“My mum/nan used to do that” is a phrase almost all of us have heard before. Its the response people give when you say you cross stitch. However, that answer has always bothered me. Not due to their lack of knowledge, the idea that cross stitch isn’t hip, or how throw away it is. No, the thing I have an issue with is “used to”.
I go around a lot of conventions and cross stitching events and I’ve slowly been collecting up reasons why people stop cross stitching. And almost without fault, it appears to be their vision. To us cross stitchers our vision is one of the most important things to us (even if we don’t know it), however, it’s also one of the biggest reasons why we might have to give up cross stitching. So to help all of us, I’ve spoken to some opticians to get the best information to ensure we keep our eyesight as long as possible and keep on stitching.
Let’s just get this straight out of the way; if you need glasses, wear them.
I’m always surprised at the number of people that have glasses but choose not to wear them while cross stitching. Trust us on this one and wear them. Not wearing your glasses will cause you compounded problems.
That said, you also need to make sure you’re wearing the right glasses. This might be as simple as getting your eyes checked often, but also choosing to have a pair of cross stitch/reading glasses instead of varifocals, or getting uncoated lenses.
With that out of the way, let’s talk about what to do to help. We went through some of the best ways to work with black aida, and whilst that was more specific to a problem many people have, the advice there is great here also. The one big thing; light. An area without a lot of light will cause your eyes to strain, which over time damages them. If you want to really make a great place to cross stitch, find somewhere with lots of natural light.
Even More Light
But natural light isn’t the only thing you need. No, I’m going to suggest you not only have natural light, but also get a separate light. This could be something like a table lamp, with or without a daylight bulb, or work light, under light or headlamp. All of these options will not only allow you to see your cross stitch creation come to life better but will help your eyes work on the details.
The biggest bit of advice that our optician experts gave us, was take breaks. This seems simple enough, but when we actually got thinking about it, we stitch, and we stitch, and we stitch, and before you know it its been 4 hours and your bursting for a pee. But the suggestion of taking breaks is the same, if you’re cross stitching or using a computer (arguably more so with the detailed work of cross stitch). The 20, 20, 20 rule suggests taking a break of at least 20 seconds, every 20 minutes and to look at least 20 feet away. However, a longer 5-10 minute break is best (and allows you to make a brew!).
This one is a little harder to muster. We’re going to suggest you change the way you cross stitch, but only slightly!
It might be worth mixing up what hobbies you do, so you’re not cross stitching all the time. Or it might be worth staying away from those crazy 32 count miniature cross stitches in favor of the standard 14/16/18.
This idea does seem hard to take, and honestly, I’ve done my fair share of 32 count projects, like my Spring In Daigoji Temple miniature cross stitch, but thinking about the projects we choose, or more specifically the counts we use, can help us cross stitch for decades to come.
However, if you really need to, use a magnifier; just don’t rely on it. We’ve investigated the pros and cons of using a magnifier for cross stitch before, and whilst they are a great tool to use when you need it, it’s not something you should always use. If you find yourself needing it all the time, try reducing the count of your projects, or get a check-up in the opticians.