Monday, September 22, 2008

2008 Ornament Issue

It's become a bit of a tradition, reviewing the ornament issue. The dude was making fun of me, "It's a red letter day in the blogosphere." I haven't seen loads of people talking about theirs yet. Are you all done with it? So caught up in the Halloween issue you have no thoughts for Christmas ornies? Well, too bad, I'm talking about it anyway.

I wrote this last night, and I wanted to check a few things before I posted this. But I can't find the frickin' magazine. I bought it on Saturday. I had people over yesterday, and now it is missing. I probably put it away while I was straightening up. Let this be a lesson to you: never do housework! We're just going to have to go with what I've written.

The first set of ornaments features the sort-of primitives, most in a sort of pinkie red and dusty green. There's a Quaker darning sock which is cute, a star filled with La D Da flowers--adorable--a Blackbird Designs stocking. This year Fancy Work went with Adeste Fideles, which I love singing in Latin but won't stitch. There's a mini biscornu. Moss Creek offers a needlebook which has a rather sophisticated design, the first in a series of stitching accessories. Sweetheart Tree is being Sweetheart Tree, but I think that my favorite is Hands to Work's Joy needleroll ornie.

Oh there are snowman ornaments galore to follow: cute ones from SamSarah, Casey Buonaugurio, Mosey and Me and CCN. This year's Mosey doesn't look like Frank! In fact, he's not even pictured with Judy--too much Trading Spaces? There's a cute bluebird with a Santa cap from M Designs and a figure skater from Primrose Needleworks. Not crazy about the pun, at least it makes sense.

Next comes the houses including a 3-D house from Victoria Sampler, which is cute. I'm not that thrilled with the others. They seem like deja vu all over again.

The next group goes together in a way I can't quite name. Hardanger motifs? Quakerish? Sampleresque? Anyway, DebBee's Designs band sampler just needs a touch of black to make it totally Jamaican. The colors are just off. Love My Big Toe's "Peace" design and Glory Bee's "Merry." Full Circle's cardinals are worth a mention as well. But the rest? Not so much.

Turn the page for redwork: a turtle dove, a reindeer, a snowman, a Quaker stocking. There's a white floss on red fabric sampler tree from Sue Hillis. Ink Circles interprets poinsettias and Homespun Elegance has a Quaker piece with an interesting finish. Finally, there's a piece of candy wrapped in plastic. I'm not sure I'm going through the trouble of stitching something then wrapping it in plastic. Who's with me?

The following group is the angels, with about a 50-50 cute and creepy factor. Two are really cute: Wildflower (the Ex-Sister and BF) and Midsummer Night. I think I'm drawn to the colors (teal, lime, and purple; sometimes you are just done with red and green). Prairie Moon's Angel I feel like I've seen and LHN's is a bit religious for me but is nice. JBW Designs and Charlette's Collectables are the creepy. And do designers not know that this hobby of ours in international? Keep stitching patriotic things people, and watch your market shrink.

Trees! And some of my faves! Monsterbubbles encourages us to stitch on copper mesh and punch it full of holes. Sign me up! I like Little by Little's primitive trees. Lizzie*Kate's tree is tiny, um, she really knocked herself out--I guess she owns stock in Stitch a gift. (And it the finishing that makes it.) Another tiny little stocking from Brightneedle, but at least they stitch theirs over one. And a special shout out to Monique who gives us a cute little four patch.

The next page offers um, silvery-white ornaments. I like Forget-Me-Nots in Stitches "Honoring Christmas" (the Dickens' quote) ornament. For her that can be about Jesus and it can be about something completely different for me. There's a silver band ornament from Charlotte's Web that I would stitch. Some others are pretty but not to my taste. But a special mention for Cross-eyed Cricket, one of my favorite designers: that Hershey's kiss with wings is just weird.

Where would we be without Santa? Dragon Dreams gives us Santa snuggling with a dragon. I like Charland's little Santa, especially the finishing. I often stitch Heartstring's Santas, but this one honors her dead husband and that's just a little creepy for me. Maybe I can stitch him without the angel wings? There's also a gingerbread ornie from Stitchworks and a nutcracker from Thistle Threads. I like the otter from Jemini, but I miss the crazy-ass birds she usually does. Finally Raise the Roof contributes a chocolate snowman in a cup "Walt the malt." I'm just confused. But it's playful.

The final page offers up the pink and green ornaments. There's another biscornu and a pinkeep. Gentle Pursuits offers a Quaker motif, but it's too godsquad for me. There's a pretty noel ornie from Erica Michaels, nice colors. I like Amy Bruecken's "I Believe" for the colors. Knotted Tree contributes a dove--there is definitely the peacenik/love our troops divide in the magazine about 50-50 if you bother to read the stories and you know I have to.

Bloggers and people in the shops kept saying this was a great issue. I'm wondering if I think so. I think I would stitch about 20 of the designs, which is a respectable number. But there are things I think need to be improved. Number one is the layout, which BITES. Let's advocate for one designer per page. I'm tired of having the pattern on one page and the color key on another. Also, two designers promise us recipes and the editor cut them out (Needleplay is one, I needed to check for the other). If you're going to delete the recipes, you have to make the necessary changes in the introductory paragraph; this is editing 101. And speaking of, if you're going to give a recipe, do that. Don't give us a short dissertation on it. There's just too much copy, especially when it screws up the layout. One designer per page! I'm not a huge fan of Sweetheart Tree, but she went with the short and sweet message, "Merry Christmas." Well, thank you! Thank you very much.

But you came here for the snark.
  • Love the cookies and beer story from Raise the Roof. I think Santa should get more beer.
  • Belinda of Blue Ribbons made me want to send her mother some flannel jammies for Christmas Eve. (We used to get them too.)
  • Two pumpkin cakes--Cherished Stitches and My Mark--who's going to bake and compare? Or am I the only one who thinks it's like wearing the same dress as someone else at the party?
  • And sugar cookies anyone? Let's just decide that everyone already has a sugar cookie recipe and stop submitting these.
  • Tracy Riffle missed out. Just because the first present you open early and wrap back up isn't so great (in her case a robe) doesn't mean you shouldn't keep working at it! (I've been unwrapping and rewrapping my Christmas gifts for over thirty years.)
  • I know Christmas is a time of family and if you're Dickens, ghosts. Still I'm not sure it's appropriate to tell me about your dead relatives in your Christmas story. Let's all go to our happy place.
  • Vegetables, still not Christmas food, okay?


Anonymous said...

Oh, I'm so jealous. My shop hasn't called to tell me my issue is in. I saw the issue in Conway but, alas, decided to wait and didn't buy it there.


Renee said...

"Vegetables, still not Christmas food, okay?" Ha! Ha! Even in the midst of my vegetarian experiment that made me laugh out loud!

Kathryn said...

Hilarious review! And I am so with you about the editing and layout - they suck. Since the recipes are usually so bad, just stick with the stitching.

Nic said...

I for one look forward to your review, especially given that in the UK it will probably be another month or so before I get my issue - they tend to get stuck in Customs, or at least that's the excuse the stores give ...

I can't disagree with you about layout, recipes, angels, 'patriotic' designs and the evangelic overtones to many of the comments/designs - the last one is something rather alien here, we're pretty secular (and reserved). However, I'm going to stick up for veggies - how can you not love honey roasted parsnips with your Christmas dinner? And mashed sweet potato? :o)

Barbara said...

You are an institution, Anna. Thanks for hashing over the Christmas issue again for us. I'm still trying to figure out who in the US to bug for a copy this year. ;)

As for Santa and beer, why the heck didn't I think of it? Chalk that one up as a new Chateau Chaos family tradition!

tintocktap said...

Great review! Great to get the chance to read about it and then think about whether I want to buy it or now. Although I'll probably buy it anyway!

Anonymous said...

Love the review. I just spent a gift certificate I got for my birthday for this magazine yesterday. I can't wait to get it. And when I do and have it all read and fondled, I will go back to this post and read it again :)

karenv said...

Great review, as always!

My magazine *just* arrived (as in, about 20 minutes ago) and on first flick through, they don't seem to be putting the photo references on the chart pages (they used to say Photo is on page xx) which I always found useful. It might be me but I just can't see that this year.

I shall go and have a good read now and then come back and re-read your review ;)

Doris said...

i live in madrid (spain) so i must to wait more days the magazine, i am really anxous to see it.

Donna said...

I did a quick browse of the magazine last week - before it was supposed to be "officially" for sale. I'll get my issue on Thursday.

If you found 20 designs you'd be willing to stitch, you are more generous than I am.

Ruth Rachel Vendsel said...

Ha ha, it's fun to laugh and yes we do come by for the snark. :) I agree, there are lots of just creepy, weird, and just generally uninspiring things each year. But I usually don't get around to stitching most of them, so, oh well! I do think it would be nice to have the charts with the pictures and stick to one designer per page if possible.

I'm still waiting to get mine so thanks for the sneak preview.

Coni said...

Thank God for your review! I would have loved to browse through my own issue, but the mailman apparently was mad at me that day. It arrived in pieces and looks like it was put through a wood chipper. I'm pretty sure that at least 26% of it is missing/unreadable/torn/ripped/and peed on. Sigh.

Annemarie said...

Wheeee! I'd been looking forward to this blog post for quite some time. In fact, I think it's at least as exciting to read as the JCS issue itself, so thank you. Haven't got my copy yet, by the way...

Michelle said...

I still don't have mine!!! I do look forward to your review of it every year - and you don't disappoint. So tell the dude that this is important stuff! I'll be sure to comment more once I've seen the freakin' thing!

monique said...

I love your reviews... I didn't notice a few things until you pointed them out, too. Thanks for the mention! I'm so relieved you didn't hate my ornament ;)

C in DC said...

I bought my issue on Monday after dropping my MIL at the airport. I have to say that I'm underwhelmed again. There are no "must stitch" ornaments for me in this issue, although I really like both the monsterbubbles tree and the silver band bulb ornament.

I like that the table of contents lists page numbers for both picture and chart, but agree that they need to be cross-referenced elsewhere.

I also really like that all the patterns have DMC alternatives listed. For most of the ornaments, since they're so small, it's not worth going out to buy specialty threads for one little section. If I already have the specialty threads, great.