Monday, September 23, 2013

JCS 2013 review

It's here!  It's here!  The 2013 Ornament issue is here!
Sadly, I'm not really that excited about it this time around.  I liked a couple of the designs on the cover, and based on that I had high hopes for the rest....hmmm.  And overall, since the change in publishing companies, I'm finding JCS suits my tastes less and less.  That said, just because some of this isn't to MY taste doesn't mean we can't be friends if you like them.

Before I even got to the patterns, I found something....odd? the first few pages of the magazine.  For ethical reasons I don't think I should post it here, but maybe if you saw it, you know what I'm talking about?

Also, the photography isn't working for me this year - especially the "group shots."  Too much white, too many ornies just kind of lined up flat.....I don't know, I just didn't find the pics very flattering.

So.  My brief thoughts, by section:

Jingle Bells
I was sad not to see a FrankNSanta from Mosey 'N Me this year.  Although the sheep is cute, sheep aren't really my thing.  I like Casey Buonaugurio's penguin, but it doesn't strike me as being that different from the one in the preview issue (which I don't have in front of me).  Blackbird's "Peace" seems huge for an ornament - maybe it is just the frame?  Designs by Lisa's squirrel is terrifying (and at first I thought it was a dog).  If the "cat" in Little by Little Design Co.'s  "Not Even a Mouse" design is supposed to be primitive....well, it looks downright prehistoric.  I'll let Anna talk about the Baby Flamingo from Jemini Designs, but I WILL say that Lizzie Kate's "hey, I can throw together a 30-minute design that looks like crap!" syndrome may be catching, as Cathy Jean's "Baby Cardinal" is taking over that spot.  Also, baby cardinals aren't red.

Silver Bells
The first page with an overwhelmingly white background.  Overall, this page gets a solid "meh" from me - I'm not a huge fan of words and/or the religious themed stuff.  I love the colors of Blackberry Lane Designs' "Peppermint Stick," but not the addition of Jesus' name to it.  And really, I'm a sucker for just about anything on blue fabric...

Home for the Holidays
More white background.  And a star garland?  Really?  I usually like La-D-Da's stuff, but this feels like a cop-out.  Stitching a star and finishing it in a star shape - 3 times - hardly feels like a design.  Look, I can make a matching "moon garland," and I don't even need a pattern!  Maybe it is due to my recent trip to Cape Cod, but I'm a wee bit partial to the "3 ships" designs, by Shepherd's Bush and By the Bay.  I'm not crazy about the skinny heart finishing on the By the Bay one, but that is easy enough to modify.  I like M Designs' "Hot Cocoa," but I am skeptical about the "glue it to a glass jar with craft glue" finish.  That seems messy at best and ineffectual at worst.  Plum Street Samplers stocking is also appealing (although I question my own ability to do the stocking finishing, which is why I've never actually done those teeny any designer).  Everything else here -- pretty predictable and nothing terribly inspiring for me.  Prairie Schooler, Little House Needleworks, and Julia Lucas all submit house-themed designs that are easily identified as theirs.

O Tannenbaum
ANOTHER white background.  I like The Sunflower Seed's "Home" - maybe because the girl reminds me of my daughter (Muriel: look!  It is ME!!) - and The Workbasket's "Merry Merry" is okay but I feel like the finishing overpowers the design a bit.  Nothing else here is calling my name, and Flowers 2 Flowers "Christmas Tree Buddy" is downright creepy.  I can deal with funky colors, but trees shouldn't have big anime eyes.

Let it Snow
Three guesses what color the background on this page is.  I think I'd stitch "Frosty Snowflake" by Needle Bling Designs (I've not heard of them before - are they new?), and Plum Pudding Needleart's "Let it Snow" is cute.  I think it needs a different style of finish, though.  "Windy Night" by Dames of the Needle made me giggle.  the Victoria Sampler "Gingerbread Cupcake" is a creative idea, but an exceptionally BAD pic.  The picture on the pattern page is better, but there I was distracted by the mention of "Speculaas Cupcakes."  I was reminded that I needed to schedule an annual appointment.

Carol of the Bells
More "meh" for me.  Charlotte's Web Needlework's "Gift of Love" reminded me of a page from one of my daughter's coloring books.  Jackie du Plessis (It's Fine-ally Finished) gets creativity points for the Holly Berry Ball, and I do like the simplicity of My Big Toe's "Merry Christmas."

O Holy Night
Knowing I'm not the most religious person, it shouldn't surprise anyone that this page isn't one of my favorites.  I'm also not a fan of the trees made of stitching accessories.  And "Merry Stitchmas"?  Oh well, at least it isn't a moose joke... Ink Circles' "Bright Flake" is interesting, although sometimes I have trouble differentiating one Ink Circles design from another.  If I stitch this one, I'll probably tone down the colors a bit.  Finally, as  much as I hate to admit it, I kind of like the pineapple - Keepsake Stitches' "Holiday Tribute Ornament."

Jolly Old St. Nicholas
Yay, Santa!  (But why are the Santa pages last?  The cynic in me who has not been enjoying what feels like a new emphasis on Christianity in JCS wonders if they are trying to relegate the non-religious themes of Christmas to the periphery...but Muriel says I should take off my tinfoil hat.)  Of the 11 ornaments in this section, 8 are in the cover photo.  So while JCS may be leaning more religious on the inside, they know they won't sell their magazine by featuring a bunch of religious designs on the cover!  My favorites this year are Angel Stitchin's "Be Jolly," Hands on Design's "Roly Poly Nick," and HeartStrings' "Santa's Feathered Friends" (although I might leave off the birds - would that make it...."Friendless Santa"?).  Val's Stuff's elves - they're on the cover - intrigue me.  (Muriel: interesting.  Are they single?  I too am intrigued.)  I am pretty much over Dragon Dreams' little dragons, but the "Just One Bite" guy is cute.  And finally, after hearing Susan Greening-Davis talk about "good" vs. bad scissors at Celebrations, all I can think when I look at her "Don't Stop Believing" ornament is that I want to change the text to read "when you stop believing in Santa you get cheap scissors."

Total number I'd consider stitching: 15-16, maybe?  (And let's be honest, that means I might get to one or 2.  Eventually.  Muriel:  She's not optimistic, she's deluded.)


Melinda said...

I ordered mine from A Stitchers Garden - I am visiting there on Thursday, I hope they have been delivered there as well.

I know we are all disappointed down here in Central New York, because it seems they are very late this year. I wonder if this will be the last year I purchase.

Christine said...

Hmm. I'm waiting for mine to arrive, perhaps I shouldn't get my hopes up?
LOL at your Speculaas Cupcakes comment

Mii Stitch said...

I'm envious, I can't find this in the UK! I will have to think about ordering it online :)

Shebafudge said...

I haven't got mine yet but I'm hoping I like it better than you Fingers crossed for when it arrives.

Kate said...

Mine is on order and I always look forward to it - perhaps this year not so much.

Silverlotus said...

I've been buying the ornament issue since the first one (1996?) and this is the first one that has completely disappointed me. I think there aren't more than five ornaments that I might consider stitching. I am so over primitive designs, and that seems to be the vast majority of the offerings this year.

As for the layout, I think that Just Cross Stitch as a whole has been struggling in that department since Annie's Attic took them over. The pictures seem to range from dated to downright terrible. And that is a shame, since JCS used to be my favourite stitching magazine.

So, what did you notice in the first few pages? Clearly I'm missing something.

Zeb said...

Just got mine in the mail today and had a quick flick through (am at work right now.) My initial thoughts are similar to yours, this issue is just... meh :(

I haven't been enthralled by JCS ever since Annie's bought them out; and I've felt, over the last few years, many designers just aren't putting much effort into the stuff they put in for the ornie issues :(

C in DC said...

Thanks for the review. I didn't buy last year's issue, and I probably won't buy this year's either.

Glad Muriel's having a grand time with you!

Jo who can't think of a clever nickname said...

This is my fourth Christmas issue and I agree, the nice stuff is all "seen similar before".

All I had apart from the designs are adverts for DMC, Sullivans and two cross stitch books. Much better than the UK mags which have all sorts of random ads aimed at the stitching demographic who apparently require assistance getting out of chairs and baths!!

Beth said...

Loved your honest (and humorous) review. I just got the magazine and like you I am underwhelmed. I find myself thumbing thru the older issues for inspiration.