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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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The Healthy Elfin


This week we had another appointment with the consultant for Aran, and things are all very positive.

It's almost a year since Aran was hospitalised with bronchial pneumonia and post-streptococcal glomerulonephritis, and whichever bugs were destined to send him into renal failure on New Years Eve were already on their damaging path this time last year. It's been a long and agonising 12 months as we've seen how the most common of chest or throat infections can have worrying effects on already damaged kidneys. We've learnt to monitor and check and wait; we've learnt to just get on and deal with chronic illness, all the time being aware that this could be for life, or it could be not. We've learnt that this has all been down to an over-active immune system, and when the 2nd related condition, henoch schonlein purpura, was diagnosed we mostly gave up asking why, as the more we learnt the less we understood.

Aran's urine results have been clear for two months. He's had the snots and the sniffles and even a touch of what looked like impetigo this season and none of them have resulted in a hospital visit; they've not even registered on the dipsticks. We'll likely never get an all clear, that's not how it seems to work with the kidneys, but nonetheless, these results are the best we could have hoped for. Despite all the relapses and uncertainty, we've made it through and Aran's kidneys are functioning normally. We're back in clinic in 6 months, and if all continues to be well, we'll be discharged to our GP for annual kidney function tests; the consultant thinks it's very unlikely that Aran will develop chronic kidney disease.

To say we're relieved would be an understatement. 

Last year I planned a break over Xmas but that didn't really happen, and this year I didn't want to plan the same incase I jinxed things. And with the EU VAT mess of a law, I can't really have a full break as there's a million and one things to be done before January 1st. But we are going to have a great Xmas with family, see friends, laugh and play, and generally try to make up for all the things we couldn't do last year. (in Aran's case I suspect that means eating all the chocolate and saying hell to the potassium; for me it'll mean having a drink on NYE knowing that we won't be woken by the doctors every two hours)

I'll be around, but I won't be answering non-urgent emails now until the New Year; a bit off time off is long overdue!


Standing on the Outside

I'm sure I've shared this link before, but if I haven't, here it is:

Bill Drummond's 10 Commandments of Art

No.3 particularly resonates with me. But I have a tendency to forget the meaning when I slide down into a blackhole. It's not really surprising, as the nature of the beast with depression means that affirmations get lost amongst the darkness. And so I needed a more prominent reminder. I designed myself a new tattoo.



I wish that when I was younger that I'd learnt how to be confident in myself and that following my own path willingly was the right thing for me to do. But instead I learnt how I didn't fit in, and how there was something wrong with me because of that. I was bullied a lot at school. It's not that I didn't have friends, I did, and I think each of us was an outsider in our own right. But it took me a long time to find people who saw the world in the same way that I did. Or perhaps it took me a long time to accept that there were others who struggled in the same way that I did, albeit with their own, unique reasons. I spent a long time feeling very lonely and I'm a heck of a lot happier for finally buggering off and doing my own thing. But life isn't easy and I still forget sometimes; I find myself getting resentful and angry and then that pain turns inwards.

And so this is my 'get a grip' reminder, right here on the inside of my right wrist. And it makes me smile :)


Introducing Giostra


Giostra is fresh and fun and absolutely perfect cheer-you-up knitting. There's nothing complicated, not even the bobbles, and it knits up very quickly in Aran weight yarn.



The recommended yarn is Lorna's Laces Bullfrogs and Butterflies, which a wonderfully soft yet robust single play yarn that comes in the full range of LL colours. Giostra is absolutely *perfect* for variegated yarns!



The pattern is worked in the round, bottom up, and comes in 4 sizes from 6months through to large adult. The way the pattern is constructed means that the regular jog or join that you see when working garter stitch in the round is all but eliminated. The soft peak at the crown makes for a well fitting and comfortable Hat that avoids the usual beanie constriction.



Besides the fun, playful nature of this design, this Hat makes me smile because it was one of the first Hats I was able to design after falling so deeply into another black hole. I haven't been able to admit to myself yet that I'd had another breakdown and still tend to refer it as a relapse, but whatever it was, this Hat flowed on the needles, and gave me a great deal of reassurance, and satisfaction.

It's a spring Hat in more ways than one - certainly a Hat to lift those wintry blues!


And now to pass on the fun with a give-away!

I've one skein left of this yarn, Lorna's Laces Bullfrogs and Butterflies, in this exact same colourway. One skein will knit you this Hat. To enter into the draw simply leave a comment below in the Comments section (not on FB or Twitter) about what makes the perfect happy Hat for you, and in just over a week's time I'll announce the winner.



Notice - Price Increases from January 1st 2015

As previously discussed on this blog, the price of my patterns and eBooks will increase from 1st January 2015.

The various costs of doing business, from paying my models and editors, to the cost of postage, raw materials and more, have gradually been increasing over the last few years. As has the cost of living, and I can no longer afford to absorb these extra costs.

The price increases will be as follows:

Single patterns will be £3.50/$6 each.

eBooks will have two price points - £10/$17 (WWT, TWT, CWT, PWT etc) and £12/$20 (GS, Bambeanies)

I'm still working out details with the new printer (Magcloud) for the print books, but once the books get back into print, the prices are likely to be as follows:

Printed books - £16/$26 (WWT, TWT, CWT, PWT etc) and £18/$30 (GS, Bambeanies)

You can find details relating to these increases here:

And you can find details relating to the increasing costs of business here:


I would like to reiterate that this price increase is NOT to cover the additional costs that the new EU VAT law will bring. I wrote about this previously, and at this point I am willing to absorb the costs of the VAT (the admin involved will actually cost more than the VAT itself) for the first few months to see how the changes affect things.

You can read more about the new EU VAT law and how I propose to deal with the changes here:


My aim is to continue to provide good value for money, and to maintain the same standard of patterns and books that you've come to expect. Thanks for your understanding and continued support :)


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):

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 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 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 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 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.

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. 


eta/ News just in says that Ravelry will team up with LoveKnitting to manage EU cross border sales!

That's fantastic news for Knit Designers! Having been working with LK for a while now, helping them develop their platform and feeding back on how indie designers work, and I can tell you they're great to work with, very positive and this is a brilliant solution to the #VATmess.

Thank you Ravelry and LoveKnitting!


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.


As promised, the price of each single pattern will be £3.50 from January 1st. (i.e I'll absorb the cost of the VAT)

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.