Ratta was a fiery young red haired apprentice when the Potluck broke apart almost twenty years ago. Always non conforming, and perceived as a trouble maker, she was barely tolerated by all but Aubergine and Mamie Verde, her mistress. In the eyes of the other girls, Ratta was never more than a servant whose indenture was never completely fulfilled, for all know she has been a kitchen maid in Mamie’s household in the days before all were called to the Potluck. Girls like Winter Wheat would burn holes in Ratta’s sleeves with her staff whenever Ratta claimed she could read Mamie’s mind. The other girls just laughed and hissed “kitchen wench” to her as she passed in the hallways.
After the circle sundered, Mamie yearned to retire to her farmhouse in the southern village of Coventry. Ratta jumped at the chance to abandon the Potluck, for behind Mamie’s sprawling house sat her own neglected backwoods cabin. Wasting little time, Ratta packed their belongings, loaded Mamie and her chair into a buckboard wagon and left the Potluck without a backward glance. She has been caring for the senile old dyer ever since. Because they have been together like soul mates these past twenty years, Ratta and Mamie have a unique kind of magic now, based on their ability to communicate without words and a reverence for the old ways. Like Mamie, Ratta strictly adheres to the ancient lore, that others might scoff at or discredit. She believes the Guardians are real, put in this world to save folk from themselves and help balance nature. Ratta can recount legends of the Crystal Caves that even Sierra does not know. Mamie knows much more for she has a secret undisclosed, and Ratta is the only one of the twelve who can understand her or help her use her powers.
In the past, others in the circle snubbed Ratta because she was a servant in Mamie’s household but now they are curious to know what knowledge of the days of old that she has gleaned from Mamie. Having never practiced the ancient ways or seen the inside of the Crystal Caves, Ratta may have good reason to be afraid of herself, for she does not realize her power. Not knowing she holds the key to the survival of the world as all know it, Ratta she has never tested the crystalline Glacier waters.
Ratta’s Muffin Top Mitts
For our next Knitalong, we’ll be making a pair of Muffin Mitts in a self striping handpainted soft merino yarn called Fingerpaints in the colorway Morning Glory. These Muffin Mitts are Ratta’s and she knit them for tender chores such as taking care of her mistress Mamie Verde. Ratta has rough reddened hands from years of farm work, but when she wears her mitts, her hands are soft and soothed by the lanolin in the merino and she feels fit for tender work.
She turned a worried glance toward Mamie, who lay wrapped in the never-ending shawl and had barely stirred since yesterday. Ratta put a roughened hand tenderly to the old woman’s lined face. The skin on Mamie’s cheek felt hot and papery. Donning her soft, ruffled mitts, Ratta peeled back the shawl, searching for the rhythm of breathing, which came so shallowly she could not tell if it was real or she was willing it so.
‘Cracked Crystal!’ She glared at the dark house. Then she gently gathered Mamie in her arms, caressing the old woman’s face with the fine Merino wool that encased her hands, begging Mamie to live. Ratta pulled on the extra-fine hand coverings when she had tender work to do, such as handling Mamie. The lanolin that had been left in the yarn softened her chapped skin, and what’s more the slightly frivolous design made her feel up to any task, whatever it was she had to do.
–Chapter 13, The Broken Circle: Yarns of the Knitting Witches