My Mom got retired two years ago. I was trying to figure out a way to fulfill her retiring life. She is introverted and careful and I know she is fond of knitting. As I was talking about it with my American friend Mary, she suggested that I should set up a small business for my Mom’s handmade scarves.
There you go. I created a website for Mom’s handmade scarves. Mary told me that westerners value handmade goods as they are unique which stands for individualism.
Two winter seasons have passed since Mom got retired. The scarf business is getting better as the reputation goes up. Though the number of customers is growing, Mom still prefers to give them away as gifts. Every time my expats friends receive the customized scarves from Mom, they all feel excited and keep complimenting on Mom’s wonderful skills.
As a matter of fact, knitting has had a long history in Shanghai. Shanghainese are particular about clothing. We like to dress nice and decent. While dozens years ago, material was in short supply and the income was limited. People had to make full use of the material to be a decent dresser. Shanghainese know how to spend money carefully and wisely that’s why knitting was very popular at that time.
Mom recalled that Shanghainese family used to have a couple of needles for knitting at home. Grandma used to knit clothes for Mom and Mom made sweaters for me when I was little. I still remember my blue sweater with delicate pattern. A lot of people asked me where I bought this sweater.
However, the popularity of knitting was fading away in 1980s. Being tired of the time-consuming and complicated knitting, people began to chase after machine-made products. Mom said there was a period of time where people enjoyed showing off the machine-made sweaters they purchased.
Today, 30 years later, knitting becomes fashionable again. Handmade could be very expensive especially in western counties where people value handwork and individualism. Machine-made things are almost the same while handmade can embody the personality. Every single scarf that Mom made is different. She likes to make them based on customer’s personality, appearance and height. She once embroidered a girl’s first name on the corner of the scarf which was a big surprise to her.
Our main customers are foreigners, while Shanghainese young people begin to enjoy knitting as well. My friend Toni, the famous scarf girl in our circle shared she is very excited about the different style she creates and she sees knitting a good way to prevent her from sitting in front of computer all the time. “As the life speed keeps going up，it’s good to slow down once in a while,” she added. Another friend Sara once came to my Mom because she wanted to knit a scarf for her boyfriend as a gift. It took her a year to finish the knitting but it was a great experience and her boyfriend said it was the most wonderful gift he ever had.
Another reason why people appreciate knitting is that it’s also environmental friendly. It can be taken apart and knitted again. As Mom described, “sometime when a new idea pops up, I would just take apart the old scarf I don’t fancy anymore and make a new one.” Recycling and repeated use fit the concept of low carbon. Nowadays we are calling for environmental protection and I feel that more and more of us are actually taking it into effective.
Mom has an extra income thanks to handmade scarves. It makes her busy and colors her life. I take Mom with me when we meet the customers. She feels so rewarding when she sees the happy looks on their faces.