Talk about a great notion! As a fund-raiser to save a two-hundred-year-old farmhouse and stop an ambitious developer, the ladies of the Historical Society of Millbury, Pennsylvania, are producing a Hunky Men of Millbury calendar. Daisy is delighted to lend her support, and the female population of the village is abuzz with anticipation.
But after Daisy’s close friend Cyril doesn’t show up for his photo shoot and the calendar photographer is found dead, it’s beginning to look like the days may be numbered for the men of Millbury. Can a cryptic verse on an antique sampler help Daisy pin down the killer before another pinup runs out of time?
Includes creative tips for vintage notions!
LIE OF THE NEEDLE, the third in the Deadly Notions mysteries, delves into the history of antique needlework samplers.
Originally samplers served as a way for women to store their personal repertoire of stitches. This collection of “samples” of favorite motifs and designs could be rolled up and kept with them as a guide. In the eighteenth century, the purpose of a sampler gradually changed to become a teaching tool for young girls, not just to learn to sew, but also to practice their alphabet and numerals.
Some of the best examples in the early nineteenth century were made in Pennsylvania, and especially in the Quaker schools. One famous school that currently houses a collection of 130 antique samplers is the Westtown School in Chester County. Quakers had their own designs that extolled the virtues of simplicity and peace like the bird-in-branch motif, paired doves and floating swans. Other popular motifs were fruit sprigs, geometric patterns and floral borders, together with a verse extract.
A young woman had to have excellent needle skills to be suitable for marriage, as one of her primary responsibilities was to monogram and mend the household linens. It’s amazing to me that this intricate work with tiny stitches was done by such young girls, some as little as seven or eight years old. The verses themselves often seem quite grim considering their age, but many of these children were no strangers to death. They had probably already experienced the loss of at least one of their siblings. A verse extract can go something like this:
When I am dead, laid in my grave
And all my bones gone rotten
When this you see, remember me
That I be not forgotten
Even if you don’t sew, you are probably familiar with the basic cross stitch, but there’s a vast variety. Some have the most wonderful exotic names like Tete de Boeuf, Sprat’s Head, Crow’s foot, Bullion Knot, Maltese Cross, Maidenhair, Wheatear, Catherine Wheel and Spider Web, and sometimes there are several different monikers for the same one. The beauty of the old samplers is their individuality, and if a needlewoman has a good command of stitches, she’s able to create original designs, just like they did in the old days.
My heroine, Daisy Buchanan, carries all kinds of vintage sewing notions, linens and quilts in her store, Sometimes a Great Notion. She’s recently purchased some antique samplers at an estate sale, and as she researches their value, she wonders if a clue to the current crime could possibly be found on a family heirloom that was stitched over a hundred years ago.
Have you ever attempted making a sampler? What’s the hardest stitch, in your opinion, and do you have any advice for those who might be considering taking on the challenge?
She's a regular sight on the streets of her home town walking her two amazing rescue dogs, and enjoys gardening, yard sales, and cooking with adventurous friends. Writing this Deadly Notions series proved to be rather a dangerous project, because while researching auction houses, she also became addicted to bidding on box lots.
Cate's previous (unpublished) books span the genres of romantic comedy, romantic suspense and murder mysteries, and have won or finaled in numerous contests, including the prestigious Daphne Du Maurier Award for Excellence in Mystery/Suspense. She is a member of Romance Writers of America, and over the years has served as vice president, web mistress, treasurer, corresponding secretary, and contest coordinator, and has since learned not to volunteer at chapter parties where wine is involved. She is also a member of Mystery Writers of America and Sisters in Crime.
*I love Daisy. She's such an awesome cozy heroine. She's got a great personality with a great mind!
*What isn't there to love about needleworking?! I'm a big fan, and the references in the story always make me smile :)
*The mystery. What a great, on the edge of your seat story! The author sure knows how to build suspense!
*The secondary cast of characters. They really added a lot to the story. I love it when an author can make the characters add depth. So many times these characters aren't well developed, but that's not the case here!
What I didn't like:
*It's going to sound funny... but I don't like antiques. They give me the willies... even reading about them! I know.. very strange!
This is a great story and a great addition to anyone's cozy library.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All conclusions reached are my own.