Unlike many other brands with Needlework System 4 (NS4) you purchase components to mix-and-match the solution you needs.
|Table Clamp||Belt Scroll Frame|
First you want to select your stand type. If you're going to be traveling with the floor stand the Travel Mate is a great option because it folds into a much smaller, portable unit than the Floor Stand. The Table/Lap Stand can either sit on a table or on your lap. The Table Clamp provides the ability to be clamped to a wide number of surfaces.
All of the stands are "front loaded", meaning the stand is positioned in front of your work space. With the exception of the Table Clamp, the height is not adjustable but the angle is adjustable which also affects the height.
Each of the stands and holders features a grooved socket attachment. This ensures a tight fit that won't slip. When you attach a holder to the stand align the groves and use the knob to lock it into place.
When reading the review notes keep in mind that I am relatively short at 5'2" and this affects both my reach and the height that works best for me to stitch at. Someone who is taller will have somewhat different results and needs.
Floor Stand & Travel Mate
The base is adjustable via an angle mechanism so you can alter the stand from 90° to about 15°. This not only adjusts the angle but effectively the height as well since tilting it brings the project closer to the floor.
While the regular Floor Stand doesn't fold up as small as the Travel Mate does, it is still quite portable and lightweight (less than 5 lbs). Even if you're not taking it outside of your main stitching environment moving it around is quite easy because of the lightness.The Travel Mate collapses nicely and fits well in larger stitching bags or in a suitcase.
With "front loaders" you need to make sure you have enough clearance for the stand, especially since the angle also adjusts the height. For me it worked best with a chair. In my home environment I have a large coffee table in front of my couch where I stitch and that meant there was not enough clearance for the stand to end up at the right angle/height for me. I think these types of stands work best either with an unobstructed area in front, or at least a very large area free of other furniture.
With the Stretcher Bar Holder and one of the floor stands, you can mount some pretty large pieces. How large is a function of where you are sitting to stitch and the angle you need to work at. The more tilted the stand is (closer to the floor) the more you have to be concerned about a large piece running into the frame when you swivel it to get to the back. This is more of an issue with the width than the height of the project. The closer to vertical (90°) you keep the stand, the larger the pieces it will handle. Although the use of the Extension Bar (see the review later in this article) will allow you to not have to tilt the stand as much and extends the reach as well, away from the stand.
The difference between the Floor Stand and the Travel Mate is the Travel Mate has an internal piece of metal that slided up and down inside the main metal section and locks into place, so you can adjust the height to one of 3 levels. Because the height is adjustable it does mean you have more options for adjusting your project's position than with the Floor Stand. Functionally, they are the same for use with the holders.
Stretcher Bar Holder
The Stretcher Bar Holder is what you want to use if you've got stretcher bars (mini, regular or Evertite) or even a decent sized hoop. It does need to be something with a flat surface (vs. a Q-Snap) since the plastic section of the holder squeezes whatever is mounted in it and that force holds it in place. To reach the back, you turn your project side-to-side. The Holder does not need to be unscrewed for this to happen, it has a pivot point (a bolt and 2 washers) at the join between the back of the holder and metal section that attaches to the stand. In my testing I used my Kimono project, which is on Evertite bars 19x16 and it was quite easy to turn the project to the back, even easier on smaller projects.
To test how well this would hold without slipping I sat my smaller project (also on bars) on top of the Kimono project in the stand and left it that way for several days in the shop. It never budged - so the clamp holds on quite tightly to a flat surface.
For those who use Q-Snaps there is a holder with plastic sections curved to fit Q-Snaps and hold them securely. The holder fits 8" to 17" Q-Snaps (the previously available 8"-14" holder is no longer being made). The metal piece that attaches to the stand has the same grooved connector and you spread the holder to fit your Q-Snaps into place.
The Q-Snap holder will handle an 8x8 Q-Snap, but not a 6x6, although at that size you're better off holding it in your hands.
Scroll Frame Holder
The Scroll Frame Holder comes in 3 different sizes to accomodate differing widths of scroll rods. The holders come with scroll rods and the metal side bars. One of the reasons I wanted to try this particular holder out was to see if I could mount an EZ Stitch Scroll Frame into it and unforunately you cannot. If you dispense with the EZ Stitch side bars and use the metal ones in the frame, the hole size for the bolt is too large. Plus the knobs get in the way. It really requires wing nuts for the rods to rotate freely within the U shaped frame. If you attempt to put EZ Stitch rods in the metal side bars they wobble in the hole since their bolts are smaller. But the K's Creation rods use the same size bolt so I believe you can just use wing nuts and not the K's Tri-Knobs.
The holder is similar in shape to the Q-Snap but the middle section is completely different - having a place to attach the side bars. It opens the same way, you just slide the metal pieces at the top connector apart to get them the right width. Mount your needlework in the scroll frame first, then attach it to the holder. Rotate top-to-bottom to get to the back, just as with the Q-Snap Holder. The rods come with a cotton twill tape you can sew your project to.
Sizes are 12" to 20", 18" to 30" or 24" to 40". NS4 suggests not using the largest of these with the Table/Lap Stand and I believe them. I think it would be a bit too heavy for a small stand to cope with but the Floor Stand, Travel Mate & Table Clamp will be fine with any of the 3 sizes.
For those who want a different "stand" there is the Table Clamp, which can open to accomodate very large tables (e.g. the ones you find from Costco). This is a very sturdy table clamp which allows you to change the height of your attached project using the top slider. The end of the Table Clamp has the same grooved connector and all of the attachments fit into it.
I tested it with the mid-sized Scroll Frame Holder and clamped my Stella Edge to the table next to it. Between the height adjustment of the Table Clamp and the angle adjustment for the grooved connector, it could easily accomodate small and large pieces. Since it holds the stitching well away from the table even wide pieces can be easily turned side-to-side to get to the back of your work. You can mount the Extension Bar to this as well if you needed to extend the reach further. Be sure you've clamped it to a sturdy table if you add the Extension Bar since it will significantly change the center of gravity for your entire set up.
Light & Magnifier Holder
The Light & Magnifier Holder does not use the grooved connector as it attaches to the metal shaft of the Floor Stand or Travel Mate. The holder has two holes drilled which can accomodate any of the lamps that use a center post (although they are harder to find these days). I found that if I removed the screws intended to hold something into the post holes, I could easily clamp anything else to it. NS4 has photos on their website of a variety of things attached, some with a clamp. I even used the empty hole in mine to put scissors into.
The Stella Edge has a large clamp (made to fit Costco tables) so it's more than large enough to fit on the holder. I made sure the U shaped bolt was quite tight on the Floor Stand (and yes, you'll get indentations in the metal but such is life). For most projects the reach of the Stella Edge should be sufficient to light most of the project quite well (in the photo it's on the lowest light setting so I could take a photo).
If you have a heavy florscent lamp & magnifier unit (e.g. Dazor), I think it would be too heavy for this holder. Not only would the clamp likely not hold onto the stand but it might tip the stand entirely. This is best used for lighter weight lamps and magnifiers, and with the new crop of LED units that widens the options. While I've not yet tried the Craftlite Dublin (LED Lamp & Magnifier) with the clamp, it should work fine since the Craftlite Dublin weighs 1 lb. 6 oz and the Stella Edge 1 lb. 12 oz. When I get another Dublin clamp (which weighs about 3 oz) I'll give it a spin and report on my results.
Stella Edge comes in black and makes a very nice accompaniment to the NS4 stands.
The other items from NS4 that use the Light & Magnifier Holder are the Scissor Tray and Pattern Holder - reviews for those items are below.
Table Stand/Lap Stand
The NS4 table/lap stand can be paired with most of the holders, although you would want to keep them on the smaller size and not use the largest of the Scroll Bar Holders. The base is solid and although it is made of metal, it's not heavy at just around 4 lbs. The curved bar (which is the same as the Extension Bar) attaches to the bottom of the stand and the top to your holder. The photo shows the Stretcher Bar Holder attached to the stand with a needlepoint project in the holder. You can adjust the angle of the project from both the base of the stand (making the curved bar angle different) and by adjusting the holder angle as well.
I found that larger projects did not work well with the table/lap stand because you need to be able to turn the project from side-to-side to get to the back. So with a wider project you can't position it to both the right angle to work on and to make the turn possible. Because I'm short it was harder for me to find the optimal angle when working at a table. The testing I did was with the dining height tables we have in our class area using a normal dining chair. If the table were shorter or my chairs taller I think I would have had more success. Those on the shop staff that were taller had better luck with finding a good height. My next test will involve using a second Extension Bar to see if adding that will increase the turning radius enough. For table use, the Scroll Frame Holder worked much better since the turning radius is within the holder itself. I still had issues with it being too tall due my height, but the Scroll Frame Holder definitely worked better in table use.
For lap use with the Stretcher Bar Holder, especially for a short person like me, this isn't the best lap stand option. Because it's a "front loader" and my legs are short I could never get it far enough away to make the project in the photo workable. The stand tended to slide on my legs because of the metal, especially when sitting at my couch where my legs are never level. I tried it also with the Scroll Frame Holder, which can be tilted at a different angle but it was still too close to my body for me use it as a lap stand. The bottom needs to have something like cork on it to keep it from sliding off my legs. Especially if you're short like me, you should come try it out before deciding.
Scissor Tray and Pattern Holder
Both of these accessories attach to the Light & Magnifier Holder, using the holes in the adapter. Because they both use the smaller hole you can only use one of the attachments, so you want to plan for what you would use most. The Pattern Holder is sturdy enough to hold several pages at a time but a book would be too heavy for it. It's really a sheet holder, intending to hold only a few pages at a time. But if you're working from a chart, a photograph of some other stitching aid and don't have another way to have your paperwork near, this could be a decent option.
If found the Scissor Tray being mounted to the Light & Magnifier Holder put it too far away to be useful for me when working on a larger piece. It would be nearer to hand if you are using one of the Scroll Frame Holders, but the Stretcher Bar Holder with a large project puts it too far out of reach for my comfort.
The Extension Bar is the primary piece in the Lap/Table Stand but can also be used separately on any of the other stands. For the Floor Stand (and Travel Mate) it means you can leave the stand completely straight and get both a closer reach as well as a different angle. On the Table Clamp it gives you a significant reach away from the table, which could be useful if you were for example, stitching in a wheel chair.
Belt Scroll Frame
NS4 also make a Belt Scroll Frame Holder where the rods mount to roll your piece side-to-side (vs. top-to-bottom in a normal scroll frame). This is one of the pieces I've not tested but based on the other holders it seems like it would be a great option for either belts or any project where the width is significantly more than the height.
With the exception of the Lap/Table Stand I was very pleased with my experiments using the various stands and holders. The quality of the stands and holders is excellent and I've had very good interactions with the company.The components I can recommend are these below. If you're considering one of the other components, feel free to ask us questions or come to the shop to try them out before purchasing.
- Stands: Floor Stand, Travel Mate or Table Clamp
- Holders: Scroll Frame, Q-Snap or Stretcher Bar
- Accesories: Light & Magnifier Holder or Extension Bar
NS4 will drop ship for us, which means we can have any of the products sent directly to you, saving on time if you are not near us in Alameda. If you're looking for a needlework stand Needlework System 4 definitely should be in your consideration. Paired the Stella Edge (or Stella floor) for lighting, it's a great combination.
You can order any of the Needlework System 4 components through our online catalog or by contacting us at the shop.