Of clumsiness, Sock Club, VAT, yarn festival and stash management

This blog post should have been written and posted last night. However, my clumsiness and myself have spilled a full cup of coffee over the keyboard of my (up and running) laptop yesterday evening. Intense cleaning, drying of said laptop (and of the living room) ensued. A lot of stress too, as I was not sure whether it would still work after that. This is when you start wondering if the regular back-up actually works as it should… Update this morning: laptop generally works, apart from a few keys on the laptop that don’t respond anymore. Next on my to-do list for today: go and buy an external keyboard because somehow some keys are very useful (directional arrows, number three is entirely gone from both numerical pad and numbers at the top, exclamation mark, etc.) and looking for them each time in the “special characters” map is not the most practical thing to do.


(Please go brew a large pot of tea  — I’m a little cross at coffee for now, see above –, pour yourself a large cup, make yourself comfortable, this is going to be a long post filled with lots of information. Some funny, some not that funny, some useful (hopefully), and some teasing too.)


January? What’s that?

First I would like to apologize for not having been much online, and not on the blog at all for over a full month. Please, be kind to me, January was not the best month ever. We had planned a very long and exhausting road-trip to France (I wouldn’t dare to call that “holidays”), and it was even more exhausting than we had expected. At this point, we know that we won’t do that again… Two weeks after being back home, we are just about recuperating. Exhaustion meant that we also caught all the winter bugs one after the other. Don’t feel sorry for us, we are well and there are lots of more unlucky people than us. I just wanted to let you know that, no, I hadn’t forgotten about the blog!


All Aboard…

January had started very well, though. January 2nd, a very very very nervous me pressed the “Send” button on an email containing the first of the British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club pattern to the lovely people who kindly joined the club. I was even more nervous because the design was a “daring” one, with a very unusual construction. Cuff-down? Toe-up? No… these socks started at the back of the heel!

(Apologies to those of you who did join the club and/or follow the Ravelry group, as this is “old stuff” to you. You may want to skip a couple paragraphs.)

Inspired by the British inventions of the steam locomotive and the railway system, the January socks feature an unusual construction: from the heel, down the foot, then back up the leg! Joy did a fantastic job at dyeing these, in a lovely grey/blue which seems to change colour depending on the light, and which she aptly named “Moving Forward”.

All Aboard - Drawing ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

All Aboard – Inspiration Drawing
©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

Can you see a sock? That’s how the January sock appeared in my mind…

Let’s get on tracks! All aboard!!! Puff-Puff-Puff…

All Aboard - Puff Puff Puff... ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

All Aboard – Puff Puff Puff… ©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

Yes! There is a track train running all around your heel, passing by the coal pit on the instep, and going straight to the buffers at the station. And puffing smoke going up the leg. I had fun creating this design, and I am delighted with the warm welcome that it has received. At this point, at least four club members have already finished their pair of socks. I love seeing the finished socks choo-choo-ing to the station. Thank you to all of you who share updates, photos, comments on your project pages and/or in The Auld Woolly Alliance group on Ravelry. It is really very lovely.

All Aboard - Puff Puff Puff  ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

All Aboard – Puff Puff Puff
©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015


British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club - eBook Cover  ©Aurelie Colas - 2014-2015

British Scientists and Inventors Sock Club – eBook Cover
©Aurelie Colas – 2014-2015

And since I am writing about the Sock Club… I would like to share this little eBook cover that I created for the Sock Club on Ravelry (any geeks out there? 😛 )

While I write these words, the sign-ups for March are probably about to close on The Knitting Goddess website. I am so behind that I didn’t get to write a post in time to remind you of it. I am really sorry. To those who were a little on the fence as to whether to join or not, I wanted to say that not all socks will feature an unusual construction, but I will always try to add a little unique-ness to the design. The unique construction of the All Aboard socks all happened because I really really wanted the train tracks to travel all around the heel! I can already tell you that the March design is not about train tracks 🙂

I also got some questions about whether or not the club designs will be released independently and/or in an ebook after the exclusivity period is over. Yes, I will put together an eBook with all patterns in the club. As they become available to non-club members, I will put the single patterns for sale independently. I will also create an ebook that you can buy early on, and to which the designs will be added when the 3-month club exclusivity elapses. So, in April when the January pattern can be released to non-club members, one will be able to buy the All Aboard socks on their own, or the eBook which, at this point will only contain the January socks. Note that you will then know what the March socks are, but these will be added to the non-club ebook in June, etc. Any question, please ask away.


Have you heard of the new EU VAT rules?

I will spare you personal ideas about the EU and their regulations, and you may know about all the VAT issue already, but for those of you who don’t, I thought you ought to know about the new EU VAT rules, and that they are (sadly) affecting micro businesses like ours.

A lot of talented people out there have written excellent posts about it, and you can find more information for instance on these blogs / websites (among many others ):

Over the last few weeks of December 2014, Ravelry and LoveKnitting (a large online UK yarn store who have recently moved into selling digital patterns) have paired up to make this new regulation a little less painful for knitting designers like us. You can read more about this here on Ravelry.

For the moment, Janice and I have both decided to join the Ravelry+LoveKnitting option. What it means practically is that all EU-based customers (except UK-based) will be routed through LoveKnitting when purchasing patterns from our stores. As defined now, the new EU law excludes any threshold which was protecting micro-businesses like ours. It means that, unfortunately, EU-based customers (except UK-based) will also have to pay local VAT on their knitting pattern purchase.

Please rest assured that I will look into any sustainable solution that provides the same price for all customers. In the meantime, I hope this situation won’t deter you from supporting us, and all other independent designers in the same situation.

Important note: the Ravelry+LoveKnitting option does not currently support eBooks, and may also cause issues upon releases of new designs, as it can take a while for patterns to appear on the LoveKnitting website. This is far from ideal, and I hope it gets resolved soon. In the meantime, please contact me via pm on Ravelry or email should you be in the EU (non-UK based) and wish to purchase an eBook from my store for instance.



Back to more cheerful things… Edinburgh Yarn Festival: are you going?

… Because we are!

The Edinburgh Yarn Festival will be held on Saturday and Sunday 14-15 March in the Edinburgh Corn Exchange. Janice and I will be attending both days, and at this point, have booked our accommodation and transport! We are so organised, it’s almost scary.

Are any of you going too? Would you like to meet up? We will be arriving on Friday night, and I will have Little Miss with me. Both Janice and I will be attending a class, and we are very much looking forward to them. I will be attending the much in-demand workshop by Ysolda Teague on garment fitting on Sunday morning. And Janice is looking forward to trying knitting with a knitting belt in the workshop held by the famous Hazel Tindall from Shetland. I told you we were organised!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival -- We're going!

Edinburgh Yarn Festival — We’re going!


Use your Stash…. Ready, Set, Bingo!

Speaking about organisation, I guess I should tell you a little about my new plan with regards to tackling (part of my rather large) yarn stash. I am not calling it a New Year resolution, because it’s the best way for me to bet set for failure…

It all started in a group on Ravelry where I feel quite at home: the Stash and Burn Listeners group. A couple years ago, the Use It or Lose It challenge (UILI) was launched to help us yarn addicts enthusiasts reconsider some items in our stash. The challenge has evolved over time, and as our yarn buying habits or relationship to our stash changed. Not long ago, a few of us UILI-ers were discussing what to do for this year. I suggested using a Bingo card, and making our own challenges from there.

The idea has grown from there, and UILI 2015 will be Bingo-card based. No hard rules. Anyone can make their own card and their own challenges should they wish to. I have put together a Bingo card that I plan on using for February (this is the link to the Word doc), and may tweak it for subsequent months. Would you like to join in? You don’t have to use the exact same card, you can change a few things, modify a category, make yourself a joker/wild card, etc. Make the challenge your own, give yourself a goal for this month, or for this quarter, etc.


No hard rules like I said. At this point there are no prizes, except if you want to treat yourself: for instance, treat yourself to a new pattern or some fine chocolate if you manage a Bingo, indulge on a project bag if you fill in the card, or tick all cells in a colour, etc… Be creative! Make it yours!

Want to play along? Have any questions? Ask away, either here in a comment, or even better: in The Auld Woolly Alliance group!

Note: This is not to say that I am not going to buy yarn. No. It is about appreciating what I have in my cupboard(s) too!


Phew, that was a long post… Thanks for reading this far.

Now, let’s forget about January. I declare February 1st the new start of 2015. Happy Redefined Year to you all.


Woolly yours,
Clumsy-Aurelie / spinnygonzalez

This entry was posted in Community, Design, Edinburgh Yarn Festival, General, Knit-Along, Knitting, Sock Club, Socks, The Auld Woolly Alliance Group and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Of clumsiness, Sock Club, VAT, yarn festival and stash management

  1. Deb says:

    I just wanted to mention something about the VAT situation. Here in Canada we have GST (similar to VAT).We used to live in the UK so we have dealt with both GST and VAT. Here when you price a product the GST is added on after the price. So a ball of yarn would be $5, that is what is on the price tag, and then GST is added on at the checkout along with shipping, etc.. I only mention this as you could employ this strategy , keep your pricing the same, and your customers see any increase to what they pay as government inflicted. The customer won’t blame you for the increase.

    From what I remember VAT is pretty hefty and last time we were on the UK it wasnt broken out differently on a receipt; if that has changed please just ignore this whole long winded comment.

    Long term, getting a movement going to display on the receipt the tax the consumer is paying is huge. We actually had the government reduce out GST a few years ago. Showing the tax lets the government take the blame for the higher prices.

    Anyways I just thought I would mention it as it might keep you more competitive.

    • spinnygonzalez says:

      Thank you for your input, Deb.
      As far as I know, the price shown to the customer should be inclusive of VAT. The price on Ravelry is VAT exclusive, since we don’t need to collect VAT on digital sales to UK and rest of the world. The way it works with the LoveKnitting option is that we set the price excluding VAT to LK, and they add the relevant VAT based on the IP address of the customer. As you say, VAT is pretty hefty in most EU countries: 20% in the UK for instance.

      As for VAT displayed on receipt: I am pretty sure VAT can be seen on most receipts if not all. But of course, it’s the small prints, and most people only check the big number at the bottom: what they have to pay.

      I so wish there was some consistency in terms of thresholds, rates, etc.

      • Deb says:

        Quick question, right now in the UK, when you buy yarn in a bricks and mortar shop, is the VAT included in the price on the price tag and then just separated out on the receipt?

      • spinnygonzalez says:

        Hmmm good question. I’ve just had a good rummage in my purse, but can’t seem to find a receipt. Hopefully other people could chime in and let you know. Or I’ll have to volunteer and go to the yarn shop… you know, for science.

      • knotrune says:

        I don’t usually examine my receipts, but I would be massively annoyed for the price tags to not include VAT, so you think you’re paying one thing and then get 20% extra when you get to the checkout. And not everyone is good at even adding up their purchases, let alone adding 20% to that 🙂
        I’m annoyed enough that ‘they’ see fit to tax my purchase of epatterns, I don’t really want to be constantly reminded of it, I think I’d rather just see the total I have to pay so I can decide if I want to buy it for that price.

      • spinnygonzalez says:

        The price tag definitely always has VAT included. The question was whether the breakdown was indicated on the receipt, so that the customers knows that 20% are actually taxes, and that what’s left is what really goes to the shop. Because on the other hand, it would not be quite right to think that yarn shops / designers / younameit make a fortune because of the price they sell such and such, when you think that suddenly they get to add 20% to their price, or deduct 20% of it to give to the government/Europe. Sadly, I think there is no answer at the moment… except perhaps moving to Greece with Margaret 😉

  2. Susan says:

    haha, Yeah off you go…to the yarn store ‘for science’? Joking aside, those Weasels never think of anyone aside from BIG business. Makes me mad.

    • spinnygonzalez says:

      Oh yes, don’t get me started on that… But yeah, I’m always happy to help expend the scientific knowledge. Yup.

  3. Margaret says:

    VAT here is 23% so we are even worse off. But we have just had a change of government so maybe we will be leaving the EU …

    • spinnygonzalez says:

      Yes, it must be an interesting time where you are. The good side of leaving the EU would be that you would not be routed to LoveKnitting for patterns, and will get them VAT-free 🙂

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