Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Stitching Magazine Subscriptions - Worth it?


So... I've been thinking a lot lately about subscriptions that I have to stitching magazines. So I decided to share my thoughts/analysis with all of you. Cause my husband really didn't care to hear about it. LOL.

The Library is your Friend
Let's start with the obvious win. The library. I am able to download 3 Cross Stitch Magazines (one out of the UK!) digitally via my library subscription (free in many cities these days). Digital is an absolute dream in the world of pattern collecting. It takes no space and as they are free via the library you just can't loose!  Seriously if you haven't looked into your libraries digital options do it. Worth the effort to figure out how to use the different systems. Note: you only get the ability to print out a page or two at a time, but it's enough to get a full pattern. And the digital copies are accessed with their software and could be archived. So I print what I like in each magazine immediately to ensure I don't miss out.

Subscriptions
In the case of other magazines I pay. And because I live in Canada I subscribe where possible to digital versions (postage is more than the magazine is worth). This means, again, no physical space taken up and easy to print off a pattern when I want to work on it.
For the purposes of this analysis I've the most popular North American stitching magazine Just Cross Stitch Magazine.
I've been a subscriber to Just Cross Stitch for pretty much ever. lol. And before that my Mom was the subscriber. I've donated or given away many of my hardcopies over the years (and love having access to back issues digitally) but a few hard copies have stuck around due to having patterns I adore in them. So what's to talk about... well it's down to cost. I keep asking myself if the magazines are worth the subscription price.

Why am I talking about this? 
While Stitch from Stash may be over my need to cut spending (save money) has not ended and so I was asking myself what was really 'worth it' in terms of items I purchase for stitching. Obviously needles and DMC is a given. But magazine subscriptions I had to actually think about. Hence the following analysis.

The Cost Analysis
So I asked myself to think about how many patterns I like or may conceivably stitch at any time in the future in each magazine. I came to the conclusion that is 3 patterns per month at most. More an average of about 1.5 patterns per magazine. At the Canadian dollar cost of a digital subscription of $35.99 for 14 issues it is costing me ~$2.50 a magazine. Sounds really cheap!
Until I get an issue (like this latest one, cover shown above) where I am not excited about any of the patterns. A disappointing July Ornament Preview edition to be sure.

The Quality Analysis
Just Cross Stitch is easily a high-end stitching magazine (in my mind). Patterns are well put together, easy to read and meet the usual standard that most designers use. They have top designers contribute (esp. to ornament issues) and find a way to cross many genres of stitching in a single issue. Plus I've found out about new designers, interesting backstories, sampler stories (some of my favourite to read!), etc. So for me it's easy to say that even if I don't like or stitch any of the patterns that I still get benefit. Gosh, sometimes even the ads are showing new designs I've missed being released or are previews of upcoming releases (HELLO Mill Hill Chalkboard kits that just got released!).

Overall Outcome
It's worth it. I can't deny that I love getting the new issue and even if I only get an hours worth of reading out of it it's still really fun to get random patterns I don't pick out and even better when those patterns are ones I like (or love; like that time Once Upon a Tree by Jeannette Douglass was in JCS). Even though I think this month's issue (cover above) is weaker than usual I still got my one hour of reading out of it and it's still worth $2.50.

Are individual magazines ever worth it? 
If you really can't bring yourself to subscribe to a magazine (digital or not) I have one large suggestion... get the main Christmas ornament issue and the Halloween 'bonus' (not included in subscription) magazine (this years Halloween preview to the left). For $9.99 US (about $17.99 CDN) you get all those awesome patterns! And there's usually at least one larger design that I like and want to stitch which makes the entire cost worth it (as I'd pay more than $9.99US for only one pattern).

I adored reading and discussing with everyone your comments on last posts subject of hand-stitching. This time I'd really love to know if you subscribe to any magazines? And if yes, which ones and why? Digital or hard-copy? 

Thanks for dropping by to visit! Happy Stitching! :) 

Monday, May 23, 2016

Handstitching - WIP

An update on a project you just saw a couple weeks ago seemed boring. So while the photos are the latest progress, I'm  going to use them as a basis for talking about handstitching, a technique in which you hold the fabric in hand with no supports. 

Some projects require scroll rods or q-snaps due to length of project, specialty stitches, etc. The advantage of scroll rods are that tension remains the same and there are no creases like when using a hoop. 

Other projects allow more flexibilit. Medieval Hearts by Kelsyns is one of those, in my opinion. While the piece is all cross stitch, it is done in silk and treasure braid (metallic thread) and on a linen 32ct. Many would argue that means you should use scroll rods. 
I'd agree except that there is nothing like having a gorgeous soft linen in hand with silk threads. So I have been stitching my version in hand. 
The main draw backs to handstitching are: 
- creases in linen 
- uneven tension 
- easier to damage stitched stitches 
For me (I stitch like a lefty) but needle in my right hand, so working right to left to ensure I'm not damaging stitches is okay when I'm stitching each x on its own (which I am due to variegated silk thread). 

So with all those drawbacks why stitch in hand? 
Because I just love to. There is something about working on smaller pieces in hand that I find personally satisfying. Maybe because as a child I learned to stitch in hand; maybe because I love the softness of a gorgeous linen. But then maybe also because it feels more like the women of 1800-1900's would have stitched. We know the higher class ladies used hoops but the average peasant would not have had such luxuries. Odd as it may be I like the challenge of handstitching and it just feels more genuine (if you will). 

Not to say that we should always hand stitch. Definitely not! But I do tend to have pieces that I plan for hand stitching from the start. There's a challenge to it and a connection that I adore. 

If you've never hand stitched before I recommend starting with an ornament sized piece on Aida with DMC. Learn if you like it first with the basics. Remember for truly perfect stitching you can't beat scroll rods. But not everything has to be perfect! 
I'd love to hear in comments if you like to hand stitch? 

Thursday, May 12, 2016

ABC Sampler is here!!!

After many weeks of waiting I finally got my copy of the ABC Sampler by Jeannette Douglas and the gorgeous thread pack that goes with it. 

I was all excited, until...
1) I saw that Envelope was damaged and open. Water marks and damage to my pattern. Still legible but just not as pretty as should've been. Boo mail people! 
2) Reading through the pattern and trying to understand the instructions I have realized I'm likely in over my head. I think I will need to do some other JDD patterns first to be more familiar with some of the stitches Jeannette uses. 

Unless I just do the pretty alphabet (top half with no bands) which is just cross stitch... But I'm feeling like Once Upon a Tree is likely a better JDD piece for me right now as its easier... I have all the supplies for it too so that's a plus. 

Like Carolyn Mitchell's patterns (for those long time readers you may recall my orange canvaswork that I wanted to cry over) it seems these elaborate, specialty stitch pieces really do require the designer to be in the room and teaching you. Or someone a lot smarter than me to decipher. Lol. 

But... In good news I also got my Ink Circles Reflections of Canada pattern in this package and it's just the way I like my patterns; uniform and easy to read. Lol!!

Maybe it's best I'm not jumping right into ABC Sampler, as it will hopefully mean I finish some other WIPs first. ;)

Friday, May 6, 2016

WIP - The colours of fire?

A have an update on my Medieval Hearts project by Keslyn's. 
This piece uses one variegated silk and a rainbow treasure braid on a gorgeous linen. 

While I put a few stitches in tonight trying to calm from a very frantic and week I realized the beautiful linen with its yellows, and hints of grey and orange was reminding me of this weeks horror. It's the colours of fire...

I live two cities south of the wildfire in Fort McMurray that has ravaged the small city and burnt down 1000+ homes. As many of you may have seen this fire is beyond imagination... While the pictures and stories are shocking the behind the scenes work by so many is just as incredible. 
I'm not directly involved or affected ... And yet I know this fire will be part of my life in some way for years to come as its in my own province. Parts of my life, like my day job with the government (including co-workers who were evacuated) and my volunteering with the local SPCA, will involve responding to this disaster for a very long time. Much longer than the massive floods in my own city in 2013. As this disaster means for so many there isn't even a home to return to. 
And so while I carved out some time to stitch and try to gain some calm and composure my own piece reminds me nonetheless. 
It's bizarre how totally unrelated things in the world are connected by our subconscious minds. 

As piece is coming together, I'm seeing it perhaps being used to raise money in some way for the disaster relief... 

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Stitching... what's that?

I honestly thought to myself today, when is the last time I stitched... and I didn't know! First time in the last 10-15 years that I've not been able to say yesterday or a couple days ago!
No it's nothing bad... it's just been really, really busy with my new position (okay 4 months old) at the office; and my Etsy shop has been just a hopping. But spring time does tend to be my best selling point of the year and of course it's awesome that the shop is doing so well lately!

So I'd upload some pics but I honestly don't have anything new to share. Sad but true.
Instead I will share with you my latest 'ZOMG I love it!' item that has been released:

It's cross stitching, Ink Circles AND Canadian! What's not to love?!
Previously this beauty was only available through a small shop in Ontario (5 days drive away, a bit too far). Thankfully it has been released to all LNS' and online distributors of Ink Circles!
Whew! Cause I was desperate to get it and concerned I'd never get a copy.
I haven't seen it in person yet but I'm sure it's amazing.

Some of the iconic Canadian imagery includes:
- Pine trees in corners (we have many as we are cold up here and they live through winter)
- Beaver, our national animal. (hey no laughing! lol!)
- Inukshuk. That's the robot looking thing below the beavers. You may recognize it from the Vancouver Winter Olympics in 2010. It's a symbol that is prevalent amongst Native bands in Canada.
- Hockey sticks, between the beavers. I'm assuming I don't have to explain this one.
- The building is our Parliament, in the capital of Canada: Ottawa, Ontario.
- There are little maple leafs. These are very prevalent in Eastern Canada, and why all souvenir candy in Canada seems to be maple (yuck!). Interesting fact: there are almost no maple trees in Western Canada where I live.
- The large odd (lol) looking thing in top center is a famous totem pole made by one of the Native bands in Canada (yes the totem pole actually has wings in real life).

I think that's all the main items. I have to say that I am soooo eternally happy that a Canadian mandala was made. It's a big deal to have something to stitch that is specific to Canada and really pretty!! Tracy is soooo awesome for thinking of her neighbours to the north after creating her Flag Day mandala pattern for the USA.
Did I mention how awesome it is to have a gorgeous Canadian themed piece to stitch?!!! :)

Upcoming: - Hopefully some stitching! (maybe some Alice or Mirabilia mermaid)
- It's the local Comic Con here in Calgary next week so no stitching likely for 4 days. But lots of spending and comic goodies!

Thanks for dropping by and remembering me. I know it's been awhile. I'll try to do better.
Happy Stitching!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Medieval Hearts WIP

Less than a week until Nashville Market!!!
I'll be posting my purchase list next week for everyone. Or if it's too long my wishlist and purchase list. Lol. 

Medieval Hearts WIP
This is the  bottom motif (if we look at each arm as 1 of 4). The silk is stitched and the beginning of the Petite Treasure Braid. I gotta say Treasure Braid really is smoother than Krenik. I love the sparkling of Krenik but Treasure Braid sure does pull through smoother and doesn't tangle or spin as quick. 
The colours are over saturated on the photo on purpose so you can see the yellow of the fabric it's on. I'll strive for better colour photos next update. 

Coming Up
I have put some stitches in Alice but it's really not quite enough to bother sharing. But soon hopefully. 
And as above Nashville Market items, always an exciting time of year for any stitcher! :D 

Monday, February 8, 2016

New Starts - All from Stash!

Well I'm sitting in my stitching chair enjoying the sun that is coming in through the window. It's bizarre as it's usually very cold out this time of year; and instead it's gorgeous outside. Can't complain about that! :) 

I have started two new projects in the last couple weeks. Both are from my stash!!! (what I won't tell you is that I bought some stuff too... but shhh that's okay, lol) 

Start #1 - "Medieval Hearts" by Kelsyn
This project has been in my "to do" bin for years. I went looking for a smaller to medium sized project and saw this one. I have dozens (maybe even a hundred) things kitted up so I wanted to choose from them. I pulled out first five on top from one of three drawers they are stored in and this one caught my eye. Not a bad way to decide what to stitch next! 
It's on a gorgeous fabric; looks to be a 32ct linen, definitely hand-dyed. I'll be using PB-13 metallic by Rainbow Threads (as used in model) and a Waterlilies hand-dyed silk. It's not the one used in the photo so mine will have no blue and more browns. Crappy picture of the supplies to the right. 

Start #2 - "Moonlit Kitties" by Mill Hill (Bead & Button Series)
My obsession with these kits continues. They really are the best for just grabbing something and going with it for even 20 minutes. And they are portable! 
This one is a Halloween theme with some black kitties on it. Very cute, but mostly I love the colours and pumpkins! 
The first little pumpkin with no beads is shown in the pic to the left (again sorry for crappy photo). Along with the beginning of one of the main trees that frames the piece. 

It will look like this upon completion: 



Still working on two big projects. My 'epic' one is a Mini HAED "Alice in Clockwork" and second is a Mirabilia mermaid. Same one that Rahenna is working on right now actually. :) 

Speaking of Mirabilia; did you see the new witches added to the BeWitching Pixies set!?!? They are sooo pretty. I already have the orange one plus beads on it's way to me. Just couldn't help myself. LOL! 

Happy Stitching to everyone!