Mary Corbet

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I learned to embroider when I was a kid, when everyone was really into cross stitch (remember the '80s?). Eventually, I migrated to surface embroidery, teaching myself with whatever I could get my hands on...read more

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Pony Embroidery Needles & Brand Question


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Pony is a company that specializes in needles of all sorts for needlework. In the US, we see the brand more often on knitting needles and crochet hooks, I think. What I like about Pony embroidery needles is that they are super delicate in the finer sizes, and suitable for working with tiny strands of silk.

There aren’t a whole lot of #12 embroidery needles available on the market. Rarely do you find them available in needlework shops, even. Several years ago, I tested a few of the smaller sized Pony needles. I’ve used them time and time again, and finally decided I need a few more. I’ve been on the lookout for them, but haven’t had too much luck finding them available for purchase online.

Pony Embroidery Needles

So I contacted the company. And now I have four packages of Pony crewel (embroidery) needles in sizes 9, 10, 11, and 12.

Pony Embroidery Needles

Embroidery needles are sized by number, and the lower the number, the larger the needle. The smallest crewel needle size commonly available is a #12, which is the needle on the far right in the photo above. Besides the shafts and the eyes decreasing in size as the needle size number increases, the needle itself becomes generally shorter. You can see that the #12 on the right is quite a bit shorter than the #9 on the far left.

Pony Embroidery Needles

Here, you can see a close-up on the eyes, and the super-macro mode on the camera shows us something that the naked eye may not necessarily notice: the flaw on the #10 needle. Instead of being rounded at the tip, it’s got a bit of a burr there.

Overall, I like Pony needles in these sizes. So far, they have withstood the test of time pretty well – I am still using one that I’ve had for a couple years and have used fairly regularly. I like the fact that they are very small and delicate. They work well with the finest weight of Piper’s silk that I’m using on the Blackwork Fish project.

I’d like to see Pony needles in the finer sizes more readily available in needlework shops. So far, I haven’t had any luck nailing down a steady supplier in the US.

Another company that offers an excellent needle – and the supplies them in the smaller sizes (crewel sizes #7 – #12) – is Wendy Schoen Designs. In fact, I think hers are the first embroidery needles I ever had in really fine sizes (and only because I snitched them from my sister!)

I think John James (or is it Mary Arden?) makes a #11 embroidery needle, which used to be available online through Colonial Needle, but I’m not finding them listed anymore. Other than these companies, though, I don’t know of any others that produce very fine embroidery needles in sizes smaller than a 10.

I’m an embroidery needle hoarder, I admit. I always feel that something is not right if I don’t have a decent supply of ready embroidery needles. But I’m always dismayed that embroidery needles in a variety of the smaller sizes are not more readily available, even in needlework shops!

What brand of needles do you normally use and where do you purchase them? Do you have a hard time finding the needles you like in local needlework shops? Any suggestions for your fellow stitchers on where to find very fine embroidery needles? Feel free to leave a comment below!


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(27) Comments

  1. I use Birch because that's all they sell in Spotlight, but they do seem to sell quite a variety of them at my local shop, 10s, 11s, beading needles etc. Last time I got a packet of 10s, which are tiny. I'm used to using 'standard' sewing needles (whatever was lying around) but they were tending to rust (if anyone knows why?) so I got some new ones.

  2. Mary, first let m esay how much i enjoy your posts each morning, theu go well with my coffee,LOL
    as for the needles, i'll have to look for "pony "brabd. i like "scarlet lady". i buy them on-line or , i try to buy enough at the March quilt show in Dallas, to last me a year. they are my favorite, but i'll have to look for "pony" and try them. thanks for the info.. molly

  3. John James also has a #12 embroidery needle. I do not know if they go smaller as well, but the 12's are pretty good. I pack embroidery kits with them and so I know they come in the packs of 25, and I think we get them from Access Commodities. They only do wholesale, but you local shop should be able to get them. I hope that helps.

  4. Aah,finally we Indians can claim to have something of our own.Mary,lots of Pony needles available here.I'll send you a big bunch soon 🙂


  5. Are #12s at all similar to the handsewing "sharps"? Other than being perhaps not as, um, sharp, I have a few of those tiny needles in my collection, either from sets that I've gotten over the ages or as handsewing needles for hems and the like.

  6. Well I became acquainted with Pony crewel needles thanks to you 😉 ! When Hedgehogs had their sale, not long ago, I called them and they had them available though at the time they didn't have them on their site. They were very nice and put them up on their website and I was able to get my hand a a few in sizes 9,10,11,12. I recently checked and they are not up in their site… perhaps they still have some ?

    Have to try Wendy's needles… a shop in a nearby town carries them.

    Have you consider becoming a distributor of Pony crewel needles ? I (and many others) will sure buy them from you for use and resale 😉 !

  7. I have one favourite needle. I use it over and over and over again. It's got a big discolored bit where my fingers constantly grip it, but I like it. This needle feels comfortable in my hand. I know exacly how it will react to different cloth, thread and stitches. If I ever loose it I do have another one that size but I always reach for my one favourite needle.

  8. I needed #12 crewel/embroidery needles a couple of years ago and found some at Lacis (online). There was no brand listed, but when the needles arrived they were Pony needles.

    Lacis still sells #12s. I don't know if they are Pony needles, but they are #12. (Mary is so right about the difficulty in finding small needles!)

    Here's a link to Lacis' needle page:


  9. Hi, Mary

    I was happy to see your review of the Pony Brand crewel needles. Like you, I simply hoard embroidery supplies. I have been using Pony needles for the last 30 years since that is the only one which is readily available here in India. I swear by the quality and now insist that my students get these needles only.

    I have tried Dritz but that was because I did not get Pony straws. Pony has got some very nice scissors as well.

  10. Hi, All –

    Thanks so much for your comments and your resources!

    Yep, Pony needles are made in India, so it is easier to find them there than here, but there is a US distributor, and I know needlework shops can get them, but they don't always go for the smaller sizes, because people don't use them as much. In the US, we're used to using, for example, DMC cotton, and even when we use just one strand, it can be easily accommodated in a #10. It's when you get to the tinier threads – for example, Eterna silk, Piper's, etc. – and you want to do tiny work with single strands, that the smaller needle comes in handy.

    MommaBlogger – a small needle is useful for delicate work with smaller threads. Needlepainting, for example, that's done with one strand of silk or cotton works best with a small needle. Your needle should "fit" your thread: the rule tends to be that the shaft of the needle should be about the same thickness as the thread you're using. So #10 works ok with one strand of cotton, but if you're using that Eterna that you bought, and you want to use one strand, then a smaller needle will work better with the finer thread. You can achieve more delicate work, and it saves your fabric from holes that are too big for the thread (the holes become visible).

    Yes, yes. I do like "needle talk" and I'm happy to see the resources! I'll try to put some together in a list – maybe that'll be a good section for the "new" site that's coming in the next couple weeks!

    Thanks heaps!


  11. I too use Pony (I'm in the UK) I had an Ebay seller used to do them, but not at the moment, but there are one or two other online shops that sell them and i have a very good haberdashers in Wood Green that sells all sorts of stuff (No 12 quilting needs about 3/4 of an inch lon, anyone?). I like th golden eyes. When I can't get Pony I use John James and I like Milwards straw needles for bullion embroidery.

  12. I primarily use John James embroidery needles or sharps, size 10. Lacis sells them in packs of 25 at a very reasonable price. I also like Piecemakers needles but I haven't found an inexpensive source for them.


  13. Thanks so much for this great article about needles. Often I am not sure I'm using the right needle so this helps heaps!!

    Recently, I ordered a stumpwork kit from Jane Nicholas -http://www.janenicholas.com as well as Jane's Stumpwork Needle Collection (8 packages of various sized needles from sharps size 12 with the tiniest holes ever to Size 14/18 yarn darners) it is a good variety of needles. The cost was $27.18 AUD/$19.00 USD. The needle brands in this grouping are John James (milliners size 3/9, tapestry size 28, chenille size 18/24, embroidery size 10 and yarn darners size 14/18) Piecemakers (sharps size 12) and Richard Hemming & Son (sharps size 5/10 and crewel size 3/9).

    I am still a little confused about the sizes and maybe you can answer this question. What does it mean when the package is label Size 14/18 or 3/9 or 5/10? Is that the range of sizes in the package? And if I understand the numbers correctly, the higher the number, the smaller the needle? Any additional information on needles and sizes would be great on your new site.

    Thanks MARY!!!

  14. Hi, Tania –

    You're right. The 3/9, etc. is the range (from size 3 through size 9) and the higher the number, the smaller the needle!


  15. Hi Mary,

    thanks for this post. It motivated me to finally buy some decent needles as so far I've been using "no name" ones. I live in Poland and found here some online shops that sell Pony needles. In fact I have one question to you: do you use this type Embridery/Crewel to any sort of embroidery? I'd like to learn Long&Short; Stitch one and wonder if these would be fine.


  16. That's good to know before I get started 🙂 I know I have some small needles, I'll have to check the size. I usually buy the embroidery packs from Walmart or JoAnn's (can't remember the brand name, they're in a blue pack though). I haven't decided what thickness to use yet, but I'll take a look and figure it out soon hopefully 🙂

  17. Here in Canada, we can get Size 3/9 (assorted) crewel needles made by John James through a company called 'Joanne's Creative Notions' (www.joannescreativenotions.com). Another source is 'A Great Notion Sewing Supply Ltd.' (www.agreatnotion.com) and they carry Richard Hemming English Hand Needles in crewel sizes 7,8,9,10 & 15. I know both of these sources are Canadian but I'm sure they'd ship elsewhere.

  18. I usualy use the Johm James or Hemming & Sons. I have to make a special trip out of town to get them (Sacramento). And it is not an LNS, but a quilting store specializing in hand applique, which carries them. Nothing local though. I'll have to take a look at Lacis now that I know they have them.

  19. Hi Mary,
    May I ask a really silly question? How do you manage to thread such fine needles? Or are you blessed with exceptional eyesight 🙂


  20. Hi Mary,
    I hope it's OK to post a query aimed at someone who commented here?
    Only good needlework shops in the UK can be hard to find! You don't know how lucky you are in the States!
    My query is for ravenrigan who mentioned a shop in Wood Green. Ravenrigan …. do you mean Wood Green in North London? I grew up in Tottenham/Wood Green although haven't been that way in ages! Currently live in Cheshunt, not that far away. Where abouts is the shop you are referring to?

  21. I usually use John James, because my favorite LNS carries them. I buy them in the 25 packs, cause I go through a lot of needles. I can't imagine having the *same* needle for years. This is probably because I tend to use the smallest needle I can get away with, and often break them. The 28 petite tapestry are my *favorite* — I use them for anything I can, including when embelishing garments if they're not too tightly woven fabric.

  22. Hi, I love your site and have been following it for quite a while. Thanks for the wonderful work. I’m wondering if you (or your other readers) have any tips for embroidery shops in London.

  23. I have been using pony needles for more than 10 years & happy with their durability. I buy needles online but sometimes in my local needlework shop.
    If anyone is looking for them there are listings on ebay for Pony needles…
    Photographs are quite different to what Mary has shown.

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