How to Knit a Holiday Party

by Tara Campbell


Size: Never big enough to skip without it being noticed


          30-1,000 coworkers, maybe 5 of whom you’d choose to see outside of work hours
          New Boss, who’s pretty cool, actually
          Manager 1 who’s not
          Manager 2 who’s trying, you suppose, but just doesn’t get the whole #metoo thing
          HR (Human Resources)
          Office Crush

          C: chat
          D: drink
          Ha: laugh naturally
          HaHaHa: laugh nervously
          S: steer conversation another way to avoid embarrassment
          S/L: steer conversation another way to avoid lawsuits


  1. Cast on HR team and a dozen coworkers who come to the party at the appointed start time
  2. C, Ha, D, repeat for twenty minutes
  3. Cast on Manager 1 and 2
  4. Listen, HaHaHa, D, repeat for what feels like eternity
  5. Cast on Office Crush, D, don’t look directly at him
  6. Cast on New Boss, shake her hand when she comes around to greet everyone because she’s pretty cool, actually
  7. Avoid Manager 1 and Manager 2 when they try to copy New Boss—too late guys, you’re faking
  8. Find 2 of the maybe 5 coworkers you’d choose to see outside of work hours, gather in a corner, C, Ha, D
  9. Dissolve group when Manager 2 weaves in your general direction
  10. D, D, D, Decide you should woman-up and say hello to Office Crush
  11. Pretend to bump into Office Crush at bar, HaHaHa, D for one sip, spill rest of drink on his shoe, mop up with apologies, run to bathroom, cry
  12. Exit bathroom, HaHaHa when coworker asks if you’ve talked to Office Crush yet, S
  13. Check to make sure Office Crush has left the bar area, Refill
  14. D, repeat until embarrassment fades
  15. Shake your head at rumor a new admin had to S/L with Manager #2
  16. Be glad it isn’t you this year
  17. D, repeat
  18. Hear another rumor: New Boss heard about S/L with Manager #2, has scheduled meeting with him to discuss it
  19. New stitch: O (open eyes wide)
  20. New stitch: Sm (move lips into “well, what do you know” position, which feels closer to a smirk than it should)
  21. Quietly clink glasses with every female coworker, plus men who get it
  22. Ha, D, and get ready for the start of a Happy New Year


Tara Campbell (www.taracampbell.com) is a writer, teacher, Kimbilio Fellow, and fiction editor at Barrelhouse. Prior publication credits include SmokeLong Quarterly, Masters Review, Jellyfish Review, Booth, and Strange Horizons. She’s the author of a novel, TreeVolution, a hybrid fiction/poetry collection, Circe’s Bicycle, and a short story collection, Midnight at the Organporium. She received her MFA from American University in 2019.


See what happens when you click below.

What surprising, fascinating stuff can you tell us about the origin, drafting, and/or final version of “How to Knit a Holiday Party”?

My mother was a knitter, and she taught all of us kids to knit when we were young. I wrote this piece in a workshop by Kathy Fish (the fairy godmother of flash) during the second holiday season after Mom passed away. I was visiting my sister and her family, staying in the room that used to be Mom’s, remembering one of those simple moments that don’t seem important at the time, but become important later: the two of us sitting together in her room late at night while I knitted a scarf with her needles and yarn. That’s what inspired me to think about how to use a pattern to tell a story.


Check out the write-up of the journal in The Writer.

Matter Press recently released titles from Meg Boscov, Abby Frucht, Robert McBrearty, Tori Bond, Kathy Fish, and Christopher Allen. Click here.

Matter Press is now offering private flash fiction workshops and critiques of flash fiction collections here.


Poetry, creative nonfiction, and fiction/prose poetry submissions are now closed. The reading period for standard submissions opens again March 15, 2023. Submit here.


07/08 • Meg Eden
07/15 • Tim Raymond
07/22 • Mike Itaya
07/29 • Eric Steineger
08/05 • Baylee Less-Eiseman
08/12 • Rae Gourmand
08/19 • Chiwenite Onyekwelu
08/26 • John Arthur
09/02 • TBD
09/09 • TBD
09/16 • TBD
09/23 • TBD
09/30 • TBD