Today I'm going to take a break from the technique books (I know I tend towards those) and go with a pure pattern book - a modern cross stitch book if there ever was one...
Twisted Stitches by Phil Davison
[Amazon link; Indiebound link]
"Alternative" cross stitch patterns - which I'll define here as pretty much anything that makes people go "Really? THAT'S a cross stitch pattern?" - are still sadly few and far between in the traditional dead tree publishing world. Phil, of Urban Cross Stitch fame, made a digression from the web to the benefit of all streetwise lovers of cross stitch.
The patterns have been divided into four groups, which I'll paraphrase into: stuff to frame, stuff to decorate, stuff to give and stuff to wear. Whose house wouldn't benefit from towel edged in stitched barbed wire? Which teenage lover of all things twilight-y wouldn't kill for a cushion with a vampire kiss? Personally, I still can't go past the sugar skulls, and the severed finger needle case has me strangely fascinated. The projects are finished in a variety of ways - pictures, cushions, bookmarks, key rings, clothes - and there are brief instructions and templates for finishing them included.
The patterns range from small and quick to large and complex, so there's something for the patience level of everyone. All the patterns are provided with a DMC key only, so if you prefer (or only have access to) Anchor, you'll have to do the conversion yourself. The larger patterns are included as extra printed sheets in a pocket in the back cover, which is a nice solution and easier to work with on a big project. My primary quibble with them is that I find they're still printed fairly small and that the symbols aren't necessarily easy to read. The visual complexity of some of the patterns, with a large amount of colour shading, means that there are a lot of scattered stitches - so you'll need to count, count and count again in order to save yourself from unpicking small errors.
For offering something unusual, quirky, weird and wonderful to the cross stitching world, Twisted Stitches deserves full props. The technical aspects of small printing and scattered stitches brings me to knock off a mark, but if, like me, you've been desperate for a dose of the devious in your thread adventures you should definately grab yourself a copy.