I’ve heard of “paint it black” before, but not when it comes to needles…
Today we look into Pony’s new black line of needles, and see just how good they are for cross stitching.
What Are They?
I was first alerted to the Black Line of needles a long time ago, but recently they’ve been making a bit of a splash on Instagram due to their unique look; pure black!
In reality, these needles do come in black, or black with a white eye. Meant as a nickel-free alternative needle for needle users of all types, the black line uses tempered steel instead of nickel.
Interestingly, most tapestry needles have a core of steel anyway, so the only difference between these and normal needles is the lack of coating of nickel. This does help for all of you who are nickel intolerant, but the steel outside actually have a whole bunch of added effects that might just make these needles a great pick.
How Are They Different To Other Nickel-Free Needles?
Nickel-free needles aren’t new. From plastic, to gold plated, or even full gold, there have been a raft of needles out there. But with downsides on most of those options, from massive expensive, to larger size-only options, most nickel-free needles sit firmly in the stainless steel camp.
But the nickel on needles is there for two main reasons; corrosion and smoothness.
Steel corrodes, heavily, and with finger oils in particular. Therefore not only do steel needles last far shorter, but they are also at risk of staining lighter threads. In addition, most steel is rough, being stamped out of sheets.
This is where the black line differentiates itself. By tempering the steel (which also brings the black colour) not only does this stop corrosion, but considerably smooths the surface.
It should be noted however that the white-eye versions have paint on them to cover the eye. This paint is a special type, which is similar to the silicon on pliers or tweezers (tools we think every cross stitcher should have), and won’t chip.
How Do They Stitch?
Let’s get down to brass tacks here (or should I say nickel tax?), how do they stitch?
Like a dream.
Nickel needles are smooth, sure, but as we’ve mentioned on the site many times, there is nothing quite like a gold needle for cross stitch due to its smooth sides. The black line needles are very similar, offering no pulling and smooth movement with stitching.
Their black coloring actually makes them a lot easier to use than the highly reflective nickel or gold needles on most fabrics. Black or very dark fabrics are hard to stitch on anyway, but this needle made it almost impossible. The black and white variants were no less problematic either, as the white is only around the eye of the needle, and not on the shaft.
Finally, they last too. In fact, of every needle we’ve ever tried; they last a LOT longer. Below you’ll see a high-quality gold-plated needles and black line needles new and old (roughly 6000 stitches). As you can see, the black line looks new, despite the others looking heavily worn.
So are they cost-effective? Well, yes! They are slightly more expensive than a standard nickel needle, but still much less than a gold needle. The fact that they then last (from our tests) about 3 times longer, they are very cost-effective.
Right now, the black line is only by Pony, so you have no choice for other brands, but there are other steel needles out there we are yet to try.
Black Line vs Gold Plated
We’ve made many references to gold needles in this post, so it’s only right that we look at comparing the two.
So very smooth. It is hard to really state just how smooth.
These Black line needles feel more like silicon than metal, and they glide through aida like it’s nothing. A big win for smoothness from the Black line.
We mentioned this slightly above, but gold plating (or any plating) comes off. Platinum needles do last longer than gold or nickel, but the steel of the black line needle never comes off. It will eventually corrode through hand oils, but the needles last considerably longer due to that lack of plating.
Whilst everything does look rosey so far for the Black needles, availability is where gold definitely takes the crown.
You can pick up a pack of Black needles in most good stores, but the real issue is the packs they’re sold in. For cross stitch needles you either have to pick from a pack of 18 & 24s or 24s and 26s. You can pick up individual packs of size 18 or 24s.
Firstly, this doesn’t spread the gambit of our suggested cross stitch needle size guide, leaving you only being able to stitch on 6 count, 14 count or 16 count.
But the second, and far worse issue, is how they’re sold. A 2-size pack has four size 24s, and two of the other size. If you’re looking for just 26s, you’re going to have a hard time.
Gold needles on the other hand not only come in every size, but also in petites!
It should be noted that Black line needles are sold in individual and multipacks in a full range of sizes (13, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, and 28), but most stores don’t carry these. If you do wish to pick some of these up, we’d suggest checking our list of best online cross stitch stores as we’ve confirmed at least one in every region carries the full range!
Ease Of Use
Black line needles, are black. This makes them super easy to use on white and light-colored aida. You can clearly see the needle in a way that you simply could not before.
But on black aida, its a totally different story. You’re taking an already hard to work with aida color, and making it harder.
Therefore, simply down to gold not having any negatives in this category, gold needles win out.
Cost is an interesting challenge. Gold is, obviously, super expensive, therefore black line needles are likely, and are, far cheaper. But whats interesting is that they’re very price competitive to a high quality nickel plated needle. We’ve thrown some prices down below based on current costs in the UK:
High quality nickel plated – 50c per needle
Black line – 50c per needle
Gold eye plated – 65c per needle
Gold plated – $1 per needle
Full gold – $12 per needle
So there you have it. Overall, gold needles don’t stack up to the Pony Black needles. But the size availability is a big kick in the pants. So long as you can get around that, and you’re not one for stitching on black aida, these are the needles for you!
|Gold Plated||Pony Black line|
|Ease Of Use||✔|
Where To Get Them?
Have you tried out the black line of Pony needles? Or is there a different needle I need to try?