Yarnidermis by Ruby Rorty

There is a woman made of yarn and all day she sits and knits. She has already knitted herself and her home and her daughter so now she knits sweaters. It is a good thing the yarn woman runs cold because she is, right now as I write this, wearing ten sweaters and knitting an eleventh. The overall impression is that of a furry, multicolored person with extremely thick skin around their arms and torso: yarnidermis is what I would call it if I were a scientist. 

The yarn woman is my grandmother but I am not made of yarn. Being made of yarn is a recessive trait. Inside my grandmother, yarn twists in double helices and spools in nuclei. Scientists are always trying to untangle my grandmother. We keep spray bottles in every room to keep them away.

“Hand me that pair of needles,” says my grandmother. The ones in her hands have charred black smudges from where they’ve sparked because she knits so very fast. I do hand her the needles, but I know what she really meant was “Don’t become a scientist.” I find myself staring guiltily up through the ceiling and to the chemistry set in the corner of my bedroom. 

I want to say “I would be a nice scientist.” 

I want to say “I would never unspool you, grandmother made of yarn.” 

I want to say “Some scientists make things, and never destroy them.” 

I want to say “I can be a scientist who wears ten sweaters and hands you needles.” 

But I don’t. Instead, I say, “Would you knit me something? Maybe a purple turtleneck?” and my grandmother smiles a stringy rainbow. She wants me to be yarny like her. Or she feels lonely being the only one. Or she loves knowing that I am warm in a cold world full of scientists. Or possibly she just wants me to have a purple turtleneck.

The yarn fire crackles. Two needles click faster and faster. Somewhere outside, a yarn hound bays.


Ruby Rorty is a writer and researcher in Chicago, IL, where she works as an analyst at the Center for RISC. Her work has appeared in HAD, the Bear Creek Gazette, and Variant Lit, among others, and has been nominated for the Best Microfiction and Best of the Net anthologies, as well as a Pushcart Prize. Ruby tweets @RortyRuby and Instagrams @ruby.rorty.