By the time I had touched the green skeins, the golden red of the sunset was fading on the horizon, colouring the snow in the distance orange. Certain moods of the world outside had left me with a melancholy, which now turned into quiet loneliness: that urge to be alone to stir up thoughts to line them up, pass them on for inspection, straighten out a few crookednesses and then make them break ranks, recommending that they be never seen again.

Diligently caught up in that inspection, I had quickly coloured some of the more hidden branches with the darker green (DMC 935), embroidering them in fly stitch with two threads.

With the lighter colour (DMC 937) I then started embroidering the branches more in the light.

The fly stitch is fun because it is quick and is one of those stitches that, while following a line, are able to add moving details. I have drawn the branches with all the marks, for didactic immediacy, but when I draw the design for myself, I only draw the centre line, without the slanting ‘v’ bars. By moving the needle in different directions, I can turn the twig into an imaginative line, opening up the stitches more or less, varying the length of each stitch, breaking the symmetry.

But in fir trees it is good to produce small, regular stitches. It is essential to set the tension of the starting vertical throw+, always pulling the thread in the direction of the point of the needle.

After the leaves had finished, a certain buzz had made me turn around. To the animosity of the fire in the fireplace had been added that of the scene beyond the glass.

To my surprise, I could make out some wide-open doors and children and young boys, appropriately bundled up in warm jackets and colourful hoods, scattered haphazardly everywhere. The man seemed to be giving orders and was flailing about, as if to explain what was to be done. My astonishment grew as did my curiosity to understand how the others had managed to reach the scene and, had I not been enraptured by the disappointment of spotting Alfredo’s barefoot form in the snow, I would have noticed a certain handle just below my eyes and perhaps even noticed that the window now no longer had its original shape.

I saw with relief Anita and Mario dragging Alfredo into a house and I calmed down.

It was then that I saw the handle.

I needed something to cover myself and went back to the world beyond. I gave Alfredo, whom I met in the corridor, a scold and forgot all about it for a while.

It was clear, however, that I would soon be back to embroidery, because I couldn’t wait to thread the red.