At twenty-four he is an apprentice no longer, and it may be months at a time before Jeff sees the old witch again. The bell over his door rings and he looks up from his patternwork, mind tangled still with cabling and intent. “May I… help you?”

She has knit a new face, but the eyes are still the same, nut-brown and unsentimental. “Certainly, boy, or I wouldn’t be here. Unravel yourself and come with me.”

He flips the sign upon the door and spins the little hands to two, and then to four upon reflection. She leads him deeper into the city, through bus routes and train lines, into barred windows and iron fences, over and under where others have gone before. “What are you about, old woman?” He can feel their intent knotted into hers. “What are we learning today?”

She glisters at his impatience. “No lessons; you have learned all I am willing to teach. No. Today we work. The apprentices today are boiling, dyeing, spinning, skeining; you and yours are weaving the city tight; and we– all of us–” she grins, new face sliding rough over old bone– “are doing all the real work. Now be silent, and use your motherwit, if you can. I am done explaining.”