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Something to Crow About

"What's in a name?" Juliet famously asked. A crow by any other name would be a pest. At least that's what you'd think driving down an Indiana road in late summer. Taking the scenic route to buy some cross-stitch supplies, I once had to brake for scarecrows set up by farmers to drive away blackbirds. The scarecrows weren't in the street, but they were in a field close enough to the road that I had to laugh.

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You can find this design, Scarecrow Silhouette by Nancy Greenberg, in the 2015 Just CrossStitch Halloween special issue, available at Annie's Craft Store.

Three scarecrows were placed in a circle like three men shooting dice. These were well-dressed, mannequin-like figures that would have the birds asking themselves, "Why are three nattily attired gentlemen standing in my field?"

When I think about crows chatting, I can forget about how scary the blackbirds were in Hitchcock's classic The Birds. Come to think of it, Hitchcock movies might be good background noise for cross-stitching creepy Halloween pieces.

The Just CrossStitch Halloween special issue is on sale now, and there are three and a half designs that include crows, although the "half" crow is actually a raven, as I learned when googling blackbirds.

Did you know that ravens' tails have longer middle tail feathers, so when the bird is flying you see a wedge shape? Crows, on the other hand, have feathers that are all the same length, so the feathers open like a fan. You can thank www.audubon.org for that fun fact.

And why do farmers need scarecrows anyway? Are birds really so bad? That Hitchcock film was fiction, right?

So back to Google. Crows pluck corn seedlings and eat the kernels, and they sometimes peck away at ripening corn. So says the Internet Center for Wildlife Damage Management, which is quick to mention that crows aren't the only culprits when it comes to wrecking a corn crop. I, however, want to put all the blame on crows so that when I stitch the following ornaments I can attest to their naughty natures as perfect for Halloween.

In the Just CrossStitch Halloween issue, you'll find The Key by designer Lee Fisher. The cemetery scene is stitched on 32-count Belfast linen from Hand Dyed Fabrics by Stephanie in the appropriately named color "bewitched."

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The variegated shades in each strand of Valdani floss in Fern Ridge Collections' Spiders and the Crow make this ornament appropriately spooky.

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Crows also appear in Nicoletta Farrauto's Halloween Harvest Pincushion Pair. These crows are actually useful and will help you keep track of your pins.

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And finally, the not-a-crow-but-a-raven appears in Frony Ritter's Halloween Magic. This must be a good witch with all the sparkle from Kreinik fine braid and Mill Hill glass beads.

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Since scarecrows were the inspiration for this update, it wouldn't be fair not to include a scarecrow in this list of projects. This update's free pattern is Elegant Scarecrow from the cover of the October 2013 issue of Just CrossStitch.

With Halloween around the corner, Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't far behind. And like a lot of our readers, I start making plans for Annie's Needle Arts Festival: Christmas in Williamsburg.

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