Counterfeit Fabric Hurts Textile Industry in Ghana

Photo courtesy of and Chris Matthews.

Photo courtesy of and Chris Matthews.

Nothing is more frustrating as when your work is copied. Even when you are just sitting down and banging out a paper for that 101 that you have to take as a senior because someone did not get their distribution credits out of the way freshman year, it is still frustrating if someone copies your paper. Now imagine you are a traditional textile worker, in a country with a long tradition of beautiful textiles and then all of a sudden the market starts to be flooded by brighter but poor quality cloth from a different country, with your traditional designs on it. You would be frustrated, since what was once a traditional way of making an income is being outsourced. It is not just your livelihood that is being outsourced, it is your heritage.

This is the situation in Ghana. Chinese manufacturers have flooded the market with lower quality counterfeit fabric. This fabric uses lower quality cotton from overseas and traditional designs that were stolen from local manufacturers. It often claims that it is Ghanaian and made in Ghana. Ghanaian wax printed cloth, which is representative in the western mind as 'traditional African dress fabric', is incredibly vibrant and beautiful. In the 1980s and 1990s the Chinese knock offs were easy to spot, however in the last decade the colors and the printing technology has advanced so now the Chinese knock offs are even brighter and more vibrant that cloth that is printed in Ghana. Even the logos and tags assuring authenticity are copied (Yeebo, 2015).

This is a huge problem for the local economy. While the Ghanaian textile industry in the 1990s employed 30,000 people, the industry now only employs 3,000 people (Mathews, 2015). The saving grace for the textile industry is the market for cloth intended for special occasions. Many people will commission special cloth for everything from funerals to casual wear. The ready-to-wear fabric, the 'prêt-à-porter' if you will, of Ghanaian cloth tends to be the more commonly counterfeited fabric. While the textile industry makes up a small portion of the GDP it is still a 150 million dollar industry (Yeebo, 2015).

Things are being done to counteract the counterfeiting. Last year a task force burned tens of thousands dollars worth of counterfeit cloth (Yeebo, 2015) . A locally owned company, GTP, has partnered with mPedigree. mPedigree is a Ghanaian tech company that hopes to help consumers distinguish between the local product and foreign imports. While locally owned companies can not hope to compete with the counterfeit fabrics in term of price, they hope to keep their textile traditions alive through speciality cloths, limited edition runs and educating the consumer on the difference between local products and the imports (Mathews, 2015).

-Aja Ewing


Matthews, C. (2015, September 27). Ghana’s Textile Trade Unravels Due to Cheap Chinese Imports. Retrieved January 3, 2016, from

Yeebo, Y. (2015, May 31). Chinese Counterfeits Leave Ghanaian Textiles Hanging by a Thread. Retrieved January 3, 2016, from

10 Travel Tips for Fiber Artists

The Woven Road

The Woven Road

It is no secret that fiber artists, no matter where we are or what we are doing, will find ourselves fantasizing about our craft.  Inevitably, we're going to find ourselves wishing we had brought a project along with us.  Some projects lend themselves better than others to an "on-the-go" lifestyle.  (Good luck with THIS.)  Here is a list of 10 tips to make your take-along crafting run as smoothly as possible.

1) Plan ahead: Choose a project with a pattern that can be easily memorized.  This way, if you have to put it down at a moment's notice, you won't have too much of a hassle figuring out where you left off.  (I'd also like to note that I almost never follow this advice, and love to bring colorwork with me wherever I go! It is slightly more difficult but I love it too much to leave home without it.)

2) Go Digital: Download your pattern onto your mobile device, just remember to keep your device charged!  Aja recommends keeping a hard copy of your pattern, just in case your device is stolen, or runs out of battery.

3) Designate a bag just for your take-along project:  I don't know about you, but I used to constantly be untangling my yarn from various pens, keychains, gum wrappers, spiral notebooks (now that I write that, I realize I may have a larger problem on my hands...).  Invest in a nice project bag, one that provides all of the organizational pockets you could dream of.  This way, you'll never have to go digging and untangling before you can even start working on your project. (Spoiler alert: The Woven Road will be releasing our own line of project bags next year!)

4) Needle stoppers/point protectors are your friend: Keep your knitting on the needles and your peace of mind.  Check them out here, or some groovy handmade ones here.

5) Knitting needles are indeed TSA approved!: There is always some skepticism and I know many knitters that do not bring their needles in their carry-on just in case.  But they are indeed allowed (even large needles).  I have indeed heard the occasional anecdotal story about some folks getting their needles confiscated, so if you are concerned, choose wooden needles if you can.  I have also seen videos of folks using a drop spindle on an airplane (a bit to the dismay of the person next to them...)!  As long as your needles or roving do not contain more than 3oz of liquid, you'll be alright. ;)

6) Scissors with a blade length of more than 1 inch are not allowed in your carry-on luggage. I do recommend a Clover Yarn Cutter Pendant if you foresee a need to cut your yarn id-flight.

7) If weaving is your, thing: A simple frame loom, or the Woolery's Cricket Loom might be the best options for taking your crafting with you while you are traveling.

8) Ball your yarn ahead of time:  Let's be honest, crafting in public always acquires a few stares.  But you know what acquires stares AND awkwardness? Spreading your legs on public transportation so that you can place your yarn around your knees and wind it into a huge ball.

9) Locate yarn shops and textile museums:  So many places around the world have interesting traditions rooted in textile culture.  Know where you are going? Locate and plan to visit nearby museums.  While traveling in Nepal, my group paid an unexpected visit to a Tibetan refugee community and we were able to watch the women in their weaving, creating carpets to sell to tourists.  Finding things like this is a great way to see how traditional knowledge is being employed to support contemporary communities.  This was also a GREAT place to spend your money, because you are able to directly interact with the community you are supporting.  Here is a beautiful photo gallery of textiles from around the world.

10) Try a new craft in the style or tradition where you are traveling to: how delightful does it sound to plan your next travel adventure will be hopping around the British Isles and Scandinavia, knitting Welsh dragons, fair isle, Norwegian mitten patterns on tiny size zero needles, gazing out over the sheep and the fjords.

11) Sign up for a textile trip: They do exist, and pretty much all over the world. Most popular in Europe, you can sign up for a week of tours, classes, lectures, group craft-ins and more.  One popular fiber festival with a bit of a focus on local tradition is Shetland Wool Week.  What great fun it would be to learn a cool new style of crafting tradition while learning about its history from some of the most famous names in the business!  Iceland and Ireland are popular places for this type of fiber tourism.

On a final note, crafting in public is almost always a great icebreaker.  If you are undecided about whether or not to take your projects with you (whether to a sports match, or to the other side of the globe), we whole-heartedly recommend that you do!

Have any more recommendations? Send us your thoughts and experiences, and we'll be happy to share them!


Episode 1: Introductions

The Woven Road

The Woven Road

Meadow works as an archaeologist in New York, and Aja as a forester/ski instructor in Colorado.  In this episode, we introduce ourselves and the podcast segments you will soon be familiar with.  We will review yarns and patterns and let you know what to expect in the next episode! 

Subscribe on iTunes, or any other podcasting platform! Or head over to our PODCAST page to check out all of the episodes.

Show Notes:
Dainty Bubbles Mittens
Echo Cabled Scarf
Purl SOHO Cable Hand Warmers
Irish Hiking Hat
How to Cable
Knit Picks- Preciosia Tonal
The Verdant Gryphon- Traveller
The Lush Skein


Language Corner: Express Your Fiber Art Frustrations!

Advisory: This post uses some explicit language.

Photo courtesy of

Photo courtesy of

Textile art can be therapeutic, soothing, creative, joyous; all things that make us come back for more and seek solace in during times of laughter or grief. One thing is certain, however, not every project runs as smoothly as we initially imagine it will.

When this happens, we see a darker side of self-expression, one that brings with it a sharp tongue. If you do lose your temper with your knitting, crocheting or weaving, you can now do so while staying within the theme of your pattern.

So we have composed a collection of various verbal expressions in languages associated with textile traditions around the world. This gives you a library of cuss words and phrases, with which you can adequately express your frustrations in the language where your particular textile tradition is from! We hope this will make your "oops!" moments, a bit more bearable!

(Please note that some of these are phonetic transcriptions and are not written in their correct script.)

"Yah khara!" - "You shit!"
"Ya lbn el sharmouta!" - "Son of a bitch!"

 "Nique ce putain de tricot!" - "Fuck this shit knitting!"

"Fjandinn taki þennan andskotans prjónaskap!" - "Fuck this piece of shit knitting!"
"Ertu að fokka í mér?" - "Are you fucking with me?"
"Það er allt í fokki!" - "It is all fucked!"
"Djö fulli vel gert!" - "Fucking well done!"

"Faen ta dette jævla strikke helvete!" - "Fuck this shit knitting!"
"Drit i det." - "Screw that."
"Breiddjame!" - "Son of a whore!"
"Morrapuler!" - "Motherfucker!"

"Joder este mierda tejido de punto!" - "Christ, this shit knitted fabric!"
"Manda huevos..." - "Fucking hell..."
"Me cago en la mierda!" - "I shit on the shit!"

"Fan!" - "Dammnit!"
"Hujeda mig..." - "Dear me..."

"Cachu hwch." - "Pig shit."
"Dim gwerth rhech dafad." - "Not worth a sheeps fart."

Have anything to add? Let us know!

(Thanks to: Haukur, Aymeric, Travis, Håkon, Aja, and Óli!)

Book Review: Folk Mittens

A Review By Aja Ewing

Folk Mittens, Techniques and Patterns for Handknitted Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski

I love a good mitten. As a ski instructor it took me years to find a perfect mitten for being outside in an alpine environment, and sadly while my leather and Gortex mittens work beautifully they lack a certain something.

Ok they lack colorwork and it makes me a bit sad. This is where Folk Mittens, Techniques and Patterns for Handknitted Mittens by Marcia Lewandowski comes in. Folk Mittens has a comprehensive but mercifully brief intro in the beginning where it explains gore types, different techniques and then a handy key for the abbreviations. Lewandowski then goes on to break down the mittens by region; Europe, Asia, North and South America. Each section and subsection has a discussion on the knitting techniques of that region and traditional uses of the mittens (fishing, hunting, formal ect).

The instructions are clear and concise and the color work charts are illustrative without being too crowded. Folk Mittens also has patterns for a wide variety of knitters. The range goes from the Lovikka Mittens, which are just simple single color mittens that you felt the bejesus out of with a embroidered pattern on the cuff, to the most finicky Fair Isle a color work enthusiast could desire.

I highly recommend this pattern book and honestly, I would buy it just for the beautiful pictures of different folk style mittens.

Ode to the Skein Too Beautiful To Use

Ode to the skein too beautiful to use
The one with the gold in the greens and the blues
Its soft gentle fibers tickle my face
I look at the pattern but put it back "just in case!"
In case I find something better! A pattern more fit,
To that heavenly aquatic sunset, also known as 'the shit'.
Yarn wound so straight, hank twisted just-so
That the colors fall inward, they ebb and they flow
From out of the center, and up from the sea
Like an oceanic nebula, spun only for me.
No, this hat pattern just will not do
I'll need to make something special from you.
And so it continues, for those gold, greens and blues,
Enchanting that skein too beautiful to use.

-Meadow Sunshine