The second part of The Broken Circle title is Yarns of the Knitting Witches. By this, I don’t just mean the fibers they dye and spin that will become the magical yarns they knit into enchanted garments, I mean their stories. Where did all these witches come from?
The Adult Witches
Back in the day– and for the purposes of this first book of the Potluck Yarn Trilogy, “the day” means when the witches were young girls more than twenty years ago–dye mistress Aubergine, known to some as the Potluck Queen, opened a school for girls at her fiber cooperative called Potluck Yarn. Many came to apprentice, but few were chosen. The first witch was Aubergine herself, who learned all on her own to wield the magic crystals freely.
The next witch was her lifelong friend Mamie Verde, older than them all but forever young, thus the name Verde which means “green”. She was the Keeper of the Tales. To run the household which included the dormitory and kitchen they chose housemother Lilac Lily, the only witch among them able to win the girls’ confidence and discern their untold secrets. Finally there was Tracery Teal whose lineage stretched back to the First Folk. Teal was a witch who could be killed but never fully destroyed. These four adults chose seven apprentice girls. I say seven, for Smokey Jo was already there when the others began to gather.
The smallest of the Twelve, Smokey Joe was born a gnome and left on Aubergine’s doorstep by a band of traveling gypsies. Gnome babies were considered rare and magical beings and where better to have such a child fostered, the gypsies reasoned, than the enchanted world of the Potluck Yarn Queen herself. Smokey Jo’s real name was Josephine, but she earned the nickname Smokey Jo as a young child for her pyromaniac tendencies. One time by accident she burnt her eyebrows and singed the hair off her head. For weeks she walked around wearing a white cotton toque and smelling of smoke. Forever after, she was called Smokey Jo.
Many arrived but only few were chosen, just seven: Sierra, Indigo Rose, Esmeralde, Lavender Mae, Winter Wheat, Ratta and Tasman. These are their stories.
Sierra was a Northland girl, sent south by her family to learn Aubergine’s lore. Her parents hoped that one day she would follow Aubergine’s footsteps to assume the mantle of Potluck Queen. Many Northlanders felt their children held unrealized magic inside them, remnants leftover from ancient times. Sierra was one such girl.
Indigo Rose was born in the bucolic Middlelands and was sent north from her family farm in Banebridge to apprentice at the Potluck, for the farm had too few sons but plenty of girls. Her specialty was gardening rare and exotic medicinal herbs. At the Potluck she found she could make any plant grow, even out of season.
Esmeralde grew up with carnies that ran a traveling side show, which featured fantastical puppets, simple sleight of hand magic tricks and a faith healer who hawked homemade remedies. Esmeralde found she had a penchant for producing magical medicines and ran away from the carnies one day in Bordertown to begin selling her own cure-alls. When her luck ran out, she found herself at Potluck Yarn.
Lavender Mae was a strange little girl with wispy hair born in a mining camp at the Crystal Lakes. Even at an early age, she knew her crystals and spent her time picking odd shards from the freshets that pooled each spring leading from the Northland Glacier to the Teardrop Dam. After her mother died of an unknown sickness, her father moved on. Luckily some of the women at the camp, feeling sorry for the abandoned girl and recognizing something rare in her took her to Potluck Yarn.
Winter Wheat was a big brazen girl who hailed from the Western Highlands. She never cared for womanly pursuits, preferring to learn the lore of the shepherds who passed through her father’s grasslands each season. When her family found that she could not only communicate with all animals but ken their nature, they hired one of the shepherds to take her to Potluck Yarn.
Ratta was born a serving wench in Coventry. She lived with her mother and sister in a hired man’s cabin in the woods behind Mamie Verde’s family estate. Ratta enjoyed her kitchen work and keeping the old woman company. When Aubergine summoned Mamie to Potluck Yarn, it was only natural for Ratta to be the servant chosen to accompany her.
Tasman was a tall slender girl with black hair and cold green eyes, from the Fisheries of the Far East. Her mother’s family netted shrimp and sold them along the docks. Her father was a wandering Glacier Born Hed Clansman, who took her mother back to the Glacierlands, hoping for sons. Born a daughter, Tasman had a vestige of old magic, simmering inside her and found herself an apprentice at Potluck Yarn.