Unsettled

logolatest_Layout 1I feel really unsettled this week. Workwise things are going well. I have almost finished two beautiful commissions which will appear in the summer and I’m preparing for Yarn Shop Day on Saturday 3rd May (click here for details and to find out what’s happening in your area). My daughter is about to celebrate her 20th birthday and all is well with the world.

WI wool baby jacketSo, what is it that’s making me so uneasy? Truthfully, I know what’s gnawing away, but I know that however I say this it’s going to sound like a rant.Forgive me, I just need to get this off my chest. I need to know, is it just me?

Look at this little baby cardi, cute isn’t it? I made it to review a new yarn I bought from Hobbycraft. The yarn (or “wool” as my local Hobbycraft are calling it) is a collaboration between the National Federation of Womens Institutes and Hobbycraft. It’s 100% acrylic and was very, very cheap. I (In fact, it was squeeky, rough and began to pill before it was even off the hook).

But, it’s not the fact that it’s acrylic, or that it was poor quality that’s bugging me.

it’s the collaboration between a national chain of craft stores and an organisation which encourages members to support our local high streets – and to support British farmers – that’s what is at the root of my unsettled mind.

I just can’t see how the two things fit together?

Apparently, there is a 100% Shetland wool in the range too, but I haven’t been able to find it. The assistant in my local Hobbycraft hadn’t heard of it and couldn’t offer any ideas when it might be available. They did have plenty of the brightly coloured  “soft and cuddly” and “soft and silky” on the shelves, with the WI logo clearly displayed. According to the Hobbycraft website, the “Unique Shetland Yarn” will retail at £6.95 for a 50g ball, compared with the “premium acrylic” which sells for £3 for a 100g ball.

I can’t help thinking the WI have missed an opportunity here. As a member I know that we’re encouraged to buy local, support British farmers and manufacturers. So, why has the WI launched such a public collaboration with a national chain, whose 79 shops tend to be sited on out of town shopping centres, not on the High Street?

Why couldn’t they work with a British yarn company to sell a yarn that could be distributed through local, independent retailers? And, why does the British yarn in the range have to be so expensive? It simply reinforces the myth that British yarn is “high end”, “luxury” and “out of the reach of normal people”, none of which are true.

I’m flummoxed. Can anyone justify the WI position here or explain to me the benefits for independent retailers the WI says it wants us to support?

If you want to find out what the WI have to say about this new project, you can find the full text of the press release by clicking here.

Read  these words from the WI statement on our high streets:

“SOS For High Streets and Town Centres”

“The NFWI notes with concern the continuing decline of our high streets and the damaging effect this has on local communities. We call on every member of the WI to support their local shops and make the high street their destination of choice for goods and services. We call on decision-makers to work collectively, at all levels, to help bring an end to the decline of our high streets and to ensure that high streets flourish and provide a focal point for local communities.”

Perhaps you can see why I’m unsettled?

The NFWI notes with concern the continuing decline of our high streets and the damaging effect this has on local communities. We call on every member of the WI to support their local shops and make the high street their destination of choice for goods and services. We call on decision-makers to work collectively, at all levels, to help bring an end to the decline of our high streets and to ensure that high streets flourish and provide a focal point for local communities.The face of the high street is in flux. High streets dominated by butchers, bookshops and bakers are no longer the norm, but the WI’s campaign is not about nostalgia. We want to see high streets and town centres that are fit for purpose in the 21st Century and meeting the needs of communities as well as consumers. – See more at: http://www.thewi.org.uk/campaigns/current-campaigns-and-initiatives/sos-for-high-streets#sthash.ZP4H2Iq9.dpuf

The NFWI notes with concern the continuing decline of our high streets and the damaging effect this has on local communities. We call on every member of the WI to support their local shops and make the high street their destination of choice for goods and services. We call on decision-makers to work collectively, at all levels, to help bring an end to the decline of our high streets and to ensure that high streets flourish and provide a focal point for local communities.The face of the high street is in flux. High streets dominated by butchers, bookshops and bakers are no longer the norm, but the WI’s campaign is not about nostalgia. We want to see high streets and town centres that are fit for purpose in the 21st Century and meeting the needs of communities as well as consumers. – See more at: http://www.thewi.org.uk/campaigns/current-campaigns-and-initiatives/sos-for-high-streets#sthash.ZP4H2Iq9.dpuf

The NFWI notes with concern the continuing decline of our high streets and the damaging effect this has on local communities. We call on every member of the WI to support their local shops and make the high street their destination of choice for goods and services. We call on decision-makers to work collectively, at all levels, to help bring an end to the decline of our high streets and to ensure that high streets flourish and provide a focal point for local communities.The face of the high street is in flux. High streets dominated by butchers, bookshops and bakers are no longer the norm, but the WI’s campaign is not about nostalgia. We want to see high streets and town centres that are fit for purpose in the 21st Century and meeting the needs of communities as well as consumers. – See more at: http://www.thewi.org.uk/campaigns/current-campaigns-and-initiatives/sos-for-high-streets#sthash.ZP4H2Iq9.dpuf
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