Hey, kids! Elizabeth Newlin of Bent Creek came and checked out your interpretations of Swirlygig. Are you swooning?
As people have mentioned this year's book (that's magazine-speak for magazine) is laid out differently. More like a Leisure Arts Christmas Cross-stitch book (like what normal people call a book): there is a photo of one themed group followed by all the instructions for those ornaments. The Christmas stories are included here, but the recipes are compiled in the back. Unfortunately the designers didn't get the memo so some of the stories were about the recipes or the designer merely said, "enjoy this recipe," which wasn't even there. I have an idea. It's a cross-stitch magazine. No more recipes!
So I was hoping against hope that these changes meant that all the patterns and their respective color charts would end up on the same page--which is really useful for the end user. As it turns out, that isn't the case. Why the massive shift, if the end result isn't any more user friendly?
Every year I make the dude look at the ornaments on offer and pick the ones he likes. This year as we were flipping through he remarked, "Isn't this the same every year?" While I might have defended it in years past, this year, I kind of got that feeling as well. There are a couple of specific patters I could compare to old ones, but I shall refrain. Word is the designers don't get paid for this. I'd totally mail it in myself.
Still that makes the designers who put in extra effort somehow well, either wonderful or naive. A designer I spoke to (e-mailed) said that these ornaments were their gifts to the stitchers. Which makes you wonder how much the ornament issue brings into the JCS coffers...I'm a cynic and a critic...I tend to look at these things a little differently. But I digress.
Up front are the snowy ornaments: three unimpressive snowmen and a cute sheep*. The ice skating couple has a cute story and I like that the guy's sweater is stitched in woolly thread. Not so much that his trousers are, and why not her sweater? There are several "stitching" ornaments; the first appears here--a white tree made up of scissors, needle and thread. Not for me, not as a Christmas ornament anyway. There's an angel with something at its feet. At first I thought it was a penguin. At second glance, it looked like a dog**. It turns out its a JABC Jesus button (maybe just a baby?) in a stitched manger. Apparently, I need to have my eyes checked. I think the angel might be too tall, throwing off the Jesus proportions. But what do I know? How tall are angels anyway? Favorites on this page are Mosey's sheep and Blackbird's Peace House.
The next section hosts the Christmas Trees. One is a stitch sampler which impressed the dude, and I like Cindy Valentine's tree too. Amy Brueken (the half sister and best friend) has another sheep, though I am not crazy about the finishing (same as in the preview issue). Speaking of finishing, Fine-ally Finished has a mistletoe ball that is kind of weird, but she did thorough research on the meaning of mistletoe. Also, there's a frog charm on it, and it's called "Mistletoad" which completely perplexes me. Our friend Monique is on this page with her dingbat*** person. She's got a needle and it's titled "Christmas Stitching." I might make that into a needlebook rather than an ornament. There's the Tiny Tim quote, "God Bless Us Everyone" which I like but the dude doesn't think it is Dickensian, well, in the sense that Tiny Tim wasn't speaking for the author. It's rough living with a Dickens scholar sometimes.
The next section is labeled "Winter Wonderland." These are the pinky/purple ornies. I love Forget-Me-Nots In Stitches (the most cumbersome name in cross-stitch)--the colors, the fabric, the shape, the finishing, the carnation--though I'd probably change or omit the quote ("What can I give Him, poor as I am? What I can I give Him: give my heart") on the band that turns the heart into a mattress ornament. I like the shaker ornament--think of a shaker card from papercrafting--as well. I think it was Kathryn who said she'd use foam core, but you'd have to have a very sharp knife and steady hand not to end up with raggedy edged foam core. And I am not that person. Still, why does this one look like Curacao? (See what I mean?) Charland has a long story about how angelic her mother is; you'd think that an angel ornament would follow. No, a bell pull with "rejoice." Huh. Brittercup has a Britter Kitty and Ladybug Lane gives us a Scottie dog. I think Cross-Eyed Cricket's little elf is adorable.
Blue Christmas is, you guessed it, blue. Susan Greening Davis has a cute house, but the quote, "It took a miracle to hang the stars in place" isn't right for us. There are three more generic snowman, and a blue bird called "Twitter Blue." It's not the bird from Twitter, not even that cyan shade of Twitter blue. Heartstrings Santa isn't roly poly this year. Little By Little's Chilly Frilly (white flowers) doesn't frill me. Big Toe, whose designs I will probably never stitch, has a pretty cross.
Primitive, Celtic, and Quaker ornaments make up the "Old Fashioned Holiday" section. I like the Penny Angel though the dude didn't know what it was supposed to be. There's a spot ornament. Small spot samplers don't work well, I think. "It's messy," said the dude. Moss Creek gives us Haw berries and a long lesson on Joseph of Arimathea and the Holy Haw. It's a scissors keep. I like the Jeanette Douglas "Christmas" (over one) and the La-D-Da "Merry Christmas." I can see stitching the Cherished Stitches for Edgar and lo! it's a needlebook. This might be the best section.
Christmas Confetti (is that a real thing?) follows. Love the layout: the ornaments have been photographed on chartreuse sequins. When I showed this to the dude he pointed to the flamingo and said that was just wrong. But no! You know I have a soft spot for the Jemini designs birds--and they're back. My favorite ornament in the whole book is Day One from monsterbubbles. I'm sure it is not for everyone but you do know this review is my informed opinion rather than yours. Charlette's Collectibles remains scary. I think it's because she can't spell her name, godblessher. Country Cottage has a cute one in her usual style--"Visions of Sugar Plums." I like the pomander by Ink Circles, but perhaps the fabric should be more orange? "Run, Run Rudolph" is Raise the Roof's tribute to those stop animation films of my (our) youth. Still 21st century me hates that horribly sexist, conformist version of the story. Then there's some stuff on perforated paper.
Deck the Halls is a section of red and green ornaments. Imaginating Breast Cancer ornament has a horribly depressing blurb even though it's about hope. Shepherd's Bush finally turned their designing pencils to the true meaning of Christmas, giving us "Santa's Flight." And it's about time! Victoria's Sampler Christmas Tree Scissors Keep matches her Gingerbread Stitching House. Now that I know these women aren't getting paid, more power to her and the others that stitch something to match something they have for sale!
In "Joy to the World" we have the red but not really religious ornaments. Here, I like Fancy Work's "Jingle all the Way," Tanya's primitive spot sampler, Loopylou's little Christmas Tree and Midsummer Night's lamb. I love the sheep, peeps.
Quick show of hands: have you ever cooked any of the recipes in the Just Cross Stitch ornament issue? Or should we scrap those six pages in favor of getting the color charts and patterns on the same damn page! See survey right.
There are a few pages of "exclusive" mail order kits. You know there's something wrong when the tiny BBD ornie runs $49.
Some quick takes:
* Frank grew a beard to play Santa for his grandson. He strikes me as such a fun guy. He's probably a right prick. But I'll maintain my fantasy: he is Santa Claus.
* Stop sending in diet recipes. Okay, send them, but don't tell us they are low fat. You people are pooping on my party.
* Roasted vegetables is not a Christmas recipe!
* Is peach salsa "Christmas in July" or "July at Christmas"?
* Check the ads on page 19. Cat's Whiskers needs a closer look. Wow. That's bright. I like Prancer's antlers (Hinzeit).
* Amy Brueken--let's party with her. Vegas, baby! Now that's a Christmas story!
* Who knew Workbasket designed from two continents? Coming soon, update on my Workbasket piece!
*The dude wanted to know what sheep had to do with Christmas, but fortunately all those years (okay, four) in Catholic school learned me about the Lamb of God.
**The fact that the design was called "Glory to the Newborn King" apparently means nothing to me.
***In the graphics sense, not the idiot sense.