Kral Dashen looked forlornly around the meeting room. As the surviving member of the Fern Knitters Guild things looked bleak if not desperate. If things didn’t change soon the Guild would become nothing but compost in the minds of the fairy community.
To say that the attraction of fern knitting had waned over the last few years was putting it mildly.
Modern technologies had laid waste to the old traditional guilds. Now days he had to compete with the Greater Potions Guild and the Lesser Potions Guild. Once there had been just one Potions Guild but a split had occurred and now there were two and thriving in the magic kingdom of the fairies.
Once there had been twenty members and the Guild flourished so much so that market days were much anticipated by the Fern Community as the items produced by the fern knitters were always in great demand.
Doilies of the most intricate pattern and design, crocheted hand rugs from the leaves of the bird’s nest ferns and their most popular item knitted winter vests painstakingly made to precise and ancient patterns.
Kral Dashen never thought it would come to this as he pencilled an ‘applications to be accepted’ for the Fairy Weekly offering apprenticeships to the all but extinct Guild.
Fern knitting was an exacting practice. There were skills to be learnt and hours of practice and training to ensure that he highest possible level of competence was achieved.
An apprenticeship would last seven years and involve in Kral’s own words from his own apprenticeship memories hours upon hours of mindless repetitive work as the apprentice strove towards perfection. What added to the hard work was the time taken to understand the intricacies of the magic fern thread that was used in all their work. Fern thread was hard to obtain and as the Guild had only Kral he was also the last of the thread makers. Magic fern thread was a fine fine thread, extracted only from the fronds of the most delicate maidenhair fern and wound round the shell of a fresh almond kernel. It took skill and Kral had that skill and if he didn’t teach a new member the art of fern knitting would die.
A week later there appeared a long line of young hopefuls outside of the Guild’s meeting room. Kral looked down the line and thought to himself surely there has to be at least one among this lot I can apprentice.
It was an exhausting business interviewing and crossing off names, most were all fingers and thumbs and in Fern Knitting you couldn’t afford to be so.
He was looking for the agile, the enthusiastic, the person with passion and a lover of fern knitting.
Now it was true to say that fern knitting was an exact science. Get it wrong and you had pretty much made a pile of compost. Get right and you had created a piece of art in much the same way as the Ice Carvers Guild were capable of.
The Fern Knitters and the Ice Carvers did have something in common their creations were for a short time only. But stunning all the same.
By the days end Kral had to admit that the two young people he had chosen were the best of a bad lot. Neither showed a great amount of enthusiasm and their hand eye co-ordination showed why they had been unsuccessful in their attempts to enter the Glass Pickers Guild.
He was sure an apprenticeship within the Guild would attract attention, as being a part of a Guild was a prestigious position within the community.
Membership would take you places; it carried with it its own prestige. The top Guild and most sort after was the Assassin’s Guild, which held top spot in all social circles, and annual Guild Picnic Days. It was also the Guild to offer the most places each year.
So the elevation of Gertworthy Penson and Hildigrat Oddifon to membership of the Fern knitters, albeit probationary, was greeted with great celebration and relief by their respective families, as both girls had always been a worry to their parents as they were far from the brightest or most agile fairies in the community. But like all ambitious parents they were happy to see their daughters off their hands and off the street learning a skill may not necessarily attract them a husband but would keep them out of their hair.
Kral went to bed that night happy the Guild was going to live on. His coming days he knew would be a trial with the training he saw he was going to need to do with these two new apprentices.
Sitting up in bed he dusted off the training manual and turned the first page.