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Book Review: Alterknits Felt by Leigh Radford

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Alterknits Felt by Leigh Radford is a collection of beautiful and unique patterns to knit and then felt. I have never been a fan of felting. If I just spent weeks and weeks knitting an item with care, why would I want to essentially erase all those neat little stitches? Especially if I could just buy some felt and sew something together. But these patterns are so imaginative I think I have changed my stance.

The Oversized Carry-All features a chic striped pattern, bold colors, and is damn near big enough to fit an adult into. The Pleated Cloche is a great hat with a unique shape that is molded when wet to preserve the shape. The three-dimensional Ottoman Upholstery is a unique modern take on DIY, but be warned – it is a hefty project with a complex pattern. The Circle & Stripe Bag is a mod DJ bag which is a good beginning project for intarsia work. The Simple Zipper Bag is a modern, versatile shape and size

There are many great gift patterns, such as a selection of knit, felt, and embellished bracelets and rings – buttons, decorative balls, pincushions, and Christmas tree ornaments in a variety of colors and shapes. All can be made in under an hour with leftover yarn you have at the bottom of your knitting basket. Less impressive pieces include the simply titled Necklace, a small rectangle of felted wool, embellished with beads and hung from a leather strand; and the Wool Nesting Boxes look like an elementary school art project.

However, not all the patterns require “destroying” a hard-earned knit piece. One of my favorite pieces, the Reverse Appliqué Rug, utilizes two thrift store blankets, felted and sewn together, with a beautiful design cut into the top one. Other pieces only feature felted accents. The dreamy Willamette Wrap (“inspired by a cloudy day in the Willamette Valley in Oregon”) only has a felted collar. The Needle-Felted Pillows are bold-colored color-blocked knits with felted appliqués added later.

A great collection of fun, funky projects for a wide range of skill levels and interest levels, all backed into a hefty hardbound volume with exceptional photos that are both artistic and allow a good look at the projects.

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