A blast from the past: looking through a vintage Cross Stitcher magazine

While I was out shopping last week, I came across a bundle of old (very old!) Cross Stitcher magazines from 1994 and 1995. I got 8 of them for £3 in a charity shop, and was very pleased with myself.

Vintage 1

When I got home, I sat down with a cup of tea to have a browse through. This is the first one I read, from 1994. It’s amazing how much things have changed since then! The magazine has quite different designs in it from the type that they now feature. There are more detailed designs in the old magazine, and things like the review of kits and charts on one theme (Christmas themes, in this particular issue) cover 26 items! I think that these days, there are far fewer options available to stitchers (in the UK at least), so reviews tend to be far briefer now. The emphasis on ‘country’ themes was clear, too, which isn’t popular much these days.

It may be my imagination, but the paper quality seemed to be better then – more glossy – and the number of pages was greater than now. It is also noticeable that there aren’t many ‘filler pages’ – double-page spreads offering reduced rates for annual subscriptions, and so on.

The articles are very interesting. I liked this one on computer design software, which was quite a new thing back in 1994. They compared four different software programs, varying in price from £32 to £399!! Think how much £399 was worth back in 1994!

Vintage 3

There is a funny paragraph in the computer charting article, which explains what a mouse is for, for those who don’t know:

“Almost everything is done using the mouse (in a computing context a ‘mouse’ is a device that you push around your desk in order to move a pointer around the screen. It has one or more buttons which you ‘click’ to make things happen).”

Another article is about the cross stitch designer Jo Verso, who, at that time, was really well known for her modern ‘sampler type’ small designs, available in book format. Jo was just starting to offer weekend courses, and the writer of the article attended her first one.

Vintage 2

The pages of adverts at the back of the magazine were interesting for two reasons. The first is that there were so many people advertising – both high street shops, and individual designers. Most were offering catalogues available by post, with payment by cheque or with stamps. No websites at all. That seems really strange now. Some people just *described* their designs (no pictures!), and expected you to send off your money based just on that! Also, it’s very obvious from the picture below that the advert pages were all in black and white, as colour printing was expensive, so was saved for the main section of the magazine.  I noted as well that an awful lot of the shops that advertised in 1994 are no longer in existence. And that’s not just because new ones have replaced them – in the UK, it’s now very hard to find an embroidery shop at all, never mind a good one.

Vintage 4

Still, it gave me a couple of hours of nostalgic pleasure to read through the old issue of Cross Stitcher again. And I’ve still got another seven issues to read  🙂

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My fascination with Beatrix Potter embroidery kits through the years

When I was a teenager, back in the 1970s, I used to spend my pocket money on embroidery kits featuring Beatrix Potter characters. I used to travel into London from Essex, and visit the lovely (and long since closed) ‘Needlewoman Shop’ at 146 Regent Street to buy the needlepainting kits and cross stitch kits that were available then. Beatrix Potter images seem to be timeless – the first of her books appeared over a hundred years ago, now, but the images of all those cute animals in ‘human clothes’ don’t seem to date.

Recently, I was surfing on Etsy, as you do, and I came across this:

Beatrix 1

I clicked ‘Buy Now’ in an instant. This was a kit I’d had my eye on for years (it came out around the late eighties, I think), but originally it had been quite expensive, as it is large, with lots of threads included. But now it’s classed as old, so it was nice and cheap! The design chart is printed on one huge sheet of paper, and the threads looped onto two thread sorters. They had never even been out of the packet. Wonderful!

Beatrix 2

I try to buy up Beatrix Potter kits or charts if I see them on Ebay, but I’m not prepared to pay silly prices. These two booklets were about £5 each:

Beatrix 3

This Chrismas-themed booklet is one which always seems to be described as ‘rare’, and can be difficult to track down – eventually, I got lucky, and paid about £7 for this one. I’ve seen it sell for £28 before now. The designs in it are nice, but the charts are hand drawn, which makes it a bit hard to follow at times.

Beatrix 4

Different manufacturers have brought out their own version of Beatrix Potter’s images at various times. More recently, Anchor has produced this one, which I couldn’t resist, although I do find it a bit odd that there are *two* Mrs Tiggywinkles in the same picture. When I get around to stitching it, I think I’m going to have to adapt it somehow  – maybe by eliminating the left-hand Mrs T and moving the lettering over to fill her space, and then stitching her on a separate piece of fabric.

Beatrix 5

In the 1970s, JEM Patchwork used to produce these gorgeous threadpainting kits of characters from Beatrix Potter. Anyone remember these? I clearly remember standing at a display of the kits in a needlework shop, adding up my small change to see if I really could afford one of them with my pocket money – after all, they were almost four pounds each!! The kits included a cheap plastic frame (not anything to write home about, but how many kits these days include a frame?), the printed fabric, the threads, and a kind of  ‘colour by numbers’ printed design sheet to work from. I loved doing these, so when I came across some on Ebay, I jumped at the chance to buy them. I must be going soft in the head, as I bought designs I’ve already made once – although that’s going back almost 40 years now, and I don’t have the originals any more. I’ve now re-bought Tom Kitten, Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny.

Beatrix 6

Aren’t they sweet? This Peter Rabbit kit must have been just a bit too much for the person who first bought it – they’ve only stitched half of one of his ears, and then put him back in the packet. Oh dear!

Beatrix 7

This Benjamin Bunny kit has never even been out of its plastic wrapping, and it only cost me £3 on Ebay!

Beatrix 8

I’m still looking for my other favourites from this range to stitch, so if anyone particularly has Cousin Ribby (the cat), the Tailor of Gloucester sitting on his cotton reel, or Squirrel Nutkin, PLEASE let me know by emailing me at janet@janetgranger.co.uk, and I’ll gladly buy them off you!

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