Accounting for knitters

t’s a funny thing about the January new year (as distinct from my preferred September ‘knitty’ new year), that it often feels more like it’s about looking back than looking ahead. In my case, this is probably about running a small business and the looming  tax return deadline. The first weeks of January play out like a discordant concert of adding up last year’s figures, reconciling payments and deposits, rifling through old invoices and bank statements, that crescendos with the triumphant submission of a balanced set of accounts.

The prize I get for completing this more-frantic-than-it-should-be task is a profound feeling of peace and closure that only a balanced spreadsheet can bring.  Profound, yes. But not complete. There’s a part of me that wishes that one day I could file a parallel reckoning of the business with an alternative version of its value: One that showed how much the shop’s advice had added to confidence and skill (times how many knitters, minus any who’d lapsed in the meanwhile), how much respite from anxiety came from how many stitches, how much anticipation was heightened by the arrival of parcels tied up with red string (minus any irritation felt by impatient unpackers), how many stories were rekindled  by mending old sweaters with the right wool, how much smiling went on between knitters and recipients when knitwear was given (minus any disappointment caused by a bad fit), how much love went into thinking about what colour, size and wool to use, how much pride was brimmed with, at finishing, minus how much exasperation was endured when it went wrong earlier on (adjusted for how much one was dependent on the other), how many assumptions were confounded, pre-conceived cliches ditched, and delights discovered. 

But my book keeping software has no automated feed for these items, no tax codes, no metrics for measuring them, no possible way of working out their value.  And yet, I can’t help thinking that these are the real values of this business, the ones that decide if we sink or swim. I don’t have an alt bookkeeper to audit my work on this, but I do have the stories of an amazing knitting community that stretches all round Clapton and far far beyond which seems to show that whatever else is true, we are comfortably in the black with these uncountable values. Or perhaps that’s really just another way of saying, Wild and Woolly may have a closed sign on the door right now but we are still here and remain OPEN to all of you in ALL the ways we can be through these next difficult months of lockdown that lie ahead.

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