Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links meaning if you purchase the book through these links, I receive a small commission to help keep running the blog. However, any recommendations and opinions in this review are my own. For more information, please click here. I received a copy of this book as a gift. All images featured are from the book and are the work of the author, Ai Mizuta.
I’ve moved recently and one of the things that this always forces you to confront is quite how much I love books. This isn’t a particularly new realisation to me, I’ve always been a huge fan of novels, short stories or any form of literature, but I have really managed to amass quite a craft book collection over the last few years.
While I can definitely appreciate the appeal of the practicalities of e-books in avoiding all the physical space and weight issues that come with a sizeable book collection, I find it rarely an appealing format. However, as Ai Mizuta’s latest offering shows, books intentionally designed for the format can bring something special and Uwagake and Shitagake-Chidori Kagari Temari (手まり上掛け千鳥かがりと下掛け千鳥かがり)really does achieve just that.
I have reviewed Ai’s previous e-book Temari: Jiwari and Colour Magic before, which was a wonderful, crisp offering of beautiful temari designs and I’m pleased to say that Uwagake and Shitagake-Chidori Kagari Temari is no less delightful.
The focus of this new e-book is on two particular stitches that are often found as part of the classic kiku, or chrysanthemum, design. Whether you argue kiku is a design or a stitch type, one thing I think we can all agree on is that it is a stunningly versatile way to make breathtakingly beautiful temari. (For reference, shitagake chidori is the ‘reverse’ form of uwagake chidori).
The book features 20 different designs, with limited instructions on how to make all of them. This isn’t intended as a step-by-step stitch guide and, as a result, Beginner temari makers may find the instructions a little intimidating in their sparseness (and I would point you to the now out of print Barbara Seuss book if you want a bit more hand holding). However, as there are still scant resources in the English language for the more advanced designs, this book and Ai’s previous book are very welcome additions.
While the instructions might be light touch, the inspiration definitely is not. This is an absolutely gorgeous book. The page design is incredible with fantastically detailed photos of projects from at least three angles and sometimes different zoom depths. It goes without saying that Ai’s workmanship is incredible and if you’re looking for references on ‘how things should be done’ then this is a great place to look.
Particular favourites of mine include temari numbers 4, 7 and 20, though picking favourites feels somewhat challenging and arbitrary when all the examples are such incredible pieces of art. On an initial skim through, I felt I much preferred the pieces in Jiwari and Colour Magic which are much more my typical colour schemes, however, both in terms of design and colour palette, the designs in Uwagake and Shitagake-Chidori Kagari Temari are perhaps even more fascinating. There are some very intricate patterns and very subtle colour combinations that just work so perfectly together that I think you have to pause a moment to just appreciate how clever they are.
The book totals 58 pages, covering the first half, which showcases the 20 designs and the latter half with the instructions on how to make them, which should give you some idea of how much visual information you get. The text content is limited, there’s an introduction explaining a little on the evolving stitch names and each temari comes with a size, the jiwari, or division, you need to do to create the design and everything is in Japanese and English.
Given this book is less than an incredibly reasonable £5, I am not sure how anyone with even a passing interest in would want to do without this book. If you’re a new stitcher and still coming to grasps with ‘temari logic’ as I call it – being able to decompose designs and patterns into their divisions and see how they are constructed – then don’t buy this as a stitch guide but do buy it as an excellent series of examples to see visual progression of how the designs are stitched and what really good quality look like. Everyone else, buy it just to ogle the gorgeous designs. I think something about the geometry and symmetry of temari just appeals to the human brain as I have never met anyone who wasn’t instantly fascinated by them.
Author: Mayu ‘Ai’ Mizuta (真由美水田)
Format: Kindle e-book