use some retail therapy, consider going to a charity site instead and spending your money on a charitable donation. If you’re a stasher, you can just pretend you bought some yarn and it went straight into the stash, hidden under the bed or in a drawer out of sight somewhere. But instead, you can spend the money on a sheep, llama, or goat from Heifer International, a camel from Mercy Corps, or a loan to a textiles entrepreneur via Kiva.org (at the moment, one of the open loans seeking lenders is for a group of Peruvian weavers trying to start a textiles factory)
3) Or if you feel like you need something tangible as a result of your shopping spree, consider spending money on products that help the economies of developing countries. You could buy some yarns via The Hunger Site–that angora-cotton blend looks especially tempting, doesn’t it? In your LYS, a few yarn brands you can look at include the Snow Leopard Trust, Manos del Uruguay, Malabrigo, Shokay, Lantern Moon, and Mirasol. If you’re feeling indulgent, splurge on some qiviut from the Oomingmak cooperative. If you’re feeling even more indulgent than that, how about some vicuna at $300 per 28.5 grams? According to Peace of Yarn, after maintaining state control and protection of the wild vicuna herds since 1825, the Peruvian government “handed ownership of the animals back to the common villagers of the country, creating a viable and stable source of income for struggling villagers” by sponsoring traditional shearing days called chacus in which the vicunas are trapped using traditional methods, sheared, and released.

So in honor of today, I’m going to go install that plugin, lend some money via Kiva, and ogle qiviut on Ravelry for a while.

P.S. I just bought the Ashford Traditional used on Craigslist and it was actually closer to the GNI per capita of Afghanistan. I’m pretty excited about it–I’ll have enough bobbins to actually do a two-ply without having to wind off into centerpull balls! Lots of ratios! A nice big drive wheel! I can adjust twist and pull separately using the Scotch tension!–though I’m surprisingly feeling sort of anxious and attached about selling my old wheel. It’s prettier, and easier to treadle.

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