30.03.12

This week’s shop preview is now up! Don’t forget that it is an hour later than usual, at 8pm. There is a link here for you to check what that is in local time for you. The Flickr set is here – my apologies for the alphabetised order, rather than the order of the shop page. Everything that could get mucked up, got mucked up this week. I’m still doing battle with Photoshop. Grrrrr.

28.03.12

I read Dooce the other day. I don’t often, because I find her blog too abrasive, too in-your-face. As you can see from my blogroll, I like quiet, cosy, sweet blogs. If I want a rant, I’ll just listen to myself. Anyway.

She mentioned that March (and September) can be the most difficult months for depression sufferers. Which made me sit up and take notice, because I have never seen this anywhere before. And it got me to thinking.

March is my toughest month.


But I’ve always attributed that to other factors, medication changes, outside stresses, etc etc. It’s counter intuitive that someone with a clear cut case of S.A.D. would feel worse at the start of spring. I’m even hesitant to talk about it, because it seems so ungrateful to blame springtime for anything. But I had to do so much digging to find information about this phenomena (yes, it’s real), and I have to share it with you, because maybe some of you face the same struggle, and we’re in this together, right? Right.

So, here’s what I found out. It has a name. It’s called Spring Exacerbation. Doesn’t exactly trip off the tongue, but it’s nice to know that it’s common enough that doctors have named it. Here are some references, if you want to do some checking up:

Spring Forward, Fall Back Into Depression?

Springtime Depression is Touching My Soul

Winter depression with spring exacerbation: A frequent occurrence in women with seasonal affective disorder

Spring Often Makes Symptoms of Mental Illness Worse

All these sources confirm that for many S.A.D sufferers, and especially women (37% in one study), there is a remission of depression symptoms in February, early March, and an acute return in late March/April. This, looking back on the last few years, has been the case for me. The only year that I escaped it entirely was the year I was running every day. The outside light? The exercise endorphins? I don’t know.

The problem is, no one seems to have come up with a satisfactory theory as to why this should happen. It just does. There are more suicides in spring than in winter. Isn’t that crazy?

It seems to be tied up to the equinox, both of them, autumn and spring. The sudden change in light levels and intensity triggers off an already fragile brain chemistry. One doctor theorised that another factor in spring is seeing everyone around you getting excited and happy and busy, and feeling the contrast intensely. Yes, I can see that contributing, but I don’t think it can be the cause, I think it’s more biological than that. But it doesn’t help.

This winter I had great success in using a light box every day. But I stopped using it in February, which I think may have been a mistake. Perhaps if I’d kept it up, the sudden spring light wouldn’t have been such a shock, I don’t know. We’ll have to wait until next year to find that out.

For now, all I know is this: I’m fighting the black dog. He’s got his claws into me, but he hasn’t thrown me to the floor yet. Just knowing that there is a solid reason for how I feel, helps tremendously. If you are having the same struggle right now, I hope it helps you too. The season will mellow out soon, our brains will adjust to it. I usually start feeling better by mid-late April. In the meantime, I’m taking things slow. Napping when I need to (every afternoon, right now). Not making any arrangements or commitments. Handling myself with gentleness and patience. I hope you are doing the same.

27.03.12

I’m so sorry to do this, because I know everyone is feeling the pinch at the moment, but I’m afraid we have to increase our postage prices from May 1st 2012. Not only is postage going up, but the cost of packaging has risen too. I haven’t increased our P&P cost since April 2010, so I’m sure you’ll forgive me. As nice as it has been to have a one-cost-for-all postage rate, it’s no longer going to be possible for us to cover that. Unfortunately, customers outside the UK are going to have to start paying more than UK customers again. I’m going to set three rates, one for UK, one for EU, and one for International. As usual, these are flat rates, so the more you buy, the better value it becomes.

So from May 1st 2012, our P&P costs will be:

UK – £2.75
EU – £3.75
International – £4.75

I do realise that this is a significant price raise for international customers (almost double, wince), and I do apologise for that. I’ve kept it as low as possible, I promise. This price still won’t cover the cost of the majority of airmail parcels, but I really appreciate your custom, when you have so many other companies to choose from, and so I’m keeping it as low as I can for you.

In an ideal world, our shopping cart system would allow for exact postage rates to be calculated, based on how much you purchase and where in the world you are. But the current system is not that flexible, unfortunately, and so the best we can do is work out an average parcel weight for each area zone, and base our costs on that. That means if you buy less than the average (which tends to be 2-3 skeins), you may be paying a little more than the stamp cost, but when you buy more than the average, you will be paying less, and so it all evens out in the end. I’ve played around with lots of postage pricing structures, and this seems the best for now.

As an example, the postage cost for sending 3 skeins to the USA is £5.37, and this is just postage, not packaging or wages, etc. It’s very seldom that one of our airmail customers buys only 1 skein, and so I have to base the flat rate on a higher average. I really wish it could be calculated by cost, but our system does not allow this at this time, and we process too many parcels each week for me to do it manually. This seems the fairest way, with our current circumstances, but it isn’t going to be the fairest way for every customer, every week, and I am painfully aware of that. I probably shouldn’t have reduced the cost from £3.50 for airmail customers last year, that was a mistake that we’ve been paying for ever since, and it makes the current increase seem ridiculously high.

I try incredibly hard to keep all our prices down, but sometimes there’s nothing I can do, and this is one of those times. I’m truly sorry, and I fully anticipate that it will mean losing some customers, which is heart breaking, but we cannot keep taking such a loss in profits each week – I have to be business-like about it. I really hope you all understand.

23.03.12

Yes, I know that everyone else in the blogging world has moved onto daffodils, but I’m not ready to let the snowdrops go yet. Daffodils are all well and good in large quantities, seen from a distance, but up close and personal they are blowsy and loud and almost vulgar. Give me a delicate, refined narcissus any day, but they seem to have gone out of style in favour of the in-yer-face daffs. So I’ll stick to snowdrops for now. Elegant little things.

Have I told you how much I love moss? I do. I adore it. Vivid chartreuse moss, ghostly silvery moss. It’s all good. These feathery fronds were blowing in the wind, hence the excessive blurriness in parts of the photo. This particular kind of moss reminds me of Miss Havisham from Great Expectations. That ethereal decaying beauty.

The berries on our ivy are very prolific this year. I would like to knit a cardigan and have them as the buttons. Don’t you love the contrast between the matt & the shiny? So beautiful.

I am being an excessively lazy blogger at the moment. These photos are actually from a couple of weeks ago – I haven’t been out with my camera since. BAD blogger. My feeble excuse is that I am feeling Feeble indeed at the moment. I’m having a little flare up of ill health, which hits me every few years or so. Burn out, really. I’m languishing around the house like a Victorian heroine, swooning on sofas and looking pale & frail. Well, feeling frail, in any case. I still have lots of things to talk to you about, but I feel like I’m short changing everyone if I don’t have photos with my posts. Tell me that’s not so……

PS. Oh. LOVING this article.