Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts: Woolly Embroidery Review
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When I was a kid, I learned to cross-stitch. For a while, I stitched and stitched and stitched—everything from Christmas ornaments to cute little pictures for Grandma’s birthday. But it wasn’t long before I tired of the same old patterns and moved on to my next craft addiction (of which, through the years, there have been many). It’s been years—probably even decades—since I tossed my last cross-stitch project in a drawer, doomed to remain unfinished. But after flipping through Kyuuto! Japanese Crafts: Woolly Embroidery, I’m tempted to pick up a needle and thread again.

Like the other books in the Kyuuto! series (including Amigurumi), Woolly Embroidery is a collection of Japanese craft patterns, translated for English crafters—focusing, this time, on all kinds of embroidery, from cross-stitch to crewelwork and more.

The book opens with a section of photos, depicting the book’s 17 projects, along with close-up photographs of additional motifs—everything from trees and snowflakes to fuzzy squirrels. There are pillows and bags and other accessories—including slippers, a stole, and more. In the following pages, it walks readers through the embroidery process, discussing the necessary tools and the various stitches. Finally, it closes with pages and pages of patterns—showing you how to recreate the stitch patterns shown throughout the book.

As with Amigurumi, Woolly Embroidery uses a very visual teaching style. Though there are some written instructions, stitches and patterns are mostly explained graphically, with a few inserted notes. There are all kinds of diagrams and abbreviations that seem a bit overwhelming (and maybe even a bit confusing) at first, but if you follow the directions and use the photos as references, you’ll find that they’re not all that difficult to figure out. In no time, you’ll know how to make running stitches, French knots, leaf stitches, and more.

As for the book’s patterns, many have a retro feel to them—thanks, in part, to their color palettes, which lean heavily on golds and rusts and browns. Others, meanwhile, feel a bit folksy and old-fashioned. But some really stand out—especially the bright blue and green flowers, embroidered on a brown wool handbag (the pattern for which is also included).

For the most part, it’ll just take a bit of imagination to picture the motifs in different, more appealing, colors. Still, while the patterns in Woolly Embroidery aren’t all stunning, they’re great for those who are new to embroidery. The book does a good job of teaching the stitches and explaining the techniques—and offering some sample projects. And after you try a few of the patterns, Woolly Embroidery will make a great reference book as you start designing projects of your own.

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