Last time, we chatted about choosing threads for your canvases so, today, we’re going to talk about needlepoint needles. A tapestry needle is the needle of choice for working needlepoint. It’s a blunt-tipped hand sewing needle with an elongated eye. The large eye can hold thicker needlepoint yarn or multiple strands of needlepoint thread. The rounded end allows the needle to slip between the canvas threads without piercing the horizontal or vertical mesh threads.
Guidelines for Choosing the Best Needle for Your Project
A tapestry needle really has two purposes. First, to carry the thread and second, to open up the canvas just enough to allow the thread to slip through without catching or pulling on the canvas mesh. Canvas can be rough and, if you’ve ever had your thread shred or fuzz, you were likely using a needle that was too small for your project.
The size needle you use for your project directly correlates to the mesh size of your canvas. A helpful tip to remember is the higher the number assigned to a needle size, the smaller the needle. For example, a size 24 tapestry needle is smaller than a size 18 tapestry needle.
That same “rule” applies to canvas mesh, too – the higher the mesh count, the finer the mesh. Match needle size to canvas mesh size, so finer needles go with finer mesh canvas and larger needles go with larger mesh.
If your thread continues to fray with the appropriate size needle, try one size larger. For example, if you’re working on 14 mesh canvas, try a #18 instead of a #20. Just a wee bit larger, it will open up the hole a little more and allow your thread to glide through more easily.
What About All Those Needles Stuck in Your Pincushion?
If they’re bent or discolored, throw them out. Tapestry needles are relatively inexpensive and there’s simply no good reason to use damaged tools. And here’s a little trick to help you determine whether or not one of those “pincushion needles” is a good choice for your project. Insert the tip of the needle into the canvas hole and let go. If the needle falls through, it’s too small. If you have to really tug at it to pull it through, it’s too big. The “just-right” tapestry needle will stop when the widest part of the eye hits the canvas and, when you pull it through, will open up the canvas threads ever so slightly.
Always use a new tapestry needle when you begin a new project!
As always, I want to hear from you! Please tell me what your biggest take-away from this post is in the comment box below. Have a question? Ask away! I read all of your comments and would be happy to help. 🙂