Monday, September 10, 2018

Caroling Cardinals

The Just CrossStitch 2018 Special Christmas Ornament Issue is currently arriving at needlework shops, in mailboxes, and on newsstands. Today, I am pleased to share my contributions with you. I actually have two ornaments in the issue - one is "Two Stags and a Star" (page 27) - this one was also included in the August issue for the Christmas Ornament Preview. My new ornament is titled "Caroling Cardinals" and can be found on page 29, with my Christmas memory and recipe found on page 100. This year, I included my recipe for Simmering Seasonal Potpourri - an easy list of ingredients that will fill your home with a delightful scent for the holiday season (which I will also share later in this pre-holiday post). My 2018 ornament features a pair of cardinals, pine trees, and snowflakes...and complements my woodland ornaments from the past several years. Stitches include: Cross Stitch over two linen threads, Back Stitch, and Smyrna Cross Stitch. I stitched the model on 40-count Mocha linen from Weeks Dye Works (same as previous ornaments in this series) and used Weeks Dye Works cotton floss (DMC conversions are provided). I opted for a flat-finish with two-tone twisted cord to match my previous holiday ornaments.

This is the twelfth year I have been included in the annual Ornament Issue...which doesn't even seem possible! If you would like to see all twelve of my contributions, you can visit the "Publications" tab on my website (my ornaments from the Christmas Ornament Preview Issues are shown there, as well). This magazine has gone through a lot of changes over the years (just like my design style), yet still continues to be a yearly fan favorite.

I remember getting my first designer invitation back in 2006 to be in the magazine - I was SUPER excited - it was an honor to get that invitation each year to be included. Over the last several years, I have read quite a bit of criticism regarding this issue - complaints that the ornaments seem too simple and/or without thought, complaints that favorite designers are missing, complaints the photography isn't good and the magazine is of lesser quality...even complaints that the holiday memories and recipes are in the back and not shown with the designer. As a designer and contributor (who puts a ton of thought and time into EVERY ornament design), this is quite discouraging. I can definitely agree with some of those statements...and, to be honest, I too have wrestled with myself for the last few years on whether or not I want to be involved. For me, the magazine has taken away quite a bit of the prestige and excitement that came along with being included in this publication. Let me clear -  this issue has always been an unpaid assignment and designers do not receive any compensation for being included...years ago, it used to generate quite a bit of excitement and a designer had to receive a special invitation to be included - back then, it was always a treat to be involved - but that excitement has changed and now designers receive an invitation to "submit a design idea" (which let's face it, takes away most of the incentive, especially when there is no payment)...also, in years past, the included designers would receive a handful of copies of the magazine (which I would give away in contests to my readers and social media followers) - now we get one copy (and somehow, mine always arrives bent and damaged)...these may be just a few of the reasons you aren't seeing some of your favorite designers in the more recent issues. The needlework industry continues to go through growing pains and is constantly changing, who knows what the future holds - but I have been proud to be a part of this special publication for the past twelve years! I can't wait to sit down with my issue (when it finally arrives) and look through each page - at quick glance of the digital issue, I see quite a diverse selection of designs from some very talented creators...these designers love needlework so much they contributed/donated their time and, while each and every ornament might not be your cup of tea, I hope you will still be able to find a few to stitch up for your tree!

I would love to hear your comments on this year's issue - what are your favorite ornaments??

Simmering Seasonal Potpourri

1 qt. apple juice
1 qt. pineapple juice
1 qt. water
2 tablespoons allspice
3 cinnamon sticks
16 – 20 cloves (a handful)
3 tablespoons pickling spice

Mix all ingredients in a large saucepan or crockpot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer. Continue to simmer uncovered for an inviting citrus spice holiday fragrance!

While it may be a little too early to get in the Christmas spirit - I hope this post will inspire you for the upcoming holiday season! Time to start stitching those ornaments and gifts...


  1. I just want to say "thank you" for your beautiful designs in the Just CrossStitch ornament issue and the Halloween issue. It is evident that you put a lot of time and effort into everything you do! I do love Just CrossStitch magazine and am grateful that you continue to participate in their holiday issues. Have a blessed fall!

  2. I do appreciate that some designers still design for the magazine, even though they don't receive pay.
    But I do miss some of them also.
    Still patiently waiting for my issue! :)

  3. Belinda, I love both of your ornaments. It was a bit confusing at first to see "multiples" from several of the designers until I figured out they were from the preview issue. I am sure some will complain about that. I quickly went through my issue yesterday (it arrived) and marked at least 18. I will be going through it again in a couple days to spend more time with it. I am one that would prefer the memory and/or recipe with the ornament itself.

    Thank you for your contribution in this year's issue! xoxooxox

  4. I have so many of these magazines but I no longer buy it and haven't for a few years. The price increase is untenable. $5.95 was one thing, but now? Nope. The layout looks cheap and thrown-together. I wish the publisher would re-think this once great issue.

  5. Thank you so much for all your sweet designs! I still buy the Ornament issues although I am sad so many are no longer participating.