Saturday, 20 December 2014

Random photos and inpirations...


I had a rummage through the Picasa web albums for this blog, as I'm still puzzled how the photo in my previous post got out, but as I can't find it here,it must have got out via another route... maybe I sent it as an e mail attachment to someone who posted it on a forum? I didn't think I've ever posted it on Facebook.  So it remains a mystery.  I don't even teach hishi seigaiha in a workshop.

I found quite a few other random interesting and amusing photos from several years ago, so I've reposted them here.

First up is a photo from around 2008 - Hartley Morris Men's musicians, and Glyn's melodeon is in the photo.  It is the Hohner Pokerwork in the centre.  It has been a while since it has been played as well as by Tony, as Glyn is still very much a beginner.  This melodeon came to us all the way from Kent via 'Quilters' Express', passed hand to hand via the Quilters' Guilds' Portsmouth AGM last year and the Quilt Museum at York and arriving at the Loch Lomond Quilt Show in May. Speaking of the Quilt Museum, the photo below was taken on my first visit there in 2009 and I am planning to see all the exhibitions next year before the present museum closes and the collection and Guild HQ move to to another home.


 With my friends from Yuza Sashiko Guild at the museum in 2010.

I have started writing up the cutting and technique instructions for 'Japanese Circles and Squares' this week, going rather slowly (as is this blog post!) as I am typing one-handed due to rather painful tendonitis, which the doctor thinks was caused by all the hand sewing on the kilts I've been making.  I will certainly include machine applique instructions for the circles!  I hope to make my favourite workshop quilt the subject of my first self published book, which will have many variations on the workshop design.  It would be great to be able to include some photos of quilts made at or after my workshops, but I would ideally need better quality photos than many I already have.  Ideally, the quilt needs to be photographed flat/square, evenly lit, not blurry, at 300dpi minimum over an A5 image.  So, filling the frame at the best resolution on a camera that is 7mega pixels or higher.  I would need the photos e mailing as jpgs and it would be nice to be reminded re your fabric choices etc too.

This quilt was made at a workshop near Bristol -

This Japanese colourscheme looks almost festive!


Because it is nearly Christmas, here are a few quilt inspiration images to suit the season - the tiles at Llangollen town hall; several details from York Minster; and restored medieval wallpaintings from Llanidloes market hall.






Also, because Christmas packing is on the horizon, here are a few photos of the much-missed Fluff and Takenoko showing how to fit awkward shapes into boxes of various sizes...

Thursday, 18 December 2014

pinterest and how images get copied around the internet...

When I first heard about pinterest, the site where people 'pin' images they've found on the internet, I was a bit suspicious about it.  This seemed to be the ideal opportunity for people to copy images they didn't have a right to use.  However, as pinterest links back to the image's original website, it seemed ok.

There are lots of interesting collections of images there and I get notification e mails from time to time.  Today I got one to this super sashiko image board.  I was rather surprised to see the image above as a pin.  You see, it is one of the reference scans I made when I was stitching the samples for my first sashiko book, not something I had ever put out on the internet - as far as I can remember. I really can't work out how it got there.

Even more puzzled, I clicked on the image and it took me to this blog.  It is definitely my scan, although the file name has been changed.  The blog post was from 2009, and my original scan is dated May 2004.  How did it get there?

As I'm not credited, I left a comment asking how the blogger had found the photo.  Did I post it here? I am very puzzled how it got out there.  As far as I know, these reference scans were just something I kept for my own work while writing the book - it was so I could check details while blocks were away for photography (I didn't have a digital camera then).

While pinterest will link to the image location, if the image has already been borrowed, it won't link to the original source.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

Latest on the #VATMOSS #VATMESS

Sorry that my blog posts this week are all to do with VAT on digital downloads and I haven't been posting any pictures, but if you ever buy e books, pattern pdfs, online quilt tutorials, block of the month courses etc., the new regulations will affect you - whether you buy from the UK, the EU or further afield.

There is a new EU-wide petition - please click the link in red and sign!

A unilateral suspension of the introduction of the new EU VAT laws for micro businesses and sole traders

I added the following comment when I signed -

 It is impossible for really small businesses, like many sole trader i.e. single person businesses, to collect and store the necessary information demanded by this new legislation, as the payment platforms we use e.g. Paypal, just don't do it. These are businesses that are so small, we can't even economically justify having our own credit/debit card processing systems, as the cost of running these, compared to our turnover online, is just too much. The need to obtain and keep this information is a major security risk for both customer and business, and the need to get the information from the customer is enough to kill a digital sale, where the customer wants the download as quickly as possible, with the least hassle. UK Businesses with a turnover of less than £81,000 do not need to register for VAT, so hundreds of thousands of tiny businesses are not, in an effort to keep our prices affordable. As HMRC in the UK only informed VAT registered businesses of this new change and did not inform the hundreds of thousands of sole traders who are not VAT registered because they fall well below the UK's VAT threshold, we only heard about the new legislation less than a month ago, via social networking sites. The most recent information issued by HMRC is still confusing as they do not seem to be able to adequately define what is a digital download.

What were the UK's MEPs doing while this legislation was being developed? Unfortunately, the UK's first party in the EU is UKIP, an anti EU party, and legislation like this merely supports their anti EU stance, by making it seem like the EU is imposing yet more impossible red tape on small UK businesses. It adds fuel to UKIP and other Eurosceptics in the British government who would like to push the UK out of the EU and will only draw more voters over to their side if, as promised by the current government, the UK holds a referendum on its membership of the EU in 2017.

The introduction of this new legislation on January 1st does not give small, non VAT registered businesses enough time to comply, payment platforms like Paypal are not geared up for it and many micro/nano businesses are simply going to shut down the digital parts of their businesses rather than risk failing to comply with the new legislation. There must be an opt out for businesses with a turnover of less than 100,000 Euros a year, as these businesses simply do not have the personnel or specialist knowledge to implement the new changes. This legislation, aimed at stopping the tax dodging by multi million Euro companies, has instead disproportionately hit tiny "kitchen table" businesses, meaning they can no longer sell digital downloads direct to the public, and (at the moment) it seems that the only way for them to continue trading is via a third party platform like Amazon which is geared up to handle the VAT - although even this is not entirely clear - thereby increasing the profits of the kind of company that this legislation was aimed at.

Word of the new VAT regulations are now becoming news around the world. Via some small business forums, I have heard the views of businesses from the USA and Australia. The USA attitude is predictably that it is unconstitutional for a USA based business to have to deal with the sales tax (VAT) obligations of the EU, and their response is that they may have to stop selling to Europe. IF this kind of VAT legislation is later increased to cover physical goods, EU customers will start to be unable to purchase goods from outside the EU, as non EU businesses close their doors to us. This is not the way trade should be. The EU was all about improving trade between member states, not putting needless barriers in place.

Monday, 8 December 2014

#VATMESS - the new EU VAT regs on digital downloads - official response

Vince Cable MP has sent his reply to the petition re the new EU VAT regulations on digital downloads -

The changes to VAT on digital products is not new or sudden - the change was agreed in 2008 and we've done a lot to communicate it to businesses. Regardless, the majority of UK micro-businesses will not be affected.

Here's a breakdown of how the changes affect micro-businesses:

Micro-businesses that trade only in the UK - and never sell to the EU - won't have to do anything. They won't have to register for VAT in 2015.

Micro-businesses that do sell to other countries in the EU but only do so through marketplaces like an app store also won’t have to register for VAT. It's up to the operator of the marketplace to account for VAT charges.

Micro-businesses that trade to the UK and to the EU will have to register for VAT. But if they can separate out their cross-border business from their domestic they will only have to register for VAT on their cross-border sales. UK sales will be unaffected.

Hope that helps clear up the change.


P.S. Lib Dems want to introduce a digital bill of rights - can you let us know what should be a part of it?

Read the comments to this and the actual petition to see how people will be affected by the new regulations.

Re the format of his reply, clearly Nunthorpe Grammar School (his old school) didn't teach their pupils how to draft a business letter very well - a P.S. on an official reply!  My English teacher would have given him a right ticking off for that, as evidence that Mr Cable hadn't thought his reply through properly before writing.  And as anyone can go back and edit on screen these days, it is doubly irritating and patronising.  It is the kind of letter writing affectation that might have been excusable for Victorian young ladies, but not for a modern politician!

UPDATE - you might also be interested to read this - Updates From Our Meeting With HMRC, HM Treasury and A Minster On 4th December 2014

This all seems to be a huge amount of legislation and paperwork for very little returns from small businesses.  Unless I am missing something and ONE EU country really is the centre of ALL EU produced digital downloads, then surely the VAT lost to the seller's country and paid in the purchaser's country is simply going to balance out?

Thursday, 4 December 2014

New VAT regulations on 1 January 2015

Dave Walker sums up the choices faced by microbusinesses/sole traders selling digital downloads - this will include quilt patterns and e books - from the UK when the new VAT regulations start on 1 January.  Read more on his website here.  #VATMOSS #VATMESS

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Current projects - kilts and quilts


We have finished the third session of our kilt making course at The Museum of the Black Watch in Perth, where we are going on Tuesday evenings.  The course is taught by Ruari Halford-Macleod and we are making box pleat kilts - the kind of kilt that forms a 'missing link' between the great kilt of the C18th and the modern knife pleated kilt.

Ruari has made kilts from tweeds as well as tartans so, inspired by this, Glyn chose a black and red Welsh plaid from Calico Kate.  It is woven at Felinfach Felindre near Lampeter.  We didn't want to use an obvious clan tartan because he doesn't have any clan connections.  It should make a really nice kilt, but it is harder to sew because it is a little lighter in weight and more open weave than a Scottish tweed and the small check doesn't give the stitcher as much visual information to line up when sewing.


I'm using 'Spirit of Wales' tartan, which we got from Macnaughton's when they had a mill shop sale at their warehouse on the Inveralmond Industrial Estate in Perth.  They sell as The House of Edgar for tartans and The Isle Mill Ltd for furnishing fabrics.  Most of what they had at their mill sale was ends of rolls (for the tartans), but enough for a kilt.  I also got 1.8 metres of 'Dark Island' tartan - Glyn could do with a Goth kilt as well!  That will only be just enough to make a kilt.  Their Welsh dragon plaid was also irresistible.

'Spirit of Wales' has a bold white line in the pattern, so has to be matched carefully.  Almost all the kilt is hand sewn.  Oddly enough, it seems to have more in common with sewing kimono and hakama than most dressmaking. 

A general view of the class.  We are working in the education room and restaurant, part of the 2013 extension to the original castle that houses the museum.   It is working out to be a great venue.

I am planning to return to working on this quilt today - a black and gold (mostly) version of Japanese Circles and Squares.  I made the blocks this time last year but didn't get them put together, then managed to mix them up.  Luckily I took this reference photo.  The gold 'wedge' print on the left will make an interesting sashing and narrow border.