Tuesday, September 27, 2011

JCS Ornaments Reviewed

Oh, goodness gracious, I got so far behind with this task, people have already finished ornaments! Please check out the new page above for links to some of the finished pieces stitched by our friends. Check back regularly as I will update it, often to no fanfare. This year I'm limiting each ornament to the first five that I'm notified about. Last year six million people stitched French Country Star and trust me, you get it after five.

I see once again JCS has not taken this opportunity to change their layout. This year, there's the added inconvenience of a chart that is printed sideways. Because turning the magazine won't be cumbersome. They print magazines in landscape all the time; they call that...pornography. And if men can hold the mag with one hand, so can we.

I need to quibble with the cover which touts that these patterns are "from your favorite designers." There are designers in here that I've never heard of. Which is fine--I always like to be introduced to new designers--but if I've never heard of them, how can they be favorites?

Let us turn to page six. Phyllis Hoffman got married! Now why is she still editing this? She is president of Hoffman Media, she doesn't need to edit the magazines. Is she too difficult to work with, and thus can't hold on to an editor? Or is she just saving money? I know...blah, blah, blah, get on with the review already!

Red Work
The first set of ornies are the "red ones." Heartstrings' Santa is on this page but these are the palest colors I've ever seen her work with, almost too washed out. You've already seen Sampler Girls' Good Tidings Rabbit over at Barbara's. Back to the reds...Lauren Sauer stitched a woven heart which is real finger-on-the-pulse redwork but she carried her floss on her confetti stitches! JBW does a word heart this year. I think I may be tired of those. I like Angel Stitchin's Santa, but mostly for the use of funky fibers.

Prim and Proper
I like the Noel Stamp, but is she going to be dictated by the post office forever? The Gift by Blackerry Lane is gorgeous but you know I don't do the whole Jesus thing so I won't be stitching it. I'm not crazy about the Shepherd's Bush but they certainly did jam a whole lot into three square inches. I like Niky's Creation's deer, Gentle Pursuit's Rejoice, and Plum Street's Yuletide. Moss Creek's is pretty; I like the long stitches for the pine but the words? A little off.

Snowman and Flakes
Amy B has a snowmen with a snowman growing out of its head. I like the colors (and I can hear the chorus, "They're not Christmas colors!") but I can't stitch that growth. LHN's is pretty and simple, a must stitch. And just when you think you've seen everything, SamSarah designs a pregnant snowman. Um, what? You know how snowmen are made, right? Praiseworthy has a Victorian-esque sleigh ride, but everyone's so tiny they have giant bug eyes.

Christmas Trees
I think the two best on this page are Elizabeth's Designs (I like sheep) and Workbasket's log cabin home. Blah. I'm a little uninspired. There's nothing funny to say about these. Although there are a couple, maybe just one, that are under designed.

Blue Christmas
You know how they use Christmas carols as headers? The blue ornaments are listed under "Blue Christmas" a little spot on. I like Little By Little's blue and brown design. Mosey N Me does the can-it-ever-get-old? pun of "Merry Moose-mas." (Though that's a reindeer not a moose; I'm from NH, I know from moose.) This year, I'm pretty sure this one doesn't look like Frank. Could it be Judy? Jennifer Aikman Smith didn't contribute a dragon this year; I hope no one is disappointed. She designed a little planet to hang from a "hopeflake" for the people of Japan.

For the Birds
Nine ornaments featuring birds. I'm pretty sure Tempting Tangles' bird is going to fall right off his perch. I usually like the whimsicle fuckery of Jemini Designs but this year's cardinal looks like he had a curry that disagreed with him. Some of the others almost work. Winter Song has the wrong font; the owl goes too far with the earmuffs. I do like Blackbird's blue bird. This may be my favorite.

But WTF Lizzie*Kate? "Half hour ornament?" You know the problem with stitching a half hour ornament? It looks like it took half an hour to stitch. She's still mailing it in. Maybe it's time to call it. Just for the Christmas issue, of course. Or do you think that she's pushing it to see how far she can go before Phyllis Hoffman DePiano finally says, "you know, maybe we don't need L*K to sell magazines."

More Reds
Another Christmas Butterfly! Good grief...fly away to Bethlehem crazy Christmas butterfly. But be careful, those office supplies can be dangerous. I like Christmas in the heart from Acorn House, but I'm tired of depressing stories behind the design. It's a Christmas magazine. We're supposed to be joyful that Santa was born! Wee Work's Noel has elaborate finishing and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

White Christmas
Photographed on mini marshmallows, this page is reserved for the twee. It's also the page that will get the traditionalists riled! These aren't Christmas colors! I love Cathy Jean's squirrel, but tying your recipe to the ornament is...well, that's how she landed on this page. CCN's confection is worthy as are Ink Circle's book and Miss Crescent's Jolly. If there were no marshmallows on this page, Brooke's Books would take care of the saccharine. I don't know what kind of crap they got for Christmas over at Raise the Roof, but the box is not the best part of the present. Fresh Threads' ornament feels so stale, I had to get out my old copies to see where I've seen this before. This is basically last year's ornament with a different color on the sock and trees in it instead of candy. Does that make it stylistically coherent or just recycled?

I finally met someone who cooks extensively from the recipes. I thought maybe I should cook them all. But then I realized that was insane and no one really wants to eat Christine's broccoli salad. Okay, while I was perusing the recipes for a reject to include in that sentence, I noticed Charlotte Smyth has sent in the recipe for Caramelitas. Run to the store. Buy the ingredients. Make them. Now! These are perhaps the best bar cookie ever.  What's interesting to me about the recipes are the slight regionalisms. Lychees in heavy syrup? Just let me run to the corner store for those! Catsup and mayo on steak? Cheese in your corn chowder? But I'm sure many more of you will believe I haven't lived until I eat a cookie made with Jell-o.

The Stories
Breaking news: Designers bake cookies at Christmas. And have friends and family over to their homes, which they decorate with trees. They are busy during the holidays with family traditions, attending church, admiring Christmas lights, eating Christmas dinner, traveling, and watching Christmas movies. Yeah, me neither.

Number I might stitch (and I'm being generous): 18
But I'm making the caramelitas!


Giovanna said...

Thanks for the review, Anna - great fun to read, as always. And I almost split my sides when I read your comment about Jemini's cardinal :-)

Silverlotus said...

I agree with you about the L*K ornament. I mean, really? Is that all she could manage? Terrible.

Kristen said...

Awesome! You even included a Regretsy reference - sweet! Of course, I'll re-read this review once I have my copy in hand.

C in DC said...

I pulled out my stash of old issues after reading that Tanya had received her complimentary copies. It's sad how few ornies I've stitched. I'll probably buy this one (your review makes it sound more promising than the last 2 issues), although my likelihood of actually stitching something is low.

I did, however, find the cutest ornament to stitch for L. while browsing the back issues. It's a river otter, which does NOT say Christmas to me at all, but L.'s obsessed with them.

riona said...

This will make the fourth year in a row that I have not bothered with the Christmas ornament issue and the first year I am sorry I bought the Halloween collection issue. I guess I have just gotten out of sync with JCS and its audience. Could be I am aging out of the target demographic. I am not just a crone ... but apparently a cranky old crone, to boot!

Adrienne Martini said...

I will now wander around the house muttering about "Whimsical Fuckery."

valerie said...

I wasn't really thrilled with this year's offerings either. There are maybe 4-5 that I might stitch...once I get around to it and the 50 million things in my stash.

One I def. won't stitch: pregnant snowman. Um, really?!

Real Live Woman said...

Like Kristen, I'll have to re-read this when I have the issue in hand, but I love the review. I finally just found the Halloween issue at Joann's last week, so who knows when they'll put the Christmas issue on the shelves.

country stitcher said...

I thought that it was just me, but I can see by the your comments and comments of your readers that others are disappointed in this issue. There are some ornnaments that I would do but they are not at the top of my list.
Thanks for the great read.
Happy stitching

Jeanne said...

Enjoyed your review even though I don't have the issue to look at and appreciate the comments :). I am not buying any more ornament issues, I have about 6 of them and I think I've stitched a grand total of 2 ornaments from them. With literally hundreds of patterns in my stash why add more that I'll never stitch. Obviously there are still plenty of people who buy it as my LNS was already out of it so I couldn't even look at it and be happy I didn't buy it!

Jan said...

Loved your comments. I followed along with magazine in hand. Two thoughts: JBW Designs, can you really misspell you (yuo) just to make the pattern work? Cats think the boxes are the best part of any gift. That and the tissue paper.

Rachel said...

Another part of my year is complete. Ever since I obtained my copy Ive been patiently waiting for your review

Thank you!

Siobhan said...

I haven't bought this year's issue and while I will probably regret it later (because I have an obsession with having sets of things), I don't know if I'll bother. I had to snigger at the L*K ornament comment. I lost my L*K mojo when they put out the Christmas spider. Talk about laughing all the way to the bank. I love cardinals so had to laugh at the too much curry comment. I might break down & buy the issue just because of that!

Donna said...

About the L*K 1/2 hour ornie. I could stitch that 1/2 an hour. But it would take me another two hours to finish it like they did!

Whimsical fuckery indeed!

Laura said...

Hilarious! Enjoyable! Love straight talk on cross-stitch designs!!!!!

Laura said...

oh, and I always say that there are maybe 2-3 good ornaments each year and the rest are atrocious!!!!! but I still have to buy it.

Jennifer said...

Ha! I have the same "set collecting" problem that Siobhan has.

I am not a fan of carrying the RED THREAD behind the fabric - it looks sloppy. Also, I probably would have used red beads instead of the confetti stitches. I agree about the Angel Stitchin Santa - nice use of a specialty fiber.

I am also deeply annoyed by the layout. I photocopy anything I stitch (I'm not about to mess up my original or the magazine) and I would much rather photocopy one whole page for a chart then fiddle around with this page and that page. Layouts are done on a computer - it's not that hard to do it properly.

I would consider doing the Moss Creek Pine one, but changing the words - maybe putting in Christmas on top, 2011 on the bottom, or a family name or something. It would definitely work for a Bride's Tree ornament for the pinecone.

I agree about the LHN one, but I have to say, I don't mind the pregnant snowman. Maybe it's because I am surrounded by pregnant friends, but dare I say I think it's kind of cute?

Definitley doing the Lila's Studio one, but I like a lot of her German / PA Dutch type designs anyway. The "Season of giving" has to go because I can't leave well enough alone and will probably stitch in the year instead. The LK is terrible - WTF is it anyway? And what is wrong with the Tempting Tangles bird? If anyone looks like he had a curry that disagreed with him, it's definitely that one.

Really? No commentary on the Christmas Egg?

Monsoon said...

Love your reviews! Had to dive back into the blogosphere to read it. I am amused at how many people say there is NOTHING they like in the magazine every year. I find one on every page :) I like how you have added the ornament display section, I hope to contribute to it (at least one) as soon as i finish a few halloween ornies first.

mainely stitching said...

I think you were actually a bit too kind-hearted with your reviews this year. ;)

Mindi said...

18? As usual, I either loved or hated the ornaments, but I think my count of what I'd actually stitch was lower than 18. I was pretty caustic with my comments about the ones I hated when I was looking through the magazine at my LNS! That being said, there are a few I really loved and I think this year I might actually stitch a few instead of just meaning to, then never getting to it.

Christine said...

I decided to subscribe to JSC this year and so have yet to receive this issue. I'm a little irked by that. But I have to say that it was truly fun reading your reviews!!

ChrisG said...

I've purchased this every year for the last three - usually because, despite the evidence, I always think that there's got to be something in here that I want to make. Alas, that is never the case. Frankly, the entire collection was uninspired and dull. You can design using the most wonderful fabric as a backdrop and the most expensive variegated hand-dyed threads, but a design lacking in DESIGN, won't fool most stitchers. Don't get me started on Lizzie Kate ...she obviously has appeal and will milk this for everything its worth (I don't blame her!. Anyway, thanks for the review - I agreed the whole way thru!

Beth said...

I patiently await your review and it was worth the wait! Thanks for the straight talk and laughs!

'Chelle said...

I'm thinking the L*K ornament wasn't so much mailed in, or even phoned in - it was more like a text message. WTF indeed. Thanks for another entertaining review!

Sharon said...

Hilarious! How is it that I never noticed that Samsarah snow woman was pregnant until I read your review-LOL I like LK, but even I think that ornament is horrible!