Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Needles and Artifice!

"The scent of jasmine floated into the tiny pod, completely untainted by the smell of bears, Anna noted with satisfaction." 

 The fine folks at Cooperative Press have asked me to review one of their newest books, "Needles and Artifice: A Refined Adventure Story with Ingenious Knitting Patterns

Lemme translate that for you:

 Steampunk. Knitting. 

Given that those are two of my favorite words, I was bound to love this book, and I do. All of the patterns center around a main story: a classic steam-y tale of a badass lady airship pilot, her foppish gentleman companion, and a brigade of needle-wielding friends (each with their own areas of adventuring and expertise.)

"After the Northeastern Dinosaur Fern Spore Bloom Incident, her father had insisted that her specimens be kept as far as possible from the train passengers." 

I found the story very cinematic, somehow- I couldn't help but picture it on a screen (the guy who played Niles Crane was definitely the male lead.) It reads sort of like an episode of Firefly in book form, only more Victorian and more knitterly.* (That should be taken as a great compliment, by the way.) In any case, it's a clever bit of writing with a sharp wit, engaging story, and a healthy dose of goofiness- I particularly enjoyed the knitting-themed profanity ("thrice-frogged idiot" is my favorite, followed closely by "horsebobbles.") I'd totally watch the movie version, f'reals.

 "'You impertinent slattern!'" 

The photographs are absolutely gorgeous, and the attention to costuming and detail is stunning- you'll notice that every character has her communication brooch on somewhere, and I'll admit to giggling out loud when I noticed the tea ball in Anna's utility belt. I get the impression that the Ladies of Mischief are quite fond of tea (in much the same way that Buddha was "fond of" meditating or John Hinckley, Jr. was "fond of" Jodie Foster.)

"'Coraline, I have nothing to knit!' The Ladies all shuddered in sympathy." 

The projects are all terribly gorgeous, knit in beautiful luxury yarns (pretty much entirely from small dyers.) It would be easy to slip into kitsch in a book like this (Gears! Goggles! Gears and goggles!!) but I think the Ladies have done a fine job of dodging that and producing very refined and wearable projects. The directions are thorough as can be (one pattern even has instructions for fixing a dropped stitch in brioche, which I must find time to try out because I usually just live in fear whenever I'm brioching.)

With so many wonderful things it's impossible to pick favorites, but I'll show you a few of the projects that I would knit RIGHT. MEOW. if I had the time.

Is that not the most delightful lady-Captain sweater you ever did see?

Phase one: Find a corset that actually fits me. 
Phase two: Knit this and put it on over the corset. 
Phase three: ?? 
Phase four: Profit

"Chemise" is such a pretty word. It's the polar opposite of "panties," which is a thoroughly unpleasant word that makes my skin crawl. All names for pretty lingerie should rustle softly, and this top somehow illustrates that feeling perfectly. Plus it will go well with that corset I need to buy.

"The Ladies all said no one in their right mind would knit a six foot long double knit scarf with a non-repeating pattern! So Dr. Erma Melanogaster set out to prove them wrong. However, the good doctor didn't realize her stunning success failed to contradict the Ladies proclamation, as she is seldom of her right mind herself." 
 Damn that null hypothesis and its unprovability! Sorry, psych major moment. Ahem. This scarf is the shit. I'm not sure I'm crazy enough to knit it, but it's still the shit. 

 "'What exactly are you planning to do with so much chloroform?'" 

And now we get to the good part- Cooperative Press and the Ladies of Mischief have agreed to give a digital copy of the book to one lucky reader! All you gotta do this time is go here: 

Generate yourself a steampunk name, and report back in the comment section below to tell me what it is. (Or feel free to make it up yourself, if you're feeling creative.) I'll draw a winner a week from now (don't forget to leave contact info!) In the meantime, you can check out all the patterns here.

(My name, by the way, is "Lady Adrianna Brock." Or "Princess Drusilla Brock" if I use Alexandra. "Drusilla" reminds me of the Buffy villain, but, hmm, I AM rather well suited to the crown...) 

 *(But seriously though, did anyone else get a Jayne-ish vibe from Anna? 
'Cause I'm getting a Jayneish vibe. And I like it.)

Monday, November 19, 2012

Gratuitous Maelstrom Shots

I have been wanting to reshoot the photos for the Maelstrom pattern for years- the originals were taken indoors with my old, inferior-for-indoors-shots lens, and then of course I LOST the original sample *sob*

So... I reknit it, this time in the Chapel Stone colorway (still Malabrigo Worsted, of course.) That was in, um, May, but I finally got around to taking the photos.




 Tried taking some jumping shots, but those never quite seem to work out for me...

Hello hairface. AND ALSO INAPPROPRIATE MIDRIFF! *gasp, clutch*


 Oh well. Anyway, if you purchased Maelstrom on Ravelry, you can download an updated pdf if you want. The pattern is the same, though, don't worry :-)

Saturday, November 10, 2012

Winner of "Ghosts" ebook!

Bit slow with this, huh? Sorry about that! I just got back from merry ole England and things are still settling down (pictures soon! Because I know how much everyone likes to look at other people's vacation photos.)

 EDIT: Whoops! The original winner already won the ebook on another blog (talk about yer lucky month, eh?) So we're gonna do this again! The winner is....

Yay! Bronwyn, shoot me an email at keepittoadullroar (at) and let me know what email address or Ravelry ID you'd like your ebook sent to :-)

 Thanks for playin, y'alls! We've got one more review/giveaway coming up at the end of the month, and also probably some pictures of pants. Everyone loves pants, right? (You'll love these pants.)

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