Monday, June 8, 2009

Needlecraft Mysteries

A friend of mine (hi, Tricia!) recently introduced me to the Needlecraft Mystery series, written by Monica Ferris, when she put them on her Goodreads list. I don't think these are fabulous mysteries, but even though I haven't been that intrigued by the plots, the setting has sucked me right in, and I find myself heading to the library to get the next book in the series, then the next, then the next. The sleuth is the owner of a needlework store called Crewel World in a small town just outside the Twin Cities in Minnesota. Her shop is in an old redbrick building, which also houses a sandwich shop and a used book store, and she lives in an apartment over the needlework shop. In one of the alternate lives I imagine for myself, I live in a place like that: a cozy apartment over my own shop in a brick building in a small town. I wouldn't want the sandwich shop, but I'd take either the used book store or the needlework shop in a heartbeat! To be housed next to the other would be bliss.

I've come to think of this series as "Minnesota Cozy." I lived in the Twin Cities for two years in the early 1990s, so I love the Minnesota references, and needlework of all kinds--knitting, crochet, needlepoint, tatting, cross stitch--features very prominently in every book.
As a bonus, every book includes a free cross stitch pattern. The second book, Framed in Lace, features a butterfly pattern, and I thought it would be pretty to work up. It's supposed to look like a butterfly in bobbin lace. I stitched it in white on blue evenweave like the directions suggested, and it does look lace-like. I wanted to see it in pink on white, too, and I like how that turned out as well. Less lace-like than the blue, but still delicate. I've finished the pink one into a bookmark, and I will do the same with the blue one.

One of the books mentions the famous Halloween Blizzard that hit the Twin Cities in 1991. I lived there then, and it was truly incredible to see 28 inches of snow fall in 24 hours. With that much snow, it's not an evenly-layered 28-inch blanket. The wind blows it into much deeper drifts. It took days to dig out, and when the sidewalks were shoveled they were lined with 5-foot-tall mounds of snow. Going for a walk was like walking through a canyon, and driving a car felt like pinging around in a pinball machine.

I have photos from that storm. These are photos of photos, not scanned images.

This was taken in the early evening when the snow had been falling for a few hours. That is our jack-o-lantern on the balcony of our apartment. Remember, this was Halloween.

This was my car the following morning. The snow was still falling.

And here is the final drift on our balcony, taken from inside. You can see the layers of snow, like the layers of rock in a mountain cut-away. It's hard to discern the top of the drift because of the lighting in this photo, but it's about halfway up the plant, well above the end table and arm of the sofa.

Good times, good times. I am reliving them a bit while reading these mysteries.