Here's a craft book I picked up in Tokyo.
I saw this one in most of the bookshops so I'm guessing it's a fairly recent release. I bought the book for these two pages alone - my favourites:
And this one. The expressions on their faces are just divine:
I'm not even going to pretend I'll ever get around to making these. They're not stuffed animals, they're just wool tops wrapped around wire. I'm most impressed but also a little overwhelmed by this technique. The pictures are wonderfully inspiring though.
One of the early stages of wool processing is to turn the raw wool into tops which are these beautiful, soft, loose skeins of washed wool that you just want to put your hands in to. This is what this material seems to be. Will has bags of the stuff kicking around his office (he exports wool among other things) - perhaps I should get him to bring it home so I can turn it into baby seals.
I've put more images on flickr in a Japanese Craft Book set.