Country Strife

The trials and tribulations of a life of leisure...


Friday, May 01, 2015

NICs 2 See You

It is just over one year since I started publishing and selling my patterns on Ravelry.

I haven't set the world alight but I am pretty satisfied with my humble offerings. I have had a few patterns which in my terms I count as successful. Other more established designers would consider them flops but it all comes down to perspective and expectation. I have had a few that even I call flops even though I and my testers loved them...

I don't know if I just picked a bad year to start but the EU has caused a lot of headaches and sleepless nights. Firstly was the changes to Consumer Rights for digital downloads. A piece of cake compared to the new EU VAT laws...

I cannot retire on my profits to the Bahamas. Indeed, why would I when I am already happily retired in the Scottish Borders.

So as my total annual income is still under the tax limit the last thing I was expecting was the bill that arrived through the post today demanding £159 in National Insurance contributions with menaces...

Paul is away but I could hear his voice in my head saying 'Phone them'. So I did.

After having a sort of conversation with an automated droid I was put on hold with the most excruciatingly awful music, interrupted every 20 seconds or so to be told someone would be with me as soon as possible...

Well, after about 20 minutes I needed to pee but there was no way I was going to hang up to then have to restart the procedure...

Luckily no one came on the line at that point in time...

Another 10 minutes and at last I got to speak to a real person.

Letters are apparently automatically generated and I guess are just based on the assumption that you are over the minimum profit threshold.

Advice given. Send the bill back with a covering letter saying you wish to waiver the bill on the grounds of low income with a 3 line accounts summary of Gross Income, Expenses and Net Profit/Loss.

This hopefully shouldn't be necessary in the future as NI contributions are going to be included in the self assessment tax form.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Back to Words

Decision was made at the New Year to get back to word studying and see how it goes.

So I started with the 4s. And sort of fell out of study mode pretty quickly as I had the idea for my Studded Diamonds Hat and Cowl.

And then I had an idea for my Love Hearts socks...

These are all in test mode now so I got back to zyzzyva.

Completed going through the 4s - wow, am I rusty.
The last week I have started on the 7s and 8s in playability order, 500 of each a day which actually works out as nearer 650 of each as unlike probability order there is a lot of repetition with the multiple anagram questions. 7s not too bad but 8s are taking a lot longer.

Played my first games since the Commonwealth tourney yesterday against Allan. Honours even at 2-2. Off to Edinburgh tomorrow for my first test - 7 games tourney - in preparation for the Scottish Masters the weekend after. Gonna be tough...

Sunday, January 18, 2015

So I Had an Idea...

I have recently done a few designs to use up scraps which have involved slipped stitches. Which got me thinking... The row gauge for slipped stitches is a lot tighter than straight knitting or stranded knitting. So playing about with it could allow some quite fun results.

So I swatched a bit to see what effects I could achieve. And I am quite excited to find you can get very intricate looking patterns with a few basic rules that must be obeyed.

I have charted up and made my first non-stranded 'fairisle' hat sample and am currently knitting the matching cowl. I will post photos later...

My other design currently being tested is my 'Tudor' hat and Cowl set. It uses an adaptation for knitting in the round of the Tudor Grillwork pattern from my Second Treasury of Knitting patterns by Barbara Walker. Just what every stylish bank robber needs :)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Life and Death in Todheugh

The Good - first snowdrops of the year spotted a couple of days ago:

The Bad - beech tree split it two from the gale force winds two nights ago:

and The Ugly - drowned mice in my upside down bell cloches:

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Indie GAL Lives On

The Indie GAL officially ended at the New Year but there are still a lot of us continuing on with WIPs and patterns won/bought. And a lot of chatting...

I am working on my Bewitching Hour gloves, one of the freebie patterns I chose from my prize vouchers:

and I still have three more vouchers to claim.

I also won two skeins of gorgeous yarn (Rapture) from Squoosh Fiberarts - I can't say how happy I am. I have chosen colurways Cognac and Red Maple.

The switch over to LoveKnitting has gone relatively smoothly - I have even had my first EU sale.

The start of the year has been busy with two new patterns published already, and three more being tested.

The scarf I designed for Paul, Seriously Stripey Scarf, was published on the 2nd:

Still waiting for my new release, When the Wind Blows hat, to reach Published status on LK  but there are a lot of us adding patterns onto the site so I think they have been inundated...

Thursday, January 01, 2015

2014 A Year of Knitting

Another year over and what have you done?

Well, this is my annual year of knitting photo :)

1 sweater, 1 blanket, 1 table runner, 1 pair of gloves, 5 hats, 6 face cloths, 7 cowls, 8 scarves, 8 shawls and 9 pairs of socks,

I started self publishing my own patterns earlier this year and have learnt a lot. A lot of it I didn't want to learn. A new EU directive came into force not long after I started wrt Consumer Rights which meant a lot of stress trying to ensure I was compliant. And then the stress of the new EU VAT regulations that came into being today...

Ravelry have been wonderful in partnering with LoveKnitting to let us divert our EU sales so that nano-businesses like me can continue trading without having to sort out the nightmare of determining customers location, storing data for 10+ years, VAT registering and having to submit quarterly VAT and MOSS returns for very small amounts of money...

At the end of this year I have 20 published patterns - far more than I had imagined I could achieve in 9 months.

I have started my own Ravelry group, Helen Gipson Designs, which was kind of scary but most of the people who I asked have joined, some more have come along and now I have a happy band of testers.

I invested in charting software, StitchMastery, at the end of September which has been worth every penny in producing more professional looking knitting charts although I was kind of fond of my colour coded spreadsheet charts :)

And now I have to decide on how much time I use knitting/designing and how much time to dedicate back to word studying as that was put on the back burner for most of last year.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Early Christmas Present from Me to Me

I don't think I have ever had an internet yarn delivery that has been so beautifully packaged - thank you Addicted 2 Knitting!

I decided I needed new needles to replace some of my cheap bamboo circulars. The cable/join on a few of them had become dodgy - coming apart with 300+ stitches on the go is not funny. To be fair they have had a LOT of use in the last 4 years or so, and since the complete set cost less than a fiver they had more than earned their keep.

So when I found the Addi Basic Interchangeable set (and everything actually) was 50% off for Black Friday-Cyber Monday sales it was too good to resist.

Happy, happy, happy :)

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