Jill Oxton's Cross Stitch & Bead Weaving is a print publication with two issues per year; but I just can't bring myself to call it a magazine. Each issue is more like a book, both in quality and content. As a tough grader, I rarely grant a 5-star review, but I couldn't help it with this one.
Each issue of Cross Stitch & Bead Weaving has the dimensions of a thick magazine, but its cover and page stock have the heft and texture that you'd expect in a booklet or book. You won't be throwing these issues away after paging through them. They'll easily survive lots of use and become permanent additions to your beading library.
When you do thumb through your first issue, you'll immediately notice the big, easy-to-read pattern charts and diagrams. It's obvious that Jill Oxton understands the importance of scale and clarity in beading patterns.
A Closer Look Inside
Each issue contains patterns by Jill herself along with several other designers. The pattern charts can be used for either cross stitch or bead weaving, and the cells within the charts are filled with symbols (rather than colors, like typical beading patterns). A color key accompanying each pattern indicates which bead colors the symbols represent.
Photos throughout show the patterns stitched up as both cross stitch and beadwork (which makes for some interesting comparisons). Square stitch is the most common beading stitch, but most of those patterns can also be worked on a loom. Although less common, you'll also find patterns and diagrams for interesting designs using other off-loom stitches.
As for style, most of the patterns range from updated traditional to fine-art inspired. The emphasis is not on jewelry, as it is with many of the regular beading magazines. That's not to say that jewelry designs aren't included, but they don't take over the whole show.
For example, the March 2011 issue (Issue 83) has elaborate patterns for wall art, a beaded pen, ornaments, and notebooks, in addition to bracelets. The Christmas 2011 issue (Issue 84) has patterns for ornaments, sculptures, gift tags, and cards, as well as earrings.
The back section provides a series of succinct diagram tutorials for the beading stitches. They include basic square stitch, plus the more specialized "semi rigid" techniques, ways to shape edges, and how to attach findings.
Price and Availability
You can subscribe to Cross Stitch & Bead Weaving to receive a new issue every six months. Back issues are available for individual order. Issues are mailed from Australia, so shipping is slightly higher for delivery to other countries.
- Visit Jill Oxton's website to view current prices.
Notice that prices are in Australian dollars. To convert the price to another currency, visit XE.
Back issues are also available, along with several special editions and pattern "chart packs." The Cross Stitch & Bead Weaving website also provides a list of worldwide distributors, which currently include two outlets in the United States.
If you're serious about beadwork and looking for elaborate patterns that are not limited to jewelry -- and you don't mind the dual cross-stitch bead-weaving format -- this publication is for you. If you're worried at all about price, keep in mind that these are high-quality booklets that will retain their value over time, just like good books. And, I honestly think you'll find the pattern layouts and diagrams to be even clearer than what you see in many beading books.