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Member Name: assethound
Date: 10/01/01, updated on 10/01/01 (724 review reads)
Advantages: Lots of charts, Norman Willis
Disadvantages: The designs may not be to your taste
You may not immediately associate former General Secretary of the TUC Norman Willis with a needle and thread, but prepare to be shocked.
I have been getting Cross Stitcher on and off since last year, and did a double take when I read his regular column, now called Norman’s Month.
Far from being a gimmick, Norman Willis is a keen stitcher, and very active - even stitching signs for a tea room, and for the members room of the Embroiderers’ Guild at Hampton Court palace.
Norman’s column is a welcome reminder that cross stitching, and needlework in general is not an exclusively female pastime. This is reflected in the charts featured in Cross Stitcher magazine - although there are a lot of floral designs, birds, gardens, samplers and cottages feature, as well as designs aimed at, or rather for, children.
There is a particularly appealing set of Kipper designs in the January 2001 issue, taken from the book Classic Storybook Cross-stitch by Gilliam Souter, and from original artwork by Mick Inkpen, the author and illustrator of the fantastic Kipper books.
Each month Cross Stitcher magazine features a free gift on the cover, usually in the form of a pre-printed colour card mount and a chart, also containing the Aida fabric, threads and a needle to stitch it with. These cover kits are simple enough for most beginners to try and small enough to do in an evening. Instructions on how to complete the kit are featured in the magazine.
The Postbag, in the first few pages of the magazine is always lively, and is full of letters and photographs from readers keen to show their work off. The Star Letter earns its writer a prize - usually a cross stitch kit, and the First Past The Post award goes to the reader who sends in a photograph of a piece stitched from the magazine the quickest.
There are several competitions in each issue of Cross Stitcher, ranging from competitions such as the January 2001
competition to win one of ten prizes of five Disney kits, to prize draws for books and kits.
You & Your Stitching features photographs sent in by readers who pose with a finished piece that they have stitched from any issue of Cross Stitcher. This months winner won a camera.
For the more spiritual stitcher, there are charts for Chinese New Year cards in the January 2001 issue, as well as Russell Grant, Cross Stitcher’s resident astrologer, who has a page full of predictions every month.
Cross Stitcher also features projects that stretch across several issues, a good example being the afghan in the January issue, with a bunny design for each month of the year, to be collected over the course of four magazines during 2001,
Cross Stitch Answers provides a form to fill in to send your question to the experts, the Helpdesk, which features the answers to questions sent in by readers, and chart and kit reviews.
The Know How section features guides on different embroidery stitches - although invariably the charts in Cross Stitcher are (you guessed it) for cross stitch - and instructions on how to use unusual threads, or other stitching related tips, such as how to wash your work.
In each issue are true-life stories from readers, ranging from cosy tales of families sharing a stitching hobby, to triumphs over adversity. There is also the occasional stitching related short story, of the five minute tea break kind, although I am not sure that many of the readers would have time for tea, as they seem to stitch almost as often as they breathe.
Another tea break type feature is the Puzzles page, which features a word search and a Prize Crossword.
The Stitchers’ Shopping Bag is one of the last features, and highlights new kits, and diary dates of stitching related events.
Throughout Cross Stitcher there is quite a lot of advertising, which is actually a good thing, rather than an ann
oyance - I often buy magazines like this for the adverts!
Many stitchers find themselves miles from the nearest needlecraft shop, and some may have mobility problems, so mail order has always been a popular medium for shopping, as is the Internet for those stitchers who are online.
Cross Stitcher also has a web site directory, which features a growing number of adverts for stitch related sites.
There is even a web site associated with Cross Stitcher magazine:
with free charts, guides to stitching techniques and a chat room.
Although Cross Stitcher is not my main magazine - I tend to surf a lot of stitching sites, and I veer more towards needlepoint than cross-stitch, I do buy it every now and then, usually to look for new stitching resources. If you are into cross-stitching this magazine will provide you with plenty to stitch, and is a little less flowery and cute than some others on the market.
Cross Stitcher is published by Future Publishing and costs £2.99, from major newsagents. You can save £8 on a years subscription (13 issues) by paying yearly, at £29.99. You can get 10% discount at many stitching shops and mail order firms int he UK if you take out a subscription to Cross Stitcher magazine.
You can order back issues using a form in the magazine, as well as ordering most of the projects featured in the magazine.