Friday, December 7, 2012

How You Look vs. How You See

Chanukah is coming up fast, Christmas isn't far behind, but maybe you still don't know what you want for a present (or what your favorite quilter wants.)

Assuming you don't have thousands of dollars to spend (if you do, a longarm quilting machine 

with a house big enough to hold it,

are always appreciated).

But if you can't afford those, here's something almost as good: 'MagEyes, the Hands-Free Magnifier,'  for around $35-$40. (No financial affiliation).

Is this an exciting look or what?
That's not me in the picture, but it hardly matters, because when you walk around with this thing parked on your head, you are making an important statement. It's not really a hot, sexy statement. It's a geeky, nerdy statement. It says:

I care a lot more about how my quilts look than how I look.

To backtrack a bit: I discovered quilting in my late thirties, just around the time I was prescribed my first pair of glasses. Year after year, my vision got incrementally worse. Every year or two, I needed a stronger prescription.

But even with new glasses, after a couple of months, I still couldn't thread a needle in less than 5 progressively more frenzied minutes.

At a quilt show, a vendor was selling MagEyes, and I decided to invest.

My gosh. What a difference. I could not be a credible quilter without this thing. It allows me to thread needles in seconds, and, most important, see where I'm going when stitching, especially during machine applique and stitch-in-the-ditch, when precision placement counts.

The downsides: When I'm not using them to see closeup, I push the lens part up high, above my forehead. Eventually, I forget whether I'm wearing them. Then, when I want to see something closeup again, I start clawing at my forehead to bring down the magnifying glass section, which may or may not be there. People think I have head lice, or am genuflecting (odd for a Jewish person)[Update: I messed up on the genuflection analogy - see reader comments below], when I'm basically feeling around my forehead in order to see better. It's difficult to explain, and confuses even me.

When the doorbell rings, I  may have still forgotten that they're there, or I'm too lazy to take them off, and so I terrify Boy Scouts collecting canned foods. If I see that my husband is at the door, and I open it for him wearing this contraption - well, let's just say it doesn't rise to the standards of romantic authorities' marital door-greeting recommendations.

So release your inner watchmaker or your inner railroad model builder, or, above all, your inner Geordi La Forge....
You will thank me!

 (More info about MagEyes is on their official site, here. I notice they have come out with an even stronger one. Hmmm, I may need that one too.)

Also, let me know if you use and like a different magnifying system! There are several out there.

UPDATE: Here's a variation that will give you a forest view, no matter where you look. 


  1. Now that I'm in my 50s, I'm having more trouble seeing clear enough to do close up work. Hand work is my favorite thing to do, so I'm thinking these might help. I may have to give them a try. Thanks for the review.

  2. Oh, Cathy, you're hilarious as usual! Lovely to read you.
    Big hug,
    Shulamit (who has been wearing glasses since 2 years old, so don't complain LOL)

  3. At $40ish, you don't have much to lose (plus you can return them if they don't do the job). I predict you'll love them! Gosh, the MagEyes people should really pay me....

  4. I wonder whether the sight will terrify my cats! they already try to look around my glasses when we're very close 'cause they want to see my eyes, not their reflections in my bottle-bottom thick glasses!

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  6. These seem well worth a try, but i wonder if they'll scare the cats!

  7. That is seriously interesting about cats' relationship to your eyes! Please let us know what happens!!!

  8. LOL!! I can just see some poor little Cub Scout freaking. ;D Seriously, though - I've arrived at that stage in life where I think these would be marvelous to have. :)

  9. Yes, Lynn, our standards do change over the years! Thanks!

  10. I notice that your model is also wearing scissors around her neck, enhancing the nerdy middle-aged quilter chic.

  11. Marian, you are very astute and so right. The scissors are the icing on the cake. Like my model, I (of course)also wear my scissors on my shirt. One of my fobbed-scissors is stork-shaped, for maximal nerdy impact. Perhaps because of the bird shape, it's also somewhat imbalanced, so it opens while hanging, threatening me at every moment with an unwanted lumpectomy.

  12. Hello Cathy,
    Well, many Thanks for the wonderful post on MagEyes magnifiers. The lady in the picture is the Original Inventor of the MagEyes in 1989.
    She struggled with Post-Polio symdrome and did a lot of hand smocking and she needed something that was easy to use, light-weight and comfortable. She saw what was on the market at the time, the heavy, hooded, crank on your head magnifiers that did not appeal to her. So, she began the journey of designing a better magnifier that was all the positive things above and more Price Friendly. At the time, the black, heavy-hooded unit was over $50.00!! And as you all may or may not know, MagEyes, Inc products are All Completely Manufactured and Assembled in America.
    We appreciate that our satisfied customers are our best advertisers. We are a small company that really depends on "word of mouth" satisfied customers!
    Happy Quilting All!!
    Merry Christmas Wishes from MagEyes, Inc!!
    Donna Jenschke, Mktg./Sales

    1. Donna, thank you SO MUCH for your note! I am so happy to hear the story of your founder. I had no idea that she was the lady in your advertising! She did a great thing for the world, not to mention for me! Gratefully, Cathy

    2. I also have post polio syndrome and did not know that the inventor did. I purchased them for needlepoint and as my eyes started to fade in threading small needles moved them to the sewing room. Love them and have used them for anything from needlework to daily challenges. I first saw them on Aleene's crafts where she demonstrated them, and now proudly own all known strengths. Mine are at least ten years or more old. No afilliation with company nor did I know the lovely lady involved.

  13. Dear Cathy,
    Loved your post. My favorite geeky-chic is my clip-on sunglasses that flip up. Then when I want to see something close up, I flip my glasses down under my nose. It couldn't be cuter!
    Catholic technical note: genuflecting is bending one knee while crossing oneself; scrabbling at your forehead would be more like rubbing off your ashes on Ash Wednesday because you forgot they were there.
    Keep up the good work,

  14. Linda, thank you for your comment. This proves I really shouldn't muck around in religions I know very little about. I didn't know that the kneeling is central to genuflection! Rubbing off Ash Wednesday ashes by mistake has potential, but I'm afraid I'll mess up that metaphor, too....In any case, I'm delighted to hear about your geeky appliance-wear! I used to have flip up prescription sunglasses, but kept losing them; at $95 per, they were expensive to lose. So now I wear cheap sunglasses OVER my glasses. How's that for geeky?

  15. I had to wait until I stopped laughing to type this. I wear bifocal contact lenses which means if I want to do hand work, I either have to take them out and risk sewing my nose to the work, or I have to put reading glasses over them. I'm pinning this post so that if I ever lose my vanity, I can order a pair of these. Thanks for the laugh!

  16. Arlene, thank YOU for the laugh!!! I am having a painful image of sewing my nose to my work! Some people and cultures think very highly of pierced noses, of course. Though the accidental approach wouldn't provide the recommended needle sterilization....Stop me from babbling!

  17. OH, lol! I have taken to wearing two pairs of glasses at reading glasses over top of my regular bifocals. If I can get them to sit just right on my nose, I can have tripple vision!

  18. Nita, that sounds like a very glamorous look. Thanks for sharing.

  19. Would not trade mine for regular glasses.


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