Episode 5: Kenana Knitters

kenana knitters

Hello! It’s been a few months. Like everyone, the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked a little havoc on my life and productivity. But here it is, finally, Episode 5 of The Just Craft. In this episode I speak with Patricia Nightingale and Susan Kimanzi of Kenana Knitters in Njoro, Kenya. We talk about how the business started, the wool economy in Kenya, natural plant dyes, and homemade spinning wheels. Enjoy!

Let’s Talk Tea for a Minute


I get asked all kinds of questions about fair trade certifications and why fair trade sometimes works and sometimes doesn’t. Fair Trade is a complex movement and the term means different things to different people and organizations.

I’ve finally been able to put my finger on it like this: Fair Trade Certified seeks to make systems already in place and based in colonialism and imperialism more fair. So if you see the term “fair trade plantation” or “fair trade factory” you may ask yourself the question, “Can a plantation or factory really be made fair?” Well, I hope so, because there are a lot of people seeking to do it. And I do hold dear the hope that it makes lives better for people working in those conditions, and at least feel reassured that there will be no child labor, slavery, or dangerous working conditions when a product is Fair Trade Certified.

However, Fair Trade Verification, through organizations like Fair Trade Federation,  World Fair Trade Organization, and Fair for Life, is relationship-based fair trade. This means we seek to be partners with small farmers and artisans by providing them with a market and product design and feedback when needed. Organizations and businesses are held to a standard which ensures fair wages, safe working conditions, gender equity, environmental sustainability, no child labor, and more. It is a small way of doing business, but a more fair and sustainable way in my opinion.

What does this have to do with tea? I stopped drinking tea for many years, and I wasn’t really sure why. Then I realized it’s because I made the switch to fair trade teas and I wasn’t really wowed. Unfortunate. So I stopped drinking tea. But a friend has been blogging about her teas and I decided to go back and pick up where I left off with tea. I have always loved Numi teas. They are fair trade (certified not verified) and organic. It’s not the best model of fair trade, but it’s tea I like. My mug, however, is made by fair trade artisans under the model of relationship-based fair trade.

This may be a simplistic view of fair trade models, but sometimes you need that to cut through complexity. As with anything, on the ground, this may look different in different places and with different people. There is no one-size-fits-all definition of fair trade. If you want to learn more, check out the International Fair Trade Charter.

I remembered to read my The Just Craft email this morning, and I had some positive feedback in there from participants and listeners. Thank you! I’m excited about my January podcast idea and hope to have it done before the end of the month! It isn’t about fair trade, per se, but it is all about relationships!

Happy New Year!

I want to thank everyone who took the time to listen to my first attempts at a podcast this year.

My husband Bob has been a great cheerleader, and he is also good at giving me feedback. For example, he told me the audio levels on Episode 2 were inconsistent, and for that I apologize! This is definitely a learning curve for me. I purchased a headset to use when editing and I hope that will help me do a better job with the sound going foreword.

As I look back over 2019, embarking on The Just Craft is one of the things I am most proud of. Thanks for listening, and Happy New Year!

Teaser for Episode 2

I’m at Craftin’ Outlaws interviewing vendors and attendees about craft sourcing for the podcast! I can’t wait to magically edit them all together for you!

In the meantime, if you can’t wait to hear my dulcet tones, you can listen to the Beyond Theory Podcast about Fair Trade Columbus where Bradley and I tag team it on the importance of fair trade.

The Just Craft Episode 1 – #Wovember Welcome

Listen in as Deborah Niemann from The Livestock Conservancy tells us all about the Shave’Em to Save’Em Initiative, and why we should be crafting with heirloom wool.