Halloween is right around the corner (honest, it is!), and Just Cross Stitch has released their second Halloween collection, a special edition of their magazine dedicated to nothing but Halloween designs.
If you have the 2011 edition (my review here), you will notice a big difference right away: last year’s issue felt almost like a large-sized craft book, and this year’s feels like a magazine with a slightly thicker cover. I’m guessing this is the main reason for the price difference. Last year the special Halloween edition cost US$16.95, while this years is only US$9.99. There are just a few less designs versus last year–48 to last years 51. However, it appears that all of this years designs are new, unlike last year. And, given that Ink Circles (whose charts average US$10) and Adelaide Needleworks (€12.00 for the average chart) also make a return, the cover price is a steal.
Again, like last year, the designs range from the primitive (Angel Stitchin, The Prairie Schooler, and others), to whimsical (Mosey ‘N Me, Amy Bruecken, and more), to more elegant (Sharon Pope and JBW Designs).
Of the 48 designs, nineteen are what I consider to be larger sized, frame-able pieces (ranging from 68×56 stitches to 163×175 stitches), with the remainder being ornaments in various shapes and sizes.
As always, the design quality varies, as does the subject matter. While Mosey ‘N Me’s Blue Mr. Monster is cute, it doesn’t seem to match the rest of the magazine. And I love Dragon Dream’s little sleeping dragon, but I think I would leave off the sign and stitch it for Christmas. As for the design by The Sampler Girl, well, let’s just say that I won’t be stitching it.
Many of the designs call for the perennial favourite DMC thread, at least one uses Sullivan’s, and there are several that make use of WDW and other specialty threads. In fact, so many call for Gloriana Silk that I was starting to wonder if they were an unofficial sponsor. I have no problem using silk or over-dyed cottons when they add to a design, but when a design that is only 32×28 stitches and calls for four different skeins of Gloriana (two of which are used for very few back stitches), I can’t help but feel that there is a disconnect between the designer’s vision and what makes sense for the average stitcher. (DMC substitutions are provided for most designs.)
So, it is a buy? If you are a Halloween fan, then yes. If you love Ink Circles, then for sure, as the Wings and Things design in this issue is fabulous. If you like your Halloween creepy, primitive, or elegant, you will find something in this issue to suit your tastes. The best designs aren’t show on the cover, they are inside, wait for you to discover them. Happy stitching, and be sure to share you pictures of your finishes!