Irish missionary nuns taught women to crochet lace in Andhra Pradesh, South India during the colonial period. It became a thriving cottage industry and eventually container ships of lace left south Indian ports for Europe and other parts of the world.
Our current partners, Surya and Satya of Emmanuel Handicrafts, have worked with village women to give them income for decades. Satya’s mother began this mission and established the first Fair Trade organization of its kind in south India to ensure that the women were being paid fair wages for their lace.
Unfortunately as world markets change, the poor are most often left out of that market. Machine-made lace from China destroyed their industry several years ago when wholesale orders from around the world literally stopped. The financial crisis of 2008 was a final blow, but Surya and Satya continually try to find new products to employ the women’s skills.
Eternal Threads’ first project was Sofi Totes in which village women made plastic tote bags with their crochet skills. They now make many wonderful products that fit into our modern lifestyle like this beautiful silk poncho/shawl, while still honoring a timeless skill. AND, we still sell lace doilies, table cloths and table runners for those who love their Grandmother’s lace!!
Emmanuel Handicrafts has also trained young women in tailoring. Their skills are employed to make some of the quality products we carry made from jute, linen and cotton like this messenger bag with an appliqué crocheted from recycled sarees. A unique way to combine the women’s skills. A women’s cooperative makes the wonderful Kalamkari textiles by hand blocking with wooden stamps.
Part of the reason I started Eternal Threads was my love for quality handmade textiles and an admiration for the women who have mastered their craft even though they live in the most difficult circumstances imaginable. These skills are a lifeline for the poor who have no other means of employment or income…women who were denied the opportunity for an education, but who became proficient in a skill that is valuable.
Eternal Threads is proud to be a member of the Fair Trade Federation and celebrate October as Fair Trade month. Remember that when you buy Fair Trade handmade…you give livelihood and help preserve timeless skills. Some things from the past are worth keeping!!!