I think I found a good needle that works on #8 perle as well as 1 or 2 strands of cotton floss - a #7. Right now, since I'm a beginner, I'm just practicing on some easy patterns that I got free from your web site. I'm experimenting with stem stitch, whipped back stitch, outline stitch, and lazy daisies. I'm working on Kona cotton, which I don't really like - it seems very hard to puncture, even with an embroidery needle. I tried a 28-count evenweave, which didn't work at all. As for the hoop, because I need to have my left hand on both the back and the front of the fabric at the same time (I'm right-handed), I can only use a 4" hoop, which is a real nuisance as the sewing method of embroidery moves along pretty fast; thus, I end up moving the hoop every few minutes. That's why I don't use one. Maybe there's another technique?
Thanks so much for helping a beginner. I look forward to the day I can embroider something good enough to use on a pillow or to frame, or whatever.