On the last day of 2020 here’s a post on a topic I’m sure you are all desperate to hear much more about – BREXIT!

Ahem – I’m only joking. In all seriousness, though, it is no secret that the KDD team (like the vast majority of people here in Scotland) have heartily opposed the pointless breaking of our close ties with Europe. Indeed, we look forward to the day when Scotland has a rather different relationship with our outward-looking and internationalist friends and allies: a relationship that’s not determined by our current clownshoe UK government and its toxic combination of nationalist nostalgia and disaster capitalism. Like many businesses, dealing with the uncertainties of Brexit on top of those of the pandemic has not been all that easy over the past few months, especially when the substance of the government “advice” we’ve been receiving is neatly summed up below (from the latest issue of Private Eye)

Anyway, I want to say a couple things to clarify where we are and how it affects you, if you are one of our many beloved and highly valued European customers.

Digital goods: KDD is, and will continue to be, enrolled in the EU MOSS scheme, remitting sales taxes to each EU member state on your behalf, so there’s no change at all to the process of purchasing any of our digital products.

Physical goods: As the UK is no longer part of the single market or customs union, we’re changing our labelling and shipping processes to include product harmonisation codes, customs declarations, and comply with all new regulations as a country now outside of the EU. Orders of physical goods from the KDD shop may take a bit longer to reach you, and be subject to import duty and taxes when crossing the border into your own jurisdiction. In a few months time, the EU seems likely to implement a new centralised scheme (IOSS – similar to MOSS) in which sales taxes on physical goods will be charged at individual rates determined by each customer’s country of origin in each of the 27 member states. When this scheme is introduced (hopefully in July), we’ll be able to remit such taxes on your behalf, which may simplify / reduce some border-related issues. In the meantime, we’ve decided to offer reduced shipping rates to our EU customers, in acknowledgment of the customs, duty, and brexit-related frustrations (which none of us wanted).

We’ll be taking the KDD shop offline for a few days from this evening (31st) – to do some behind the scenes Brexit-related admin, update our systems, and implement our new reduced EU shipping rates.

One of Brexit’s many contradictions is that a government which otherwise loves to hymn the virtues of deregulation has, by leaving the single market, imposed a vastly increased regulatory burden on the UKs thousands of small businesses. I have to say that, in general, I’m all for business regulation: the MOSS or IOSS schemes, for example, pose some difficulties for small businesses to implement and manage (submitting quarterly returns while staying abreast of 27 different tax rates that are continually changing) but charging sales tax at customer’s country of origin certainly makes trade more equitable and more transparent: it’s all part of doing business fairly (and allowing the 27 member states to collect an eye-watering 7 billion Euro-worth of sales taxes that are currently estimated to be lost to fraud and evasion). Scrutiny and regulation is absolutely necessary to make businesses of all sizes fairer and more accountable – but to tear up an existing international regulatory framework and merely replace it with additional red tape, friction, delays, and continued uncertainty seems, even by the standards of the current UK administration, more than ordinarily counterintuitive.

And while we are on the subject of accountability, regulation, and its failures, I’d like to say something about the decision I took, in 2019, for KDD to stop using the services of Facebook and Google. It’s only when you attempt to completely extricate yourself and your company from such platforms (and their data harvesting / commodifying activities) that one begins to realise just how far these poorly regulated and poorly scrutinised mega-corporations are imbricated in one’s everyday life and business activities. I was initially concerned that the loss of efficient analytic tools and a fairly large social media platform would have a negative effect on KDD, but have been very happy to find that the opposite is the case, and that thanks to all you lovely knitters and readers, business is well and truly thriving. This is heartening to me because I suppose I feel quite strongly that what we do – which, to a greater or lesser extent, is generally concerned with championing the slow creative process – is antithetical to the relentless pace of the attention economy, as well as to its culture of reactive performativity. Speaking personally, I’ve missed absolutely nothing about these platforms, feel I’ve lost absolutely nothing by being absent from them, and rather seem to have gained an awful lot. Time is certainly one of the most significant of those gains, and it is interesting to me that in 2020 I’ve read (and have hugely enjoyed reading) a greater variety and quantity of wonderful, interesting books than I have in many years. This year I’ve also felt a renewed sense of creative purpose and (perhaps most crucially) have not suffered an episode of mental ill health, despite this being, by anybody’s reckoning, a strange and extraordinarily difficult year. All of this preamble is to say that, having some sense of the benefits of removing KDD from Facebook and Google, I’ve now decided to give us a wee break from Twitter too. I’m also hoping to be able to post here, on this blog, much more regularly in coming months – we’ll see how things go. So – you can follow us here, sign up for the KDD newsletter (in which I’ll let you know about new projects and products once a month) or, for knitterly camaraderie, come and join us in our supportive and friendly Ravelry group.

So – here’s to 2021!

Happy new year everyone, and especially to all of our friends in the EU.