Two and a half weeks ago magazine crafts editor Anastasia Pollack arrived home to find Ira Pollack, her half-brother-in-law, had blinged out her home with enough Christmas lights to rival Rockefeller Center. Now he’s crammed her small yard with enormous cavorting inflatable characters. She and photojournalist boyfriend (and possible spy) Zack Barnes pack up the unwanted lawn decorations to return to Ira. They arrive to find his yard the scene of an over-the-top Christmas extravaganza. His neighbors are not happy with the animatronics, laser light show, and blaring music creating traffic jams on their normally quiet street. One of them expresses his displeasure with his fists before running off.
In the excitement, the deflated lawn ornaments are never returned to Ira. The next morning Anastasia once again heads to his house before work to drop them off. When she arrives, she discovers Ira’s attacker dead in Santa’s sleigh. Ira becomes the prime suspect in the man’s murder and begs Anastasia to help clear his name. But Anastasia has promised her sons she’ll keep her nose out of police business. What’s a reluctant amateur sleuth to do?
Christmas craft projects included.
A Crafty Sleuth
By Lois Winston
Anastasia Pollack, the reluctant amateur sleuth of the eponymous Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mysteries, is the crafts editor at a women’s magazine. Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide is the eighth book in the series. Unlike most crafting cozy series where the stories center around a specific craft, having my protagonist work as a crafts editor enables me to feature different crafts in each book.
If you’re not familiar with the series, Anastasia was a typical middle-class working wife and mother until the day her husband dropped dead in a Las Vegas casino. Bad enough, right? But wait, it gets worse. Thanks to Karl’s well-hidden affair with Lady Luck, Anastasia finds herself drowning in debt that would rival the GNP of most third-world nations. (The wife really is always the last to know.)And of course, because this is a cozy mystery series, the body count starts mounting and continues book after book after book.
Crafting mysteries usually include craft projects, but because patterns don’t work in e-books and print novels, I need to include projects that can be made without them. I also want projects that are easy enough for even the most novice crafter to complete without frustration. One of my favorite easy crafts is the versatile yo-yo. I featured yo-yo crafts in Revenge of the Crafty Corpse, the third book in series.
Since this blog tour is for the release of Handmade Ho-Ho Homicide, the eighth and my most recent book in the series, I’m including an easy yo-yo Christmas tote project here that can be used as a gift or as a gift bag for wrapping a gift.
I used a black canvas tote and green plaid fabric for my tote, but feel free to choose your own color palette. You can find blank canvas totes in a variety of sizes and colors in most craft and fabric stores.
13” x 13” black canvas tote bag, 1/4-yd. green plaid lightweight cotton fabric, scrap of brown print lightweight cotton fabric, compass, lightweight cardboard or card stock, scissors, pencil, sewing needle, quilting thread, 7 antique looking gold buttons each 5/8”-3/4”, fabric glue
1. Using the compass, draw a 4” circle and a 5” circle on the cardboard or card stock. Cut out the circles.
2. Using the cardboard circles as templates, trace a 4” circle on the brown fabric and six 5” circles on the green plaid fabric. Cut out the circles.
3. For each yo-yo, hold the fabric circle with the wrong side facing you. Fold 1/4” of the raw edge toward the wrong side of the fabric. Using the quilting thread, begin the first stitch underneath the fold of the hem to hide the knot, then sew a running stitch around the circle. When you reach your starting point, and the circle is completely hemmed, pull the thread tight to gather the fabric. Smooth and flatten the yo-yo so the hole is in the center. This is the right side of your yo-yo.
4. Sew a button to the center of each yo-yo over the hole.
5. Arrange the yo-yos to form a Christmas tree on the front of tote (see photo.) Glue the yo-yos in place.
For more easy-to-make craft projects, check out the Monday posts on Killer Crafts & Crafty Killers, the online version of the women’s magazine where Anastasia works.
About the Author
USA Today bestselling and award-winning author Lois Winston writes mystery, romance, romantic suspense, chick-lit, women’s fiction, children’s chapter books, and nonfiction under her own name and her Emma Carlyle pen name. Kirkus Reviews dubbed her critically acclaimed Anastasia Pollack Crafting Mystery series, “North Jersey’s more mature answer to Stephanie Plum.” In addition, Lois is a former literary agent and an award-winning craft and needlework designer who often draws much of her source material for both her characters and plots from her experiences in the crafts industry.
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