Knitting, sewing and other skills have long been categorized as women’s work. Usually, if something is deemed “a woman’s job,” my rebellious inclination is to shun it entirely. But what if we look at this a little differently, as something that’s empowering for women. These activities provide a way for us to work creatively with our hands, but also connect us with the generations of artistic, yarn-slinging women who came before us. When clicking two knitting needles together, we can reflect on more than a stitch, bringing art to life while celebrating a creative skill that women have been total masters of for centuries.
WOMEN IN NUMBERS: 27 Percent
For some women, needlework and other tactile skills are simply a hobby, while many others turn their sewing mastery into a career. But regardless of the industry, women still work less in one country in particular: India. According to The Times of India, only 27 percent of working-age women held paid jobs between 2015 and 2016. Of the 144 countries ranked for economic participation and opportunities in the 2015 Global Gender Report, India hits near the bottom of the list, at number 136.
WOMAN TO WATCH: Nicole Snow, Founder and CEO of Darn Good Yarn
Seamstresses and crafters know there are plenty of scraps left over after a finished project. Clothing factories also have this problem, which often results in such scraps being dumped in landfills. One woman solving this problem is Nicole Snow.
Since the creation of her company, Darn Good Yarn—a yarn and fiber importer, wholesaler and retailer—Nicole has salvaged more than 1 million pounds of manufacturing remnant material that would have ended up in landfills and rivers, instead, upcycling it into hand-spun, hand-dyed silk yarn and craft supplies. Not only is she helping the planet, but Nicole is also helping increase the percentage of female artisans in India and Nepal who are paid for their work—to the tune of six to eight times the local average wage. But it isn’t just about being compensated fairly. More than 600 artisans now have safe, sustainable and creative jobs.
It all started when Nicole learned women in Nepal and India have an incredible skill: turning silk sari remnants into one-of-a-kind, stunning yarn. It was the perfect inspiration, and before long, Darn Good Yarn was changing the lives of Indian and Nepalese artisans while also serving the $44 billion craft market by offering lustrous handmade yarns and fabrics to knitters, crocheters and quilters the world over.
Darn Good Yarn now sells lots of vibrant yarns, from handspun to lace to specialty yarns made with fibers like burlap and chiffon, as well as lovely wooden and ceramic bowls to store it all in. If you’re not the crafty type, check out Darn Good Yarn’s other offerings, like light and airy cotton wrap skirts, fleece-lined wool socks, handcrafted jewelry and colorful home goods.
It turns out Nicole’s philosophy of caring about the environment and hardworking people is good for business, as Darn Good Yarn has seen three-year growth that tops 750 percent.
Nicole urges her customers to think about the journey of the yarn as they knit. The yarn travels from a trash pile to a group of empowered women’s skillful hands to your home, making the voyage of the material just as important as the beautiful piece of handcrafted artwork it will become. Now that’s a darn good notion.
QUITE THE QUOTE
Today’s quote comes from former secretary general of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon:
“Saving our planet, lifting people out of poverty, advancing economic growth: These are one and the same fight. We must connect the dots between climate change, water scarcity, energy shortages, global health, food security and women’s empowerment. Solutions to one problem must be solutions for all.”
This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.