I went to the knit-out in Santa Monica yesterday and I learned to crochet, got two free crochet hooks and a pair of knitting needles, and found out about a bunch of local knitting groups around the Southland. In case you ever thought the knit-out was too lame for you, my friend AK said that it was "way better than I thought it would be." But that's not what you came here for.
I bought a copy of BH&G's "Cross-stitch Christmas"--the one that comes in the plastic bag so you have to guess at what's inside and divine whether you want to purchase it or not. BH&G is pretty notorious for repackaging their old designs, so this one guarantees that they are 52 new projects. Initial scan suggests that none are repeats from their calendars, books, or other magazines. However, their count of 52 includes one pattern stitched and finished two ways=2. If the pattern's the same, I say, it doesn't matter if you give me two color ways, or suggest a different fabric count or way of finishing--it's only one new pattern. So 52 is their count.
Big Name Designers
The first two projects are Lorri Birmingham ornaments, a santa and a snowman, and they're cute if you like her stuff which I find a bit saccharine. They are finished by being attached to the ubiquitous Nantucket basket. There's a version of Mary Engelbreit's "Hark! Harold the Angel Sings."
There's a section of Santas which includes a "Russian Santa"; this seems to be translated as a frowning Santa. I guess you'd frown too if you had to give coal to the good kids. He's got some real toys attached to him, to strange effect. It's okay. There's a Scandinavian Santa box and ornament on Aida. Eh. There's a Sinter Klaus pillow design which is stitched in a different color coat and offered as a "basket wrap"--so two sets of finishing instructions. The interest with these guys is that they have fluffy Rainbow Gallery threads for the beard and fur trim on the coat; I think this is the only thing in the magazine that I'd stitch. There's an "old-world" Santa designed by Lorrie Birmingham, although less Birmingham-esque than the first ornaments, finished both as an ornament and as a pillow. He doesn't seem happy, and he's wearing a purple dress. Coincidence? Any way, that makes him old-world. There's a Santa pin (ok) and an ugly wall hanging with a Santa head and a wreath that says "Jingle All the Way."
There is a nativity set designed by Carol Emmer "translated with permission from the Fontanini Heirloom Nativity Collection." They're all there: Mary, Joseph, baby Jesus, two sheep, and angel with a banner "Gloria", and an angel holding a sheep. No Wise Men. (If you visit the website, you can see the crazy people who keep the Fontaninis in business with their EPIC nativity scenes.)
"Scandinavian" angels. I'm not sure what makes them Scandinavian. They're nothing special. There are just the two--and a whole page "Sweet Angels" announcing their arrival (ie. lots of dead air space).
Nine pages of "cross-stitch shop" mail order catalog.
Final recommendation: unless you collect Fontanini, there's no need to pay $6 for the privilege of taking off the plastic wrap.