Yesterday, I sent an email to all the students registered in my online looping courses to let them know their ecourse classrooms will close in early December 2019. I’ve had some technical problems with the site, most of which occur when I’m up to my eyeballs in elder care. I closed registration to online courses last summer while I considered what to do. After some serious pondering, I’ve decided to admit I will never attain the administrative and security skills for managing an online course site. Those are much different skills than producing educational content. I really can’t afford to pay someone to do the things that are out of my skill set. So I am choosing to simplify my life. Elder care has been a huge commitment for me the past few year. I need to have shorter lists of undone tasks, and more hours in the studio than at the computer. So I thank each and every one of you who participated in online classes over the years. It’s been inspiring and I’ve learned so much from all of you. I hope to see you in real life, or maybe on Instagram. And I wish all of you the very best. Thank you for what was a great chapter in my life. Now on to new beginnings!
VAT stands for Value Added Tax. It might as well stand for Very Aggravated & Ticked-off. On the whole, I’d much rather be tending an indigo vat than talking taxes right now. But on January 1, new rules go into effect in the European Union that effect me, an independent artist and writer in rural northern Wisconsin in the U.S. (Sorry — it’s hard to take a suitably serious selfie when my husband is making kissy noises.)
Starting January 1, people who sell digital products to buyers in the European Union are expected to collect and pay VAT based on and to the buyer’s country, not the seller’s. So even though I’m in the US, I’ll be liable for the VAT — which varies by EU member country — in each and every country of residence for buyers of the ebooks, PDFs and online classes I sell as digital downloads on Etsy. There is no threshold for reporting, so there’s no such thing as “too small” to file VAT. And the documentation requirements for proving the buyer’s location are onerous. Etsy say they’re working on this issue, but for now anyway I can’t count on them to make my compliance simple.
Etsy has been a great way for me to get found by a global group of people interested in looping, so I don’t want to leave the platform. And I don’t want to break the law, even though many people say it’s unenforceable. (If you want others to obey the laws in your country, you make every effort to obey the laws in theirs.) I could register with a VAT MOSS (mini one-stop shop) in an English-speaking EU country and just do quarterly reports there, to be dispersed to any of the 28 EU member nations to whom VAT is owed for that period. But since I’m not able to meet the data collection requirements, that seems pointless.
A lot of small ebook and pattern sellers are wondering whether to remove their products from the marketplace, break the law, or make do with alternative delivery methods. I decided to go with alternative delivery methods. The research I did indicates that as long as the services you offer have “more than minimal human involvement,” i.e. they are not primarily automated, they are not considered e-services so are exempt from VAT (at least for now). So I’ve added new Etsy listings for EU buyers of my ebooks and online courses. Those listings are now classified as “physical items” and will be delivered via email instead of as Etsy digital downloads. I’m hoping the file sizes are lean enough to deliver without headaches on either end of the transaction.
I’m keeping my fingers crossed that my EU customers use the EU listings, and buyers in the rest of the world use the listings that let them get their purchases immediately as digital downloads via Etsy.Comply (or at least try) and move on: That’s my intention. All the new listings are now live on Etsy. And as the clock ticks down to the end of 2014, I hope my ducks are mostly in a row for now. At some point, I hope Etsy and/or the EU find some room for the realities of small sellers in regulations intended to keep large sellers (like Amazon) from evading taxes. So I’m viewing this as a work-in-progress and subject to change.
But in the meantime, I intend to start the new year with bubbling cauldrons of natural dye and do some stitching, which is always Very Agreeable Time.
It took some chocolate to get through the to-do list yesterday, but the new Freeform Looping eCourse is up and running and registration is open! The fun of doing the stitching and planning the flow of the course will now be replaced with the fun of seeing what others do with the ideas presented.
While students are getting started, though, I’ll catch up on some domestic matters. And try to forget I made a typo in the subject line of the email newsletter I sent out announcing the course launch. Ouch!
My inner Tim Gunn has been advising me to “Edit wisely.” And I’m paying heed. Not that you can tell by the mess that’s piled up during production of my new eCourse, Freeform Looping. (Trust me, this is a selective view of the chaos.)
Freeform is what I had to leave out back in 2008 when I was writing my book New Age Looping. It was a hard choice, but I had to do it. One more chapter and I wouldn’t have been able to bind the book. So I’ve been waiting a long time to get this material out. And ever since the very first survey I did of the pilot group for the New Age Looping Basics ecourse, this is the online course most students want.
It’s getting closer. The classroom should open on February 11, 2014. Registration will begin once I have all the handouts uploaded to Etsy, so students can download them when they pay for the class.
I had to make another hard editing choice while building this online course: How much basic information to include? And how much would make it impossible to bind, so to speak?
Since I’ve done two online courses that cover the basics thoroughly, I decided that Freeform Looping won’t review those skills. The new course is designed for students who know how to make round and oval starts, how to work back and forth, how to manage thread additions, how to work increases and decreases while controlling the allocation of thread, and how to work needle chains and other live edge equivalents. Those skills are essential for freeform, and they’re covered in New Age Looping Basics and Cross-Knit Looping.
The new Freeform Looping course explores different ways to divide space and fill it, ways to build on small units called motifs or scrumbles, and some amazing dimensional textures you can create with looping. And as with all my online courses, students will learn to integrate design considerations. Then they’ll be able to relegate design to the barely-conscious level that makes working freeform so much fun.
And while it’s fun to do the samples for any class, it’s been especially fun to work on the demonstration projects for Freeform Looping. I’ll show you more when I have links for registration. For now, though:This is what fashion looks like around here when it’s 19 below zero and you have an Etsy order to take the the mailbox. I wonder what Tim Gunn would say?
As the days get shorter, it feels good to settle in for the evening with a looping project (or two). This week, it feels even better because (whew!) my looping eCourses are all now completely at home on their new site. The new classrooms will better meet the needs of a stitching community that’s scattered across the globe.
I spent a lot of time over the summer getting the New Age Looping Basics and Cross-Knit Looping eCourses up and running on the new class platform. There have been some big changes this move. One is that all of my online classes are now available as self-paced courses with no fixed dates for starting or ending. Life happens, and at some point everybody has a week/month/year where they feel like a hamster on a wheel. That’s exactly when you most need relaxing handwork like looping, but maybe not the best time for a class. The improved notification system on the new site lets me be responsive to students at a variety of places in a course. All of the course material is available all the time now, which is perfect for those eager to absorb as much as possible as quickly as possible. And the material will still be available when you have time to go back to review a unit after some sampling and reflection.
There are other aspects of the change I like very much, too. Now, PDF handouts are available as an Etsy digital download as soon as you complete the registration for a course. And no more waiting for starter kit materials to arrive: That was something I felt I needed to do to comply with Etsy’s terms of service. When I began offering online classes, Etsy wanted “tangible” products. That could be a little confusing, considering a course might not start until weeks after registration. I will be adding materials starter kits to my Etsy shop as a separate purchase, but now international students won’t be hit with those high shipping fees.
There are a hundred other little things that went into the new site that probably wouldn’t interest anyone except maybe a school IT person: interactive activity features, completion tick boxes, video pages and more. And there are still things I’d like to do with the site, but might need a school IT person to hold my hand. Still, it’s been a great move.
It really started early last summer when I launched a free online Intro To Looping class on my new class platform. While students from the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Spain, Brazil, the Netherlands, Belgium, Iceland, Israel, Spain and Taiwan were learning about looping, I was learning more about how to manage the new platform. Thank you all for your interest and enthusiasm!
If you missed it, that class is still available. Just go to http://eepurl.com/i35eT and click “Free Intro To Looping Online Class” to register. Or click the pictures below for full descriptions or to register for New Age Looping Basics and Cross-Knit Looping.
And now, back to stitching. I’m almost grateful to have frost nip the garden this week. Truly, I have all the grated zucchini my freezer will hold.
While developing lessons and projects for my New Age Looping Basics eCourse, I considered including a doll form made from an oval base.
It’s a great project for learning. These forms feel, to me, like something much older than the amigurumi so popular now. They touch an ancient chord in me. But that’s me. What do you think?
It’s the first week of the New Age Looping Basics eCourse! Members of the pilot group are busy watching videos, downloading PDF handouts, stitching samples and posting their questions and pictures on the course site. And they’re giving me great feedback on how to improve the course — like the request for the illustration above.
I’d like your feedback, too! What can I do to make Two Red Threads better?