Knit or Dye Trying

A Riverbank Knitting Mystery, Book #2

By: Allie Pleiter

ISBN 9780593201800

Author Website: alliepleiter(.)com

Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Jeanie


Business is booming for Libby Beckett and her fabulous Maryland shop, aptly named Y.A.R.N., but when a town festival brings a fatality with it, Libby gets all tangled up in murder.

As spring comes to Collinstown, the village launches a food festival to draw a new group of tourists. Libby, proud owner of Y.A.R.N., has planned a yarn event to provide an alternative option to a foodie weekend. Artisan fiber dyer Julie Wilson–known for her work with animal-friendly, plant-based knitting fibers such as bamboo and hemp as well as her brilliant use of color–will hopefully draw a crowd with a special dyeing workshop.

The festival begins, but it draws more than crowds. First a flock of sheep parades down the street, herded by farmers protesting Julie’s antiwool stance. Then Julie’s celebrity chef sister appears, and the siblings resume a long-standing rivalry. Despite all this, Julie’s workshop has sold out. Libby is thrilled, and they’re preparing for a full house. But the night before the event, Julie is found alone in the warehouse event space–dead. The witty “Watch Julie Wilson Dye” workshop title now has a terrible new meaning–and it’s up to Libby to catch a crafty killer. (From Goodreads)


The depth of the characters and complexity of the mystery were highlights of this cozy mystery. The author combines good friends, a fiber-arts shop owned by Libby, a knitting expert, and preparations for a fabulous food festival. The mystery is complicated with many what-ifs that kept me guessing. The person who died is Libby’s guest for her Wield More than Wool event that coincides with the first weekend of the town’s food festival. There is much laughter and many tears throughout.

Libby fulfilled her lifelong dream of opening a yarn shop where she can provide almost any fibers that yarn crafters would want. She has classes and provides a relaxing place for anyone who needs help with knitting techniques or to simply sit and work on projects with like-minded friends. The store is called Y.A.R.N., which could be an acronym for almost anything. Preferred is You’re Almost Ready Now. She keeps a board up on the wall where people can add their phrases, and Libby comes up with some doozies. Libby’s best friend, Marge, owns Perfect Slice, a pie shop that I wish were across the street from me rather than the yarn shop!

Libby’s guest for the weekend is Julie, an expert in plant-based fibers with her own line of yarn in unique, gorgeous colors that are unmatched by anybody. Julie designed a special color yarn for this Y.A.R.N. event. Libby rented a nearby warehouse with an excellent ventilation system where Julie will dye the fibers for the weekend.

On the day Julie arrived, three sheep ranchers herded sheep down the main street of town. They were protesting Libby bringing in a woman who believes that shearing sheep or other animals for their wool is a terrible, harmful thing. Julie’s brash, at times abrasive personality does not play well with people whose life’s work centers on the animals she is trying to protect. The ranchers are irate but didn’t seem to want to harm anyone.

Julie’s sister, Monica, is a well-known chef. She is one of several invited for the food festival; she will be at the finest local restaurant, preparing her signature dishes and doing cooking demonstrations. Her room is at the same inn as Julie’s, and they were heard arguing loudly that day. Libby and old high school flame Gavin, now a dear friend, have reservations for dinner where Monica is cooking. They invited Julie to join them, but being at odds with her sister, she chose to dye her first batch of yarn. Before the night was over, there was a minor fire in the kitchen, closing the restaurant for the night. Julie was found dead, with shepherds’ crooks jammed in the vent fans on the warehouse roof and one wedged in the outside handles of the entry doors to trap her inside. Someone may have exchanged a chemical with lethal fumes for one she typically used in her formula.

I got to know the characters well through their actions and realistic dialog. Libby is easily my favorite. She has gone through tough times, especially in recent years, resulting in her insight in and ability to understand and respond to people who are hurting. There is a healthy serving of humor, such as the acronyms Libby comes up with for Y.A.R.N. through various situations. I enjoyed Gavin, the mayor and long-time dear friend. Gavin and Libby understand each other well, even after years of having been married to other people in different towns. Libby’s mom, Rhonda, is trying to get her and Gavin together again despite wanting to move in with her daughter.

I was extremely impressed with this mystery and hope the series will have a long run. I enjoy the yarn shop and hope a little time will be devoted to crochet as well as knitting. I learned things about yarn that I was unaware of before. The mystery was quite a challenge! Julie had few friends, but who would want to kill her? Was someone trying to frighten her and miscalculated? Were there two separate people, one who swapped the chemicals and one who blocked the fans and door? I thought I had figured it out, but there were still surprises! The end was satisfying, despite the tragedies in the lives of all involved. I highly recommend this novel and am looking forward to the next one later this year!