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Tell a Better Story

This is day 11 in my 31 Days series on sustainable dwelling. For an introduction and more posts, head here!

Locally-inspired scarf - pattern here

I think that one thing that drives my passion for fair trade is that I myself am a maker. As a knitter, I recognize the value of time and practiced skill, as well as the cost of good materials. So I enjoy designing and making things for myself, but I'm also willing to pay an artisan's asking price, because I know that our perception of what things should cost has been skewed by unethical manufacturing that allows for inaccurately low pricing.

Oh, hey! Another Bella Vita bangle!

The uniqueness of locally made goods is another appeal. "Ride Fayetteville" written around the edge of a bicycle tire has a lot of character (and you're much less likely to see someone else wearing one - and if you do, you'll both be excited because you've been in The Mustache, and possibly both given Brian aka Mr Mustache a high five in exchange for a discount, if it was a Friday).

And I can sleep (and relax) with greater comfort knowing that even my jammies can be helping someone somewhere in the world - Punjammies are made by women who have been rescued from the sex trade, giving them new hope and a new job with dignity. There are many organizations like Sudara - inconvenience can't be an excuse for not buying at least some things fair trade (and a lot of them are online - perfect for people who hate shopping!)

Fair Trade Friday earrings again - these are by The Refugee Project. Love them!

So much of our clothing is plastered with logos, slogans, and maker's marks - but since we're advertising anyway, we can choose to raise awareness about causes and companies that are worth supporting, instead of supporting our own sense of self worth based on a brand label. I'm delighted to travel with my collection of travel mugs, emblazoned with local coffee shops, because I'm not only not using a disposable cup, but also creating an opportunity to tell people about Mama Carmen and her Guatemalan orphanage, and the Fayetteville coffee shop she supplies.

Threads for Thought T and cami (the camis double as bras for me - cost less, and it's really hard to even find ethically made bras) - and love, love, love this Mercy House tote!

I have an odd marketing glitch - I just love to promote businesses that I believe in (partly because I can't keep them open alone, so I need others to join in). This has led to interviewing/photographing/posting about local shops (one shop owner was so grateful that he now introduces me to whatever hapless customer happens to be at the shop when I come in as "This is Sarah Jo, she takes great pictures and has an awesome blog and she wrote about us!" It's a little awkward, and I don't feel like my little write up was quite deserving of his level of enthusiasm...) and the composition of an elevator-ride-length speech on each pair of Fair Trade Friday earrings that I have so that I have a ready answer if someone compliments them. I love to "wear the story," knowing that I'm not only telling a better story with my purchase, but also being given the chance to tell that story to people I meet (or to my Instagram followers, who are regularly subjected to unpaid advertising).

My very favorite pair of Fair Trade Friday earrings of the month (so far)

I also love collaborations - whether that be a local business choosing American Apparel or Freeset as their screen printing base, or a more conscious partnership, like Toms' series of Joyn printed shoes, Fair Trade Friday's collection of beautiful handmade items from all over the world.

Aaand, another pair of Fair Trade Friday earrings of the month - best $12 investment ever!

Whatever your style preference or favorite accessory, there's a fair trade or (and) local option!


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31 Days of Unraveling Designs

It's that time of year again... the 31 Days writing challenge starts today! Bloggers from all over will be writing every day of the month of October on the topic of their choosing. This will be my fourth year participating - the first year I did 7 for 31, and spent a month going through Jen Hatmaker's book 7. The second year I did 31 Days of Sustainable Dwelling, and wrote about local and fair trade living. Last year I was busy but still wanted to participate, so I went the easy route with 31 Days of Everyday Beautiful.

This year I'm diving into my greatest passion: knitting! I'll spend this month looking at past designs and talking about the inspiration behind them, so there will be plenty of regular life mixed in with the stitching - and there may be discount codes for the patterns that I write about. You'll just have to read and see!

Pattern index:

Pageturner Mitts
Hogwarts House Tie
Urban Artemis
Graffiti for Humanity
Love Out Loud
Strange Jacket


In order to change your knitting, you must first change yourself. I've lost track of how many times I've said that, or how many people I've said it to. Frustrated new knitters wondering why their work is loose or tight or uneven or really anything less than perfect. But something I love about knitting is that it's a record of your inner dialogue. That swatch knit at the yarn store table with a cozy cup of coffee and a helpful (and more experienced) knitter nearby is going to be a lot more relaxed than the sweater begun a week later while sitting next to a hospital bed - just like the knitter.

Unfortunately, this also applies to my own knitting. For years, I was apparently unaffected by the shifts and turmoils in my own life, so I assumed that I was exempt from the rule - when the reality was, in fact, that I wasn't really experiencing any of those on anything deeper than a surface level because everything was deadened by depression. When I finally started to really…


A few years ago, I was introduced to the concept of replacing the traditional list of resolutions with a single word. It appealed to me - I am not a big list person, but I love language and words and meanings and etymology and metaphor and... ahem. Ennyhoo. I liked the idea.
I've never chosen the word. It's always presented itself to me - and last year was no different. Pacific was very insistent, even though I tried to argue with it. Pacific? What does that even mean? What am I supposed to do with that?
But I accepted it, and I'm glad I did. I learned about depth and calm, about storm and nurture, about faith and adventure - and about the unstoppable ocean of God's grace, that overwhelms to fill and cleanse and bring blessings unasked.
So I'm bidding pacific a very fond farewell, and welcoming spark and whatever lessons it would like to bring. I invited it in with a copper wire punctuated with tiny lights and wrapped around my mood board, and I've got an empt…