It’s Never Too Late To Have a Happy New Year

At least, that’s my operating strategy going forward, as we kiss January good-bye and usher in that short but unpredictable month of February. So far 2011 is shaping up to be an interesting year. In order of magnitude, let me share the following:

1)  Brave New Knits has gone into a third printing, only five months since its original publication at the end of August, 2010. I had the fantastic honor of doing author signings at both TNNA in Long Beach, CA and at VK Live in NYC; it was so amazing to hear how many knitters keep BNK on their bedside tables to read those designer interviews as much as to drool over the patterns.

2)  Including the holidays, I’ve been stuck and/or stranded in at least two blizzards. Can’t remember the last time I had so much fun in inclement weather.

These experiences made me realize that I should just shut up about my less-than-favorite aspects of living in California, because absolutely no one back east feels the least bit sorry for me; in fact, they undoubtedly view me as the thin-blooded sissy Californian I have become.

3)  I’ve been working on projects both secret and not-so-secret, including the Sabine cardigan which I made for my daughter:

4)  I learned that I have a gluten sensitivity (but not celiac disease, for which I am grateful), and have embarked on a strictly gluten-free diet. One of my two New Year’s resolutions is to explore the GF lifestyle and make sure that everything I eat is as delicious as anything wheat-based would be.

It’s a whole new world out there. So far, I’ve discovered some great GF blogs and websites, and made my first batch of GF biscotti – they are so delicious that I had to stick a packed baggie of them in the freezer to keep myself from snacking on them all day.

What is my other New Year’s resolution, you ask? And if you know me, you’re likely aware that I am not a resolution-making kind of person, so this is rather aberrant behavior for me. And I usually stay away from political commentary on this blog. However, I feel strongly enough about the subject to do this:

5)  In 2011, I will not buy a single item for my own use that was made in China.

Here’s a challenge: go take a look in your closet. If it looks anything like mine, somewhere between 50 and 95 % of what you own and wear was made in China. It occurred to me that as a consumer, I have supported the Chinese economy very generously for many years. I decided that it’s about time I searched for ways to support my own country’s economic efforts more conscientiously.

If you, like me, shop the sales at stores like J. Crew and Banana Republic (and sister stores Gap and Old Navy), not to mention Target and large department stores – pretty much all mainstream clothing purveyors – then most of what you buy was made in China. All those great sweaters from Anthropologie that we scoop up in order to figure out how to knit them for ourselves? Made in China. Next to nothing in those stores is made in the U.S. Sure, you’ll find a few things manufactured in India, Vietnam, and Mexico, but for the most part they come from China. No wonder that country pretty much owns us.

I won’t even start on home electronics, small appliances, and toys.

Part of my goal is to identify manufacturers, designers, and purveyors of stuff made right here in the U.S. The good news is that most of the yarn I buy is U.S.-grown and dyed. Obviously, there are tremendous resources right on the internet. And our good friend Etsy will undoubtedly fill many a need. But please feel free to share resources, since I am a newbie here. Reading labels is just the beginning…

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  1. You have a wonderful blog and even more wonderful knits – I don’t often read blogs, lacking enough time for all the good things out there, but I stumbled on yours today. Beautiful! Please accept my thanks for sharing them, sharing your design process ideas and your designs in book format and pictures. Exceptional knitting is your main point and I respect that.

    Since you here also tread into other contentious waters… I am offering a further thought. Perhaps your switch to non-Chinese made goods is primarily a patriotic gesture but there is also a wage fairness issue. There’s plenty to read on what an item “should” cost in order to provide a fair price to producers of raw materials and for what is the largest portion of most goods’ price, a fair wage to workers. In the case of clothing, our acquisition oriented society has driven prices lower and lower at the expense of garment workers, whether Chinese (mostly) or American.

    How many of the things we purchase are cheaper than they were ten years ago? Yes, electronics but that’s because of better technology; beyond that what stands out to me is flimsy plastic junk and clothing. In both cases the demand (largely from the US) has resulted in stuff that we buy (largely from international companies, manufactured in China) and either soon send to the landfill or stuff into closets. Most of that is made by Chinese workers earning pennies a day.

    So I agree with your choice but for a somewhat different reason. And for me, along with that choice, comes a recognition that some things should cost more in the kind of world that I want to live in.

  2. In complete agreement on the “no China” shopping regimen. I started this last year and plan to continue. I also plan to try even harder to purchase US-made items. As you said, I figure I’ve supported Chinese economy plenty enough, so I want to spread the love to others. 🙂

  3. Happy New Year, Julie! And a big congratulations on the third printing of BNK! That is just awesome. Your goal of not buying items made in China is a great idea and made me realize that half of the baby stuff I’ve bought is from there. I’ll be paying more attention to that from now on.

  4. I am so excited to see a Kindle version of this book – so I can load it right on to my ipad! Perfect – and quite a selling point!

  5. Happy New Year! I’m one of the folks who’s got this wonderful book. I bought it while I still had it out from the library, I loved it that much.

  6. I’m so with you on the ‘no China’ thing. I’ve been doing this with the shoes for the past 2 years and it is going great. I buy quality products lately and they last so much longer. As I’m in Europe, I shop with hessnatur (they have an online shop for the us market as well) a lot. They produce in Africa and India as well, but they pay their workers properly and produce environmentally friendly. Other shops that I know of are not present in the US, so I’m of no help to you. I’ll be interested to hear how this goes. Please do post what you find out.

Comments welcome