I was recently asked if I knew anything about the crocheters from Madagascar that help complete the crochet work for designer Sophie Digard. To be honest, I’d never heard of Sophie Digard, but I immediately wanted to learn more.
I’m greatly interested in the topic of Fair Trade crochet and how the artisans who produce crochet items for sale are treated. I did some digging to learn more about Sophie Digard, her designs, and the artisans who produce these items.
I was able to turn up some evidence that the workshop that produces Sophie Digard’s work in Madagascar is likely an example of Fair Trade crochet. I’m excited to share that information and some of her beautiful designs with you.
Who is Sophie Digard?
Sophie Digard is a French designer of knitwear. She has been creating jewelry and clothing since 1999 from fibers that are hand-dyed in France with vegetable-based dyes.
These fibers are then shipped to her workshop in Madagacar, where local artisans use crochet, knitting, and embroidery to hand-make these beautiful and unique pieces.
Sophie’s Crochet Scarves
Sophie Digard is known for her beautiful accessories, including jewelry, handbags, scarves, and dolls. Her scarves are often crafted from delicate, tiny crochet work in lovely earthy tones. Here are a few outstanding examples:
This scarf is made up of many delicate flower shapes in earth tones. I love the scalloped spaces between the finished edge and the flower shapes- that type of open-weave design is something that always says “crochet” for me.
This scarf looks even more delicate. Each flower is lacy, made up of multiple colors, and carefully joined together into this 100% wool scarf.
I learned that one of the reasons that Sophie Digard is popular among a niche group of crochet lovers is that her work is intricate and complicated to do. The amount of work that goes into each piece is apparent when I look at these photos.
Many sources described Digard’s work as time consuming, which is to be expected. After all, crochet must be done by hand. However, these pieces are exceptionally intricate. In an article from Selvedge, I also learned that each piece contains up to 60 threads in order to create the desired color palette.
In my research, I also found that 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:
This brooch features crochet on the stem.
This bag is decorated with crocheted medallions. It is described as a “statement bag,” and I think that’s definitely true, thanks to the texture of the crocheted embellishments.
Sophie Digard also designs dolls, like this linen and wool crochet bear doll. Her dolls follow the same muted, natural color palette as her accessories.
Sophie Digard Pinterest Boards
You can find Sophie Digard on Instagram if you want to see more of her work. There are also several Pinterest boards that crochet lovers have dedicated to her creations.
- 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
Everywhere that you see Sophie’s name, you see her described as French or Parisian. You’ll also see frequent references to her workshop in Madagascar, where her items are made by hand.
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.
Sophie designs the products and they are produced by hundreds of local Malagasy women. Traditional techniques are used and combined with a French aesthetic to make the final products.
Although the article doesn’t say specifically that she offers a fair wage to women artisans in Madagascar, it seems likely. Selvedge confirms that Digard works to fair trade principles and describes Digard’s operation as “a vehicle for social improvement… providing income to her employees while nourishing traditional textile skills.”
I also learned that Sophie Digard is a client of Bosnian Handicrafts, an organization that helps women in Bosnia and Herzegovina earn a living by producing handmade goods for sale.
The goal of Bosnian Handicrafts is to provide women who have survived trauma and hardship with a way to support themselves through their crafts. The women learn to apply their knitting, crocheting, and embroidery skills to create products that appeal to international and domestic markets.
Since Sophie Digard is a client of this company, we can assume that she supports humanitarian work like the work that Bosnian Handicrafts does.
Sophie Digard Inspiration
The complex colors of Sophie Digard’s work are inspired by nature. She spent her childhood traveling with her parents, and she draws inspiration from those worldwide travels as well as from nature.
Her Instagram page features beautiful nature photos sprinkled among her creations, and their influence on her design work is clear. The photo below if lichens on stone, for example, fits perfectly among the ecru accessories posted nearby.
I hope you’ll take some time to check out Sophie Digard’s work. It’s inspiring to see such intricate and delicate work, and it’s especially heartening to know that it was produced under fair trade conditions.