Needles and Artifice by The Ladies of Mischief, pub. Cooperative Press, 2012.
This book blew me away.
That could be my whole review right there.
But you probably want to know what's so amazing.
Well . . .
And 20 or so other most interesting patterns. And a steampunk novelette. Not to mention tea. (Well, it doesn't actually come with tea, but tea is frequently invoked.)
The book is divided into six parts: Mechanical, Boudoir, Airship, Countryside, High Society, and Mad Science. Each part contains a chapter of the novelette and several patterns. Each pattern involves an intriguing construction and/or stitch. A generous 233 pages, this book is sure to elicit exclamations at every turn.
Personally, I found something I wanted to make for myself in every chapter. Sarra Loew's Resilience Top combines brioche rib with gunshot beading for an appealing look. The unusual construction of Katrina Elsaesser's Revolution Shrug is too tempting to pass up, and her Rivet Spats appear eminently useful in the context of this book.
I simply must knit the Trials and Tribulations Bloomers. The Legacy Frock Coat, with its intriguing construction resulting in a stylish swoop and easy instructions for further customization, is also on my list. The Mountain Lily Scarf by Heidi Kunkel features a fetching Estonian lace stitch. And I just may surprise myself and knit an Abundance Vest. I'm not a vest-wearer, but the flattering drape of this garment will convert me!
I strongly desire the sleeves of Sarra Loew's Cameo Spencer Jacket, though the rest of the piece is not to my taste. The two thigh-high stockings, however, seem eminently wearable. The Amplitude Stockings by Amanda Williams are knit lengthwise and shaped with short rows (gives me goosebumps!). I may end up making just one of those and one of Sarra Loew's Eccentricity Stockings and wearing them together as modeled in the book. I have such a long list of knits now (thanks to the Ladies) that I doubt I'll be able to get a matching pair anytime soon.
Nearly half of these patterns are available in only one size, but instructions for shape customization are given for most of those that aren't scarves or hats. I feel obliged to speak out on behalf of those of us with large heads and request more hat sizing options. I will probably knit the Master and Commander Cap by Aimee Skeers, but will have to either alter the instructions or give it to my daughter. And I probably won't be able to resist the Jen Schripsema's Take Flight Bonnet, though it may be a bit tight on the back of my head without modifications (to the pattern, not my head).
The Quadrille Overbust Corset by Valerie DiPietro is a work of art. I fear this is the first pattern I will knit from this book. I say "fear" because if I knit it I will be obliged to wear it, and as a mother of two who doesn't even wear clothing as restricting as blue jeans, I don't relish a corset-wearing life. I could always have it stuffed. . . .
The Ladies who partake in the "busk-snapping adventure" are loyal, resourceful, and speak in colorful language ("horse bobbles" and "thrice-frogged idiot"). The story itself is a riotous introduction to characters---and airships---I hope to see again.
Photographer Jessica Glein deserves special mention for capturing both the knitterly details and the personality of each piece in a thoroughly engaging manner. The photography alone is worth the price of the book.
Congratulations to the The Ladies of Mischief and Cooperative Press for this resounding success!
Disclosure: Cooperative Press sent Kangath a copy of Needles and Artifice FREE for review. Kangath was not compensated for the preceding review. All opinions expressed in the review are the blog author's and are not necessarily the opinions of Cooperative Press or the Ladies of Mischief.
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