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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Good Lighting for Needlework – Boy, What a Deal!


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The importance of good lighting while you’re doing your needlework just can’t be underestimated. For the avid needleworker, your eyes are probably your most important tool! And to save them – to make your work easy on the eyes and to reduce eye strain – good lighting is essential. There’s nothing I like better than a Good Light. I got a “deal” on one last week. So I thought I’d tell you about it…

I have a couple lights I use for needlework – one is an Ott Light Plus, that can either sit in a heavy base on the table or can clamp to a table. It was my first needlework light purchase, and I’ve used it too many hours to count. I keep it in the ‘garage-gone-studio’ in the back of the house.

I also have in the living room one of the “decorative” variety of Ott lights that looks ok (when it’s off). I’m not particularly keen on the blue-ish-bright glow that comes from Ott lights, as they aren’t very “decorative” or warm looking when they’re on. From outside looking in, they make the room look kind of cold. But still – for stitching under, the decorative ones like this are ok. They don’t have the same “light coverage” as the long, wide, functional ones, though. The light shines in a pretty direct circle right where it’s pointed, and that’s it. Still, it’s ok!

Now, for a good light, you’re bound to spend quite a few bucks, right? Those links are all to Ott lights at Joann Fabric and Craft stores. When they’re on sale for 40% off, you can get an ok deal on them.

But check out this light:

Lighting for Needlework

Though it looks like the Ott Light with the flexible arm, this is actually an Ultralux 55W floor lamp, by Full Spectrum Lighting. It differs from an Ott light in a couple ways, but the most notable way in my mind is that it has a dimmer. With Ott lights, you can either turn them on, or turn them off. With this Ultralux, you can adjust the range of brightness.

Lighting for Needlework

Now, the Ultralux floor lamp is rather expensive, too – this unit sells for around $180. The replacement bulbs are about $30.

It just so happens that a friend of mine was ducking into thrift stores last week, though, and she came across this Ultralux floor lamp… for a whopping whole $2. It didn’t work but she bought it, thinking I might interested in it (thanks, Irene!), and realizing it could just be the matter of the bulb.

At first, when I realized the replacement bulb (it’s that 4-tube bulb in the picture up there) was $30, I hesitated about buying one. After all, what if it wasn’t the bulb? What if it was the lamp? I found a place with a good return policy, and decided to take the risk. To invest a little bit in shipping would be worth it, after all, if the light works.

Guess what?

It does!! And it’s wonderful!

The moral of the story, then, is this: shop around! If you’re looking for a good light for stitching, drop in regularly at well-stocked, well-frequented second-hand stores. You never know what you’ll find!

And that brings me to the final question: What kind of lighting do you use for stitching, and why do you like it? I’d love to hear some reader resonse on this subject!

A little note on this week’s book give-away: I’ll be posting that later next week, combined with the August Monthly Stash Contest. I’m going to give away the A-Z of Embroidery Stitches 2, plus some threads and such. So keep an eye out for that!

And now, finally, after a busy week and a busy Saturday – I’m going to go spend some time with my needle ‘n thread!

Have a great weekend!


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(12) Comments

  1. Excellent luck! Congrat’s on the lamp working! Better lighting is on my wishlist. Thanks for the info on a new name brand. -Jeannine

  2. I got one of these http://uk.daylightcompany.com/art/product/?id=174
    on Ebay for a tenner. And not only that, I had an Ebay voucher worth a tenner which I used to pay for it, so technically free!

    Well actually it was a bit more complicated than that, as a friend in Norfolk had to pick it up for me, and bring it to London the next time he was down, which involved me treating him and his wife to a damn fine pub lunch to say thank you, but still only £30, with pub lunch and catching up with old friends thrown in, so bargain!

    It’s not that strong a light, but because it’s low energy and doesn’t chuck out stupid amounts of heat and bendy, you can position it quite close, the magnifying glass is great if eyes are feeling tired, and I find the chart holder is more than strong enough to double as a clamp to hold the work! And it looks attractive.

  3. I have an Ott light also and they are really fantastic. Especially if you do a lot of close work that causes eye strain. I think needlework and painting minatures qualifies for causing eye strain. I got one that has a magnifier built on it and it works really great for certain projects. If you want to save your eyes it’s a great way to go. They are expensive so I waited until there was a 50% off sale at Hobby Lobby. That light was one of my better investments.

  4. Maybe it’s just the fabric I’m using, but I find that I can see better when I light my work from behind. On a recent road trip I brought along a crewel embroidery project to work on. I kept a small flashlight in my lap and held the hoop over it. To my surprise, it was much easier to see the printed pattern on the fabric than when using my nice Sharper Image reading lamp.

    As for other visual aids for stitching…I purchased a clip-on magnifying glass from Joann’s Fabrics that I’ve found very useful. It clips right on my embroidery hoop. Here it is.

  5. I like that light! I have a floor Ott light that lives down the hall for stitching with my largest floor frame and lying on the sofa to read. For the rest of my stitching in the living room I use a pedestal base Dazor floor lamp. I can get it right down over my work. It’s not pretty, but I have other lamps around to get a warmer atmosphere.

  6. Lighting?? Just the 200watt bulb in the ceiling, so trying to do any sort of needlework (including mending) in winter with the curtains closed is next to impossible. I really need to get a decent light (portable and repositional) sorted out.

  7. Sunlight of course! I sit near a window or else I sit on a rocking chair out on the front porch or I sit at the picnic table in the backyard.
    Other than that I use sewing machine light and a small green flip-up tabletop Ott.

  8. Do some stitches look better on a specific weave of fabric, i.e. chain stitch on sateen weave, French knots on twill weave, etc.?
    Martha McSweeney

  9. Wow awesome deal on the UltraLux!! I’m finding the UltraLux has been replaced with “blue lamp” not sure I got the name exactly right but I found a 70w full spectrum dimmable floor lamp for like $130, I’m pretty happy about that, the halogen lamps I was looking at were significantly more. I’m hoping I found the right ,

  10. The 70 w dimmable full spectrum lamp I found is called blue max not whatever I put above…a lamp by any other name is as full spectrum 🙂

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