Book Review: Love Kills Slowly – 30 cross stitch patterns from Ed Hardy

Love Kills Slowly - 30 cross stitch patterns from Ed Hardy.
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Love Kills Slowly - 30 cross stitch patterns from Ed Hardy.

Ed Hardy is known as the “godfather of modern tattoos” for his artistic sophistication, depth and experimentation. His work adorns a broad range of products including t-shirts, sleepwear, energy drink, car accessories and more. And now he is entering the world of cross stitch.

While tattoo art and embroidery have been bed-fellows for quite a while, this is the first book of tattoo cross stitch design to be produced and I approached this book with high expectations. First impressions count and the book delivers – it’s one cool stitchery book, and I know plenty of people who should have this in their collection just in principle.

Love Kills Slowly - Ed Hardy Tattoo Cross Stitch

The book contains 30 traditional tattoo designs that have been translated into cross stitch patterns – skulls, tigers, roses, anchors – you name it, the book has got it. The thing that struck me with the patterns is the use of colour – it really echoes that old-school tattoo vibe and the colour blending is quite detailed.

Alas, I think this level of detail proves problematic with the patterns as it necessitates them being pretty big. While you could stitch them on high count fabrics, it would still involve a lot of stitching, meaning that this book is not necessarily for beginners. None of the patterns are particularly complicated, but some of the designs would be a real test of your commitment.

A redeeming feature is the gallery of original images at the back of the book. This is a great resource as it gives you the raw materials to try out different stitched versions of the same products, or even to get the thing stuck on your arm I guess. 🙂

Love Kills Slowly - Ed Hardy Tattoo Cross Stitch

I struggle with this book – I had high hopes when I heard about it, and while the patterns are a very faithful translation of Ed Hardy designs, it doesn’t feel like they’ve been translated by someone with an intimate knowledge of cross stitch. Had I overseen this project I think I may have chosen different designs or reworked them to simplify them a bit.

If you like tattoos and you like cross stitch, you will like this book. It delivers exactly what it says on the cover and the gallery of designs is an asset. However the size of the patterns is problematic and I suspect this book proves that while tattoos and embroidery work well together, the marriage of tattoos and the pixelated format of cross stitch ain’t quite so rosy.

If you’re in the UK, why not buy it from Amazon via our bookstore?

See Also

Competition Time! Win a copy of Love Kills Slowly!

Love Kills Slowly - Ed Hardy Tattoo Cross Stitch

We have one copy of the book for you to win and it’s a breeze to do so!

Tell us a story about one of your tattoos. if you haven’t got a tattoo tell us a story about something else!

The closing date for entries is Friday 5th August, when a winner will be chosen by the random number generator and we will post the result.

View Comments (26)
  • I have this book (so not entering your competition lol), just thought I’d say I agree with a lot of what you say, I’ve been working on one of the butterflies on and mainly off again since March. Although I wouldn’t call myself a beginner cross stitcher, this book is still probably a bit beyond my level and I’ve made tons of mistakes. Like you say, some of the designs are massive, yet each design is still on a page each of the book, so if you’re working on a big design, you’re going to really have to squint at the chart, as they’ve had to make the chart really small to fit in, and I think that’s one of the reasons I’ve been making mistakes, I’ve been used to much bigger charts. Still, I will keep on at the butterfly, completion date predicted some time this decade.

  • I’ve also got the book! I’m about to start stitching one for a friend so I’ll let you know how I get on.
    I have two comments on the charts –
    1. just because the backstitch is in 6 threads doesn’t mean the lines on the chart have to be 6 times thicker! In many places they obscure the symbols.
    2. if you are showing a 3/4 stitch on a chart the usual convention is to put a tiny symbol in the corner of the square, not half the usual symbol. In some places the symbol for DMC 310 is a solid square and they’ve used a right angled triangle to show a 3/4 stitch which could be confused with a different colour altogether.
    I’m going to offer to be their model stitcher for the next book in exchange for a free tattoo!
    I have two tattoos, both of which are in the V&A Museum (well, photos of them are) as I took part in the Day of Record there about 10 years ago! It was great fun seeing everyone getting photographed. There was a woman ahead of me stripping off to show her back piece as she announced “I usually have to be very drunk to do this in public!”

  • I have one tattoo (but want 100 more) and it is of the deathly hallows symbol from Harry Potter. I am a huge reader and lover of the HP series and I just love the way this symbol looks so I got it behind my right ear. I love love love it. This book seems very interesting!

  • When the doctor takes my external fixator off and I’m well into physio I am going to get my first tattoo. I want a small line drawing of a star. I’ve wanted it for the last 8 years or so, on a certain spot on my left forearm. In solidarity, one of my closest friends who has been really supportive to me is going to have the same tattoo done on his arm as well. My deadline for this is mid-March, which is my First Aid at Work renewal date, another important milestone I must be Well for. In the meantime, I keep on stitching 🙂

  • I don’t have any real tattoos but I got a henna tattoo at a renaissance fair (I’m British, it was pretty ironic to be there and be told by Robin Hood to work on my accent!) We were kinda drunk (at 12pm) when my friend spilled beer down my arm (what a waste!) and the lovely tattoo peeps re-did it for me. Yay for beer and henna tats!!!

  • I have 6 (so far) tatts, but the most meaningful is probably the tulip on my left big toe. I lived in Istanbul for 7 years and had it done by a guy there to be an indelible reminder of the beautiful lunancy of the city. It’s in the Iznik style (seen on a lot of Ottoman era tiles in Topkapi Palace), a beautful flowing design which was inked by someone with a Masters degree in fine art in a dodgy back street surrounded by backgammon players and mussel sellers. He’s also responsible for the tree and script which was supposed to be a couple of inches high and somehow ended up covering half my back….

  • I have a lizard, scarab beetle, and a monkey. Once I’m finished with my PhD I’ll get one of my research insects tattooed on my back.

  • Stories about both of my tattoos:

    Shooting star on my shoulder:
    During a life changing trip to Hawaii, I was reading up on Hawaiian Myths and Legends and I was particularly drawn to the story of the Hokele, the star which guides anyone towards their true home. While I was on the beach I drew up a nice swirly design, including an inverted star within a star symbolising how the way home can sometimes have a complex path. I had it tattooed onto me as soon as we got home.

    Butterflies on my wrist:
    One of my Grandad’s many wise sayings is that ‘Happiness is like a butterfly, if you chase after it, it’ll flit away, but if you sit still it’ll come to rest on you.’ So I was always drawn to having butterflies tattoed on my wrist like they’d come to rest there. I chose to have 6 done as there are 6 letters in each of my names, which means my initials add up to 666, a cool thing that my parents didn’t even know they did!

    i’m planning to have another tattoo done in a few weeks time when I’m in South Africa…so that will be another story!

  • I went to Blackpool. I got pissed. I got a tattoo. It hurt. The end.

    Great review BTW, I have had this book in and out of my Amazon basket so many times I have lost count. If the cross stitch proves too frustrating, I can always use the art work as inspiration and get a better tat to cover up the Blackpool one (in case you are wondering, it’s a purple sun on my ankle, I’m just grateful it wasn’t a bee on my bum like my friend decided on!).

  • Its on my list to get a tattoo. I just don’t know about the pain and if I can sit through it. (but I did sit through 2 children being born from my womb so I’m sure I could do it!)

    When I get a tattoo I know that I want it to have a swallow with a thread and needle and some stitching lines. (probably spelling something) Maybe one day I’ll get it designed and done! maybe….

  • I was 42 when I got my firtst tattoo and I now have 9 (I am now 54). A rose and dagger on my chestular area, my zodiac and rose on my right wrist and a fleur de lis on my left wrist (Geaux Saints!). Four aces with a rose on my back, a shamrock on my right ankle, a heart and rose on my vajayjay, my wedding band is tattooed, and chinese symbols meaning ‘Lust Slave’ on my neck. Whew! I recently had open heart surgery and would like to get ‘laces’ on my scar (from my neck down to my navel). Thanks for the chance to win this book!

  • I have a tattoo of a Pikachu wearing a pair of undies on his head. His name is Undies-chu, and everyone who sees it laughs.

  • I have three tattoos.
    First is on the back of my heel that says “All Star” which is the logo on the back of Converse which is all I have worn since I was a teen (won’t tell you how long ago that is).

    Second one is a kanji for the word beautiful (and also says, Hey! I jumped on the kanji tattoo wagon in the year 2000). I got it when I turned 25 to remind me of the happiest birthday I had ever had. (Last year when I turned 35 topped that birthday, by the way )

    The third is the dearest to my heart. It’s the word “perspective” tattooed in between my shoulder blades in typewriter font. I got it around the same time as I started my first published writing gig for a local magazine. Perspective is probably my favorite word in the word. I went through some really dark and down and broke times a year or so back. I learned what perspective meant first hand when I learned to value the little that I had over bitching over the lot that I didn’t. I often have said the truest definition of the word to me is this: Perspective is the difference in being upset you only have a dollar to your name and being thankful you have enough money to eat ramen for four days.

  • I looked over a copy of the book carefully, and while it’s a good concept, it bothered me that none of the photos actually looked like it was from a test-stitch. all the photos looked computer generated. My tattoo is a Mario 1UpMushroom i got on my right shoulderblade. I got it when I was getting my divorce because I really needed another Life.

  • I thought long and hard about my tattoo. It’s my family crest in the center of my back. I hesitated for a long time about getting it but after going through a hard time and my family always being there I got it. Because after all my family does always have my back.

  • I have one tattoo. I drew it out. It’s a treble clef with a peace sign in the middle and a heart at the very bottom. It’s peace, love and music.

    My next one is going to be a pin up style Miss Piggy. I have it drawn out already.

    I want to get about 50,000 more.

  • My brother’s first tattoo, my sister’s 2nd, my other sister’s 4th, and my 3rd, were all done on the same. When my other sister died we all decided to have a siblings day with no spouses, kids, or other people at all and ended up at a tattoo parlor with a picture of Kimmy’s ladybug tattoo, her only one. All four us got a tattoo that matched that one. Mine is my neck.

  • no tattooes yet but I do have a pattern of one that I’ll get done someday (when I can afford it) it’s a Sneaky beanie baby with my son’s signature under it. The significance of the tattoo is that my son died when he was only 10 years old and the signature is the only one we have – it’s actually from a card my son made for his cousin Joey about a month before he died.
    As for this book I’ve been cross stitching for well over half my life and this is the first time I’ve seen anything like this. Definitely going to have to get a copy of it. LMAO! And since I did conquer that cursed monopoly board (what the he** was I thinking) I figured these should be far less mind numbing – and my surviving son will love ’em!

  • I’ve been in and out of leg casts and contraptions for the last 3 years. Once I’m done I’d like to get something on my ankle and foot to show the journey. I think it may be the first of many tattoos!

  • I definitely need this book in my life! I am inspired by tattoos in my own work (check out if anyone is interested!) and I also have an ever growing collection of tattoos all of which mean something dear to me. I think the most special would be the horse shoe and roses I have on my forearm which I had done when my brother was in Afghan to bring me good luck as it seems I don’t get much in my life!

    (For those wondering…it worked and now he has graced me with a beautiful nephew!)

  • My fiancee has Mr Potatoe Head tattooed on his arm.
    I watched it being inked and although it did not make me want a tattoo myself it made me want to become a tattoo artist….
    However, who would trust an un-inked inker???
    I shall stick to the other type of needlework for now….

  • I don’t have a tattoo, but I just designed one for a friend. He really really likes candy, so it’s a little pile of candy falling off his shoulder down his arm.

  • My tattoo is a Japanese Buddhist design symbolizing the three treasures of Buddhism. It’s on my left upper arm. I chose it as a symbol of my commitment and love of Buddhism.

  • I have a St George and the Dragon on my right shoulder. The design is modeled from an English gold coin. I was drawn to the image and idea of fighting our battles and winning over the dragons in our life in the name and power of God.
    I also have a small music note on my left wrist. It is actually a reference to a poem (quoted by Willie Wonka in the original film), “We are the music makers and we are the dreamers of dreams.”
    I took the Ed Hardy Love Kills Slowly design and adapted it to embroidery a couple years ago. I don’t do cross-stitch–Yet. But I’ll bet the patterns in the book could be easily embroidered instead.

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