Yarn Tales: The Magical Kool-aid Critters

*this is a work of fiction. I hope you enjoy it

My friend Lucia comes from a village to the far far north where winter is long, dark, cold and difficult. She remembers winters from her childhood when the snow fell for weeks without a break. No one from her village liked the winter weather (who would?) but they took a certain pride in toughing it out year after year. They usually made the best of things by spending the whole winter knitting. By the time spring rolled around every year, the villagers had always created a lot of wooly sweaters, socks and blankets. As often as they could, they would gather together in the local school and admire each others’ knits: “How warm! How well stitched! How practical to wear all winter!”

As is usually the case in these sorts of stories, Lucia was a bit different than her fellow villagers. Try as she might, Lucia’s blankets always came out crooked and her sweaters lumpy. Lucia was ashamed of her knits, and the villagers felt sorry for her. If only Lucia had realized that in truth, she wasn’t really a bad knitter. The problem was that Lucia wasn’t interested in sweaters, socks and blankets, or in anything practical. Neither was she interested in the wool yarns of grey and tan that the villagers knit with (although now as an adult she admits she recognizes the subtle beauty of these simple colors). Instead, Lucia dreamt of fantasy creatures and rainbow colors.

One winter afternoon, her parents in the living room making no sound but the clicking of needles as they knit, Lucia was bored and decided to prepare herself a snack. She was up on a footstool, reaching deep into the cupboard when she noticed some old kool-aid packets that had fallen behind the cheerios. Nostalgic for summer, she eagerly set about making herself a pitcher of Strawberry Lemonade kool-aid, and was about to pour in the sugar when she paused, realizing she had a far better idea. After checking to see that her parents weren’t looking, she dashed to the hall closet, grabbed a skein of white yarn and submerged it into the pink liquid.

This was the start of a magical life-changing process for Lucia. Secretly, she dyed skeins in a dozen different colors: grape purple, peach mango orange, tropical punch blue. Nervous that her parents would scold her for ruining perfectly good yarn, she hid the skeins to dry in her closet. When they were dry, she joined them in her closet with her knitting needles. With a flashlight balanced on an upper shelf, she knit the creatures of her dreams: stripy dragons, purple kangaroos, and rainbow zebras. She had never been so busy or so happy. Good thing her parents were in the thick of making some particularly challenging fair isle sweaters, or they might have wondered about Lucia and found out her little secret.

This winter was a particularly long one for in the village. It was nearly Easter and the snowstorms hadn’t let up. The villagers kept knitting, but there was an ache in everyone’s back and a disgruntled mood in everyone’s heart. At this point, everyone had more sweaters than they could possibly need. Now when the villagers gathered together they would hardly look at each others’  knitting. Instead they would moan: “When is the sun going to come out? When is color going to come back into our village?”

Lucia alone of all the villagers hardly noticed the long winter. She was happily holed up in her closet, knitting a set miniature bunnies in bright colors. She had finished a yellow bunny and cast on some pink for her next one, when from behind her back, the finished critter hopped off his shelf and out the crack in the closet door. He was so small and silent that Lucia didn’t notice him. Her father did though, about two minutes later, seeing a miniature yellow knit bunny come hopping into the living room, he let out a frightened yelp and jumped to his feet in shock.

His yell startled Lucia’s mother, who had been busy grumbling to a neighbor on the telephone about the weather. She dashed into the living room to see what had startled her husband so. Her loud gasp made the neighbor on the other end of the telephone hurriedly put down the receiver, grab her coat and head across the street to see what the commotion was about. On the way over, she met the village policeman and his wife, who were out walking their dog through the snow, and quickly beckoned them to follow.

They entered Lucia’s living room and stared as the little yellow knit bunny hopped up onto the coffee table and sat there contentedly wiggling his nose. For a long time they just stood at a distance and stared. Even the policeman’s dog couldn’t quite believe it, and seemed too nervous to get any closer. At last a peal of delighted laughter broke the stunned silence. The adults and dog turned. Lucia had come into the doorway. “Would you look at that,” she exclaimed with joy, “The knit bunny is alive!”

It was another three weeks before the snow finally stopped falling and the sky turned blue, but this year, none of the villagers minded. They spent the time sitting cross-legged on Lucia’s living room floor laughing about, marveling at and playing with all the delightful knits that came to life off Lucia’s needles.