So it seems I’ve got lots to say but nothing at all, at the same time. Sitting here at this PC is not getting any easier, especially as I’m now withdrawing from the amitriptyline (and yes, I did taper off, over months, but I’ve come to understand that this is the norm for this medication.). The pain is now more noticeable but it’s manageable with the TENS machine and CBD oil is helping with the anxiety and panic attacks. And although I’m now getting more than 3hrs sleep a night I’m not getting the 9hrs or so that I need. But I am coming out the other side, slowly.

All that said, I’ve just ordered something that should make blogging that much easier. I manage so much more of my business on my phone than I ever thought I would, and I finally decided to prioritise that. Like a huge percentage of people I don’t have a phone to make phone calls. I loathe using the phone. And to everyone who says “what do you want a phone for then?” I’ll say it’s my portable camera. My networking device. My eBook reader. My calendar and organiser. My way to interact on social media. It is so, so many things beyond a phone.

Realising this, I figured I should upgrade. So I did.

Previously when I’ve needed a new phone I’ve gone for 2nd-hand most of the time, until recently. My last phone was bought new, as the previous phone decided to play up when I was on a teaching tour and needed a phone sharpish. The previous phone was also bought new, and I only bought that because I was heading off on a photoshoot and my previous phone had died. And each time I’ve bought new I’ve purchased something that hits the budget in the least possible way. Possibly ‘cos they were bought on the quick in emergency situations (where there’s little time to weigh up the specs and benefits) but also because I’ve never valued my phone as an integral part of business, and refused to spend much on one. After all, besides these mentioned purchases I’ve survived forever on 2nd-hand phones.

Now that I’m waged, I don’t see the purchase of a higher end phone as coming directly out of my pocket. Instead of seeing it as competition for food on the table, I can see it as an investment. Which is weird, but also progress. I’ve always tried to buy the best tech I can afford - laptop, PC, camera - but somehow I’d never thought to do the same with my phone. I don’t like to be replacing tech every couple of years; it’s an incredible waste on precious resources, not to mention a waste of money. So where I can, I buy thinking forward and get something that’s future proof. And also on sale! It’s paid off - my laptop is 8 years old and although it’s no longer my primary machine, it’s still a working beast. My camera is almost 4 years old and we’ve no need to replace it any time soon. I can see a pattern over the years, demonstrating how my business has grown, which is reflected through what I could afford to buy. For someone who started with a donated laptop and an old digital point and shoot, that’s been quite the journey.

And so I’m waiting for my new phone to arrive. And I’m ever so excited.

Instead of buying a digital notebook and a new, more powerful tablet and instead of buying a video recorder I’ve bought something that does all of these things in one device. It’ll also let me have a virtual desktop. I’ll be able to use it for power-points or slideshows when I’m teaching. In fact it has so many features that I need and could use to improve how I work that it didn’t take me any time at all to reach my decision.

I’ve bought a Galaxy Note 9 and despite everything I’ve written here, I still yelp a little at the cost. Even with the VAT off. But it’s going to be so worth it.

I’m feeling incredibly grateful and fortunate to be in a position to buy a phone like this outright. As I said, I started with nothing and have slowly moved forward, with careful saving and conscious purchases. So it might have taken 14 years to reach this point, but this point I have reached.

This wasn’t what I came here to say but I’ve blogged and I seem to have released some of the word tangle!

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesIndie Biz

2018 was a busy year, despite almost 4 months off with my two frozen shoulders. A lot of those patterns were already done and dusted before my left shoulder almost froze solid, and I’m mighty grateful to my past self for being that organised!

 
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11 self published single patterns - Filigree Slouch, Ponderosa, Pebbles (which comes in Beanie and Slouch flavours), Laccio, Rhinebeck Hat, Lifted (MKAL), Juxta, Misura, Shuttered and Wrapped (which had never been available as a single pattern before).

Filigree Beanie is missing from this collage as it had been previously published as a single, even though it was unavailable for a number of years. So I guess that’s technically 12 patterns?

 
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7 free patterns were also published! I started publishing the free patterns exclusively via The Woolly Hat Society and I reckon that’s worked really well, I’ve certainly enjoyed it. I intend to pick it up again once the season starts dying down (late February time?) They’re all available on the Free Patterns page as downloads now, so head over there to find them.

 
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And of course, the Lateralis collection.

This one is still kinda tangled for me, personally. Mostly because it’s a project that had been in the planning stages forever. I’d calculated the construction and maths a long time ago, years, but by the time I was ready to pick it up my shoulders were at their worst and I couldn’t knit. It ended up being released late which had quite the knock on effect on sales, marketing and general reception which added to the tangle.

That aside, I got to work with RiverKnits which was a great experience and I’m really happy with how the Hats turned out. I’m disappointed that they haven’t had their moment and I’m thinking about rephotographing them… this was the first time we’d really focused on a studio shoot, and we learnt an awful lot, but I miss the atmosphere of my natural light shots. The way the environment adds to the mood and story of the photos. We couldn’t manage an outdoor shoot when we took these as it was completely the wrong time of year (another consequence of late production, thank you shoulders) and I can’t help but feel that a re-shoot might give these some extra oomph? I’m probably just making more work for myself but I can’t help being me…

 
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The last pattern published in 2018 is Trittico, which is in Carol feller’s Echoes of Heather and Stone book. A fun sideways design that allowed me to indulge my love of symbolism, and a design that was also done and dusted before shoulder issues fully kicked in.

That all adds up to 25 patterns, which isn’t bad considering the year it was!

I’ve lots planned for this coming year and 2019 already feels off to a better start than 2018. I’ve more time, I can knit and work without too much pain, and ideas are a plenty.

2018 is also the year that big big changes were made backend. Moving the business to Estonia was a huge moving that I just went ahead and did, and that hindsight tells me was bigger than i expected to be. I’ve learnt a lot, and I’ve started writing a lot of it down as so many people have asked me about it. It is without a doubt one of the best things I’ve ever done. The business is now safe out of the UK and away from Brexit; the business is healthier and I have wage slips.

And I think the biz move is in part why this financial year won’t take a hit. I know from experience that whenever life gets in the way, turnover drops. For instance turnover went down 25% the year after Aran was critically ill and we faced eviction. It’s always the financial year after the life event that’s affected, and almost 4 months off with these shoulders earlier in the year would mean this season is when we’d be feeling it. An extra productive 2017 combined with the new accountancy system has helped keep us afloat. I’m not expecting to see much growth on last year but I’m not expecting to see a drop, either. Growth has been the norm for every year except the years where life has got in the way big style, so I’m happy to be keeping afloat. Who knows, the financial year or season isn’t over yet, but traditionally everything starts tailing off pretty quickly after January, so this is when I need to go for the last final push. We shall see.

So that’s my round-up for 2018! Thank you for your continued support and let’s see if 2019 can be better than 2018? Can’t be hard, right?

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AuthorWoolly Wormhead

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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AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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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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AuthorWoolly Wormhead
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That's a pretty self-explanatory title!

Finishing up the Lateralis collection before photoshoot and layout, and making all the big changes to the business are consuming every part of me. We fly to Estonia 13th to 15th August to finalise the very last few things and then it's all systems go on the business changes front.

From 16th August, Kat and I will be making the necessary changes, and that includes the changes in price and currency as well as adding VAT numbers and so on. Knowing that's just around the corner I figured I'd given everyone a chance to buy ePatterns and eBooks at current prices, with a sweetener thrown in.

 
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This offer went exclusive to The Woolly Hat Society a week ago, and now I'm able to share it here - feel free to spread this far and wide!

Here's a reminder of those price and currency changes that will come into effect from August 16th:

ePatterns
€5.50 : $7 : £4.75 (currently €5.50 : $6 : £3.75)

eBooks
<4 patterns: €12 : $14 : £11
<10 patterns: €14 : $17 : £13
10 patterns: €16 : $20 : £14
>10 patterns: €20 : $24 : £18 

Posted
AuthorWoolly Wormhead
CategoriesIndie Biz