She dumped a pile of brightly colored paper packets on the counter in front of Jeff. “Kool-Aid?” he said.

“Kool-Aid. Today we are going to learn dyeing.” She pulled a bunch of raw yarn out of the cabinet. “Get the kettle set up, please.”

Jeff had gotten strong with his stubbornness, forearms ridged with muscle from hauling water, even the short distance from the sink to the fireplace. He’d come to enjoy the slow process for itself. Maybe she approved of that, maybe she didn’t: she didn’t say anything either way. “Why Kool-Aid?”

“Kool-Aid is safe. You can’t burn yourself with it, and it’s hard to ruin the yarn.” She nudged the packets toward him. “Put these in before you fill the kettle. Kool-Aid, yarn, water.”

At sixteen he knew patience. It wasn’t until the fire was snapping brightly against the kettle that he asked, not rebellious, just curious, “Why are we dying the yarn? I mean, why aren’t we buying it dyed?”

“It’s important to know where things come from before you really begin to work with them. Oh, I could teach you spells without it, yes,” the witch waved his question away. “And no doubt you could work wonders that way. But you would always be limited to what I had shown you or what someone else had shown you. We will make our own dye, eventually, and then you will know as much as I can teach you, but for today we will keep ourselves to Kool-Aid.”