If there are any yarn shop owners out there who read my blog, I wanted to let you know that I am releasing a new pattern -- the Bigger & Biggest Booga Bag -- and starting my transition over to color patterns (instead of B&W with a photo glued to the front). Above you can see the first four patterns in the new format.
I'm placing the order with the printer on Friday, so if you are out of my patterns, or don't carry them yet and would like to start, please email me your order. That way I'll make sure I get enough in this first batch of printing. All 11 patterns can be seen at the Black Sheep Bags Website.
After many years of printing, cutting and gluing photos to the cover of each Black Sheep Bags pattern, I have decided to switch to a full color pattern (at least the front will be in color). Whew. Why has this taken me so long.
I'm working on getting the patterns converted and have decided to go with a *very* simple design (as you can see above) because if I do this with the 10 current patterns and the 2 new ones I'm trying to get out by the end of the year, it may take ages. One down, 11 to go!
The Bigger (& Biggest) Booga Bag pattern is now available as a pdf download in my shop!
Aren't they cute all lined up in a row :) More info on the Black Sheep Bags Blog.
Black Sheep Bags finally has a blog! I've been meaning to do this for ages. I think it's about time I got my act together and got a few new patterns out. I'm hoping this will be motivation.
A new batch of Noro Kureyon arrived this past week. Beautiful Kureyon 170 which I have used before and 207 which is new to me, but right up my alley colorwise.
Two new Black Sheep Bags felted bag patterns are in the works! Now if only my washing machine worked. . .
Did you know that I have an online rubber stamp store? I started it over 7 years ago when Maddie was little and I was jobless for the first time since I was 15. At any rate, I am having a little sale and there are some good deals. So if you are a stamper, or want to try it out, here is a coupon for you!
Save 10% on your order at Stamping Online -- includes sale items!
Enter "HOLIDAY08" in the coupon section during checkout.
Black Sheep Bags
Well, I don't have a way to offer coupon codes on my Black Sheep Bags website, so here's the deal. Order any 3 patterns through the .pdf download shop and I will email you a 4th pattern for free! Just purchase the patterns today or tomorrow and email me with your pattern choice. (This offer is not good on patterns sent through the mail -- only pdf's.)
Whew! I've been getting quite a few requests for downloadable versions of my Black Sheep Bags patterns, so I finally got my act together, converted everything over to new pdf versions and uploaded everything. I even created a new download shop for the website. And don't fear -- if you still like the old school printed patterns on cardstock with the color photo, you can still purchase them at all the yarn shops that stock my patterns as well as through my old online store. So, basically I have two different online shops now, which does seem a bit confusing, but I hope it won't cause any troubles!
Thanks again to all the online knitters who have supported me through the years -- I can't believe that my little obsessions with felted bags has turned into this business and that my patterns are selling around the world. It's still amazing to me!
Oh, and I have a new pattern coming out later this Spring and another design is taking shape in my brain, so hopefully that one will be appearing shortly also! Happy Knitting!
On a whim I started an etsy shop today called Black Sheep Bags (& more!). Not much there yet, but I did finish up some felting I had to do and I put this bag up in the shop:
I have to admit that I have a lot to learn about etsy. They seem to be resizing my photos which results in them looking fuzzy. hmmmmm. So, I need to work on that.
Now I have to figure out what I can sew, knit, bookbind next so that I have more fun things to put in the shop!
Last Theo Chocolate bar review first. . .
Ghana 84% Cacao -- package says:"The Fair Trade Certified cacao used in this single origin dark chocolate bar is from the fertile growing region surrounding Kumasi, Ghana. The perfectly fermented and dried beans yield slightly floral notes over golden and round chocolate flavors." My thoughts: This is the darkest bar of the bunch -- almost no sweetness at all, just pure chocolate heaven! Oh -- and that round chocolate flavor I talked about in the Ghana Panama Ecuador bar? Well, I guess this is where it comes from. You can definitly taste the parts of that bar that come from this chocolate. I'm getting a bit of tanginess that probably comes from the fermentation of the beans -- really nice! And considering that this is 84% cacao, there is not much bitterness and no harsh flavors at all.
After trying these four bars, I would highly recommend doing a tasting of your own! It's so much fun to see how different each chocolate tastes and I think I would end the tasting with the Ghana Panama Ecuador bar -- my favorite of the bunch -- so that you can see how the different flavors blend together.
And for people who have asked where you can get these -- they are starting to show up at Whole Foods and you can also order them from the the folks at Theo Chocolate.
In other -- believe it or not knitting -- news. . . I've started work on a new bag. I get *tons* of requests for a Bigger Booga Bag, so I'm working on a new pattern for one. It involves more than just sizing it up since it needs more stability as the size grows. Stay tuned for progress pics -- I'll have some soon!
The Booga Bag is appearing in the August 2006 issue of Quick & Crafty Magazine -- a UK Crafty Mag. I actually got an email from Sarah at the magazine over a month ago and hadn't heard anything since, so I wasn't sure if they decided to use the info that she asked me to send her or not. But today I received a couple of copies of the magazine in my mailbox and there it was!
The magazine is really fun and if you see a copy, I would recommend picking it up. I hadn't seen it before, but Sarah said that it is available at some of the larger bookstore chains in the US. It's kind of fun because each project has an estimated completion time listed! From quickly flipping through this issue I already saw a project that intrigued me -- transferring photos to china. How cool is that?!? The photos of the completed projects in the mag look incredible. I may have to give that a try.
(Other projects in the mag -- knit handbag, cross-stitch, lots of cards, fimo clay, flower arranging, china painting, beading -- heck, there's a little of everything!)
Well, I scored a beautiful button on Saturday when Theresa & Bonne Marie took me to this great trim shop called Soutache (no website I'm sad to say, but here's the location). So I finally found a bit of time to sew on the handles and the button and snap a photo of the entrelac bag which will be named the Dorothy Bag (after my mother-in-law). I still need to take nice pictures out in the garden in hopes of getting something that will be good enough for the cover of the pattern. And speaking of the pattern, I need to do the final edit and get that off to the printer.
I had hoped that this all would have been done by now but my other business fell apart -- or the website did. My current web host has been having major server issues and their customer servie has been awful. They were purchased and the new parent company basically wanted me to purchase *their* product. I didn't want to. They are letting the old platform go to wrack and ruin, as they say. So the only option was to find a completely new ecommerce solution and completely rebuild my store. This has been taking up every free moment of my time for the last few weeks -- I'm wearing myself out with the whole thing. It's a bit stressful.
But the end is in siight. My new store should go live sometime this week if all goes well and I can get the evil company to release my domain name so that I can attach it to my new store. I have more data entry ahead of me, but I have a massive amount done and I'm feeling good about the new company I went with. I can't wait to put this behind me so I have energy for crafting and Black Sheep Bags things (like getting the Dorothy Bag out!) and time to enjoy the weather which has taken a turn back for the better again!
(Insert big sigh of relief here.)
So yesterday I didn't do very well on my goal list but I got *a lot* done! One of my stops was this little quilt shop I just discovered. I had to pick up this:
Yes, I'm starting to stash fabric for my back-tack project, so I guess that is progress on one of the goals in an indirect way.
Anyway, I need to explain the title of the post. While I was there I got to chatting with the woman cutting my fabric and we were talking about knitting and I mentioned I'm a knitting designer. She said she just got into knitting after a long hiatus. Turns out she's knitting a felted bag -- well, what a coincidence! I design felted bags! We chat a bit more. I mention something about having a website and she looks at me funny and asks the name of my "pattern". Well, I have 9 patterns so far, but my most popular is the Booga Bag, I tell her. She, of course, is knitting the Booga Bag! She had no idea that I was from the area and was all excited, saying that she was going to have to tell her friend that she met me and everything. (heh!)
So we move on with the rest of our errands -- hours of errands. I come home and later in the evening check email. There is a comment on the blog from Greta saying that she just picked up a quilting magazine and "there was the booga bag in a glorious color spread". HUH? I knew nothing at all about this. Well, I had to see it for myself! It turns out it is the Spring/Summer issue of Quilt Sampler (Better Homes and Gardens quilt mag that is on *every* grocery store checkout!!) and there it was on page 63:
How cool is that? They were doing a piece on one of my retailers -- The Threaded Bear Fabrics in Vancouver -- and took this picture in their shop!
So lots of Booga Bag weirdness all in one day!
Time to set some goals again. It worked really well last time, so I thought I'd give it a try again. But first, here's something I picked up the last day of MS&W:
It's some hand-dyed 100% wool felt in very pretty colors which are difficult to photograph in our *still* cloudy weather. (I think I bought it from this vendor, but they gave me nothing with their business name on it -- not even the receipt had their name on it!)
Okay, so yesterday was cleaning and washing day and today I need to go grocery shopping in a very bad way. Here are some other things I want to get done this week:
Okay, I'm probably already over the limit on what is physically possible to complete, but I did a lot yesterday, so I'm feeling good about my outlook for the week. I got pretty much caught up on work -- cut out all the pictures I had printed for patterns and made up some patterns. I even got packages packed up and ready to ship. It was a productive work day.
In other news, I switched to libsyn for hosting my Stitch-Cast mp3's, starting with my latest episode. So if you have had trouble downloading or listening to them in the past, please give it another try! I'm hoping that this will solve all the problems and judging from the number of downloads I had yesterday, it's doing a good job! Thanks everyone for listening! I really appreciate it!
I've been working long hours trying to get caught up on wholesale pattern orders for BSB before I leave for MS&W on Thursday, so blogging has kind of fallen by the wayside. I did a mini review of the new issues of MagKnits & The AntiCraft over at whip up yesterday, but that's about it.
I did want to tell you that while working I have been listening to some new (to me) podcasts. Here they are:
I've been knitting nearly every night for the last two weeks and this is what I've been working on. It's a new Black Sheep Bags design and I talked about it a little bit in my first episode of Stitch-Cast. It's an entrelac bag and I'm knitting it with Kureyon in colorway 170 which I am *loving*!!
The first bag is almost ready for felting, so there may be a picture as soon as Friday. I'm enjoying the entrelac and I'm already thinking of knitting up a second size of this bag. Even though it looks complicated, it really is mindless TV knitting. I'm having fun with this design :)
I'm still here. Just *so* busy. I re-opened the Knitting Blogs Web Ring which is always insane! And on top of that I am buried in the 2006 stamps that have arrived at my rubber stamp store -- Stamping Online. They are totally cute and it's keeping me very busy. I'm not even mentioning the folder full of Black Sheep Bags orders that I need to fill. I worked all afternoon Sunday trying to get caught up (and failing) there. (Did you see all the new shops?!?)
But busy is good. And Maddie has been an angel the last couple of days. And my migraines are staying in check. And my new migraine medicine hasn't given me any terrible side effects. So mostly I can't complain.
Off to do some more work!
More like. . . in order to combat bordom while getting caught up on the pile of orders for Black Sheep Bags. . .
I made a little Cafe Press shop. I'm not expecting anyone to buy anything really, but if you do -- I will donate the money from any sales made in the month on January to Heifer International, which is one of my favorite charities. I think I have to make $25 before they will even send me a payment, and I didn't build much profit into my "products", but go take a look-see!
Oh -- and if you want me to add any product, just ask!
As this year comes to a close and I start to think about 2006 my mind settles on one major goal -- organization! As least in my office.
I run two businesses and homeschool Maddie in this office and it's a mess. Maddie uses an old cardboard Kinko's box as her school desk (well, it is kind of good because the box holds all of her school "stuff" too) and she's getting a little big for that. Then there's the fact that I have two computers set up right now, but one isn't on a computer desk, so it's pretty much unusable. And there are piles of things everywhere! It's a mess. See for yourself. . .
So, as you can see, it is a total mess. I spend a majority of each day in this office and I would love to have it look like a spread from Martha Stewart Living, know what I mean?
Here are the major issues:
Here's where you come in. Send me links! Send me ideas! Send me photos! Help me out here!
I'll pick a random name from the list of idea senders. And I will post a list of the best ideas (otherwise known as the ideas that I end up using or learning something new from) on the blog.
Introducing the Baby Booga Bag -- which only takes 2 skeins of Noro Kureyon! The baby is the one sitting on the floor. The regular Booga Bag is hung up next to it for comparison sake. It's only about 1 in. smaller on each side, so it's still a pretty good size. And you will have plenty of yarn left in the second skein to make longer handles, I just like mine shorter. I would like to say that the patterns came back from the printer with the directions for the new baby version included, but he printed 300 patterns with the old original instead of the new one I brought to him. Argh!!! So I'm going back later today or tomorrow to have him print up an insert that I can include with all the patterns.
So -- if you want a pattern with the Baby Booga Bag instructions included, you can purchase one at my online shop. And if you are a retailer -- all orders placed from today going forward will include the insert with the Baby Booga Bag instructions!
Oh yeah -- and that's Spike over on the right. He just had to see what I was doing in the spare room.
I have been knitting a little bit. I'm very close to finishing my Trekking 100 socks -- yeah! And I started a pair of mittens for Maddie, but ripped them out when I discovered that they were a bit too big. Sigh. . .
I want to find time to spin too, but I'm spending all my free time getting caught up on retail orders for BSB. And any other free minutes are devoted to Stamping Online. I'm getting in a bunch of new 2006 rubber stamps in the middle of December, so I had to put the discontinued stamps on sale to make room for the new things. Man! Have the sale stamps been flying out the door! (Or flying onto every available surface in the office waiting to get packaged up -- yikes!)
So right now it's work time. Hopefully later this week I'll have some kntiting and spinning to show!
BTW, I'm wondering if anyone has found any of the new Silk Garden DK for sale anywhere yet? Yarn shop owners & employees -- heard any news on this?
*** Oh yeah, and our dishwasher broke. This isn't helping me out in the free time department on 2 counts -- having to wash/dry dishes & having to call/wait for a repairman. Oy!
The Baby Booga Bag is all finished except for the handles. And I have even added the instructions for it to the printed pattern. It's at the printers now and will be available through the online store in a couple weeks and at yarn shops in the coming months!
This brings me to my latest frustration -- printing.
I tried using CopyMax -- ugh! The paper seemed cheap and the end result was less than perfect. Splotches of ink, poorly folded, etc. So then I went to Kinko's. Their quality was quite a bit better, but there were problems. The patterns were billed differently every time even though I got the same thing every time. Sometimes the folding was off. Then they switched paper on me 3 times! They kept discontinuing the one I was using. Grrr. . . . Finally the straw that broke the camel's back -- they lost my originals. Lost -- LOST! And they were totally unapologetic.
So now I'm trying a local printer that is only a few blocks from my house. He sounded like he was very meticulous -- which is good for me since I'm a perfectionist! I took in an order for Sophie Bag patterns since I am completely out (and way behind because of the surgery!) Today when I picked them up, he showed me a pattern and it looked good. I got home and realized that 2/3's of them were printed completely off-center. ARGH!
I called him and he said -- Oh Yeah, your original was off center. I fixed it part-way through the order. Now why didn't he mention this before?!? Was it my original? I don't know, but tell me before I get home! And I had already given him an order for 1000 more patterns!
Sigh. I just want a printer that will print my patterns on decent cardstock, do a decent job and charge a decent price. Am I asking too much?
And I have been knitting a little. This is my first attempt at a Baby Booga Bag. I actually knit it back in August on our way to a funeral in Ohio. It's made using scraps of Kureyon and Cascade 220 -- hence the stripes. I altered it a bit and I'm kntiting it with plain old Kureyon now. I believe the Baby version will take two skeins.
Next I'm thinking of doing a "Big Booga Bag" pattern. Then I may package them together with the regular Booga Bag and sell a special edition version of the pattern that includes all three sizes. Either that or make babies of some of my other patterns and put together a baby bag booklet. (Pete says everything is cute when it's small, so he thinks it might be a good idea.)
And I have plans for a big project bag too. I just need to find time to sit down, work out the numbers and start the first attempt. (It always takes more than one attempt!)
Let me know what you are looking for in a felted bag project! I'd love to hear!
Black Sheep Bags news! Last night I finished up the purple, Cascade 220 version of the Carroll Bag and today Pete & I did the "photo shoot." So the new bag is almost ready for her release! Off she goes to the printer on Monday. I hope to start shipping patterns to yarn shops on the 25th. (I know it seems like a long time, but I have to go to Ohio for a funeral and I have a big charity event next week.)
The Carroll Bag is a medium sized bag, perfect as an everyday handbag or a medium sized project bag. I think it would also make a good spindle bag! The Kureyon version uses 4 skeins and the bag made with Cascade 220 takes 2 skeins. The finished size is approx. 9" X 3" X 11".
I hope you like it :)
Well, apparently when she told me that she was deleting your letters unread, she was being untruthful. I am hearing from many of you that you have received a letter from the magazine. What can I say? Read through it for yourself. And if you hear someone tell you that they have searched the internet for felting info and yet never heard of the booga bag or seen a felted bag pattern before, I ask you to type "felted bag" into any search engine, or "felting pattern" or "felted handbag" or "free felting pattern" or "felted bag pattern" -- you get the idea.
I will say nothing else about the rest of this letter until my lawyer gives me advice. I can see now that I am not dealing with someone who made an honest mistake and is going to apologize.
And again, I would like to thank you for your support through this! I really appreciate it!!
I am literally shaking right now. I finally received a response from Sharilyn Miller, the editor at Belle Armoire, and her response was unsatisfactory to say the least.
She has told me that I cannot post any portion of her letter online -- does this give you any idea of the content of the letter? And I haven't had a chance to meet with my lawyer yet, so I don't know if I can post it here or not. She also asked me to remove the quotes I posted from her earlier emails, but I will only do that if my lawyer tells me that I should.
However I will tell you, without quoting her since I can't at this point, that she has said that she is deleting all the emails that you are sending to her.
I am seeking legal advice because at this point I see no alternative. Wish me luck!
Last night when I wrote my previous post, I was very upset. Today, after seeing all the wonderful posts and emails from all the online knitters who support me, I feel much better.
The editor of Belle Armoire has not contacted me, nor has anyone from the magazine. So this is still not resolved and I'm not sure what I'm going to do now. I do know some lawyers and I hate to think that it might come to something like that, but I think it would be even worse if they were allowed to violate our agreement with no repercussions.
Tomorrow -- back to knitting! Remember last week when Caryn offered to send me the yarn I needed to finish my bag? Well, it arrived today! So I may just go veg out in front of the TV and finish the knitting. I also got some new fabric in the mail today -- pictures tomorrow!
I am very upset right now. Belle Armoire -- a magazine you may have heard of -- has published an article based on my Booga Bag pattern and given me no credit. Despite the fact that the editor of the magazine told me that she would.
In her first email to me Sharilyn Miller, the editor of Belle Armoire, says:
"So this is why I'm writing to you now. I don't want to publish Jenny's article without your permission. Her bag differs slightly from yours--she casts on 20 stitches, for one thing--but it is essentially the same bag."
So obviously she knew this was just a smaller version of the Booga Bag. I was nice about this though and agreed that she could publish the article if I was given credit. Ms. Miller replied:
"Here's my idea. Jenny has not actually written the article yet, as she says the instructions are very simple and she first wanted to concentrate on making several bags "in progress" for our photography sessions here. But her bag does differ from yours in that it's smaller; she casts on 20 stitches instead of 34. Since she's made several bags at this size, she'd like to write the instructions reflecting how she makes the bags. However, what we'd like to do is say that we gratefully acknowledge the original designer of the Booga Bag, Julie Anderson of Black Sheep Bags, etc. in the introductory paragraph. We'd also like to list your business contact info in our Resource Guide. And I would also like to list your web site in my sidebar on felting pattern web sites (I've found about six sites so far). And I would like to offer you a free one-year (six issue) subscription to Belle Armoire, if you are interested in that."
As you can see, I wasn't looking to get rich from this. I agreed to her terms, believing that the mention in the article and the magazine's sidebar and resource guide would hopefully bring me some business.
However, this is not what happened. They wrote the article, never once mentioning me or the Booga Bag or Black Sheep Bags. In fact, several weeks ago, I emailed Sharilyn Miller to tell her that I hadn't heard from her and couldn't wait to see the article. I also mentioned that I hadn't received any issues of Belle Armoire.
So, while Pete, Maddie & I were browsing in Borders after a pleasant meal at Noodles & Co., I found the magazine and the article. And now I am angry.
Is it because I'm on the internet? Because I have a blog? Because I published my pattern on the web? Because I'm *just* a small business owner? Does that make it less "my property" and more something that people can take without permission? I don't know, but I won't stand for it.
If you feel the same way I do about Ms. Miller's blatant disregard for our agreement, please email her and let her know.