Time To Ditch That Old Cross Stitch Needle

My needle broke!

Oh yeh, we’ve all said that. It’s just part of cross stitch… right? Wrong.
Needles are a very important part of cross stitch, and they can massively range in complexity, material, and price, and so it seems only natural to stick to what you know; and stick to the same old needle. However, after speaking with a very well known needle manufacturer last year when I was looking into how cross stitch needles are made, he informed me that cross stitch needles are soft. Not so soft that they can be broken easily, but far softer than say, medical needles.
Medical needles are, in case you hadn’t realized, used only once. And they are made from surgical hardened stainless steel, twice as hard as the gold needles you use. And then he showed me this:

Reused needle (source: Reddit)
Medical needles under microscope. Unsued, used once, used twice and used 6 times (source: Reddit)

Now on the face of it, that doesn’t look too bad, but when you remember you use a needle 256 times in a square inch. And your needle is half as strong as that one. That’s why I’m suggesting you throw out that old needle.
In fact, I’d go one step further and tell you that you need to use a new needle for every project. And no, I’m not a crazy rich person. Every time you use a needle, you damage it. Every bit of damage means you snag on the threads and canvas, you stretch the holes in the aida, you catch threads on other stitches, and frankly, you put your whole project at risk of those tiny little weird bits that stick out for no reason. Sadly, even storing cross stitch needles can damage them too.
So that’s why I use a new one for every project. Whatever the size, a new needle comes out. Now, let’s be honest, needles can be super expensive, and my preferred needle is a petite full gold number, but I’m not made of gold needles. I get smart. For plastic canvas, I use a standard, cheap needle, which can save a lot of money in cross stitch, as my plastic canvas stitches tend to be less than 1000 stitches. For anything with 10,000 stitches I use a fancy one, and anything in between, I use whatever I have on hand.
But this isn’t just a crazy idea of mine either. Not only is there a difference in how I can stitch, how fast I can cross stitch, and on the ease, but it has a clear effect on the end result. Less puckering, more uniformity, and no stray stitches that just don’t want to sit right. Try ditching that old needle, and see for yourself the improvement. And suffer a lot less broken needles.
cross stitch needle (source: cross-stitching.com)
cross stitch needle (source: cross-stitching.com)

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This Post Has 11 Comments

  1. Jessica Hilsabeck

    I use a jewelry polishing cloth for my particularly gunky needles. It takes out the tarnish caused by grubby fingers and smooths the surface out too. If the needle starts sticking again, it can be remedied with a few pulls through the polishing cloth.

    1. LordLibidan

      I… wow… This is brilliant! How have I never thought of this before!?!

  2. Jessica

    I’ve been using the same needle for years and never noticed any problems. I’m hesitant to switch to anything else because even when I buy “blunt” cross stitch needles, they’re never actually that blunt. They’re always fairly sharp and seem to snag on everything. So I just keep using my old standby which was a generic needle I bought at a craft store.

    The bottom needle in the photo at the bottom of the page is exactly the kind of needle I keep running into. It’s clearly sharp and you can even see a slight hook at the end which is what is likely to snag. The top needle is the kind I prefer and I can’t see how it could get damaged since it’s already blunt and smooth.

    I tend to use 14 or 16 ct aida, is that why it doesn’t seem to cause any problems compared to people using evenweave?

    1. LordLibidan

      The size of the needle will determine how much of an issue the ‘old’ needle will cause. The smaller the needle, and the lower the count will mean fewer issues.
      Try looking for “tapestry needles” rather than “blunt needles”. These are the type you need. John James needles are amazing in my mind.