I am one tapestry needle away from finishing off my fourth hat for an Israeli soldier. I forgot to pop my sewing needle tube into my knitting bag this morning, so the last six stitches are waiting on the DPNs. It's the first hat I've made with the Bendigo 12-ply and it's come out nicely, although quite heavy. I'd probably recommend making the hats with the 8-ply in the future.
I've had a crazy idea of putting together hat making kits and selling them on a not-for-profit basis for charity knitting. I now know why retailers are so attracted by Made in China products. It would cost me at least $15-$20 to buy a new 4mm circular needle and set of DPNs in Australia - a price I am willing to pay for an individual item for me, but which is unaffordable on a mass scale. I can get 20 such sets from China, including postage, for just over $60. They wouldn't be the best in the world, but they would do an acceptable job, and would enable me to put together a kit with instructions, needles and enough pure Australian wool to knit two charity hats for well under $20.
Do I want to do this? Even if I had the time to market the kits to schools and social groups, I fear I would be going down a slippery slope in the guise of a good cause. I try and avoid buying cheaply-made products for myself, particularly from countries with a poor record in regards to the treatment of local workers (although avoiding all Made in China products is virtually impossible these days). Even though I would be using locally produced wool, how ethical would such kits be?
I realise that these are the dilemmas every local business and probably most charities have to consider. I work for a not-for-profit organisation that like everywhere else is under financial stress but so far, at least, is committed to upholding the ILO conventions in regards to employment standards.
Maybe I'll just concentrate on my own charity knitting and and non-knitting paid work, and let some other knitter with more free time consider the hat knitting kit idea.