When you’re getting ready to launch into a hand embroidery project, do you struggle with the question of which needle to use with which thread? This is one of those “frequently asked questions” that arrive in the inbox every few days, so I know it’s a prevalent question among many stitchers!
Well, the folks in the Valley Quail EGA chapter out in California came up with a solution that can help you answer all your questions about which needle to use! Since 1996, they have been selling as a chapter fundraiser a little fat book called The Needle Index.
This is no fancy-schmancy book! It is straightforward and totally utilitarian. It solves the riddle of Which Needle!
So, what is The Needle Index? It’s a comb-bound chunky little book made out of cardstock, and on the outside, it seems wonderfully unpretentious. It’s not until you open it that you see the cleverness of the whole book. Turn the first page back and suddenly, this simple, light volume that you may have been tempted to overlook or dismiss becomes one of the most useful resources in your needlework arsenal.
This is an ingenious little book. On one side of the page layout, you’ll find, in bold, the name of the needle. Underneath that, you’ll find a thorough description of the needle and its uses. Then, you’ll find a sizing chart. You can lay a needle on it and figure out what size needle you have. That’s good, right?!
But wait. There’s more!
See what’s on the opposite side of the layout? That is a piece of wool felt, in which you can store your needles according to type. A great idea, right?
But wait! There’s more!
Lift up the felt. Underneath it, you’ll find a chart. The sizes the needle comes in are arranged across the top row. Underneath that is a list of threads and numbers of strands of threads. Glance at the chart, and you know what size of that particular needle to use with your thread! So, you’re stitching with three strands of DMC cotton? And you’re going to use a crewel needle? Well, according to the chart, a size 7 will do you! But you don’t know if this particular needle is a size 7? Lay it on the needle sizing chart – and there ya go!
Now, if that’s not the handiest and cleverest little volume I’ve ever seen, I don’t know what is!
You can see that it’s a thick little volume, but very light and very transportable. It’s user-friendly, straightforward, simple… and affordable.
Update 2021: I don’t know if the Quail Valley Chapter still sells these directly, but you can find them here at Needle in a Haystack, if you scroll to the end of the page.
If you’ve ever boggled over which needle, won’t it be nice to have the answer at your fingertips?