Sunday, May 20, 2012

2012 Update: Falling Star booklet from de Pamiri Handicrafts

In July/September of 2010, I blogged about a booklet produced by de Pamiri handicrafts in Tajikistan.  The booklet is called "Falling Star" and contains a collection of images of traditional motifs used in the making of crotcheted colourwork socks made in the Pamirs.  The booklet contains some charts, but they are photos of hand-drawn charts rather than the polished charts that western crafters are used to seeing in their glossy magazines and reference books.  The booklet is also written entirely in Russian.

I have two friends on Ravelry (one from Germany and one from Russia) who have also gone through the process of trying to purchase this booklet online, and both of them experienced serious difficulties with making payments.  In addition, my friend from Russia has now been waiting months to receive the booklet she paid for.  This causes me a great deal of anguish as I was the one who blogged about the booklet in the first place.

From what I am hearing, it also transpires that the price of the booklet has now been jacked up to the equivalent of about $US35, when it was originally about $US15 when I bought it in 2010.  It is, of course a freemarket world these days, and de Pamiri is fully entitled to charge whatever the hell they please for this booklet, but crafters in the west can take it or leave it.  In my opinion, this booklet is not worth $US35.  Yes, it contains photos of motifs that people in the west have probably never seen, but it is too poorly produced and laid out to warrent a $35 pricetag.  For $35, I as a consumer, would expect a book (not a booklet) of at least 100 pages with computer-generated charts, and detailed text in English, including instructions on how Pamiri socks are traditionally made.

It pains me to have to write this post, but I am going to say that I would now discourage people from trying to get hold of this booklet via mail order online. 

Unless you go to Tajikistan for a holiday, and can walk into de Pamiri's shop to hand your money over the counter to buy the booklet, think twice about going to the trouble of buying it.  The online buying process is not a simple PayPal transaction with someone in the USA or the UK where you are relatively assured of getting your parcel in the post within a couple of weeks.

Personally, it took me 8 weeks of emailing with de Pamiri to get what I wanted, and 4 weeks to get the parcel (and I was fully prepared to wait for that to be longer since I had heard that mail going out of Tajikistan into Europe can be hit and miss).  My local bank here in The Swamp freaked out about de Pamiri's bank payment/routing process, so in the end I paid them with Western Union, and that (luckily) worked out for me.  But I didn't have to pay $35 plus postage, so I had less to lose.  My friends also had difficulties with the payment process.  In one case, de Pamiri insinuated that one of my Ravelry friends was lying about having paid for the book, when in actuality they had failed to properly read my friend's email bank payment slip.

Overall, the mail order process for purchasing this little booklet is very antiquated and can get quite stressful, so if you are not prepared to be overcharged, and to go through hellish uncertainty about receiving this booklet by mail, don't even attempt the transaction.

You have all been forewarned.


Darryl said...

How disappointing! Thanks for the update, it makes me glad that I never got around to trying to order it.

I absolutely love your blog.

The swamp knitter said...

Hi Darryl,

Yes it's disappointing that the buying process is so difficult and frustrating. :-( I know that the mail is beyond their control, but to accuse someone of not paying when they DID pay, is just not on. And the price-gouging is also not pretty.

Glad you like the blog though and sorry that I don't blog very much.