Needles and Artifice is a joyful romp through steampunk with a group of women who love to invent, adventure, and knit. The story is mixed with knitting patterns. While the story is not the best writing ever, it sure is fun, and the designs are lovely!
The plot concerns the problems of Ana Roisin O’Hare and her true love, Kristoff, who find themselves under attack by Kristoff’s twin brother. Ana calls on all her friends for help. There’s Miss Joanna Obscura, who was terribly injured in a lab accident but makes inventions that help the Ladies communicate long distance. Caldonia is a botanist, Alyssa is a courtesan, Coraline is an airship captain, Mirian is a ranch owner who happens to be raising some surprisingly useful sheep (their wool is perfect for knitting), and Theodosia is an explorer. Together these Ladies do some knitting, drink some tea, and kick lots and lots of ass.
The story has the odd feeling of starting in the middle and ending rather abruptly – possibly because the adventures began and continue on the blog The Ladies of Mischief. This is a story written purely for fun, and it’s indeed a fun romp that had me running to the blog for more. It’s not a very well-developed story, and the characters aren’t well-developed either although they are a kick. If you aren’t into steampunk, it will probably leave you flat – but for me, it was an airy lark.
As far as knitting goes, I had to pull in some expert help because I can’t knit thus the patterns mean nothing to me. What I did appreciate was the abundance of lovely photos. I imagine they are very helpful when trying to make the project, and I just liked looking at them – they are fun designs and helpful to me in trying to think of cosplay ideas.
I consulted with my Mom and her Knitting Group, and they said that the patterns may be too hard for beginning knitters, They liked the fact that the patterns include lots of helpful tips as they go along.
If you are a knitter or into feminist steampunk adventure, you will have a blast with this fun, creative, and beautifully put together book – I love the photos and drawings. As far as knitting goes, the ideas are fun, useful, and involve a great deal of variety, including several things that could be worn day to day as well as more esoteric offerings (I have my eye on the spats). As far as story goes, I recommend this for when you are sick or tired or stressed, and just want something light and adventurous to lift your spirits!