Thursday, 27 November 2008
We visited a popular dressmaker in the back lanes of Shaoxing. These women work under appalling conditions compared to what we know. The little shop was a wreck and in Australia would have been condemned.
The walls and ceiling were pitted with holes - a huge slab of the ceiling had previously fallen, and from the outside it looked pretty daggy. The lady was the sweetest lady and she had a small dog NiNi which greeted us with tail wagging.
Inside all neatly stacked were an assortment of fabrics. The summer fabrics were no longer visible and the winter ones were piled neatly - great bolts of fabric. This is the fabric city - so they always have plenty to choose from. I had a t-shirt made at another dressmaker in Shaoxing, but the lady in the lane charges 50% less - so I thought I'd get two "for the price of one" with her.
Mind you, I'll need a tour guide to get back there again, but we will wait and see. Several of us use the same dressmakers now.
We went back into the city via some extra ordinary laneways. It is incredible to see how resourceful the wonderful Chinese people are. Little stores or stalls in all sorts of nooks and crannies. Obviously they must do well - and some which would only be known to locals and the few strangers who accidentally discover these places. There were open air fruit markets, barrows with nuts - walnuts are in season, piles of sweet potato, and much much more. It is impossible to record all the things we see.
We accidentally came across a shop that sells woollen garments - jumpers, cardigans, - in fact any woollen item could be found here. Sitting on little stools on the footpath of the shop were ladies knitting children's jumpers, and inside we discovered we could have a jumper made to fit. Sounds good to me - with my long arms I usually find my jumpers a bit on the short side. The cost of a cashmere jumper is around 900 Yuan (divide roughly by 5 to calculate the Aussie dollar value - so less than $A200.) They had piles of pattern books and fashion magazines, so you can choose your style.
We didn't order - we just kept walking. Our great find for the day was a shop that sold exquisite Chinese 2009 Calendars. Wonderful.