Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Tapestry needles, really?

Trubey Walker, the original owner of Needle Nicely, always insisted that we give each customer 2 needles in each canvas; or at least 2 needles if the customer purchased multiple canvases.  That was our gift to the stitcher.  It all derived from when Trubey was  a teenager, and while visiting New York City, went to Mazeltov's.  Trubey said that when you entered the store, you encountered a table (or tables) with 4 large punch bowls, each filled with a different size of tapestry needles.  You were to just help yourself.  That message stayed with her over the years, and when she opened Needle Nicely, she realized we couldn't offer punch bowls of tapestry needles; but we could offer 2 per canvas.

Over 50 years later, Needle Nicely still doesn't charge for needles.  That is, if you are a customer.  If you are a tourist who has just wandered in and aren't buying a canvas, then we have a charge per needle.  I have a good visual memory and can usually identify Needle Nicely's customers.  We try not to offend anybody, but usually newcomers on vacation expect to pay for the needles.

Until the last year or so, we swore by John James needles from England.  And we bought them by the thousand (in bulk, as they say).  However, as with many other products in America, they started having them produced off-shore.  The quality wasn't the same anymore.  So Needle Nicely started buying Bohin needles.  I personally can't tell the difference in stitching, but from a retailer's point-of-view,  I have to acknowledge that bulk Bohins are now cheaper for me to buy than bulk John James.  Guess which brand won that contest?

I understand that some shops preach that you must start each project with new needles. For the most part, I think this is just rank commercialism.   As a person whose skin does not react to needles, I could use the same needles forever without noticing any drag or tarnishing or pitting, even in salt air Vero Beach.  However, some people should discard their needles because they experience all of those things.  Needles are inexpensive and you should always err on the side of presenting the best execution of your stitching.  As my husband always says about the age of food, "when in doubt, throw it out".  A great adage that works more often than not with lots of things we do.


  1. As I have a highly acidic body (not to mention outlook and personality), I frequently have to change needles mid-project--I can strip the finish off a needle in a heartbeat! Always appreciated Needle Nicely providing them!

  2. Ann and I must have similar body chemistries. I call myself Miss Acid Hands! And you should see my steering wheel.... Probably makes sense for a stitcher to change needles frequently while they are new until they know whether they are kin to Ann and me. And they aren't that expensive as tools go.

  3. Interesting post about needles. I have so many needles, as I am the opposite of Ann and Jane, and more like you. Though I'm supposed to have a more acidic skin surface because I have diabetes, my needles last a long long time, through dozens of projects. (I recently had to discard a needle because the eye broke, a first for me! It was a slim needle for cross stitch.)

  4. Since I'm cut down on my caffeine, I don't have problems with my needles anymore. with that being said, I still love the needle in the canvas, not because I need a new needle, but because I'm a multiple starter and this way I always have a needle in my project and can pick it up and go vs. looking for a needle each time. Hope you continue the practice :)