World Without End

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.

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.

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.

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.


It was.

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

Alongside my house.

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

Two blocks inland. Do we detect a theme here?

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.

Next day - the flood waters begin to recede.

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.

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.


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


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




… wallboard, floorboards, carpet, wiring, plumbing…

This picture was taken just a week ago.


… 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.


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.


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


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


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:


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:


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.

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.


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


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:




… 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!


(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?)

43 Responses to “World Without End”

  1. Colleen Says:

    I am spreading this post on FB. Nice job!

    But, you should put a photo of the TShark Tsock first, so FB shows that photo, to get people to read the post….

  2. cls Says:

    This is so amazing. Thank you for doing this for all of us. And, actually, I am sort of fascinated to take a look at the pattern. (I bit)(sorry)

  3. Tamar Says:

    Will it indicate on the receipt that 30 dollars of this is a donation to a non profit ? I’m sorry but I had to ask, Hubby is a CPA and is always thinking about taxes.

  4. Beth Lazor-Smith Says:

    Bless you and all you have been through!

  5. Emme J Says:

    Even though I can’t help, I’m making sure I pass this on to every one of my friends.

  6. Kara Jensen Says:

    Thank you and thank you to the tsock flock for allowing me to purchase the Shark Week pattern!!
    I am grateful and look forward to participating in the 2013 Tsock Flock!!

    Big hugs from Honolulu (where we have real sharks),

  7. Crayola Says:

    Any chance you’d be willing to open up for donations apart from buying the pattern? It doesn’t look like either of those organizations accept online donations. $40 is a bit steep for me at the moment (even though I do want the pattern!) so I’d rather donate a bit now and be patient for the pattern later.

  8. Kat Says:

    How do we get the yarn for the shark pattern? I did not realize that the $40 was only for the pattern.

  9. Lynne in Florida Says:

    The losses and devastation are heartbreaking, especially for you guys, who are not accustomed to the damage that the big whirleys cause. I’m sorta used to it. In 2004, we here did not have a direct hit, but still felt the effects of wind and storm surge, from Charley (13-14 Aug), Frances (6-7 Sep), Ivan (14-15 Sep)(this is the one that put the tree through the dining room), and Jeanne (26-27 Sep). Yeah, you counted right - 4 of the bastards in 6 weeks.

    Save the Beaches may be Cookie’s biggest contribution of all the wonderful things she did. As the people in NOLA have learned to their sorrow, lose the dunes, lose everything. There can’t be a more long-lasting and important use for the Tsharks - and it’s one about which most people don’t know anything.


  10. Elizabeth Duvall Says:

    Brilliant! Thank you, Tsarina. Thank you, generous Sock Club Members.

  11. Patricia Says:

    My parents moved with me to Florida when I was only nine months old, and I have seen more hurricanes than I care to remember. The damage from Hurricane Sandy was as bad as it gets, and I am awed by the strength and optimism of the people who have suffered from it.

    Your Tshark Tsocks are great and the enormous response to your hurricane relief efforts is wonderful!

    Thank you for your continuous excellent creative designs and for your caring.


  12. SallyM Says:

    Thanks for your thoughfulness and I KNOW that you will make many many people very happy! I passed along your post to a friend who realy wants Bruce. I myself quite selfishly took my Chrismas money and signed up for the Tsock club. I am so very happy!! Best. Christmas. Present. Ever.

  13. Katie in UT Says:

    I am so excited for this pattern! I was ready to be patient for a year, but getting the pattern early, AND getting to help at ground-level is an extra bonus! I always wonder when donating to big charities how much of my funds go to “administrative costs”- Knowing that YOU know where the money is going, and that you know where it will do the most good helps my heart. I am slso involved in halos of hope- a non-profit chemo-cap charity that used shark hats for a fund raiser last year- I am now kind of obsessed with all things sharky! I will share this on fb also, so my sharky friends can get in on the fun- I hope your site isn’t too overwhelmed!
    Thank you and God Bless!

  14. cath Says:

    Thank you!
    I have a 9 yr old nephew who LOVES sharks. I thought of him when I saw these, and I hoped he would still be a shark fan next year when they became available. To top it off both sets of his grandparents have uninhabitable homes due to Sandy (yes, my sister literally married the boy next door–well, actually across the street), so helping those affected by Sandy sounds great. All the best to you in 2013.

  15. Shark (Sock) Week | Mr. Topp and the Big Bad Blog Says:

    […] you can buy them now. For this week, and this week only you can buy the shark socks pattern, and donate to Hurricane Sandy relief in the […]

  16. tom Says:

    i would like to buy this pattern (and make the donation) as a gift for a friend. that is, i want it in her name, but i’ll pay with my credit card. can i do that? i walked through the website, but it wasn’t clear to me that this was doable. thanks.

  17. Shark Socks For Sandy - The Awesomer Says:

    […] now selling the pattern and tutorials to make her Shark Week socks. 75% of the proceeds will go to a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief. Guess it’s time to learn how to knit. Like It!  Loading … […]

  18. Gwen Kading Says:

    So excited to receive your pattern and at the same time contribute to Hurricane Sandy relief. Kudos to all your efforts and hard work! Can the yarn be purchased yet? Thx so much. . .

  19. Socks that Eat Your Feet | DESIGNFALL Says:

    […] is now selling the pattern and tutorials to make her Shark Socks. 75% of the proceeds will go to a fundraiser for Hurricane Sandy relief. Guess it’s time to learn how to knit.   Buy Now >>   Comments […]

  20. Shari Says:

    I am grateful to have the pattern and the opportunity to donate to Sandy relief but was wondering about if this counts (at least in part) as a tax donation. Please let me know. Thanks.

  21. Janette Says:

    My son loves…loves…loves sharks. I am not gifted with knitting. Is there anyone out there that would be interested in making these socks, in a men’s size 12, for me. I will be happy to pay a fair price for them, in cotton yarn. Please contact me, if interested, at Please put “shark socks” in the subject line.
    Thank you Janette

  22. Lynne Says:

    Thank you for such a thorough and well thought out report. And for your amazing offer of the shark sock pattern. Well done! !! Must enter budget negotiations with DH.

  23. Sandy Says:

    I know I am in the club and have the pattern. But these are great causes. And besides now i have two legal copies of the pattern and can give one to a friend as a gift : )

  24. Julie Says:

    Best wishes for a successful fundraiser! I am excited about the sock club and to cast on my very own TShark Week socks.

  25. Sue O. Says:

    Is the fundraiser for the shark sock pattern over? today is payday, wasn’t able to participate earlier.


    Sue Ostergaard

  26. Sue Ostergaard Says:

    Found the link to purchase the pattern! Glad it is still available.

  27. Luisa de Fanti Says:

    I would like to buy the shark pattern but I do not know where to sign up for it

    It’s is my email:

    Thank you very much

  28. Robert Says:

    Hi Lisa! I would like to help a little by buying a pair of those shark socks, I want to give them away as a present. Is that possible? Thank for your reply!

  29. Brooke Says:

    Do you sell your creations to non crafty or artistic folks like me? I have a slew of friends who would buy your shark socks right now?

  30. kim kum hee Says:

    I want buy your shark socks patterns.

  31. Maria Says:

    Please make a lot of socks and sell it in Amazon, I’m size 5! Please!

  32. Ann-Cathrin Says:

    Hello, I strugle with the pattern, what do I do to find someone to explain it to me?

    A very good thing you’re doing, and I SO wanna knit the socks. But now all they do is making me upset everytime I think about them or see the receipt “mocking me”.
    Where can I find more guidance?

  33. Pinklady Says:

    I will leave a note on FB also…..

  34. Alison Hawkins Says:

    You have incredible talent-adore the Blue Willow socks ( my China pattern) Booths real old willow by Royal Doulton, heres a tidbit of a verse that I remember “Two little birds flying high, a sailing vessel passing by, a bridge with three men, maybe four- and I can’t remember the rest my mom knew it all and you used to be able to get a little booklet from Royal Doulton-mine has long been lost but I thought you might enjoy this

  35. Polly a/k/a neednap Says:

    I am heartened to see this pattern is being made available and for such a good cause, and only regret I am no longer able to help out and/or get the pattern, as much as I had wanted it…my husband died and I still have not recovered emotionally or financially, and it may be some months yet before I actually have money for something other than absolute necessities (rent, electricity, phone, food…)

    I hope only that the other responses here are a reflection of the generosity of so many, and that you get a lot of help for those who are without homes and necessities. I am still blessed in that I have so far managed, with the kindness of others (including the people who own the place I’ve been renting for so many years), to be able to stay where I am, still have my animals, still have power and phone and food. I only hope that some day I will finally catch up on the bills so I can also help out in some small way.

    God bless and good luck with the recovery effort.


  36. Athena Kay Says:

    Want to say this is astonishing ** thumbs up

  37. Terry Says:

    Just found out about the shark sock pattern and your fundraising efforts. Will you please consider making the pattern available again.

  38. Dane Says:

    Will you please sell me a pair of these (teeth up or down) for my girlfriend!?!?!?!?

  39. Debbie Says:

    Is this pattern still available?

  40. Carla Frias Says:

    Love these socks, I want to buy them, how can I do it? :)

  41. Susan Hogan Says:

    How do I order this pattern? I want to make them for my son in law…he asked me if I could! Thanks! Susan Hogan

  42. Judi Harris Says:

    HOw do I order patterns? I cannot seem to find an order page

  43. gage Says:

    how do I go about purchasing these tshark tsocks?

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