Death by Association

DIY Diva Laurel McMillan learns that the high walls and guarded gates of Hawkeye Haven can't protect her community. When Laurel takes her pampered, chocolate Labrador retriever, Bear, for an early morning walk, she finds her friend, security guard Bessie, bleeding and unconscious at her guardhouse post. If the attack on Bessie isn't enough to set the residents' nerves on edge, the murder of Victor Eberhart, the unpopular president of the powerful homeowners' association, certainly does the trick. Despite teaching DIY classes and writing project instructions for her latest book, DIY for Dog Lovers, Laurel manages to squeeze in time for some DIY detective work. But as she gets closer to the truth, Victor's killer would like nothing better than for the DIY Diva to take a dive.

Available in both e-book and paperback editions!
Kindle E-Book 

Praise for Death by Association

Fun and interesting characters, an original setting in a gated community (Oh, the trials of an HOA), Bear the dog, and great writing all make DEATH BY ASSOCIATION a story worth reading, and a great debut for Darnell.
~Lisa Ks Book Reviews
Death by Association Paula Darnell is a different cozy, and it’s excellent.
~Baroness' Book Trove
I loved the small town vibe of the gated community and our Protagonist Laurel is a great addition to the Cozy Family.
~A Wytch's Book Review Blog
A refreshing read. A great cover that is attractive and beckons the reader to purchase and turn those pages!
I enjoyed Death by Association.

~My Reading Journeys
The author is very talented in her descriptive writing and pulled me into the community from the very beginning.
~MJB Reviewers 

Death by Association, A DIY Diva Mystery, is published by Cozy Cat Press

DIY Vintage Hanky Vases

Here's a quick and easy DIY project that can add some colorful vintage vibe to a tablescape. To make your own vintage handkerchief vases, you'll need the following items:

1. Vintage hankies in matching, contrasting, or coordinating colors.
2. Small empty bottles. Bottles from supplements, vitamins, and over-the-counter medications work well. The bottles I used ranged in height from 3 1/2 inches to 4 1/2 inches. It adds more interest to your tablescape if the bottles are different heights.
3. Rubber bands, one for each bottle.
4. Ribbons in matching, coordinating, or contrasting colors.

The first step is to remove the lids. I usually save them because they come in handy when I draw circle templates for the centers of fabric flowers.

Next place the bottle in the center of the hanky, hold the four corners up above the center of the bottle, and put a rubber band around the neck of the bottle. Double the rubber band if necessary to obtain a tight fit. 

You can arrange the gathers or pleats, if you like. 
Now, finish the vase by tying two ribbons around the rubber band and making a bow. 

This is a nice, decorative touch, which has the added advantage of hiding the rubber band.

Now your first bottle is complete. Make as many as you like for your tablescape. It's usually a good idea to use an odd number of items in a tablescape.
Fill your hanky vases carefully with a small amount of water if you're going to display fresh flowers. Otherwise, display dried or silk flowers. I used the only flowers that were in bloom in my backyard for this tablescape--orange lilies and a small purple flower.

DIY Suede Wrap Necklace

Here's an easy DIY suede wraparound choker that can double as a lariat necklace.
There are lots of ways to wear this choker. Pictured below is the same choker with a bow tied in the center.
You can also wear it as a lariat necklace. Just fold it in half, drape around your neck, and drop both ends through the loop that forms from the fold.
Here's how to make the necklace. The only materials you will need are suede lacing and two large-hole 8 mm brass beads. The only tool necessary is a pair of scissors. The first step is to cut a 64-inch length of suede. Cut both ends diagonally. I used genuine leather suede for this particular necklace, but you can use faux suede instead, if you prefer.
Next, make a simple overhand knot about two or two and a half inches from one end. Straighten the knot, if necessary and tighten it. Slide a brass bead on the cord from the other end, and position it next to the knot.

 Make another overhand knot on the other side of the brass bead, snug it next to the bead, and tighten the knot
String a brass bead on the other end of the cord, and repeat the process.

And that's it! Your suede wrap necklace is all ready to wear.

Alcohol Ink Art

Recently I purchased a copper pendant necklace that was decorated with abstract alcohol ink art. The medium intrigued me, so I decided to experiment with it myself. 

I ordered a starter set of Jacquard Piñata Color alcohol inks along with a bottle of 99% isopropyl alcohol. The alcohol is used to thin the ink and to clean brushes.

Pictured above is the first project I made using alcohol ink. It's a vintage copper-plated cuff that I've had for several years. There were some copper leaf appliques on it, which I removed by heating the cuff over a gas burner on my stove. I was then able to remove them easily. The hammered copper plating already had some patina, which I didn't try to remove. Instead, I used the alcohol inks rights over the surface, after I cleaned the cuff with soap and water and dried it thoroughly.
I made an abstract design of a sunset, using sunbright yellow for the sun on top of copper wire coiled into a circle. I layered yellow, then white, then yellow again to get the color deep enough. I used dropping, brushing, and dabbing techniques to apply the inks. The other colors I used on the copper cuff were calabaza orange, señorita magenta, and baja blue.
I was pleased with the rustic vintage look of the cuff and with the colors I chose. 
Alcohol inks are best used on hard surfaces, such as metal, glass, and ceramic. If you want to use them on paper, you'll need coated paper, such as yupo paper. For my next experiments, I chose ceramic tiles. My original idea was to make coasters, so I bought several white ceramic 4" x 4" tiles from Lowe's. Later I decided I'd prefer to display the tiles, rather than cover them up with a cup or mug. Below are a couple of abstracts I made on the ceramic tiles.

As you can see, the colors are quite vibrant. To achieve some of the lighter colors, I thinned the ink with alcohol. I'm going to continue experimenting with various techniques and some other colors.
If you want to try your hand at alcohol ink art, you will probably need to order the alcohol inks online. I found that although Michael's, Joann, and Dick Blick stores all sell alcohol inks, they do not stock them in my local stores, but you can order them on their websites as well as through Amazon and other online retailers. 
Jacquard is not the only brand available, but I chose it because I use Jacquard silk colors when I dye silk, and I've always had good luck with it.


Arts and Crafts Projects Using Yarn (No Knitting or Crocheting)

There are lots of ways for those of us who love yarn (but aren't knitters or crocheters) to incorporate yarn into arts and crafts projects. Here are just a few projects that I've made that have yarn in them. 


I made this bangle bracelet of a soft, multi-color, fuzzy yarn. The main color is a tangerine shade. I wrapped yarn around a center core, which is a plastic bangle.

At the right, you can see a close-up view of the side of the yarn-wrapped bangle.
It's available on my Etsy PaulaDJewelry site. Click here to see it on Etsy. 


Wool yarn is often used in needlepoint. The close-up above is from a partially worked canvas as is the picture at the right. There are several colors of wool yarn in this needlepoint picture. I used an Elizabeth Bradley kit for this canvas. It's from the Victorian Collection. I started this needlepoint years ago and work on it occasionally, although I haven't had time to needlepoint lately. Maybe someday I'll finish this one!
Textile Art Work

Here's a cute little textile art work I made of a polyester furry fabric with felt and yarn accents. The mouth is made of black yarn. A bit of yarn often can be used for detail work in textile art projects. The little bell around the lamb's neck is a real brass bell. It's tiny, but it actually rings. To see a couple other images of this picture, click here.

Fashion Sewing

Here's a purple tweed jacket, lined with black silk, that I made of a nubby purple tweed fabric. The fabric is a blend of both synthetic and natural fibers, and the yarn in the weave is thick enough to be used as a strand in making a braid, which is what I did to trim the jacket. I made the trim, which goes all around the jacket's edges and trims the sleeves, by pulling out individual strands of the fiber and braiding them together, then sewing the braid in the center of a black grosgrain ribbon.

Needle-Felted Textile Art

This needle-felted picture is framed in a box frame with glass in it, so the photos aren't as clear as I'd like. I used wool yarn to needle felt my version of purple sage. For the base fabric, I selected a vintage green linen handkerchief with crocheted edges. If you're going to use yarn to needle felt on a base, be sure to use wool yarn.

Ten Cozy Mystery Series for Yarn Lovers, Knitters, and Crocheters

These cozy mystery series are listed in the order of the number of books in the series, from the longest series to the shortest.

1. Needlecraft Mystery Series by Monica Ferris

When Betsy Devonshire takes over a needlework shop in Excelsior, Minnesota, she finds that she has a knack for knitting as well as a hidden talent for crime solving. 19 books.

Needlecraft Mystery Series




2. Knitting Mystery Series by Maggie Sefton

This series is also known as the Kelly Flynn Mystery Series. Kelly is a knitter, living in Colorado, who often visits the fabulous yard shop next to her office and also solves mysteries in her spare time. 16 books.

 Knitting Mystery Series




3. Crochet Mystery Series by Betty Hechtman

Molly Pink learns to crochet and find a killer when she joins a weekly crochet group in Tarzana, California, and the murders just keep on coming in this eleven-book series..

 Crochet Mystery Series





4. Seaside Knitters Series by Sally Goldenbaum

Not long after Isabel “Izzy” Chambers opens up a knitting shop in the sleepy fishing town of Sea Harbor, Massachusetts, a diverse group of women begins congregating each week to form the Seaside Knitters. 11 books.

 Seaside Knitters Series



5. Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries by Anne Canadeo

The Black Sheep Knitters group meets once a week at Maggie Messina's Black Sheep Knitting Shop in Plum Harbor, Massachusetts, to share knitting tips, recipes, and gossip with murder thrown into the mix. 8 books.  

Black Sheep Knitting Mysteries



6. Vampire Knitting Club by Nancy Warren

For readers who like their knitting hobby paired with a paranormal theme, the Vampire Knitting Club hits the mark. Lucy Swift runs
Cardinal Woolsey’s, a yarn shop in Oxford, England. 7 books.

 Vampire Knitting Club



7. Haunted Yarn Shop Mystery Series by Molly MacRae 


When Kath Rutledge inherits her grandmother's yarn shop, The Weaver’s Cat, in Blue Plum, Tennessee, she also inherits a ghost and becomes involved with the Thank Goodness It's Fiber group. 4 books. 

 Haunted Yarn Shop Mysteries



 8. Friday Night Knitting Club by Kate Jacobs

From best-selling author Kate Jacobs, the Friday Night Knitting Club's sales top one million books. Walker and Daughter Yarn Shop, owned by Georgia Walker, in New York City, is where the Friday Night Knitting Club meets weekly . 3 books.  

Friday Night Knitting Club




9. Knit and Nibble Mystery Series by Peggy Ehrhart

This series, set in a charming New Jersey town, features Pamela Paterson, founder of a knitting club called Knit and Nibble. Books in the series include ideas for knitting projects and recipes for goodies referenced in the books. 3 books.  

Knit and Nibble Mystery Series



 10. Crabapple Yarns Mystery Series by Jaime Marsman


Mysteries, knitting, and a yarn shop, Crabapple Yarns, all figure into this cozy mystery duo: The Brief Haunting of Raspberry Hill and The Knitting Fairy. 2 books.

Crabapple Yarns Mystery Series





Ten British Cozy Mystery Series

These series are listed in alphabetical order by series title. The first book in each series is displayed.

1. Amelia Peabody Series by Elizabeth Peters

The Amelia Peabody series is set in Egypt during the Victorian Era. Author Elizabeth Peters (now deceased) had a Ph.D. in Egyptology, so look for authentic detail in the setting, and it's no wonder that the main character, Englishwoman Amelia Peabody, is an Egyptologist. There are twenty books in the series.

2. Isle of Man Cozy Mystery Series by Diana Xarissa

The author has lived on the Isle of Man, which is located in the Irish Sea between Great Britain and Ireland. The series features Aunt Bessie, who lives in a cottage on the Isle of Man. Stunning scenery and fascinating history form the backdrop. There are twenty-one books in the series.

3. Lady Hardcastle Mystery Series by T E Kinsey

The Lady Hardcastle Mystery Series is set in England during Edwardian times. The time of the first book in the series is 1908. Cozies are usually written by women, but series author T E Kinsey is one of the few cozy mystery writers who's a man. There are five books in the series.

4. Lady Rample Mysteries by Shéa MacLeod

The Lady Rample Mysteries are set in London during the jazz-age 1930s. The author lived in London for six years. In the first book, aristocratic "Lady Rample finds herself at odds after the death of her husband until her best friend drags her to a hot new jazz club." There are seven books in the series.

5. Maisie Dobbs Mysteries by Jacqueline Winspear

Maisie Dobbs decides to become a private investigator in 1929 England. According to the Mail on Sunday:“The book is much more than a cosy mystery—it is also about women's growing emancipation and the profound changes to society after the First World War.” There are ten books in the series.
Maisie Dobbs (Book 1)

6. Murder on Location Series by Sara Rosett

In the first book of the series, Jane Austen fan Kate travels to England to scout the location for a new film version of one of Austen's novels. There she discovers that "even quaint and quirky English villages have a darker side." There are seven books in the series.

7. Peridale Cafe Cozy Mystery Series by Agatha Frost

Author Agatha Frost "lives in a quaint village in a sleepy corner of England, which provides inspiration for her bestselling Peridale Cafe Cozy series!" The series features Julia South, who owns a cafe and loves cats. There are seventeen books in the series.

8. Royal Spyness Series by Rhys Bowen

The main character in this series, which takes place in England in the 1930s, is Lady Victoria Georgiana Charlotte Eugenie, daughter of a duke, and thirty-fourth in line for the throne. The bestselling series author has won fourteen mystery writing awards. There are thirteen books in the series.

9. Violet Carlyle Mysteries by Beth Byers

Violet Carlyle, "a spunky young woman determined to craft her own life," is the main character in this cozy mystery series set in the roaring twenties in England. There are thirteen books in the series. 
Murder & the Heir (Book 1)


10. Yellow Cottage Vintage Mysteries by J. New

In this series, set in England in the 1930s, the main character, Ella Bridges, lives on Linhay Island in a large house known as the yellow cottage. The first book in this series is a novella; the rest are full-length novels. There are four books in the series.

Decorate Your Designs with Fringe

One of my Paula D Sewing Patterns customers sent me photos of a tote she decorated with the beaded fringe she purchased. Laurie is in the business of making curtains, and when she has some fabric left over from her curtain projects, sometimes she makes a tote bag from the fabric. You can find her on Instagram at Lauriescustomcurtains.

 Here's a close-up picture of the beaded fringe that's on the tote:

I also used the same fringe to embellish the ends of a neck-warmer scarf.

Fringe is made of many different materials, and although you can usually find something to match or coordinate with your project, it can often take a lot of looking!

Several years ago, I made two sets of pillows to go with my striped sofa. I used cotton or a poly/cotton fringe to edges the pillows. 

I don't finish all my projects in a timely manner. Too many projects, not enough time! Here's some fabric and matching fringe that I've had for quite a while, but it's still languishing in my craft room. 

Fringe is easy to work with. Just stitch it into your seams on pillows. Remember, right sides of fabric together with fringe sandwiched in between, and when you turn it, the fringe will be on the right side.

For other applications, you can sometimes stitch the header of the fringe directly to the garment, accessory, or home dec item you're making, and it can become part of the design.

Fringe is quite versatile. I've even used beaded fringe to make necklaces.  

You can find fringe at your local fabric store (don't forget to check the upholstery fabric department as well as the trims department). Online sources include Etsy and eBay (just search by color, length, or other criteria).