This You have Got to See: I Hope They Will Be Baaaack.

Magpie Eyes Designs in the UK has an enjoyable blog, which I discovered from the blog stats on word press. So glad you left a comment on my blog! One of the things I really enjoyed seeing was a You Tube (I think it was You Tube) video on the blog about extreme sheep herding.

As you all know, the blog tour has started, and one of the fascinating things about fiber festivals IMHO is watching the sheepherding demonstrations. Mt. Bruce Station in Michigan is within a reasonable driving distance that has a fall festival, and my husband being the wonderful fiber husband that he is took me. Those dogs are smart. No doubt about it, and they love what they do.

Now I want to say upfront that I love animals. If I find a bug (unless it is something like an ant in my kitchen) I will take it outside and not kill it. But I will also say that I am not a vegetarian. The Native Americans in their culture had a great take on the whole issue I think. They thanked the animal for its’ sacrifice, and were respectful of what was involved in that. Yes we are meat eaters but we don’t disrespect the animal or are wasteful with its’ life. I interject this because I know there are those concerned with how animals are treated and so on. I don’t think these sheep are mistreated. Their humans might be having some fun, but that doesn’t mean the animals are being mistreated.

Shepherds in general have nothing to gain by mistreating their sheep. Their animal will not be healthy and the fleece will not be in good condition. The shepherds you see at sheep and wool festivals often are deeply connected to their flocks. I had purchased some of the yarn at Mt. Bruce, and enjoyed it immensly. It had the name of the sheep on it that it came from. You just don’t get that level of intimacy normally in knitting without going to a sheep and wool festival of some sort, or purchase yarn from a shepherd that sells yarn. It really adds something to your knitting.

For the designer though, it is difficult to design with these yarns on a large basis. People generally want to use the yarn that the garment was photographed in (despite the many intrepid knitters who are able to substitute and so on). I always write the yarn requirements generically (fiber content and weight of yarn, and yardage/weight in ball or skein, then number of balls or skeins) besides listing the yarn that the sample garment was knit in. Now that I have more distribution, and have designs in more books (1 more with Interweave this year coming out this summer or fall, and I just signed a contract for another design going in another Interweave book), I especially need to look at yarns that are readily available not only to knitters via the internet, but yarn stores.

I have not quite decided what to do about the whole printed pattern vs. pdf download issue. Many of my customers like the fact that I don’t generally have pdf downloads for all of my patterns, but that is because I don’t sell direct to knitters…I only sell wholesale. I really need to see if I can set up pdf down loads where I can control how it is set up and so on so I know what is being sold, but have that information go also to an “affiliate”…and they would get a percentage as the purchase would actually go through them.

I realize I don’t need to do this, I could go direct. But I don’t want to undercut the local yarn store. There are many that serve a segment that does not go online, and many that won’t carry a full pattern line of a designer that has their patterns in pdf download. From their perspective I cannot blame them. Why should they invest in a full line when it is readily available on the Internet?

One of the things my distributor likes about my pattern line is the quality of paper that I use. I use very good quality paper. I am rather proud of that. I use better quality paper than many patterns I see. I don’t charge more, but I use a good quality paper. I also have a large photo on the front cover. I have a Xerox Phaser now that I do all my color printing with, that is cheaper than my other color laser printer that I had so I may begin to include more photography in my patterns.

When you look at a $6 pattern, as a consumer, you don’t always realize that the designer doesn’t get $6 in profit and there isn’t a good reason why they shouldn’t have more pages, or a good reason why they should not have more color photography. $6 is pretty much the going rate for patterns in the US although some are higher and some are lower. If you are selling wholesale you are selling that pattern for $3, if you are selling it to a distributor you are selling it for less than that. You have the cost of the sheet protectors, the paper, and the printing coming out of that too, plus the shipping or gas to acquire those materials.

Also coming out of the “profit” on pattern sales: If you have any advertising or costs to recoup yet from the design itself (you don’t really make a profit on a design until all costs of producing a design are met, including your time for designing, pattern writing, paying for tech editing and test knitting, photography, pattern layout and cover design, charts and schematics), office expenses, upgrades for software, association dues, professional memberships, cost of yarn and so on.

There are days when my head swims with all of that when I read comments on the Internet in places where people gather. It is so easy to be critical, especially when you have never tried doing something yourself, and don’t know everything that is involved. Many gripe about paying $6 a pattern, as they think it is a lot of money for 1 pattern.

Which takes me back to the sheep. Shepherding in itself is an art. I know there are certain practices that organizations like PETA are up in arms about. I also know that it looks worse than it is, and is not as horrific as described, and I also know why it is done: because flies like to lay eggs in those sweaty folds of skin on the rumps of sheep. Any sheep suffering the infestation and misery of that would have a shepherd looking for ways to take care of it. As I am not a shepherd, I don’t know all the ins and outs of it. I have read about it, but filed it under stuff I don’t have to try and remember. I understand why they do it, and that for many it is currently the best alternative for them and their sheep.

Anesthetics are not without risk. There is more risk with a general anesthetic than the mulsing itself. Doing a local? Having to restrain a sheep to numb it up enough to do it is not without pain and trauma either. I don’t know how many of you have ever had stitches, but for those who have you know how much it hurts to have that local. Imagine having enough injections to numb up your rump. It would take far longer to do the local itself, and would be much more painful, than the procedure itself. Sometimes things are less traumatic to just do it and get it done. They don’t take great chunks of flesh, they take skin folds. And while that would be something that would have you and I agonizing for days, animals are much more resilient to those types of things. It is easy for us to look in their eyes and ascribe everything human to them.

While animals do think and they do experience feelings, they are different than humans. While we need to be responsible when we own animals, as we are the center of their world then,we also need to remember that they are not little humans. Their needs sometimes differ than ours…or rather, how their needs are met sometimes differ. Dogs for example have certain needs that, when treating them as baby humans those needs go unmet and you can have a very unruly and insecure dog on your hand. Just watch the Dog Whisperer or It’s Me or The Dog, and you will see what I mean. The need expressions of love differently than we do.

That is pretty easy to do though, assume that someone/something has the same needs as we ourselves do. We do that with each other all the time so it isn’t surprising that we do it with animals as well. They need us though, to keep a balance. As caretakers of this earth we need a balance in all things, and I find that is the thing that I struggle with the most myself. Some days I balance pretty well, and other days it is more of a struggle. Today I am still looking for my glasses, and I have been up for an hour and a half. I quit long enough to type out a blog post. I will have to resume my search though, as my day will be decidedly off kilter without them and the day will slip away from me again.That we all strike our own balance our own way there is no doubt in my mind.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace


4 Responses to “This You have Got to See: I Hope They Will Be Baaaack.”

  1. Kathy Says:

    I live close to Mt. Bruce! My husband was also kind enough to take me to the festival a couple of years ago. I think you live a couple of blocks away from my sister-in-law. Some days it’s a very small world.

  2. Rachel Kahn Says:

    Hi Jolene,
    This morning is the first time I have read your blog,I’d love to join your web ring; as soon as my website is published. Do you have an e- newsletter?
    I’ve enjoying reading your comments, points of view and experiences.
    with best regards,
    Rachel Kahn

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