Time to Reflect

Today’s post was going to be about Superbowl Sales. However recent events and communications have had me questioning the direction and future of Cross Stitch Review and as such, the time for this post is NOW.

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Background

The idea of Cross Stitch Review was born years ago when I, on a whim, decided to join the “365 Days Challenge”.  I decided to write a blog post every day for a year about a chart in my stash and why I hadn’t stitched it yet.  I lasted about six months.

Fast forward to September 2014 and I decided to resurrect that blog, but make it more for the reader and less about me. Keep the independence and honesty of the reviews, add in sections for costs and availability, ask a few hand dyers to come on board and see how it went. This is Cross Stitch Review as you see it today.

Currently, reviews are scheduled weeks in advance allowing hand dyers and needlework stores lead time to select or create materials for each reviewed design. Meanwhile, artisans are sending samples of materials to be reviewed, store discounts are being offered and giveaways are becoming more common.

Cross Stitch Review is now a network of stitchers, hand dyers, chart designers, accessory makers, needlework stores and reviewers all working together to offer our best possible outcome to everyone involved.

This collaboration means that, for the stitcher, designs they previously passed over are now more accessible and desirable because you’ve seen how that same design “works” on different fabric or with different floss. e.g. Charts designed for dark fabric shown instead on light.

That colour combination not your style? Here’s a variety of suggestions for ones that might be.

That fabric you love, or that floss sample you were given, but have no idea what to do with?  Here are designs that may well “work” on that fabric or with that floss.

Entered a giveaway but didn’t win? Here’s a discount code to help purchase it.

There are benefits for the artisans too. Stitchers are excited by the range of designs out there. They innovate and explore beyond their comfort zone and stitch more often, and more exciting pieces. They buy kits and exchange floss and fabric to make their finished product unique. They learn to look at designs more openly (“Well, it’s not quite what I’m after, but if I change this or use that, it would be perfect for my decor, sister, wedding recipient, or whatever”).

Defunct Project a Day Blog
Defunct Project a Day Blog

TODAY

With the long lead time, and the expanse of reviews, I try to include WIP pics and opinions from other stitchers (with their permission). I also try to alert designers of upcoming reviews, to receive some background on a design and to check for inaccuracies; sometimes they offer a chart to giveaway or a discount for other designs, which is awesome!

I want to give the designers a chance to fix any inaccuracies in the blog post before it goes out. Anything that is not part of the review section is available for correction.

This is a labour of love. We reviewers love cross stitching, and our reviews are, for the most part, overwhelmingly positive. Despite this, some artisans have recently tried to limit what we can and cannot include in a review or article.

However, if we find there’s something about your item that could be a difficulty for the stitcher, we will point it out. The intent of these reviews is to peek into the chart packets and report on what was there, what we liked and what, if anything, we didn’t. If the chart has something that makes it difficult to work from, or a kit has sub-standard materials we will mention it.  The reviews are still the heart of Cross Stitch Review and we won’t change that.

While we can understand that sometimes a designer is also a hand dyer, or there is a collaboration between a particular designer and dyer for a range of products, we feel it is short-sighted  to disallow mention of alternative materials.  It seems they may be focusing on immediate sales at the expense of broadening their customer base for long-term profitability.

A stitcher from a different country may well want to buy your design, but can’t justify the international postage/exchange rate for the recommended fabric or floss. Or stitchers may be in “of-the-month clubs” for particular floss- or fabric-dyers. Is limiting the stitchers’ options worth losing both sales (design and fabric)?

Similarly, there has been the issue of overlays in the last couple of days.  These are where people cut designs from their backgrounds and then lay them across the top of other fabrics. The Cross Stitch Design and Fabric Viewer is the most well-known of these.

The argument from some designers has been that hand dyers should not use a chart designer’s Intellectual Property to sell their fabrics.  Overlays sell both the design and the fabric as a package. People do overlays because they want to see how they can make that design work for them. This should be a win for both designer and hand dyer, and is certainly of benefit to the stitcher.

Given these limitation requests I have had a long think about what I want Cross Stitch Review to be, and where I want the site to go.

A friend unconnected with the stitching world summed it up best for me last night:

Cross Stitch Review supports stitchers.  We also support those artisans (designers, hand dyers, etc) who support the industry as a whole.

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Cross Stitch Review Avatar

The Future

As of today, Cross Stitch Review will only publish reviews of products of those designers, hand dyers and other artisans who support the whole industry. If you do not allow alternative options; if you do not allow overlays; if you wish the site to censor any opinions that you don’t like, then Cross Stitch Review is not the place for you or your goods.

Cross Stitch Review serves the international stitching community; the best way to do this is to keep providing honest reviews, the materials cost for the full project, a range of hand dyed options from different countries, and to discourage design piracy by only promoting legitimate sites and businesses.

These are our core values, this is our mission.