If you are new to the world of knitting and sewing, you probably have some dilemmas about choosing and using tapestry needles. What is the tapestry needle in the first place? For me, it’s a tool to get away from everyday worries. It is an instrument to do things that I like. Moreover, it helps me find my peace and create something in the process.
Times change quickly nowadays. We live in a high-tech society where computers and machines take over more and more operations that used to be done by humans. It seems that in a very near future we will have to do nothing but push buttons or touch screens to execute just about anything. Smartphones, smart home appliances, smart cars, smart houses, everything is becoming smart and user-friendly. On the other hand, people are becoming less friendly, alienated and immersed in their own (virtual) affairs.
Knitting, sewing, crochet, embroidery, and needlepoint used to be popular and useful skills. But, in the last decades of the 20th century, they fell from grace. Many people considered it to be just a hobby for retirees, particularly women. However, sometimes events take surprising twists. At the beginning of the 21st century, the internet and social networks have helped the revival of some old handicrafts. Knitting, sewing, and related skills gain popularity. Youngsters and elderly, men and women are joining the club worldwide. Needlework handicrafts are reintroduced to schools in some countries.
So, welcome aboard and let’s get started!
What Is a Tapestry Needle?
The tapestry needle is a sewing needle with a large eye and blunt tip. The large eye will allow you to use a thicker thread. It comes in different sizes and the bigger ones will accommodate even the heaviest bulky yarn. The tip of the needle is blunt so that it can go through the material without damaging it. Another reason is to avoid splitting your fiber or yarn.
These needles can be used in knitting and crochet for some specific work. They are useful in cross stitching, embroidery and needlepoint as well.
Different Kinds of a Tapestry Needle
These needles come in different shapes and sizes. They have sizes with corresponding numbers much alike other needles. The lower the number, the larger the needle. They can be made of metal or plastic. Some of them are hollow the whole length. Others are bent in the end. You will come across yarn needles, darning needles, chenille needles and they all look alike! It is a bit confusing, isn’t it? Let’s unravel it, thread by thread.
Yarn and tapestry needles are basically the same thing. Some producers call plastic ones ‘yarn needles’ and the metal ones ‘tapestry needles’. Whatever you call them, they do the same job.
Darning needles are usually a bit longer than tapestry needles and that’s the only difference. Darning is a technique for repairing holes and that’s what these needles are for. They can replace tapestry needles, though. So, darning and tapestry needles are very similar but not the same.
Chenille needles have a large eye and a sharp tip. Sharp tips allow them to penetrate closely woven materials. So, they look very similar to tapestry needles, but they have a different use.
Tapestry needles come in different shapes to help you execute some specific works. Needles with bent tips are more suitable for hooking of yarn in tight spaces.
Length-hollow needles or finishing needles are perfect for weaving in very short ends.
The choice between metal and plastic needles is a matter of personal preference. Most people consider metal ones to be a bit smoother. But, if you have just plastic ones, it is still okay.
What Is Tapestry Needle Used For?
These needles are included in essential knitting and crochet kits. Knitting needles are major implements for knitting, while crochet hooks do most of the crocheting work. However, tapestry needles are useful for a couple of tasks in both knitting and crochet projects. These are weaving in yarn ends, changing the yarn color, and join two different pieces together.
Weaving in the yarn ends is a technique to take care of loose ends that we call yarn tail. You will have a yarn tail at the start and at the end of your knitting project. With a tapestry needle, you can weave in those ends to finish the project.
Changing the color of the yarn needs tapestry needle. The procedure is basically the same. Whenever you have a loose end, weaving in is the most often technique to use.
The tapestry needle is a good choice for joining two different pieces together. It works for both knitted or crocheted pieces. To join two crocheted pieces you can whip stitch them together or mattress stitch them together. There are more ways to do this but they don’t include the use of this kind of needle.
This kind of needle is a basic tool for needlepoint and cross stitch. Sharp needles are used more often for embroidery projects. However, it is trendy to make knitted or crocheted stuffed toys and animals. You can use this kind of needle and embroidery techniques to decorate these.
How to Make a Perfect Tapestry Needle Choice?
Actually, when you know the rest of the process, choosing the right needle is easy. In crochet and knitting projects, the needle should suit the thread or yarn. It means that you should choose the smallest needle that allows the yarn to fit comfortably through the eye of the needle. Obviously, you shouldn’t use a large needle in crochet projects with delicate threads. With smaller needles, you should be extra careful, as they can shred or damage the thread or yarn.
When it comes to needlepoint and cross stitch, selection of the needle depends on the mesh size of the fabric. Be it Aida cloth or canvas or whatever fabric you use, your needle should part the threads of the fabric and not to pierce it. A larger needle will push the threads apart too much. It will leave a gap that your thread may not fill, and the grid structure of the fabric may stay distorted. If the needle is too small, it will fall through too easily. It may split or damage the fibers of the fabric.
You can easily find online charts that will help you to match the needle and the fabric. I would still recommend testing the selected needle in the corner of your fabric. And remember, the higher the number, the finer the needle.
Choosing a needle for your project is not always easy for beginners. However, if you know what you want to do and how to do it, is not very difficult either. I hope that this, sort of ‘needle introduction’ article, will help you to better navigate and avoid some unnecessary mistakes and traps on your journey.
By the way, did you know that archaeologists have discovered several bone needles on different locations that are between 30,000 and 50,000 years old! Humans have done some forms of needlework since forever, obviously. Studies have shown that knitting and other forms of needlework have significant positive effects on both mental and physical health.
So, thread your needle and get on to your next project!