Thursday, September 22, 2005

Review: New Just Cross Stitch Ornament Issue

What is exciting about the new Just Cross Stitch ornament issue is the number of newer and smaller designers that are included. New designers include: Needle Play, Twisted Oaks, Charlotte's Web, Hands to Work, Water’s Edge, Sunflower Seed, Wee Works, and Waters Edge. Bent Creek, Twisted Threads, and Heart in Hand are out. Have the Trilogy abandoned us? Other notables are missing, but there’s so much that’s new! The other noteworthy difference is the overwhelming number of ornaments that double as needlework smalls (scissor holders, needlebooks, and pin-keeps). That’s one way to be sure people stitch your stuff! On to the review!

Group 1 is mostly red and white ornaments. Two are hardanger and 2 are needlework accessories. These are probably just as you picture them.

Group 2 consists of Christmas trees, from a tiny over one from Elizabeth’s designs to the abstract—one by Twisted Oaks and another by Angel Stitchin’. Monsterbubbles has a “No L” sampler that’s fresh looking even if the joke is really old.

Group 3 are very traditional looking ornaments. Again two are ornaments-cum-needlework smalls. You can tell the ones I’m not that thrilled with…

Group 4 is the “white” ornaments. It includes M Designs “Joy” tree. You can now get "Love," "Hope," "Peace," "Pray," and even designs personalized with your name on them. Charlotte’s Web has a nice dove with peace written in several different languages. I’m already planning to rework it because I don’t like how each word is labeled with which language it is. Also the “i” in the Russian word is backwards. Good thing I took those two years of Russian, isn’t it? Mostly the others aren’t my style: a rose with a blackwork background, a photo frame stitched on plastic canvas, a hardanger noel.

Group 5 is my favorite! I want to stitch 2/3 of them. La D Da has created a sweet Christmas heart with roses, sort of pastel Mary Engelbreit. Bright Needle has a pretty little house, and Carriage House does a flame stitch around the date “Dec. 1804”—for her house—I’m sure we’re all smart enough to stitch a date that is meaningful to us. (I digress: I’ve never really understood stitching exact replicas of historical samplers with the old date on them. So I just don’t get stitching a random old date on an ornament.) Handwork has a pretty one hearts that form a rose in dirty rose and olive green colors—the latter freshens up the color scheme a lot. I love it. Trail Creek has a cute gift surrounded by “gift to be simple.” I like it, but I’ll have to re-chart so it says, “Tis a gift to be simple.” My husband looked at it and wondered what the hell “gift to be simple” meant. And he’s quite right. Another one I like but will ultimately re-chart is Full Circle’s two hearts ornie. The saying around the pretty hearts is “two hearts in love a Christmas blessing from heaven above.” (Gag.) I’ll probably just do something like “Christmas 2005” and fill in the other areas with vines. This page also shows a scissors sheath.

Group 6 is this year’s “not so much.” Two red hat snowmen, a little elf, a cutesy angel and a baby in the manger. At first I didn’t get Susan Greening Davis’s ornament. It’s just backstitched “To: Santa From: Mrs. Claus.” It’s the finishing, though. There are directions for a beaded edging. I like Samsarah’s snowman who is reaching for the stars; it says “the stars were brightly shining” with button stars, of course.

Group 7 is for the birds! Two partridges with pears, a pear sampler, Jemini’s usual, unusual bird ornament, and requisite cardinals. One of the partridges is by Sisters and Best Friends, but the coloring is so strange, it was hard to tell what the design was until I saw the black and white pattern. I wasn’t alone in this, my cousin couldn’t tell what it was either. I sort of like the Jemini series. It’s a little offbeat. This year, the bird is a pelican. There is also an ornament, similar to last year’s by Fancy Work. This year’s has the lyric “Heav’n and Nature Sing.” It’s pretty if you like colonial.

Group 8 is the colorful page. There’s a Santa Lucia ornament that’s sweet. Another needlework tool: a pin-keep this time. Prairie Moon’s ornament reminds me of something I can’t quite put my finger on. And I always have to comment on Moss Creek and Forget-Me-Nots-in-Stitches (could the name be any longer?). Lauren Sauer’s ornament is ugly this year, but it is based on a 19th century Christmas card which makes it interesting to me. It’s not anything we’d look at and say, “Christmas,” but someone once did. Rae’s contribution is a Scandinavian Jule Aften or Christmas plate, and we get the history on those. It’s a simple blue and white design. I always like to know the story behind a piece. So many times there’s no intellectual content, you know?

Group 9 is the family pets: the cats, the dogs, the . . . dragons? As a dog person, I love Mosey ‘n Me’s black Christmas dog (she was a rescue!). I may stitch it for all my family members who rescue animals. My other niece loves cats and the ones I’m considering for her are a cat angel by Chessie and Me and the Britter Cup, hmmm, calligraphy-style drawing. There’s also an over one featuring the phrase, “It’s a Wonderful Life.” Cute, but no over one ornaments for the nieces. You can hardly tell it’s a dragon from Jennifer Aiken-Smith, but he’s warned, “Paws Off Santa’s Snacks.” No doubt it will have quite a following.

Finally, there is another traditional grouping which includes a sampler from Blackbird Designs, a house from Little House, a Nancy Sturgeon sampler, and an adorable present surrounded by ornaments by Little by Little. I wouldn’t call it her usual style—a little more funky. Overall, a pleasing issue.

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