13.07.14

I have been pondering today. Thinking about how the company has developed over the last 7-8 years. Thinking about what drives us. Thinking about the questions and comments that we regularly field, about the scarcity of our yarn compared to its popularity (and therefore, the difficulty of guaranteeing that you always get the yarn you want). Thinking about the many, many opportunities that we say no to. Thinking about our competitors. Thinking about where we want to go in the future.

Some of you are new to Posh, and some of you have been around for years – some almost from our beginnings. Those of you who have been around for a good while will probably agree with me when I say that over the last 7-8 years, Posh Yarn has changed very very little. Some details are different, the yarn range has morphed over the years, and of course, Tony’s dyeing style has evolved. But essentially, we remain the same. A very small artisan family business. And this will never change.

I know that it would be very easy to expand, to capitalise on our success, and to do what some of the bigger indie dyers have done – turn a small artisan business into a multi-arm corporation. (Please note, I am not criticising anyone who does that. If that’s their dream, good on them for achieving it.)

But I truly believe that if we did that, Posh Yarn would lose what makes it special. I believe that our magic lies in two things: Tony’s artistic dyeing ability, and my insistence on the kind of customer service that I personally expect. Any attempt to grow larger, or to diversify, would jeopardise one or both of those. We would need to delegate vital jobs to others, who could never care at quite the level that we do. It is Tony’s job (and no one else could do it) to create unique inspired colourways each week. It is my job (and it is too important to me to trust anyone else to do it) to get that yarn out into the world, to get it named, photographed, sold, and dispatched, extremely promptly, and to be the point of contact for our customers. There is no part of that I would be happy to delegate, and there is no part of it that I would be happy to slow down, to delay.

We have fine tuned things to find exactly the level that works for us, the size of update that we can manage weekly that is of the utmost quality. Some may think me unambitious, compared to others, but I choose quality over quantity every time.

Sometimes I feel that we are boring or static, compared to the constantly changing bells and whistles of other dyers. But then I see the latest batch of colours, and it brings me back to earth, and reminds me of what is important. Like a master chef, who dares to present a dish with only three ingredients, a classic dish, not with dry ice or flavoured foam, or the latest foodie trend. He knows that if he chooses the very best ingredients, and prepares them with great care and skill, that his classic dish is a thing of beauty, and that the diner will appreciate it just as much as a complex or exotic dish.

So, this is our ethos, and it won’t change. Our updates are not small as a commercial trick, to whip up a buying frenzy. They are small because we will only offer you our very best. Because Tony is an artist. Because I am determined that you will get prompt attention and friendly personal service. Because we think that quality and not quantity should be the key when selling an artisan product like hand dyed yarn. Because we like to keep in personal touch with our customers, and make sure you feel special. Because we value you, so much. Too much to offer you anything less than our best.

26.02.13

What if…… you wore exactly what made you feel happy, without regard to fashion, the opinions of others, whether something flatters your figure, or any other external factors?

What if…… you followed your heart, without fear of ridicule, rejection, or failure?

What if…… you forgave yourself for all the mistakes you’ve made, all the wrong paths you’ve followed, and the bad choices you’ve fallen into?

What if…… you did the same for the people around you, friends, family, neighbours, workmates?

What if…… when the voices of your heart speak, instead of running faster, talking louder, to drown them out, you got really still and really quiet, and listened to what they have to say?

What if…… you didn’t expect more of yourself than you are capable of doing, right now, in this moment?

What if…… you stop judging yourself by terrible unreachable standards, ones that you would (hopefully) never apply to anyone else?

What if…… every day was a fresh start, a second chance, a new beginning?

What if…… we never let life get us out of the habit of dreaming?

What if…… we learn to celebrate our differences, instead of fearing and resisting them?

What if…… we start revering, honouring, emulating, people of real value, rather than vapid celebrities and reality stars?

What if…… we went back to the days when it was okay, even desirable, to grow old, rather than something to be resisted at all costs?

What if…… we changed the rules? Right now?

What if……

What if……

What if?

(I’m intrigued as to how this post leaves you feeling…….. anxious? excited? unsettled? determined?)

 

13.02.13

February can be a tough month. I don’t know why this should be, when it’s the tail end of winter, and we know it’s almost over, we’ve survived another winter, spring is so close. I suppose by February, you’ve burned through your reserves and strength, and the greyness seems to seize the opportunity to burrow into your bones. It’s grey here today, heavy unrelenting greyness that seems to press in on you. There is no horizon, nothing to see but low flat greyness of cloud and rain. Even the daffodils in my garden look forlorn, their acid yellow dimmed by the greyness that pervades everything. But the daffodils inside the house are glowing and dauntless. They light up the whole room.

I try to be gentle with myself this time of year, to allow myself to feel gloomy and lethargic without going into a tailspin of panic. I know that come March, I will perk back up again. It’s just a question of hanging in until then. Please hang in, if the winter blues have got inside your bones. It will pass. In just a few weeks now, spring will have driven all memory of winter away from us. Lambs will be prancing, daffodils will dance by the roadside, soon to be followed by the delicate primroses. The sun will be warm as it comes through our windows, inviting us to venture outside, push up our sleeves, turn our faces upwards. We will throw off the lethargy of winter, and find new energy and spirit.

In the meantime, keep breathing. Be still and ready, like the flowers under the frozen earth, just waiting for their moment to burst forth and delight us yet again. We are all just a tiny part of this grand cycle. We cannot resist it, far better to move with it, as gracefully as you can. No matter how long the winter, spring is sure to follow.

21.01.13

Kindness. None of us can do without it. It costs nothing to give, and makes all the difference in the world. I am uplifted by so much kindness shown to me, every day. Kind generosity, appreciative emails, small gestures, that all add up. I try to pay it forward – if I appreciate someone, I tell them so, if I can be generous, I find a way. It works in both directions.

We never know what the end result of a small kindness may be. A few words can make a tremendous difference, can turn around the direction of someone’s life. A small gesture could be a lifeline. Kindness can feel like a disposable commodity in a world that is too fast for most of us, but it is even more important, when we are all struggling to keep up with things, all fighting our own personal battles.

Make time today to be really kind to the people around you. Be generous in whatever way you can. Share your feelings with a loved one. Tell someone what a difference they have made to your life. Lift someone’s load off their shoulders for just a moment. You’ll get it back, a hundredfold.

(details from my current stitching project, the lichen quilt)

03.01.13

“The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and the sense in which he has attained liberation from the self. A human being is part of the whole, called by us ‘Universe’, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest – a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Out task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty. Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation, and a foundation for inner security.”  ~  Albert Einstein

How do you define yourself? If I asked you to write me a description of who you are, what words would you use? Has your sense of self changed over the years?

One of our flaws as humans is the need we have to put everything and everyone into neat little boxes, and keep them there. This is incredibly foolish, since everything in life is shifting and moving all of the time, and change is the only constant. But we do it because it makes us feel more secure, anchors us. Life is easier when it is predictable. Less challenging, which for most of us means, less terrifying.

But locking people up into neatly tagged boxes is a big mistake. And having a narrowly defined concept of ourselves is even worse. Every day changes us, we are growing and adapting all of the time. Add to this the fact that in ourselves, we are many different people. We are not two dimensional characters on the pages of a book, introvert, extrovert, serious, fun loving, and so on. Our nature shimmers and shifts, minute by minute, and trying to pin it down to one set of characteristics is like trying to catch a reflection on water in your hands.

It might not seem important, how we see ourselves, and whether we accept the idea that we are constantly changing, one person one minute, another the next. But it does. It matters tremendously. If we see ourselves as solid, immovable, this-is-who-I-am, then we are stuck, for better or for worse. Mostly for worse.Our reactions to any given situation or challenge are already foregone conclusions. Now, if you see yourself as resilient, wise, daring, then that might not be a bad thing. But many of us, most of us, see ourselves in far more negative ways. I’m fragile, sensitive, timid, insecure. If that definition becomes all encompassing, that is all that I am, then when I hit a bump in the road (and sometimes life feels all bumps), the way I handle that is already cast. What a hopeless prospect. Did you ever try to change something about yourself, some unhelpful way of dealing with life, and have the overwhelming feeling that it was pointless, that you would never be able to change it, that you were doomed to be stuck in that pattern forever? This is why. We set ourselves up to fail, before we even start.

The truth is, I am timid, insecure, fragile, and sensitive. Logic says that if I am these things, I cannot also be strong, brave, resilient, courageous. But life is not logical, we are not logical. Logic is static, cold, we are alive and breathing and moving, and above all else, changing. We can be – and are – a hundred different things all at once. We are gloriously inconsistent, and the only thing holding us back from life is not being able to recognise that.

Once you accept that who you are can never be truly defined, then anything becomes possible. The horizons open up. Life becomes a journey, rather than a story. The real question should be, not who are you, but where are you?