Click click click went the needles, in a steady rhythm, as socks and scarves slowly took form from balls of yarn. Although yarn was getting scarce in some parts of the country, we always had a steady supply at the inn. I think someone had been stowing all the unsold skeins for decades in the attic. Certainly the small herd of threadbare sheep we had weren’t enough to explain it.
Every evening, as gossip collected and was shared in the common room, I sat in the corner and knit. The knitting made a kind of shield, it kept my hands busy and seemed to put people off enough that I wasn’t usually bothered by unwanted attention. Only the occasional drunk had to be displaced, but my Da was more than willing to do that as needed. A lifetime of hauling beer barrels and bouncing the drunks that drank them dry kept him large and fit. Most didn’t bother me more than once.
Our inn sat on a crossroads, in a valley that could never quite make up its mind which petty prince owned it and its taxes. Every few years it seemed there was a fresh edict proclaiming we were now the property of someone new. If the edicts went unchallenged, we didn’t fret about it too much. At least as long as only one tax collector stopped by each year.
But lately things had been heating up, and our current Baron was getting greedy. He was taxing the grain, the hops, and the finished beer. He was taxing the sheep by the head and the wool by the pound. He also wanted a large share of the garden crops we grew for our own consumption. For this, he was proclaiming a curfew for our safety, travel restrictions also for our safety, and stopping the mail at the border looking for evidence to charge anyone he could with espionage.
I continued to knit, even has his brutish thugs sat in my inn and discussed their plans to expand. No one sees the wallflower, especially not behind the wall of scarves and socks.
A couple of them did stop one day and look at my socks. Then complained about the knitting being uneven and tossed them back on the pile. I smiled quietly to myself behind their backs.
The few letters that made it through were highly censored.
But for some reason, my heaps of scarves and socks were delivered unmolested. Must have been the uneven knitting and strange choices of colors, or the sizes that seemed to not fit any of the guards.
I know they got through, because before the Baron could muster his army in the spring a small group of assassins had heard our plea and poisoned him in his sleep.
For that was my power, I was just one knot in the net of the knitted underground.
Sitting there in the inn every evening and listening, I kept notes encoded in the knitting, there to be read as plain as a newspaper by my sisters in the network.
Click click click went the needles, taking notes, naming names, and when needed, passing on the plea for help.