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The eye of the needle – the importance of good glasses to crafters

Reading glasses are a well-established concept but what about sewing or crafting glasses? We spoke to a range of crafters to find out how eyewear has helped them pursue their passion.
Ellen Milliner Ellen Bowden @brimandproper seen here in her Retropeepers Ella sunglasses has worn glasses for short-sightedness for almost 30 years now. “Technically I don’t need my glasses for crafting but I wear them all the time as it’s easier and I feel more confident that way,” she said. “Wearing glasses has been useful when I break a needle on the sewing machine and a bit pings in my face! When I’m creating, I feel more relaxed and time flies by. I love being able to create things exactly as I want them.”

Nicole Tayler’s @archaeosquirrel main craft is knitting, which she started as a kid but finally got the hang of in 2007, after complimenting a colleague on her Icelandic sweater. “She ended up translating the pattern for me! Over the years I've made many, many things, from socks and jumpers to cuddly toys, but still haven't yet got round to that particular jumper.”Nicole has worn glasses since she was eight because she had trouble reading the blackboard: “Without my glasses, I wouldn't be able to see a single stitch! Beyond that, I feel a closer affinity with my late grandmother when I sit of an evening, glasses on, and needles in hand.”

Vintage sewing machineRosie Parkinson @digitalvisionary is a talented pattern designer, who also enjoys sewing, clay modelling and painting. She wears glasses for short-sightedness: “They help me see where I've put everything, as I can only see about a foot in front of me before it becomes very fuzzy! Up close, I can see well.”

Betty Hobcraft is crafty by name and by nature – she knits as well as quilts. “I started knitting when I was in my 20s as a way to pass the time while commuting to work, then started quilting during the pandemic when I was furloughed and needed something to fill my days with.” Betty describes crafting as her ‘destresser’: “It’s something to focus my mind on that creates something beautiful. Very mindful! As I’m getting a little older, I notice it helps make things clearer and more accurate when I’m sewing. I don’t usually wear them while knitting as I watch TV at the same time, but sometimes, when the lighting is bad, it can help to make things clearer, especially when working with darker colours.”

Jack-of-all-trades Amii Muir @cactuspetalstudios has been knitting, crocheting and sewing since she was eight years old, making bright colourful designs, with a tongue-in-cheek undertone: “It reminds me not to take anything too seriously, and to have fun!” Amii first got glasses when she was 11 and never looked back: “Ugly Betty was popular when I was about 14 and I chose bright red plastic frames (there was a running joke between my friends that I was the Scottish equivalent of her!) and, from then on, its been garish ridiculous frames for me, the bigger the better!” Amii only wears glasses when she is sewing. “For close-up work like embroidery or comic work, I tend to take them off.”

Amber Gray @bambidawn1992 is a painter who finds crafting helps her through periods of bad mental health. She has worn glasses for 22 years. “Wearing glasses helps with my crafting because it helps me to focus more,” she added. “If I wear contact lenses, my eyes get tired easily when painting or drawing and I can't focus on fine details, so wearing glasses is a lot easier.”

Vintage sewing

Nik Wilkin @nyxacknowledged got into sewing at the age of seven, initially when her mum needed help threading the sewing machine, moving on to sewing for herself at thirteen: “My first project was a 1950s halter neck dress in lime green with hot pink hibiscus flowers. It was horrific but I still have it! I still make mainly 40s-60s clothes for myself, though in slightly less eye-watering fabrics! Nik has worn glasses for around 20 years. “At first I would always go for the standard ‘in’ shape at the time - square, thick frame, super thin. I hated them, opticians always said it was the most ‘flattering’ to my face shape, so I just went with it. Now I always have glasses that others call ‘Dame Ednas’ – cat-eye, or with something different about them. At the moment, I have blue sparkly ones and rose gold with flowers. I'm short-sighted, so wearing glasses while sewing means I can see what I'm doing better and be more precise.”

Diana Sands @sands.diana who now has a stigmatism requiring varifocals, started sewing as a teenager but her crafting picked up during Covid, as a way to avoid feeling isolated: “I found that the absorption when sewing was like what I found through meditating, the time just disappeared and it was a shelter from my depression. “Seeing as I can’t see to read a pattern without glasses, they are fundamental when crafting – I couldn’t even start crafting without some sort of vision correction now because my eyesight is so bad; even with glasses, I struggle to thread the needle. I’m glad my new machine has a needle threader!”

Retropeepers can fit prescription lenses into their vintage-style frames, so you never have to squint while sewing again! Check out their most popular styles below.

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