Sunday, 10 May 2009

Book Review

I'm fairly new to wet felting and don't really know much beyond laying wool tops in opposite directions and incorporating other fibres into the top layer, so I thought I'd treat myself to a book. I had a look on amazon and decided to get 'Complete Feltmaking by Gillian Harris'. It promised to carefully explain each feltmaking technique in detail with step by step instructions so that no matter how inexperienced you are, it is difficult to go wrong. It covers needlefelting, wet felting, knitting and fulling, and advanced felting techniques. Sounded perfect.

I don't know anything about knitting so don't feel qualified to judge that section's instructions, but I've looked through all the wet felting and needle felting projects, and there are some major problems with this book.
The first wet felting instructions are explained quite well, but after that, instructions are vague... 'make a circle, add a spot, make a polka dot, bunch up some fleece into a round pouch shape' etc, and it doesn't tell you 'how'.
Also, the photos are practically useless, instead of a few photos clearly illustrating the instructions, they give a whole page to a photo of the finished item, then use a cropped version again on almost a whole page, where they could have fit another 4-6 photos. The photos they do have accompanying the stages are 'arty' and blurred and contribute practically nothing.

A typical 4 page layout for a project:

Another thing I found strange, was there was no order to the projects, they went from 'intermediate' to 'beginner' to 'advanced' then back again, randomly. The needle felt section starts with an 'advanced' project.
The oddest thing was incomplete instructions for how to make a bag, which were then repeated 10 pages on, this time without the blurry photos but with one additional step-'make a handle using the instructions from a few pages earlier'. This one extra detail took 4 pages.

After reading this book, I'm non the wiser than I was before reading it, and many of the tips go against other things I've read, like leaving felt on resists/lasts to dry (didn't the felt shrink too much for that?)
It's a shame, because the project ideas look really good.


  1. I have to agree with you on this book Zed, i purchased it awhile ago to but have yet to start any of the projects because there just not explicit enough for me either, being a bit all over the place makes it very difficult for a novice to grasp all of the concepts, especially without the step by step pictures. Apart from that it is a nice book with some gorgeous projects.

  2. Yes indeed exactly my feeling, the things look so pretty and I bought the book when I just started out and was very disappointed with the lack of real info.

    You know you may always and at any time ask me anything relating to felting, I will do my very best to give complete and fullinstructions, tips, and hints :-D

  3. Thanks Inger, I will do, I never shy away from asking how to do things I'm not sure of when I want to try them :)

    I'd hoped this book would teach me things I hadn't thought of yet, and give me lots of basic techniques to build on.

    The lack of info did get my brain going wondering how they were meant to be done, but I paid to be told, not to work it out for myself.

  4. Thanks for the book review...I just purchased three felting books from Amazon...thank goodness this was not one of them.

  5. I've leafed through this book in the shop but not purchased it. I recommend any of Sheila Smiths books, they are fantastic, very detailed instructions which are easy to follow.

  6. That was lucky, Gina! Thanks for the tip, Beth.

  7. I also bought this book, for exactly the same reasons as you. And, like Karen, I haven't attempted any of the projects, as they don't really explain properly.

    I can recommend Sara's Texture Crafts site for some how tos, including a nice video tutorial on how to make a felt ball:

  8. Hey! I had precisely the same problem with this book. I guess we all went through the same. One book I really liked -although it might be more intermediate to advanced- is "Felt to sticth" and another one: Uniquely felt. This last one is thicker and has lots of ideas... Waaaaaaaay better than this complete feltmaking one.