My two rescue mutts, Sally-Forth and Tally-Ho, are wonderful companions. Occasionally, they have even uncovered clues that helped solve mysteries.

Sometimes, however, I wish they’d hold back a little on their investigating.

Take last night (yes, please, take it!) It was a lovely evening. The sun was setting and the air was almost golden. I let the dogs play in our backyard while I watched them from my comfy lawn chair.

They ran, they wrestled, they snuffled in bushes. Suddenly, Tally stopped, raised his head, and tested the air. Sally did the same, and they tore off for a corner of the yard down near the riverside trail. Knowing my yard is securely fenced, I wasn’t concerned. They’d come back into view soon.


It should be a fabulous weekend. What could possibly go wrong?

Willow Vanderling
May 17, 2013


A friend invited me to bring my dogs, Sally-Forth and Tally-Ho on an unleashed nature walk on her farm.  It’s not really a farm any more, she’s let it grown up over years, and has meadows and woods. While the dogs romped around, the friend stopped and looked down. She had a funny smile on her face.

I followed her glance. A sprig of asparagus was growing among the weeds beside our feet!  She reached down and snapped it. That began us on a treasure hunt. Before long, she had a fistful of the green goodies growing wild, leftovers from long ago when someone grew asparagus nearby. She said the birds spread the seeds.

She also said I had to stay for supper…


Shortly before I moved to Elderberry Bay, the village on Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie Shore earned a new nickname—Threadville. That was because my best friend, Haylee, and her three mothers (Haylee was raised by her mother and her mother’s best friends) had each opened a textile arts store on Lake Street—a fabric shop, a yarn shop, a notions shop, and a quilting shop.

Then I left my uncomfortable job in Manhattan, moved to Threadville, and opened my dream shop. I sell sewing and embroidery machines and everything needed to make fabulous machine embroidery designs. I have never been happier. (Well, most of the time. There have been a few horrible incidents, and I do wish I hadn’t embarrassed myself in front of that yummy Clay Fraser…) Since I moved here, a home décor shop opened, and a father and son team are now talking about starting a costume shop where the general store used to be. We all offer courses and workshops, so as you can imagine, Threadville has become very popular. Tour buses arrive most days, and everyone has fun. Except for murder. But that’s all over, right?

There is also a Threadville in Mississippi, and that’s its real nameAnd Willimantic, Connecticut, is known as Thread City because of its history of cotton mills that produced thread. I wish I could go back in time and see those mills in action. Today, Willimantic has a wonderful bridge decorated with huge sculptures representing spools of thread. I love it! But it gets even better--four of the spools are topped by whimsical statues of green frogs. And no, they have nothing to do with thread-making, but a lot to do with another, and rather peculiar, facet of the city’s history. For pictures and details, click here.

Willow Vanderling
July 29, 2012


How often have we been told to be careful what we wish for? But why not wish for, well, whatever we want?

For instance, I sell sewing and embroidery machines in my embroidery boutique, In Stitches, and I also give workshops on how to use them. When I told my regular customers and students about the Chandler Challenge, a sewing and machine-embroidery contest, we all entered.

Naturally, even though the contest was national, I hoped that one of us would win the prize, a brand new Chandler sewing and embroidery machine.

You can imagine my excitement when I found out that someone from my area had won, and that I would have the honor of presenting the machine to the winner in in my shop! It would be like a party.

But it turned out that the contest winner wasn’t one of the regulars who came by bus to Threadville nearly every day. Darlene Coddlefield had never once been in my store. Okay, I thought, now that Darlene knew about In Stitches, she’d shop here often...

As an added bonus, a Chandler representative named Felicity would join the presentation festivities. Someone named Felicity would be loads of fun, wouldn’t she?

Something stitched this way comes...

Zombies, killer dresses, and ancient curses prove that Halloween in Threadville can be sew spooky...

As a friendly prank for Edna’s wedding, Willow and the rest of the Threadville gang have fashioned an overly extravagant hoopskirt, complete with lights and music.

But in a bizarre turn of events, the garish gown is implicated in a mysterious lakeside murder. Now Willow must follow a trail of glow-in-the-dark thread, delve into ancient Egyptian curses, and creep through a haunted graveyard to unearth a killer—before she becomes the next fashion victim?

Nominated for 2015 Bony Blithe Award

The truth lies just beneath the surface...

In Threadville , Pennsylvania , known for its textile arts courses and shops, everyone’s stories are connected by a common thread—even the ones ending in murder…Every town has a legend. For Threadville, it’s the story of Snoozy Gallagher, the hotel owner who disappeared thirty years ago with a bag full of stolen jewelry, never to be heard from again. That is, until now—when Snoozy’s loot is discovered buried behind Willow Vanderling’s embroidery shop, In Stitches.

When villagers mysteriously become ill, and a body shrouded in materials from Threadville shops appears in the exact spot in Willow’s back yard where the treasure was, Willow needs answers. And who left two kittens in her yard about the time the body was dumped there? But she gets in over her head and has to unravel the entire deadly mystery, or she might get tangled up as the killer’s next victim…

National Bestseller
Nominated for 2014 Bony Blithe Award

A “killer” sewing machine lives up to its name…

Darlene Coddlefield, the winner of a national sewing competition, has come to Willow Vanderling’s embroidery shop, In Stitches, to be presented with a top-of-the-line Chandler Champion sewing and embroidery machine as her prize. But Darlene’s triumph is short-lived after she’s found dead under her sewing table, apparently crushed by the heavy machine.

It soon becomes clear that this was no freak accident. Who had it in for Darlene Coddlefield? The long string of suspects includes Darlene’s fire chief husband. So Willow and her best friend, Haylee, become volunteer firefighters to uncover the truth. But when a second sewing machine sparks trouble, the friends realize they may have jumped from the frying pan into the fire…

Nominated for 2013 Bony Blithe Award

Murder and mayhem in a village of needlecraft shops . . .

Sins of fashion can be a real killer...

Threadville, Pennsylvania, is famous for its fabric, needlecraft, and embroidery, so it’s only natural that it would become the home of the Threadville Academy of Design and Modeling. While Willow Vanderling has certainly never wanted to be a model, here she is, voluntarily strutting her stuff in a charity runway show in outrageous clothing, all to support the Academy’s scholarship fund.

But the lascivious, mean-spirited director of the academy, Antonio, is making the fashion show a less-than-fabulous affair.

After Antonio plays a shocking prank on Willow and her friends that doesn’t exactly leave the ladies in stitches, he mysteriously winds up dead—and someone is trying to pin the blame on Willow. Now, she must do whatever it takes in order to clear her name, even if it means needling around in other people’s secrets.

Thoughtless threats lead to dire consequences...

Threadville, Pennsylvania, has everything - a fabric store, yarn shop, notions store, quilting boutique, and Willow Vanderling's brand new shop, In Stitches, a hit with tourists eager to learn embroidering in the latest way, with software and machines.

But when the village's bullying zoning commissioner picks a fight with Willow and turns up dead in Willow's yard, the close-knit community starts unraveling at the seams.

Willow must stitch together clues and find the real murderer, or the next thing she embroiders may be an orange prison jumpsuit . . .

Nominated for 2012 Agatha and Bony Blithe Awards