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.)

85 comments:

  1. Mademoiselle Ruth Badger at your service.

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  2. Baroness Sarah Ann Pinch!

    This thing looks like a DREAM. COME. TRUE.

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  3. Fab!
    I'm Frau Susanna Igglesden. I think, if I ever own an iguana, I just might call it Frau Susanna Igglesden.

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  4. Lieutenant Colonel Gwendolyn Igglesden, at your service!

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  5. I am Duchess Bethany Ramsbottom. which sounds rather steampunk-sexclubby, but I'm cool with it. Also, I Must. Have. That chemise.

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  6. Duchess Geneve Chittenden, reporting for duty!

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  7. That passage about the scarf is truly hilarious. Love it.

    My steampunk name is Khaanoum Amelia Smith, which is absolutely fabulous especially considering I studied Persian (khaanum being lady in Persian).

    I'm Joyuna. Everywhere.

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  8. And I, Ambassador Jennie Wilkins, hereby decree that the Ladies of Mischeif shall always be welcome at my consulate in New Dimsmere.

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  9. Ambassador Zona Corney

    I love the Hush Chemise and the Revolution Shrug, though I'm not usually a shrug person.

    Rav: GingerLee25

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  10. Lady Nicola Brownlow is my name, and although I love steampunk, I have yet to knit something steampunkish. By the way, how is your steampunk-inspired-pattern-book coming along? :)

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    Replies
    1. It has pretty much morphed into the Doomsday Knits book instead, though I do have a few half-finished steamy items that'll just get released separately when I get around to it, haha. Thanks for asking ;-)

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  11. Miss Cordelia Oswald. I like this and plan to officially adopt it.

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  12. Chief Warrant Officer Helene Marsh HAHAHA

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  13. Professor Timothea Nunn. But of course.

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  14. I've only just now discovered the awesomeness here. I now need to change my name to: Duchess Betsy Oakley.

    TigerBeatle on Ravelry

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  15. I am apparently Duchess Bathsheba Theobald (sounds like washing a large dog...)

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  16. haha, I just wanted to note that I get demoted from Princess Amelia Champ to Duchess Amelia Banks when I use my full surname. Guess steampunks don't like Slavs. Vivian Aubrey, on the other hand (and for the win) is "Her Royal Highness Amelia Bucket". Where are these coming from?

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    Replies
    1. My vote is for the last one. Though let's be real real, "Vivian Aubrey" is a pretty legit steampunk name already. Especially if you put "Captain" or "Professor" in front.

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  17. Her Royal Highness Rosamund Bartholemew

    I think I'll have to start going by that now. Or just 'Her Royal Highness", whichever ;)

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  18. Hahahahaha - I am Governor Ruth Cleverly. Love it.

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  19. Captain Celia Bartholemew if I use my maiden name, Celia Flint with my name name. If I knew a feminine version of Bartholomew I'd use it with Flint, Celia isn't as cool as Christine, sorry engine. ChristineGuest on Ravelry

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  20. Duchess Margaret Moody here. While I am moody, I can't say I'm that crazy about the name. Hmm, guess I'm in a mood this morning.

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  21. Duchess Iphigenia Betteridge! omg now i've gotten sucked into this steampunk name generator, making names for all my friends. this book is beautiful, and i'd love to win!

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  22. Major Fanny Ramsbottom, reporting for duty, ma'am!

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    Replies
    1. Which, as I'm in the UK, is utterly filthy...

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    2. I may have to name a pattern after my steampunk self!
      Tomyris on Rav, btw...

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  23. Baroness Ananiah Aldridge. Or if I was a professional I was the Honorable Ananiah Aldridge. Which is making me image what I would be like as a judge...Love the patterns in this book. Now to figure where I could wear that corset that's not a bedroom

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  24. I am Reverence Ann Jarvest.
    This book looks wonderful.
    Contact Info:
    Sarah Ellis
    indianafuji@gmail.com

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  25. (Sergeant, Malekeh, Senhora, President, Cantor, Miss) Louise Atwater.
    Even with all those names it still sounds like the name of a maid. I bet she specializes in poison.

    Also, I am MOST DEFINITELY crazy enough to knit the null hypothesis scarf. I'm in love with it.

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    Replies
    1. Also, contact info is
      Emilee Kingsley
      ekingsley2@washcoll.edu

      Delete
  26. Governor Alva Packer (nee Professor Necket). If I include my maiden name as a hyphen, I become Governor Alva Flint. I think I'd rather be a Dean than a Governor. Ooh, hang on

    ...

    if I use my library-professional name I become The Honorable Dorcas Packer. I think I'll be Alva instead of Dorcas.

    Love the patterns - I like the chemise best too!

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  27. The Honourable Ella Fuzzey at your service.

    bookwormdjibouti on Rav

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  28. I'm Dr. Nora Larkin. I love it!!

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  29. I require this book. Immediately.
    Sincerely,
    Ambassador Georgina Champ

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  30. Professor Drusilla Lushington at your service.

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  31. President Bernice Crabb. What a great name. I wish it was really mine. :)

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  32. Lady Eva Cooper, if you please.

    Rav: OmeletsMom

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  33. Royal Highness Arrah Griswold. Griswold is so National Lampoon! How did it know I'm such a klutz?

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  34. Miss Gertrude Deal here. Not sure how I feel about Gertrude. Would love to win this book. Might be drooling slightly right now.

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  35. Commander Aurelia Aldridge.

    Funny. I am actually a Commander of a fictitious Order:)

    isisonearth on Rav

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  36. Pastor America Lurcock. Of course, if the religious life doesn't pan out, I can go back to court life as Her Royal Highness America Lurcock.

    (arlette)

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  37. I did it twice: once with my current name and once with my fiance's surname.
    My current name yielded Flora Brock, while his surname gave me Ambassador Flora Batchelor

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  38. Love the book and love the names! I'm Duchess Winifred Larkin, which is awesome because Winifred is on the list of steampunkish names I'll subject any future daughters to.

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  39. Ambassador Rhody Whiting. Blergh. If I tell the generator I am a man I am instead Ambassador Aloysius Whiting, which is a distinct improvement. I'll have to be a woman disguised as a man in any steampunk-ish plot into which I fall.

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  40. Thank you for the wonderful review, I look forward to this book! My steampunk name is a goodie, Bathsheba Gooding! I can be reached at kristine at boncer dot com. Thanks again for the awesome review!

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  41. Frau Jessamine Latimer, or if I tell it I am my brother who has a very similar name, Seor Patrick Latimer. Interesting!

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  42. Dean Viola Hammermann at your service. And I've been itching for that book since it came out.

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  43. Consul Martha Maxwell...and I'd love to have that book.

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  44. Consul Clara Fairbeard ... and I'm crazy enough to knit the scarf!

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  45. President Dinah Cogwright, at your service!

    lindaran on Rav

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  46. Lottie Bartholemew


    raederle on ravelry

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  47. Mine is Khaanoum Matilda Sheridan lol.

    Rav: 2013chic

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  48. I am totally messing up your random book giveaway because, ahem, I don't need a copy, but I just wanted to say that this is easily my favorite book review of all time. Oh, and I'm Ensign Miriam Ambrose. I was REALLY hoping for Ramsbottom.

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  49. I'm Ms. Amy Chittenden, not sure about that one!
    (Rhian82 on Rav)

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  50. Seems to be a lot of Chittendens! Mine is Countess Constance Chittenden ~ love so many of the patterns in this book, yowza.

    rav - kniterror

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  51. Countess Emilia Littlefield :) I like the sound of that ;)

    mbuchanan.91(at)bigpond(dot)com

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  52. Senhora Beatrice Catchpole, pleased to make your acquaintance!

    gatlingkat@hotmail.com

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  53. Baroness Cordelia King! I like it. This book sounds totally awesome, by the way. Thanks for reviewing it!

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  54. Her Royal Highness Cordelia Blume

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  55. Replies
    1. Ooh I like that one. Sounds like a Victorian Madame, haha.

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  56. Euphrasia Emerson

    cvd-aviatrix on Ravelry

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  57. consul Mildred Griffin.
    I might adopt that in real life.

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  58. consul Mildred Griffin.
    I might adopt that in real life.

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  59. Duchess Mary Elizabeth Kettel. The book sounds very interesting.
    ShanD on Ravelry.

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  60. Countess Laura Bagley. I am SO interested in this book.

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  61. Countess Laura Bagley. I am SO interested in this book.

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  62. Dr. Adrian Hackney-O'Brian

    Not from the name generator. That gave me Speaker Jane Wickham. Not my cup of tea.

    MyIzumi on Rav!

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  63. Ambassador Eva Featherstone. I could live with that :)

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  64. Captain Lilly Ainsworth, aka roesleinknits on Ravelry. Book sounds amazing - I need to make that corset!

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  65. You may address me as, Madame Almira Chickering. And I'll have no snickering behind my back. I'll have you know that the Chickerings are a well respected family where I'm from. =)

    Awesome book review. Thoroughly enjoy your writing style...do you have a novel & patterns coming soon??? Would love to read it. Would love to read this book, too...and share it with my knitting group! =)

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    Replies
    1. Thank you :-) I am working on a book with Cooperative Press as well, though it won't have quite the same sort of storytelling element as this one. But lots of patterns!

      Delete
  66. I have been drooling over this book ever since it was announced. I don't know how I have managed to hold off on buying it. My name is Jane Potter, and if I was in the military I would hold the rank of Major. Now to knit myself something fitting for the honorable Potter clan.

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  67. Honourable Victoria Bagstock, reporting in!

    That book is so drool-worthy...

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  68. Mine is Colonel Eva Pennington. Maybe the Militant wing of the suffragettes?

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  69. Celia Bagstock here. I hope I'm not too late to join in!

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  70. I think my parent misnamed me. I am clearly more suited to being Baroness Cecilia Gifford. And I adore tea. Surely I must have this book!

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  71. Mistress Agatha Maxwell. I be an Anglophile with a taste for murder mysteries. Otherwise,you might know me as ninja8tofu.

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  72. I hope I'm not too late to the party, Baroness Miranda Hammerman at your service.

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  73. Apparently I'm Professor Almira Barton. I think Almira sounds a bit like a mad scientist's name. Well, I am in grad school for biology, and I'm more that a little mad...

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