Perusing FB beading groups, I’ve noted that questions about beading needles get many comments. It seems that every beader has his or her favourite needle, me included!
First, a few words about factors that impact beading and needle sizes. Whether a size 12 needle will work with those tiny size 15/0 beads, for example, depends on the bead’s manufacturer, as well as on the thread you use. For example, Miyuki size 15/0s reliably have larger and more consistently-sized holes than Czech 15/0 Charlottes. As for thread, surprisingly, the 4 lb Fireline (.13mm), K.O. (.15mm), or Nymo B (.12mm) are close in size, but that little bit of difference may help with multiple pass-throughs!)
English and Japanese Quality Needles
Hailing from the U.K., I have long favoured the long and flexible John James needles, an English brand I have found to be reliably strong and long-lasting. The Beading Room stocks sizes 10, 12, and 13 under the Beadsmith Pebble and Beadsmith Bead Embroidery labels. (N.B. The size 13 will work with size 15 Charlottes; I was able to get two pass-throughs using our K.O. thread.)
The Beading Room also stocks the John James Long and Short Beading Needles, under the Crafting Collection label, in sizes 10 and 12.
Another great option is the Japanese Miyuki brand, which is similarly thin and flexible, but deemed less likely to break than the John James. (I haven’t found this to be so, and surmise that we all bead with different tensions and handling.)
But here is one important difference: Miyuki needles have a slightly rounded tip that decreases the chance the you split your thread as you make multiple passes, an important consideration in some projects. We stock a pack of six extra fine needles in different lengths that comes with a bead threader, which works so well. (N.B. This needle easily handles 5 pass-throughs of Miyuki size 15/0s.)
You might use the John James when you will be piercing a fabric, as in bead embroidery, and the Miyuki, when looming or creating an off-loom bead weaving project.
Big Eye Needles
These needles have limited uses, mainly for use with thicker stringing materials, like elastic cord, as the “eye” runs almost the length of the needle! The Beading Room stocks 2.5” and 5” long big eye needles.
This needle won’t survive multiple uses due to the fact that its “eye,” basically a large loop, collapses on the first pass-through. These are best for bead crochet and Kumihimo.
If you have the need for speed – and to bead many beads at a time – check out this unique Japanese creation! Depending on your project, this may save you loads of time. Here’s a link to a Beadsmith YouTube demonstrating this needle.
I don’t know about you, but taking this dive into beading needles taught me at least one thing that I wasn’t aware of – that the Miyuki has a slightly rounded tip. And I checked it out – my five pass-throughs of a size 15/0 Miyuki Charlotte did not split the thread!
Until next month’s intro to yet another amazing bead designer, remember that beading each day just might keep the doctor away during dreary winter months!