So Long Same Difference

Same Difference Yarn

You might remember that we’re coming to the end of our stock of BFL Mohair yarn. I love this yarn – it’s touch enough for socks yet beautifully gentle next to your skin. I’ve stashed enough for a jumper. Because the base is custom spun that means we need to commit to another 100 kilos of it to get it spun again, and we’re trying to move away from yarns which we need to buy in such bulk, especially when it’s a base that’s a little more niche (but Britsock is staying because we sell so much of that)

That means that it’s time for the Same difference sets to find new homes.

Same Difference yarns are something we dye which I haven’t seen anywhere else. You get two 50 gram skeins in each set. Both skeins are dyed with the same colours, but there’s more of one colour on each skein. So the copper and turquoise set has one skein with mainly turquoise and one skein with manly copper. I love these sets for socks that look like they know each other rather than match perfectly. The two skeins also look brilliant in garter stitch shawls – you’ll see the change form skein to skein but it’s quite subtle.

The Same Difference yarns are now in the shop with 25% off – so £15 per set instead of £20.

Take me to the Same Difference Yarns

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Last Call for Designers

As we told you last week we’re not going to be able to have the winning design from the Inclusive Design Challenge at Yarndale as it won’t be ready in time.

Instead we’re pulling together a list of designers whose work might not always be the most visible because they belong to a group (or groups) that isn’t so well represented in the knitting and crochet world.

We’re planning to offer a printed list of designs which would work beautifully with our yarns and we’ll give that out to customers at Yarndale. We’ll also put the list online with a link from the mini skeins in the shop. The online list will have space for photos too.

We’re not setting hard and fast rules here – we’d like this to be an opportunity for someone who feels marginalised by the knitting industry. Exclusion happens for many reasons including colour, race, gender, sexuality, religion, age, ability, size and financial situation. This is an chance to tip that balance a little. We’re based in the UK, but you don’t have to be.

What we need to include you in the list is your designer name, a link to your patterns and the pattern whose photo you want us to include online. We need this information by 1800 on Friday 20th September.

You can leave the information as a comment here or email us – helloATtheknittinggoddessDOTcoDOTuk

Thank you to those designers who have been in touch – it’s a pleasure to get the chance to help promote what you do.

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Yet More Innocent Avoidance

Back at the start of September I wrote to Innocent in reply to an email and asked a simple question.

“Please let me know when I should expect to receive an answer to my query about the amount spent advertising The Big Knit against the sum donated.”

Clearly simple answers aren’t something that Innocent do well.

I got this. It’s long. It’s deluded.

Tilly (people’s champion) Sep 9, 12:43 BST Hello there Joy,

Hope you had a great weekend?

Thanks again for taking the time to send us all this info. It was a really interesting read, and gave us lots to think about.

First up, we agree that wool can be great in loads of ways – it’s the bread and butter of the campaign, after all. Just to play devil’s advocate, since you asked, lots of people have got in touch with us to say they’re concerned that if wool’s being sheared and produced at a huge industrial scale, it gets more difficult to guarantee the sheep will be treated as you’d like. Since it’s not our area of expertise, we don’t know how common the stuff shown in PETA’s video is, but we have seen it, and we do know how it makes people feel, which understandably can lead to them not wanting to buy or use sheep’s wool. That said, we totally agree small farms are great, and it sounds like your local ones are absolute gems, so it’s just a matter of giving people details of trusted suppliers.

That’s a great point about landscape, by the way. Coincidentally, I was listening to a piece on the radio recently about sheep being reintroduced to Hampstead Heath for the first time in 60 years as a sustainable alternative to machinery, and thought it sounded like a brilliant solution to managing vegetation and encouraging wildlife.

At the end of the day, the Big Knit isn’t just about the money we make for Age UK (although it’s become a really important, reliable source of funding for them). It’s about the community it’s helped to build. For example, we often have the knitters from our local Age UK centre into Fruit Towers for lunch, and see first hand how the campaign itself brings older people together with a shared purpose. Preventing loneliness, isolation and poor health in older people is a cause very close to our hearts, and statistically, close to lots and lots of other people’s, too. Whilst we know there are plenty of worthy causes knitters and crocheters can donate to, we simply can’t support them all – however much we’d love to. In order for us to work with Age UK, we had to find something which physically came along with the drinks people were buying, because and that’s where the little hats came from. Age UK love the idea because it both funds activities, and has created activities for people knitting together (Big Knit clubs are a big hit in centres across the UK). If you haven’t seen it already, this is a little video we made a couple of years ago: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1b854BDX7w

That said, the Big Knit’s brought together groups of skilled crafters on social media and in real life, who spend the time between Big Knit campaigns collaboratively making huge contributions to other charities and causes. We’re part of a Facebook group created by our crafters themselves, and we’ve seen those legends egg each other on as they made hats for premature babies, blankets for the homeless, and knitted toys for kittens recovering from abandonment (to name a few causes).

Thanks for passing on the stats from your surveys – that’s really interesting. From our point of view, we see data that shows our drinks do really when hats are on bottles, which allows us to donate generously to Age UK, as well as a huge spike in positive contact, so that’s enough for us to know it makes people happy.

We have to invest in marketing to tell people we make healthy little drinks anyway otherwise we’d be rubbish at business, but we’ve chosen to focus one of our campaigns on a great charity and cause – just like we do with the Big Grow and getting kids to grow their own veg (https://innocentbiggrow.com/). We could easily spend all our money just blowing our own trumpet, but we’d rather not. Last year, we ran a ‘call to knit’, to get people knitting, but this year, there’s been absolutely no marketing spend – no posters, no advert, and no print.  Aside from operational costs like collecting and tagging hats, and popping them on bottles, all the rest of the cash in the budget goes towards our Age UK donation.

What we’re trying to say is that we think the Big Knit is an amazing campaign doing a lot of good, and we think it’s the right thing to do. If there’s a way we can do it better then we’re very much up for it, and you’ve presented some very good challenges. We also want our knitters to be using more sustainable and ethical materials. Our sustainability team have spent over 20 years researching the circular economy, and we’d hate to think we’re responsible for anything ending up in landfill. We always want to be held accountable for this stuff, and we’re grateful to you for lending your expertise and nudging us about this. While this year’s campaign is already underway, we’d love to shout more about sustainable materials with the next campaign, and help our knitters to source better alternatives – and if you’re up for it, we’d love your help with that. We already request hats back and re-use them continuously when we get them, but we’ll be sure to make much more of a ‘thing’ of that next time, to incentivise people to send them back to us so they can raise even more money.

Hope that answers your questions for now, and we hope it’s okay if we get in touch with you next year when we start working on these bits.

Thanks again for the thorough info you’ve sent us, and we hope to chat to you again soon,

Tilly

Let’s pick out a few especially interesting points

“if wool’s being sheared and produced at a huge industrial scale, it gets more difficult to guarantee the sheep will be treated as you’d like”

That would be a no. Sheep still get sheared individually. They don’t get put some Wallace and Grommit style machine on larger farms. Also isn’t it hypocrital of one of the largest multinationals to be concerned about sheep farming on an industrial scale when they mass produce?

Since it’s not our area of expertise, we don’t know how common the stuff shown in PETA’s video is”

Let’s not forget how big Coca Cola is. It could hire an expert. It could hire a whole team of experts. It could take a few minutes and read up about the PETA ad claiming wool is cruel as fur being banned for being misleading. But maybe that’s too much to expect. After all they have lunch to organise………

” For example, we often have the knitters from our local Age UK centre into Fruit Towers for lunch, and see first hand how the campaign itself brings older people together with a shared purpose. “

Are we really meant to think that’s sweet and helpful? One thing that would be really helpful in preventing loneliness in older people would be better services. Services which could more easily be provided if companies paid their tax fairly. Coca Cola who own Innocent are notorious for this. The link below is to an article showing how much tax as a percentage of turnover huge multinationals pay. In 2011 Coca Cola paid 2% of their turnover. 2%. That was a tax bill of £ 39,144,000. Imagine how many austerity cuts could have been avoided if Coca Cola and the other tax dodgers on the list had paid fairly. So some tax deductible lunches don’t really balance things out.

Tax article

it’s money from sales that turns into a donation “

So there’s still no recognition that asking people to work for pennies an hour making things that most people don’t want isn’t smart. Innocent could put a hat sticker on bottles and say that they’ll donate for every bottle sold. But that’s not such a good story for a multinational which wants to pretend it cares.

” this year, there’s been absolutely no marketing spend – no posters, no advert, and no print”

Now call me picky – but the poster I saw in the window of our local age concern came from somewhere. It cost money to print. So unless Age Concern are being made to fund advertising in order to get donations the no marketing spend doesn’t sound right.

That comment also ignores all the staff costs of the people working on these promotions. Maybe Coca Cola could sack them and donate their salaries instead. It would probably be more than was donated last year.

” Our sustainability team have spent over 20 years researching the circular economy, and we’d hate to think we’re responsible for anything ending up in landfill. “

I can’t quite believe that Tilly managed to type this – or that she believes I’m stupid enough to fall for it. If the sustainability team really believe they aren’t responsible for anything ending up in landfill then I’d question how effective they can be. I’ve seen hats swept off bottles and left on supermarket shelves. When I asked if people would keep or bin hats on Instagram more than half said bin them – and that allowed for people who didn’t want them but would try to find a way to recycle them. So it’s just another pile of empty words.

It’s not just about landfill though – so many resources get used to put a little hat on a plastic bottle and those resources could be so much better deployed.

So for now I’m going to do a couple of things. I’m going to support my local Age UK. I’ll shop there. I’ll donate things to them. The second thing I’ll be doing is continuing to talk about this. I’ll be sharing photos of the hats I see abandoned on supermarket shelves. I’ll be reminding Innocent that if they would hate to be responsible for anything ending up in landfill they need to do better. Much better.

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Shop Update 12.09.19

It’s not very often that I’m tempted by a KAL. There are always plenty of things waiting in my queue of things I want to make.

However I’m very tempted by the 10th anniversary KAL by Stephen West – Starflake.

Here’s what Stephen says

” I designed this year’s shawl to feature two colors for a high contrast graphic design. I recommend choosing two colors that have a high contrast to see the crisp lines and details of the shawl. The shawl will be equally beautiful with a lower contrast if you prefer a softer, more subtle effect. Use solid, semi-solid, or lightly speckled yarns. I would avoid heavily speckled or variegated yarns for this design as they may obscure the design details. “

The design calls for two colours, and it struck me we had enough of our discontinued Britsock colours to make up some kits and offer those at a 20% discount – so £64 instead of £80. That also means that UK customers get free postage.

Acid Yellow and Grellow
Moss and Violet
Brown and Copper

You can find all of the Britsock sets here

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Inclusive Design Competition Update

It’s with a great deal of sadness that I need to let you know that we’re not going to have the winning design from Lauryn of Lots of Lols Crochet on display at Yarndale.


Having seen both the design submission and the WIP photos that Lauryn sent me I’m still completely in love with the winning design. It’s a beauty and I’m looking forward to promoting the hell out of it when it’s ready.


That ready date won’t be for Yarndale 2019. Life gets in the way of the best of plans and some things are so much more important than a crochet pattern. Neither Lauryn nor I could have anticipated the circumstances that have led to the design being put on hold for a while. It’s the right decision and I’m more than happy to wait.


I’m conscious that Yarndale is less than 3 weeks away and that doesn’t give us a whole pile of time to arrange something else – so we’ve been thinking about the original aim of the design call and if there’s a different way we can still achieve that.

We’re planning to offer a printed list of designs which would work beautifully with our yarns and we’ll give that out to customers at Yarndale. We’ll also put the list online with a link from the mini skeins in the shop. The online list will have space for photos too.

We’re not setting hard and fast rules here – we’d like this to be an opportunity for someone who feels marginalised by the knitting industry. Exclusion happens for many reasons including colour, race, gender, sexuality, religion, age, ability, size and financial situation. This is an chance to tip that balance a little. We’re based in the UK, but you don’t have to be.

What we need to include you in the list is your designer name, a link to your patterns and the pattern whose photo you want us to include online. We need this information by 1800 on Friday 20th September.

You can leave the information as a comment here or email us – helloATtheknittinggoddessDOTcoDOTuk

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Shop Update 05.09.19

There’s been a bit of discussion about what we should call our new hand painted yarns.

Freckle and speckle imply a delicacy that these yarns don’t have. They’re a bit bolder.

Say hello to our splodge yarns.

Britsock Splodges

We’ve also added eight new flower inspired colours to the shop.

Britsock Flowers

Take me to the shop

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November Yarn Clubs

This year has flown past – I can’t quite believe that we’re now taking orders for the last installment of the 2019 yarn clubs.

Usually we’d be posting these parcels so they arrived as close to the 1st of November as possible. There’s a lot of uncertainty around Brexit and as many of our clubs go to customers in EU countries we’re aiming to post at least a week earlier so that all parcels should have cleared customs before the deadline for the UK leaving the EU.

At the moment there seems to be no clear information about what will happen to parcels in transit, so we’re looking to minimise problems by posting early.

I’m also aware that things are moving fast, and there are legal challenges to stop the UK leaving the EU without a deal, so things may change. So all I can say right now is that we’re as organised as possible, and we’ll do our absolute best to prevent any problems that we can control.

So – yarn clubs.

There are three options.

Sock club gives you the choice of a soft or loud colourway based on icecream colours plus a pattern from Clare Devine.

You can find out more and see what the November colours are here.

Next up is shawl club – 100g of a main colour and 20g of a contrast on or gorgeous 4ply BFL Masham base, plus a shawl design from Clare Devine.

You can find out more and see the November shawl club colours here

Finally we have a mini skein club which gives you five 20g skeins so you end up with a collection of colours which were designed to work together.

See the November mini skein club colours here

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