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Archived posts from December 2006 to December 2008 are missing their photos. Key posts will be updated as soon as I have time!

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Sunday
Nov232014

New EU VAT law - an important notice

A new law that comes into effect from 1st January 2015 is completely changing the way VAT (value added tax) is charged and collected. It's not quite the same as US sales tax, and it's always been based on where the seller is located, but the biggest change to the new law is that this is all being turned on it's head - from 1st January the VAT rate of where the *customer* is located will be applicable, and this also means that anyone selling to an EU customer will be affected, regardless of whether the seller is in the EU or not.

Currently, this law only applies to digital goods and services - sellers of tangibles are safe for now.

The law was intended to catch mainly large US companies such as Amazon and stop them using loopholes in EU law to pay less tax. The lawmakers believe that micro-businesses selling digital items are protected, as they've written the law in such a way as to ensure that it's the platform or portal that's VAT responsible. Except there's an awful lot of grey areas: they haven't thought about individuals selling without a platform; or platforms that don't or won't fit the new VAT responsible criteria. They've also vastly underestimated how many of us there are. In short, it's a huge flipping mess.

Unlike Sales Tax, VAT has thresholds that are set by each country. In the UK the threshold is something like £81,000 and as I'll never be likely to reach that, there's no need to register for VAT. Which is good, as it's a horribly complicated tax, and would force a price increase, and I'd have to charge VAT on everything which would have consequences elsewhere. The new law essentially removes all thresholds, which in short means that unless we're selling through a VAT responsible platform, we'd be forced to register for VAT, either domestically (and use the new MOSS system to pay the VAT to each country) or in every EU country we sell to. And even if we're selling through a VAT responsible platform the VAT has to be covered somehow, either directly out of our pockets or through a price increase.

And that's a quick summary. It's a lot messier and more complex than this.

And in turn it's meant that I've been spending an awful lot of time trying to work out what I'm going to do, because I really do not wish to register for VAT unless I absolutely have to. I've always wanted to keep business small and manageable (which doesn't mean I don't want to grow my business; it simply means I don't want to "think big") and this feels like a very difficult moral dilemma as well as a financial one.

Here are my plans as they are at the moment (and yeah, it's a long one):

Ravelry
There's been a long, long thread on Ravelry about this, and Casey this morning posted the following response, which is particularly relevant here as most of my sales come from Ravelry, and I use the Ravelry cart on this website:

"Our current best case scenario is: for the first quarter you can continue business as usual selling worldwide without worrying about VAT at no extra cost. Extra setup work would be required and buyers in the EU would have a different experience on Jan 1 that would hopefully improve in the weeks after.

Our current worst case scenario is: for the first quarter, we offer you a way to disable EU sales or put in alternate links for EU buyers. This would a disaster for Ravelers in the EU who buy patterns and is a last resort, avoided at all costs.

You’ll notice both are the 1st quarter only. That’s not ideal but right now, limiting our goal to just trying to make it through Q1 gives us a little more to work with."

The very last thing I want to do is cut off sales to my EU customers - that would be devastating and highly unfair. I'm very much hoping that the first option comes into play, but naturally I do have to warn my EU customers that they will see some changes, and that we're all working to try and ensure that everything runs as smoothly for them as possible. It would be amazing if Casey can implement a system that covers the VAT (thus avoiding VAT registration, by partnering with a VAT responsible set-up such as FastSpring) and allows us to continue to sell to the EU. Fingers crossed!

Naturally what happens to my Ravelry shop also happens to this website - more on that shortly. Except that maybe it doesn't as API is seen differently (as I say, more on that soon).

Etsy
Etsy still haven't issued a statement about what they intend to do. The law does appear to implicate them, especially with their direct checkout and automated delivery, but Etsy has never had any system in place for VAT, let alone be in a position to sort things out quickly. Like many, I'm waiting to see what they say before deciding whether to close my shop there or continue selling.

Craftsy
Craftsy seem to be doing nothing for the digital pattern side of things, and issued a statement early on that said VAT was the designer's responsibility (not sure they've looked into this new law thoroughly - who is VAT responsible in these cases isn't straightforward). I sell very little through Craftsy, a handful a month, and I'll likely close that shop before 1st January. eta/ I've since learnt that Craftsy don't currently provide the pieces of evidence that the new law requires, making it difficult for anyone to sell to the EU through them.

LoveKnitting
LoveKnitting are a large online UK yarn store who have recently moved into selling digital patterns, and they are being fully supportive not only of indie designers, but also on the VAT front, which is such a relief. I'm also really pleased to say that in the first month, the few patterns I'd uploaded have sold well, so I'm working on getting as many patterns uploaded as I can. Not everything is reformatted yet, so I've notched that up a gear or two, too!

PatternFish
PatternFish have also said they'd be VAT responsible, and that's very positive news. My sales through PatternFish have been very low, and in turn I haven't prioritised that venue, but I do plan to get more patterns listed, and get the current listings tidied up with the reformatted patterns, fresh photos, etc. This will all take time as a craptastic internet connection really hinders things, but we'll be back to the UK very shortly and I'll be able to get more of this done in less time and with less frustration.

Magcloud
I'm still working on getting my books back into print, and as they're print, they're not affected by this new law. I was hoping to use the Print+PDF option Magcloud offer but there's been no word yet on how they see the VAT issue, as it would apply to the PDF version. Either way, they are clearly a platform and it should be safe to proceed. I'm also working on print ready patterns, as that would offer an alternative to the digital side of things, and I'll keep you posted.

Print Distribution
This is localised and unaffected - DSF are currently my only distributor and everything there will carry on as normal for the time being.

LYS digital sales (Ravelry In-Store)
This is an odd one, but as the sale of my digital pattern to the shop is a B2B (business to business) the shop will be VAT responsible. Not all shops are VAT registered in the EU (and this won't affect things in the US, as they'll have local sales tax) but either way, it should be the shop's responsibility. 

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And now the pricing issue. *sigh*

I've been stating for quite some time that my pattern prices will have to go up to £3.50 from the new year to cover increased costs in production, support etc and everyone has responded positively to that (thank you!)

In real terms, although I'm aiming to work with platforms that are VAT-responsible, they won't be swallowing the cost of the VAT, only the administration. Figures show that approximately 32% of my customers live in the EU, and with an average rate of 20% VAT, 20p of every pattern sale at that new price of £3.50 will be covering the costs of VAT. In an ideal world, I'd put the price up to £3.75, as I can't afford to cover the increased costs of production AND the added VAT implications, but I kinda feel that jumping to £3.75 so soon with such little warning and when I've been promising a different price isn't fair on you guys.

So.....

As promised, the price of each single pattern will be £3.50 from January 1st.

Also from January 1st, there will be 2 price points for eBooks: £10 (TWT, CWT, PWT, WWT etc) and £12 (Bambeanies, Going Straight)

Then from September 2015 the price of the single patterns may go up to £3.75, depending on how the new VAT law pans out. The eBooks may also go up to £11 and £13.

If the new VAT law changes again (one thing we're all campaigning for is the reintroduction of thresholds, which would mean no VAT for micro-businesses like me. It's unlikely to happen but hey) and/or the costs of VAT really have little effect, then there'll be no need for another price increase. If however the VAT implications are as great as feared, then I'll have a clearer idea by then of whether there needs to be another price increase. (and there's lots of things to take into account, including any loss of sales due to an increase etc...)

How does that sound? It feels like a better compromise; I'd really like feedback here... :)

It's all mighty unfair, huh? But it is what it is.

ps/ if you're on Twitter you can follow the #VATMOSS tag to get an idea of how this law is affecting digital sellers. But do tread carefully; you need to be informed but it'll make your brain hurt.

Tuesday
Nov042014

My new ammonite

Xmas has come early for me this year!

You'll not be surprised to hear that I spent *months* looking online to find just the right pendant. Most ammonites come up a little too small for my liking, yet most of the larger ones I found lacked in the detail and colour department. Then I found this kiddy from this Etsy seller. I didn't buy immediately; a good few weeks were spent pondering, drawing to scale in my notebook, thinking about which way up it should hang (ok, it's no news that I'm a fussy shopper, right?) and eventually emailed to ask if they could remount it for me.

 

 

And it was ready earlier than expected! When I first opened it in my trailer I was a tad disappointed, but I should have realised that this beauty needs good light, and the light in my trailer is dull. Take it outside into the natural light and it gets to shine.

 

 

I love the way it reflects it's surroundings, as the colours adapt to the light. There really is rather a lot of detail in there, eh?

 

 

It's a Madagascan ammonite, and they are known for their beauty (or so I read). It measures 57mm/2.25in in depth, a pretty decent size, and wears perfectly. The mount is sterling silver. The heavy gauge sterling silver snake chain is 16in/40cm and was found earlier in the year, ready to hang just the right piece. They're a good match.

  

 

 

There won't be any other delights at xmas for me. And I'm totally OK with that - who wouldn't be when you have this! 

I haven't taken it off yet :D

Thursday
Oct302014

Appreciating the light

The last few weeks have seen me running around on trains and coaches with my camera. It's been rather fun to try out locations old and new, if a little exhausting. It's also been quite the challenge to be a photographer for someone else, with knitted garments and a stylist and an agenda that isn't mine - all things I could use some practice with.

I can't share any of the photos I've taken for others because they're all still under wraps, but you can be sure I'll be shouting about it when they're published! I can though share the photos I took of my Hats when time permitted.

The first shoot was a last minute arrangement with my step aunt and cousin. I've had photoshoots at CoalHouse Fort before, but that was back when I didn't really now how to deal with light or how to use my camera, really.

 

 

My cousin Lucy has modelled before for me (Rennie) and I was happy she agreed to put herself through it again! Here she's modelling Ridgeway.

 

 

My step aunt, Valentine, has also modelled before (Propello), and not just for me! She was far more comfortable infront of the camera, and between us, we shot through a heck of a lot of Hats. Here she's wearing my bargain of a velvet coat, nabbed for £3 in a charity shop, and modelling Concentricity.

I'm still wading through the mountain of editing for all of these, and quite a few Hats will get updated in the coming weeks.

After CoalHouse Fort, I headed north to the next location - Armley Mills. I've taught here before, during Yorkshire Wool Week with BRE and it's a brilliant place. Except before I didn't get a full sense of the place, and wandering around with my camera bought a fresh perspective. I'm keen to get back again, as the weather wasn't on side, and there's lots more I'd like to capture.

Although the weather didn't oblige, we still achieved a fair bit. This shot probably sums up everything for me, because I am still so very chuffed with it.

 

 

This one has been edited and the pattern updated, and anyone who has purchased Castiel previously will have access to the new version via their download email or Ravelry libraries.

It still looks just as amazing cropped and dropped into the new layout.

 

 

I'm holding onto to this little achievements, they're all good things. I've been plagued with panic attacks again, nightly sometimes, and I'm feeling so incredibly frustrated with myself for not being able to do what I know I'm capable of with my designs or the reformatting or the website building. And, well, feeling frustrated with myself for being weighed down by the depression and all the life hiccups that keep coming our way. It's become very difficult to think straight and problem solve again, and in turn I'm grateful for the different perspective that these photos offer. I can still do something!

I've zero deadlines now, besides the Mystery Hat-a-Long, only targets I set myself. And the lifting of that pressure is quite a relief. I'm floating through now, editing photos and reformatting patterns, and whilst it's not achieving what I want to achieve in terms of designs and construction, it is helping me see all the little things that are going right. 

I kinda came to the conclusion that on the whole, I'm not too bad at this photography malarkey ;)

Wednesday
Oct292014

Countdown to the 2014 MKAL

 

This year's MKAL starts on saturday - are you in?

And this year is a little different... I've listed the MKAL in the Rav In-Store Sales system, so that your local yarn shop can get involved too! I know of quite a few shops who have listed up and have supplies from local dyers coming in especially for this - it's amazing to think that so many folks will be joining in and spreading the fun!

I'm in my usual last few days of panic before it all kicks off - this is absolutely my busiest and maddest time of year, and I do like to be prepared. It also means that I may get behind with my inbox (again) so if you're part of the MKAL, please do remember to post queries on the Ravelry forum rather than emailing or PMing directly :)

3 days to go!

Wednesday
Oct082014

A quick blocking tip

 

These coated splatter guards cost me €1.20 from the local cheap import shop. And they're perfect beret blockers.

I'd not thought of using splatter guards before as they're not something we use in our kitchen (way to much hassle to wash up, if you ask me) but when I saw the new silicone one that my Step Mum had bought recently, I saw their potential.

The silicone ones with a side handle would need the handle taken off with a hack saw, filed and then sealed again to stop the water getting in. The silicone ones though are at least a tenner each, and with all that work, I opted for these cheap coated ones with a centre handle at a fraction of the price! The other benefit of the silicone ones is grip - these coated ones won't help the wet Hat stay on quite as well. But that's OK if you leave it alone whilst it's drying.

They let the air through and allow the Hat to dry without turning, and are perfectly flat - no more plate shaped berets! And the 29cm diameter one is spot on for a standard beret. Bingo!

ps/ yup, that's the beret from my previous post blocking!