Here's some of the stuff we've done over the past ten years that you've helped to support:
- awarded carbon neutral status in 2020
- accredited as a Living Wage Employer and pay way over that threshold
- facilitated charitable fundraising to the sum of almost £80,000 in the past four years
- we're committed to 1% for the Planet to balance people, planet and profit
- a physical store and workplace that was created with accessibility at its core and not an afterthought
- operated the business on minimal wholesale, 99% retail only, rarely exhibited at shows but when we did, our booth was always theatrical and memorable
- ran two successful yarn subscription clubs, the second Yarn Cartel, with over 300 subscribers per month
- went dark on social media in summer 2020 which amazingly has turned out brilliantly because rather than dancing on video or whatever you need to do to get noticed now, I concentrated on the things I can control and sales soared. Analytics is my friend here!
- I've dyed yarn for some of my favourite catwalk fashion designers
- I've heard from dozens of women who went on being diagnosed as autistic after seeing me on social media talk about this stuff. With a new understanding of themselves and how they interact with the world. That's pretty humbling
- Tits Out Collective - I'm not going into the ins and outs of this as I'll be here all day but if you like reading academic stuff, Dr Lynne Baxter of York University wrote a paper about what I organised with regards to affective action.
So, ten years. You're probably wondering what it is that we're doing to celebrate today. I haven't written a book or had yarn custom spun. I'm going to do something that may come completely out of the blue to most of you.
Today, I'm handing in my resignation.
I had gameplans for what comes next for the business; I'm not very good at staying static and just cruising along. Stay in the studio or move to a different unit, go online-only, scale-up, so many ideas. And as I sat with each one making all the projections, I realised that I've achieved everything I wanted to at Countess Ablaze and it's time to move on.I never planned to do this job forever, if anything the business has been a diversion away from my real ambitions that I needed to shelf when things were tough for my younger self. Now I'm about to turn 40, my daughter is grown up and leaving home, and the lease on the studio is up for renewal at the end of this year. So the timing is perfect.
Earlier this year, I started dreaming again and like so many of you, felt that the pandemic was a catalyst for change. I somehow squeezed studying into this chaos alongside running the business in multiple crises the UK is in. You see, I actually have a whole different, wildly different skillset and passion that is being underutilised.
I am so excited to tell you that I start my new career in January as a trainee Cyber Security Consultant. It has been my dream job since I was a teenager, before this was even an industry to have a job in, and everything has been in my way. And now there isn't, apart from the not so small task of closing my business as cleanly as possible.
And this is where I'm going to need a little help. As wonderful as it would be to be left with a cracking yarn stash far bigger than I'll ever knit with, I'm going to need everything gone. And because I didn't wholesale to every yarn shop that ever existed, once it's gone, it is gone. And the sooner it's all gone, the sooner I can finally wind down and have a much needed rest before I swap my goth gear for standard issue hacker hoodie.
But I have dyed one final Rebel Batch Collection for you. I'm going out with a bang.
Presenting A Career in Cyber, complete with a playlist of stereotypical hacker music from Orbital to V For Vendetta's 1812 Overture.
This is the last yarn that I will ever dye.
Now one final request before I finish crashing my own party. So one thing autistics struggle with is overload and in particular, I struggle with people offloading their emotions and traumas in my inbox and that's happened far too much over the past ten years and you're not allowed to do it now. This is a hard boundary. I've set up a ClickUp Form where you can say your goodbyes or good riddance and I can read it another time when I have the capacity for it.
Right now, I need to focus on getting through this transition period with all the mixture of my own emotions as well as supporting my employees, so you'll respect my boundaries on this.
Emails are open for customer service only and I've written an FAQ page with regards to how closing affects Underground, Yarn Cartel, gift cards, store credit and your statutory rights as a consumer.
It has been an honour to dye yarn for you, to host you at my events, chatted with you in my studio and at shows, made stuff with my yarn, to know you've read my newsletters and blog posts, watched my videos, liked my posts, even taking a chance on joining my obscure online community when I went dark on social media. I couldn't have achieved any of this without you.
I'll remember you all fondly.
I vowed to myself that when the time came for me to stop dyeing yarn, I'd make my repeatable colourway "recipes" freely available under open-source principles.
Today, today is that day. Click the image to get your PDF of some of my colourways.