While My Pretty One Knits

When Maggie Messina is accused of a rival shop owner’s shocking murder, the Black Sheep knitters are formed to defend their friend. The peaceful town of Plum Harbor, Massachusetts is the setting for While My Pretty One Knits, the first of Anne Canadeo’s Black Sheep Knitter mysteries.

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A group of keen knitters meet every week in the little New England coastal village to knit, gossip and catch up on local small town news. There is Maggie the owner of the Black Sheep, Lucy a divorcee graphic designer, Dana a psychologist, Suzanne a mum and estate agent and Phoebe a funky college student who is also Maggie’s tenant.Maggie is thrilled that Cara Newhouse, her former pupil, has agreed to give a felting presentation and book signing in the store. Cara has become a celebrity in the knitting world and the group enthusiastically help Maggie prepare for the visit to the Black Sheep Knitting Shop.

However, there is a thorn in Maggie’s side in the form of Amanda Goran. Amanda owns the Knitting Nest; Plum Harbor’s other knitting shop. Amanda is a disagreeable woman who is irritated that Maggie’s newer shop is doing better than her own. She dislikes Maggie to such an extent that she has been known to spread malicious lies about Maggie to win over customers.

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The knitters are therefore puzzled when Amanda pops into the Black Sheep Knitting Shop, the day before Cara Newhouse’s appearance, full of good wishes, having had a makeover and saying how much she is looking forward to the presentation the next day. That is nothing, however, to the surprise the group experience when they are told that during the night Amanda has been murdered in her shop across town.

Amanda was not a popular woman with the locals; her marriage had broken up and her social life appeared to be lousy too. Yet, the police quickly hone in on the rivalry between the two shop owners. Maggie becomes number one suspect when all of the circumstantial evidence points towards her being the murderer. Maggie soon becomes subdued. Her spirits get very low and she finds herself wondering whether she will have to close her yarn shop and whether she will be able to knit in prison. Lucy then steps in to help her friend. She starts to do a bit of amateur sleuthing and forms the knitters into the Black Sheep Knitting Group to uncover the killer’s true identity.

You can tell that the author, Ann Canadeo, is a genuine knitter. Throughout the novel, there are knitting ideas and techniques described. The Jell-o dying technique is one that I had never heard of before. There are some good knitting patterns and interesting web links at the back of the book (although some of the web sites are defunct now as is the way with such things).

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I thought it was quite cool that the dog was named Tink because, as I’m sure you know, it is the term for stitches that need to be unravelled (and is also knit spelt backwards). I also loved the fact that the vet was a knitter too!

While My Pretty One Knits is a murder mystery which has a bit of a romance thrown in. What Anne Canadeo does best is the portrayal of the female friendships in the story. She blends together the everyday life and feelings of the friends with a suspense brought about by the suspicions about Amanda. However, although there are murders, it is not gory and is still a pleasant read. I found that the story flowed nicely. The dialogue is witty and there are some humorous sections.

From the blurb on the back of the book, it would appear that the main character is going to be Maggie. This is not the case. The story is told from the viewpoint of Lucy, who becomes the amateur detective in the story. The detection process made sense to me. The book is not so much about detective work though. It is more about the personalities and characters of the knitting group. They all have different traits and I found that I could relate to them well.

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For a light hearted read, I found that there were quite a few high brow terms. I even learnt some new sayings like “every pot has its lid”. However, I was almost put off reading this book because of the terrible puns on the back cover. One other thing that I didn’t like was the amount of product placement in this book, especially at the beginning of it.

The mystery was not the most taxing of puzzles as far as murder mysteries are concerned. However, as I said, the strength of this book is not as a murder mystery but in the friendship of a group of knitters trying to solve a whodunit. This book was focussed on Maggie and Lucy, so the other Black Sheep Knitters didn’t get as much of a look in. Maybe they will in the next book?

While My Pretty One Knits is full of knitters, their colourful yarns and their conversations about their latest projects and ideas. The notes and instructions at the end of the book added to overall creative knitting atmosphere of the story. For these reasons I would recommend While My Pretty One Knits to knitters who enjoy curling up with a nice knitting murder mystery. I will be reviewing the second in the series soon.  I hope for further development with the friendships and the romance with the vet.

Incase you’re interested I wrote about this very pretty scarf here.

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