Knit Fast, Die Young: A Knitting Mystery (Knitting Mysteries)

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9780743484749: Knit Fast, Die Young: A Knitting Mystery (Knitting Mysteries)

She found the body. Again. Sensing a pattern?

Ariadne Evans swore her sleuthing days were over after her very own knitting shop became a crime scene a few months back. But she hadn't anticipated that the Freeport Wool and Yarn Festival would become the site of another murder -- with hers truly as a prime suspect. Since Ari was the one to find the body of Felicia Barr -- the much detested and influential owner of Knit It Up magazine -- with a knitting needle stuck in her back, the cops are needling Ari for answers. In a stitch, Ari dons her hand-knit detective cap and helps her on-and-off boyfriend, Detective Josh Pierce, untangle the day's events and solve a very woolly crime -- before the killer strikes again....

"synopsis" may belong to another edition of this title.

About the Author:

Mary Kruger is an avid knitter and the author of the Gilded Age mystery series. She lives in New Bedford, Massachusetts.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Chapter One

"Well, this is a bust." Diane Camacho rested her chin on her hands and looked glumly at the rain coming down in torrents outside the wide barn door. "I thought it was supposed to be nice today."

Ariadne Evans, sitting at the next table, didn't look up from her knitting needles. She was wearing a heavy parka, with a scarf made of fuzzy yarn tied around her neck. "April's rotten."

Diane looked over at her. "Not 'the cruelest month'?"

"Nope. Just rotten." Ariadne smiled briefly and then returned her attention to her knitting. This project wasn't the best choice, she admitted to herself. A shell of thin, silklike ribbon yarn would be perfect for the summer to come, but it wasn't suited to today, especially not with aluminum needles. She needed warmth, wool, something substantial and weighty. An afghan, she thought, tossed over her knees as she made it. Why couldn't she have chosen to work on an afghan?

"No one's going to come out in this weather," Diane continued. "Anyway, I don't think we'd've had many customers. Not too many people are interested in wool festivals anymore."

"Well, not around here. The one in Rhinebeck draws in a lot of folks," she said, referring to the big festival held each fall in New York State.

"Well, we're not big."

"No." Ari glanced up and looked around the barn again. The Freeport Wool and Yarn Festival was an annual fixture in this area of coastal Massachusetts. Held on the Bristol-Rochester County fairgrounds, it attracted exhibitors from as far away as New York. What it didn't attract was customers. There were too many good yarn shops now, selling all manner of products, from pricy imports to homespuns. Ari had to admit that she was part of that trend; she was proud of the stock at her shop, Ariadne's Web. It didn't help that the area was becoming increasingly developed and urbanized. Interest in the old country crafts wasn't as high anymore.

Still, there were a good number of exhibitors, mostly women, and there were some interesting demonstrations going on, including knitting for beginners and the Sheep to Shawl competition. The festival was held in three of the fairgrounds' barns, unimaginatively named by letters. Barn A, the first one, was the most popular. Not only did it have a snack bar, it was the only one that was heated. Some lucky vendors had managed to rent space there. Barn D, at the far end of the row, had sheep pens, while Barn C, designed for smaller animals, wasn't used for this festival. The rain and mud meant that not many people had trooped to see sheep being displayed or sheared. Across a narrow lane from the barns was a large field. Originally sheep dog trials had been planned for the following day, but for now the field was simply a muddy parking lot.

Barn B, the largest of the barns, was the focus of the festival because it housed the majority of the vendors, including Ari and Diane. While it had ample display space, it was also cavernous and dark. There were few electrical outlets, which meant there were no space heaters to add an illusion of warmth. The dimness, combined with the pounding of rain on the steel roof, made it very dismal indeed. Today's rain, remnants of a storm that had swept up from the south, hadn't been expected.

"Good thing we live close enough to get warmer clothes," Ari commented.

"Yeah. Not like the woman from Buffalo."

"Buffalo? Who came that far?"

Diane had taken up her spinning again and was concentrating on making fine yarn. "Some designer. She's way down there." Diane pointed to her right.

"Didn't you read the pamphlet?"

Ari leaned over her table, but the woman was tucked too far back in the corner for her to see. She did see a friend from the local area, Rosalia Sylvia, leaning over the woman's table. "I'll look at her things later. Maybe I'll buy myself a fleece from one of the bins while I'm at it."

"Are you taking up spinning?" Diane asked in surprise.

"No. I want to wrap it around myself to keep warm."

"Ha-ha. There's some good stuff over there, mostly Romney." She glanced over at the bins filled with unprocessed fleeces lining the wall opposite them. "I'm going to pick up some."

"Good idea. I can't keep up with the demand for your yarn."

"Yeah, having it used for a murder made it popular."

Ari shot her friend a quick glance, but Diane's face was impassive. Last fall, Diane's yarn had been used to strangle a local woman, something that had stunned both of them. "Well, I wish I had some right now, instead of this."

"Ribbon yarn?"

"Yes, and the needles are aluminum." She frowned at the shell she was making for summer. Instead of working from the bottom up, she was knitting the shell from the side. It added an interesting texture to the cool, slippery yarn, but the shaping, formed by increasing and decreasing, demanded concentration. "I'll probably go home later and get something else, though I think that if this works out it'll get noticed."

"If summer ever comes."

"Mm." Ari laid down her needles and stretched. In the last few minutes no one had approached her table to look at her designs. At this rate she wouldn't make back the money she'd spent renting the space. "I think I'll walk around for a little and then get some coffee."

"Get me one, too? Regular."

Ari nodded. "Cream, one sugar. I remember. I'll be back in a while. Watch my table for me," she said, and walked away.

Pulling her parka tight around her, Ari stopped at a small enclosure formed by a short, portable fence in the center of the barn to watch the Sheep to Shawl competition. Each year two teams of people competed to complete shawls made from wool sheared from sheep early that morning. The team that finished first would win. Each person in a team had her own duties. Some had sheared the sheep, white for one team, black for the other. Others processed the fleece, separating and carding it, and removing any dirt and debris. From there the spinners, several to a team, took over, spinning the yarn into light, fine wool. Finally the weavers, each sitting at a huge loom, worked their shuttles and treadles quickly and industriously. It was too early in the competition to guess who would win, though the black shawl seemed to have a slight edge. Ari knew most of the women in the competition, and she wanted all of them to win.

After watching the competition for a while, Ari drifted away to explore other booths and other wares. The range and number of items offered were impressive. One woman sold yarn from her own flock of llamas, her pamphlet extolling its softness and warmth. Another displayed skeins of mohair yarns across her table, the price making Ari think twice about buying any. In the center of the floor across from the shawl competition, a man offered spinning wheels, both new and old, while a Peg-Board across from him displayed naturally dyed yarn, the colors subtle yet glowing. There was even knitting-themed jewelry. Charms depicting balls of yarn, spiderwebs to symbolize spinning, and snowflakes for Scandinavian sweaters hung from earring wires or heavy silver chains. Since the jewelry was made from real gold and silver the prices were a little high, but Ari couldn't resist. A few minutes later she continued wandering, a charm bracelet dangling from her wrist.

Eventually she found herself in the far corner of the barn, curious to find out why someone from Buffalo had traveled so far to attend a small festival. The sign on her table read simply Designs by Annie. The woman was working on what looked like a baby sweater, which she lowered as Ari looked over the various items spread out on the table. They were diverse, ranging from an Aran-inspired tunic to colorful socks. All were meticulously made, with distinctive touches such as cables crossed in unusual ways on the tunic or lace inserts in the socks.

There was something familiar about the woman, though Ari couldn't pin it down. She was young, with fine, light hair and hazel eyes. Probably she was imagining it. "These are nice," Ari said.

Annie looked up, though she continued knitting. "Thank you. I'm selling the designs as well as the sweaters."

"You're Annie?"

"'Designs by Annie,'" she said, with just a light tone of mockery in her voice.

"Well, you do nice work. Hope you do all right today." Ari smiled and was about to move on when Annie's voice stopped her.

"I remember you," Annie said.

Ari turned. "You do?"

"Yes. You came to a Knitting Guild meeting in New York once."

"Goodness, that was a long time ago! I used to belong to the Guild, but I haven't lived in New York for years."

"You'd just had that pattern published in Vogue Knitting."

Ari frowned for a minute. "I don't remember -- yes, I do! You were sitting in a corner." No wonder she'd looked familiar, though Ari wondered how old she could have been. She didn't look much older than her midtwenties now, while Ari was pushing thirty. Thirty, she thought glumly, distracted for a moment. "Aren't you from upstate New York?"

"I was living in Connecticut at the time, but I had friends in the city."

"You had to be in your teens then."

Annie shook her head. "Thank you, but I'm older than I look. I'd just started knitting then. You inspired me to try my hand at designing."

"I did?" Ari said, startled. She'd never thought to have any influence over people.

"Yes, and this is the result." Annie gestured at her work. "It took me a while to get anywhere near as good as I'd like, and I'm still not there yet."

"I like this." Ari fingered the Aran tunic, a complicated design of cables and knots in creamy white wool. "I have a friend who makes Aran sweaters for my shop."

"I'd like to see your shop. I've seen your designs online."

"How long will you be here?"

"I'm leaving tomorrow, after the sheep dog trials, if they're held after all this rain. I love dogs."

"Oh, too bad. The shop's open today, but then I don't open again until Tuesday."

"Oh. Maybe I'll make it back up sometime."...

"About this title" may belong to another edition of this title.

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