Sunday, 2 December 2007

Charity & Hand Crafts

Here it is, my inefficient smoothie purchase!

There is no question about it, innocent smoothies are absolutely delicious. However, I do not usually purchase them.

So, sadly, the fact remains that Age Concern would have been better off financially, if I had passed on the smoothie purchase, not knitted my two hats and simply donated its purchase price to them in full.

I am not going to go on about it and I am not trying to make any specific point. It is simply a reminder for me to think things through in future, to make sure that my good intentions, however modest, deliver maximum benefit?

Now that the Big Knit target has been met, I have removed the Innocent Hat-O-Meter and inserted a link direct to Age Concern and the two other UK charities that I try to support, just in case you feel like popping along to see what they do and finding out whether there is anything you would like to do in order to support them.

On an associated note, you know, I was really sorry to read in the comments responding to my earlier post that others have put in serious effort to craft significant pieces for charity that have not realised their full value or covered the cost of the materials taken to produce them - that must have been heartbreaking.

It's natural to expect that the charity would receive more value from your efforts than your individual spend on the project, not the reverse. Or to expect that the value of your donation is equivalent to its known retail value, certainly not less. Otherwise, you could have sold it in the normal way and simply passed the money on?

I wonder why the charity auction attitude has become about snapping up a bargain? I thought that the whole point of a charity auction, was that people attend to overspend ridiculously on things because it is for a good cause?

Is this charity attitude the same towards everything or just handcrafted items?

I am wary of opening up a different can of worms for comment but is it indicative of a wider attitude towards hand crafted items in general? About them being somehow less valuable than 'art' or commercial pieces?

It is not just textiles either. I always watch with interest, people crowded around jewellery display cases in little art galleries. I listen to them cooing over the hand crafted (designer) items, at how lovely and beautiful they are and then losing interest when they see how much they cost, commenting on how ridiculously expensive they are e.g. silver jewellery.

In some respects, it's true. Silver as a base metal, has a limited value and people's expectations of what they will pay for it, has been shaped by the mass produced silver items available on the high street.

When I amble over to look, I look at the pieces, their construction, take off the gallery's mark up and think of the hours it will have taken someone to design, individually saw, solder, file, sand, polish and finish each item (let's forget the whole outlay on specialist workshop space, equipment etc.). When I have thought that through, I review the prices again and, despite being unable to afford them, I often wonder why they are not charging more. Frankly, I wonder how those people can afford to eat.

Not so different from the hand knitted vs commercially shop bought garment argument?


big knit charlotte said...

Hi Gabrielle,

I'm sorry to hear that you have some concerns about the Big Knit. We're always keen to hear from people whatever they think about our activities and if you'd like to have a chat then please feel free to get in touch. My address is
We are always looking for ways to improve the way we do things and it would be great to hear your ideas.

Hope that you have a lovely day,

big knit charlotte.

Gabrielle said...

Happy to email but please rest assured that I have no concerns about The Big Knit at all. In the main, I think that it is great.

It is just that in this specific instance, my charital contribution would have been more beneficial if I had simply donated £1.95 directly to the charity, rather than making two hats and buying 1 smoothie.

It is simply a note to myself to think about what and how I contribute, in order to make the most effective contribution to the cause in question.

If, like Mel, I had knitted more hats (I intended to but didn't manage it), or if I habitually drank smoothies, so it was simply a bonus that some money was going to charity, the economics would have worked out more favourably for Age Concern, is all.