Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Embroidery & the Eyes: Good lighting is important!


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Hand embroidery requires good lighting! In the days of old, embroiderers only worked during the daytime, sitting near windows or even outdoors to take advantage of the excellent light provided by the sun. But today most of us don’t have the leisure to sit at home during the day. How many of us who embroider for pleasure do so in the evening hours? Well, even if you don’t, if you’re indoors, you need good lighting.

I’ll give you an example: I was working on a very fine piece of high-count white linen using one tiny strand of silk thread to embroider an intricate design. I was working against the clock to get it done, as it was a commissioned project. At the time, I lived in an apartment that was shaded by a very large porch, so my sitting room had little natural light. I worked by the regular lighting in my room, until I started to notice extreme eye fatigue after short spells of work, and then – low ‘n behold – swollen eyes, redness, etc. It was definitely the lack of good lighting. To remedy the situation, since it was my summer vacation, I took my work outside. This poses problems in itself! Birds flying over… insects…. dust from nearby fields… But – it was a great experience! Doing needlework outdoors in the sun is nice! And on a bright sunny day, I don’t know if you could get better light!

A friend of mine suggested that, in the spring and early summer, our embroidery group meet outside. I know she had visions of Emma in Mirimax’s Jane Austen film! Unfortunately, while it would be fun now and then – variety is good – again, there are certain problems with the proposition: logistics (supplies, tables, chairs, mosquitoes) and potentially dangerous situations with birds, bugs, and dirt.

So what do you do?! Invest in good lighting! Do not compromise your eyesight by settling for poor light. If you are serious about stitching – whether you do it for pleasure or for profit – you must take care of your eyes. If you don’t, you won’t be able to enjoy what you love to do!

The best lights for stitching, in my opinion, are made by OTT-Lite. They feature “true color” bulbs that are bright without glaring. You will be amazed at the difference in your work under an OTT light – everything is clearer!

OTT lights come in several varieties – floor lamps, table lamps, clamp lamps, portable lamps – it just depends on what you want. I’ve had mine for a while – it’s the Flex Arm Plus, with the base and the clamp. For traveling or if you belong to an embroidery group, consider a portable version such as the one at the left. The lamp doesn’t extend as far, but it’s better than working in poor lighting!

While OTT lights can seem expensive, it is truly worth the investment. If you invest in nothing else as far as tools and accessories go, at least invest in a good light!

You can find OTT-Lite products at Joann’s online. I just squizzed their site – they have a great variety of them, and this week, they’re on sale. I may have to invest in a floor lamp….



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(1) Comments

  1. I’ve loved, loved, loved your Site!!! As a blog we can find THE best tips about this ancient art!
    Thank you for share your “colorful” enthusiasm.

    Hugs from Brazil!


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