Cooking the Books: Purl Up and Die by Maggie Sefton

It’s been quite a while since I last had the chance to hang out with the Lambspun fabric artists who form the nexus of Maggie Sefton’s bestselling Knitting Mystery series, so I had a lot of catching up to do! Fortunately, Purl Up And Die treats fans, as well as more casual readers, to an in-depth look at their lives, even as they are affected by another shocking murder. 

Kelly Flynn is our sleuthing heroine, a CPA and amateur knitter whose own limited skills with the needles make her very relatable to novice knitters. She spends a lot of time at the House Of Lambspun—the fabric, fiber, and yarn shop just across the driveway from her home—with its attached Pete’s Porch Cafe. Kelly loves textures, and the book is full of sensual descriptions of the various wares available at Lambspun (which is based on a real Colorado knitting store). Kelly also loves her coffee, as well as playing and coaching softball with the various Fort Connor leagues that form a big part of the summertime social schedules of herself and her close-knit (sorry, I couldn’t resist the pun) circle of friends.

But, trouble is at hand when Barb, one of the instructors at Lambspun, receives horrible news: her beloved son Tommy has been accused of sexual assault by a female patient at the all-night clinic where he’s performing his medical residency. Things get worse when the accuser is found dead shortly after, with Tommy automatically becoming prime suspect in the murder. 

Interestingly, Kelly never actually meets Tommy in the course of her sleuthing. At first, she seeks to find out more about the alleged assault to help reassure Barb, who takes the news of the accusation very hard. And, while I was initially hesitant to automatically side with the accused, I felt that, in at least one passage, Ms. Sefton brought up a wide range of viewpoints on the matter. Kelly soon finds herself drawn deeper and deeper into the case, culminating in a shocking revelation as to the murderer’s identity.

What first attracted me to this series way back when was the inclusion of knitting patterns in each novel. But, as my skills with the needles are not the greatest (and I haven’t the time nowadays to improve them, alas!), I can only enjoy them vicariously through Ms. Sefton’s loving descriptions of the fabric arts throughout the text. However, I can and did enjoy taking on the included recipe:

Mimi’s Muffins


1 ⅓ cups all-purpose flour

¾ cup rolled oats

⅓ cup sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

1 beaten egg

¾ cup milk

¼ cup cooking oil


In mixing bowl combine flour, oats, sugar, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well and set aside. Grease muffin pans (12 2 ½” cups) and set aside. In a smaller bowl combine egg, milk, and oil. Add egg mixture to dry ingredients all at once and stir just until moistened. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups, filling each cup about ⅔ full. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven for 20 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in muffin pan for 5 minutes on wire rack, then remove from muffin cups onto rack. Serve warm. Makes about 10-12 muffins.

This was quick and easy to make and quite healthy compared to most baked goods! I especially enjoyed how little sugar was used to whip up this treat. Personally, I found the muffins to be on the dry side, but they were very much enjoyed by everyone else who tried them—including my two year-old twins, who would reach for a muffin at every meal they were available. I must have missed where the muffins were mentioned in the book, though. It’s entirely possible I kept getting sidetracked by all the mentions of yummy iced coffee.

Purl Up And Die is a must-read for fans of the ongoing series. While I felt that the recipe wasn’t quite as good as others I’ve done for this column, the end product was still quite popular with my regular test eaters.

Next week, I’ll be cooking my way through the next book in the series, Knit To Be Tied, so stay tuned Maggie Sefton fans!


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Doreen Sheridan is a freelance writer living in Washington, D.C. She
microblogs on Twitter @dvaleris.

Read all posts by Doreen Sheridan for Criminal Element.

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