Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Last-Minute Fabric Gifts : A Book Review

When I saw this addition to editor Melanie Falick's growing list of books I was quite excited. 2004's Last-Minute Knitted Gifts by Joelle Hoverson quickly become a staple of the internet knitting world. Her designs are beautiful and combine classic shapes with appropriate and attractive materials. She often exploits her chosen yarn's attributes to create something greater as is the case with the Child's Rainbow Scarf and many other designs. I expected more of the same from Last-Minute Fabric Gifts by Cynthia Treen and was disappointed.

The thirty projects contained within LMFG primarily emphasize clean lines to the point of boredom with occasional messy attempts at shabby chic. (Notable exceptions to this are the two children's toys in the book. They are both stylized but sweet.) Fully one third of the projects are simply rectangles of fabric with minor variations. There is a sarong (rectangle with ribbon ties), a herringbone scarf (rectangle with applied fringe), a herringbone guest towel (rectangle with applied & self-fringe) et cetera. Fabric choices for the projects are for the most part dull (lots of herringbones, tweeds and the like) and sometimes puzzling as is the case for the bed sheet-esque sarong and guest towel that looks like a scarf. Occasionally a project starts with an interesting idea but doesn't take it anywhere. The tie pouch falls into this category. It is a cute idea for recycling out-of-fashion ties that is marred by clumsy finishing.

Quick projects need either beautiful materials or interesting details to transform them into great gifts. LMFG offers neither. The only project that works perfectly as-is to create something greater than the sum of its materials and the amount of effort required are the Felted Rocks. With that exception I don't think there are any items I would make as instructed in this book. It is worth flipping through at your local book store. You might see a project with potential but it will be up to you to transform it into something interesting and gift-worthy.

Instructions for the felted rocks can be found here.

No comments: