Recently blog commenter Janice Davey asked me if I knew anything about the crocheters from Madagascar that help complete the crochet work for Sophie Digard. To be honest, I’d never heard of Sophie Digard, but I immediately wondered if it was related to Fair Trade Crochet, a topic that interests me greatly. There isn’t a whole lot of information about this out there but I was able to turn up some evidence that this is likely the case with the Madagascar Workshop that Sophie runs.
Who is Sophie Digard?
Selvedge, which sells some of Sophie’s products, has a great description about the designer:
“French designer Sophie Digard creates artworks that beg to be touched – curious crocheted flowers velvety with soft buds, each leaf and petal knitted individually. Alongside her super sweet roses are beautifully crafted jewellery, scarves and berets in intricately patterned stripes and swirls, reminiscent of a painting by Klimt. Her extensive colour palette – each hue is made up of sixty threads in merino, mohair, and velvet – gives rich, intense individual tones and makes each item unrepeatable.”
Sophie came out with her first collection in 1999 and since then has done work not only in accessories but also in baby items and interior design.
Sophie’s Crochet Scarves
What Sophie Digard is known for is her beautiful crochet scarves. Here are a few outstanding examples:
(The first two are sold on French Needle; the last is a detail of a crochet scarf sold on Selvedge)
I learned that one of the reasons that Sophie is popular among a niche group of crochet lovers is that her work is intricate and complicated to do. Now I kept reading that over and over but I didn’t think much of it. Most of the sites I read said something about how her work was time-consuming but I was writing that off as something people say because crochet must be done by hand. But then I realized that the description by Selvedge about says “each hue is made up of sixty threads” … so she’s working with sixty different threads to create the palettes that she’s choosing. Now that’s tough!
In my research I also found out a lot of care goes into both creating and packaging her work. Sophie uses natural materials including rustic linen and merino wool. She uses a natural vegetable dyeing process that can take weeks per item.
Other Sophie Digard Crochet
Although Sophie is known for her great crochet scarves, she also has some other great crochet designs:
You can see a roundup of Sophie Digard crochet purses at L’uccello
This is part of a raffia crochet collection called Corinne Sans-Arcidet headed up by Sophie Digard
This brooch is part of a Sophie Digard roundup over at This Sydney Life
Sophie Digard Pinterest Boards
I haven’t been able to find a website for Sophie Digard nor to locate her on any of the major social networks. However, several Pinterest crochet lovers have created boards specifically to share her work. Here are a few:
- Every Sophie Thing by Janice Davey, the one who introduced me to Sophie Digard
- Sophie Digard Crochet by @CrochetAttic
- Sophie Digard collection by @SweetandsimpleS (Marijke Bongers)
- Julie Gatchell’s Sophie Digard favorites
- Sophie Digard by @alicebyday
Sophie Digard, Madagascar and Fair Trade Crochet
So everywhere that you see Sophie’s name, you see her described as French or Parisian. But Janice had mentioned that she had crocheters working in Madagascar so I did some digging. I saw a few random references. For example, The French Needle Blog mentions “a bevy of women in Madagascar who crochet like fairies” in a post about Sophie. I got a little bit more information from Le Style Et La Matiere, which says about a line of interior design products Sophie had created that “the entire collection is handmade in Sophie’s workshop in Madagascar.” I didn’t think I was going to find out any more.
But then I came across this DNC article that shared a little bit more. It explains that Sophie has been living in Madagascar with her family for more than half a dozen years, leaving two of her sisters in France to run the operations there. It says, “it is from there she designs and manufactures her products, having set a unique production scheme involving hundreds of local women.” It notes that traditional techniques are used and combined with a French aesthetic to make the final products. So although it doesn’t say that specifically that she offers a fair wage to women artisans in Madagascar, it seems likely that this is a fair trade artisan crochet situation. Another article goes so far as to say, “This approach helps a thousand artisans in Madagascar live.” I don’t know if that’s the true extent of the operation or not but it gives more credence to the fair trade theory.
And then, I finally found an article that pretty much confirms it … The Schwab Foundation has an online PDF about their 2009 Outstanding Social Entrepreneurs. In it they mention Bosnian Handicrafts, an organization that helps women in Bosnia and Herzegovina earn a living by producing handmade goods for sale. Here’s how The Schwab Foundation describes it:
“Bosnian Handicrafts provides women who have experienced extreme trauma and hardship with an opportunity to support themselves financially while nurturing their own cultural traditions. The women learn to apply their knitting, crocheting and embroidery skills to create products that appeal to international and domestic markets.”
So you’re thinking, “well that’s great but what does it have to do with Sophie Digard?” Well it mentions just in passing that Sophie Digard is a client of the company, which clearly shows that she supports the idea of humanitarian craft work like this.
You can see Sophie Digard’s crochet creations featured on the characters in the 2009 movie Bright Star.