Last night, I had the opportunity to work with these really interesting new needles on the market called Spiral Eye Needles. The point behind them (no pun intended!) is that you don’t have to “thread” them the same way you do regular needles. So let’s take a look at the Spiral Eye needle and see what it’s all about.
There are two sizes of Spiral Eye needles – SE1 and SE2. SE1 is apparently suited for hand sewing and is similar to a sharp, size 4, and shaft-wise, equivalent to about a size 22 tapestry needle. SE2 is similar to a size 6 embroidery (or crewel) needle.
From left to right, you can see the SE1 (sharp, size 4), the SE2 (embroidery, size 6) and a regular size 7 crewel needle (Richard Hemming, I believe…)
The Spiral Eye needles are significantly larger, overall, than a regular embroidery needle:
You can see there the size of the needle shafts. The shafts are made from surgical quality stainless steel, unplated. The advantage to the unplated stainless steel is that you can sharpen them and they clean up well, so you don’t have to pitch them when they’ve been over-used! Also, on the website for the Sprial Eye needle, they point out that most needles are coated with nickel, which some people are allergic to, so the stainless steel needle eliminates the question of nickel allergies.
This is the SE2, upclose. I didn’t experiment with this particular needle. I notice that they are not presently available through the Spiral Eye website. I’m hoping they’re working out some kinks in this needle. I like the size of it – it’s not too big – but on both SE2s that I had, minor problems popped up. On one, the problem was threading and on the other, there was a burr in the eye – something you definitely don’t want when you pay $5 for a needle! So I think perhaps the makers are working out those problems right now.
I tested and worked with the SE1 quite a bit, though.
It holds up to three strands of DMC cotton. It’s super-easy to thread the needle – you just pinch the thread and slide it up the shaft and it pops right into the eye. If you’re working with several strands of stranded cotton at a time, you have to thread each strand individually. All three together are too thick for the side opening on the needle. It doesn’t take any time at all, really. They just slide right in.
This is a stitch in process here. I half-way expected the needle to catch on the fabric on the way back up, but it doesn’t. It passes through the fabric very easily.
It occurred to me that an needle with an opening on the side might cause some difficulty with stitches like French knots, so I set about testing it with some of those.
It pulled through easily, without any hang-ups…
…resulting in nice French knots.
So I put the needle to work on a little piece of felt, anywhere I used stranded cotton. And it worked just fine!
Spiral Eye Needles in Summary
1. The little difficulties I experienced with both SE2 needles probably need to be straightened out before they are marketed too widely!
2. The SE1 is great for stitching with stranded cotton, up to three strands.
3. They really are easy to thread, and the thread does not come unthreaded like the calyx eye (top threading) needles do.
4. But, if you’re using more than one strand of floss, you have to thread each strand individually.
5. But it doesn’t take any time to do so – and if your strip your floss, anyway, I don’t think this is any big deal.
6. The real advantage to these needles, I think, is for people who have a hard time threading regular needles because of eye sight problems or arthritis. The website suggests their use for children, which I suppose could be true, too, but I find, with teaching children, that heavier threads are better to use, and these needles won’t accommodate heavier threads.
7. No, they won’t work for heavier threads, such as crewel wool or even pearl cotton #12. They’re great with any sewing or even heavy quilting thread, and they work great with one strand of DMC threaded at a time. But the heavier threads won’t fit in the side opening. So, in this sense, they have a limited use.
I like the feel of the needles – they’re smooth and tough. They’re absolutely strong – bending them with your fingers is almost out of the question. It’s quite obvious that they’re made out of high quality material, with attention to detail, and made to last.
If you’re looking for a Spiral Eye needle – a needle that’s easy to thread and well-made – check out the Spiral Eye Needles website, where you can get the low-down on the company and their products.
While you’re there, note their little motto: “A stitch in time saves nine … but you still have to thread the needle!” Funny!
If you’ve tried these needles – or other “non-threading” needles (like the calyx needles) – please do let the rest of us know your thoughts about them! I’d like to hear what others have to say.