Remember that I said that the designs for the Willow Pattern keyrings came from an issue of Cross Stitch Card Shop and that I wasn't sure why I didn't buy that magazine anymore? Well, I bought the latest issue and now it's time to find out if it's still as good as it used to be.
the website links six different cross stitch magazines including this one, four of which I have bought at one time or another. This one comes out six times a year and this is issue 77, for March/April 2011 (the one I'm using for the keyrings is issue 43, and I'm assuming from the fact that it says the following issue goes on sale 1st of September that this is the July/August 2005 issue).
The designs in CSCS are all small enough to fit in a fairly standard-sized card blank, although in my opinion many of them are much too complex for something as disposable as a greetings card. But that's by the bye - I've always found these smallish designs pretty useful as little gifts and time fillers.
It always has a free gift kit on the front of the magazine - in this case it's featuring Somebunny To Love, who is the creation of Michael Abrams and is one of those patched pastel-coloured toy animal characters you see such a lot of these days, like Newton's Law or Tatty Teddy or Forever Friends. Very twee and sickeningly sweet, but one thing it has in its favour is that the chart is in the packet with the rest of the equipment, and not in the magazine, which means I can drop it at my stepfather's place for something to do next time I forget my sewing kit.*
Near the back of the magazine is a couple of pages teaching the very basics of cross stitch - if you're buying this magazine one may assume you already know this stuff, but all cross stitch magazines have it, from what I've seen. How to read a chart - with a sample chart to start you off; this one is a seagull which would probably make a nice keyring once finished - about threads, needle size, fabric choice, how to do cross stitch, backstitch, fractional stitches and french knots, washing your finished work and mounting it in a card blank. All very clear and with pictures to show you exactly what they mean - most magazines have similar beginner's blurb like this and I'd recommend a magazine for a beginner but possibly not this magazine. Cross Stitch Crazy, from the same publisher, is very good for that kind of thing.
So what's inside? Well, there's another bland licenced character - this one is new since I last bought a cross stitch magazine, it looks like just another squirrel to me and pretty much forgettable - a set of fairy cards, some Easter cards, some circus font cards, a Royal Wedding card (no comment - yet), a set of new baby cards, some William Morris flowers, the reader's requests (archery, flamingo, Formula 1 and fishing), farewell cards, retro cat cards, Aries and Taurus in the ongoing Zodiac set, and a set of Easter mini-charts.
How many of these would I want to do? Well... huh.
I can see the fairy cards being useful one day, seeing as I have neices, except that I have no shortage of fairy designs. They are everywhere. The circus font cards are pretty cool, and although there's not a whole alphabet it wouldn't be beyond my ability to chart one. The Royal Wedding card shows Westminster Abbey and so I can see myself using that, although I am finding the wedding itself tedious in the extreme. The retro cat cards are good, the zodiac cards are alright, and the flowers would be OK if I changed the colours - really, some of these are hideous. There is not really a shortage of things I can use here.
And yet, there is nothing here that catches my imagination. Issue 43 has seven charts or sets of charts that I would gladly make at a moment's notice. In fact, I probably will. But everything in issue 77 is kind of bland. Also, the finesse that used to characterise almost all of the designs has gone seriously downhill.
But it could just be a one-off thing? Well, the preview for the next issue promises some interesting-looking classic car designs and a few graduation cards that would be good if I was graduating or knew anyone who was - other than that there's another couple of bland licensed characters (I think there has to be at least two) a set of Sunbonnet Sue cards, some simple wedding cards... and some flip-flop cards.
Why send a card that says 'I <3 Flip-flops'? Who would you send it to?
* - Me being the kind of person who starts making precarious stacks out of anything within reach if I don't have anything to do with my hands.