My eyes snapped open. The Wool Gatherers were meeting tonight. Here. I vaulted out of bed.
What was I thinking when I offered to host the meeting? I was the outsider, new not only to the area but to this whole way of country life. I hadn’t just stepped out of my comfort zone; I was about to leap into shark-filled waters.
We wandered through the craft section first.
It seemed Carol knew everyone, and everyone knew her. Before we’d covered half of the booths, I’d been introduced to at least a dozen people, vendors and customers, and even saw a few faces familiar to me.
Joan was there, manning a booth with her spinning wheel at her side. I was amazed at the progress she’d made with her physical therapy. She swore it was due to her determination not to give up on spinning and knitting.
“Who can I get to shear?”
“Riley, of course.” Carol looked at me like I was slipping into dementia.
“Anyone but Riley.” The less I saw of that man, the happier I’d be. He may be good at shearing sheep, but he was lousy at personal relationships.
“Are you crazy? He’s the best there is,” Lila said.
“We didn’t hit it off too well the few times we’ve met.”
All activity stopped. You would’ve thought I’d said I had a fight with the Pope.
“I really enjoyed this book. . . . This book had plenty of heart and feels. It’s a make you feel good book. It shows you real life problems and life in general. Watching Martha go on this journey of self discovery while forging the change in her relationship with her daughters was inspiring. . . . It also revolved around knitting and spinning. I’m a knitter so those parts were intriguing to me. Over all a great book that will leave your heart happy sighing at the end.”
When Riley came into the house later, he looked frustrated, torn between his son and his duties as host. His expression changed to surprise when he saw Jake in his pajamas, sitting next to me on the loveseat. I knew he wasn’t used to letting anyone else take over the handling of Jake, and the mixed emotions of relief and anxiety flitted across his face in rapid succession.
“Could you stay until I get Jake settled in his bed?”
“Sure.” I watched him take his son upstairs with mixed emotions of my own. Should I have left? I’d felt his resentment when I tried to work with Jake on other occasions. Why did he want me around tonight?
The town hadn’t changed much since my childhood. My old high school looked the same—imposing red brick and a double set of stainless-steel doors, surrounded by student cars parked up and down the narrow streets. The golden spire of St. Anthony’s church remained visible above the houses in the distance. The yellow Victorian bed-and-breakfast, with its white gingerbread trim, nestled off on a side street still looked comfortable among the ageless homes surrounding it. And serving as a backdrop to it all was the gleaming harbor in the distance.
Glancing back at Lila, I asked, “What are you working on?”
“I’m spinning this wool for a sweater I plan to knit for my husband.” She picked up the ball of wool sitting at her feet and handed it to me. “Did Lucy mention that I raise sheep? This wool is homegrown merino. I’m the one who got Martha involved in raising her own wool.” She smiled devilishly. “Which, of course, led her to meeting the local sheep shearer, who is now her husband.”
“This is a new author for me so I wasn’t sure what to expect. The characters are loveable and realistic. I love Martha and Riley his son. This is a small community so everyone knows everyone else. . . . Overall it is a pretty good story to keep you entertained for a few hours.”
“It Never Felt so Good is a very inspiring book. . . . I loved how Cara cared so much about her grandmother. I loved Gram and how independent she was. . . . The author of It Never Felt so Good is new to me. I look forward to reading more from her. I enjoyed the book very much.”
“The Spin I’m In is an interesting story knitting elements of Woman’s Fiction, mystery, and romance together. It was quite fascinating to read about the process of spinning. . . . The community was described in enough detail that I could picture it; the closely-knit women who loved fiber, the the farmer neighbors who brought her meals and laughed at Martha’s attempts at caring for her lambs.”
“Hand felted? I never heard the term before.”
“It’s when you make felt out of carded wool—using soap, warm water, and friction. It’s actually a lot of fun, and you can come up with some amazing designs.”
“Have you been doing this for a long time?” It looked pretty complicated to me. In fact, all the projects I’d seen that evening looked like the women had put a lot of thought and effort into them. Even Nancy, busily knitting on what looked like an intricate Nordic ski pattern.
Tiny violets had appeared almost overnight among the dead leaves on the forest ground, poking their heads up in defiance of the long winter that had buried them deep in the cold and snow. Where did they get their strength? Even though all around me the earth had come alive, I felt a part of me had died along with my desire to paint, and I was at a loss on how to resurrect it.
I squatted to the level of the violets. Rebirth after death. So delicate looking, yet so strong. Why couldn’t I be like them? Something inside of me wanted desperately to believe I could mimic the strength of the forest wildflowers. The thought carried on the whisper of the evening breeze, and I breathed the scent in deeply, needing to believe it.
I studied her closely. “You didn’t seem to be suffering from old age when you chased Zeke out of the barn earlier.”
“Well, maybe that’s why I’m so tired now. My head’s feeling all muddled. Guess it’s time I started acting my age.” She raised both eyebrows, daring me to contradict her. “You go on ahead. I’ll call Peter and explain. We can’t both bail on him, not after he’s prepared things.”
I huffed. “Fine, Gram. Go up and rest. I’ll check on you when I get back.”
A determined widow faces the challenge of a new life to regain the confidence and independence of her youth, but finds that life, unlike knitting, doesn’t always follow a pattern.
After twenty-five years of being the perfect wife and mother, Martha LeBeau finds herself unexpectedly widowed and shocked to discover her husband had been living a double life, leaving her penniless and in debt. Determined to regain her lost confidence and independence, she sells her suburban Chicago home and moves to the Wisconsin countryside to forge a new life away from cheating men and smothering children. There she meets the Wool Gatherers, a group of fiber artists who teach her the art of spinning wool and raising sheep. Along with one determined Border Collie, she begins on the path to self-growth and healing.
Riley O’Connor is the single father of a child with Asperger Syndrome. The child’s mother walked out on them because she found that life too difficult to handle. Since then, he has dedicated himself to protecting his son from any further emotional damage.
Meeting Riley and his son through her new job brings love and challenges to Martha’s newly found independence. Romance blooms like a finely knit cable, entwining their lives.
Can either of them learn to trust again?
Cara Olson is forced to put aside her struggling art career in Chicago to care for her ailing grandmother in Wisconsin. While journeying with her beloved Gram through the diagnosis of possible Alzheimer’s disease, she loses and then rediscovers her passion for art and experiences the resurrection of a past love.
Struggling artist Cara Olson is called home to Wisconsin to care for her ailing grandmother who is showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease. Leaving behind her mentor//boyfriend, Stefan, she begins to look at her unsuccessful career and relationship in a new light.
Surprised to find her Gram’s doctor is her high-school crush, Peter Andreson, she fights her reignited feelings. When Chicago critics dismiss her artwork as a poor imitation of Stefan’s, she is devastated and vows to give up art.
While caring for Gram and running her small Scandinavian gift shop, the Wool Gatherers, a local group of fiber artists, help her find new outlets for her creativity, designing works of art with hand-made felt and her re-emerging love of landscape and portrait painting.
Along the way, her feelings for Peter grow, and she realizes she has once again fallen for a man only dedicated to his career. When the opportunity arises for her to return to Chicago with the promise of a new career, she seizes it. But even her success can’t fill the void she experiences without Gram, her new friends, and Peter.
Can she return to Shoreview, the place that inspires her art, and be satisfied with a life that doesn’t include him?
About the Author
Born in Wisconsin to an original Brady Bunch, I had the dubious honor of being #14 in the family. As a result, I’ll never run out of characters. The early years of my marriage were spent moving around the country with my engineer husband, collecting interesting stories and characters along the way. I picked up my first romance after a particularly stressful shift at a suburban Chicago hospital where I worked as an RN. Hours later, bleary-eyed and exhausted, but able to sleep because the story affirmed that good things can happen to good people, I was hooked.
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