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Manga Cross-stitch: Make Your Own Graphic Art Needlework [Hardcover]

Helen McCarthy , Steve Kyte

Price: CDN$ 27.59 & FREE Shipping. Details
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Book Description

June 22 2009
Manga Cross-Stitch: Make Your Own Graphic Art Needlework is a bold, new, contemporary approach to the time-honored skills of needlework. Readers and cross-stitchers get a new twist on the old craft as they learn how to use the tricks of Japanese graphic art mixed with the skills of traditional needlecraft to make cute, action-packed, stylish images.

The book includes easy, step-by-step instructions for cross-stitch beginners and insightful information for manga novices. Materials, techniques, and skills are clearly explained and help simplify the art form. Patterns include "school's out," "super robo," "happy birthday manga," and many other cute and chibi characters.

Also included is a CD with hundreds of unique manga designs. On the CD are charts for printing out and stitching. Plus, the software included lets artists create their own personalized manga designs by creating their own color palettes.

This isn't your grandma's needlework.
--This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 128 pages
  • Publisher: Ilex (June 22 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1905814518
  • ISBN-13: 978-1905814510
  • Product Dimensions: 0.1 x 21 x 23.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 640 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,407,966 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Helen McCarthy has written seven books and countless articles about Japanese animation and comics. She travels the world lecturing on anime and manga and is often seen on TV documentaries, at film festivals, and at fan conventions. She learned to cross-stitch when she was four years old. --This text refers to an alternate Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.0 out of 5 stars  50 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great resource for an anime / manga fan or someone who knows one Oct. 4 2009
By R. R. Delisle - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
This book brings together a very unlikely pair - the Japanese art styling of manga and the decorative stitching techniques of cross-stitch. I must admit, I chuckled out loud when I first saw this book, but, since I am a fan of anime and manga AND a stitcher, I just had to check it out. When I received the book and opened it up, I was pleasantly surprised to find it had met and even exceeded my expectations.

To begin with, the stitching instructions are clear and cover materials and techniques for a beginner, (although nothing can compare to taking a class from a live instructor, which I would recommend for anyone starting this hobby). There are 6 pages dedicated to fabrics and includes a nice example of a design stitched on 3 different thread count fabrics to illustrate the change in size of the finished pattern depending upon the fabric used. Another 8 pages are dedicated to stitching techniques and include 2 techniques for starting a row and how to bury your thread at the end of a row. 6 pages then cover more advanced stitches used in some of the patterns supplied in the book. Following this, there is one page on mounting a finished project and one page on choosing colors.

The next 60 pages cover a variety of manga styles from little animals to fighting schoolgirls, brooding Ronin to giant robots. Something for everybody! The next chapters cover patterns for filling in spaces or backgrounds, adding expression and action to your designs, and 10 pages of lettering and alphabets. The book ends with a bibliography, a glossary and a chart index. If the book ended there it would be just fine. But it doesn't!

Included with the book is a CD with cross-stitch pattern creation software (Windows AND Mac!) and all the patterns from the book. So you can use the patterns from the book to make your own designs and then print them out in 5 different formats (colors or symbols) and generate stitch counts with thread requirements. The program is a 'Lite' version, so some options are disabled, but it does have links to purchase the full version at a discount.

The book itself is sturdy and very colorful, printed on heavy gloss paper with designs that really pop off the page.

This book is a great resource for any manga / anime fan who wants to display their hobby in a different fashion. Or, for a stitcher who wants to create a very unique gift for a manga fan. But for a new stitcher - it can't take the place of a class or a mentor and hands on experience.

One criticism is that the book doesn't give many examples of other things that can be done with a finished design other than framing and hanging it on a wall. Some examples of other uses for a finished project would certainly be inspiring for the novice stitcher. I'm thinking manga theme stitched Christmas tree ornaments this year!
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good patterns, software is a demo. Oct. 2 2009
By PurpleKat - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I was torn about how many stars to give this book, and I'm still not sure if it deserves three or two.

On one hand, the book itself is quite good. It teaches basic stitches and technique clearly and covers proper mounting technique. The charts are more detailed than I expected -- they really do look like manga art, and even though I picked up this book to adapt the patterns to knitting, looking it over made me want to pick up cross stitch again.

The book itself puts focus on design. It gives you figures and encourages you to combine them in your own ways -- many of the charts in the book are not of completed projects, but rather of elements that can be combined into completed projects. That might not be for everyone, but I like the ability to put my own stamp on my work.

The included software, Stitch 2008, is quite good. It has options to stretch patterns for knitting (you input stitch and row counts) and even tunisian crochet.

So that's the good. Now the bad.

First of all, the software is a demo, and many of the features are disabled. You can load and print out the charts that they provide, but you can't make any alterations or work up your own designs unless you pay $60 for the full version, something that I don't think was made quite clear enough on the product page. The inability to alter the charts without buying the full version seems to defeat the purpose of the book, and I came away feeling as though the book was nothing more than an ad for the software. To make matters worse, you -need- to use the software; the charts in the book are far too small to work from.

The book advertises more than 100 charts, but that's not strictly true. Many of the charts included are the same chart executed in different ways (one with color, one as a simple line drawing, etc). Again, not very impressive.

In the end, I think this book would be good for someone who really wants to do manga cross stitch and is willing to go to some extra trouble to make the charts work for them. But it doesn't live up to many of the promises that it makes.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Very well done book Sept. 20 2009
By Kathy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
I'm really impressed with this book. I'm interested in any new books having to do with crafts, so even though this type of art form is not something I'm familiar with I was interested in checking it out and I'm glad I did. I would say that while the subject matter seems to be for kids, the book is really serious in nature and would really appeal to someone who wants to create their own designs. There is a lot of information on choosing colors, and how to add texture and tone. There are very good photos of how to cross stitch and then it goes right into more complicated stitches, such as french knots, rhodes stitch and laid oriental stitch, all described very well and easy to understand. There are a variety of designs in the book, some that would be appropriate for young children and some that seem to be a little more violent in nature. Then, as a design element, there are charts for what the author calls "screentones", but to me they look just like blackwork designs and I'm really happy to have those because I'm interested in blackwork.

The CD that is included is worth the whole price of the book. All of the designs, including the screentones that I just mentioned are on the CD and can be printed out from the demo version. What really was a nice surprise for me is that there are about 10 designs that are completely different from this style of stitching included on the CD. There is a sampler, a couple Christmas designs, a victorian house and part of the Birth of Venus. I was really happy to see those included. The full version is $40.00 and I would imagine anyone who is interested in trying their hand at designing their own cross stitch would want to buy it. I looked around the program quite a bit and it looks like you can do anything you want with it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Good Idea, Terrible Execution Oct. 2 2009
By Amazon Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Manga Cross Stitch / 978-0-7407-7965-7

I love cross stitch - I've been cross stitching most of my life - and I've recently discovered a love for anime movies. Since I often cross stitch *while* watching anime, this book seemed like the next logical step - cross stitching anime while watching anime!

Unfortunately, this book - while a great idea - is balanced by absolutely terrible execution. First of all, the entire book is geared towards first-time cross stitchers, which isn't a terrible thing - there's a lot of interesting stitch techniques explained from a beginner's perspective. However, the author seems strangely intent on making cross stitching sound incredibly hard and intimidating when it is, in my opinion, one of the most "beginner friendly" of the fabric crafts. Bizarrely inflated estimates of "how long" certain charts will take to stitch sit alongside frequent instructions regarding when, how, how often, and in what manner to rip all your seams up in case of a mistake. After awhile you begin to feel like the book doesn't *want* you to cross stitch.

Frustratingly, there's not as many patterns here as I'd like. There's a lot of interesting discussion of anime and manga, but that's not what you're buying the book for. There are maybe 5-10 patterns per chapter (with the inevitable slight variations to inflate the numbers), but there will probably be only one or two matching the taste of the reader. After all, manga and anime are extremely varied art styles! For example, there's some mecha-type stuff, some low-quality pocket monster-style stuff, some chibi/deformed characters, a school girl trio, a samurai lady, and a lot of blocky monochromatic patterns. A random example - a large-eyed lovely in a solid-color kimono - is replicated four times (original, portrait, mirrored, and palette swap) in lieu of creating actual, varied content. The overall effect of this sparse material is frustrating - I'd like more variety than this. A lot of the text seems geared instead towards telling the reader to make their own patterns, which they're certainly not going to be able to do with the *demo* software included.

Which segues me nicely into the horrible, awful, infuriatingly terrible "software" included with this book. The book, you see, has no actual pattern charts - all the patterns are stored on the included CD, in a proprietary format that only the included program can read. I am not at all amused to note that the program included is a "demo" program only - and of the most annoying kind: each and every *single* time you open a chart (for instance if you're trying to open all the charts to see what's included on the CD), you have to click through a series of demo windows before you can use the actual program. Because it's a demo program, you can really only print the included patterns - you can't make your own or modify the included patterns in any significant manner. But most infuriatingly is that the print function is fundamentally broken - which means you can't even access the book patterns!

There's no way to select the printer you want to use, so if you have more than one printers hooked up to your computer (like, say, a color printer and a black-and-white printer), the program either selects one at random to communicate with or gets confused and cancels out the print entirely. The print function allows you to resize the chart, but there's no preview function for you to SEE what your choices will yield, so if you didn't want to waste ink and paper, then you're going to be very disappointed. And while you can change the chart *view* from, say, 'color blocks' to 'color blocks with symbols' to 'black and white symbols', you can't apparently carry those views changes over to the printed chart. In the end, the only way I could print these patterns out was to take *screenshots* of my computer screen and print THOSE out from MS Paint, not my idea of a user friendly program.

I would strongly encourage the author that any future versions of this book include a few more patterns, and include them in an easily accessible and printable format - either in a completely usable program or in a static printable format like Adobe PDF. Because otherwise, the whole effort just feels like a transparent attempt to force the user to buy a sub-standard program to get access to the patterns that they already paid for.

NOTE: This review is based on a free Advance Review Copy of this book provided through Amazon Vine.

~ Ana Mardoll
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Crippled Software (alternatives suggested) / Helpful Design Guideance Oct. 1 2009
By Book Fan - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product
Upfront: The biggest problem with this item is that the software is a crippled demo, although making your own designs is touted as one of the features of the software included in the book. On page 11 it says that you need to buy the full version of the software in order to save your designs or print them. That software, MacStitch (or WinStitch) by Ursa Software, currently sells for UK£33, which at this moment is about US$58. A good alternative would be to find a webapp such as knitpro that does image to grid translation, or to learn how to do grid designs in any standard image software package (for example, see the brief article "The Smart Way to Chart" at the knitty site). Or the demo is freely available online. Also, a discount for users of this book is mentioned, but I couldn't find details for that in the book itself, or on the Ursa Software website (as of this writing).

That said, there is a lot of useful design guidance in this book for translating manga designs to the medium of cross-stitch, including information about color choices, textured regions, effects of different kinds of outlining, Japanese lettering, etc. For most images, examples are included of doing the same design with slightly different technique and design choices in order to see the effect, both in chart print-out, and stitched. This is not a book of pre-done projects to stitch, rather it is a collection of open-ended design elements and advice for you to utilize in making your own compositions.

One problem with translating manga to cross-stitch is that the lines and shapes of manga are very subtile and expressive, and do not translate well to the harsh pixel-grid of cross-stitch. In the text, the author mentioned using fractional stitches for cleaner diagonals and edges, which would have been a good idea, but most of the examples did not utilize fractional stitches. Instead, many of the stitched examples would be winning entries in the bad pixelation hall of fame, though they could have been better.

Also, in order to discern some of the things discussed in the book, you really need to see the enlarged charts of the designs from the CD, the book alone is not enough. (My copy of the CD was not readable, so I was not able to examine the included charts. I'll will update when I get a replacement.) Also, I am mystified by "tent stitch" on page 26 - there are no images of the technique steps, the included sampler is too small to see what is being discussed, and the words don't convey sufficient details.

Still, I love the ironic clash of doing this kind of modern design with something as traditional as cross-stitch, and I really like the author's point of view of giving you the tools to make your own manga designs. On its own, it is a pretty good book worth 4 stars, but is dragged down by the uselessness of the touted software.
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