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Magnifiers for Cross Stitchers - all you need to know!

Magnifiers can be a fantastic tool for cross stitchers when stitching on smaller count aida such as 18 count, and even more so when stitching on something as small as evenweave! And for those with eyesight issues, it's a must! Use of a magnifier means you can continue to create beautifully detailed pictures on higher count aida (smaller stitches) rather than using a smaller count aida (bigger stitches) which can often lead to a more pixelated look of the finished picture.

However using a magnifier doesn't come without it's issues! So here are my top tips to help you minimise the detrimental effects of magnifiers on your health.

1. Take plenty breaks! It's really tiring for your eyes to constantly be focusing on something so close. So, every 10 minutes or so, look up and into the distance as far ass possible for 30-60seconds. Then, every hour or so, have a 5 minute break. Maybe use the break to do a few stretches to kill two birds with one stone! It's really difficult to stop, but using technology such as setting alarms to 'stand and stretch' can be useful. Otherwise, before you know it you've been stitching for 4 hours without moving!

2. Remember to blink! I know this sounds like common sense, but out eyes require hydration which is why we blink. I know all too well the dry eyes when you suddenly realise you've been staring without blinking through a particularly tricky section!

3. Choose natural light when possible! Sitting with your back to a natural light source, eg a window, can help to make the most of any natural light. Now the evenings are starting to get a little lighter, the availability of natural light is improving!

4. Stop using any artificial light 1 hour before bed time! The human body is programmed to sleep when it starts getting darker, which is why we generally feel more tired on winter evenings and struggle to wake on winter mornings. The hormone Melatonin is responsible for your body's sleep cycle and is produced in response to darkness. Artificial light, such as that produced by a magnifier, can prevent this hormone from being produced, therefore disrupting your sleep cycle! Sleep is vitally important, so spending at least 1 hour before we sleep away from any artificial light, such as that from a magnifier, TV or telephone, and turning off the big light in favour of lamps can help you get that all important restful sleep!

5. Use a neck magnifier if possible! Magnifiers that hand around your neck allow you to regularly change position while stitching, preventing any muscular and joint stiffness that can build up from prolonged positions. However, a neck magnifier may not be appropriate for those with significant neck issues, so a clip-on magnifier may be a better option. But even these come with issues, as holding the extra weight of a clip-on magnifier could impact neck symptoms as well as any upper limb disorders. So in this case I would suggest getting a magnifier as light as possible, or, alternatively, clipping your magnifier to the edge of a tray or something similar that you can lay on your lap as you're stitching.

If you feel you would benefit from a magnifier, here are a few of the magnifiers available online. Quick disclaimer, I've not actually bought or used any of these myself and you should always make sure the one you pick is right for you! I've picked the following magnifiers based on variation in use, lens size, magnification and weight, as well as considering reviews and current availability. If you have a magnifier you would recommend, please do let me know!

Purelite handsfree illuminated magnifier - Customer and TSK recommended

Price £10

Average customer review 4.6/5

Lights Integrated LED lights

Magnification 2x (large lens) 6x (small lens)

Lens size 11cm

Weight 160g

How to use Hang around neck or stand on a table

Hobbycraft review "I have been doing a cross stitch pattern for my friends wedding and the aida is very fine. I am ashamed to say i started this pattern a few years ago and my eyesight has deteriorated and i was finding the stitching very difficult. This illuminated magnifier has been superb. Just what i needed"

Price £17.99

Average customer review 4.3/5

Lights Integrated LED lights

Magnification 2.5x (large lens) 5x (small lens)

Lens size 11cm

Weight up to 390g

How to use clip to table or frame

Amazon review "It's really useful and the light really help when doing dark colours on a dark coloured aida and it's not heavy when attached to the frame"

Price £14.99

Average customer review 4.2/5

Lights Integrated LED lights

Magnification 4x (large lens) 6x (small lens)

Lens size 11cm

Weight up to 420g

How to use clip to table or frame

Amazon review "The LED light is good, as is the magnification glass. The only issue i have is that it is top heavy, i found that it really needs to be secured well in order for it to stop toppling over. Apart from that its good."

DMC mini-movable magnifying glass - lightest for attaching to hoop

Price £25.50

Average customer review nil

Lights nil

Magnification 2.5x (large lens) 5x (small lens)

Lens size 8cm

Weight up to 240g

How to use clip to table or frame

Amazon review nil

Do you have any tips for magnifier use or do you have any products you would recommend?


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