Do Daylight Bulbs Actually Make A Difference?

tracing pad

I recently moved house, and with it came a slew of stitching station opportunities, however there was one big problem; super thick walls. Our two foot thick walls cut pretty much all the light out, and as we moved North, there was less light anyway. So it was time I found a solution.
 
Initially I jumped into looking for daylight bulbs, afterall everyone goes on about them. However all isn’t as it seems.
 

Benefits

Daylight bulbs are a great tool, and I’m not here to say otherwise, in fact for a lot of people getting a daylight bulb is a matter on health (yes, you squinting at your aida).
Daylight is a lot easier to take in with your eyes and when working with detailed things, like stitching, lighting your area and aida is super important. You could just save your eye sight.
There are loads of reasons you might want a daylight bulb other than saving your eyes though, such as great color matching of threads or a strong light that doesn’t heat or take too much energy. In addition most don’t need replacement bulbs that often (or at all).

Problems

This is where you probably expect me to mention getting your hands on bulbs? Nope. In fact, before I started looking into getting a daylight lamp I had the impression they were super hard to find replacements for. Turns out, they’re everywhere (in the EU at least). Due to 2000’s legislation over fluorescent lights, all bulbs in the EU need to be energy saving or LED. Those lights are mostly daylight bulbs. But even so, most LED lamps don’t even need replacing!
And let me guess, you expect me to talk about heat? Wrong again! There are some bulbs that heat up, I won’t lie, but most are LED based, which are completely heat producing free (well, not completely, but they aren’t like normal bulbs).
 
So what exactly sare the problems? Well, its two fold:
daylight-slimline-table-lamp-119

Not all lamps are created equal

I said earlier that some bulbs heat up, adn they do. Some bulbs use a lot more energy, and some bulbs just aren’t what they say they are. In truth, not all lamps are created equal. There is a huge difference in price of these lamps, and some of them are terrible. Finding the right one for your needs is actually super hard. I have some tips down below from my struggles, but its not an easy thing to get into (much to my annoyance).

It interferes with sleep cycles

I love my sleep, in fact other than cross stitch its my prefered use of time. But daylight bulbs do have an impact.
The red light receptors in your eyes pick up on subtle changes in light levels, which in turn puts you into a sleepy mood (in a similar way to fluorescent lights do). Daylight bulbs effectively copy this, making you go through the same cycles. The problem is it also works the otherway, meaning if you use it late at night (like much of my stitching time is) you feel more away, meaning you struggle to get down.
You can negate these effects by only using the lamp in the daylight hours, however you should be using real light whenever possible, so it kinda makes the point of the lamp worthless (unless you’re working on detailed work). However without me realising it I stumbled upon a fix that isn’t mentioned in many places. LED lights don’t create red light. I’ll spare you the boring details, but what that means is it doesn’t impact your sleep. YAY!
 
However, that said, the benefits FAR outway the problems, and with more and more lights becoming LED and daylight bulbs, I decided to stick with my daylight lamp.

Cost

Finally, cost is a big problem. My favorite sewing supplier has lamps ranging from $20 to $250. Initially they don’t seem too different, so working out if one is better than another (I remind you that they aren’t all the same) is only made harder thanks to weird pricing.

This is an advert, but shows off the lamp fantasticly!

Tips

But not all in in vein! I have some tips to make purchasing your next daylight lamp a little easier.
Get the right lamp for your craft – Daylight lamps are made for different crafts, so find one specific to needlecraft. A simple way to find one is to use an online retailer specialising in your craft, however if you go ‘in store’ check with the clerk for some expert advice.
Get the right lamp for your situation – Stitch in your living room? Then a USB powered lamp is not going to be much use. And in the same way, having a lamp meters above your head isn’t going to be helpful either. Pick a floor lamp that sits at chair height.
Do you need magnification? – Some lamps come with magnifying sections for ease, however this raises the price by some way. Think about if you actually need one or not. In most cases it might be easier, cheaper and more effective to get a seperate magnifying glass.
Don’t get confused with the fancy looks – Everyone wants something that looks good, but there is a definate premium for fancy looks. Normally these fancy lamps aren’t great at shedding light and aren’t fit for purpose.
 
If you’re interested, I went for a Daylight Slimline.
 

How about an alternative?

It might surprise you, but there is an alternative that might help; a tracing pad. It light from the table, meaning light behind your project, and normally they’re pretty cheap.
tracing pad

Embroidery thread or floss?

6 stands of embroidery thread

I’ve been part of many conversations about cross stitch in events and in almost every conversation something simple is said that raises a question; is it embroidery floss or thread?
This appears to be the biggest misunderstanding in cross stitch, so we’re going to look into which, and why.

The Answer

You cross stitch with two strands of embroidery thread; these strands are called embroidery floss. The skein is also called embroidery floss.

Floss or Thread?

We’ll start by talking about yarn. Yarn is fibers spun together to make a tight bound material. The way that you construct this spin is the route of the issue. Yarn can be spun two ways, S and Z.

Yarn_twist_S-Left_Z-Right
S- and Z-twist yarn (wikipedia.com)

The Z twist is used in sewing machines as the twist causes less fraying and unravelling. However S twist is used for threads specifically meant to come apart. This is where we get down to the brass tacks of the issue.
Embroidery floss (yes, floss) is made up of 6 stands of embroidery thread. The 6 strands are spun with a z twist. These are then combined using a S twist, made to come apart. As a result, when you stitch you take out 2 stands of THREAD from the embroidery FLOSS.
6 stands of embroidery thread
6 stands of a standard embroidery thread (source: DMC)

You’ll notice if you look closely though that DMC strands (and Anchor) are also spun together in a Z twist. So does that mean those are still threads? No. They’re still designed to come apart, so are classed as embroidery floss.

So what should I say?

Either!
Circling back to my first sentence, in every event I’ve attended someone always says “actually its embroidery floss”. Turns out that its interchangeable as you stitch with embroidery floss and thread.

Embroidery floss or stranded cotton is a loosely twisted, slightly glossy 6-strand thread, usually of cotton but also manufactured in silk, linen, and rayon. Cotton floss is the standard thread for cross-stitch.

Cross Stitch Christmas Gift Guide

Christmas is nearly upon us, and we all know how hard it is to buy gifts for hobbies we don’t know much about. So here’s a holiday gift guide on what to buy a cross stitcher in your life. They’re arranged by price lowest to highest.

Fun Needle Keeps – from $5

charizard needle keeper
Christmas is mostly about fun gifts you might not buy yourself, and something many cross stitchers never buy is a fun needle keep. You can get them in thousands of different designs, and there are a lot of custom made ones out there like this 3D printed Pokemon charizard for $6 from Etsy. They’re a little bit fun, and you can combine other things together, so if their other favorite hobby is reading, get a book based one, etc.

ThreadCutterz – $12-15

thread cutterz
Cross stitch takes time, and a great place to stitch is on planes and trains, however with security being tightened all over, ThreadCutterz have come to the rescue with a plane safe alternative to scissors.
They can only currently be brought from ThreadCutterz themselves.

Thread Shade Chart – $20

We have a copy of the DMC shade card on our site to see at any time, however on screen images aren’t always that reliable. As a result one of the best tools I’ve ever picked up is a cross stitch thread card. DMC (the most common thread company) do a version with thread samples ($20) including the new DMC threads, which is far superior.
DMC thread card

The Perfect Frame – $12-30


I know a lot of people thing cross stitch is a bit simple, but in reality RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) is a real issue. The best way to solve this is a suitable cross stitch frame. The best one in my mind is a EasyClip frame ($20), but you can see a roundup of cross stitch frames on my recent post about the perfect cross stitch frame.

A Good Pair Of Scissors – $30

cross stitch scissors
Scissors might not be the first thing that comes to mind, but you send a lot of time snipping things, and frankly, a poor pair of scissors get blunt quickly, fraying ends. Get a nice pair of Fiskars ‘snipping’ scissors, or ones like the image (a Japanese embroidery scissor), or another specific pair for embroidery/cross stitch or cutting fishing line and you’ll see the difference straight away. It might also be a good idea to pick up a larger pair to cut aida whilst you’re at it, but make sure you only use them for aida, as other tasks will blunt them, making the aida frayed and weak.

Magazine Subscriptions – $20-60 a year

just cross stitch magazine christmas cover
Magazines are fantastic for both giving you patterns, giving you inspiration, finding out about all the new products, and reading up on all the happenings of the cross stitch community. There are frankly a shocking amount out there, so its best to pick one or two you like the most, and getting a subscription to those. Prices vary, $20-$60 a year.

Great Cross Stitch Software – up to $200

pcstitch cross stitch software
The natural progression for a stitcher is to go from kits, to patterns, to making their own patterns. Most choose online programs, but they all have their own limitations, so spend $20-$200 on the perfect one. I would personally suggest KG Chart or PC Stitcher for $35-50.

All The Threads!

Full set of DMC threads
The only thing better than owning a thread shade card is owning the threads themselves. I always kept using the threads I had on hand, and until I got the whole set, I didn’t realise just how much I was making compromise; my colors have definitely got better. You can see how much a full set of DMC threads has helped us with our blog post about our journey to a complete set of cross stitch threads.
Not the cheapest thing in the world, wait until you can buy a whole set in one go on an offer. The price can drop from $450 to $200. Just don’t be tempted by those cheap Chinese deals to see on ebay.

Guide to buying the Best Cross Stitch Scissors for you

Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors

A few weeks ago, I did a guest post on the Kreinik blog about finding the best cross stitch scissors and since then a lot of people have been in contact to get my low down on the best pairs of scissors. So I’m going to go through the process for picking the best scissors for you.

What are you going to use them for?

This might seem a little strange at first, considering you’ve been using scissors already for ages, however that trusty pair you have might not be the best for all situations.

The All-Purpose Thread Snipper

This is probably the pair you’re thinking about right now, and you really need a trusty pair. If you’re looking for one of these, after you’ve made your selection, check out the other pairs I suggest you buy, as using these scissors for anything other than standard threads, you’re going to blunt them FAST.

Premax Carnival Embroidery Scissors – $22

Premax Carnival Embroidery ScissorsEveryone has heard of Gold Stork scissors, however thanks to a market full of fakes, its rare to find a good, sharp pair. Instead think about investing in a funky pair such as these Premax ones.

Double Curved Sewing Machine Scissors – $26

Premax Double Curved Machine Sewing ScissorsI know this will initially sound crazy, after all these are called sewing machine scissors, however the double curve design allows you to get right into the threads without casting shadows, brushing the threads, or obscuring your view. Also they totally make you feel like a surgeon.

The Speciality Thread Snipper

We said above that a thread snipper is a pair of scissors no stitcher should be without, however for many, that’s as far as it goes. But in reality, threads such as glow in the darks, or a metallic (a scissors worst enemy) blunt or gouge sections out of your thread snippers, meaning you’ll get bad cuts. In addition, due to the extra force needed to cut them, these special threads pull the scissors apart, meaning they’ll sit poorly in the hand.
Therefore, in addition to your trusty standard pair, get one of these:

Sodial Metal Grip Shears – $3

japanese cross stitch scissorsThese traditional Japanese shears don’t peel apart like other thread scissors, and their low price means you can change them often (which you’ll have to) without much pain.
Pro tip: you can find black tipped pairs; don’t get these, they are for bonsai, and have a coating on them that can stain threads.

Premax 4″ Weavers Scissors – $6

Alternatively you can get a pair of plastic handled Premax scissors which are much more expensive, but you can purchase replacement heads at $2 each time. They’re nicer in the hand, and easier to snip for people with stiff fingers.

The Fabric Cutter

Thirdly, you need a good pair of scissors to cut all that aida fabric. Most people use their desk scissors, or (I really hope this isn’t you) their kitchen scissors. I don’t have to tell you that those scissors are coated in all kinds of nasty stuff, and if you use desk scissors are usually blunt as well. Therefore, invest in a good pair of fabric scissors and keep them for fabric only.

Fiskars Fabric Scissors – $15

fiskars fabric scissorsFiskars fabric scissors (unlike many other brands) are made from titanium. This means that firstly they’ll last forever without the need for sharpening, however they’re also capable of cutting through thick aida fabric. Their formed handle is also a great fit (they come in right or left handed).

The Plastic Canvas/Waste Canvas Cutter

Finally, spare a thought for waste and plastic canvas. These plastic-coated fabrics will blunt any scissors, so you need to be prepared with a serious solution.

Fiskars RazorEdge Soft Grip Scissors – $15

Fiskars RazorEdge Soft Grip ScissorsYou ideally want something razor sharp, so these Fiskars RazorEdge pair really work wonders, however any stainless-steel pair will work, just remember to sharpen them often!

X-acto Z Series Number 1 Knife – $8

X-acto Z Number 1 Craft KnifeAlternately, pick up a quality craft knife instead. With easy swap out blades, and a trusted brand like X-acto, this Z number 1 blade will last you a long time!

Download our free 35 page Ultimate Guide to Selling Cross Stitch Online!

the ultimate guide to selling cross stitch patterns on etsy

Selling the cross stitch patterns you’ve created is one way of the best ways to get money for your hobby. With years of past experience and success, we’ve worked together to offer a FREE guide to help anyone that needs it called “The Ultimate Guide To Selling Cross Stitch Patterns Online”.
 
The guide has been created over the last 6 years by three cross stitch pattern sellers on Etsy, with the specific focus on selling cross stitch. Unlike other guides on the internet we’ve made sure that every word is valuable to you. This includes over 40 tips from other Etsy stores, setting up your own store, checklists, examples, best practices, copyright issues, creating patterns, marketing, advertising, and much more.
 
the ultimate guide to selling cross stitch patterns on etsy
 

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The guide is beginner friendly and covers everything you need to know selling on Etsy, from the very basics to the most effective SEO techniques. Here are a few topics from the book:
 

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Introduction
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How much time does it take?
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Creating a brand
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Future Designs
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Future Development
Issues you might have
Etsy seller tools
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