An Open Letter to Shark Lovers
First of all, I want to thank all you lovely people who have been burying me in Shark Week love over the past couple of days. Um… Wholly Carp, Batman. Seriously - I’m whelmed, and overwhelmed, and ultrawhelmed. (And that’s just me. You should see the Tsock Team. Also, you should see my blog stats. Excuse me for a moment while I fan myself.) I’m scrambling as fast as I can to get blog comments approved and answered, but “as fast as I can” isn’t fast enough, so meanwhile… this. Thank you from the bottom of my strange and twisted little heart. Thank you for loving my tsilly tsharks; thank you for getting the joke and passing it along; and yes, thank you even for the weird and slightly mind-bending realization that literally tens of thousands of people world-wide have now ogled a picture of my left foot.
Second of all - wow. Sorry, I had to pause a moment to let that last thought sink in. Again.
Third - OK, here come the cold cruel facts that you probably don’t want to hear, but as you read them bear in mind that they are like the contents of Pandora’s Box: For every horrid U-No-Can-Haz-Nao there is a compensating ray of hope for the future. That said, I’m terribly sorry, but U No Can Haz Nao. Shark Week is not available - THAT IS, NOT YET - in any form.
There are lots and lots of reasons for this.
The primary one is that it is part of the current Tsock Flock Club, and is therefore exclusive to the members for a year; a deal’s a deal. (More about the club, and how you go about joining it, below.)
The other reasons are long and dull and (in some cases) whiny, having to do with me having the Insane Year from Hell and trying to do way too much all at the same time, and generally already being very far behind schedule with many things. We are in the process of rebuilding the Tsock Empire from scratch, and doing that has been a tremendous empirical lesson in how everything always takes much longer than you expect. (If you’re really a glutton for punishment, you can read a little more about this in my recent post In Which I Do Not Fake My Death.) We are a tinytinytiny business, gradually working our way up toward being tinytiny and then perhaps someday growing up to be tiny with fantasies of someday even being small, and we are perfectionists, and we’re already putting in about 48 hours a day over and above those pesky day jobs, and… well, the light we’re seeing at the end of the tunnel is NOT an oncoming train, but it turns out that the tunnel is way longer than anyone predicted. At the moment we do not have the personnel or the facilities or the supplies to put together a big production run in a hurry.
And on top of all that - we just had this storm. Sandy. You may have heard of it. It came rip-roaring through here almost three weeks ago, and we are still digging out - literally. (You don’t want to see what my cellar looks like after five feet of water. Srsly.) Some of us still don’t have power. Mine was restored a few days ago, but I still don’t even know when I’ll have heat or hot water. And I’m one of the really really lucky ones; at least I do still have my house. One of the reasons Shark Week shipped late is that for several days there was no power to print patterns or labels, no post office open, and no way to leave my house without swimming.
Right - so with all these production constraints, why, you may be asking, don’t I just release the pattern as a PDF download? Well - even setting aside Reason #1 above, i.e. my commitment to the club members - because that is not how I roll. With a few special-purpose exceptions, sock kits are what I do. Is that ever going to change? Maybe. But it isn’t something I can turn on a dime. It’d be a massive change to my business model, and those things demand time and thought and planning and discussion. Even if I weren’t running on fumes, post-hurricane, that’s not a wand I can just wave overnight.
Which is sad, because if there is one thing I hate, it is disappointing people, especially people who have shown so much appreciation for my work. But I have to. I can’t give you Shark Week for Christmas, alas. I wish I could. (And by “can’t give” I also mean “can’t sell,” and don’t think that that is not painful to me too. I wouldn’t at all object to the beneficial effect on cash flow, believe you me.)
All that said - if you can bear to be patient for a while, you too can see light at the end of a tunnel, light that does not translate to imminent railway disaster.
Here’s how this thing works.
1) All club designs DO eventually go public, typically on or near their anniversaries. In the normal course of things we should be releasing the public edition of Shark Week in time for Rhinebeck (October 19) 2013. That is, in plenty of time for NEXT Christmas. (Yes, I can hear the groan. I’m groaning it myself. I don’t like having to wait for what I want, any more than the next fiberholic. But… anticipation. Remember the Heinz Ketchup commercial? No? Am I dating myself? Sigh.)
2) The club is a year-long subscription thing, with a season loosely tied to the calendar year. In a normal year, membership includes six kits, plus assorted goodies and squishy surprises, discounts, etc. In a normal year, we would have opened sign-ups for next season on Rhinebeck weekend. This… is not a normal year. Club shipments are one of the above-mentioned areas where we are frankly behind schedule at the moment (for those keeping track, Shark Week is #4 for this season, and in a perfect world we should have shipped #5 by now), and that is one of the reasons that Club 2013 is going to be a bit different from Club 2012. We didn’t open sign-ups at Rhinebeck because we are still working out the details, but as of now we are planning a one-time-only scaled-down season that will probably include four kits instead of six, with pricing to match (still working this out too, but the ballpark figure is probably about $170, as compared to $250 for the usual full run of six). This, we hope, will give us a little breathing space to ramp up production capacity, bring more of the older titles back into the line-up, and start being able to make and fulfill on-line sales.
3) Speaking of on-line sales, you may have noticed I still am not doing them yet. There is a lovely commerce site that is very nearly ready to launch, but until very recently there hasn’t been any stock to sell (see above re production capacity, etc.). We’re just trembling on the brink with this, and even now there is limited supply and a waiting list for a lot of titles. Progress is being made, but it’s turning out to be like Rome - not built in a day or indeed in a year. But it WILL happen.
4) For those of you asking about buying finished socks - again, terribly sorry, but I can’t do that. Your best bet is to become very good friends with a knitter (knitters make really great friends, incidentally, so it’s not a bad idea to do this anyway). You’ve got a little less than a year to cultivate this relationship to the point of sockworthiness. It’s worth it - not for sharks alone, but more generally because hand-knitted socks are a wonderful thing to have in your life. There may well be knitters out there who would do this for you for money - I honestly can’t even imagine how much - but better yet, there are way more knitters who will do it for love and for the pleasure of the process. Tap into that resource; you will not regret it.
5) For those of you - that dizzying number of you - who are so kindly “liking” me on Facebook, a shamefaced confession: I am Facebook-challenged. I do have a Facebook presence of sorts, and I do see all those upward-pointing thumbs, and I do marvel at them… but Facebook makes my head go splodey, and I can’t respond directly as I would otherwise wish. It may just be because I am already overwhelmed with other things, or - OK, I don’t really know why exactly, but there it is. I blog; I tweet; I e-mail like there’s no tomorrow; I keep up (more or less) with Ravelry; but that seems to be my limit. So if I’m failing to interact with you on Facebook, be sure that IT IS NOT BECAUSE I DON’T APPRECIATE THE LOVE. I do. I absolutely do. I heart the love. I thank you for it. I reciprocate. In fact I… I think I’m having a Sally Field moment here. I just - well, for now I can’t really go there and do the thing at the place with the stuff, because I’m pretty sure that if I tried to do that it would swallow me whole and there would be no more tsock designing. I’ll find my way on this, someday. But not yet.
6) NOT LEAST. If you are still with me here, and if you are interested in any or all of the above, and if you have not done this yet (I see a lot of you have, dang, a LOT of you have) - please sign up for my mailing list. I haven’t sent out any announcements for a while, because I haven’t had anything big enough to announce lately - but I’m going to. When we figure out the details for the coming club and are prepared to open enrollment - there will be a mailing. When we release club titles for public sale, or bring back older titles - there will be a mailing. When the commerce site goes live, you betcha there will be a mailing. When Shark Week becomes available for public sale, boy howdy, you better believe there will be a mailing.
So that’s what I’ve got. Thanks, and love, and apologies… and promises. Hang in there with me. There WILL be gratification - it just won’t be the instant kind.
And now… I’m gonna take one more peep at the blog stats. Um, yeah… I’ll be in my bunk.
P.S. Behold my shamelessness. While you’re waiting… maybe you’d like to amuse yourselves by taking a look at Fronkenshteek. That one IS available as a PDF download, and I’m here to tell you it comes from the same place of crazypants brain. Plus - social knitting. Big fun. Ask me how I know.