Sometime earlier in the year I fancied a trip to Rhinebeck. To not only experience the Sheep & Wool festival, but also to stock up on US indie dyed yarn 'cos it's so ridiculously expensive to ship odd skeins and then pay customs charges on top.

Before I knew it we had a group heading from this side of the Atlantic! And it soon became something bigger than a quick trip...

Carol Feller and I are both sponsoring the Indie Untangled show on the Friday, and I'm preparing marketing materials for indie dyers and knitters who buy indie dyed yarn. This all ties in very nicely with a few plans I've put time into to replace what used to be the print wholesale before I needed to shut down that side of the business. I don't know yet when those materials will be ready, but hopefully before this season is done!

We're arranging a meet up at the main Rhinebeck show for Woolly Wormhead fans and there'll be more about that in the discussion thread in my Ravelry group.

And then last week it occurred to me that I may be able to design a Rhinebeck Hat... 

 
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 ... and there just happened to be a design in my head that needed out onto the needles.

 
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I've been beyond stressed this week and the panic attacks are creeping back, and the black dog is doing it's worst. Knitting this has helped keep me anchored.

 
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and doesn't it create such a beautiful fabric?

 
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The pattern is almost written and ready for editing, and I'm trying to arrange a photoshoot. This isn't something that's gone too smoothly of late but fingers crossed, eh?

The Lateralis collection is now with the graphic designer, and I'm hoping for a cover soon so that I can put it up on pre-release. The single patterns are all done but it won't be ready until layout and final editing is done. I can at least though get the single patterns into your hands as soon as it goes on pre-release - I'll follow up shortly with more info on that. 

 
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I've been thinking about release schedules and how mine is all over the place, because I had a few months forced break earlier in the year. I'm still playing catch-up as we head into the busy season and I know from experience this isn't a good place to be if I want to get the most out of it. Knowing this is what’s behind most of my stress right now - if I can’t produce, I can’t earn.

And the way my business works is that I don’t see the downsides of a problem like two frozen shoulders until the next financial year. When Aran was critically ill and we faced eviction I did very little work for 6 months. The (financial) year this all happened in was fine, pretty normal… but it was the next (financial) year that saw a 25% drop in earnings. And that’s a lot, especially on a relatively low income that the whole family relies upon. And so yeah, that’s what’s eating away at me. Lateralis should have been ready for September 1st but I couldn’t knit and finalise the patterns, so it wasn’t. That then had a knock-on effect for the rest of the team who brilliantly help me produce my eBooks. I’ve missed at least a whole month of earnings on the collection at a time when we could really use it. What I earn between September and January has to keep us going until the following September, and that usually dries up come end of August. Right now, we’re living on our savings, the savings we put aside to pay for pt2 & pt3 of our #brexitscapeplan…. so, yeah.

Anyway. On the upside, Rhinebeck will be fun and Lateralis will be a hit, yes?

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I’ve said previously that we’re trying to work at getting our studio photography perfected so that we can work whatever the weather (usually we’re battling the sunshine, rather than the rain) and slowly but surely, we’re getting there.

For me, the biggest hurdle is lighting. We’re gathering a few lights that pack a lot into a small unit (necessary, given the size of my studio) yet somehow I’m rarely content with the lighting effects we get, even when the various set-ups that Tom puts together work well. I am so much happier working with natural light; I’ll always have a diffuser by my side as the natural light here is invariably too strong, but I loathe using reflectors as they always look so false to me - they make light bounce in ways it wouldn’t necessarily bounce. And if I struggle to use a reflector, you can imagine the state of me trying to give a yay or nay to studio lighting.

Slowly, though, we’re getting there. And the one set up that pleases me is dark and moody (quelle surprise). I don’t even care if there’s a lack of light on the face (I much prefer the presence of shadows to their absence) if the light hits the Hat at the right point. As I’m editing the first photoshoot for the Lateralis collection I can tell you there’s some shots where the face is barely visible but the Hat looks a stunner… shots that many people would say are too dark, and to my mind, that’s the point.

Before the shoot we had Monday afternoon we did a few practice shots with Aran for a future free pattern. When he’s in the mood for getting in front of the camera, he goes for it!

 
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Fun as these are, these shots told us that we needed to change the lighting and make it more dramatic… when Aran wasn’t larking around the regular shots looked too much like school photos and there’s no way I’m putting anything like that out, so more shadows on the face it is then, not less.

I suspect in the long run we’ll be inhibited by the pokiness of my studio (compared to that of a the photography studios we usually get a glimpse of) which in turn inhibits our control of light. I know I’ll also get bored of using the same background too often. But it’s a good exercise, and the next plan is try night photography around the Yard, which, if successful, would mean we may never have to battle the sunlight again.

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead

The weeks all seem to be running into each other here as I try and battle on through all the red tape. I've been locked out of my new PayPal account for over a week, with no access to funds, because they looked at what I took in the first two weeks of moving the business and decided that I needed to prove who I am and where my business is (I earnt too much, basically, for what they perceive as a new business and they want to rule out fraud). Which isn't easy, as they seem to assume that a business address is also a personal residential address, and my Estonian business isn't yet a month old.

Add to that a whole bunch of other things, like being without internet for nearly a week (but now we have broadband!) models falling through (and me desperately trying to find some new and diverse faces), my printed backdrop (and it's reprint) coming through green, not grey, and... well I could go on. I'm really struggling to keep the worst of my depression at bay.

 BUT! I do have now 5 finished Hats, ready for photography. And I can reveal them, and the details of my collaboration with a brilliant dyer.

 
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And here is the first full photo of the Lateralis Hats!

I reknit all of the samples, as I quickly came to the conclusion that one of things niggling me about this collection was the lack of colour cohesion. To mix and match hand dyed yarns from different dyers requires a large pool to pull from, and my work stash isn't big enough (I'm working on that). Whilst talking about colour cohesion with a couple of dyer friends, one said she was wanting to put together a range of tonal DK yarns, and working with me would be the nudge she needed. 

 So at Fibre East this year we talked colour and yarn and colour combinations and decided on a selection of 4 tonals and 3 variegated yarn.

RiverKnits is the dyer I've worked with, and if you're familiar with Becci's yarns you'll see how the new tonals are so her colour palette. She's made a fantastic job of the new DK tonals and I'm more than happy to be showcasing them here. I tend not to accept yarn sponsorship, as my organic process doesn't always lend itself well to commitments or deadlines (nor does my health, for that matter) but having a complete collection of patterns ready, and with obvious benefits for both parties,  this was clearly going to work out well.

 
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Becci is busy preparing the new yarn line, and I'm excited to see more DK available. If you pop to her Instagram feed you'll find more details (and do go and have a good look round if you've not come across her before - her dye studio is a narrowboat). 

This week we're focussing on photoshoots and choosing fonts and style themes for layout. I'll also be doing some last little touches to the patterns, such as matching the colours on the charts to those of the samples, which will add to the cohesion. 

I've been quite anxious about the shoots, seeing as we've only one of the three planned models, and a backdrop that's the wrong colour (it'll work but it'll mean extra editing time, which in turn means more pain for my shoulders). Our one model will be great, I'm sure,  but I'm not sure how well the Hats will suit her. And the face I had envisaged isn't available anymore, which has thrown me completely. I'm really not sure whether this week will be better than the last, but we have at least reached this stage and that's quite something!

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Yup, I'm still here and still buried under admin and edits. I keep thinking that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel then it goes and moves...

This year I've accepted very few collaborations and commissions, yet there are some people I can't say no to! Carol feller's new book, Echoes of Heather and Stone, is now live and available and I've a Hat in the collection, named Trittico.

I wrote a little on Carol's blog about the design, it's inspiration and it's construction. Hint: it's knitted sideways with some unusual means to creating a vertical line! And slipped stitches and grafting. I rather enjoyed this piece as I had the chance to indulge my love of symbolism, which doesn't happen too often these days (unless it's going on my skin). And line - I love bringing line into design, it's so effective on a knitted fabric.

Find the blog post here.

Carol and her handy videocam also caught up with me at Woollinn, and I braved the camera to share about the Hat a little.

 
 

Follow the links above if you'd like to peruse and purchase the collection - I'm in great company and all together, it's a fabulous collection - I've no doubt you'll love it.

Back to my edits and admin I go, and I do believe this time that I've broken the back of it.

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This coming monday we head to Estonia for two nights, to finalise the bank things and hopefully visit a (textile) museum to make the most of the travel costs. I've heard so many good things about Tallinn and I've no doubt it'll take the edge of travel and business anxiety.

Once this is done, the backend business changes will have all fallen into place and I can start the intense process of changing all the prices and currencies. I've already started making subtle little changes to this website - the company name and VAT number have been added, for instance. 

I've got to commend the Estonian system and my new accountants (LeapIn) for making it all so smooth and painless. I keep expecting something to hiccup but it doesn't. It's such a progressive digital system, quite an eye opener compared to what I know of the UK and Italian systems.

Nonetheless, it's a massive change and I'm anxious. I'm joining the numbers of SMEs and micro, nay, nano businesses that are leaving UK shores. My days of paying tax to the UK are numbered and it's both exciting and sad. I doubt I would have done all this if brexit wasn't a thing but it is and as much as we're at risk on the domestic front from the whole shit show, I've begrudgingly grateful for the nudge to make this change. The business will be better off, there's no doubt about that.

I keep bouncing between emotions and the only thing that's keeping me stable is the clear path ahead to do all the things that need doing. Applying for residency in Italy will not be smooth, and I'm expecting to come unstuck some time in October.  In the meantime, I'm coping (just).

Meanwhile, I'm working away on Lateralis, which I expect to be published in October some time. This collection hasn't been as smooth as Elemental in its development but I suspect that that's as much to do with everything else I'm trying to juggle than anything else.

It has though taken a positive turn these last few weeks. I've been chatting with a very talented indie dyer who wanted to sponsor the collection. I'm not normally keen to take yarn from indies but we've agreed on a collaboration that benefits us both in direct and indirect ways. One of the things that's been missing from the Lateralis collection is colour cohesion. And now it will have it. I won't reveal just yet who the dyer is as they've their own schedule to work too, but be assured you will spammed with the details once we're ready to share! 

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The next few weeks will be critical and you'll likely see me disappear from social media even more than usual. It's all fine and good for now, I just need a little breathing space. And possibly numerous massages and umpteen bottles of wine.

 See you on the other side!

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