Monthly Archives: January 2015

SHOW & TELL: A Weaver’s Tale

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 – with kind permission of Judith StClaire

Judith lives in Humbolt Bay, USA and these are direct copies from her blog: The Artful Weaver:  https://judithstclaire.wordpress.com
I met Judith on the blogging course we have both been ‘attending’ for most of January – well met, no we have never met, only corresponded thro’ the online portal set up for class members.  We were encouraged to check out each others blogs, I found hers fascinating.  Not only is she a weaver, but she also writes great short stories.
This is the story of a woven scarf that went wrong, and got put away in a drawer, until someone suggested that she find another use for it –
now read on!

 

Handwoven Scarf from Colorful Needlepoint Yarn

Several years ago when they were in middle school or beginning high school, I gave Mother’s needlepoint yarn, canvas and other crafting stuff to my granddaughter Kimberly and her friend (my borrowed granddaughter) Shannon.   With the yarn, I gave them encouragement to Make Something Creative.   And they did.  Over the next several years, they made lots of things.

On Loom_0006But when the girls graduated, got jobs, moved into their own apartment and began to look toward higher education – you guessed it – the leftover yarn and all the other leftover “stuff” came back to me.

I was on the verge of pitching out the large bag of vibrant color, but then I asked my sister’s advice.  Practical as ever, Ruthie, the master weaver, said, “Never throw yarn away!  Weave a scarf.”  On Loom_0004

As it happens, I had some hanks of nice soft gray yarn I wasn’t too sure what to do with, and when I put them with the color, I began to picture a completed project.

Needlepoint yarn usually is cut into handy lengths for those who use it.  Even though the yarn I used for red stripes was the longest in of all the yarns in the bag, the longest pieces proved to be too short to make a warp of the required length.  So, I had to make extensions. (For you non-weavers, the extensions were in the “loom waste” section of the warp.)  Making extensions wasn’t difficult to do, and the doing of it added to my meager library of weaving experience.

Needle Pt on Deck1

Without enough of any one color, I had to combine all the shades of my chosen color in order to make the scarf.  Short supply of short scraps forced me to be somewhat avant guard and make an asymmetrical design – sort of like, we’ll pile all the stripes on this end and make the other end plain.  The thought in the back of my mind was, “If worst comes to worst and this is a total flop, the danged thing could find its way into the doggie bed.”

Needle Pt on bench2In the end, however, I loved the design.  Loosely woven, the wool, strip measured seven feet long, then shrunk to six feet in length after being washed and “fulled”.  (This is not counting a good four inches of fringe on each end.)  After the washing, the tag ends of yarn were cut and the fringe trimmed.  The lovely thing was steam pressed, hung up to dry thoroughly, and ultimately was photographed.

Freshly showered and dressed in my favorite outfit, I stood before the full length mirror, and with great anticipation, flung the scarf around my neck.  My first reaction after a satisfied smile was, “Yikes!”

Needle Pt on Fence1The gray yarn was indeed soft, but the needlepoint yarn was the prickliest yarn I have ever wound around my own neck.  So, I found another use for the scarf fabric.  This piece will not find its way to the doggie bed.

To see more editions of my SHOW & TELL feature, please see the Show & Tell Archive Page.  Anyone is welcome to send in photographs of their work and have their own SHOW & TELL page – please read the instructions on the archive.

the chickens that live up the hill

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my millefluere barbu d'uccle hen

my millefluere barbu d’uccle hen

Have just been up the hill, behind my house, for a quick look at the chickens that live up there, in a really well build open sided barn, with netting protecting them, and access to the field.  They hadn’t been let out yet and thought I come to feed them – sorry girls I said, you’ll have to wait.

I had a small flock of chickens last year, but the fox was really wily, and he got all but my little bantam – she’s so small she wasn’t worth eating!

Millefleure (literally, a thousand flowers, or many colours) barbu d’uccles are originally a Belgian breed – correct me if I’m wrong – and are really friendly garden hens – ‘missy’ loves sitting on my shoulder and is so small that its really quite comfortable!

I have got her a companion, and would love to get some more, but I’m waiting, ’til the winter is over and the foxes aren’t so hungry!

 

 

 

“julzcrafts.com”- yes I’ve registered the domain! + concerns about copyright

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So, I have decided to become “respectable”, and have registered this domain, and hope it will make it easier for customers to find me.  If you are still using julzcrafts@wordpress.com, you will be automatically forwarded to julzcrafts.com, so it won’t affect you.

As regular readers will know, I have been following the blogging101 course run by WordPress, and have changed the look and scope of my blog quite a bit in the last few weeks.

However, I lost most of the changes today, by pressing the wrong button!

Many thanks to the WordPress staff and  fellow members of the course, who have helped me restore it –  and since I was at it,  I also made a few more changes – ie: I have added so many widgets that you will wonder when its going to end – smile.  

Do comment if you think its over the top – or if you don’t.

The most important widget is all the way down at the end of the blogroll,  the column on the right hand side of this page.

One of the course members started a discussion about copyright, and members from Ireland, Sweden, USA, India, China and other countries got involved, all concerned about how easy it is these days to just grab a picture from anyones site, and make use of it without crediting the author.  It is one of the strengths and weaknesses, of the digital age!

I used to be a professional photographer – with letters after my name – and I hate to use other people’s photos, unless I have to, and whenever I do, I credit them.  (This doesn’t apply to the stock photos that I sometimes use because I’m too lazy to rephotograph product shots – smile.)  

Photographers have always been concerned about copyright, but before the growth of digital photography, it was less prevalent, because photographs were physical objects, and the most people could do was rephotograph them for publication, or run them thro’ the photocopier!

When I put my photographic greetings cards or posters up for sale on ebay or etsy, I always use the version with my copyright stamped across them, but had strangely, not really considered doing this on a blog.  Several members of this discussion group had found out that their photos had been ‘grabbed’ and were now appearing on strangers tweets or facebook pages, as if they were their own pictures!

I don’t think this is uncommon, and because there are millions of internet users, it must happen every minute, and often the original “creator” never finds out.

Blogs with heavily copyrighted images don’t look very friendly, but you can put a notice on your blogroll to warn readers that these are your images, and you would like recognition for them if they are used elsewhere.

I have adapted the copyright notice from another members blog – with her permission I might add!  In case you can’t be bothered to look – the text of this ‘Declaration of Copyright’ is as follows –

 

Gallery post: some of the stuff I sell

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dec cal pic

 

Today’s assignment on the  blogging101 course was to try out a different kind of post, and I have been intending  to put together a page that shows the type of stuff I stock, for spinners, weavers, felters, knitter, quilters and other crafters – so, why not use the exercise for this purpose!  This is the first Gallery I have ever put together and its rather random in nature, I could have put them together in categories, but, I haven’t – not this time.  I also intended to link the listings on etsy and ebay to each picture – but not this time. If you want to browse the listings, click on the personal links underneath my photo on the right hand side. If you want to buy direct see this page, if you want more information on anything contact me here!

If you want to buy anything, please do, smile, I  sell worldwide.  To see the captions and find out what the fibres are,  just hover over them.  I think it turns into a slide show if you click on any of the images.

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Never Surrender.”

There were a few prompts on the suggestion page for this latest exercise on the blogging101 course, but this was the only one that got a reaction from me.

I have a strong sense of “justice”, I hate unfairness and I hate authoritarian incompetence –  and sometimes – I get my campaigning hat on, as you may have noticed, if you’ve read any of the posts in my “how ridiculous” category!

My Dad was a solicitor (lawyer for you yanks), and he was fond of the saying – a quote from Dickens I hasten to add  –“The law is an ass!”

My father as a young man, in his legal robes, having just qualified as a solicitor - circa 1945

My father as a young man, in his legal robes, having just qualified as a solicitor – circa 1948

He had a practise in Kensal Green, a predominantly mixed race area of London, from about 1955 – 1977, when he passed away.

I’d occasionally go with him ‘to the office’ on Saturday’s, when I was a teenager.  He was that old fashioned kind of law man, that you never encounter these days.  He had an enormous old desk, in a very cluttered office, with a couple of clerks, and a long term bossy secretary who ran his office for him, and whose name escapes me just now, but I got to know her quite well.

I was supposedly there to “do some filing”, and I think I even got paid for it, tho’ I never did very much, and had no idea of what office work and the law entailed. (Boring, was what I though at the time!)   Actually, I was probably there because my mother wanted me out of the way for some reason.

Spending time alone, with my Dad,  was a very rare occurence, and we both enjoyed chatting on the drive there and back, and cautiously got to know each other.  I never understood at the time, that he wanted to get to know me, and he wanted me to get to know him, and this was his way of doing it.

One of the things written on the brass plaque outside the office, apart from his name and his proud boast that he’d got a degree from Oxford – BA(Oxon)  – a real achievement for a poor valley boy,  together with LLB,  legal qualifications,  – was

“Commissioner for Oaths” – its a strange ‘legal term’, and I can’t tell you exactly what it means, even now.  But its something about having papers witnessed and stamped.  Maybe immigration papers, as there were plenty of immigrants in London even in those days, and other official forms, I don’t know.

But what I remember very clearly was that, one Saturday morning, I happened to barge into my Dad’s office whilst he had a client there – a ‘no no’ in anyone’s book – and found him chatting with a down at heel Jamaican man, who’d come in to have some papers sworn.  He’d spent about an hour with him, explaining the law about something, and I hadn’t realised he was still there.

What I barged in on was a scene I will never forget.  The man asking what he owed, and my dad said,

“put a couple of pennies in the charity box for me will you, and we’ll call it quits.”

And then they shook hands.

The man could never have paid the legal fees, but this way he kept his dignity and his self-respect.   He’d paid his way, and helped someone else too.  My dad showed his compassion,  his wisdom, and his humanity in that small act of kindness – a side of him I’d never glimpsed in the hurly burly of family life.

It didn’t stop me arguing with him during my teenage years, but these days, I can’t remember what the arguments were about, but I can remember his actions that day!

So, rather than say, as I thought I was going to say when I started this piece – something banal like

“Never Surrender Your Fight For Justice”

What I’d prefer to say, in the name of my Dad  is  ….….

NEVER SURRENDER –

YOUR HUMANITY, AND YOUR COMPASSION FOR OTHERS!

His name was (a version of) Solomon, and I am proud to be Solomon’s daughter.

“never surrender” – a muse on the phrase…….

vat moss on digital downloads – designed to catch the big fish but only catching the small fry!

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CONFUSED – YOU SHOULD BE!

some definitions/explanations given below ……

Today’s assignment on the blogging101 course is to follow up on yesterday’s assignment which was to visit various blogs and leave comments and see if you could start a conversation going!  The challenge for today, is to write about your comment and expand your thoughts into a longer piece.

Yesterday, I started photographing the new stock that came in (plug), and then had a dentists appointment.  He insisted that two teeth needed to be taken out, and I wanted to keep them. For the first time in my sessions with him, I won, but I paid a price!   By the time I came home, the four injections that my dentist had used whilst filling the teeth, had numbed my mouth so much that I didn’t know where it was, and made me feel so ‘woozy’ that I had to go to bed.

So that’s my excuse for not “doing my homework”!  However, I can write something that fits into today’s brief, and its a subject I was planning on writing about anyway.

cropped-3vert-dry-stone-wall-version-2.jpgThe title of this blog may well sound like gobbledegook to you – actually it is!

Just before New Year, I got one of those regular emails you get from etsy as a buyer, or a seller.  I usually just skim them, and perhaps click on a picture of something someone has made that I like. (its a site for craftspeople to sell their work)

This time there was a blog about the introduction of VAT MOSS to all digital download sellers, which caught my eye because I was planning to open a second shop on etsy to sell digital downloads of my photographs.

I read the blog, I read the comments, commented on the blog and on other sellers comments.  Most of them were absolutely furious, not only that they were now going to have to register for VAT MOSS, but that etsy had left it until the last minute to tell them about it.

I don’t blame the etsy team all that much, after all, not even the tax office seems to be able to explain what to do, although it does seem it is the site that takes the payments that is responsible for registering for this scheme.  I would give you a link to this post, but so many of the hundreds of commenters are easily identified by their pictures, so I think I should just give you the link https://www.etsy.com so you can find the blog for yourself, if you want to.

A good number saw no way round this new regulation, because the digital downloads are done thro’ the etsy site, payments made through PAYPAL, and you don’t even know what country your customer comes from!  Many were seriously intending to close their shops rather than deal with the new regulations, or treat their EU customers separately.

The regulations have been made by the EU, but they affect all small businesses, and large businesses,  selling digital downloads of any kind, from any country to EU customers.  That means that anyone in any country has to pay this tax, and what’s more, you have to register with the tax authorities, even if you only sell £1, $1, 1 euro’s worth of downloads – and that, I think anyone would agree is RIDICULOUS!

As a result, I started looking into this issue and couldn’t believe what an idiotic law it is.  How badly drafted it is, and how the “law of unintended consequences” is going to crush all those small businesses that are now becoming the only way to earn a living since the recession.

cropped-3vert-dry-stone-wall-version-2.jpgI said, in my last blog, that I was now living in a digital world – and now that world is going to be TAXED! 

There are:

photographers selling their photographs – they have to register,

artists selling all digital formats of their work – they have to register,

self publishers selling their books – they have to register,

musicians selling their own music – they have to register,

people selling training videos – they have to register,

knitters selling knitting patterns – they have to register,

(altho the knitters site Ravelry has arranged that another retailer takes the responsibility for tax payments)

 

and nearly everyone who sends digital information around the world is theoretically caught in the EU’s net.

As far as I can tell, the reason the law was drawn up was to get some revenue out of those large tax dodging companies, like Amazon, Apples’s iTunes and SKY, and possibly, it was widened to try and catch those nasty pedophile rings.

Those are the big fish – and, no doubt, they will find a way round the regulations.  We are the small fry, and will be badly affected.  I have put the idea of selling digital downloads of my photographs on the back burner, but at least I hadn’t started yet and won’t have to comply.  There are others that actually earn a reasonable amount from this, and they face the choice of shutting up shop, or paying tax to all the EU countries, all of which, set their VAT at different rates.

And there are not thousands, but millions of small businesses around the world, who will theoretically be affected by this, even if they don’t comply, they will be worried that they might get prosecuted.

There are various angles to this whole discussion, but for once, I think I will make my point and keep this post short – but not sweet.  If you don’t know what I’m on about, the basic explanations are below.

I have signed a couple of  petitions I found against the introduction of this scheme – if you want to sign them too, these are the links – if you can find others to sign, please let me know and I will add them to the list.

http://euvataction.org/take-action-now/  is a site that has been set up to campaign against VAT MOSS

This petition is to the EU official responsible and can be signed by anyone from any country

This is the email address of the UK Treasury official responsible public.enquiries@hmtreasury.gsi.gov.uk    UK  ONLY

This petition is to Vince Cable MP, UK Minister responsible  not sure if those outside the UK can sign it, but you can try.

For UK sellers only, Vince Cable has negotiated that the regulations can be side-stepped, if you email your customer directly – but as I said, etsy sellers don’t know where their buyers are from, so you have to opt out of the digital download  scheme altogether to comply.  As far as I know, no other country has this arrangement,

Brief explanations of the gobbledegook

cropped-3vert-dry-stone-wall-version-2.jpgI will try and be succinct here, and explain what this involves.

VAT is VALUE ADDED TAX – that currently adds 20% onto the cost of each purchase in the UK – excluding most foods and children’s clothes.  The customer pays the tax – usually hidden in the price, and the seller has to add up all those 20%’s and declare them to the VAT man, and pay the tax they have collected to the government.  In return, they are able to get a refund of the VAT they have paid for business supplies etc, which is usually a much smaller amount than they have collected.

In the UK, you can run a small business and NOT be registered for VAT, the threshold for registering for VAT is a turnover of £88,000 (approx) a year  – so why do we have to register for VAT MOSS for a £1 sale?

VAT MOSS is the pan European name for the scheme to collect this tax.  MOSS is “Mini One Stop Shop”

If you really want to read gobbledegook, this is the site for the UK’s HMRC (tax office),  I don’t understand it, and there’s enough confusion as it is!

Basically, it tells you how to register and then how to send in your accounts, by country, of your sales, so YOU have to work out what you owe, to all the 26 European countries, pay a total, and the HMRC will distribute each bit to the relevant country.

This blog by Heather Burns is the best account I have seen of the complications and unforeseen consequences of these new regulations.

and just cos I’ve put in all this work to inform you – you can find my etsy shop  here

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