Thursday, December 19, 2013

Whirlwind Release

For the past two years, I've made it a point to thank my pattern customers each year by releasing a pattern around Christmas and offering a coupon code so people can download it for free.  This year, I hope my pattern customers will understand why I decided to change things up a little and instead of releasing a pattern for free, I'm asking if you would join me in benefitting a cause that is near to my heart.

A month ago you may have seen coverage of a bad day of tornados in the midwest.  The hardest hit community that day was Washington, IL.  I've lived in Washington since I graduated from college.  I taught music at one of the local grade schools for a few years before we had kids, so I've had an opportunity to become acquainted with a large number of the families in this community.  Washington may not be my "hometown", but it is the town we've lived in ever since we were married 15 years ago, and it's the only home my kids have ever known.

We were very fortunate that day that our house was not in the path of the tornado.  In fact, driving through our neighborhood right after the storm, you never would have known what sort of destruction you'd see less than a mile away.

In the days after the tornado, all sorts of organizations descended upon our town.  The Red Cross and FEMA were there.  Team Rubicon and other volunteer disaster clean-up teams have worked tirelessly alongside local volunteers to sort through and clean up the debris.   Churches organized teams of volunteers and sent them to where they were needed.  Church and school groups were busy cooking meals that they served in their facilities as well as took out to people who were working outside.  It was really amazing to see the outpouring of support from people who came from all over the place to help out.

The tornado went through town on a Sunday.  Power was knocked out to most of the town and because of the location of our house, we're always last on the power restoration list.  So the next day, the kids and I drove up to my parents' house where I sat around stewing about not being able to help out.

To pass the time, I decided to knit some socks.  These socks started out as my "I'm away from home with nothing to do with myself" project, but as I worked, I realized that maybe I could use these socks to help out.  I'd write up the pattern and release it as a tornado benefit.

You wouldn't believe the costs that go into dealing with a disaster like this.  Yes, hopefully the homeowners will have insurance and each individual's out-of-pocket cost should be somewhat limited, but the city will have huge costs to take care of.  Right after the tornado, police, fire & paramedics from all the surrounding towns came to help, and they will all be paid.  For at least a week after the disaster, extra police were manning check-points at the roads that led into the affected areas to keep the damaged homes somewhat secure, and those workers need to be paid.

Bringing in heavy machinery and manpower to help with clean up doesn't come cheap, and in fact the city announced it had run out of money to help homeowners clean up just a couple days after the city started sending out trucks to pick up the debris.  But the biggest long-term problem for our city is that because the tornado destroyed so many homes (leveled + damaged houses = almost 1100 total) and tore right through the section of town that has the newest real estate, we lost 47% of our residential real estate value.  So right when the city will need funds the most, it will take a huge hit to its income from property taxes.

The recovery from this tornado will be long-term.  Because we've already had snow here, even the clean-up is going to take a while.  I am thankful that everyone I know who is currently unable to live in their homes has found rental housing.  I was happy to see how local realtors and insurance companies worked very quickly to get people out of hotels and into rental homes.  There are many organizations that are set up to take donations, but I will be donating proceeds from this pattern directly to the City of Washington Fund that has been set up at a local bank.

Enough disaster talk, now let's talk about the socks!

One 100g skein of pretty much any fingering-weight yarn is going to be plenty for a pair made in either size (the pair in the photo was made from Malabrigo Sock yarn).  They're knit toe-up, so if you are cutting it close on yarn, you can just split it into 2 equal balls before you begin and just knit until you run out.

My two favorite features of this sock are the texturing and the heel.  The twisted stitches that run across the instep pull the socks in at the arch, so you end up with a nice, snug fit.  And now that I've discovered the Fleege Heel (thanks, Margi!) I don't know why I'd ever go back to one of the other heel-making methods.  It's VERY easy to do, uses no wraps, and you end up with NO holes.  I just can't say enough good things about Fleegle!

The twisted stitches are not complicated, and a link to a video demonstration for these stitches is included in the pattern.  Other pattern supplements are a link to a video for Judy's Magic Cast-on and and article that illustrates how to work right and left leg increases.  The pattern is written for two sizes: US Women's Shoe Size 6/7 and Women's 8/9, and is written for magic loop, although knitting on double-pointed needles or with two circulars instead is a simple switch.

Many thanks to Margi and Kim who test-knit the pattern and whose input made it infinitely better!

Thanks in advance to everyone who is contributing to our town's recovery either by buying the Whirlwind Socks pattern, making a donation on your own, or giving your time and energy to one of the organizations that has helped out in the area.  Everyone here is determined to start fresh and make our community even better than it was before, and it means a lot to all of us that we have gotten so much support from people outside our little town!


  1. I just tracked the pattern down in your Ravelry store, but I think it would help to add a direct link, too. :)

    Best of luck as your town rebuilds. We lived in Illinois for a few years while in the military, and only experienced one tiny tornado, but it was scary enough!

  2. You're absolutely right - sorry about that!