Love in Every Stitch

Edited by Julia Rios

July 2018

Escaping takes time, takes attention, takes a careful whispered count under your breath, takes a mile or more of thread or string or yarn. Injured hearts, escaping hearts, want softer stuff. There aren’t very many soft things in the world—just blankets and sweaters and fingerless gloves with love in every stitch.

You’ll want soft, but you don’t always need soft, in your threads or in your heart. Sometimes you need the cold smoothness of bamboo, the scratch of wool, or the unnatural neon color of that awful mohair that people keep giving you for birthdays and Christmases. Sometimes all you need is thick twine–it’ll work; it’s coarse, it’s rough, it’s not pretty in the slightest, and no one will look at what you’ve done without asking, “God, why?” but it’ll do in a pinch, to prove a point if nothing else, and it is strong.

You can use any of these to escape, depending. Depending on you, depending on the path you’re searching for, depending on… depending.

Use something thick if you’re thinking you might want to come back. Use lace weight if you want not to be found. Tangle up pursuers or curious would-be rescuers in tripwires of dropped stitches. Blur their sight with intarsia. Lose them in a wilderness of cabling and let their twisting paths end suddenly before their feet, or spread into a dozen branches. Take up a crochet hook and let them go in circles for days, farther and farther from where your heart is. Warp a loom with tencel and weave a wall or a bridge or a door.

There are a hundred little methods of obfuscating the map. As long as you can follow it, that’s all that matters. You can’t take anyone with you; not this way. Follow your map, and whisper the count under your breath, stitch by stitch and step by step.

Some’ll tell you that a mistake will muck the whole thing up, take the magic out. It won’t. Unravel it and try again if you like, or leave the error there. It’s a piece of you, a breadcrumb trail. I was here, it says. Me, not anyone else. It is a pebble placed on a long-eroded gravestone, a heart scratched into tree bark deep in the forest.

Some’ll tell you that there’s a particular path of stitches that leads right from here into Elsewhere. Maybe. You can look for it, if you must. Like as not, it’ll take a gossamer silk thread, snowblind white or glossy black, and your eyes may dazzle before you’re more than six inches along the path. But you can try. If escaping is the thing, it doesn’t much matter if you get lost anyway, does it?

Some’ll tell you that you have to be certain before you begin, because they can’t imagine that someone like you could ever be certain, and they want you to be afraid to try. You do have to be certain, but certainty and fear aren’t mutually exclusive. You can have both, as long as you can still keep count. That’s all you need. One needle or two, or a hook, or a loom, and a thread, and whispered numbers.

Good luck.

© 2018 Alexandra Rowland

About the author

Alexandra Rowland

Alexandra Rowland is a fantasy author, game monitor at an escape room company, and occasional bespoke seamstress under the stern supervision of her feline quality control manager. She can be found on Twitter as @alexrowland. Look for her debut novel, A Conspiracy of Truths, from Saga Press in Fall 2018.