I'm writing this in January and it's pretty cold right now, so it's unsurprising that the number one source of inspiration for me at the moment, is "things that keep us warm!"
This story is also available to listen to as a podcast.
The Scarf That Didn't Stop
Charlie's Nana loved to knit. She was forever making jumpers, hats and mittens for Charlie, his sister Annabelle and their cousins. Nana lived with Charlie and his family and it was lovely to have lots of nice, warm woollens to keep them all cosy during Winter.
The trouble was, Nana was getting a little forgetful. Sometimes, she would start knitting and then, someone would knock at the door, or the phone would ring, and by the time she'd been to see who it was, she'd forget to finish what she started. The family would find the sleeve of an unfinished jumper, stuck between the sofa cushions. Or the fingers of a glove, lying abandoned on the coffee table. Everyone would smile and Nana would laugh and say: "Oops, I'll finish that another day!"
And most of the time, that's exactly what she did. But Nana liked to keep herself busy. She sang in a choir and she went to exercise classes. She enjoyed having tea and cakes with her friends. So, sometimes, her unfinished knitting stayed just that: unfinished.
Then, one day, Charlie got a cold. A really bad cold. He couldn't walk anywhere without getting out of breath. When he wasn't sneezing, he was coughing. And when he wasn't coughing, he was blowing his nose. His head hurt, his chest was tight and he felt very poorly indeed. Charlie went to bed, feeling incredibly sorry for himself.
"Don't worry, love," Charlie's Nana said, as she went to check on him. "I know just what you need, for when you get better and you can go outside to play, again." She nodded, wisely. "You need a nice, thick scarf. It'll keep your neck and chest warm. You can even put it over your mouth, so that the cold air doesn't get to you, too much. I'm going to knit you one right now!"
And, knowing how important the scarf was to poor Charlie, Nana decided not to sit in the lounge to do her knitting. She told the whole family not to disturb her and she took her basket of wool and her knitting needles up to her bedroom. Nothing was going to distract her from making Charlie's scarf.
Nana picked out some lovely blue wool and started to knit.
After a few minutes, Annabelle came in to show Nana a picture she had drawn. "That's nice, Dear," Nana said. But she didn't stop knitting.
After an hour, Charlie's mum came in to ask if Nana wanted a cup of tea. "No, thank you," Nana replied. And she still didn't stop knitting.
Soon, the scarf was long enough to dangle over Nana's lap and onto the floor. She ran out of blue wool and moved onto green, instead. She still didn't stop knitting.
After a couple of hours, the scarf was so long, it gathered in a pile at Nana's feet. But she still didn't stop knitting.
Nana went through all the green wool in her basket and had to open up the red. And she still didn't stop knitting.
Charlie's dad came in to see if Nana was going to her exercise class that afternoon. "No," she replied. "I have too much to do, today." And she carried right on knitting.
Outside, the heavens darkened, rain fell, clouds rolled slowly across the sky and the sun finally began to peep out again. And all the while, Nana didn't stop knitting.
Annabelle came to see how long the scarf was getting. It stretched out of Nana's bedroom door, all along the corridor and halfway down the stairs. And Nana still didn't stop knitting.
The phone rang. The doorbell went. But Nana let someone else answer both. She had something more important to do.
She skipped tea and cake with her friends and she missed her choir practise. She took a break for dinner and then went straight back to her work.
By the evening, Nana had used all of the wool in her basket. The scarf stretched out of her bedroom door, all along the corridor, down the stairs and into the lounge, where it wrapped around the legs of the coffee table. Twice.
Everyone gathered on the sofa, to see Charlie try on his new scarf. He wrapped it around his neck, once, twice, three times, four times... It started to get too thick, so he moved it to his chest and carried on winding. Soon, nobody could see Charlie at all! He was covered from head to toe in the thickest, most colourful, longest scarf the family had ever seen!
Charlie struggled to get out from beneath the wool and he smiled. Then his smile widened and he began to giggle. Then, his giggling got louder until he laughed and laughed, clutching his belly as the scarf lay tangled at his feet. It was the first time he'd laughed since he'd gotten poorly and soon, everyone else was laughing, too!
"Oh, Nana," Charlie said. "It looks like you were right; this scarf was exactly what I needed, to make me feel better!"
Nana gave him a hug. "And it was exactly what I needed, to prove to myself that I don't always get distracted and forget what I'm doing," she grinned.
Charlie's dad lifted one end of the scarf from the floor and chuckled. "What on Earth are we going to do with it?!"
Nana smiled and took some scissors out of her knitting basket. "I have an idea..."
The next day, Charlie was feeling much better, so the whole family decided to go out into the fresh air, for a nice, long walk. Together, they scrambled into coats, hats, wellies and gloves.
And, around their necks, everyone wore a thick, warm, normal-sized woollen scarf, cut from Charlie's extra long one, knitted with love, by Nana.