Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Warning When Buying Yarn From Abroad

Image courtesy of cornbreadandhoney
One of the great things about the internet is that it has democratised the craft industry and allowed small producers and designers to reach a worldwide audience. Craftsy and Etsy showcase marvellous products that you can't find in the shops in your local area. But watch out - you could get caught out.

For a while I've been looking for wool to knit Andrea Mowry's So Faded jumper. I hadn't found a colourway that really popped out at me until I came across the Starry Night three skein set from cornbreadandhoney, a seller based in the US, on Etsy (see photo on the right).

Look at those gorgeous yellow and blues. They ticked all my boxes and I placed my order. The yarn worked out pretty good value with the dollar/pound sterling exchange rate and I was happy to pay to a larger than average postage charge considering the seller was posting from the US.

All seemed well until a Royal Mail bill for £20.87 arrived on my doorstep this morning.

It was for a £12.87 customs charge plus an eight pound 'handling fee'. The need to pay customs duty on the yarn because I'd bought it from abroad hadn't occurred to me. It wasn't mentioned on the seller's page although to be fair I wouldn't expect an owner/maker who sells all over the world to know the customs laws for each country.

Next I looked on Etsy to see if customs charges were mentioned anywhere. I went to the 'help' page and typed in 'customs duty'.  In the information for sellers there's a page stating that buyers are responsible for paying customs charges - as you would expect.

However I couldn't find any information for buyers warning about potential customs charges. There was no mention of them on my receipt or despatch notification.

Considering I'd already spent quite a bit of money on the yarn, and if I didn't pay the charges it would be sent back to the seller, I paid the customs charges. Now I'm waiting for the delivery. I'm sure the yarn will be fabulous and I mean no disrespect to the seller at all but I do think I should have been warned about extra charges. This was Etsy's reply when I contacted the company:
"Customs fees vary greatly from country to country, and fees aren't applied until the item reaches your country. Because sellers aren't able to predict what customs fees, if any, will be applied, we're unable to hold them responsible for unexpected fees or taxes."
The reply dodges my original question, which was why Etsy doesn't warn buyers about potential customs charges, at the checking out stage, when they are buying items from abroad.

Buyer beware!

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Tin Can Knits Launches Four Summer Patterns

I'm a great fan of Tin Can Knits, the designer duo where Emily is based in Scotland and Alexa in Canada, therefore it was great to hear today that they have published four new knitting patterns for summer. Having just finished knitting Karie Westermann's Vinterskov aran-weight sweater it's time to cast on something lighter on my needles.

Love Note

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits
This cropped lacy sweater is my favourite out of the four new patterns. Tin Can Knits used a combination of single ply merino and mohair lace but the pattern would also work using a DK yarn. Rainbow Heirloom is selling a yarn kit for Love Note.

Penny Sweater

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits

Choose whether to knit the Penny sweater in full or cropped length. There's a sweet lace pattern on the back as well as the front and it's knitted in DK yarn.

Penny Hat

Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits

Knitted in sock weight yarn this hat has a delicate sculptural lace pattern.


Image courtesy of Tin Can Knits

This shawl/oversized scarf has a delicate floral lace pattern. Choose to either knit it in light or heavyweight yarn.

All the patterns are available on Ravelry at approx £6.68. There's a discount of 25% off until the end of May 2019 if you buy all four together.

Monday, 6 May 2019

Do You Know Your Worsted From Your Woollen Spun?

However long you've been knitting, whether it's a few months or most of a lifetime, there's some knitting jargon and woolly processes that you think you know but when it comes to explaining them, well ... that's where the things start to fall down.

When I went to Edinburgh Yarn Festival in March I thought one of the most interesting stands was that of The Woolist. Its the brainchild of uber wool lover Zoe Fletcher, whose recently completed PhD was on the subject of British sheep and wool characteristics for knitwear.

Zoe Fletcher image courtesy of The Woolist
For her studies she travelled the UK to see all the different sheep breeds. At Edinburgh Yarn Festival she displayed the results of her research along with some very interesting wool facts. There were also samples of different wool breeds to squish.

The Woolist stall at EYF

With thanks to Zoe, here are five interesting woolly facts:
  1. Worsted and woollen spun refer to what happens to wool before it is spun. Worsted-spun yarns have their fibre straightened and aligned before spinning, resulting in a smooth yarn. Woollen-spun yarns, however, aren't straightened before spinning, trapping air and resulting in a matte surface with a soft halo when knitted up.
  2. Superwashed means that the wool has been chemically treated to either remove the wool fibre scales or smooth them over with a coating. This helps to prevent felting and shrinking when cleaned in a washing machine.
  3. 72 is the number of British sheep breeds in the UK according to the British Wool Marketing Board in 2011.
  4. The most predominant British breeds are the Shetland, Bluefaced Leicester, Herdwick and Jacob.
  5. Wicking is a term that means taking water away from the skin. Wool is able to absorb up to 30% of its weight without feeling damp.
Thanks to Zoe Fletcher, The Woolist and the EYF guide.

Read about Edinburgh Yarn Festival in The Knitter magazine

My feature on this year's EYF, along with lots of photos of sumptuous yarn, is in the latest issue of The Knitter magazine, which is issue 137.

Image courtesy of The Knitter

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