Archive for the 'Sock Designs' Category

Tswim with the Tsharks at Rhinebeck 2013

Thursday, October 10th, 2013

(Oh yes, I know - it’s been a long time. There are reasons, and they’re good reasons… if you interpret “good” according to that little-known definition that is universally translated as “bad.” Some things need to be explained and/or apologized for; others are best not mentioned at all. But this isn’t the time or place for that. Not with RHINEBECK coming up!)

Long story short: RHINEBECK. It’s NEXT WEEK. And after that, NEFF. And after that, Stitches East.

If THAT is astonishing to you as it is to me (in a where-did-the-time-go sort of way), it is less so than this:

In spite of the fact that we are carrying some 30 times more stock this year than ever before… and in spite of a couple of epic reversals experienced over the summer… we are very nearly ready. In fact, we’ve already got about 1/4 of the new inventory loaded in the trailer. Thanks to indescribable awesomeness on the part of Team Dye and the Tsock Tstaff, thanks to long hours and long days and long nights and long weeks - well, if I weren’t superstitious about jinxing things I would be bragging about being slightly ahead of schedule. But I am, so I won’t.

Anyway, that probably isn’t what you really want to hear about right now.

This is.

As promised in this space and others so long ago, the time has come at last for the public release of SHARK WEEK. Right on schedule, no less. That’s right, do not adjust your monitor; I really did say RIGHT ON SCHEDULE. And I meant it. We will have the first kits at Rhinebeck, and as long as dye and stamina hold out we will keep on producing more - for NEFF and then for Stitches and then for on-line sales.

Not only that - to mitigate the Saturday morning rush, we are making a limited number of kits available for PRE-ORDER and PICK-UP at Rhinebeck; that is, buy now and pick up at the booth any time on Saturday. If this works well at Rhinebeck we will do the same thing at subsequent shows. If it doesn’t - we’ll burn that bridge when we come to it. Hey, we’re figuring this out as we go along.

For full details on who/what/where/when/how, please see announcement HERE.

Sigh. Would love to stick around and chat - so MUCH to catch up on - but I’ve got to get back to assembling kits. See you at the shows!

Garden of Bright Images

Tuesday, March 19th, 2013

     When the bowl was empty she continued for a space to regard it silently, as though exploring the many-sided recesses of her mind.
      “You have claimed to be a story-teller and have indeed made a boast that there is no arising emergency for which you are unprepared,” she said at length. “It now befalls that you may be put to a speedy test. Is the nature of this imagined scene”—thus she indicated the embellishment of the bowl—”familiar to your eyes?”
      “It is that known as ‘The Willow,’” replied Kai Lung. “There is a story—”
      “There is a story!” exclaimed the maiden, loosening from her brow the overhanging look of care. “Thus and thus. Frequently have I importuned him before whom you will appear to explain to me the meaning of the scene. When you are called upon to plead your cause, see to it well that your knowledge of such a tale is clearly shown. He before whom you kneel, craftily plied meanwhile by my unceasing petulance, will then desire to hear it from your lips… At the striking of the fourth gong the day is done. What lies between rests with your discriminating wit.”

Ernest Bramah,
Kai Lung’s Golden Hours

 
 

There was a time when it did not occur to anyone in this pure and enlightened Empire to question the settled and existing order of affairs. Indeed, it is now no unheard-of thing for an ordinary person to suggest that customs which have been established for centuries might with advantage be changed — a form of impiety which is in no degree removed from declaring oneself to be wiser or more profound than one’s ancestors! How narrow is the space dividing such delinquency from the actual crimes of overturning images, counselling rebellion, joining in insurrection and resorting to indiscriminate piracy and bloodshed.

Blue Willow PlateAs the wise philosopher Ning-hy was wont to say: “Where the road divides, there stand two Ning-hys.” Indeed, thus and thus it is with the origins of the famed Willow Pattern composition, as depicted on porcelain bowls for many cycles past.

But who attempts to eat an orange without first disposing of the peel, or what manner of a dwelling could be erected unless an adequate foundation be first provided?

That which in justice requires the amplitude of a full-sized cask shall be pressed down into the confines of an inadequate vessel.

A well-known fable there is, purporting to explain the meaning of this thought-out design; an imagined tale, framed by the makers of porcelain to entice the credulous; and herein does its falseness cry aloud. Though frequently exalted in poetry, or delicately enhanced with music, by many meritorious purveyors of high-minded entertainment, the tragic romance of the maiden Koong-Tse and the secretary Chang is entirely without substance, a pure invention of those native to the Isle of Sceptres; for truly may it be said that the Willow Pattern is precisely as authentically Chinese as Kai Lung himself.

Willow Ware Pattern CoverUnrolling her threadbare mat in tribute to the latter incomparable relater of imagined tales, this wholly inadequate person now raises her distressing voice, and wields her disreputable needles, to recount in textile form the Story of Wong Ts’in, that which is known as “The Legend of the Willow Plate Embellishment.” This story is that of the scene widely depicted on plates and earthenware; the true and authentic legend as first related by the eminent Tso-yi.

 
Sock from RightHow cunningly imagined is the device by which objects so varied in size as an orange and an island can be depicted within the narrow compass of a porcelain plate without the larger one completely obliterating the smaller or the smaller becoming actually invisible by comparison with the other! This engaging display, combining simplicity with picturesque effect, might indeed be a scene having an actual existence at no great space away.

 
Sock from LeftIn its transmutation from porcelain ornamentation into whole cloth, not only has the embellishment suffered no real detriment, but there has been imparted to the higher lights — doubtless owing to the nature of the subtly shaded colorway used to delineate them — a certain nebulous quality that adds greatly to the successful effect of the various tones.

Thus and thus, and by the opportune agency of their own incomparable skill and dexterity, may this striking embellishment be transferred from its former disposition on select pieces of porcelain to a covering for the sumptuous feet of the esteemed if bewildered auditors of this tale.

For the rest, let the shadow move as the sun directs.
Birds

- with apologies to Ernest Bramah,
whose infinitely meritorious retelling of
the true and authentic Willow Pattern story
may be found in the second chapter of
Kai Lung’s Golden Hours

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Know, then, O most revered, that - oh, never mind. For the sake of everyone’s sanity - or what’s left of it - let’s fall back into the vernacular, yes? (If we can. It turns out that imitating Kai Lung is a little bit like reading “The Song of Hiawatha” - once you fall into either idiom it can be difficult to fall back out.)

This, then, is Willow Ware; Tsock #6 of 2012, the Tsock Club season-and-then-some that is coming to a close at last.

Did you eat off these plates when you were a kid? I did, and they are as familiar to me as my own face. I didn’t come to know Kai Lung until much later, but the rightness of that association leaped out at me long before I realized, to my infinite delight, that the latter actually had his own version of the Willow Pattern story.

The Willow Ware tsock is All Colorwork All The Time. It is not by any means the first knitted interpretation of these images, but it is more nuanced than any other version I’ve seen - as Fa Fai says in the Story of Wong Ts’in it has “a certain nebulous quality that adds greatly to the successful effect of the various tones.” BoatThis is due entirely to the varied depths of the Blue Willow colorway, which ranges from light to dark, emulating the illusion of tonal shading that is the result of changing line thickness in the original. (So the shading is a little more random than it would be with exact pixel-for-pixel color mapping, but it still works, I think, and it makes the knitting a lot easier. Ask me how I know.)

Willow Ware is worked cuff-down, beginning with a two-color braided cast-on that I verily believe I have actually invented. I know, I know, it looks a lot like the conventional braided cast-ons, but the process is very different - it’s worked a bit like a crochet chain, with the colors interlocked but never twisted, so that with a little practice it is possible to make it quite loose and stretchy.

The cuff itself is worked in two stages; first a decorative foldover band that echoes the borders of the plates, then (after a turning sequence that incorporates a contrary-motion braid and a change of knitting direction) a hidden foundation of 1×1 rib, supplying the elasticity that is necessarily lacking in the slip-stitch overlay.

Ming Quilting

Border

French Weave

And then the colorwork begins in earnest. It’s mostly festive intarsia, though really it behaves a lot more like stranded colorwork.

The Pagoda occupies the back of the ankle,

Pagoda

its ground floor making up the entire heel flap.

Heel Flap

The two Love-Birds appear on the front of the ankle,

Birds

flying above the branches of the Willow Tree.

Willow Tree

The Boat…

Boat

… sails over the right gusset -

Right Gusset

- while the Bridge, with its three Buddhas or Union Agitators (depending on which version of the story you endorse), is depicted on the foot.

Bridge

The Crooked Fence occupies the toe.

Fence

Other details are added with embroidery - some of it optional, though you wouldn’t want to omit the Willow Fronds and the Apples.

Willow Fronds

Apples

Fungus

Roof Peak

Roof Outline

Putting the packages together for this kit was nearly as much fun as knitting the tsock itself - but that is a story for another time.

Willow Ware went into the mail on Friday and Saturday, and has already landed in a number of mailboxes.

For the rest, let the shadow move as the sun directs….

Atsockalypse Not

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Remember back in 2012 when everyone was on about the Mayan Apocalypse? that is, the end of the world, which the ancient Mayans had supposedly forecast to coincide with the solstice on December 21?

At first blush, this seemed an enticing tsubject for a tsock.

It didn’t take much more than superficial investigation, however, to determine that the ancient Mayans, in developing their extraordinarily rich and complex calendar system, had forecast no such thing; that in fact what they had predicted was merely (hmmm - perhaps “merely” is not exactly the mot juste here) the transition from one great age to another, the end of the 13th Baktun and the beginning of the 14th.

At first blush, this seemed an enticing tsubject for a tsock.

But wait - there’s more. It turns out that the iconic image usually associated with the Mayan Calendar - you know the one I mean, yes? - is neither.

Calendar Stone

That is… it is neither Mayan nor Calendar.

It’s not entirely unrelated, however.

It is, in fact, the Aztec Sun Stone.

Now there is an enticing tsubject for a tsock!

Sun Stone Cover

Though not exactly a calendar, as such, the Aztec Sun Stone does feature symbols that represent the various time-keeping entities common to both cultures, and the deities and creatures that govern them.

Central among these, and decidedly more Aztec than Mayan in the fierceness of its implacable expression, is the face of Tonatiuh, god of the Sun.

Tonatiuh Stone

Like the Aztec Sun Stone, the tsock begins with the Face of Tonatiuh; a disk worked flat - though in fact it is anything but flat. It is heavily textured, with a protruding tongue shaped like tecpetl - the flint knife traditionally used for human sacrifice - and beads and ornaments and ears and hair worked in relief.

Surrounding the Face of Tonatiuh, picked up in its selvedges and worked around it medallion-style, is Tonalmitl - the Rays of the Sun (in Nahuatl, tona = sun; mitl = arrows; literally, then, Sun-Arrows).

Sun Medallion
Guess who forgot - thrice - to pin out and photograph the Sun Medallion before continuing to work the tsock? Yeah, that’d be me. Then again, behold proof that I actually knitted TWO complete tsocks. Almost three, in fact.

Where a conventional medallion would be flat, however, the octagonal Sun Medallion has an exaggerated increase ratio, making it gently hyperbolic, so that it conforms to the top of the foot, with Tonatiuh supplying ease for the instep.

Gently Hyperbolic

The structure of the sock is then built around the Sun Medallion, beginning slightly above it and working downward, using several different attach techniques for picking up stitches in selvedges. The two widest rays of Tonalmitl point directly toward the heel;

Heel Ray

… the two succeeding facets form the edges of the sole, and the shallow curve of the last two facets blends smoothly into the toe.

Edge by Toe

Atop all this - where of course it belongs - is Ilhuicatl, the Heavens.

Ilhuicatl appears around the border of the Sun Stone itself, and is composed of three main elements. At the top, a row of stars shines from the night sky; below this, the symbol of the planet Venus, illuminating the daytime sky, alternates with flint knives that represent the beams of the sun.

Side of Sun Stone

Venus

The knitted version of Ilhuicatl is part of the cuff; it folds over a foundation of twisted ribbing to crown the sock.

Ilhuicatl

So this -

Sock from Right

- is Tsock #5 of…

Sock from Front Against Sky

… of…

Sock from Back

…yes, well… 2012. I am reminded of Douglas Adams subtitling Mostly Harmless “The fifth book in the increasingly inaccurately named Hitchhiker’s Trilogy.”

Sock from Front

And of a friend of mine who is fond of pointing out that I have an anxiety-prone tendency to experience, in terrified anticipation, “ten out of every three” crises. (The inside of my head is NOT an easy place to live, I can tell you.)

Sock From Outside

There is no getting around it: New year or no new year, in my calendar it’s still 2012. It appears I could learn a thing or three from the ancient Mayans, or indeed the ancient Aztecs.

(End of the WORLD? Hah. Not even end of the YEAR.)

I was right about one thing, though. I predicted the 2012 season would be one hell of a roller-coaster ride. And there I’d have to say… naming calls. It sure has been that, beyond anything I could have imagined.

Chichen Itza with Tsock

And it ain’t over yet.

“Sun Stone” is in the mail now, I am happy to say.

And I have plunged straight into Tsock #6. Because even in my wacked-out Groundhog-Day world… 2012 can’t last forever.

St. Distaff and the Shark

Monday, January 7th, 2013

Today I picked up the phone and called Stringtopia Fiber Arts Studio, where the Remote Batt Bar was open all afternoon in honor of Roc Day, and I commissioned a little something-something.

We’ll have to wait until a little later in the week to see how it turns out.

I had e-mailed ahead of time so they’d have some idea what to expect; when I finally got through (that phone was BUSY today!) Shelly told me that Abby “has something in mind for you,” and I did not need to hear the giggle in her voice to know that devilment was afoot. Abby her ownself was slaving over a hot drum carder while this conversation was going on, but the whole time Shelly and I were on the phone I could hear her hurling the usual torrent of very audible invective at me from across the room, and I could just SEE the evil glint in her eye. Especially when Shelly said “She does know you pretty well, after all,” and I had to admit “Yeah, I’m afraid so.”

Something wicked this way comes, I am sure of it.

So here is the plan.

Remember I said the Shark Week fund-raiser for hurricane relief would run about a week?

Today is the last day of that week, and I’m still in some danger of getting choked up over the generous outpouring. It’s just started to taper off now, but at this writing the total is well over $19,000. So in amazed and thankful hindsight I’m setting a goal: If we haven’t reached $20,000 by midnight tonight I’m going to extend the period a little longer - long enough to reach that nice round milestone. At the rate things have been going, I’m betting it won’t take long.

Once that’s done, the logistics of moving money will take a few days, and while that’s going on I will figure out a clever way to do the random drawing thing I mentioned the other day. With a twist. I’m still going to be giving away three full shark kits, as promised, but now there’s another layer of cool randomness: A couple of lucky spinners will receive special shark-themed sock batts made by Abby Franquemont. What exactly these will consist of, or look like, I don’t know. The mandate was simply this: “Make something tsocky and tsharky for me, plz kthx.” How she interprets this is entirely up to her. I’m afraid I even told her to have fun with it.

Do I look worried?

Do I look afraid, very afraid?

Yeah, like I said - the woman knows me well.

Seriously… I can’t wait to see what she’s dreaming up. I am confident that it will be entirely awesome - as awesome as the recipients.

And that, my friends, is saying something.

The Utter Awesomeness of You

Tuesday, January 1st, 2013

Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand;
Come and see my shining palace built upon the sand!

Edna St. Vincent Millay,
“A Few Figs from Thistles”

 
 
 

Happy New Year!

So far it is exactly that for me, I can tell you.

Also, today is my seventh blogiversary - and never have I had occasion to celebrate either with such a bang.

We’re 24 hours into the Shark Week fund-raiser, and already the fund is well over the 10 grand mark.

I am not sure what I expected, exactly - as I mentioned yesterday, I’ve never done this before, and I was diffident enough about it that I couldn’t even imagine how to set a goal. So what that goal would have been, even in my most secretest of secret hearts I honestly don’t know. What I DO know is that it has been surpassed. Like nobody’s business. I could shut this thing down TODAY (not to worry, I won’t; just a thought experiment) and be completely thrilled with what it has achieved.

It is not news to me that knitters are generous and awesome. But it’s one thing to know that and to see it, and it’s quite another to be on the receiving end - or even to be the conduit to the real receiving end - and to experience the full blast of it.

I am not generally known for running short of words - you may have noticed this, yes? - but I have to tell you, I do NOT have the words for how this makes me feel. Thankful. Awed. Hugely moved. But those are just words, and they don’t begin to describe the emotional reality of this thing. The wonder.

“Thank you” is laughably inadequate.

So instead… let me tell you a little hurricane story. I have LOTS of them, and some of them are kind of funny, in a black humor sort of way. This one is not mine, though. It belongs to the previous generations of my family; it’s the hurricane story I grew up hearing all my life.

For most of the 1930s my grandparents had a summer house on Fire Island.

On the bright, sunny morning of September 21, 1938, my mother and uncle - aged 8 and 11, respectively - wandered down the beach past the bait shack. The little old man who ran the bait shack was tapping his nose and telling anyone who would listen “Big blow a-comin’ - I can smell it.” Nobody believed him.

A little later that day, my uncle was riding his bike on the boardwalk, and he fell and cut his chin. It was a nasty cut, and it needed stitches. This meant taking the ferry to the mainland and the nearest hospital. Since my grandmother was already packing up, getting ready to close the house for the season, she made the executive decision that the whole family might as well just load up and go.

So they piled onto the ferry.

Which later turned out to have been the last boat to leave the island before all hell broke loose.

By evening their house was gone, swept out to sea with many of its neighbors. Just gone.

To this day, the 1938 Hurricane remains one of the benchmarks for storm devastation - even to those of us who have seen and/or experienced the ravages of Katrina or Sandy, or any part of the fallout from same.

My uncle carried that scar on his chin to the end of his days, and no one in the family could ever forget what it stood for.

Just one of those freak pieces of dumb luck, you know? the kind of randomness that can determine whether or not the next generation will even exist.

Hurricanes. Life is weird.

And surviving is good.

 
And “thank you” still just does not even begin to cover it.

World Without End

Monday, December 31st, 2012

TL;DR: Lots and lots and lots of illustrated exposition about surviving the hurricane, followed at long last by two announcements (you wanted me to shut up and take your money? sorry, I can’t do that first part…) - (1) a special Shark Week fund-raiser for hurricane relief, and (2) sign-ups for the 2013 Tsock Club.

 
And we’re all still here.

The world didn’t end on December 21.

(o hai. mai repreevd to-do list, let me sho u it.)

Since 2013 has not been called off… that means we can go ahead and open sign-ups for the 2013 Tsock Club. And at the end of this post, I’m going to do exactly that.

But first - as 2012 draws to a close - there’s something else I want to talk to you about.

Remember this?

The world didn’t end on October 29th, either, but for a lot of people in this part of the world it got pretty hairy.

Flooding
These pictures aren’t as dramatic as the Daily Mail ones, except that I took them myself, right outside my house. NOT during the worst of the storm, because that happened at night. Still, you can see where things are going. A car shouldn’t throw this kind of wake.

And it has stayed that way. Hurricane Sandy isn’t monopolizing the headlines any more, but two months later we’re still hurting here. And by “we” I mostly don’t mean me - though I can’t exactly claim to be the exception, come to that.

Flooding
Storm isn’t here yet, but waters are rising. It’s about ankle deep in the street.

Still… I’m one of the lucky ones. My house is old and it’s solid. It’s on relatively high ground, with a deep cellar and a first floor about four feet above ground level.

Flooding
My front stoop; storm is almost here.

I knew it was safe. I also knew that for at least 36 hours it would be completely surrounded by water.

Flooding

It was.

Flooding
All these things that look like canals? They’re streets.

Flooding
Alongside my house.

Flooding
That’s not a body of water - usually. It’s my across-the-street neighbor’s yard.

Flooding
Two blocks inland. Do we detect a theme here?

Flooding
Dinghy in the street - about three feet above it, actually.

Nor any drop to drink.

Astonishingly, my neighborhood didn’t lose power until quite late in the evening, when the storm was at its peak. There were some fluctuations, but it hung in there until about 11 PM, when I’m fairly sure they shut it off intentionally to prevent fires from downed power lines. After that… it was a long night. Long, dark, and noisy.

Overall - I have to say I got off pretty easy. The high-water mark in my cellar, we were to discover, was at five feet; miraculously, just 1/8″ below the circuit breaker panel.

By the time I got down there the next morning the water level was down to about four feet. I know this because I waded through it to kill the main breaker, and it was up to here on me.

It was cold and it was nasty and it was not what you’d call clean. Still, it didn’t include any fuel oil or any raw sewage; lucky me, as I later learned.

With that much water down there it wasn’t really possible to assess the damage or chaos yet. It was a pretty safe assumption, though, that everything was a total loss.

Flooding
Next day - the flood waters begin to recede.

Flooding
Most of the streets aren’t usable yet, though.

When it finally became possible to walk around the block, this was my first look at the street behind mine.

Debris
Noon on the day after the storm. It begins.

It was to become a common sight over the next few weeks. That block - like most of the other blocks on this peninsula - is mostly slab houses. Unlike me and my immediate neighbors, these people don’t have cellars. There is no place for five feet of flood water to go except straight through their main living spaces.

Debris

You can’t exactly say they lost everything - I mean, their houses are still standing. So that’s something.

Debris

But all their stuff is ruined. Furniture, appliances, clothing, toys…

Furniture

Debris

Debris

… wallboard, floorboards, carpet, wiring, plumbing…

Debris
This picture was taken just a week ago.

Debris

… all wrecked. Day after day after day, then and now, a constant parade of trashed belongings.

My area was without power for about a week, give or take. Some people were luckier than that; for others it was a lot longer. A lot longer.

Power Lines

You can see why.

Trees

For several weeks we had curfews and checkpoints and police escorts. Most of us were deeply thankful for this; anyone who wasn’t is about due for a serious reality check.

Trees

(The police were wonderful, I have to say. Well-organized, sensible, uniformly patient and kind.)

Trees

Three days after the storm, I got my first look at the lowest point of the street.

Boats

Boats
This isn’t the boatyard. This is ACROSS THE STREET from the boatyard. These boats do not belong in this guy’s driveway.

I was down this way because I was on the trail of the elusive Pump-Out Guy - someone knew someone who knew someone who knew someone who had a truck and a pump and a generator, and after much phone tag and pavement-pounding I was hoping to snag this guy’s services to get those four feet of water out of my cellar.

I found him at last, a couple of houses up from the boatyard, and was thrilled to learn that I was his next stop. This is one of the most beautiful sights I saw that week:

Pumping

Yeah. That hose is coming from inside MY cellar. They had to climb in a window, because the outer door was completely blocked from the inside, by debris. But they managed it, and four hours later my cellar was reasonably close to dry.

We were leaving for the Fiber Festival of New England early the next morning, so I didn’t even try to deal with the cellar beyond that; was just glad to know I wasn’t leaving it full of water for the weekend.

That afternoon I managed to score a full tank of gas with only an hour’s wait; that was almost as exciting as watching the water gush out of the cellar.

It was weird, leaving the island. We passed gas lines that stretched for miles - people waiting hours for gas that wasn’t even there yet but that was rumored to be arriving later in the day. I felt a little guilty, looking at my gauge reading full. Felt a little more guilty crossing the bridge - like a rat leaving a sinking ship.

This was the loveliest and most exotic thing we saw on the way North - at a Home Depot in Connecticut:

Batteries

Until it was surpassed by the beauty of the hotel room, with its working lights and working heat and apparently inexhaustible hot running water.

Got back from that weekend to find that my neighbors across the street had working lights. Next morning I went down cellar and switched on everything but the furnace and dryer circuits. Let there be light! I also got my first good look at the cellar itself. It wasn’t a happy sight.

Freezer
Yes, that’s a freezer; a formerly white freezer. Yes, it’s lying on its back, open, no longer submerged. Yes, that’s rotting meat you smell.

We didn’t actually reach the freezer for almost two weeks.

Laundry Room
Post-modern sculpture? Why, no, that’s the laundry room.

We still haven’t made our way to the washing machine and dryer, but a couple of weeks ago we finally managed to excavate as far as the furnace and water heater. This is important. It means they can now be ripped out, carted away, and replaced. It gives us reason to hope that we will be able to have heat and hot water again some time in January.

It will be good to have heat and hot water again. Really good. At this writing, the weather isn’t getting any warmer, and I have to admit that living without a furnace is becoming increasingly onerous. Sure, I do normally expect to be able to see my breath at this time of year… but not in my living room, plz kthx.

The Way of All Flesh

And we are the lucky ones.

The Way of All Flesh
This book, of all books, washed up on a high shelf just at the water line. Before the storm it was in a box on the cellar floor - at the other end of the house.

In Gilgo we were even luckier, though it was a couple more weeks before we had power again there.

Generator

Starting with this BIIIIG BEYOOTIFUL generator, under 24-hour guard, which kept the whole community going until a few days after Thanksgiving, when they finally got us reconnected to the grid. That’s also when they eliminated the last of the police checkpoints on Ocean Parkway. They’ll be rebuilding the road for the next six months, though.

But our houses - unlike those in Breezy Point and Rockaway - are still there. Unlike many of those in the towns on the mainland, they are mostly intact. We are counting our blessings.

OK, so why am I telling you about all this now?

Because of all those people who are way way worse off and still in need of help; because I want to do something about that.

I may not have heat or hot water, but at least I didn’t lose anything irreplaceable; I’m OK, and so are my animals, and so is all the property that really matters to me. Meanwhile, a lot of people I know (and far more that I don’t know!) still aren’t able to use their houses at all. They’re camping out with friends and relatives while they try to repair or rebuild or relocate. They’re lucky if they managed to salvage more than the clothes they stood up in.

Every single house in my neighborhood, and in scores of neighborhoods just like mine, is infested with contractors of various kinds. Every day there is something being torn out or put in, replaced or repaired. Every day, even now, there are fresh piles of detritus lining the streets. More furniture, more appliances, more mold-ridden wallboard. Rusted pipes and oil tanks.

It is now way too late to make a long story short, but sooner or later we had to get to the chase, right? So here it is: I’m taking advantage of the freak popularity of Shark Week to raise some funds for hurricane relief.

You know how I said I don’t release club designs before their anniversaries? You know how I said I don’t release them as standalone patterns?

I’m making an exception. A temporary, unprecedented, special-purpose exception. By kind permission of the members of the current Tsock Club, I am making the Shark Week pattern available as a downloadable PDF, for a limited time only, at a premium price - most of which will go directly to hurricane relief.

Limited time: Through the first week of the new year. Maybe the second. (I’ve never done this before, and I’m not sure what to expect. So there’s going to be a little rolling with the punches here.)

Premium price: $40.

Yes, that’s outrageous. Or rather, it’d be outrageous for just a pattern. But most of it - 75% - will go directly to the local rebuilding effort.

The Babylon Fire Chiefs Association is giving out gift certificates to places that sell building and plumbing supplies and appliances; I love this, partly because it’s practical and immediate, answering a specific need; partly because I know that many of my hardest-hit neighbors are firemen themselves.

Save the Beaches is a non-profit dedicated to preserving and stabilizing the coastal environment - the barrier islands that protect the mainland, the reason that most of Long Island and Connecticut are not still underwater - and they’re going to need funds for dune planting. By way of full disclosure… here again I have something of a personal stake - the more so because my mother was a co-founder of the organization - but there’s a much bigger picture to be considered, and this may call for some explanation. It’s sort of the opposite of a domino effect. When a big storm comes in off the ocean, the dunes are the first line of defense for the barrier beaches; the barrier beaches in turn are the first line of defense for the mainland of Long Island; Long Island itself, on a larger scale, is the first line of defense for the southern coast of New England. The dunes along the South Shore of Long Island were pretty much destroyed by Sandy, but they served their purpose. The airbag inflates and it cushions the impact - this destroys the airbag, but it saves the driver and passenger.

Naked Dunes

Underpass

The dunes have already been partially rebuilt…

Naked Dunes

Naked Dunes

… but they’re naked. Naked dunes are unstable; naked dunes are just… sand; sand alone is not enough to protect anything.

This is what healthy dunes should look like:

Dunes

Dunes

Dunes

… and that is what Save the Beaches will be doing, come spring - putting in the grasses and scrub plants that anchor and stabilize this crucial coastal airbag.

Those are the efforts I’m looking to benefit, and depending on what sort of response I get I am hoping I can also set aside a little to help a few individuals directly; knitters who have lost their stashes as well as everything else they owned; members of the community who one way and another just can’t seem to catch a break.

Because, you know, there but for the grace….

And the good thing is - it IS possible to help. I think of Sandy Hook, and how desperately everyone wants to help the victims and survivors there, and the awful thing is that there is really nothing anyone can do to mitigate that loss. People are banding together to offer love and support and money and knitting, and doing that is important for both giver and recipient; it’s part of grieving; it’s a need. And yet there’s also an element of aching futility about it, because you know that nothing you do can ever actually make things normal and OK again.

I don’t know about you, but in the wake of that it is a relief to me to remember that there are still some situations where giving actually DOES help in a simple practical way. Where people who have been hurt CAN have some normal again, and all it takes is money. In the final analysis, that is the kind of problem to have; it may be broken, but at least it’s a broken that can mostly be fixed.

So this is your chance: You can have your feets nommed by tsharks AND help hurricane survivors, all in one swell foop. The community will thank you; the region will thank you; I will thank you.

The special hurricane-relief edition of Shark Week (all 50 pages of it, stuffed with profusely-illustrated technique tutorials) is was available for purchase and download on Ravelry.

As a little extra sweetener, after we close the fundraiser I’ll do a random drawing, choose three names from among the participants - and those three will receive full tshark kits, velcro and all.

Update: Fund-raiser is now closed. Many, many thanks to all who participated, raising over $23,000 for the two charities! Watch this space - and/or my blog and/or my Twitter feed and/or Ravelry - for final report and for results of the prize drawings; I’ll be posting these as soon as I’m out of the latest Pattern Purdah.

We Are Open
Sign in front of a local business, two days after Sandy.

And now, if you’re still with me and still awake… another moment that at least some of you have been waiting for. The Art for your Feet Tsock Club. For 2013. Sign-ups. Open. Now. Go there. Do it. You know you want to.

Happy New Year to all, from everyone on the Tsock Team… including your friend Bruce!

Upshark

(Reminder to current club members: That purchase page is NOT for you! You guys have your own Speshul Renewal Page; if you didn’t get the letter about this, e-mail me, yes?)