I have been obsessing lately about the style known as “Steampunk”. And you know what? Today (June 14th) is International Steampunk Day!
Imagine an alternate history of the world where clockwork and steam remained central to technological innovation instead of moving on to more electrical and electronic technologies. That’s where the idea of steampunk jumps off from, and from there various authors, costumers and enthusiasts have explored a myriad of speculative “what if” ideas. Sometimes it leads to fantasy worlds where quasi-magical inventions are created on the spur of the moment by gifted inventors (such as in the webcomic Girl Genius). Sometimes the inventions are more believable like the Nautilus in Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea.
Often in steampunk, there is a utopian angle, such as the idea that women were given more rights in the victorian era and could participate in technical jobs as being mechanics or inventors. Often the spirit of adventure and inventiveness is emphasized. Often this alternative victorian era is depicted as a less colonial, more enlightened place politically. Sometimes steampunk is fastforwarded to a sci-fi theme where everything we can do now could be done with steam and clockwork instead. Or the question becomes one of “what if WWI never happened?” Or perhaps there is a dash of magic instead of microchips.
In art and costumes, this vision of the world lends itself to browns, brasses, bronzes and copper colors. The clothing styles are often reminiscent of victorian, but with anachronistic touches. Perhaps everyone wears safety goggles on their heads in case they will be called upon in a moment to do some delicate tinkering with an invention, or to go fly an airship to safety. Sometimes the costumes are much more elaborate, like having an entirely clockwork arm.
I have also seen where people have created tea-brewing backpacks, mechanical wings, and brass/bronze jetpacks for their costumes. If weaponry is your fancy, there are innumerable steampunk “ray guys” and “blasters” that clever prop-makers have created from brass doorknobs and candlesticks.
But you might be saying “thanks for the lesson in costume trends, but where’s the knitting angle?” I’m getting there.
Not only is this a costume trend, this is a fashion trend too. Akin to goth styles, neo-victorian, arm and legwarmers, mixed metal motifs, corsets, and victorian-style boots have all shown up in recent runway fashions. And some of these accessories are knitable.
Right now, I’m gearing up for a gaming convention in which I will be sporting a steampunk look, but I’m very excited that most of the accessories are ones that I can also wear for weekday work as well (just probably not all at once).
One knitting project that I’ve just finished for the look is the Ruffled Wristwarmers by Kerin Dimeler-Laurence. Pics coming soon. I’ve also just started a knitted obi, which is a corset-like garment worn around the waist, this one is styled in a way to make it look a little more corset-like which will complement my steampunk look without giving me a backache .
Until next time, keep those needles clicking, and your time-machines at the ready…