Have you purchased a sweater or ball of yarn that says “Made in India” and wondered about the workers behind those products? Of course, for anyone who likes to knit and crochet, the idea of a yarn bank sounds appealing. Should we open a yarn bank in America? Regardless, how life differs for yarn workers in India and how the new yarn bank benefits them (and people in the USA) is fascinating.
In most of the world, knitting and crocheting are a hobby that may result in sales on websites like Etsy. However, in India, the new yarn bank hopes to liberate thousands of non-factory workers that rely on yarn and making products with yarn in order to feed their families. Along with that, yarn sales worldwide have reached a new high according to a 2015 report, and it shows how the yarn bank can be helpful to international yarn producers as well.
The International Textile Manufacturers Federation reports in the “State of Trade Report Q3/2014” that the yarn industry is kind of tumultuous and prices can rise sharply around the world.
A report by Textile World that quotes the yarn trade report says, “On an annual basis, the global yarn production rose and was supported by a strong increase in Asia. In Europe, North and South America, in contrast, yarn output fell year-on-year.”
This kind of fluctuation in prices can be difficult in countries like India where incomes are not as high as they are in Europe or America where some of the yarn is produced. To help yarn workers in India purchase yarn — even when they cannot afford it due to fluctuations in global yarn prices — the yarn bank was formed.
According to a BusinessWorld report, India is doing the right thing by helping yarn-related manufacturing to grow as much as possible. Although manufacturing with large machines is the general focus, increasing all of India’s exports is critical in the next decades — yarn and fabric making included.
For instance, a consulting firm called PwC says, “In India, value-added manufacturing stands at 12 per cent of GDP today. The report shows that value-added manufacturing can grow to 20 per cent by 2024 and to greater than 25 per cent in 2034 if India can step up its manufacturing competitiveness.”
BusinessWorld also reports that the PwC consulting firm hints at products like yarn and says, “India should start exporting finished goods in the short run without neglecting low and medium technology firms in the country. For example, the top two exports from India to China were cotton yarn and iron ore.”
While it may take time to make improvements to all areas of manufacturing in India to make their products more competitive internationally, yarn and fabric producing are being dealt with immediately by the government. The Times of India reports that Surat is India’s largest man-made fabric center, and hundreds of small-scale powerloom weavers needed to have concessional rates applied to the polyester yarn they need to create their products.
For this reason, the Union Ministry of Textiles in India created a yarn bank that will allow workers to purchase yarn that is 50-percent paid for by the Indian government. The Times of India goes on to explain that part of the reason that those who use the yarn had problems making a profit was due to middlemen and price fluctuations. A primary concern is middlemen “hoarding the yarn stocks and engineering artificial price hikes and shortages. Moreover, the yarn banks will allow the weavers to procure yarn on credit and repaying the amount in installments or adjusting against the quantity of yarn bought every month.”
How much does the yarn bank benefit the people that are part of the program? The Times of India interviewed Devesh Patel of the Ved Road Art Silk Small Scale Cooperative Federation Limited about the new yarn bank, and he said, “If this works out then we need not have to depend on the local suppliers and weavers would be getting yarn cheaper by seven to eight percent.”
Ashish Gujarati of Pandesara Weavers’ Federation goes on to tell the Times of India something that should perk the ears of American yarn producers, and says, “[W]e can get yarn samples from around the world and store it. There are several kinds of yarns that are produced across the world which we are yet to know.”
[All images from the referenced links. Feature image by Paula Bronstein via Getty Images.]