If you’re on Twitter, or if you participate in some of the designer and shopkeeper forums on Ravelry, you might have encountered references to something going on in the EU: VATMOSS.
At first blush it seems like a dull business detail, something of concern only to those in the EU. Sadly, it’s not. The impact is large and broad-reaching.
(Note that I’m not a tax expert; this is designed to be a high-level summary only. I strongly recommend doing more research if you are selling patterns.)
VAT is the European sales tax (effectively).
It used to be that sellers based in Europe would charge VAT according to the rules and regulations for their own country, no matter the location of the purchaser. If a knitter based in the US bought a pattern from a designer in the UK, the designer would charge according to the UK VAT rules. And, most designers wouldn’t even have to worry about VAT, as there is a threshold of £81,000 (approx. USD$127,000). If you sell less than that value of products in a year, then no VAT needs to be collected or reported.
Two changes go into effect January 1st 2015.
1) Sellers will have to charge VAT based on the location of the purchaser.
2) The threshold has been removed for sellers of digital products. (For example, knitting patterns, books and software.)
Here’s what the means: Anyone selling digital products into Europe now has to be able to identify the location of the purchase to charge appropriate VAT on that. A US-based purchaser doesn’t have to pay anything; a purchaser in the UK pays according to UK law; a purchaser in Germany pays according to German law; a purchaser in France pays according to French law, and so forth.
And this applies to sellers outside the EU, too. So even though I’m in Canada I’m still affected by this law. And even if I only sell a single pattern to a knitter in any EU country, I’m still responsible and liable for the VAT collection and payment.
This increases the complexity of selling online enormously: a seller now has to be able to identify where the purchaser is, and has to be up to date with the regulations in the country where the purchaser it based, and has to report and file taxes in all countries they have sold to. And it’s not just an accounting problem: the laws around data storage are onerous.
Designers both in and outside the EU are worried about this. See this flowchart published by UK tax agency HMRC that lays it out, very simply.
But knitters should be worried, too. Since these regulations are complex and costly to implement and manage, many designers feel that their only choice is to stop selling online. If they do keep selling online, you’re likely to see prices go up to reflect that they now have to charge VAT, and to help them cover the overhead of managing these new rules.
Note that online pattern store Patternfish does take care of the tax for you, but not every designer is on Patternfish. As of this morning, Ravelry has announced that they have partnered with UK distributor LoveKnitting to provide a solution for buyers in the EU, and for designers wanting to sell into the EU. (More info on LoveKnitting here.)
This is very helpful, and we’re grateful to both sites for this, but there are still two major limitations:
Designers will have to be reliant on these third-party pattern selling sites, rather than being able to sell directly themselves. For many designers, direct sales – a shopping cart solution on their own website – has been their preferred solution, and this option seems near-impossible under the current rules.
And for those selling something other than patterns – how-to books that don’t have patterns (my upcoming one, for example), and knitting software (StitchMastery, for example) – Ravelry and Patternfish aren’t options.
The fear is that these new rules may kill a lot of small businesses.
I have a bunch of things on the bobbins and on my needles, but I can’t show you any of it yet. So let’s talk about one of my favorite topics, learning new stuff.
As you may have surmised I am a big starter, not so good at finishing. Once I figure out the gist of what I want out of a project I’m more or less done. Sure, I limp to the finish line with a project, though not as many as I’d like, but I don’t get a rush out of finishing things.
Part of what I love the most about a new project is that learning phase, something entirely new or just a twist on something I already know. I read a lot of books and take as many classes as I can. My favorite way to learn lately is online. How can you beat taking a class during a 2 am bout of insomnia in your jammies? Or while the rest of the family is watching football on Thanksgiving?
Interweave has the most spinning classes. All are on DVD and most can be downloaded to your computer instantly. The costs range from $14.95 to $31.95 and they have a crazy amount of famous spinning teachers. Bonus, they have already started their Black Friday sale. Here are three that I’ve watched and really liked:
Building Blocks of Spinning with Sarah Anderson is a great overview video, it’s like spinning along with her book, A Spinner’s Book of Yarn.
How to Card Wool: Four Spinners Four Techniques is a short video but lets you watch and learn carding from Carol Rhoades, Maggie Casey, Norman Kennedy and Rita Buchanan.
Handspinning Rare Wools with Deb Robson (who else?) is a jaunt through 38 different breeds of sheep. A little history, a little prep, a little spinning, I could listen to Deb talk about sheep breeds all day.
Craftsy has heard spinners and added a few classes and hopefully will be adding more! Their videos are the highest quality and they are fantastic to work for. Jacey explains it wonderfully in a post on the PLY Blog. They are really fair to their talent money-wise and treat you like a superstar when you’re filming. I hope I get to make more videos with them! Before I was a teacher for them I watched their classes a lot and I still do. They make it easy to learn. Excellent production quality and the ability to ask questions are just two reasons why I keep watching and learning from them.
Foundations of Spinning with Amy King is the place to start if you are new or just need a reminder of the whole process of spinning on a wheel, from fiber to finished yarn.
Drafting from Woolen to Worsted with Jacey Boggs-Faulkner is the nest step for some in depth drafting techniques.
Ply to Knit with Jillian Moreno (that’s me!) walks you through plying techniques and what each type of ply mean to your future knitting.
Spinning Dyed Fiber with Felicia Lo lays out tips for spinning with color including variegated tops. This was the second Craftsy class I bought and I still refer to it.
YouTube is my go to spot when I need a quick reminder about a technique or want to learn something very specific. There are a ton of spinning videos, I searched ‘spinning fiber’ and got back 35,000 hits. Some videos are better than others, it’s to each spinner to decide who and what works for them. When I’m working on my art yarn, I really like Jazzturtle’s videos, quick and straight forward.
If you are in the US I hope you have a wonderful and restful Thanksgiving with extra spinning time!
I mentioned last week about the launch of Canadian coffee chain Tim Horton’s new knitting-themed cups for the winter and holiday season.
It turns out there was a bigger knitting connection than you might have suspected…
Tim’s runs ‘coffee-runner’ trucks, that drive around sampling and selling their much-loved coffee. They’re seen regularly at all sorts of places and community events, distributing warmth and cheer. And the gang at Toronto yarn shop Lettuce Knit got involved, to yarn bomb one of trucks!
30 knitters spent over 1000 hours at the needles, between October 27th and November 16th. They used 412 skeins of Cascade Eco wool, triple-stranded on 12mm needles.
The project was managed by knitter and ex-Lettuce Knit manager Brenna MacDonald and her computer scientist and knitter boyfriend Matt Kosichek.
The team signed an NDA with Tim Horton’s, and I doubt the CIA could have run a better secret yarn-bombing campaign. Very few of the knitters working on the project knew what it was all about. The panels were divided up so no one knitter had the identifying parts of the design. Key elements were worked in secret, and Brenna and Matt spent a lot of time denying their involvement in anything. Fun!
This time-lapse video of the truck being wrapped up is terrific.
Now that the weather has taken a turn for the wintery up here in the northern parts of the US and across Canada, enclosing yourself in a yarny cocoon doesn’t seem like such a silly idea. Fiber artst Bea Camacho shows us how, in an installation at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston.
Speaking of keeping yourself warm… (a little bit saucy!) (male) Bosnian farmers apparently like to knit themselves cozies for a certain part of their anatomy. Slightly NSFW.
Love this: a knitter knits her mum’s front garden.
Fun: online t-shirt shop TeeFury has designed a line of sweatshirts with prints inspired by the idea of the “ugly Christmas sweater”. I’m always tickled by printed Fair Isle designs.
Speaking of printed Fair Isle designs… Although I’m not the biggest fan of their coffee, I do love the new knitting-themed cup design that Canadian coffee institution Tim Horton’s has rolled out for this winter. (There’s an associated campaign to donate hats to children in need, FYI.)
Well, there’s the rest of the week gone. A new knitting-themed game for iPhone and iPad launches soon: Knituma. Help a bear knit a long scarf. Something about getting the balls of yarn in the basket, and keeping the cats away. Yup, sounds entirely familiar!
Speaking of keeping the cats away from your yarn, these wonderful yarn-inspired yarn bowls might help… The result of a collaboration between May Linn Bang, the owner of UK yarn shop Knit With Attitude, and ceramic artist (and knitter) Annette Bugansky, they are both beautiful and clever.
This past weekend I went to a yarn store with a group of knitting friends. It’s what you do when there’s a break in the Cute British Guys and Costumes movie marathon you’re knitting and spinning along with, right?
Just like every winter I fell in love with Malabrigo Rasta, a super bulky (4-5 WPI) merino single. I know you’ve seen it and pet it.
Usually I convince myself to buy some, even though the spinner in me is gnashing her teeth and stomping her foot, becasue lazy and because it’s right in my hand with it’s squishy goodness. But this year the spinner in me won.
I went home and dug out some gorgeous Merino.
I set up my Lendrum with the slow, huge plying head. I poked at piece of Rasta before I spun. It’s 4-5 WPI and a fulled singles. I thought about how I might change it. I wouldn’t mind if it wasn’t quite so fat; I’d like to add some more thick and thinness to it – not in a specific pattern, but random. Rasta is pretty dense 90 yards in 5 ounces, I might like it a little loftier, but still fulled.
I spun for an evening, just sampling not stressing. I fluffed and attenuated the fiber just barely to be able to draft quickly. I spun with the yarn sample in my lap checking it against my singles and I got a variety of yarns.
The top yarn is a snip of Rasta. The bottom is my first free-style big and airy yarn – too big and too airy. I use ply back samples even when I spin singles. I do lose some twist in the ply back, but I have most of the twist contained and it’s easy. The dark sample in the middle is the right WPI with a little more density and the light sample is the right WPI with even more density, the closest to Rasta.
To get more density (weight, heft) to my yarn I add more fiber per drafting pinch. To get the same WPI in the denser sample as the loftier sample I added more twist.
I spun a small amount of the two samples and looked them over and thought about the fulling process. The loftier sample would shrink in size when fulled maybe even to a worsted weight yarn. I was betting on the denser singles to full to chunky/bulky size.
My yarn is not quite as chubby as Rasta , it’s 5-6 WPI, but it’s every bit as squishy and soft. Now I need to spin the rest and knit! What should I make?
Tineola bisselliella. Clothing moths: the scourge of the fiber crafter.
Traditional moth solutions are either horribly toxic or not all that effective. (Moth balls – bad bad bad.) (Cedar, eucalyptus, weird scented soaps – they might discourage moths taking up residence, but if they’ve already moved in, they’re not going to help all that much.)
These, on the other hand, actually help.
Sticky moth traps. They use pheromones to attract the moths. They are totally without scent, and child and pet-safe. (Although they are very very sticky. I managed to get one stuck to the carpet once.)
In Canada, you can get them from Lee Valley Hardware. In the US, the ‘Safer’ brand is readily available. They need replacing every three months or so, but they’re inexpensive, very easy to use, very safe and very effective.
“Knitting a recursive sweater”. This makes my nerdy heart beat a bit faster: the outline of a computer science paper, brought to our attention by the Improbable Research Blog.
Knitty columnnist and historian Donna Druchunas has announced volume four of her Stories in Stitches book series. This upcoming volume, “Sacred Stitches”, will look at spiritual and sacred knitting traditions from around the world. As with the previous three volumes, the book contains factual articles, personal essays, and seven beautiful and historically inspired projects.
Preorders are available now, and the book will be ready for download/shipping November 14th.
Speaking of announcements, Knitty lead Tech Editor Kate (that’s me! ) has announced her upcoming book, Pattern Writing for Knit Designers. More info here. It will be available as an e-book in early December – sign up for the mailing list to receive notification of availability.
Have you watched UK department store John Lewis’s 2014 Christmas ‘advert’ yet? It’s a lovely story of a boy and his penguin friend. And, to make it even better, knit designer Jem Weston was commissioned by the store to design a knit-your-own penguin kit to go along with it. Buy the kit here.
An update on marathon knitter David Babcock: he ran a new personal best time in the recent New York City Marathon, even though the knitting conditions weren’t ideal….
Very touching: a story about notes of comfort and support, delivered with hand-knit socks. Many of those left at home supported the ‘war effort’ during the First World War by knitting socks for the troops; and many of the socks were sent to the troops with hand-written notes of support tucked inside. The State Library of New South Wales in Australia is hosting an exhibition of some of these notes.
I am in love with Pinterest, I spend time there every day. It’s my favorite way to take a break from work, looking at all of the beautiful inspiring things and gathering all of the helpful tutorials and how-tos.
I just searched Spinning, fiber, yarn and there are pages of how-tos on making and dyeing yarn. There is a drum carder powered by a bicycle:
Which led me to the gorgeous textile blog Ecologicalartist.
Another thing I love about Pinterest is all of the connections, finding new things, remembering old things, following what my friends are obsessing about (go look and see how many pins I have on embroidery), what friends are knitting or dreaming about knitting, looking at inspiring things or to just rest my mind from a busy day.
I collect ideas for spinning, knitting and stitching projects. There are recipes I’m sure I’m going to make. I have a folder for all of the houses I pretend to live in and one for things that I think are cozy.
I’m jillianmoreno on Pinterest and I’ve pinned 8,829 things.
Are you on Pinterest? How do you use it?
It’s my favourite, because it’s all the colours I love and wear: black, grey, green, red, orange. And in classic Noro style, it’s done in a rather unexpected manner, with funky colour changes and blends.
The minute we published the Undercurrent cardigan pattern, in mid-2011, I knew I had to have one. In colour 242, of course.
The downside to being a knit designer is that you rarely get to knit for yourself. I’m usually working on deadline projects, design projects, projects for books and magazines and other stuff. When I do get to knit for myself, I tend to go for plain socks – the sort of thing I can work on when I’m tired, or waiting for design inspiration, or when I’m in the line-up at the bank. My “me” knitting is usually projects that don’t require any thought or attention, and more to the point, projects that can be easily worked on in stolen moments and can carried around in my purse. Sadly, a sweater doesn’t fit these criteria.
I’d had a bag of Kureyon 242 sitting at the top for my stash for nearly three years, waiting for knitting time I was never going to have. So earlier this year, I arranged a barter deal with a skilled sample knitter I know: she would knit Undercurrent for me, as part of an exchange.
She worked on it over the summer, and returned the (beautifully knit) pieces to me a few weeks ago. I wanted to do the finishing. I’m VERY picky about the finishing.
Plus I knew I wanted to make some adjustments to the buttonband.
I washed the pieces, finished up the hood, and then started on the front edging. For this design, it’s done in one piece, along the right front, up and over the edge of the hood, and down the left front.
Now, the thing about knitting this sort of buttonband is that you have to place buttonholes as you’re working. And before I started it, I didn’t really have any idea if I wanted buttonholes – and if I did, I wasn’t sure how many I would want.
I pinned the thing together at the sides so I could try it on, and made some measurements: I also knew I wanted the buttonband to be a bit deeper than called for in the pattern, but I wasn’t sure how deep.
So I knit the buttonband – nice and deep – without buttonholes. And then when it was the length I wanted, I bound most of it off (on the WS), all the way along to the top of the right front. The side where I would want the buttonholes.
And then! Then! I figured out how many buttonholes I wanted and where.
And then I made them!
How did I make them, you ask? Crochet hook!
I’d left the stitches of that section live, and so I was able to strategically drop stitches where I wanted buttonholes to be. I dropped them down to the middle of the band, and converted what was a k2 to a (k2tog, yo) to make a hole. And I “ravelled” those two stitches back up.
There is one small drawback to this method – other than it being sort of insane – they’re not the same buttonholes that the designer specified, but they look good to me, and they’ll get the job done.
I’m absolutely thrilled with it. Many, many thanks to Kim without whom this would just be a bag of yarn…