From Soaring Airships to Mad Science Labs

Greetings, my colleagues!  As promised, today I am thrilled to bring to you the first detailed pattern reveals from our upcoming publication:

 The Ladies of Mischief Interrupt Their Knitting To Present To You,

Needles and Artifice:
A Refined Adventure Story with Ingenious Knitting Patterns

Coming to you later this summer from Cooperative Press, and all of us here at Mischief Central.  Here’s an in-depth look at two of the patterns, with another two to be revealed next Sunday.  Enjoy!

Airship Captain Coraline Hackworth, always the picture of efficiency and style

Legacy Frock Coat

Designer: Sarra Loew

Yarn: Fidalgo 100% Merino by Woolgatherings

The Legacy Frock Coat was designed out of the most inspiring blend of elements- practicality combined with style. The cozy long sleeves and long tail provide coverage while the open front frames, flatters, and prevents overheating. The tail (which is adjustable to each knitter’s preference) solved a tricky fashion problem for me; I find low-rise pants comfortable to wear, but sitting in them can cause unwanted exposure. The Legacy Frock Coat sweater neatly solves this problem by covering just the back of the hips. The open front of the sweater makes it comfortably wearable in a variety of temperatures.
The style, reminiscent of formal frock coats, lends a classy feel to the coat, making it appropriate as a formal coverup. It’s not fussy at all, and is also easily utilized for day to day wear. It looks smashing in bright saturated colors, and in self-striping yarns. I have multiple versions of this coat and plan to make many more. The pattern is easy to knit and customize to your exact measurements. I hope that many knitters enjoy making and wearing this fine coat!

Miss Hackworth didn’t earn the right to run the family business by being timid

Sleek, poised, and elegant

The Null Hypothesis Scarf

Designer: Katrina Elsaesser

Yarn: Yarn Pirate Superwash BFL

I’ve always loved charted knitting designs; if you were ever a kid who drew on graph paper, or played with making pixelated characters on the computer, I’m sure you can relate. Absolutely anything you can draw out in little rectangles can be turned into a knitted garment, which pleases me to no end. I’ve also always loved the metamorphosing works of M.C. Escher, where one artistic element slowly turns into another, and into another, sometimes even morphing back around to the beginning. One fateful night, when pondering what a mad scientist might knit, those two elements fell serendipitously together and produced this scarf… all six feet of it.
Yet another thing I love is the (in my option) underutilized technique of Double Knitting. With only a few extra tricks – included in the pattern – you can produce a gorgeous, flat, non-rolling, reversible, warm and amazingly smooshy fabric. Absolutely perfect for scarves, and intricate charted patterns – floats are a non-issue!
The pattern journeys through books and beakers, gears and pipes, swirls and filigree. Take one chart element and makes some gloves, or repeat your favorite parts into a scarf design all your own. I hope this pattern takes you to you a place that’s perhaps a little mad, but quite inspired.

Dr. Erma Melanogaster may have a few screws loose, but her style is unquestionable

When creativity and science come together, ingenious things happen

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This Is Your Captain Speaking

A lovely, brisk winter day to you, my dear colleagues!  My goodness, things have been busy at Mischief Headquarters these days.  However, I came across two little artifacts that I knew I must take a moment to share.  Our Ladies have much in common – strength, ingenuity, intelligence – but it would be a mistake indeed to assume that means they’re all alike!  The juxtaposition of these two Pre-Flight Checklists, from our intrepid Airship/Dirigible captains Coraline and Anna, simply had me in stitches.  I hope you enjoy them as well!

Lilith Ascending Pre-Flight Checklist

From the desk of
Coraline Hackworth
President, Hackworth Airships International

1 ) Review crew roster
2 ) Compose pre-flight inspirational speech
3 ) Don flying coat, cowl and hat
4 ) Pick up news reports from the International Affairs division
5 ) Pick up latest maps from the Navigation division
6 ) Verify supply of Darjeeling tea (also honey and cream)
7) Check yarn and needle quantities in Yarn Room
8 ) Review stationery supplies
9 ) Complete walkthrough inspection with First Mate Perkins
10 ) Assemble and address crew

Anna’s Pre-Flight Checklist

Right, it’s time to be off again!

1.  Is there enough sharp cheese and sourdough bread on board?  Must double check quantities.
2.  Check stock of Irish Afternoon Tea.  Important! Ran out last time, had to drink that dratted Darjeeling.
3.  Guns.  Need at least four rifles and twelve pistols, among others.  Don’t forget ammunition this time!  Had to buy all new silverware after Egypt.
4.  Remember to bring ALL the sizes of knitting needles this time.  Whittling them out of kindling is entertaining, but not as entertaining as actually knitting.
       4. a.  Check status of yarn cupboard.
5.  Pack a dressing gown this time!  The pirates probably enjoyed the view last time, but that was a damned breezy battle.  Shouldn’t like to repeat it.
6.  Will three tins of shortbread be enough?
7.  Oh, don’t forget the butter just because of the stock of cheese.  Buttered toast is also nice.
8.  Speaking of, make repairs to the stove.  Using the boiler for cooking might have been exhilarating but probably not recommended.
9.  Clean underpants.  DO NOT FORGET AGAIN.

Meet the Ladies: Coraline Hackworth

Good day my colleagues!  I hope you’re having a lovely one.  I’ll have another multi-part extravaganza for you soon, but for now let’s keep rolling with our Meet the Ladies series…

Coraline Hackworth

Miss Hackworth is the Ladies’ high-flying Queen of the Skies.  Captain of the mighty airship Lilith Ascending, Coraline jet sets around the globe, gathering the latest technology for Hackworth Airships, heading trade negotiations, and enjoying the world’s most lovely cities.  With the help of her trusty and charming mechanic Peter Thistleby, Coraline always keep the Ladies flying in style and comfort, with a cup of the finest tea and plenty of good conversation.

[Archival photos currently being researched]

Modern Marvels, circa 1885

A lovely long weekend to you my colleagues!  As always, I’m quite happily spending mine poring over Ladies of Mischief artifacts for you.  And I have a very exciting update today regarding Miss Coraline Hackworth’s arrival at The Great Exhibition.  As you recall, she traveled all the way from London with a pit-stop in New York for some exploration and tea, followed by the mid-flight discovery of a charming stowaway.  Let’s see what discoveries the Exhibition itself holds….

 

17th of June, 1885

Dearest Ladies of Mischief,

The Great Exhibition is fabulously exhilarating! The building itself is a mechanical marvel; the great hall doors have an astounding clockwork frame that will open the doors at the touch of a button. They seem ridiculously inefficient, but the makers swear that such “automatical doors” will be all the rage in the finer cities of the world. I wonder what impact such a change would have on the door-opening etiquette of the day? Fortunately Mr. Thistleby is possessed of wisdom as well as wit, and he merely bowed and stood aside as I pressed the button. What noise! Steam flew out of whistling tubes while gears clicked and ground together. The massive spectacle ended with the doors sliding sideways in a very unusual fashion. While we passed through the doors, I closely examined the frame, as it had some very interesting construction. I became so engrossed that I didn’t notice as the doors started closing again, and nearly became trapped when they closed on my bustle. A vigorous tug from Mr. Thistleby was required to dislodge me. I’ve always found the bustle to be a rather silly fashion but I have never before been endangered by one. I find myself pondering the practicality of an external, detachable bustle. After all, a Lady of adventure must not be so easily caught!
But enough about Fashion- this exhibition is all about Science! I had thought that the doors made an amazing racket, but the exhibition hall noise was beyond comprehension. It was somewhat like standing in the airship engine while making a steep ascension, with an entire percussive symphony playing their instruments at the same time. Startling and thrilling!
After my experience with the door, I was careful not to get too close to the many exciting inventions on display. The local mining operations must be quite dangerous, as I saw several different mechanical arm replacements. There were some attempts to harness the aetherical energy for communication, but nothing as advanced as we Ladies already enjoy.
There was an entire wing of mechanical beasts, ranging from giant clockwork draft horses to something that resembled a small mechanical badger. The clockwork beasts seemed realistic, in that they were as ill-tempered as live animals, and several of them had managed to break out of their cages. Between the rampaging badgers and the copious amounts of oil on the floor, I deemed that wing too dangerous to visit today. Perhaps tomorrow they will have wound down enough for viewing.
I’ll save the most intriguing area of the exhibition for tomorrow’s letter. I want to spend more time delving deeply before I even begin to describe these inventions.

Sincerely,
Miss Coraline Hackworth

 

Thank goodness Mr. Thistleby was on hand to save Miss Coraline in her fashion emergency, as it were.  Perhaps that’s the reason why bustles and mechanical doors don’t both exist in this day and age – it’s a logistical impossibility!  Ahh, science, fashion and technology.  No wonder she was willing to make such a journey (I certainly would!)  I hope she was able to discuss some of her new Airship technology with the other attendees.  But perhaps that will come in the next letter, if the mechanical badgers allow.  Now that’s a phrase I never though I’d find myself writing!  And on that amusing note, I’ll leave you until next time.  Many exciting collaborations in the works and much to share with you soon!

Popular Mechanics

A delightful morning to you, my colleagues!  Today I have the latest update from Miss Hackworth’s cross-country airship journey.  Having fully restocked and enjoyed some lovely tea in New York, she’s continuing on West, with a few surprises along the way.  Enjoy!

15th of June, 1885
Dearest Ladies of Mischief,
The journey West carries on, over seemingly endless plains. Fortunately the tedium of the landscape below is completely driven out by the excitement on board.
As you well know, I make it a point of pride to know every inch of my airships. Dear Lilith Ascending is especially familiar to me, as I was deeply involved in the entire design and construction process. The location of some of the compartments, and their clever concealments, is a secret kept strictly between me and my head engineer, Mr. Charles Tingley. So imagine my surprise to discover not only that we have a stowaway, but that he had located and occupied one such compartment!
I was inspecting a troublesome valve, when it occurred to me to check the nearby compartment for any signs of a steam leak. I opened the hatch (which in the case of this compartment is about knee height), and found myself looking at a pair of worn but well tended men’s boots. The boots retreated, leaving me pondering my course of action: I could pursue the boots and their occupant, possibly placing my life in danger, or I could call upon my ship’s mate and send him into the compartment to retrieve the stranger. My curiosity was raging at this point, and my desire to keep this compartment a (relative) secret was strong. I decided on pursuit!
However, one does not survive a childhood in the shipyard without learning about the value of protective clothing. The size and angle of the hatch required that I crawl in headfirst. It would be the height of foolishness to present such a tempting target as the back of my head to this unknown character. Fortunately my battle supplies (in case of air pirates) were stored nearby, allowing me to quickly grab my fur-lined brass shako, high-collared brass reinforced capelet, and pair of pistols. Upon donning my battle attire, I was ready to confront the invader.
I crawled into the hatch as quickly as possible and leapt to my feet. I found in front of me a smiling gentleman executing a perfect courtly bow.
I was already in a state of excitement due to the surprise and danger, but I found my pulse quickening further as I looked upon him. He was a handsome gentleman with fine but slightly shabby attire. His shockingly blue eyes smiled at me as he introduced himself as Peter Thistleby, Freelance Mechanist.
As you can imagine, I was in no mood for formal introductions. I informed him that he was trespassing on my ship and in danger of being tossed overboard. He showed his intelligence by complimenting my ship in great detail- enough for me to see that he was indeed a mechanist. I interrogated him further to discover how he had stowed away. Supposedly he was doing some work in the New York airship yard when I arrived, and he heard of our destination and decided to come aboard. As to why he did not simply book passage?  He found it more entertaining to sneak aboard and hide out. The entire time I interrogated him he was every inch the gentleman, and smiling throughout. Every answer to my questions reinforced his proclamation that love of adventure is his driving force. I found it difficult to fault someone whose interest lie so closely aligned to mine. I admit, I also found his clever answers to be amusing, though I did not reveal as much to him. I’ve always had a weakness for clever wordplay, and he seems a master of it. I do not believe him to be a spy, or an assassin, and therefore I will let him remain on the ship. For now he will be confined to a cabin, so that I may interrogate him further at my leisure. I have many questions for this mysterious gentleman, and a strong desire that he continue to answer them so intriguingly!

Sincerely,
Miss Coraline Hackworth

How absolutely delightful!  A charming stowaway, and freelance mechanic to boot.  I sincerely hope further questioning confirmed his good intentions and we get to hear more about him in the future!  Miss Hackworth’s letters seem to be very consistent and in good condition, so chances are we’ll be in luck.  The Ladies were some of the most intelligent, adventurous and intriguing professionals of the time; it doesn’t surprise me at all that they attracted other capable individuals to their service.  That’s certainly where I’d want to be!  Hmm… now which Lady would I most like to adventure with?

Tea Time

A lovely day to you, my colleagues.  Today we have a second letter from Miss Coraline Hackworth, airship adventuress (and originator of the charming scented kerchief).  When last we left her, she had just made it across the Atlantic to resupply in New York.  Let’s see what she finds there…

13th of June, 1885
Dearest Ladies of Mischief,
I write to you now from my hotel room in New York, where I am taking a moment to rest after an afternoon of exploration. I was thrilled to receive your mailing with the latest updates from around the world. The new express mail airship is the fastest one in the fleet! I have yet to open the package but I know the adventures of my dear ladies will keep me thoroughly entertained on the long flight West.
But first, New York! The residents of this crowded city are a fascinating mix of cultures. They are arrestingly forward in their speech, and shockingly unfamiliar with manners, but they have a pleasing openness about them. I find some of their speech puzzling- either no one takes offense at the comments of others, or they are always taking offense in the most jovial way. It makes a stroll around the city both loud and entertaining!
I have even found a hotel with an astoundingly good tea service. It seems that appreciation for a fine cup of tea is not lost in America, as previously thought, but instead maintained by a select few. When I inquired about a pot of my favorite Darjeeling, the manager provided me with the very last of their reserve, while also regaling me with a sorrowful tale of his inability to locate another source for fine Indian tea. I’m sure you ladies understand that I found his tale both moving and very exciting. An entire city deprived of fine tea! And my new cross-Atlantic airship line just starting up! It was serendipitous, to say the least! In no time I had written up a contract to provide the hotel with fine teas and other luxury goods, delivered by my fine airship fleet. It always gives me a thrill of satisfaction to arrange a mutually beneficial business agreement over a pot of fine tea.
I have personally inspected my dear Lilith Ascending, and she is ready to embark. Tomorrow we head West, to meet and discuss current technologies with some of the greatest minds of our time. The very thought is quite exciting! I shall write again when I have arrived, though I know any further letters will probably be delivered by my own hand on my return to London.

Sincerely,
Miss Coraline Hackworth

I love a good pot of tea myself, so it seems I have Miss Hackworth to thank for opening up trade avenues in years past.  I dearly hope to find some documentation on the technology meeting she’s headed to in Seattle.  I believe that will be my quest for the afternoon… once I brew up a fresh pot of Darjeeling, of course.

Aha!

An early success in my daunting quest: I’ve recovered a letter, as transcribed below, addressed to the Ladies of Mischief.  Who or what this group was is yet to be seen.  However, it is clear from the letter that this Miss Hackworth is a shining example of the brilliant and adventurous women of the era.  But I mustn’t go spoiling what you can read for yourself below.  Dear colleagues, enjoy!

9th of June, 1885
Dearest Ladies of Mischief,

I have just arrived in New York, where my dirigible Lilith Ascending has landed to resupply. The journey over the Atlantic was as comfortable and well-planned as I’ve come to expect from my airship engineers. I’m pleased to report they incorporated one of my design suggestions in this, our latest airship: the perfumed Helium. You see, a major difficulty with Helium is that it can leak from the tiniest of openings, and it is colorless and normally odorless. My idea was to place a lace handkerchief, soaked in Ottoman Rose oil, inside the Helium chamber. Now, the airshipman can search for leaks by following their noses! My passage over the Atlantic was greatly enhanced by the sense of traveling through a lush garden, instead of miles above the cold sea. I plan to incorporate this change in all the Hackworth airships upon my return to London.
We will spend a week in New York, picking up new supplies and making some minor repairs. After that time, we will strike out West, to continue traveling until we reach the far coast. We are picking up two passengers on this leg, young men who have been overcome with gold fever and desire to make their fortunes. Our final destination is the frontier town of Seattle, where a gathering of great minds and inventors is scheduled.
After so long aboard the ship I am ready to explore this largest of American cities. I shall send another report before we embark on our journey West.
Sincerely,
Miss Coraline Hackworth

My goodness!  It just stirs the spirit, doesn’t it?  But I must get back to my search – still many more questions to answer.  I’ll update again as soon as I am able.

~The Archivist

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