There are reasons, lots of reasons, why emails do not get replies, why orders take so long to fill, and why you have not been notified that it is your turn. 2023 was a very rough year, and 2024 has not started off any better.
Nothing about the work we do is fast. Unlike a lot of fibers, you can’t just send your dog hair to a fiber mill (and even if you could, it would be a long wait there too.)
But I have had quite a run of it over 2023, and the bad luck does not seem to want to let up.
I am genuinely sorry that customers do not hear from me promptly. That is not my way, but for the most part it has been unavoidable for over a year now.
Problem #1: Technical Issues
I can’t answer emails I don’t receive, and for a very significant portion of 2023, I was not receiving emails.
I’m actually pretty good with tech. I’m not a coder or a programmer, but one of the ways that I have paid my bills is by doing front-line tech support. This issue however proved to be far beyond my pay grade and involved literally days on end working with engineers at my email service provider, followed by several days of working with engineers at other companies, trying to untangle a mess that was not of my making but was indeed mine to clean up.
The good news is that I’m getting all my emails now. The bad news is that once the problem was solved, then came the task of reconstructing emails I had not received for months. I’m still trying to make sure I found them all.
On the heels of that nightmare, I then had to deal with the failure of a major software company to prepare for operating system updates. (If you own a business and use Mac, you probably know who that was.) In my case, I ended up spending, again, quite literally days first re-installing a prior operating system and then manually re-loading all my data. I could not do any other work until that was complete. And that included work for which I get paid and can use to pay my bills.
Problem #2: Family Issues
Our family home was sold last year. That alone would have been plenty; the house is 5 states away from me. But after that, a family member became very ill for a very long period of time. For seven full weeks this fall, I really could only work for an hour or so at a time because that family member could not be left alone except when asleep. And sleep was hard to find.
Long story short: I was out of my shop for seven weeks. I was barely able to knit at home.
Problem #3: Staff Issues
The work we do is pretty specialized. It’s not like you can just bring someone in off the street and have them hit the ground running. It also doesn’t pay as well as anyone would like.
I work really hard at hiring people who are very good at what they do, so when there is a problem with their work, it’s a very rare event and usually not a big deal. But this year, I had a really big problem. Someone with whom I have worked for several years screwed up a big order. Really screwed it up. And I had to completely undo all the work and re-do it from scratch. This involved knitting with very fine needles, and since I only have two hands, I have been trying to balance doing fiber preparation for my spinners with this very fine knitting AND trying to pay my bills. (Side note here: all my spinners and knitters get paid for their work; I have yet to see a dime personally, though, and I have to pay my bills by doing other work for which I get paid.)
This one screwup is still being rectified. I also cannot trust this knitter in future, so I have to do all the knitting myself until I find a qualified knitter whom I can trust. So a long queue backed up even longer.
Problem #4: Health Issues
In the midst of our family health crisis, I started suffering pain beginning on Halloween and continuing through the holidays. I went to a doctor in December and was misdiagnosed. Recently, I had yet another episode and it was unbearable (and my pain receptors don’t work properly so that is really severe). The emergency room recognized it right away and out came my gallbladder.
I’m recovering very well, but I have a lifting restriction which means I cannot lift wash bins with water for some time yet. Which means I can’t do washing for now. I’m working to strengthen my midsection enough to be able to stand long enough to do other tasks, but it is slow. I had major surgery and I need to heal.
Result: I don’t know when we will catch up
Do I like being backed up so far? Absolutely not. I feel terrible that I don’t answer emails quickly. I feel worse that I can’t turn orders around quickly. I know that the work we do is first rate, and for some, that alone makes it worth the wait. For others, it is not, and I completely understand.
In the end, this my business is a labor of love and even though I am not seeing any monetary profit in it, it feeds my soul and pays my artisans and so I keep going. But I understand that many people cannot wait out my misfortunes. All I can do is keep chipping away as my health and energy permit.
And that, dear reader, is why it takes so <expletive deleted> long to hear back from us. We have not forgotten you. I just cannot move any faster. And now, back to work.