yarn business ethics 101

The purpose of this post is to alert anyone thinking of spending money with

  • Yarn Gathering of 14a Earlsdon Street, Coventry CV5 6EG (not to be confused with other knitting shops with the same/similar name); company number 07171339, registered office 6 Church Road, Coventry, CV8 3AR*
  • ebay seller jowatso21
  • any business with britishyarn.org.uk or yarngathering.co.uk* in its web or email address or using the email address yarngathering@gmail.com*
  • or any other business run by Joanne Watson and Douglas Watson (Jo Watson and Doug Watson) of  Coventry

to read up on their business history first.

Like much of the rest of the knitosphere I watched this summer’s Knit Camp drama unfold on ravelry and elsewhere with ever increasing horror and incredulity. I didn’t blog about it, because, well, this blog isn’t about teh dramahz. I’m blogging about it now because in spite of everything, Jo Watson (the person responsible for the knit camp debacle) is still trying to make money from knitting and knitters.

In case you missed it, and as I did not attend Knit Camp, I give you the words of just some of those who did:

or read Dye Studio Queenie’s summary.  It’s pretty clear that organisation was chaotic, communication with tutors and paying customers poor to non-existent and tutors left unpaid – not only their fees, but out of pocket for their travel expenses. Plus, due to the organisers not having appropriate immigration clearance in place in time, Lorillee was refused entry to the UK and removed from the country.

No apologies or explanations were forthcoming.  Soon after Knit Camp those owed money were informed that the organising company responsible, ‘Events by British Yarn’, was insolvent and little or no further money owed would be paid.  Knitters being knitters, a whip round was organised which raised enough money to at least reimburse tutors for their out of pocket expenses.

But now it seems Jo Watson never left the yarn business.  While people are still owed a lot of money by one of her companies,  and other people have donated money to help the unpaid tutors, she has reopened for business.  The online arm of her shop has reappeared and she is also selling on wool & knitting items on ebay.

There is nothing Jo Watson is selling that you can’t buy elsewhere, from more responsible and ethical knitting businesses which do not have a history of leaving people out of pocket. Some of my favourites are over there on the right; there are lots more besides.

Spend your money wisely, knitters (and crocheters and spinners, too, of course). And if you have a blog, consider posting something about this sorry affair on your blog too.

* updates added 17/11/10


9 responses to “yarn business ethics 101

  1. Has anyone been in touch with her administrators to clarify the situation? I thought all of her businesses were under administration. Surely if she’s been adjudicated bankrupt again she’s not allowed to be running a company. If the administrators are running the shop then that would change everything, it would be a chance to get some more money for her creditors. Can anyone clarify?

    • Joanne Watson was made personally bankrupt in January 2009 (London Gazette record); this was presumably discharged by 26 Feb 2010 when Events by British Yarn and Yarn Gathering were incorporated as limited companies. As far as I am aware both of these companies are still in existence and neither has been subject to insolvency proceedings.

    • While the fundraising covered the tutors’ expenses, payment for teaching is still outstanding for most instructors. In recent days, small amounts have been paid to a couple of tutors by Events by British Yarn, presumably as a result of the etsy sales.

  2. I can’t remember whose twitter feed I grabbed this link from – but thanks for putting it all out into words.

    I shared the link as well, I believe everyone in this business should know about the happenings!

  3. beautifully written Audrey. I’ve been mulling over how to write a similar blog post which would be factually accurate and not abusive or slanderous ( as I think the red mist descending might just tip me over)

  4. I get very sad when I think about “bad knitters”. Not necessarily folks who knit badly, but knitters who act badly. This is a community of folks that I have found the most generous, honest, giving, and forthright of all that I know. These are the people that help total strangers with dropped stitches and yarn mis-calculations… they knit for the troops… they knit for the sick… they’ve given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Doctors without Borders. Belief in this community gave me the courage to launch my site in October. I think of knitters as givers not takers. I’m just sad by this… very very sad.

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