The 17th day of December, and I hope you’re all holding up well. With our living room still out of commission and all the furniture at the restorers, we’re thinking of treating ourselves to a Christmas Day picnic on an empty beach. It’s the ideal place to recover my sanity. It’s also why I’m spending so much time knitting at the moment. I used to love knitting jumpers – better known as sweaters on the other side of the pond – but I’ve recently started making socks, prompted by a friend making me a pair. I loved them so much, I had to try it for myself. Knitting socks is soothing. It’s straightforward and doesn’t need much brain power, which makes it ideal for when I’m editing.
The idea for Needles, Yarn and Gingerbread didn’t come from my recent sock knitting spree, though. I actually got the idea for the story after catching up with a friend. She’d been looking for something cheerful to do with her kids. That something was knitting and – more precisely – knitting squares to make a big blanket. And somehow, that just said Jack and family to me.
In today’s installment we’re with Gareth, who has a revelation of his own…
“They didn’t even laugh at me,” Nico said while he carefully manoeuvred one loop of yarn through another. “The ladies in the knitting shop, I mean.”
“Why should they laugh?” Gareth had gone up to check on Nico when neither Daniel nor Jack showed any sign of wanting to curtail their discussion about gingerbread architecture. And had found him sitting ramrod straight in a chair by the window, needles and yarn in his lap.
“Because there were only women in the shop. And on all the covers of the magazines and stuff. But they didn’t mind me coming in, and they didn’t mind me asking questions, either. The lady who owns the store even gave me a discount!” He interrupted himself and pointed at what looked like a quiver—holding long needles instead of arrows—and a dozen balls of chunky yarn. “She has this bargain box of yarns where there’s only one ball left, you know? And she made me a big bag of all colours.”
Nico creased his brows in concentration as he came to the last loop of blue on his left-hand needle. He pulled the wool through the loop and then held it up in triumph. “Row five, done!”
A small rectangle of cornflower blue dangled from the needle and Gareth eyed it, intrigued. “What will this be when you’re done?”
“A blanket,” Nico told him and Gareth had to bite his lip before a single incredulous word escaped. Blankets were… sizeable. Not blue rectangles measuring a few inches each way. Fortunately, Nico hadn’t noticed his reaction. He had started on another row of loops, his tongue peeking out between his lips as he concentrated.
“Is that for this team work project you have to do?”
“Yep. It’s cool, you know?” he said when he’d settled back into his rhythm. “You knit these squares and then you put them together. And the more squares you knit, the bigger your blanket gets. If everyone makes squares, it’s a team effort. And I want to make a blanket big enough to cover all four of us when we’re snuggled up on the sofa watching films.”
Gareth couldn’t remember the last time anything had choked him up, so the sudden lump in his throat came as a surprise. He fought it down and watched Nico finish another row. The idea of a blanket to wrap up the four of them appealed to him. It was a tangible sign of the four of them together.
“I’ve no idea how to knit but… can I help?”
…. to be continued
Seasons of Cheer is my blogging challenge for this year. Every day during December I’m aiming to post a story, snippet or outtake. A moment to stop and draw breath during a month that’s usually crazy busy.
And here’s an extra treat for everyone who subscribes to my newsletter:
Midnight Tracks, a collection of shorts, snips, and outtakes from the first five Power of Zero books, including an exclusive Christmas short story you won’t find anywhere else – delivered to your inbox on Christmas Eve. 🙂