Wednesday, September 15, 2010

2010 JCS Ornament Issue Review

I've been sitting on this magazine for about three weeks. For some reason, I just haven't had the enthusiasm to move the review to the top of my to-do list. Of course, there have been jobs to apply for and minutes to write up and blogging to do for the dogs. So I haven't been just sitting here like a lump. In fact, there's been stitching going on round these parts! And knitting! (Shhh. Don't tell Stella; she hates knitting.)

All the complaints we had last year about the layout--designers in sections rather than alpha, graph and color key on different pages--continue as the layout is the same. Since there are 75 projects, if they gave each person a page and had the same number of two page layouts that they have now (eight), they would still use the same number of pages AND the readers (that's us!) would be happy. How hard can this be? Sigh.

This year, the divisions are labeled with Christmas carols and songs that seem to have nothing to do with the ornaments themselves. So, our first group of ornaments is called "O Holy Night," but only one is "holy." All are, however, primarily red. Several stitched entirely in red include JBW "Star" and La-D-Da's "Tis Red." Plum Street's "Love and Joy" is probably my favorite. As you know, I have stitched several of Fancy Work's carol ornaments. This year's bothers me because the song lyrics are out of order. At the top it says "Let earth receive her King," the middle section has "Joy" in large letters and under that it says "to the world, the Lord is come." Is it wrong of me to hate? Don't worry, you won't want to stitch it anyway, the floss key is on the reverse of the pattern. Sigh.

"Silver Bells" is one of the few places where the ornaments and title match up. The ornaments are all silver or bluish. Except the one I like, which is called "hope" (My Big Toe). Some people may argue that Christmas is the season of hope, but I kind of associate that virtue with Easter. Nevertheless... I like the "Holiday Peacock" from Courtney Collection more for its finishing than the freaky bird but even I am repulsed by "Dashing through the Dough" a "goody holder." And you know my Christmas is all about the Santa Claus. I do like Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches beadwork snowflake she cribbed from an old magazine. I've always thought someone should revisit needlework patterns from old women's magazines and reprint or update some of the patterns our foremothers would have stitched. I also like the lettering on Charland Design's stocking though I am not sure that the motifs work together.

"Carol of the Bells" contains no bells. These ornaments are red and green. On this page I am particularly fond of Blackbird's (of course!) "Floral Gift." I also like Ink Circle's "Stained Glass Pine" though I liked it a lot better when I though the background was stitched in an overdye that randomly made that pattern and not three different flosses that have to be placed particularly. Although I have a small collection of The Artist's Collection's Santas, I'm underwhelmed by the colors this year. I'll have to pull them and see what I think. (Early assessment is that they are too bright.) Moss Creek, who always gives us a history lesson, turns to Scottish tradition this year. My Scottish husband (he was born there to a Scottish mother) suggests that people aren't quite as into Oidche Choinnle (say it, it's fun!) as she suggests.

"Joy to the World"--the golden ornaments--has one of my favorites and one almost favorite. Monsterbubble's "Day Four"--the calling birds--is perhaps my favorite of the whole magazine. If you are looking for colly birds (blackbirds) you'll be disappointed, since they are red and green. Now, you may remember that monsterbubbles produced my favorite design last year too, but what I want to know, nay need to know, is what happened to the second and third days? The one that almost does it for me is Midsummer Night Designs "I love Christmas" which has a tone-on-tone background of the lyrics to "Oh Christmas Tree." The reason I am not fully on board is that the lyrics don't run across the ornament. You have "Oh Christma/Oh Christma/of all the tre/lovel each/you b...ng to/ light meani." See what I mean? The rest of the ornaments in this section practically fade into the background for me.

"Silent Night" is another red and green section, which includes Homespun Elegance, Sweetheart Tree, and Prairie Schooler. My favorites here are the Cherished Stitches Pin Keep and Jeannette Douglas's (yes, I'm surprised too!) Christmas Stamp Ornament. She says that this is based on the new Christmas stamp. Since she is Canadian, I figured it was a new stamp from north of the border, but I have been unable to find it. I'm hoping they did a lousy job editing her story because she talks about filling her stamp collecting book with Easter seal stamps because the only ones she got were from Holland and Canada. "And it was quite something to get one from an Eastern Bloc country." Um, hello?

"White Christmas" is the snowmen and snowflake ornaments, and you know how I love snowmen! My favorite of this bunch is SamSarah's "Love." I may even be inspired to stitch one of these before Christmas. I also like Amy Bruecken's and Miss Crescent's snowmen. Honestly I don't think anyone's gone wrong on this page.

"The First Noel" seems bright and cheerful but that may be caused by the backdrop. Little by Little and Legacy Designs seem to have perfectly coordinated their Quaker-inspired designs. Like them both. I like Ladybug Lane's "Joy" ornament that is accented by JABC buttons. Casey Buonaugurio continues to focus on converting flavors to cross stitch with a peppermint latte. (How does she not weigh 1200 pounds?) I like the Erica Michaels 40-count rendition of "The Most Wonderful Time of the Year" though I'm not so fond of the finishing. I also like Charlotte's Web's angel. The story on this one is cute: Charlotte was nostalgic for a particular Christmas ornament of her youth, so she stitched a replica. Nice! How much do I hate to see large chunks of magazine being wasted on literary Christmas quotes? Use it to perfect the layout!

Last, and perhaps least, is the "Little Drummer Boy" section. This is where the much ballyhooed sock monkey appears. The crazy bird from Jemini this year is a puffin! I'm always happy to see those birds, even if I've yet to stitch one of them. The dragon lovers will be happy to see Jennifer's gift, and the kitty lovers will be pleased with Brittercup's design of a cat among the presents. Dog lovers can hang. Finally, I'm a little disturbed by "When Santa Got Stuck in the Chimney." People, we don't want to freak the kids out.

I know many of you skip over the stories, and frankly you're not missing much. I think many of the layout problems could be solved simply by including only the ornaments. From my perusal of the stories, I think they are often harder work that designing the ornament. They're either poorly written or poorly edited. And most of them are boring, frankly. Family stories are either the same (we all have that story about...) or are so odd that they should be kept under wraps. And I honestly don't care about your grandchildren; you're the only one who finds their antics cute. Everyone is being polite when they nod and smile. Look carefully, you'll see our eyes have glazed over when you start telling us all their ages. Sandra Sullivan (Homespun Elegance) puts Martha Stewart to shame with her story which isn't about Christmas at all--it's about her daughter's wedding. (See why we need to get rid of these?) She handcut savory shortbread into a "W" to put on all the salads at the reception. Frankly, I would have been a lot happier not knowing that.

There are only 16 ornaments that I would put on my to-be-stitched list. The fewest in ages. I also blame the magazine for the lack of funny in my review. I keep looking at it and reading it but I got nothin'. Maybe we're all a little tired.

22 comments:

Silverlotus said...

Great review, Anna. I agree with you about the stories and recipes. I don't have this year's issue yet, but I know I will skip over them. I always do.

I don't totally agree with you, of course. The snowman page is my least favourite. I think there are about seven ornaments from this year's issue I'd like to stitch, which is generally the case. I think I was more pleased with the Halloween ornaments this year than I am with the Christmas ornaments.

(I've seen all the layout pages on a thread on The Wagon.)

riona said...

Thanks for the review ... I do believe this will make the third year in a row that I haven't bought the ornament issue ...I have found it increasingly bland ... my last purchase, 2007, contained only one ornament I stitched. Now, the Halloween ornament issue is another story ... I still find a modicum of creative energy within its pages.

Meadows08 said...

I could totally do without the "recipes." Tell me, what does Black Bean & Rice Soup or Shrimp Gazpacho have to do with Christmas???

Glenna said...

Oh, my. The stuck santa reminds me of that most gruesome bit of news about the desperate girlfriend stuck in the boyfriend's chimney...where she died...only to be discovered...because she was leaking fluids. So. What color floss shall we use for the fluids? I do not especially like Christmas, and I approach Christmas stitching gingerly as a result. I order the magazine each year but generally don't stitch anything from it, although I do want to go back a few years and stitch the Christmas rabbits. Of course.

Glenna said...

In fact, I'm quite bitter about the fact that it sounds as if there are no new Christmas rabbits on offer in this year's issue.

Lelia said...

IDK - I think the ornaments look better when people stitch them, photograph them, put them on their blogs.

For some reason, when in the magazine, the pictures don't do the designs justice.

I didn't buy the preview issue or Halloween issue. Maybe there are more interesting ones in those issues.

Patti said...

Great review! I agree with most everything you said. What disappointed me in this issue was a few of the designers (Lizzie Kate and Miss Crescent's Crown)seemed to put very little effort into their designs.

You need to go back and look at the Rockin' Rollin Santa by The Artists Collection. I can't get past that his right hand is holding a wreath over his "privates" and he has 2 gold balls in his left hand!

Yes, my mind is in the gutter ; )

KarenV said...

Holland = Eastern bloc? (Or did I misunderstand?) Hmmm.... ;)

I haven't got my mag yet but hopefully will today or tomorrow. I've seen the picture layout online though and I agree that the header captions for each set of pictures bear little resemblance to the actual ornaments.

I'm also disappointed that the layout is the same, but I suppose they've only just overhauled it, so wanted to stick with it a bit longer. I got used to last year's in the end, but made a lot more use of the contents listing than I normally do.

We have very different tastes, judging from what you're planning to stitch ;) And 16 is good - I've only counted 10/11 definites and a couple of maybes, which I considered pretty good going :)

Giovanna said...

Thanks for the review, it's always fun to read!

Cathy said...

I just contacted my lns about sending me a copy. Despite layout issues, the magazine always motivates me to get my butt stitching.

Thanks for the review. I enjoy it every year

Donna said...

You've hit the nail on the head! The reason I haven't commented on this issue yet is because it's a snoozefest. It's boring. It's bland. And it doesn't excite me in the least.

staci said...

Great review! I hate the layout too, it was at least easier to see and find the ornaments with the old layout. And it wouldn't bother me in the least if they nixed the stories and recipes either.

Apparently, no one cares what us stitchers think.

Katherine said...

I haven't purchased since '07 either and am not in any hurry to run out and get a copy now. It's too much money for too little return.

Andrea said...

Hoo ha! You are too funny! Loved reading your review!! I wouldn't miss this issue for anything, definitiely a must buy for me every year. Reading your review of it just makes it even more fun to look through ;)

Nannette said...

Oh thank God I am not the only stitching bitch who doesn't care about peoples' grandchildren. I'm feeling so much more normal now.

Wait, is it normal to think like you??

mainely stitching said...

My issue finally just arrived today. Friends in Holland got theirs before I got mine, which just totally cracked me up. So much for having the advantage now that I'm stateside.

I look forward to your reviews every year. This year, I went through my issue before reading your review, though, so you couldn't influence me. ;) I plan to stitch Santa got stuck in the chimney for Nicky, who will pee his Christmas pants when he sees it - it fits perfectly with his oddball humor. ;) And of course I have to make the sock monkey for Arden, who adores the sock monkey BeckySC got him a couple of years ago. Planned to make the lovely angel for Rowen, but came up empty for Niek and Max.

Sharon said...

Oh, how I agree. I absolutely thought this issue was not as good as previous ones.

Jennifer said...

Couldn't agree more on the layout. It's not that hard to do it right, especially with computers, and I'd almost volunteer to do it for FREE if they'd stop this ridiculousness.

Brigitte said...

Loved reading your review. Now I'm even more looking forward to getting my copy of the ornament issue and searching for the ornaments that I like.

Charlene ♥ SC said...

I flipped through it, and nothing took my breath away. Of course when I see that others have stitched them, their photos may make them more appealing. Maybe I should stop my subscription and wait to read your review! At least YOU make me chuckle!

mymarkdesigns said...

Never even saw the stuck Santa until you mentioned it LOL

The wierdest thing about this issue for me is the absence of a few friends from this issue...

great review, as always :)

trillium said...

This issue is my last (was a gift subscription). I want to stitch 10 or 11, but will not have the suggested silk threads or same fabric colors.

Many of the recipes use such junk food!

I did not care for the stories. Some people had only a one-line quote, and some had a long, rambling tale.