From Sketch to Scarf - The Fair Trade Cycle

Fair Trade, ethically made products have interesting journeys from the sketch pad to the customer. Let's  delve into the intricacies of the journey of our Fair Trade handwoven scarves.

ethically sourced gray and white scarf

the sketch pad……...

Fundamental to new handwoven scarves is drafting the design while bearing in mind the primitive tools that will be used in weaving but also considering the global market. Size of scarf and weaving pattern must be thought out before patterns are drawn because of the limitations of the backstrap loom. Then patterns are drawn of the scarf along with detailed instructions for the new design. Samples of yarn color are attached to the instructions to make sure just the right shades are used.


discussion with the artisan producers…….

A meeting then takes place with the artisans to go over the instructions, designs and costs. Through discussions with the artisans on the hours involved for weaving, the cost of yarns, etc., the price they will be paid for the work on these scarves is decided upon. The artisans typically set  the price  for their work during this meeting.  

sample time……..

If the weaving design is unique or involves a totally new technique we ask the artisans to weave a sample so that any needed  adjustments can be made to the design before the order is placed.  

the order…...

After all corrections and adjustments are finished an order is written up and  given to artisans for the scarves along with advance payment for materials.  Advance payment is a must for the artisans and they are given as much as they need to be able to purchase the needed yarn and materials. Yarn is purchased locally after they have calculated the amount needed for the entire order.

Chuchi Weavers is the group of women that hand weave many of the scarves for
Education And More using their traditional method of weaving on a backstrap
loom. It is very important to us to respect the Mayan culture and many of the
products are designed to take advantage of their skills, especially the backstrap
loom, which has been used by Mayan women for centuries.
backstrap weavers Guatemala


the work begins………

The artisan group purchases the yarn and the work begins on the order.  First the yarn is readied by winding it onto the warping board in the exact pattern needed for our scarf design. The warped yarns are then carefully transferred to the backstrap loom and the weaving begins.  Because a backstrap loom is portable the women can roll it up and lay it aside when they have work to do in the home.  Most artisans do not need to leave home but are able to work at their looms in their home while caring for their families. This is very important for the ladies!

labeling and packaging……….

When the scarves are finished they checked for quality, labeled and packaged for shipment. Products that are imported into the United States have stringent labeling requirements that must be followed.

paid immediately…...

The artisan group receives payment for their work when the order is finished and ready to ship. This is very important to the groups because they depend on their income for basic necessities.  At times a group will need money in advance of this for emergency expenses and will be given interest free advances on their income.  


The scarves are now ready to be taken to the shipping company to be shipped to the States. A customs broker is hired in the United States to handle the complicated paperwork of importing.

final steps of the journey…………

After arrival at our offices in the U.S. they are checked once again. They are folded, hang tags attached and are now ready for orders through the website or at Fair Trade sales around the country.  Each new design, color or product is also made ready to be professionally photographed.

As you can see Fair Trade scarves have quite a journey before reaching you! Learn more about the work involved during the weaving process.

The fair income that the artisans receive for their work in weaving scarves is life changing for them and their families.

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