Your workspace is more than just the area beneath your needle. Rather, it includes the entire room you’re in. That is why good overall lighting is necessary to reduce fatigue and eye strain, helping you cross stitch for longer without harming your vision.
In this article, we will provide some tips on how to set up good lighting, as well as review some of the best lamps for cross stitching to help you reduce stress to your eyes. If you’re young, you may not feel like this is such an important issue, but you may already be suffering from the effects of eye fatigue and not even realize it.
Squinting or straining your eyes to see your cross stitching project with inadequate lighting, or working with a bright glare in your peripheral vision, or staring at an intensely bright area of light in a dim room can result in symptoms of eye fatigue. These symptoms commonly include stiff neck and shoulders, headache, problems focusing, blurred vision, and exhaustion.
In order to avoid fatigue and eye strain, it is recommended that you have balanced lighting in the overall work area. What this means is, not only should there be good task lighting, but you should also have sufficient diffused light in the room. This can also be achieved by combining artificial light with natural light.
The Benefits of Good Lighting
Reduce Eye Strain. Did you know, by the time we are 50 years old, our eyes require ten times the light compared to a child to perform the same tasks? Thus, the older we get, the more we will strain our eyes even under optimal conditions. So why make matters worse by having poor lighting? Fix the lighting in your work space to be able to work for longer.
Helps Maintain Good Posture. If your lighting is poor and there are shadows covering your project, it can be hard to see your cross stitches. You may be twisting and contorting your body into strange positions to get a better angle of what you are doing. This can cause shoulder and neck pain, muscle fatigue, and tension. With good lighting, you won’t even have to move your body very much and you will be able to see everything clearly.
Match Threads and Fabrics. How many of us sew in the evening when the sun has already gone down? Or even if the sun is still up, perhaps the workspace does not have much natural light anyways. And in dim environments like that, it is hard to match threads and fabrics for a project unless there is enough light to see them clearly.
How to Achieve Balanced Lighting
There are two main types of lighting that should be used when cross stitching.
Task Light. This is the main light source used to help you see what you are doing. Task lamps are specifically designed so that you can adjust the brightness levels as needed to help you see your stitches better and to reduce eye strain.
Fill Light. This is a diffused, indirect light that illuminates the entire room. The most common sources of fill lights are desk or floor lamps, an overhead light, or even just the natural sunlight that shines through your window.
In order to have optimal, balanced lighting, your workspace should have both. Many people, without even realizing it, already have a decent setup. For instance, turn on the overhead light to generally light up the room, and then have one or two task lights, such as a desk or floor lamp to provide light on key areas in your cross stitching project.
You may be thinking, what if you install high quality LED light bulbs in your overhead light and use that as your only light source? The issue with this is that your body will cast shadows over your project, so a task light is still necessary to combat shadows that will obscure your vision.
Best Lamps for Cross Stitching Review
Brightech Lightview Pro Dimmable LED Magnifying Floor Lamp
The Brightech Lightview Pro is both a magnifier and a lamp and will help you see small details up close, even if you have vision problems like macular degeneration or aging eyes. The weighted base is sturdy, and the included wheels means you can easily adjust the positioning as needed.
As for the magnifier lens, it is quite large at 4.5” in diameter. You will be able to magnify a large section of your workspace up to 175% thanks to its 3 diopter glass. The lens even has a flip-cap to prevent dust accumulation around it. The built-in light has two lighting options to choose from: warm light and cool light.
Depending on the project you’re working on, you may opt for one or the other so that the colors you’re working with show up clearly. Furthermore, you can control the lighting even more by adjusting the brightness levels. And since this is an LED light, it won’t get so hot like an incandescent light would, meaning you can work comfortably for longer.
The Lightview Pro from Brightech can have its height adjusted for your comfort, so that you can use it while seated or even standing up. Lastly, don’t worry about the longevity of this product. The light is rated to last for 20 years, and the Lightview Pro comes with a 5-year manufacturer’s warranty. If you’re looking for a high-quality magnifying lamp for cross stitching, you can’t go wrong the Brightech Lightview Pro.
- Great for those with aging eyes or macular degeneration.
- Large 4.5” magnifiying lens, capable of zooming in 175%.
- Choose between two lighting options: warm light and cool light, both of which can have their brightness adjusted.
- Can be used while seated or standing.
- Sturdy base means it won’t tip over easily, and wheels allow you to adjust its positioning.
- Long warranty.
- Some customers claim the magnifying lens and light does not swivel smoothly, and rises 2-3 inches from the position they set it at.
- The heavy base may make it hard to maneuver the product around with only one free hand.
OttLite K94CP3 3-in-1 Adjustable Lamp with Magnifier and Clip
How exactly is the OttLite Floor Lamp 3-in-1? As far as we can tell, there are two ways of looking at it. The first is that you can set up this lamp in three ways: as a standing floor lamp, a lamp that clamps onto the edge of your sewing table or bench, or as a desk lamp with a base.
Another way this lamp is 3-in-1 is that it has three adjustable arms: the clip arm which can be used to hold patterns, photos, or other references; the 5X magnifier and LED light; and the bulb and shade. The OttLite K94CP3 strikes a good balance between being heavy enough that it feels sturdy, yet light enough to be moved around easily.
The light it provides is high-contrast, low-glare, and doesn’t strain the eyes. It won’t be enough to light up the whole room (that’s what diffused lighting is for) but your workspace will be brightly illuminated. For those looking for a lamp that provides a daylight glow that is perfect for crafting and art, look no further than the OttLite K94CP3 3-in-1 Adjustable Lamp.
- Can be used as a floor lamp, desk lamp with base, or clamped to the side of the table or bench.
- Has three adjustable arms, including a clip-arm that can hold up photos, patterns, or even books or magazines for project references.
- Sturdy, but can be maneuvered easily.
- Low-glare, high-contrast light that is easy on the eyes.
- Some customers were dissatisfied with the adjustability of the magnifier arm.
- May lean forward slightly if used as a floor lamp.
Daylight Naturalight LED Floor Lamp
The Daylight Naturalight is yet another solid lamp that can be used on the floor or on the table as a desk lamp. It comes with 21 high performance LEDs that will last for the life of the product. Even with 21 LEDs, you will not experience any glare or blue-tint. It is energy-saving and will produce minimal heat.
The 5-inch magnifying lens has a 2X magnification (4 diopter). Furthermore, the gooseneck arm is easily to adjust to position the light where you want it. The base of the Daylight Naturalight is sturdy and will not tip over on its own. Customers have found the light to be sufficient to light up an entire room on its own.
- 21 high-quality LEDs that will last forever.
- 5-inch magnifying lens with 2x magnification (4 diopter)
- Gooseneck is easy to adjust.
- Remove the middle pole, and the lamp turns from a floor lamp to a desk lamp.
- Lightweight enough to be carried easily, but sturdy enough to not tip over easily.
- Some customers received faulty products where the head snapped off within a few months. Others have used it for months and years without issue.
- The gooseneck may feel stiff for some.
TaoTronics TT-DL13 LED Desk Lamp
Most customers who have purchased this lamp have typically used it to provide light for their home office as they use the computer or whatnot. However, since the TaoTronics LED Desk Lamp comes with 5 color modes and 7 brightness levels, it is actually quite perfect as a cross stitching lamp.
To go into more detail, the 5 color modes control the “temperature” of the light, from cool to warm. The brightness levels allow you to further adjust the intensity so that it will be suitable for your eyes. The head tilts 135 degrees, and swivels 90 degrees. The base tilts 150 degrees and swivels 45 degrees. This gives you the freedom to change the angle which the light shines on your workspace.
There are some high-tech features this lamp has that the others in this review don’t. For example, the built-in USB port lets you charge your phone and keeps it within reach. The TaoTronics desk lamp is incredibly energy efficient, saving up to 75% compared to other desk lamps. If you prefer to do your cross stitching at a table instead of the sofa, then the TaoTronics TT-DL13 is probably the most advanced option for you.
- Comes with 5 temperature modes, including 7 brightness levels.
- Head and base is highly adjustable as well.
- Built-in USB charger lets you charge your phone and keep it close by.
- Energy-efficient, saving up to 75% on your energy bill.
- Some customers found this desk lamp to be too short for their needs.
- When turning the lamp on and off, it defaults to half power instead of the last setting it was at before turning off.
ELMCHEE Rechargeable Waterproof Headlamp
If you would rather not worry about adjusting a lamp as you are stitching, then perhaps a hands-free headlamp is better suited for you. Like all of the lamps we’ve recommended so far, this headlamp has adjustable brightness settings as well as various additional modes that, admittedly, may not be as useful for stitching as it is for hiking or camping outdoors.
Regardless, the 6 LEDs boast a lifetime of 100,000 hours, basically long enough that you’d never need to replace them. Since this headlamp is designed to be used outdoors, it is waterproof and highly durable, able to withstand the rigors of climbing, caving, and so on. ELMCHEE has a two-year warranty, so there is no risk in buying.
- Hands-free. Never worry about adjusting a lamp, just move your head.
- 6 LEDs with 8 lighting modes.
- LEDs have a lifetime of 100,000 hours, will never need to be replaced.
- Waterproof and highly durable.
- 2-year warranty, full-refund or replacements.
- Some customers found this headlamp to be uncomfortable to wear after 30 minutes. May need to put in some padding.
Mighty Bright HammerHead Clip-On Music Stand Light
Yet another product that we are using outside of its intended purpose, however it works just fine as a light for your cross stitching projects. The Mighty Bright Hammerhead clip-on might be small, but its 6 LEDs can provide 28 lumens of bright white light. Furthermore, they are rated to last 100,000 hours, so you won’t have to ever replace them.
This light can switch between two brightness settings. As for batteries, the HammerHead takes AAA batteries and can last approximately 12-14 hours at high settings. You can purchase an optional AC adapter so you don’t have to keep replacing the AAA batteries.
Since this clip-on light is so portable, you can bring it anywhere you want. In fact, for users who don’t want another floor or desk lamp in their home, it’s the main reason why we are recommending this clip-on light due to its portability and convenience.
- Small, portable, can be clipped onto many surfaces.
- 6 LEDs provide 28 lumens of white light; quite powerful for such a small product.
- Two brightness modes to ease the strain on your eyes.
- LEDs should last forever.
- Some customers received faulty products that simply stopped working after a few months.
- Does not come with an AC adapter, you can buy one separately but until then, you have to keep using AAA batteries.
Types of Light Bulbs
There’s more to lighting than just getting a new light. The specific type of light bulb that your new light uses makes a big difference as well. There are three main types of light bulbs that you’ll find in homes today.
Incandescent. This type of light bulb is becoming dated and its popularity is declining, but this is the standard light bulb that people think of. It gives off a warm, yellow/orange glow, and they produce a lot of heat.
Fluorescent. This is commonly used in public buildings. You might remember seeing it used in school or in an office setting. Though they are the most energy efficient and produce the least amount of heat, their blue tint and occasional flickering can result in headaches and eye strain.
LEDs. The latest advancement in lighting technology is the LED. They are also energy efficient, cool, bright, and last longer than their predecessors the fluorescent and incandescent light bulbs. Furthermore, they are generally more color accurate, though the quality will differ across the various brands on the market.
It should not come as a surprise that we prefer to use LEDs. There are too many upsides to making the switch to LEDs. You can expect better energy efficiency, color accuracy, and it will just last longer. The biggest downside is the initial cost, however it will eventually pay for itself by reducing your energy bill and not needing to be replaced for a long time.
Setting Up Task Lighting for Cross Stitching
Having a task light over your work area makes it easy to see what you’re doing, and helps you make adjustments easily whether you are reaching for a different tool or new needle. With that said, do not only have a task light without also having diffused lighting.
Otherwise, if the task light is your only source of light, you can strain your eyes as it works extra hard to adjust between two brightness levels when you look at your brightly lit cross stitching area and when you look away.
Here are some tips to help you set task lighting up properly:
- Always use a task light in any area where you will be working on stitching or sewing for significant periods of time. Do not rely on an overhead light as your only source of light.
- Position the light so that you do not see a reflective glare on any nearby surfaces. You can either adjust the light itself, or relocate objects to get rid of the glare. It is best to work on a flat surface to reduce glare from lights.
- If you wear glasses, make sure you wear them when setting up the task light to ensure there is no glare reflecting off your glasses.
- The light bulb should not be visible to your eyes. Move the lamp such that you can illuminate your workspace without a bare bulb shining into your eyes. Even if you are not looking directly at a light bulb, having it off to the side but still visible can strain your eyes.
- Keep lamp cords and bases far enough away from your work space so that you won’t accidentally knock it over or snag your hand on it when reaching for your stitching tools.
Setting Up Diffused Lighting for Cross Stitching
As we mentioned already, in order to have balanced lighting you need both task lighting and diffused lighting. Having only one or the other is insufficient. Diffused lighting plays an equally important part in proper lighting.
Diffused lighting can help reduce headaches, fatigue, and eye strain because when your eye transitions from the task lighting to another area in the room, it will be less of a strain if the light is distributed evenly.
To achieve this, we recommend you use some lamps to reflect light off a white ceiling and walls to gently illuminate the area. You do not necessarily need a second lamp or overhead light for diffused lighting. For instance, if you are cross stitching during the day, you can use diffused natural daylight that shines through your windows instead to save on energy costs.
As with many things in life, you can’t beat natural. However, natural daylight can be quite damaging to your eyes, especially if you use it like a task light. Furthermore, the UV rays from direct sunlight can damage your stitching supplies over time, such as threads, fabrics, etc.
How to set up diffused lighting:
- As previously mentioned, do you expose your supplies and your eyes to direct sunlight. You may use window treatment that reduces the glare of direct sunlight while still providing diffused light to the room. Look for frosted window film or translucent curtains, etc.
- Change out all the light bulbs in your lighting setup so that they are all using the same type of bulb. This will make the lighting consistent and easier to control. If the lights you’re planning to use for diffused lighting is too bright, consider installing frosted light bulbs to reduce the intensity of the light.
- You can consider adding tall lamps or wall mounted lights that shine upwards at the ceiling to bounce a soft light into the room. This works best with white ceilings, which will reflect the most amount of light.
Combine good diffused lighting with task lighting, and you’ll have plenty of all-around light in your cross stitching area.