Stitch Light by Buffy Ann Designs
Note from Clara: We revisit this review after power outages from Sandy left countless knitters in the dark at a time when they needed the comfort of knitting more than ever. Here in Maine, I squinted beside my kerosene lamp until I remembered my Stitch Light. Just a few minutes later, I was back in business and grateful for the simple design and powerful light contained in this little device.
I'm happy to report that since this review's publication in November 2011, the price for a Stitch Light has dropped from $49.95 to $24.95—eliminating my only criticism of the product. I've updated the review (which begins below) to reflect the new price. - Clara
At the 2011 Sock Summit, Buffy Ann Designs offered each of the teachers a free Stitch Light. I didn't think I needed one, but Cat Bordhi piqued my interest when she said the light was so bright, "you could probably see it from outer space."
She was right. In fact, putting this light five inches from my knitting initially seemed overkill, like turning on all the lights in your kitchen just to dice an onion.
And then my power went out. Wandering around the house with a single flashlight, trying to balance it under my chin while my hands groped for a match to light, I suddenly remembered my Stitch Light.
A Tiny Gadget
The whole thing weighs about 4.5 ounces, almost the same weight as a medium-sized ripe banana.
And it's cute. In fact, viewed from the right angle, it almost looks like a toy camera, doesn't it?
Wearing the Light
The Stitch Light comes with a neck strap that attaches to a padded strip of plastic on the back of the light. You can adjust the length of the strap so that the beam best illuminates whatever needs illuminating.
The strap also has side slots in case you want to wear the light as a headlamp or on your waist as a belt.
The strap is just shy of 40 inches long. When fully extended, the light rests about 18 inches down from the back of your neck.
Steady or Strobe
A tiny black button sits on the top of the light. Click it and a shockingly bright, crisp ray of light pours forth. Click it again and the light dims slightly. Click it a third time and you get a strobe-light effect—useful, I suspect, in emergency situations when you need to get your knitting teacher's attention pronto.
Best of all? When you have this strapped around your neck, your hands are left totally free to do whatever you need them to do. Like find the matches, light a candle, grab your knitting, and finish that sleeve.
The light comes with a 4- by 3 1/2-inch zip-top cloth pouch sporting a large Buffy Ann Designs logo. The pouch slides onto the neck cord and rests above the light.
A narrow strip of elastic runs along the back, presumably for tucking wider tools. It's a convenient place to tuck things like stitch markers or darning needles, or, if you're at your LYS for knit night, a spare credit card.
Where you position the light will depend on how you knit. Do you hold your hands up high, or low in your lap? The strap adjusts to either. The light itself also tilts up or down from its plastic back, making a comfortingly efficient clicking sound as it does so, to aim the beam exactly where you need it.
This is not a broad beam intended to illuminate an entire road. In fact it's focused and rather small. When projected onto a surface 6 inches away, the light has a radius of about 4 inches.
If you need the light to be more targeted—say you're trying to knit while someone nearby is driving or sleeping—you can slide the lens away from the base and decrease the radius of the beam to about 1 1/2 inches. As it decreases in circumference, the beam brightens in intensity.
As I learned during the recent power outage, the light is definitely sufficient for most purposes. If you're walking, it may not illuminate the whole road, but it'll show you where you need to put your feet next. For knitting, it's bright, intense, perfect. The fact that it's powered by batteries, which last a long time, adds to the effortless mobility. No cords to plug in and recharge. Just put the strap over your head and go.
Just One Minor Detail
You can buy the Stitch Light directly from Buffy Ann Designs. While it retailed for $49.95 apiece when it first went on sale, the Stitch Light now retails for a much more reasonable $24.95 apiece—which gets you the light, strap, and pocket, and a choice from among several different strap and pocket color/fabric combos.
Sure, Energizer sells its Trail Finder 7 LED head light for under $20, as does Tool Logic and the famous camping goods supplier Coleman. Yes, they're made to strap to your head instead of over your chest, although I presume you could work up a modified neck-based solution. They don't come with a cute pouch for accessories. And no, buying any of those products won't directly help the knitting community. That's an extra $5 I'm happy to spend.Comments
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Review date: 9/1/2011; updated 10/31/2012 after a very grateful use during a Sandy-induced power outage.
Review sample provided by Buffy Ann Designs.