When I got home on Friday, my copy of the Just Cross-Stitch Ornament Issue was waiting for me! I contemplated coming in this weekend so that I could report on it. However, the Emmys were held down here last night and the traffic situation was unconscionable. I have to say that this new magazine is way better than the 2003 issue (see Sept 22, 2003). I found about 20 or so ornaments I plan to stitch. Some old friends are missing. Twisted Threads, who has been included in each issue since 1997, has skipped (could have something to do with the INRG presidency). Bent Creek, Nutmeg Needle, Sheepish Designs, Something in Common--all of whom have skipped once before and returned--aren't in this issue. I hope we'll see them again. Newbies include Fancy Work (The Fancy Work design is a companion piece to this one), Monster Bubbles and Little House Needleworks. I'm pleased to see them because I have all of their designs marked as standouts. In fact, don't tell anyone, but I started the Little House design last night.
The Review: The first page has cat and tree ornaments. Brown House has a lovely folk art topiary tree and Monster Bubbles has palm trees for the kind of Christmas we get around these parts. The next grouping includes "ornament" ornaments (you know, like those glass balls you hang on the tree...) a pile of presents from Full Circle Designs, a Love ornament from Forget-Me-Nots, and Charland Designs has a Love ornament to match last year's. The following page includes the "red" ornaments. The standout here is M Designs' Peace Tree. It's an abstract tree when you look at it straight on, but if you turn it to the side, you can see that it is composed of script "p, e, a, c, e". The other ornaments are interesting if you like black work, hardanger, and crosses. The blue ornament page follows. This includes two nativities (including Shepherd's Bush following up "Wisemen Came" with "In a Stable"). There are three ornaments that aren't very Christmas-y--a pretty pansy, some grapes, and a blackwork ornament done in purple, mint, and gold. My faves on this page are the angels by Sisters and Best Friends and Cross-Eyed Cricket. Animals are featured on the next page: 5 reindeer ranging from primitive to Germanic. Moss Creek has another slightly strange ornament: the straw Christmas goat. She tells the tail of the Scandinavian tradition of the dollie so I cut her some slack. There's also a sheep from Elizabeth's Designs, and they also stuck Threads Through Time's design on this page (no animals). The bird pages follow: four primitives, a heron to match last year's flamingo, a tiny cardinal and a chickadee. The santa page comes next. Dragon Dreams is back. Lest you think I'm going to slam her, I have to say I like the sentiment: "never too big to believe." Won't stitch it myself, but the dragon fans should like it. The weirdo ornament of the magazine does appear on this page. That distinction goes to Gloria and Pat's "camp grandma" ornament--another of their licensed exclusives--that features a yellow bird that could be a chick with a huge beak or it could be a pelican. It's too weird. (We went to "Camp Mimi" but it was always the summer. The only thing we learned to do there was to order out of catalogs, but I digress.) The rest of the ornaments are Santas. There's also a little box marked "ho ho;" the finishing is different. I couldn't think of how to describe the next grouping of ornaments, when I actually read the copy that JCS includes. This is the "simple gifts" page. You know, I believe this is the first time I've read this copy, and I don't recommend it. There are two ornaments with stylized poinsettias, a monochromatic swan, a Sweetheart Tree bell pull, and one that admonishes us to "Build Peace for the Children." The last ornament is cute enough, but that slogan has to go. There's also a "Quaker Motif Ornament" that includes a gift charm. Whatever happened to "it's a gift to be simple?" The snow ornaments grouping comes next. Four snowmen, a penguin, skiers, and ice skaters are featured. The other three ornaments simply match colorways. The "home sweet homes" are next. There are also a few miscellaneous ornaments here: sheet music to "Silent Night," a gingerbread man, and an Imaginating Angel (does have a house button).
Reading the recipes and Christmas stories from the designers, I had several thoughts. First, never include a low-carb recipe for Christmas. That is so irreligious. I found a special bond with Michelle Lash of Brittercup; another person who unwrapped and rewrapped Christmas presents. The only difference is that she seems to have stopped. (Okay, one day I'll try to get control of myself.) Charland Garvin has the sweetest story about the Christmas stocking her daughter made for her. My teeth ached when I read Full Circle's recipe. I want to know if anyone else would make color copies of their needlework to give to people as a gift, like one of the women from Blackbird Designs does. (I also want to hear from those who have received such a dubious gift.) Finally, Meg Thompson Shinall recommends that you start Christmas shopping in October. Puh-lease. October? Why not just wait until Christmas Eve?
Recommendation: buy it.
Speaking of recommended magazines, I see that Better Homes and Gardens Christmas Cross-stitch is on the newstands and out of the bag! But standing there flipping through it, I recognize many of the patterns. Recommendation: Leave it on the shelf.