Halloween seems to quickly be coming one of the most stitchable holidays. The amount of Halloween designs that have appeared over the past couple of years is really amazing, and I’m sure there are lots more in store. And who doesn’t love the witches, bats and pumpkins available in styles to suit every stitcher?
(Looking for a review of the 2012 edition? Check out this post.)
Just Cross Stitch magazine has been supporting this trend for the past several years by including a Halloween ornament section in their September/October edition. This year, in addition to the regular Halloween issue, they have also published a special edition magazine (also being called a book-azine, a term I don’t care for) that contains fifty-one Halloween designs.
The Just Cross Stitch Halloween Collection is priced at US$16.95, and is the size of a standard magazine. The cover, however, is made from thicker cardstock, and the pages are also slightly thicker than those found in a regular magazine. The magazine is in full colour, with black and white charts. If you’ve ever seen a Just Cross Stitch magazine, you know what to expect in terms of charts: clear symbols that reflect the colour gradations of the finished design, as well as floss list that give DMC equivalents for hand-dyed fibres when available. When the design uses DMC floss, equivalents are given for either Anchor or Presencia floss (with there seeming to be no rhyme nor reason as to why one brand is used on one chart and the other brand on another chart).
The designs range from the very small (a pair of eye earrings), to ornaments, to a 6″ x 4 1/2″ free-standing cube finish, to larger designs meant for pillows or to hang on the wall. The materials used include everything from DMC floss through to fancy Glorianna silks, as well as beads, buttons, and trims. The continuing trend to make use of hand-dyed threads where they aren’t really needed is definitely evident in this magazine. Several different “blacks” are used (WDW mascara, GAST raven, Crescent Colours black bird), all of which are solid enough to be easily replaced with DMC 310. I love hand-dyed threads, but I also believe they are most beautiful and useful when there are clear variations in the colour. It is no wonder DMC is losing market share. Maybe I’m a frugal stitcher, but I will be using DMC wherever I can.
As a bit of an aside, it is interesting to note that two designs use Anchor floss as their fibre of choice, Frank-in-Stitches and Treat or Treat Bee, both designed by Mosey and Me. One design, Ghost by Sue Hillis, uses Sullivan’s. It is becoming clear who are the underdogs in the current embroidery floss market.
The designs cover a wide range of styles. Primitives are amply covered by designs such as Wicked Night by The Primitive Hare (6″ x 12″, suggested finishing is a pillow), October Feather Tree by Notforgotten Farm (10″ x 8″), and a myriad of ornaments. There is also a fabulous mandala by Tracy Horner of Ink Circles (7 1/4″ square), and a larger designs of witches, ghosts, haunted houses, etc. in what I can best describe as “normal” style. Another showpiece design, in my opinion, is Recipe for a Magical Night by Adelaide Needleworks. It is a lovely composition of brightly coloured swirls emerging from a cauldron that is featured on the cover. I think that in this collection of fifty-one designs, you are likely to find many that tickle your fancy regardless of your preferred style.
This brings me to my only problem with this special edition magazine. The Just Cross Stitch website has a banner advertising the magazine which claims that it contains “Over 50 NEW exclusive designs” (emphasis theirs). Unfortunately, this is not the case. The final section of the magazine is called “Ghosts of Halloween Past” and features sixteen designs from past issues of Just Cross Stitch. I have to say that I found this extremely disappointing. Being a semi-loyal JCS purchaser, I have all these designs. I was excited about this special issue because the ad claimed it featured new designs. And, yes, 35 new designs for US$16.95 is a bargain, I still can’t help but feel a little mislead. So, buyer beware: there are previously published deigns in this magazine, regardless of what the advertising says.
Overall, though, I do think this magazine is worth the purchase for anyone who is a Halloween fan and is looking for new designs to stitch. The designs are all high quality and from well-known designers. And while it may seem pricey compared to regular editions of the magazine, keep in mind that a comparable Ink Circles chart costs US$10 and an Adelaide Needleworks design would cost €12.00, everything else is a bonus.
All images in this post were photographed by me, and come from the Just Cross Stitch Halloween Collection, 2011.