Book Review: Criss Crossing Paris

Criss Crossing Paris by Fiona Sinclair and Sally-Anne Hayes Book Cover

I’ve done a few cross stitch book reviews in the past, however I tend to stay away from them, and there is a very simple reason for this; they’re all the same. Cross stitch books stitch to a hard and fast formula. The reason is that for the vast majority; it works.
 
There are exceptions though, such as the Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch which put cross stitch in a new light. However for the first time ever (as far as I could tell), Fiona Sinclair and Sally-Anne Hayes have created a cross stitch book that goes totally off the ‘golden rules’ of cross stitch books and they’ve made something truly amazing.
 
Criss Crossing Paris by Fiona Sinclair and Sally-Anne Hayes Book Cover
We’ll start with what the book does have; the normal instructiions which are slightly more in depth than normal featuring things that aren’t in the book but help embelish, such as the dreaded french knot or beads, a fanastic selection of stitched up patterns, a guide on making things out of your finished cross stitch and a whole raft of standard thread lists and methods to accompany each pattern. That’s where things start getting special. The first thing you see when opening the book is an introduction to the authors, something that I normally flip past, however if you read on it gives you hints on how this book came to be, and where the ideas came from.
Criss Crossing Paris Inside Page 1
Pulling across the page you see Paris in all its stitched glory; or a map of it anyway. See, the special thing about this book is that is about Paris, and stitching the sights Paris is famous for. I don’t mean the Eiffel Tower and other iconic sights; I mean the real Paris. Pictures include art being sold on the street, adorned windows above a shop, a fancy Parisian door, and other unusual sights that make up Paris. This in itself is a great idea for a book, to take something slightly less well known, but still truly Parisian and making a cross stitch about it.
Criss Crossing Paris Inside Page 2
They really could have stopped there. But they didn’t. Instead, they took a step I’ve never seen before in a cross stitch book; a loose pattern. OK, it’s still a pattern at the end of the day, but they have fun with it, and want you to as well. The grid sits over an image of cross stitches of random sizes and placements, allowing you to pick your own destiny in stitching it. You can follow the blocks, you can free hand it, you can even drop some points all together; this book is about cross stitch creativity. They then take this idea and show you just what you can do with it. I’ve attached images of their Eiffel Tower stitch, their most typically Parisian, and they’ve shown how you can chop the pattern up, stitch only a section, stitch it freehand or copy the pattern stitch for stitch.
 

In more geometric designs, the charts are easy to follow as the grids are carefully aligned with the illustrations. For designs with more organic elements – curves, foliage, sky – the design doesn’t adhere to a grid line. This is where you need to become creative.

Everything about this cross stitch book screams creativity; the choice you the stitcher make when stitching, and how every time you pick this book up and stitch a pattern, regardless of how many times you’ve stitched it before, it will always be different. Is it for the beginner? Well, I don’t see why not; this is a book for people who want to create, to make something truly unique, and Fiona and Sally-Anne give you a helping hand to get there.
Criss Crossing Paris Inside Page 3
 

You can pick up a copy from amazon or your local book store.

A pdf copy of the book was supplied free of charge by the authors for this review. The opinions are totally my own and no effort was made to appease or appeal to the authors or publishers of this book.

Are Cheap Embroidery Threads Worth It?

Full set of DMC threads

We’ve all heard the horror stories over threads about melting threads and bleeds, and as a result settled with DMC threads. Now, I’m a DMC fan, so I was thinking I’d try a few threads out, complain about how they sucked and go on my jolly way. Well, I was wrong. Turns out that all those horror stories are pretty much exactly that; stories. Whilst most do have some truth to them, cheaper Chinese copy threads aren’t all that bad.
I took a new DMC thread, a DMC thread from 1998, a DMC thread from 2016 that had been on a shop floor, an Anchor thread, a CXC thread (known as a Chinese DMC copy), and a Royal Broderie thread (a Chinese DMC copy that mostly goes without a brand name online). I then stitched some test squares, projects and a few party favours to test them all against some of the compaints people had.
Below are my findings which show that those Chinese threads aren’t that bad after all. I will state for the record, that I still use DMC threads though.
 

The Colors Don’t Match

FALSE(ish)

DMC 3861 dye lot differences
DMC 3861 dye lot differences. Courtesy of Cindi Csraze
This was the number one complaint I came across during my research, and I was expecting to see some serious color mis-matches. My first initial stitches showed a slight difference in color, but nothing great enough to phone home about. But then I got to some of the other DMC threads. I said above I used three DMC threads, new ones, ones from 1998, and some from 2016 that were stored on a shop floor under hallogen lights. The difference in these threads were astonishing. Far greater than the difference in the chinese copies, the older DMC threads lost there lustre and most looked a little greyed out.
This is an issue I’ve seen before. In fact, batches of the same color from DNC come out differently too. In the below picture you can see a significant difference between dye lots.

They’re Plastic!

TRUE(ish)
This rumor centers around the CXC threads in particular. They’re made from a composite of poleyester and cotton (much like a dress shirt is). Despite some online retailers stating they are 100% cotton, which is where this rumor comes from. Now from a tradition stand point, the threads of cross stitch should be cotton. However, does that mean you shouldn’t use the composite ones? I think not.
Now being plastic composite does have some impact on the threads, which we talk about below, but being part plastic isn’t a terrible thing.
In addition to this, its only CXC threads that are like this. The slightly cheaper, often no-brand, threads by Royal Broderie are 100% cotton.

They Melt!

FALSE
Yes, some threads include plastic. But melting? No.
Polyester is a high temperature fibre, and it does melt at some point, however the melting temperature is 50 degrees higher than the ignition point of cotton. Yes, you heard that right. The cotton threads would have had to burst into flames before the polyester threads started melting. This story has to be completely made up. I know a few people who know people who have melted threads, but no one could give me proof, and there is always a chance that it was some super cheap thread which might melt.

They Don’t Fit Needles!

TRUE(ish)
For some reason I’m yet to work out, the strands of thread in the Chinese variants are slightly thicker. This goes for both the CXC and generic threads. However, they are only slightly bigger. Increase the needle size by one, and you’re sorted!

They Destroy Needles!

TRUE(ish)
As per above, the needles used with these Chinese threads need to be slightly bigger. If they’re bigger, then there is no problem. However smaller needles will catch at the fibers, destroying your needle eye.

They Break And Knot!

JURY IS OUT
I tested 17 colors of each thread, and with it I got breakages, and knots. However they were all fairly spread over each brand. The cheapest Royal Broderie threads broke most, without a doubt, but the CXC threads didn’t break at all; instead they knotted a lot. In fact, CXC threads knotted a lot when being taken off the skein, however I have heard removing them a different way helps with this.
I know from experience that breaks and knots happen, and most can be avoided by good technique, but I didn’t find anything that suggested more problems with the cheaper threads.

They’re Dull!

TRUE
I don’t want to get too technical here, but both of the tested Chinese threads had less of a shine. Was it noticable? Yes. Is it a problem? Well, no. Combining the threads would look bad, you could see it as clear as day, however when only using the single brand it was hard to see any real difference.
In addition I feel Anchor threads have less of a shine than DMC, and they are one of the most expensive threads to buy.

The Colors Run!

FALSE & TRUE
Cotton can be dyed in two ways, a color fast way, or a ‘quick dye’ which bleeds and runs. The Royal Broderie threads are a quick dye, so they bleed. It wasn’t obvious as first, however you can simulate wear on threads by washing with higher heats, which shows a very clear bleed.
CXC threads on the other hand, don’t. This is probably due to their polyester cotton blend, which needs the color fast dye method to dye them in the first place.

They’re Hard To Get!

FALSE(ish)
You can get either CXC threads or Royal Broiderie from ebay, amazon or alibaba. Getting them to your house quickly; that’s harder. Getting exact colors; also hard.
Now, in recent times picking up specific colors has got a lot easier, however in general you pick up packs of 50 threads, random colors. This can work out really well (you can get a full set quickly and cheaply), however picking a single skein of a specific color is still a pain to do. Most of the time they come from China (being Chinese and all), so postage is a few weeks.
So long as you prepare ahead of time, its not a big deal.

TL;DR

If its a no-brand Chinese thread, its terrible quality, don’t touch them.
DMC is superior to CXC, but consider the downsides to cost, as it may be a viable thread, especially for people starting in the hobby.
CXC threads tend to knot, they are duller than DMC, they aren’t 100% cotton, you needle to use a larger needle and they can be fiddly to get hold of sometimes. I know a lot of people that will be turned off by this list, myself included, however the price difference between DMC (£0.89 at the time of this test) compared with an average CXC skein (£0.22 at the time of this test) is a massive difference. Using a slightly inferior thread for less might be a viable option to many. They really aren’t as bad as some of the rumors suggest…
 
I just wanted to thank a few resources that have done similar test; reddit comparison by Damaniel2, crossstitch forum and thread-bare
CXC threads forum comments

Cross Stitch Software for Mac

pcstitch cross stitch software

As more and more people move to Apple, more and more people are on the lookout for cross stitch software on a Mac. However, there simply isn’t much choice out there.
 
But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some great choices out there.
 

MacStitch – 9/10

($52 ($47 with discount))
We start with the behomoth of cross stitch software, on Mac or Windows. MacStitch is simply the Mac version of the ever popular WinStitch, a full service cross stitch software that not only competes (but ranks better in our tests) than the likes of PCStitch.
It has over 30 different brand of threads, including select options, such as DMC grey scale, has an inbuilt print to pdf (unlike some, PCStitch), and runs without strong demands on RAM. As a result, its the first place to look for a Mac software option.
macstitch screenshot
But it does come with some drawbacks. The first, is of course the price. Whilst the initial outlay of $52 ($47 with discount) seems steep, its comparable to the price of any Windows options, and is BY FAR the cheapest Mac software option.
Secondly, thanks to its full service option, it comes with a learning curve. However, the same can be said with any software, regardless of platform, and as confidence grows, the extra options will become invaluable.
As a final point, if the time comes you wish to move away from Mac, all your saved patterns and files are compatable with the Windows version of the software, and whilst you’ll have to buy that copy, it saves you a serious headache if that time comes.
 

StitchFiddle – 9/10

(FREE)
I hear what you’re saying, do you NEED to pay? Well, if you want a full suite of options you need a paid bit of software. However, if you want, there is a free option. But instead of software, its online.
StitchFiddle has long been our favorite online pattern maker, and or good reason. Its simple to use, has fantastic image creation software (see below) and most importantly, is free.
stitchfiddle screenshot
Nothing in life is truly free though, as StitchFiddle is very limited in what it can do. It only has DMC or Anchor treads, it has very simple size selection (but does go up to 2000×2000), and even more simple image editing ability. However, for a quick image conversion, its the bees knees, offering a great print to pdf option.
 

DP Software Cross Stitch Pro Platinum – 5/10

($191)
Here’s where we start getting into some pricier options. For a long time Jane Greenoff pattern making software was the only one around, and over time she got quite a following. However, the first of our pricy Mac options, and the very first Mac software, has been lifted directly from the old Jane Greenoff software, which means its complicated, has a limited selection of threads, and limited in many of its features.
Its a higher cost that the likes of MacStitch, and has considerably less features. Its only real positive is its ability to work with very old Macs (MacStitch works with XP onwards).
 

Stitch Painter – 5/10

($199/FREE)
Stitch Painter is a fairly complicated program, with a similarly limited set of features that DP Software Cross Stitch Pro has. However, it does have a free demo, which despite various prompts, doesn’t seem to run out.
 

StitchCraft – 5/10

($155)
Our final pattern creator for Mac is StitchCraft, and whilst it isn’t pretty at all, it does get the job done. Considering its cost, there is simply no reason to go with something this hard to use.

20 Of The Best Apps for Cross Stitchers

crossity app icon

With every wake moment thinking about cross stitch, it’s no wonder you want an app or two to help you out. We round up the best apps for iPhone, iPad and Android. Ranked using iTunes store (for iPhone & iPad) and GooglePlay (for Android) reviews.

Jump to iPhone
Jump to iPad
Jump to Android

Best iPhone cross stitch apps:

cross stitch world app icon

Cross Stitch World (FREE) – 10/10

Based on 656 reviews
Unlike others on the list, this app isn’t a tool, but is actually a game. Effectively it’s a paint by numbers affair, made to look like cross stitch, with the ability to make new patterns with your own images. Due to the recent trend of adult coloring books, the app has really hit it off, but for most cross stitchers it might just be a distraction.
However, if you suffer from any arthritis or similar conditions stopping you stitching, this is a great alternative!

cross stitch saga app icon

Cross Stitch Saga (FREE) – 7/10

Based on 127 reviews
I LOVE Cross Stitch Saga. Simply put, if you have an iPad or iPhone, get it. Cross Stitch Saga is a true competitor to the desktop paid versions of pattern software.
It works with all the other pattern programs, allowing you to import patterns and work on them on the fly, and allows you to save in formats such as .pat and import it back into desktop software. The fact that the app is free, is frankly astonishing. I know you might think that being on iPhone it might be a bit fiddly, but I promise you it’s not, as the app has been designed to be super user friendly.

cross stitch calculator app icon

Cross Stitch Calculator (FREE) – 3/10

Based on 24 reviews
A fabric size calculator in your pocket. Sadly the app has many bugs and issues, leaving most to prefer alternative cross stitch calculators, such as our own.

cross stitch saga pro app icon

Cross Stitch Saga PRO ($4) – 7/10

Based on 127 reviews
The paid upgrade for Cross Stitch Saga, the increase doesn’t really get you much. An increased area to work in, a pattern repository and slightly more speciality stitches. Unless you’re explicitly going to need those features, the free version will suit you, but for its low price is a great alternative to desktop software.


thread tracker 117 app icon

Thread Tracker 117 ($1) – 7/10

Based on 14 reviews
For a dollar, it’s hard to say anything bad about this app, however in reality, it’s just a spreadsheet to track which DMC threads you have. The advantage, and the thing that makes this app so successful is you can import list of colors needed for your next project, and the app works out which ones you need. Next time you’re in a store, pull the app out and the list is there straight away. Of all the apps on the list, this is the one I personally use the most.

thread replacer 117 app icon

Thread Replacer 117 ($1) – 4/10

Based on 1 reviews
From the maker of Thread Tracker 117, this app has a slightly different aim. If you’re on a project and you’re missing a color, the app will give you the 5 nearest colors to the one you want. Sometimes this allows you to make a swap, however often, it results in needing to buy new thread. I would personally buy a shade card instead.

cross stitch guild app icon

Cross Stitch Guild ($8) – 5/10

Based on 2 reviews
A great app in premise, the cross stitch guild have put together a series of tools into one app, allowing you to convert thread, work out fabric size, and track which threads you own. However, it doesn’t do any of these particularly well. With bugs and a super high price point, you’re better off getting Thread Tracker 117, Cross Stitch Calculator and Cross Stitch Saga for less money and a better user experience.

Best iPad cross stitch apps:

cross stitch world app icon

Cross Stitch World (FREE) – 10/10

Based on 656 reviews
Unlike others on the list, this app isn’t a tool, but is actually a game. Effectively it’s a paint by numbers affair, made to look like cross stitch, with the ability to make new patterns with your own images. Due to the recent trend of adult coloring books, the app has really hit it off, but for most cross stitchers it might just be a distraction.
However, if you suffer from any arthritis or similar conditions stopping you stitching, this is a great alternative!

cross stitch saga app icon

Cross Stitch Saga (FREE) – 7/10

Based on 127 reviews
I LOVE Cross Stitch Saga. Simply put, if you have an iPad or iPhone, get it. Cross Stitch Saga is a true competitor to the desktop paid versions of pattern software.
It works with all the other pattern programs, allowing you to import patterns and work on them on the fly, and allows you to save in formats such as .pat and import it back into desktop software. The fact that the app is free, is frankly astonishing. I know you might think that being on iPad it might be a bit fiddly, but I promise you it’s not, as the app has been designed to be super user friendly.


stitchsketch app icon

StitchSketch ($8) – 9/10

Based on 251 reviews
StitchSketch is created by the maker of KG Chart. It’s a fantastic pattern creation program, which works almost as well as any desktop program. The app only allows you to import back into KG chart, however unlike apps like Cross Stitch Saga, the app has all of the advanced features the desktop version does.

x-stitch app icon

X-Stitch ($3) – 9/10

Based on 27 reviews
Similar to Thread Tracker 117 this app not only tracks threads, but aida, needles, charts and other tools. It’s “need to buy” feature not only works well, but it reads your charts and patterns to give you lists of threads needed for each project too!

crossity app icon

Crossty ($4) – 8/10 (US only)

Based on 9 reviews
A very clever app, Crossity comes in after you’ve made a pattern. You import your pattern and Crossity takes over. You highlight the colour you’re using, you can select areas you’ve already stitched, it works out how long it will take you to stitch the rest of the project or color, counts stitches and even works out the best route to minimise confetti and jumping across the back. There is also a free version, however ads are incredibly intrusive and the limited features means its work spending the 5 dollars.

cross stitch saga pro app icon

Cross Stitch Saga PRO ($4) – 7/10

Based on 127 reviews
The paid upgrade for Cross Stitch Saga, the increase doesn’t really get you much. An increased area to work in, a pattern repository and slightly more speciality stitches. Unless you’re explicitly going to need those features, the free version will suit you, but for its low price is a great alternative to desktop software.

cross stitch camera app icon

Cross Stitch Camera ($4) – 7/10

Based on 10 reviews
Cross Stitch Camera works, you guessed it, with your camera. It takes a photo (which can be from your phone’s memory) and makes a pattern based on the largest dimension you set.

Best Androids cross stitch apps:

cross stitch world android app icon

Cross Stitch World (FREE) – 9/10

Based on 31,188 reviews
Unlike others on the list, this app isn’t a tool, but is actually a game. Effectively it’s a paint by numbers affair, made to look like cross stitch, with the ability to make new patterns with your own images. Due to the recent trend of adult coloring books, the app has really hit it off, but for most cross stitchers it might just be a distraction.
However, if you suffer from any arthritis or similar conditions stopping you stitching, this is a great alternative!

cross stitch fabric calculator app icon

Cross Stitch Fabric Calculator (FREE) – 8/10

Based on 124 reviews
A fabric size calculator in your pocket. Sadly the app has many bugs and issues, leaving most to prefer alternative cross stitch calculators, such as our own.


crossity android app icon

Crossty ($5) – 9/10

Based on 360 reviews
A very clever app, Crossity comes in after you’ve made a pattern. You import your pattern and Crossity takes over. You highlight the colour you’re using, you can select areas you’ve already stitched, it works out how long it will take you to stitch the rest of the project or color, counts stitches and even works out the best route to minimise confetti and jumping across the back. There is also a free version, however ads are incredibly intrusive and the limited features means its work spending the 5 dollars.

Cross Stitch Thread Organizer app icon

Cross Stitch Thread Organizer ($1) – 8/10

Based on 30 reviews
Doing exactly what it says on the tin, Cross Stitch Thread Organizer orders your threads with to-buy lists, current stock, and warns you if you’re running low on a thread and a future project needs it. There are a lot of other apps doing exactly this, however what makes this app fantastic is the constant upgrades, and a really devoted developer who can be found on reddit daily.

eCanvas for cross-stitch pro app icon

eCanvas for cross-stitch PRO ($3) – 8/10

Based on 92 reviews
A simplistic pattern creation software, eCanvas makes patterns up for you to export and stitch. Its lacking in advanced stitches and sometimes assumes you’re using a stylus instead of a finger, however it’s a well-balanced app. There is also a free version, however adverts obstruct the working area and it makes pattern creation VERY hard.

x-stitch designer app icon

XStitch Designer ($1) – 7/10

Based on 222 reviews
A great pattern creation app, well designed so it works on a phone. The only downside is you can’t print directly from the app, and getting a pdf to print from a computer isn’t user friendly.

An Interview with Makoto Oozu the Japanese Cross Stitch Master

Makoto Oozu

It’s super rare that the cross stitch master Makoto Oozu does an interview outside of Japan, however, we were able to speak to him one on one to get a glimps into his world.
 
A lot of people outside of Japan already know who you are, but the story on how you became a cross stitch master is an interesting one. Can you tell us how you came across cross stitch and how it changed your life?
In my early twenties, when I was working at a liquor store, my friend give me a book of cross stitch. It was my first encounter to cross stitch too. Normally, cross stitch books are written for women, with designs like flowers or pretty things. But I thought cross stitch is close to 8bit, which I have loved from childhood. Then I started to design original ones. Then a publisher asked me for some books to be published. However, there were two things they wanted. One; it was made for men who like embroidery. Two; mothers who have little boys liked my design. If I had not come across cross stitch, I would be a liquor shop manager.
 
How and where did you learn you learn how to stitch or sew?
I’ve learned embroidery in a beginner’s book such as ‘Cross stitch A to Z.’ It was completely self-study, so I can have a kind of inferiority complex, but that also works to my advantage allowing me to do anything.
 
What does cross stitch mean to you?
Both a hobby and job. I work for clients on most of my work recently, but I always want to create something new in embroidery.
 
Where do you like to work?
I like to work in my empty studio after everyone has gone home with the radio on.
 
As a fellow manbroiderer (male embroiderer) how do you look at the market, and what changes are you trying to bring in?
The embroidery market has grown due to internet. The internet gave us the ability to show, buy, or sell products. I wonder if I just had interested in cross stitch a little bit earlier than other manbroiderers.
 
How do people respond to you as a male embroiderer?
I’m tall and big guy, so people assume I’m not into embroidery. Everyone usually surprised.
 
Over the years you’ve created a lot of cross stitch. What’s your favorite piece and why?
A bracelet shaped like a ROLEX, which is called “OLEX”. (“OLE” stands for “me” or “I” in Japanese, so it has meaning like my ROLEX). When KAWS came to Japan, he bought it! I could believe my products and the way I have walked is right at that time.
OLEX by Makoto Oozu
 
As one of the only well-known Japanese cross stitchers outside of Japan, how do you think traditional Japanese culture influences your work?
I had no idea that I was well-known outside of Japan lol.
 
I’m 37 years old now. Video games, that I have played when I was a child, influenced my work a lot. And my assistants are methodical, but that may kind of unique to Japan(?).
 
When you design patterns do you try to create patterns for Japan, everyone, or do you create things you like to stitch?
These days, I work with clients, so themes (patterns) are decided due in meetings with them. I used to create patterns that I liked such as insects, dinosaurs, and cars, kind of boyish patterns.
 
With that in mind, where does most of your inspiration for patterns come from?
I have no idea. But, when I am travelling, or shopping, sometimes I think “what if I made these things as cross stitch patterns?” those things become great.
 
What are or were some of the strongest trends and influences you had to absorb before you understood your own work?
Japanese casual fashion between from the middle of 90s to 2000s, when I was around 18 years old. I like Nike Air Jordans, Air Max, G-Shock, Ape, etc… even now.
Makoto Oozu
In 2016 you opened TOKYO PiXEL, and moved slightly away from cross stitch. May I ask why you decided to move away from cross stitch and focus on pixel art?
Cross stitch is one of “pixel art”. And I’ve been a fan of video games. The difference is only one thing; using needles or mice.
 
Do you intend to open up more stores, and make a Oozu empire? I know many people would be interested in a store in Europe or America…
Taking about TOKYO PiXEL, I really hope that our products are sold overseas from bottom of my heart. That’s why a shop is near Asakusa where many tourists come.
I hope some company will help us to sell our products overseas as a partner. There are two reasons. One; as a designer, there are many things you can create. Two; I’m not talented enough to sell or manage it lol.
 
Finally, let’s talk about your new book. After a series of successful books, most of which are super hard to get outside of Japan, you’ve decided to come out with a compendium of your patterns. Can you tell us what makes “Fun Cross Stitch Book” different, and tell us why you were so strongly devoted to making it full color?
Three books that I have published became out of print. I’ve got many requests for reissue. So I add some new designs to these three books as one new book.
I think full color is easy to view. There was a hard problem of costs printing in full color, but the publisher cooperated with me.
 
We reviewed Makoto’s new book Fun Cross Stitch!
fun cross stitch book cover by makoto oozu
Any future projects you’re especially looking forward to?
Some big projects are in progress. I think we would release them in 2017. Please look forward to it. I would love to hold an exhibition overseas sometime, please come there at that time and when you come to Japan, Please visit our shop.
 
Do you have any secrets in your work you will tell us?
I designed 3D embroidery where you wear red and blue 3D glasses, but actually it doesn’t work. lol.
 
You can find Makoto’s work on his website, or you can purchase his kits, porcelins and geekery on his TOKYOPiXEL store.
3-14-13 Kotobuki, Taito, Tokyo, Japan.
Open on every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Japanese national holidays.
12:00 – 19:00 TEL 03-6802-7870

Fun Cross Stitch Book by Makoto Oozu Reviewed

fun cross stitch book cover by makoto oozu

The Japanese cross stitch master, Makoto Oozu has produced a series of books in the past, such as “Makato’s Cross-Stitch Super Collection” which is found on the shelves of most cross stitchers worldwide. That’s why, when he released a new book in Japan, I had to get myself a copy!
fun cross stitch book cover by makoto oozu
This super compendium of miniature cross stitch patterns is 200 pages thick, with new content from 2017 such as an A4 world map, and country specific stitches, as well as the reprints of three of Makoto’s previous books; the Japanese only out of print “My Stitch Book”, “Makato’s Cross-Stitch Super Collection” and “Mega Mini Cross Stitch: 900 Super Awesome Cross Stitch Motifs“.
Makoto decided to put together this new book as he’d been requested by hundreds of people for copies of his out of print books. This means that the book contains over 2000 patterns! Many of which you would have seen before in his previous books, but he’s put together 100 new patterns and there are 300 from his Japanese only book too, meaning this is still a fantastic book to pick up.
fun cross stitch book by makoto oozu
For Makoto, one of the biggest issues with his previous books was the lack of color, and frankly I agree. For a beginner in particular, patterns need to be easy to read, and the dizzying array of icons on a black and white pattern are super confusing. In this new book, not only is every pattern printed in full color glory, but the patterns are too, meaning an easy to follow pattern for beginners.
However, the book is mostly in Japanese, meaning reading the instructions for beginners might be a bit complicated. However there are pictures, and in a book of 200 pages there are a total of 9 in Japanese, so it really isn’t a problem for most people, and is still a great collection of patterns.
fun cross stitch book full color preview by makoto oozu
If you fancy picking up the book, you can currently get a copy on the Japanese Amazon for about $20 (as of September 2017). I’m afraid to say we’ve got confirmation from Makoto that it won’t be published outside of Japan, so this is currently the only way you can pick one up.
In fact, we spoke to Makoto about a few things, such as the Japanese cross stitch trends, you should check out my interview with Makoto Oozu.
 
And finally, I leave you with a quote from the author himself about his new book:

If you compare it to rice, it’s like a book with raw egg, red ginger and miso soup in a special rice bowl.

Makoto Oozu

DMCs 35 New Threads

New DMC threads collectors tin

DMC new threads

For the first time in 14 years, DMC threads are launching new colors. We were able to get a preview set, and so we’re decided to help out and go into detail with the 35 new colors.
Firstly, the new colors range from code 01 to 35, and no colors are being replaced; these are all additional only. This brings the total range up to 500. They’re out in late October/early November (dependent on where you live).
Based of the new colors is clear that DMC have really listened to what customers wanted. Without further ado, lets look at each of the new colors.
 
New DMC Thread range 01 to 35
 
01 to 04 – Greys
DMC threads color 01DMC threads color 02DMC threads color 03DMC threads color 04
The first set is numbers 01 to 04, all grey. The current grey selection is a bit lack luster, with very popular colors such as 415, 318 and 414 being slightly purple hued. The new set effectively replaces these colors by removing the purple, making a fantastic run of 762, 01, 02, 03, 04, 317, 413, 3799, 310. We’ve made up this color swatch up below. Honestly, of all the new threads, we think these four will be the most popular by far, and will stop that weird purple hue on grey scale projects like our Canabalt piece.
dmc greys

 
05 to 09 – Browns
DMC threads color 05DMC threads color 06DMC threads color 07DMC threads color 08DMC threads color 09
The second set, 05 to 09, are all brown. At first glance they’ve very similar to the 453, 452, 451, 3861, 3860, 779 line, however that has historically been muddled and lacking in a progressive shading. Instead, the new line makes a pure brown, something that’s been missing for a while from the traditional line.
 
10 to 18 – Greens
DMC threads color 10DMC threads color 11DMC threads color 12DMC threads color 13DMC threads color 14DMC threads color 15DMC threads color 16DMC threads color 17DMC threads color 18
Initially it seems a little odd to have so many greens in the new threads, especially considering green has always been a strong point of DMC. However, if you think about the greens available, they either transition into blue, or brown. Hardly any move into yellow. This is where the new green threads come in, offering fairly pale greens that transition into yellow. In addition color 13 sits as a lighter 3849 to allow blue to green blending a little easier at pale ends of the spectrum.
 
19 – Orange
DMC threads color 19
We then have the solitary 19, a peachy orange. This is clearly made to fit within existing 3823, 3855, 19, 3854, 3853 line. I must admit, I’ve never really seen much use of these colours, however unlike most other color ranges featuring at least 5 colors, it shows DMC are devoted to making their existing line perfect. (The images don’t do it justice.)
dmc peachy oranges
In addition this orange could be included within the next set of colors; flesh tones.
 
20 to 22 – Flesh tones
DMC threads color 20DMC threads color 21DMC threads color 22
Skin tones have ALWAYS been an issue with threads, and whilst there are some good shades out there, the darker white skin colors have been missing for a while. Colors 20 to 22 solve that issue.
 
23 to 35 – Purples
DMC threads color 23DMC threads color 24DMC threads color 25DMC threads color 26DMC threads color 27DMC threads color 28DMC threads color 29DMC threads color 30DMC threads color 31DMC threads color 32DMC threads color 33DMC threads color 34DMC threads color 35
Finally, we look upon the final section of new threads, colors 23 to 35. These compromise a series of purples, mostly light hued, without any runs of progressively darker threads. For a long time purple has been a big issue, with only darker purples being an use, as lighter ones were just way too pink. The new threads offer both lighter purples, but also a series of purples that merge into other colors, such as 28 and 29 which blend into a grey line 415, 318 and 414, which now feels a little orphaned with the new greys. 30, 31 and 32 blend into blue. And 33, 34 and 35 blend into red well, something there currently isn’t any of.
 
A word on compatibility
It’s worth noting that with all new threads, pick up is a little slow going at first. Most pattern makers will updated yearly, meaning the next update using these threads could be some time in mid 2018. We reached out to WinStitch/MacStitch which will send an update in the coming week. No update on when PCStitch will update, we’ll update this when we hear back.
In addition the DMC shade card, despite earlier reports, it being updated with the new threads.
 
Where and when can you get them?
Officially the new threads go on open sale in November, with a few select retailers getting their hands on them early. One of these is SewAndSo.com where you can buy each thread with 25% off, or get a collectors tin with all of them included, in the middle of October. In Canda you can pick them up from StitchItCentral. We expect this will be the only place you can pick them up this early, with the DMC website, Hobbycraft and Michaels to carry the line once they’re officially out in November. We’ve got confirmation that Walmart will NOT be carrying the line at all.
New DMC threads collectors tin

The Best Cross Stitch Forums

cross-stitching.com forum

Following our super popular post on how to show cross stitch offline we’ve received a few comments about the best forums to display your work on. On the last count there were about 30 forums, and so we’ve reviewed and ordered the list from most active community to least active community, based on a test every day for 28 days.

Cross-Stitching.com

cross-stitching.com forum
Owner of a whole slew of cross stitch magazines its no surprise that cross-stitching.com has a massive following. Whilst the content of the website is a little hit and miss in my mind, the forums are epic. Not only are they massive but at any one time they have about 150-300 people logged in. The sheer size is a big draw, however, unlike a lot of other forums they don’t have any moderators, due to the community being so well behaved and helpful.
I would say that there are two small negatives; the first is that there appear to only have a few true experts, with most posts being about how to cross stitch, and secondly, its very traditional.
 

Reddit

reddit /r/crossstitch
In a stark contrast to cross-stitching.com’s forum, reddit’s /r/CrossStitch is far more contemporary (although there is a fair share of traditional in there), and MUCH more international. There are roughly 50 people logged into the forum at any time, and whilst that’s much smaller in size, the particiation is much greater, and often this is where the cross stitch masters hang their hat.
There’s a bit of a learning curve needed though, as each time you post, you have to add a code to the start of your message, but once you’ve picked it up, its actually super easy to navigate.
 

CrossStitchForum

cross stitch forum
Starting to get on the less busy side now, we have the CrossStitchForum, who’s whole purpose in life is a forum for cross stitchers. Whilst it was extreamly popular back in 2007, its suffered with low figures for a while, and I think we may see the end of it soon. However, in those archives are some of the best cross stitch question and answers you’ve ever seen. Whenever I have a question I look up the answer here first.
 

Craftster

craftster cross stitch
A much larger forum, is craftster, which in itself is a massive beast, however the cross stitch and needlepoint section seems to have dwindled in the last 5 years. Whilst its a great place to show off your completed projects and WIPs, the community isn’t really there, and there isn’t much participation past the occassional “well done”.
 

The Cross Stitch Guild

cross stitch gold
The Cross Stitch Guild, unlike all our other entries, has never been a busy forum. However, the one saving grace, is anyone posting is likely been stitching for decades. This means that any questions you have will not only be answered, but be answered by someone who has gone through the exact same things thousands of times before. Not too busy, but worth its weight in gold; pun intented.
 
If you know of any good forums, even if they’re specific to certain parts of cross stitch, then drop me a line and I’ll review them!

The Mr X Stitch Guide to Cross Stitch Book Review

mr x stitch guide to cross stitch Cover

mr x stitch guide to cross stitch Cover
It’s rare that I review a cross stitch book, and I know many of you want them, but there is rarely a reason. Most books are either mass patterns, which you will love or hate based on personal taste, or a historical tome, which either appeals or doesn’t. But this book review is different. Other than being written by my good pal Mr X Stitch (Jamie), the Mr X Stitch Guide To Cross Stitch book is not a normal cross stitch book. In my mind that should give you enough information to want to read it anyway, however, we got our hands on a pre-published copy, so onto the detailed review!
mr x stitch guide to cross stitch inside page 58-59
So the first thing to say is it has 20 patterns. These are all in the modern and contemporary style, such as small pixelated Mona Lisa, or a pineapple (actually three pineapples). The idea of the patterns, whilst being great projects, is to help explain the craft. And that’s because this book is about EVERYTHING cross stitch. It starts simple, instructions for basic patterns, and moves on to more and more complicated parts of the craft, including pattern making. But instead of stopping there Jamie goes from the very humble beginnings of cross stitch to some of the most extreme stitching around, with four key outliers of the craft (myself included), who push the boundaries of the craft. This is all backed with tips and tricks from decades of expert advice, add combined into one of the best looking cross stitch books around.
mr x stitch guide to cross stitch inside page 8-9
Jamie has always been someone to push cross stitch as an art form, and I’ve gone into some detail about is cross stitch is art or craft before (which includes a picture of Jamie stitching the Mona Lisa from the book), but instead of focusing on how people think about cross stitch, Jamie actively changes your mind. His tips of color blending and using materials such as glow in the dark threads shows you how being a little braver with your own stitches can bring a cutting edge twist to your art.
 

For many, cross stitch conjures up images of cute kittens and country cottages, but this book shows people that there’s a different side to cross stitching that it’s an art in its own right, and will encourage them to be a little braver with their art.

If at this point you’re not super excited, and convinced by the photos, then I don’t know what will get you excited. Frankly, I think this might be the best cross stitch book in existence.
 

You can pick up a copy from the publisher searchpress or your local book store.