Monday, September 17, 2007

The Review

I picked up my stitching friend DD at BWI on Friday with two Google maps to get us to Winterthur and then to the LNS. Unfortunately, I didn't look too closely at the maps and we ended up at Winterthur Lane in Newark, DE. Which isn't as far off as it may seem, but still isn't a big ol' DuPont mansion. We did drive right by, but who was to know? They don't label anything in Delaware. We ended up at a cute and delicious little restaurant, Pamela's Gourmet, just past Winterthur Ln. Don't go if you're in a rush, the service leaves something to be desired. Anyway, we stopped at the LNS and I picked up the JCS Ornament Issue and SamSarah's Rise and Shine.

Now that I'm back at work, I can review it.

We begin with stockings and red and green. Well, do try to open at page 10; if you open the front cover, be sure you are wearing your sunglasses--what is up with that Charles Craft stocking? Have they made it that bright to rival the Star of Bethlehem so you'll get the gold, frankincense, and myrrh? That is one neon fabric for Christmas. Anyway, back to page 10: five ornaments feature a stocking and three are miscellaneous. The Prairie Schooler Design matches their Cranberry Christmas. On this page my favorite is Designs by Cathy Jean (new to me); she's done a folk art stocking, but I'd probably leave off the sentiment. Far be it from me to tell Santa what to put in my stocking.

Next, we have the red and green ornaments. Moss Creek Designs is going with the ethnic things again, this time the Dalahast (put an umlaut on the last a). Don't know about the "goodwill horse"? Don't worry; Rae has written about it in breathtaking detail. (I know her; I like her, but still...). Lizzie*Kate has a Lizzie*Kate ornament. Interestingly Scandanavian Stitches doesn't use the Scandinavian dalahast, but contributes a tree decorated with hearts. It's okay. M Designs has a different tree--it seems a little fair isle for my taste. I almost never like Ursula Michael's designs, but she's contributed a pink floral wreath that you could use for a biscornu.

The next set of ornaments are darker red and green. This may be the first time I thought I'd stitch a Brittercup Design. Whe's got a lovely poinsettia done in her "outline" style. This time, it works for me. I like La-D-Da's "Yule Flower" but you knew I would. Fans of the Workbasket will be disappointed to see that they have not contributed a Quaker design. Theirs reminds me of the Brightneedle houses only stitched over two and using horrible colors.

Santa shows up in various forms. From cute and pudgy (Knotted Tree) to um, Santa as one of the Marx Brothers (Raise the Roof, but we expect it of them). I usually love the Heartstrings Santas, but I'm not keen this year with symbols of Christmas growing out of the top of his head. You almost don't recognize the Dragon Dreams ornament because the dragon is secondary to the really otherwise cute Santa. Carriage House has a toy shop sign with Santa on it, and it almost works. Mosey and Me's Santa looks like Frank. Does everything they do look like Frank, or is that just me?

I would have to say of all the photo spreads, the Christmas trees are my favorite. Very even, though I probably wouldn't stitch them all. I love Erica Michaels forest and Charland Designs' Tipsy Tree (though not the finishing...). Brightneedle cannot go wrong; they've finished their cute dainty ornament as a pinkeep. There are also a scissor fob and scissor case from Follow the Leader. I wouldn't stitch all of these, but I really can't complain.

The next group of ornaments is the "random" group. It includes Shepherd's Bush's continuation of their series, "Their sweet baby kept." I'm no Bible expert, but is that opposed to the sweet baby who rotted? DD tells me she keeps trying to read it as "Their sweet baby slept." I would be indebted to the person who directed me to the carol or passage that they are using for these. Especially where it says "wisemen." But I digress. Cross-Eyed Cricket contributes a mitten with a shepherd, and I like it, except that it's a mitten. Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches has "happy Chrismas" and I'm not keen on it. I love Little by Little's Merry and Bright star. And Country Cottage's ornament is cute but a little pink.

Wild describes the next group of ornaments. Imaginating contributes a "Wacky Holiday" and in case you were wondering about the woman on the ornament, you get her full story. I couldn't read it, I'm sure someone can get back to me with a two sentence treatment. Charlotte's Web contributes a slightly demented-looking doll, but the story explains everything. It's sort of sweet, sort of weird. I'm backing away slowly. S&BF's "flakey" ornament is cute, but I'm not ready to welcome flakes into my life (not the snow kind, the annoying person kind). I like SamSarah's "Winter Love" (you got a taste of it in the preview issue) and her story is sweet, but her life is sure gonna change. My favorite (and the dude's) is the Eiffel Tower by monsterbubbles. I don't know why the Eiffel Tower, it just is. Love the green fabric!

We haven't left out the animals this year: four birds, two cats, one dog, and a reindeer. I'm not a cat person, but the blackwork cat from Kitty & Me is pretty. Crossed Wing's cardinal is different--stitched on red. I might do the woodpecker from Jemini for the dude, although he does want to know what the bird has to do with Christmas. (We saw a pileated woodpecker on a hike last spring.) If your kids love Happy Feet, they'll be happy with the penguin from the Stitchworks. And my mom will be happy with the yellow lab.

Angels 'n' things describes the section on page 26. Two scary angels, one primitive angel, and one country. The latter two, totally stitchable. There is a set of bells on this page, ehn. And "Do you hear what I hear?" provides the words for a star ornament that I think is too glitzy, but I've heard it said, you can't be too glitzy at Christmas. Gentle Pursuits Designs' ornament is nice in a sampler sort of way, but too much Jesus for me.

The final collection of ornaments is purple and blue and such. I cannot imagine stitching Still Stitching with Susan's hardanger candle holders for my Christmas lights. And I only put up six of them. Ther's another hardanger ornament, I think it's supposed to look like a wrapped taffy. I like Rosewood Manor's Christmas Lace blackwork and beads ornament, and LHN's Snow Bunnies is too cute!

I've read all the stories and recipes. Here's what I have to say:
  1. You're a cross-stitch designer, not an evangelist. No Bible passages. We have to remember that Christmas is about Santa Claus, people!
  2. How funny is it that the first two designers (Angel Stitchin and Bizzi Creations) both sent in no-bake cookie recipes that are virtually identical. Who's going to make them both and tell us which one is better?
  3. Our new editor made a booboo. (So mean of me to point out, like I've never made an editing mistake in our magazine.) They forgot to tell us which page the finishing is on xx (see page 47). And could she not edit Colleen Leader's story: "I bought the biggest tree I could find and drug it through the front door"? What kind of drugs do you use to get a tree through the door?
  4. If you got divorced, would you announce it in a magazine? You know, if you weren't a celebrity? (Still love her Santa.)
  5. No more rhyming recipes.
  6. No more recipes for broccoli, no matter how much it's supposed to make us want broccoli. That's just not in the Christmas spirit. Even the people on low-glycemic diets can give us muffins.


Kathryn said...

Loved your comments! Overall, not a great issue, but it could have been great if more designers just THOUGHT about their fabric choices. I think I can rescue a few designs with a change of fabric.

Like Fill with Love by Cathy Jean. Great stocking, fabric too dark to see the lettering and buttonhole stitches at the side. And what's with the overwhelmingly large buttons. Yeah, inappropriate finishing, another hallmark of this year. Now I liked the Christmas Wishes stocking (I like plaid), as long as I changed all of the colors. I also liked the Julia Lucas door (without the wreath).

Yeah, that Dalahast. Cute on a different fabric so that the saddle doesn't disappear. And a MUCH thinner halter. I think a lot of people will be stitching the Brittercup Poinsettia, but not finishing it with THOSE tassels. My favorite santa is from Knotted Tree, very traditional.

I liked the spool tree from Sue Hillis, without all the buttons. I didn't even notice the Jeannette Douglas tree the first time around. Another choice of fabric that totally obscures the design, as does the charming star from Little by Little. I'd love to stitch that on any other fabric maybe with two strands. One strand is not covering it. (How much flour????)

Yes, the Eiffel Tower caught my eye right from the cover. The fabric is fine, but what's with the fade away lettering and the odd orange stripe. Some different thread choices and it's a winner.

I try not to read the descriptions and recipes (usually way, way too simpistic), but the offhanded divorce comment will stick in my memory for some time.

cathymk said...

I hear that the mag has arrived in Australia - just waiting my copy in the post now. Having read your review I can't wait to see it.
Broccoli could never be a Christmas food.

anniebeez said...

Anna you are SO funny, even if you are "such" a pagan!!hehe! I can't wait to get my issue!

Coral said...

Very funny!!

"Mosey and Me's Santa looks like Frank. Does everything they do look like Frank, or is that just me?"

Um, yeah, everything looks like Frank. Still laughing!

Barbara said...

Thanks for starting my day off with a good laugh, Anna. I'm going to think of drugged Christmas trees all day today and smile my Madonna-like smile. ;)

Cathy said...

My review of your review:

"what is up with that Charles Craft stocking?"-Can I tell you how I didn't even notice it until you pointed it out. I think my brain knew that something horrendous was there and forced me not to look. Yikes!

"I'm no Bible expert, but is that opposed to the sweet baby who rotted?"-I giggled, but I'm sure there's more to the poem that will make this year's saying make sense. Maybe they should print what the whole thing will say one day. Unless of course they're just making it up as they go.

"I couldn't read it, I'm sure someone can get back to me with a two sentence treatment."-It's apparently supposed to be a mom getting ready for Christmas. It's also supposed to be an homage to women who go crazy over Christmas. Frankly, it looks like Black Friday threw up.

"Two scary angels, one primitive angel, and one country"-They are scary indeed. What is up with that angel head? I'll have nightmares for weeks.

"Gentle Pursuits Designs' ornament is nice in a sampler sort of way, but too much Jesus for me."-I had to laugh. Too much Jesus in a Christmas ornament. How dare they?

"How funny is it that the first two designers (Angel Stitchin and Bizzi Creations) both sent in no-bake cookie recipes that are virtually identical."-I actually wondered if that was a mistake, considering the recipes are even facing each other on the page. Then I saw that they weren't exactly the same. Weird.

Mia said...

Anna, loved the review. Now I have to read your review again once I get the magazine. It has been crazy around here lately and I just haven't had the time to go look for the magazine.

Jacque said...

ROFL!! I think next year the designers should allow you to describe their ornament and write the content for their article! : )

xsquared said...

Hee hee... loved your review! Waiting to get mine, should come by the end of the week, I hope. The recipes, stories, etc drive me insane - I completely ignore them. I just want the pics, charts, and finishing instructions. I would love it if they would give each ornament its own page, with the photo, materials, chart all together, but it doesn't look like that will ever happen.

C in DC said...

Thanks for the review. I haven't acquired a copy yet. I have to see it before I buy it. I bought last year's issue and didn't stitch a single ornament from it.

I liked the ornaments in the "preview" issue, although I'm not entirely sold on the need for the preview issue. To paraphrase your Best Pal, it's too early to be talking about Christmas while it's still summer!

I think I'll probably stitch all of the ornaments in the preview, since with a little bit of planning almost all of them can be stitched with the same threads on the same fabric.

Anna van Schurman said...

Pagan! I prefer heathen.

anniebeez said...

Lol! OK, heathen then!

Michelle said...

Ok, seriously. I left you a comment yesterday - but it's not here...perhaps I am losing my mind??

Anyway, I was saying that I love your reviews of the magazine and am looking forward to getting my copy. As for the SB ornaments - what we have is - 2000 Years Ago, The Angels Sang, Shepherds Watched, Wisemen [sic] came. In a Stable, As Bethlehem Slept, Mary and Joseph, Their Sweet Baby Kept. Maybe that helps?

jo said...

I *heart* Anna!

I posted my review and then ran right here to read yours. We don't think alike. No, no, nope. No way.

LOL, you made my day!

Anna van Schurman said...

Ah, Michelle, thank you! It makes so much more sense now.

Lelia said...

LOL : ) Anna, you rock! While there are many charming orns in this issue -- I still go back to the tree by The Cat's Whiskers Design Studio & the star by Little by Little.

did you read the comment in Kim's blog? She is with her husband, says: "Look my Christmas ornament issue arrived!!" Her husband Brian remarks: "Oh yeah, I remember, the Swimsuit issue of cross stitching"

Anonymous said...

What would interest you in the next magazine? If you are dissappointed in this one, what do you need to make you sit up and take notice? What is lacking / needs to be addressed? I would be curious to hear your opinions.
Colleen - who will obviously reread all info before sending it to the publishers next time (:
Follow The Leader Designs