Saturday, November 28, 2020

REVIEW: Sweet & Simple Needle Felted Animals: A Step-By-Step Visual Guide (nonfiction book) by Sachiko Susa, translated by Leeyong Soo

Sweet & Simple Needle Felted Animals is a crafting book. I bought my copy brand new.


Of the four needle felting books I now own, this is the one I'd most recommend to beginners. It has an excellent variety of projects and actually talks about things like "how do I know when I'm done poking the wool?" and why it's best to make the parts smaller at first and then build them up gradually. It sticks to the absolute basics of needle felting and, as far as I can tell, doesn't even mention wire armatures or flocking, and none of the designs require either of these things.

Like every other one of these books I've seen, it starts with a section on tools and materials. Finger guards are listed as being optional, and lol no they are not, unless you're extremely careful. This section includes a nice "grams to ounces" chart that's helpful if you're in the US and your scale for wool measuring (which isn't strictly necessary, but is helpful for at least determining if you have enough wool for the project) doesn't have a setting for grams.

The different projects include: miniature dachshunds (three color varieties depicted, but the instructions are only for a plain light brown one); matryoshka bears; a short-haired cat; a mother duck with ducklings; a golden hamster with an accompanying macaron (decorative item); a mother pig and her piglet (which actually mentions using batting to create the body, with depictions of the size difference between the batting core and the pink finished body); a cockatiel, budgerigar, and peach-faced lovebird (detailed instructions only for the cockatiel); a chipmunk with accompanying fruit decorations; sitting and standing white rabbits; and various designs small enough to be turned into charms, keychains, or pins (a frog, an owl, a bunny, a bear, a panda, a bluebird of happiness with a frangipani flower, and a ladybug and clover).

The miniature dachshund has the most detailed instructions. After that, the instructions become less detailed but do cover any aspects of those particular projects that differ from other projects in the book - for example, how to attach bunny ears, the size difference in cat vs. dog muzzles, etc. If you're hoping to create presents for people, the detailed instructions for attaching head pins or sewing on straps are very nice.

Each project includes life-size depictions of each the finished projects from various angles and life-size depictions of each part you need to needle felt (plus the approximate weight of the wool used for the bigger parts, such as the body and head).

I'm nearly finished with my first project created using this book, the crouching white rabbit. I very much appreciate the book's life-size photographs of all the projects and their various parts. I'm still pretty bad at figuring out exactly how much wool I need to use for things, so the weight measurements and photographs I can compare my pieces to are extremely helpful. The weights listed seem to be pretty accurate - I weighed my wool beforehand and am trying to shape my pieces like the photographs, and I suspect I'll only have to grab a little extra wool, if any, to complete the project.

Overall, this is a wonderful book. There's lots of guidance, tips, and encouragement for newbies, and the patterns are easy to follow and attractive. I could see myself making and enjoying anything included here.

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