Casting On

Jeff was learning.

“Casting is most important, since all the work rests on the first row you do. If it’s crooked, the whole thing will be crooked, and unpredictable.”

“Sure,” said Jeff sullenly. He did everything sullenly these days. Fifteen has hit him hard and made him gangly and sore as a rotten tooth.

The witch flicked him in the forehead with a hard finger. Jeff hissed and dropped a stitch. “Pay attention, lad,” she said. “This is important. There’s no flash here, but without the beginnings there’s no magic, no spell.”

“There’s no flash anywhere,” he said. “Just yarn.”

“That’s the way it works. The work isn’t glamorous or easy, did you think it would be? But there’s power. Now. Unravel, begin again.”

Jeff pulled his yarn off, unlooped it to kinkiness. “First loop,” he muttered, “over finger, over needle, pull through, over finger.”

“Gently now. Too tight and you’ll slant off sideways.”

“Can’t I just practice on something normal? Just a… a scarf or something? A sock?”

She stared at him, her nut-eyes expressionless and dry. “There’s nothing normal. When you make something there’s part of you bound up in it, that passes between you and the work. All you’re really doing is becoming aware of that process.”