Review: Needles and Artifice, an ingenious book of Steampunk knitting patterns

I’m a geek and a nerd. I am an intermediate knitter and crocheter. I have very little exposure to the amazing world of steampunk, but I’m working on it. Delighted to meet you.

Now that we have that out of the way, let me say this: this book is truly awesome.

There are several ways to approach this book. You might be a knitter looking for fresh new patterns. You could be into steampunk and looking for new clothes to craft. You might be a reader, ready to gobble up the latest adventure story with daring heroics, clever inventions, and six (count them) leading ladies. As long as you appreciate awesomeness, this book should find its way to your bookshelf or your hard drive.

Of course, the knitting patterns are technically the main focus of the book. Generally speaking they seem to range from early intermediate to very advanced, although unfortunately there are no difficulty ratings provided. Each pattern includes wonderfully detailed instructions on almost everything: sizing and how to change it, correct yarn substitutions, blocking instructions, how to fix lost stitches in a particular pattern… Admittedly, it can get a bit overwhelming and heavy at times. text, but it’s well worth the amount of black on the page.

The patterns themselves are clever and ingenious, just as the title claims. The adjustments, inventions and lavish clothing seem endless. My brain got excited about everything. “Bloomies!! OMG! Ooh, the rivet buttons for the knitted gaiters! I WANT THIS BED VEST! Such a beautiful vest… what a great technique to start both straps at the same time… This is an AWESOME shaping on This cameo jacket. Oh, it’s actually a do-it-yourself underbust corset, it’s the best. OH LOOK! SCIENTIFIC SCARF! And…yes, they did. They suggested skewers of bamboo to debone a capelet. Shine.” As I finished reading the book, I could feel my stash of yarn buzzing to the beat of the plans I had for her.


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  1. rivet gaiters rivet gaiters
  2. Indulgence bed jacket Indulgence bed jacket
  3. The Null Hypothesis Scarf The Null Hypothesis Scarf
  4. Master’s and Commander’s cap and hood Master's and Commander's cap and hood
  5. The glowing hood The glowing hood

The interwoven story is fun and fits perfectly into the themed pattern categories. The writing will make knitters groan and laugh: slurs like “thrice frogs” and “felted” abound. Overall, though, these ladies are just awesome.

Template tables have clunky fonts, which will detract from the otherwise beautiful book (if not adjusted from the advanced PDFs to the physical book). And yes, some of the instructions can be tricky to follow, so newbie knitters should wait to pick up this book. Otherwise, the patterns and story are so whimsical that they more than make up for the slight flaws. Many garments can be customized for costume pieces, such as armor bracer gaiters, or even serve for everyday use, such as the Master and Commander cap and cowl, or any of the arm warmers and mitts. I myself have already launched for the incandescent bonnet. Geeky knitters, devour your heart. And then go knit everything in this book.

Needles and Artifice is available digitally and in hardcover from Cooperative Press.

When she’s not knitting twisted capes or making TARDIS noises, Allison M. Charette primarily translates literature from French into English. His blog, ostensibly on the latter topic, can be found at sunabroad.wordpress.com.

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About Tracy G. Larimore

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