Cat Lady Embroidery: 380 ways to stitch a cat

Authors: 
APPLEMINTS Creative Publishing, Minneapolis
Review: 

 2018 ISBN: 978 1 58923 964 7 120 pages 

Originally published in Japan two years ago, those of you who love cats will be grateful that someone picked it up and decided that it was worth translating into English. Now, don’t get me wrong, I adore Daisy and Fumi, cats who are very much-loved members of our extended family, and there are neighbourhood cats who come and chat with me when I am out walking but although I find some of the embroidered cats on offer in this book quite delightful, I find many on offer a bit naff or twee. A kinder person would maybe use the word whimsical.  

The book is divided into themes, each theme getting a two page coloured photo spread of the embroidery designs on offer; some examples are alpha cats (cat alphabets), curious cats, folk cats, feline faces, heads and tails…you get the idea? Each two page theme refers you to the page numbers where clear, full sized templates and pictorial diagrammatic instructions are given, along with the Olympus brand floss colours used. There is an Olympus to DMC chart included in the book just after the ‘how to use this book’ page. The motifs are quite small. The projects are therefore not at all daunting.  Tools and materials needed are clearly set out at the end of the themed section. As well there are four useful pages illustrating possible projects to use the embroideries on. There are comprehensive and well thought out instructions on getting started with the embroidery. This includes a stitch guide of the very basic but varied, stitches used.  I do find some of the stitching rather unsophisticated, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Younger embroiderers won’t be put off by thinking it all looks a bit hard when browsing through the book. My personal reservations…cats are dignified animals, who if caught in an undignified moment, look very pained and pretend everything is ok. I therefore find motifs with cats wearing clothing not merely anthropomorphic but somehow distasteful; for example, there is a Christmas theme in which one cat is wearing a Santa hat with reindeer antlers, another, a Santa hat and cloak. Several themes have cats indulging in cute cat behaviour and I don’t have an issue with that. I do have an issue when that behaviour is sentamentalised, as it is quite often. However, there are many appealing motifs, so if you love cats, this book is well worth seeking out, especially if you would like some small motifs to work up quickly.  

P.S. I see that Auckland Libraries now also have a book called. ‘I love my dog embroidery: 380 stitch motifs for dog moms and dads’. I will not be borrowing it. I have however, lifted the first words of an online review for anyone interested, and copied it below.  I Love My Dog Embroidery is a collection of 380 adorable dog-themed stitch motifs for pooch parents and their beloved fur babies, with project ideas, how-tos, and templates. Created by embroidery artist MakikoArt and six other amazing embroidery artists, this "dog fanciful" collection of stitch motifs celebrates all things canine . Up to you!                              

Erica Marsden