Tag Archives: light

A Compendium of Steampunk Quotations

I have been frustrated by the lack of steampunk quotes on the Internet. That’s not to say that there aren’t good quotes about steampunk out there, but the fact is, they are scattered willy-nilly on various obscure boards and forums and are hard to find. I’ve been collecting my favorites for a while now and decided it was high time I share them with everyone so others could be spared my pain. I tried to stick with those that directly related in some manner to the higher echelons of steampunk mentality, through either referencing the humanity in technology and culture or the basics of steam and machines. Some are amusing, some are serious, and some are about the rise of steampunk in and of itself. I’ve even included those that reference steampunk genre writings and film. If you’d like to add to my collection, shoot me a message through WordPress and if I like it I’ll add it!
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“The game is afoot.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, Sherlock Holmes

“I just think we’re living in a time of massive, amazing change, like the Industrial Revolution on acid.” – Kelly Lynch

“She has halls and she has castles, and the resonant Steam-Eagles, Follow far on the directing of her floating dove-like hand, With a thunderous vapour trailing, underneath the starry vigils, So to mark upon the blasted heaven, the measure of her land.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“Lulled in the countless chambers of the brain, our thoughts are linked by many a hidden chain; awake but one, and in, what myriads rise!” – Alexander Pope

“…for no man lives in the external truth among salts and acids, but in the warm, phantasmagoric chamber of his brain, with the painted windows and the storied wall.” – Robert Louis Stevenson

“In a properly automated and educated world, then, machines may prove to be the true humanizing influence. It may be that machines will do the work that makes life possible and that human beings will do all the other things that make life pleasant and worthwhile ” – Isaac Asimov, Robot Visions

“By the late twentieth century, our time, a mythic time, we are all chimeras, theorized and fabricated hybrids of machine and organism; in short, we are cyborgs.” – Donna J. Haraway

“Historical fact: people stopped being human in 1913. That was the year Henry Ford put his cars on rollers and made his workers adopt the speed of the assembly line. At first, workers rebelled. They quit in droves, unable to accustom their bodies to the new pace of the age. Since then, however, the adaptation has been passed down: we’ve all inherited it to some degree, so that we plug right into joysticks and remotes, to repetitive motions of a hundred kinds. But in 1922 it was still a new thing to be a machine.” – Jeffrey Eugenides, Middlesex

“Without self knowledge, without understanding the working and functions of his machine, man cannot be free, he cannot govern himself and he will always remain a slave.” – G.I. Gurdjieff

“People don’t like to be meddled with. We tell them what to do, what to think, don’t run, don’t walk. We’re in their homes and in their heads and we haven’t the right. We’re meddlesome.” – River Tam, Serenity

“It is a law of nature we overlook, that intellectual versatility is the compensation for change, danger, and trouble. An animal perfectly in harmony with its environment is a perfect mechanism. Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change. Only those animals partake of intelligence that have a huge variety of needs and dangers.” – H.G. Wells, The Time Machine

“There is an electric fire in human nature tending to purify – so that among these human creatures there is continually some birth of new heroism. The pity is that we must wonder at it, as we should at finding a pearl in rubbish.” – John Keats

“In this world, which is so plainly the antechamber of another, there are no happy men. The true division of humanity is between those who live in light and those who live in darkness. Our aim must be to diminish the number of the latter and increase the number of the former. That is why we demand education and knowledge.” – Victor Hugo

“To some, ‘steampunk’ is a catchall term, a concept in search of a visual identity. To me, it’s essentially the intersection of technology and romance. – Jake von Slatt

“There are now no more horizons. And with the dissolution of horizons we have experienced and are experiencing collisions, terrific collisions, not only of peoples but also of their mythologies. It is as when dividing panels are withdrawn from between chambers of very hot and very cold airs: there is a rush of these forces together. ” – Joseph Campbell

“Here we are, trapped in the amber of the moment. There is no why.” – Kurt Vonnegut

“Although he was considered insane by his peers, Bernoulli’s theory states that the air flowing over a bird’s wing is at a lower pressure than the air flowing under the wing. That’s called “lift,” and that is what we’re now going to… attempt. Of course, it’s only a theory, it’s never been tested…” – Artemus Gordon, Wild, Wild West

“The machine does not isolate man from the great problems of nature but plunges him more deeply into them.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery

“It lay heavily in her hands, the crystal face gleaming, the golden body exquisitely machined. It was very like a clock, or a compass, for there were hands pointing to places around the dial, but instead of the hours or the points of the compass there were several little pictures, each of them painted with extraordinary precision, as if on ivory with the finest and slenderest sable brush.” – Phillip Pullman, The Golden Compass

“As machines become more and more efficient and perfect, so it will become clear that imperfection is the greatness of man.” – Ernst Fischer

“If I could create an ideal world, it would be an England with the fire of the Elizabethans, the correct taste of the Georgians, and the refinement and pure ideals of the Victorians.” – H. P. Lovecraft

“It was a sombre snowy afternoon, and the gas-lamps were lit in the big reverberating station. As he paced the platform, waiting for the Washington express, he remembered that there were people who thought there would one day be a tunnel under the Hudson through which the trains of the Pennsylvania railway would run straight into New York. They were of the brotherhood of visionaries who likewise predicted the building of ships that would cross the Atlantic in five days, the invention of a flying machine, lighting by electricity, telephonic communication without wires, and other Arabian Nights marvels.” – Edith Wharton, The Age of Innocence

“Filled with dreams I begin to wander/through this maze of alien wonders/Into glades with ponds of starlight/ethereal beauty beyond human might.” – Crystal Eyes, World of Black and Silver

“Today satellite photos make the planet seem so small. Where is the adventure it that? [Steampunk is] sort of a dream, the way we used to daydream. It’s like part of your childhood’s just bursting forward again.” – Robert Brown, Abney Park

“Come a day there won’t be room for naughty men like us to slip about at all. This job goes south, there well may not be another. So here is us, on the raggedy edge. Don’t push me, and I won’t push you. Dong le ma?” – Capt. Malcolm Reynolds, Serenity

“Never seem wiser, nor more learned, than the people you are with. Wear your learning, like your watch, in a private pocket; and do not pull it out and strike it; merely to show that you have one.” – Lord Philip Dormer Stanhope, Earl of Chesterfield

“Sweet dreams and flying machines in pieces on the ground.” – James Taylor

“Science is a match that man has just got alight. He thought he was in a room – in moments of devotion, a temple – and that his light would be reflected from and display walls inscribed with wonderful secrets and pillars carved with philosophical systems wrought into harmony. It is a curious sensation, now that the preliminary splutter is over and the flame burns up clear, to see his hands lit and just a glimpse of himself and the patch he stands on visible, and around him, in place of all that human comfort and beauty he anticipated – darkness still. – H.G. Wells, ‘The Rediscovery of the Unique’ Fortnightly Review, 1891

“I cannot imagine how the clockwork of the universe can exist without a clockmaker.” – Voltaire

“We may have lost the war, but we haven’t lost our sense of humor. Even when we lose a lung, a spleen, a bladder, thirty-five feet of small intestine, two legs, and our ability to reproduce all in the name of the south, do we EVER LOSE OUR SENSE OF HUMOR?” – Dr. Arliss Loveless, Wild, Wild West

“There be those who say that things and places have souls, and there be those who say they have not; I dare not say, myself, but I will tell of The Street.” – H. P. Lovecraft

“If you want something you can have it, but only if you want everything that goes with it, including all the hard work and the despair, and only if you’re willing to risk failure.” – Philip Pullman, Clockwork

“Ships and sails proper for the heavenly air should be fashioned. Then there will also be people, who do not shrink from the vastness of space. ” – Johannes Kepler, letter to Galileo Galilei, 1609

“But it ain’t all buttons and charts, little albatross. You know what the first rule of flyin’ is? Well I suppose you do, since you already know what I’m about to say. Love. You can know all the math in the ‘Verse, but you take a boat in the air that you don’t love, she’ll shake you off just as sure as a turn in the worlds. Love keeps her in the air when she oughta fall down, tells ya she’s hurtin’ ‘fore she keens. Makes her a home.” – Capt. Malcolm Reynolds

“The mind has an amazing ability to continue worrying away at a problem all on its own, so that when the “Eureka!” comes it is as mysterious as if it were God speaking. The words given voice inside the mind are not always clear, however; they can be gentle and elliptical, what the prophets called the bat qol, the daughter of the voice of God, she who speaks in whispers and half-seen images. Holmes had cultivated the ability to still the noise of the mind, by smoking his pipe or playing nontunes on the violin. He once compared this mental state with the sort of passive seeing that enables the eye, in a dim light or at a great distance, to grasp details with greater clarity by focusing slightly to one side of the object of interest. When active, strained vision only obscures and frustrates, looking away often permits the eyes to see and interpret the shapes of what it sees. Thus does inattention allow the mind to register the still, small whisper of the daughter of the voice.” – Laurie R. King, The Beekeeper’s Apprentice

“Isolate her, and however abundant the food or favourable the temperature, she will expire in a few days not of hunger or cold, but of loneliness.” – Maurice Maeterlinck, The Life of the Bee, On the Segregation of the Queen

“The unreal is more powerful than the real. Because nothing is as perfect as you can imagine it. Because it’s only intangibles, ideas, concepts, beliefs, fantasies that last. Stone crumbles. Wood rots. People, well, they die. But things as fragile as a thought, a dream, a legend, they can go on and on.” – Chuck Palahniuk

“To the scientist there is the joy in pursuing truth which nearly counteracts the depressing revelations of truth.” – H. P. Lovecraft

“That’s the duty of the old,’ said the Librarian, ‘to be anxious on the behalf of the young. And the duty of the young is to scorn the anxiety of the old.’ They sat for a while longer, and then parted, for it was late, and they were old and anxious.” – Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

“Arithmatic, arithmatock/turn the hands back on the clock/How does the ocean rock the boat/how did the razor find my throat….?” – Tom Waits, Alice

“All that we see or seem is but a dream within a dream.” – Edgar Allan Poe

“We are all subject to the fates. But we must all act as if we are not, or die of despair…death will sweep through all the worlds; it will be the triumph of despair, forever. The universes will all become nothing more than interlocking machines, blind and empty of thought, feeling, life…” — Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

“Sometimes glass glitters more than diamonds, because it has more to prove.” – Terry Pratchett

“We often mingle with the world, but our discovery is hidden away, as it can be in a small compass, and no one suspects who or what we are. We pass as tourists among our fellow-men.” – Mystery Airship Pilot 1858-1898

“Language is the amber in which a thousand precious and subtle thoughts have been safely embedded and preserved. It has arrested ten thousand lightning flashes of genius, which, unless thus fixed and arrested, might have been as bright, but would have also been as quickly passing and perishing, as the lightning.” – Richard Chevenix Trench

“All the history of human life has been a struggle between wisdom and stupidity.” – Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass

“A clockwork heart can’t replace the real thing.” – Dru Pagliassotti, Clockwork Heart

“How ghastly for her, people actually thinking, with their brains, and right next door. Oh, the travesty of it all.” – Gail Carriger, Soulless: The Parasol Protectorate, #1

“Those who are willing to be vulnerable move among mysteries.” – Theodore Roethke

“The Internet is global and seemingly omniscient, while iPods and phones are all microscopic workings encased in plastic blobjects. Compare that to a steam engine, where you can watch the pistons move and feel the heat of its boilers. I think we miss that visceral appeal of the machine.” – Scott Westerfeld

“You speak of destiny as if it was fixed.” – Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

“A civilized society is one which tolerates eccentricity to the point of doubtful sanity.” – Robert Frost

“Invention, my dear friends, is 93 percent perspiration, 6 percent electricity, 4 percent evaporation, and 2 percent butterscotch ripple.” – Willy Wonka, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

“Everything possible to be believed is an image of truth.” – William Blake

“Life is infinitely stranger than anything which the mind of man could invent. We would not dare to conceive the things which are really mere commonplaces of existence. If we could fly out of that window hand in hand, hover over this great city, gently remove the roofs, and and peep in at the queer things which are going on, the strange coincidences, the plannings, the cross-purposes, the wonderful chains of events, working through generations, and leading to the most outre results, it would make all fiction with its conventionalities and foreseen conclusions most stale and unprofitable.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

“I’ll be looking for you, Will, every moment, every single moment. And when we do find each other again, we’ll cling together so tight that nothing and no one’ll ever tear us apart. Every atom of me and every atom of you… We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams… And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they wont’ just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight…” – Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass

“The oxygen and hydrogen will now have the honor of combining before Your Majesty.” – Professor John Henry Pepper

“But I was sure of something, too: it’s a lot easier to be lost than found. It’s the reason we’re always searching, and rarely discovered — so many locks, not enough keys.” – Sarah Dessen, Lock and Key

“He was so very large and so very gruff that he rather terrified her, but he always behaved correctly in public, and there was a lot to be said for a man who sported such well-tailored jackets—even if he did change into a ferocious beast once a month.” – Gail Carriger: Soulless, The Parasol Protectorate, #1

“Heart of steel with a central nervous system. Oh, but look! The emotional inhibitor. Stops them feeling anything. It still has a human brain. Imagine its reaction if it could see itself, realize itself, inside this thing. It would go insane.” – The Doctor in Doctor Who, The Age of Steel

“Do you think I am an automaton? – a machine without feelings? and can bear to have my morsel of bread snatched from my lips, and my drop of living water dashed from my cup? Do you think, because I am poor, obscure, plain, and little, I am soulless and heartless? You think wrong! — I have as much soul as you – and full as much heart! And if God had gifted me with some beauty and much wealth, I should have made it as hard for you to leave me, as it is now for me to leave you. I am not talking to you now through the medium of custom, conventionalities, nor even of mortal flesh: it is my spirit that addresses your spirit; just as if both had passed through the grave, and we stood at God’s feet, equal – as we are!” – Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

“There is a toxin, refined from the nectar of the rhododendron ponticus, infamous in the region of Turkey bordering the Black Sea for its ability to induce an apparently mortal paralysis. Enough to deceive even a medical mind as tenacious and well-trained as yours. It’s known locally as…mad honey disease. What’s wrong with Gladstone? Oh, he’s just demonstrating the very effect I just described. He doesn’t mind.” – Holmes in Sherlock Holmes, the movie

“The real end of the world is the destruction of the human spirit; the other kind depends on the insignificant attempt to see whether after such a destruction the world can go on.” – Karl Kraus

“Excuse me, I have to recharge my flamethrower.” – Spaceballs

“When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, The Complete Sherlock Holmes

“The difference between stupid and intelligent people – and this is true whether or not they are well-educated — is that intelligent people can handle subtlety. They are not baffled by ambigous or even contradictory situations – in fact, they expect them and are apt to become suspicious when things seem overly straightforward.” – Neal Stephenson

“A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.” – Marcus Garvey

“Victor Vigny: It is like the old fairy tale. The boy saves the princess; they fall in love. He invents a flying machine – along with his dashing teacher, of course. They get married and name their firstborn after the aforementioned dashing teacher.
Conor: I don’t recall that fairy tale from the nursery.
Victor Vigny: Trust me, It’s a classic.”
– Eoin Colfer, Airman

“Anyone who knew Violet well could tell she was thinking hard, because her long hair was tied up in a ribbon to keep it out of her eyes. Violet had a real knack for inventing and building strange devices, so her brain was often filled with images of pulleys, levers, and gears, and she never wanted to be distracted by something as trivial as her hair.” – Lemony Snicket, The Bad Beginning

“More varied than any landscape was the landscape in the sky, with islands of gold and silver, peninsulas of apricot and rose against a background of many shades of turquoise and azure.” – Cecil Beaton

“Progress has not followed a straight ascending line, but a spiral with rhythms of progress and retrogression, of evolution and dissolution.” – Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

“The clock indicates the moment-but what does eternity indicate?” – Paul Di Filippo, The Steampunk Trilogy

“I figured “free will” meant chemicals in your brain telling you what to do, the molecules bouncing around in a way that felt like choosing but was actually the dance of little gears – neurons and hormones bubbling up into decisions like clockwork. You don’t use your body; it uses you.” – Scott Westerfeld, Peeps

“I am the twentieth century. I am the ragtime and the tango; sans-serif, clean geometry. I am the virgin’s-hair whip and the cunningly detailed shackles of decadent passion. I am every lonely railway station in every capital of Europe. I am the Street, the fanciless buildings of government. the cafe-dansant, the clockwork figure, the jazz saxophone, the tourist-lady’s hairpiece, the fairy’s rubber breasts, the travelling clock which always tells the wrong time and chimes in different keys. I am the dead palm tree, the Negro’s dancing pumps, the dried fountain after tourist season. I am all the appurtenances of night.” – Thomas Pynchon, V

“You are so young, Lyra, too young to understand this, but I shall tell you anyway and you’ll understand it later: men pass in front of our eyes like butterflies, creatures of a brief season. We love them; they are brave, proud, beautiful, clever; and they die almost at once.” – Philip Pullman, The Golden Compass

“As the clockwork of the millennia moved a notch in front of their eyes, it had taken their thoughts from small things and reminded them of how vulnerable they were to time.” – Mark Helprin, Winter’s Tale

“We can control the future, my boy, just as we wind up the mechanism in a clock. Say to yourself: I will win that race–I will come first–and you wind up the future like clockwork. The world has no choice but to obey! Can the hands of that old clock in the corner decide to stop? Can the spring in your watch decide to wind itself up and run backward? No! They have no choice. And nor has the future, once you have wound it up.” – Philip Pullman, Clockwork

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” – Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

“When I grow up I want to be an inventor. First I will invent a time machine. Then I’ll come back to yesterday and take myself to tomorrow and skip this dumb assignment.” – Calvin in Calvin & Hobbes, Bill Watterson

“The book itself is a curious artifact, not showy in its technology but complex and extremely efficient: a really neat little device, compact, often very pleasant to look at and handle, that can last decades, even centuries. It doesn’t have to be plugged in, activated, or performed by a machine; all it needs is light, a human eye, and a human mind. It is not one of a kind, and it is not ephemeral. It lasts. It is reliable. If a book told you something when you were fifteen, it will tell it to you again when you’re fifty, though you may understand it so differently that it seems you’re reading a whole new book.” – Ursula K. Le Guin

“One machine can do the work of fifty ordinary men. No machine can do the work of one extraordinary man.” – Elbert Hubbard

“Panic bells, it’s red alert/There’s something here/From somewhere else/The war machine springs to life/Opens up one eager eye/Focusing it on the sky/Where 99 red balloons go by.” – Nena, 99 Red Balloons

“1941. Right now, not very far from here, the German war machine is rolling up the map of Europe. Country after country, falling like dominoes. Nothing can stop it, nothing. Until one tiny, damp little island says, ‘No. No, not here.’ A mouse in front of a lion. You’re amazing, the lot of you. I don’t know what you do to Hitler, but you frighten the hell out of me.” – The Doctor in Doctor Who, The Empty Child

“My mind, I know, I can prove, hovers on hummingbird wings. It hovers and it churns. And when it’s operating at full thrust, the churning does not stop. The machines do not rest, the systems rarely cool. And while I can forget anything of any importance–this is why people tell me secrets–my mind has an uncanny knack for organization when it comes to pain. Nothing tormenting is ever lost, never even diminished in color or intensity or quality of sound.” – Dave Eggers, You Shall Know Our Velocity!

“[What art] seeks to disturb is monotony of type, slavery of custom, tyranny of habit, and the reduction of man to the level of a machine.” – Oscar Wilde

“Not thou alone, but all humanity doth in its progress fable emulate. Whence came thy rocket-ships and submarine if not from Nautilus, from Cavorite? Your trustiest companions since the cave, we apparitions guided mankind’s tread, our planet, unseen counterpart to thine, as permanent, as ven’rable, as true. On dream’s foundation matter’s mudyards rest. Two sketching hands, each one the other draws: the fantasies thou’ve fashioned fashion thee.” – Alan Moore, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: The Black Dossier

“All morning, Spence has been a well-oiled machine of activity. Everyone doing her bit, quietly and efficiently. It’s strange how deliberate people are after a death. All the indecision suddenly vanishes into clear, defined moments–changing the linens, choosing a dress or a hymn, the washing up, the muttering of prayers. All the small, simple, conscious acts of living a sudden defense against the dying we do every day.” – Libba Bray, A Great and Terrible Beauty

“Answer me, you who believe that animals are only machines. Has nature arranged for this animal to have all the machinery of feelings only in order for it not to have any at all?” – Voltaire

“With an anxiety that almost amounted to agony, I collected the instruments of life around me, that I might infuse a spark of being into the lifeless thing that lay at my feet. It was already one in the morning; the rain pattered dismally against the panes, and my candle was nearly out, when, by the glimmer of the half-extinguished light, I saw the dull yellow eye of the creature open; it breathed hard, and a convulsive motion agitated its limbs.” – Mary Shelley, Frankenstein

“I am a believer in free will. If my dog chooses to hate the whole human race except myself, it must be free to do so.”
– Diana Wynne Jones, Castle in the Air

“I am unarmed. But Butler here, my…ah…butler, has a Sig Saucer in his shoulder holster, two shrike-throwing knives in his boots, a derringer two-shot up his sleeve, garrote wire in his watch, and three stun grenades concealed in various pockets. “Butler could kill you a hundred different ways without the use of his weapons. Though I’m sure one would be quite sufficient.” – Eoin Colfer, Artemis Fowl

“Jem seemed to look through her then, as if he were seeing something beyond her, beyond the corridor, beyond the Institute itself. ‘Whatever you are physically,’ he said, ‘male or female, strong or weak, ill or healthy – all those things matter less than what your heart contains. If you have the soul of a warrior, you are a warrior. All those other things, they are the glass that contains the lamp, but you are the light inside.'” – Cassandra Clare, Clockwork Angel: The Infernal Devices, #1

“I dwell in Possibility
A fairer House than Prose
More numerous of Windows
Superior–for Doors
Of Chambers as the Cedars
Impregnable of Eye
And for an Everlasting Roof
The Gambrels of the Sky
Of Visitors–the fairest
For Occupation–This
The spreading wide my narrow Hands
To gather Paradise”
– Emily Dickinson

“All the towering materialism which dominates the modern mind rests ultimately upon one assumption; a false assumption. It is supposed that if a thing goes on repeating itself it is probably dead; a piece of clockwork. People feel that if the universe was personal it would vary; if the sun were alive it would dance. This is a fallacy even in relation to known fact. For the variation in human affairs is generally brought into them, not by life, but by death; by the dying down or breaking off of their strength or desire. A man varies his movements because of some slight element of failure or fatigue. He gets into an omnibus because he is tired of walking; or he walks because he is tired of sitting still. But if his life and joy were so gigantic that he never tired of going to Islington, he might go to Islington as regularly as the Thames goes to Sheerness. The very speed and ecstacy of his life would have the stillness of death. The sun rises every morning. I do not rise every morning; but the variation is due not to my activity, but to my inaction. Now, to put the matter in a popular phrase, it might be true that the sun rises regularly because he never gets tired of rising. His routine might be due, not to a lifelessness, but to a rush of life. The thing I mean can be seen, for instance, in children, when they find some game or joke that they specially enjoy. A child kicks his legs rhythmically through excess, not absence, of life. Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we. The repetition in Nature may not be a mere recurrence; it may be a theatrical ENCORE. Heaven may ENCORE the bird who laid an egg. If the human being conceives and brings forth a human child instead of bringing forth a fish, or a bat, or a griffin, the reason may not be that we are fixed in an animal fate without life or purpose. It may be that our little tragedy has touched the gods, that they admire it from their starry galleries, and that at the end of every human drama man is called again and again before the curtain. Repetition may go on for millions of years, by mere choice, and at any instant it may stop. Man may stand on the earth generation after generation, and yet each birth be his positively last appearance.” – G.K. Chesterton

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To Defend Your Knit

So this weekend my church had a rummage sale, and I scored two fabulous WWII-era knitting booklets. While I don’t have much interest in most of the patterns inside of them, I do love anything to do with every day historical pieces such as this, so I read these front to back anyways. And I found some gems! I’ve decided to share a couple of the patterns with everyone.

The first book I came upon was called “Knit for Defense,” a title that makes me want to salute and say “aten-shun!” It’s a Coats and Clark book from 1941 that features Chadwick’s Red Heart Knitting Worsted yarn, which is, shockingly, a wool fiber (Yes, Red Heart did once upon a time sell wool, and only wool). There are a variety of ridiculous patterns and images in it, such as knit helmets and chest protectors and male models looking noble while they hold cigarettes and pipes, but towards the back I found two great sock patterns that got me slightly excited. They are very nice, very basic, and I actually want to knit one of them up as soon as I find some appropriate yarn for them. I’ve put a few notes in brackets to help modern day users make them more easily, though I tried to preserve the look of the original, which is why you’ll see some amusing abbreviations. I hope you enjoy them!

Plain Sock No. S-112
“Men never have enough socks. These comfortable and warm socks are absolutely tops for correctness in the Service.”

Materials:
Chadwick’s Red Heart Knitting Worsted, [or any dk to light worsted weight wool yarn that gives you gauge]. 3 skeins (2 oz. skeins) for each size).
4 double-pointed bone knitting needles No. 5, (4 mm.) size [size 6 US].
Gauge: 5 and 1/2 sts makes 1 inch, 7 rnds make 1 inch [22 stitches and 28 rows over 4 inches].
Sizes: Small (Medium, Large)

Cast on 50 sts loosely. Divide sts on 3 needles and join, being careful not to twist. Work around tightly in ribbing of k 1, p 1 for 4 inches, decreasing on last rnd of ribbing to 44 sts (46 sts, 48 sts).
Work around in stockinette stitch (k each rnd) for 2 1/2″ (3″, 3″).
Next rnd: *K 1, k 2 tog., k around to within last 3 sts of rnd. Then sl 1, k 1, p.s.s.o., k 1. Work 1 inches straight. Repeat from * once more. There are now on needles 40 sts (42 sts, 44 sts).
Work straight until piece measures, in all, 10 1/2″ (11″, 11 1/2″.)
With spare needle, knit from first needle 9 sts (10 sts, 11 sts).
Slip from 3rd needles onto other end of spare needle (for heel) 9 sts (10 sts, 11 sts).
Divide between 2nd and 3rd needles (for instep) the remaining 22 sts. Turn and work over the heel sts only, as follows: 1st row: * Sl 1, p 1. Repeat from * across. 2nd row: Sl 1, k to end. Repeat these 2 rows alternately for 20 rows (22 rows, 24 rows).
Next row: Right side facing, sl 1 st, knit 9 sts (10 sts, 11 sts).
K 2 tog., k 1, turn. Sl 1, p 3, p 2 tog., p 1, turn. Sl 1, k 4, k 2 tog., k 1, turn. Sl 1, p 5, p 2 tog., p 1, turn. Continue in this manner, always working 1 st more on each row before deceasing, until there remain 10 sts (12 sts, 12 sts).
K 1 row. Slip all instep sts onto 1 needle. With free needle, pick up along left side of heel 11 sts (12 sts, 13 sts).
With 2nd needle, k across the instep sts. With 3rd needle, pick up along other side of heel 11 sts (12 sts, 13 sts).
With same needle, k across half of the heel sts. Slip the remaining heel sts onto the first needle. There are now on each heel needle 16 sts (18 sts, 19 sts).
Dec. for instep as follows: 1st rnd: Knit around. 2nd rnd: On first needle k to 3 sts from end, then k 2 tog., k 1. 2nd needle: K across. On 3rd needle, k 1, sl 1, k 1, p.s.s.o., k to end of rnd. Repeat these 2 rnds alternately, until there remain 40 sts (42 sts, 44 sts).
Work straight, until piece measures (from back to heel) 8 1/2″ (9 1/2″, 10 1/2″). Or two inches less than desired length, when completed.
To shape toe: 1st rnd: K to within last 3 sts on 1st needle, k 2 tog., k 1. On 2nd needle, k 1, sl 1, k 1, p.s.s.o., k across to last 3 sts from end of needle, k 2 tog., k 1. On 3rd needle, k 1, sl 1, k 1, p.s.s.o., k to end of needle. 2nd rnd: K around. Repeat these 2 rnds alternately, until there remain 12 sts (14 sts, 16 sts). Weave these sts together; or bind off, fold and sew.
Press through damp cloth with hot iron.

Spiral Sock No. S-111
“These spirals are easy and so much fun to make. Besides, the absence of a definite heel makes them wear like iron.”

Materials:
Chadwick’s Red Heart Knitting Worsted, [or any dk to light worsted weight wool yarn that gives you gauge]. 3 skeins (2 oz. skeins) for each size).
4 double-pointed bone knitting needles No. 5, (4 mm.) size [size 6 US].
Gauge: 8 rnds make 1 inch [32 rows over 4 inches].
Sizes: Small (Medium, Large)

Cast on 48 sts loosely. Divide sts on 3 needles, join, being careful not to twist and work around in ribbing of k 2, p 2 for 3 inches. Work in patterns as follows: 1st to 4th rnds incl: * K 4, p 4. Repeat from * around. 5th to 8th rnds incl: K 3, * p 4, k 4. Repeat from * around, ending with k 1. 9th to 12th rnds incl: K 2, * p 4, k 4. Repeart from * around, ending with k 2. 13th to 16th rnds incl: K 1, * p 4, k 4. Repeat from * around, ending with k 3. 17th to 20th rnds incl: * P 4, k 4. Repeat from * around. 21th to 24th rnds incl: P 3, * k 4, p 4. Repeat from * around, ending with p 1. 25th to 28th rnds incl: P 2, * k 4, p 4. Repeat from * around, ending with p 2. 29th to 32th rnds incl: P 1, * k 4, p 4. Repeat from * around, this moving 1 st every 4th rnd to work Spiral Pattern. Work in pattern until piece measures, in all, 19 inches for small size, 20 inches for medium size, or 21 inches for large size. Work 1/2 inch straight in stockinette stitch (k each rnd).
To Shape Toe: 1st rnd: * K 6, k 2 tog. Repeat from * around. Work 2 rnds straight. 4th rnd: * K 5, k 2 tog. Repeat from * around. Work 2 rnds straight. Continue thus, knitting 2 rnds straight between each dec. rnd 3 more times. Work 1 rnd straight on remaining 18 sts. Weave sts together; or bind off, fold and sew.

How to take a good fibery photograph

I think I take pretty good photos on Ravelry and Etsy, and all I use is a simple point and shoot camera – a little Samsung digital camera purchased at Sam’s Club. This is my model:

I did take a couple B&W photography classes growing up (one in middle school, one in high school), and I’ve always loved taking photos, but it really just comes down to a few simple rules. I’m so low-tech it’s funny.

1.) Indoors during the day: I fine a flat, plain white space like my desk to pose my yarn on. I open the sheers and wrap them around the desk, which creates a light box effect. Make sure that the sun is not shining directly on the yarn. The key here is a nice bright day with indirect light (and yes, cloudy days that are nice work too).

2.) Indoors at night: Use bright lights. I take two plain white/off-white pillow cases and cover my armchair with them. I turn on all the lights in the room and place them as close to the chair as possible. Make sure your background is plain. Busy backgrounds like carpets and prints detract from the item you are photographing.

3.) I turn off the flash first. I do not use the camera zoom. I use my macro setting, which is the tiny flower button on your camera:

4.) I get up close and personal (like within 6-12 inches) and hold the camera VERY STEADY in my hands. Sometimes I have to take several photographs because one or two might be blurry and shaky. I push down on the button HALF-WAY and allow the image to focus on something. When I can see that the part of the yarn or object I want to photograph is crisp, I take the picture.

5.) I pop the card into my computer, use a photo program like Microsoft’s built-in fix it tool (it’s part of Windows Photo Gallery) to auto adjust the image brightness and contrast, and my image is ready for Etsy or Ravelry.

And here’s a great “before” and “after” example of what these simple rules can do for you.

Before:

After:

And here are some examples of how different lighting situations can produce different results:

Ravelry Stash Photo – natural lighting, indoors during daytime on bedsheets

Ravelry Stash Photo – artificial lighting, indoors at night on sheet-covered chair

Ravelry Stash Photo – natural lighting, indoors during daytime, use of macro tool for extreme close-up

I know it sounds crazy, but its really that simple. I know that it’s not just me thinking that its easy either, because I was at a friend’s house this weekend playing with her stash and I showed her how to take photos like I do. Now she knows how to as well. Here’s her latest photo:

Ravelry Stash Photo – natural lighting, indoors during daytime on white windowsill

Good luck!