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.

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! :) 


Anonymous said...

I've got a subscription to the Dutch magazine "Borduurblad" and at the end of the month (if I get some money for my birthday) I want to subscribe to Just Cross Stitch. I like to look through the magazines over and over again so my choice is a hard-copy. And even if I never make something out of it, it still is nice to have them and look them through.
Dutch greetings, Evelien

Tiffstitch said...

I used to have a paper subscription to Cross Stitch and Needlework, but found after a few dud issues for me it wasn't worth it. Now I have a digital subscription to WOXS and JCS, as well as a short-lived one through Zenio for Cross Stitch Crazy and Cross Stitch Gold. I may let those lapse depending. I like the Zenio reader better than the Google newsstand reader which doesn't let me print anything. And JCS having an entire digital issue is nice. I'm deciding whether to keep up with JCS as well right now.

Leonore Winterer said...

I haven't subscribed to any magazines so far - only getting some single issues or the halloween/christmas issues, usually later on when the were cheaper. I've been thinking about it though, so you analysis is actually pretty usefull for me! I'll have to look into the digital subscriptions as well, while I do love leaving through magazines it's not only a cost issue, but also a matter of storage space...

Shelly said...

I'm not subscribing to any right now but I do buy both the JCS Christmas and Halloween preview issues and then the actual special issues of both holidays. The problem with subscribing, for me, is that I may like one design out of one magazine but the next two issues may not have anything I like. That happened with JCS so I haven't subscribed to them in quite awhile. I recently scored on 30 Cross Stitch & Needlework mags on eBay and I tell you what, the designs are just great in it. Designers like Barbara Ana, the chalkboard patterns (forget her name) are featured. If I do subscribe soon, it will be to this magazine. Thanks for the tip on digital downloading from the library. I hadn't thought of that!

D1-D2 said...

I live in Canada and I have a pay as you subscription with Inspiration magazine (the most beautiful magazine in the world, I'm not kidding that's their slogan) which is from Australia. I pay for a hard copy even thought digital is available, because I like it better that way. These days everything is digital and I sometimes miss being able to flip through pages. I might change my mind once I run out of space, but for now I'm fine ;)

deb said...

I had let my subscription to Just Cross Stitch lapse years and years ago after having collected virtually all the issues from the magazine's start till around 1991. Problem was that very little of the content interested me in the regular issues, so definitely not worth it IMO.

Also at that time, there was a wealth of sampler specific options - Cross Stitch Sampler (formerly Needlewords) and Sampler and Antique Quarterly being the major ones. I treasure each and every issue though I've actually stitched ... not very many of the projects (unfortunately I am a *slow* stitcher). Those two magazines, and the short-lived newsletter format subscriptions that were offered by some favorite designers (Catherine Theron, Eileen Bennett) were worth every cent and more to me.

Alas and woe, SANQ has printed and distributed its last issue, and I had renewed my subscription just prior to that, so I am now being compensated with issues of Just Cross Stitch. Sadly, the only projects that make my eyes light up are ones that were clearly planned to be in SANQ so I'm very unlikely to renew the subscription to JCS.

The ornament issue, on the other hand - wouldn't miss that for anything!

Thanks for providing the opportunity for this discussion - I love to hear what other stitchers think.

Angela said...

I used to buy the ornament magazine but have been so disappointed in it the past 2 years I didn't even bother with it. Our Library only has 1 UK stitching magazine but it's better than none.

Heather said...

I don't have any subscriptions but I do need to get the Halloween one for last year (I think. The one with the blue owl on black).

Clare said...

I have my magazines put aside by the local book shop and embroidery shop. I was sad for SANQ to stop as so enjoyed that. I get Stoney Creek cross stitch, Just Cross Stitch,plus Christmas Ornament issue in paper copies. I will look into library issues. I also get a few patchwork magazines Simply Vintage and Homespun. I was getting Primitive quilts but unable to get that at the moment. Happy Stitching.

Jenn M said...

I used to subscribe to Cross Stitch and Needlework, but found that after a while things just seemed the same. I still buy the JCS ornament issues, although I will say I have found them to be a little disappointing the past two years. Maybe I just have ornament overload and I'm not being fair!
Like you I enjoy seeing the ads for new pieces: perhaps that's not great for the pocket book but it's fun to hunt them down.
I recently subscribed to Cross Stitch Crazy: with the exchange my heart did a bit of a take, but so far I am happy with it. Despite the high cost it is still cheaper than buying each issue at the store and I get them as they are published over there. I don't think I will continue after the year, only because I find then I have too many charts and I start to feel overwhelmed until I can cut them down. With the increased postage for things coming from the US to Canada (hello Free Trade - where are you?!) I am buying less and less from ebay and cross stitch sites. This is where I find the magazines offer better value.
Our library does not have any cross stitch magazines in circulation or else I would be all over that. I see a lot of mixed reviews about digital subscriptions so I have not gone that route just yet. My biggest concern would not being able to print something off.

KimM said...

I subscribe to JCS....and usually stitch 3-4 patterns from each one. I look at The others in the stores...if I see some patterns I like, I'll purchase them. Otherwise, I pass. There are so many you can download online....that's where I get most of what I stitch.

Joy said...

I subscribe to Just Cross Stitch. I got a great deal on the print + digital (cheaper than digital only) so that's what I have. I actually use the digital version a lot since I have the DVD from 2001-2010 which I ripped and put on my OneDrive so I can access it from anywhere. I think it's great for the price. I normally find at least one thing I like in each issue.

I also have a "subscription" to those yearly Cross Stitch Christmas books. Mine arrived today. It's gone up in price this year and I have the option to send it back but it's probably more trouble to send it back so I'll probably keep it. I found a few things I really liked so it's probably worth it in the end.

I actually liked the new JCS a bit more than you, Mel. I like two of the ornaments and the chalkboard (but seeing as you're Canadian and it was totally USA, I could see it being "meh" because, let's face it, I don't jump at Canadian stuff because I'm from the US so it's only fair).

Thoeria said...

When I started stitching I took out subscriptions to various ones....and after two years noticed that 1. My tastes had changed and a lot that I previously wanted to stitch in those magazines no longer held appeal 2. There seemed to be a repetition to the type of patterns published....meaning that they all started to seem the same even tho not!
I quit subscribing and moved to only purchasing charts. If there's something in a mag that I like I wait for a digital sale and can normally get the back issue at a much cheaper cost. With all the legally free patterns available for download I find I have no real need for subscriptions

Faith... said...

I too have gone digital and given away most of my physical magazines. Also have the CDs with the back issues on them.

I am thinking of cancelling my subscriptions though because I RARELY ever stitch from them! I used to stitch from them all the time but now that I have them on my backup drive I forget to look at them after the initial browse. I have been thinking of printing out the Table of Contents for each though and putting them in a binder so that maybe I will remember to look at that to see what I have in my magazines!

Cathy said...

I had subscriptions to Cross Stitch Gold, World of Cross Stitching and Just Cross Stitch. I have not renewed any of them as most of the new issues I was not finding any projects that I wanted to stitch. I have years of magazines in my collection with many projects that I want to stitch so at this time I thought I would just keep on stitching from my stash and not invest in any magazine subscriptions.

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

I have a paper subscription for JCS, which doubles the cost with postage to the UK! It's still cheaper than the UK magazines though. Up until this year I was happy but I've had postal issues so I'm going digital next year and will just buy the Christmas and Hallowe'en paper copies from a UK stockist.

If you ever want a specific copy of a UK magazine, let me know and I can get it for you. The cover price is £5 and postage is about the same but you get it within a week of publication instead of waiting a couple of months and hoping your local shop will have it.

Stitchinowl said...

I have had a love-hate thing going on with Just Cross Magazine over the year. I used to love it, then I went through a period where it become blah and same-old-thing. It perked up again a little and then went downhill. I stopped renewing about a year and 1/2 ago because I got tired of calling them every other issue to find out why the issue never arrived. At this point, I just look through the issue at Barnes and Noble (which also puts it out a few weeks late) and decide if I want to buy it.