Saturday, December 05, 2015

Day 5...

25 Days

Day 5....
well...we partied hard last night and I'm a little hung over from pizza and birthday cake :)
But we had a big, good time and the boys and their buddies had a big good time eating pizza, cake and ice cream and a couple liters of soda. Then gorging on video games.
Good Times!

My stitching share was not stitched by me...
but it was finished by me....

I'm sure most of you know that...
Brooke's Books has a free advent calendar animals that you can stitch.
I thought they were darling, but I never stitched any of them. When a client asked me to finish the first 7 for her and she sent them to me, I was agog at how beautiful they were in real life.
I adored the dotted white and red fabric that she stitched them on.
Here they are all finished.

JP_Brookes Books Advent

She wanted them finished similarly because she's going to complete the set so I finished the white dotted ones with a white fabric embossed with white snowflake pattern, white cording and white bows.

The red dotted ones I finished with red material with white snowflakes pattern, red cording and red bows.
When I got them all done and laid out together...
well I was just amazed at how cute they turned out!

JP_Brooke's Books Advent

When my client got them...
she let her little girl hang them on their large cross stitch ornament tree...
Here is a photo she snapped to show me how good they looked in their "home".
I love to see photos that clients send me of how they use and treasure their stitching once I send it back. This one is no exception. And I LOVE that tree!

Vonna's Gizmo and Gadgets....
today I'm going to talk about a hot button topic: needles and needle size. 

Now let's please review the rules on this because I think today's recommendation may cause some rebellion. . . 
This is my opinion and my opinion only! Many people want to know what I use to stitch with because they think I'm an expert or something. Silly them!!! I'm no expert ~ I just like to stitch and am a stitcher like any of you. But I have stitched for 30 years and I know what works for me. So I'm sharing what I use. After fielding literally hundreds of questions of what do you use, how do you like...I just started compiling a list and asking people to wait until my 25 Days. 

This does not mean: that it is the only thing to use, or what you are using is not correct or mine is better than yours. No not in the least. All it means is that I have found these products, in my mind and opinion I think they are the best ones and I'm entitled to my opinions just like you are entitled to your opinions. So let's play together nice in the sandbox, what do you say?

everyone uses them. Here is the low down on what I know...
For cross stitch you should choose a tapestry needle. Size matters and the smallest number is the largest size and the largest number is the smallest size. Basically the size of the needle shaft (and eye) is determined by the number...the higher the number the smaller the shaft and eye.
Tapestry needles can be purchased in the largest size: 13 all the way to the smallest size: 28.

Size to use...
I don't know what people would use the really large needles for, but essentially what a cross stitcher would use, flows something like this: 

Now then...while generally I look at these recommendations, I don't typically pay attention to them.
because I'm a rebel and I do what I want. I don't base my needle size on the count of fabric I'm working on. Rather, I base my needle size on the "stiffness" of fabric I'm working on. 
Let me describe more fully...
I do a lot of model stitching, therefore I see a lot of different fabrics. Some of the fabrics that I model stitch on, like Wichelt's linen is a little stiff. Its hard to push the needle through the fabric sometimes. But boy does it allow the floss to lay up perfectly! When I'm stitching on stiff fabrics no matter what the count, I find that its better to have a substantial needle. More substantial = fatter. So I use a 22/24 size needle on the lower counts (28-30 ct linen). However when I get to 32 ct stiff fabric, with the weave being tighter, I find that a 28 works best because I can slip it through the smaller holes easier rather than pushing it through like a bulldozer. 

Now on a looser weave....
let's say: Week's Dye Works linen...I find that the larger the needle makes a bigger hole (when pushing through the fabric and laying my stitches that doesn't disappear after the stitch is made. (I am not KNOCKING Week's Dye Works, as I love their fabrics!! I'm just saying this as an exampler that their fabrics are a soft in texture, therefore laying stitches you have to be a bit more careful) . 
If I use a larger needle like a 24, the "holes" that you come up and go down in to lay your X sometimes is very therefore on about any count of Weeks linen I use a 26/28 needle. 

*I'm sensitive to how my stitches lay because of the Fair Entries I have submitted over the last 6 years. I get knocked every year on my "tension" at the beginning, I have to admit, I don't think my tension was good. Being knocked in the judges comments has made me sensitive to how I lay/pull my stitches and also to what size needle I use. 

Therefore: my overall choice of needle size is more dependent on the fabric texture, rather than the fabric count. 

What size do I typically use? 
My go to needle size is: sz 26 - I use this size the most on high/low counts/over one. You name it I use it (except on stiff fabrics because I'll end up having a bloody middle finger from pushing it into my finger)

sz. 28 is the next most popular size in my needle nest. I stitch on a higher count fabrics a lot and I use this exclusively for 40 ct. fabrics.

And my old favorite is always a 24, I use this size generally on any count in the 28 to 30 count fabric range. But again determined by stiffness of the fabric I may use a size 26.

I have 22 size needles too, but I predominantly use them for frogging.

OK, its all about that Brand, that Brand, that Brand....

When I was just starting out stitching, I got what was locally available to me. I used good old DMC needles. in size 24 and went to town. These are good, solid needles. The eyes are typically clean (therefore your thread doesn't prematurely break). The only thing I noticed is that the coating (I imagine it is nickle) wore off and you would get a tarnished place where you held your needle after use. But that didn't bother me. I used them exclusively until about 9 years ago. 

DMC Size 24 Tapestry Needles, Counted Cross Stitch, embroidery

that is when I was introduced to my new Local Needlework Shop - "Fancy Works" and they carried Piecemakers. I tried a pack and it wasn't long until I invested in a whole gaggle of Piecemakers Needles. I had (and still do have) every size from 22 - 28. They are smooth, their eyes are smooth, they never break, the eye never wears or breaks. I've never had the plating wear off or tarnish. I use these until I lose them and I don't lose needles often. These needles in my mind are the best on the market. Give them a whirl and try them out. I absolutely adore them. And they are made right here in the good 'ol US of A!

About 3 years ago, I was gifted with a packet of Bohin Needles from France...
well I was dubious because I had been having a long term love affair with Piecemakers, but I gave them a whirl and I must say. Absolutely divine! Again, these are similar to the Piecemakers in that they are smooth, clean eyes, do not tarnish, the plating never wears off. I find these (and this might just be my imagination) just a little bit more thin (no matter the size) in the barrel of the needle. A little more delicate, perhaps. But with that being said, these are comparable in every way to my old love  and workhorse needles - the Piecemakers. I've even cheated on Piecemakers and made a large order recently of Bohin needles. 

The other needle brand I've used before is:  John James Needles. 
I do not have anything good to say about John James needles. So if you are a fan...don't leave hateful comments! I find that the eyes are frequently not clean, therefore my threads prematurely wear and often break way before their time. (and let it be noted before someone says something: I do use Thread Heaven and/or Beeswax on all of my stitching!!) I find John James needle to tarnish easily (but maybe I secrete some weird toxin or something on my fingers). I find the plating wears. AND believe it or not, I've frequently had John James needles eye break. Just completely break off leaving a very sharp shard of metal eye flying somewhere and for me to find it - typically with my bare foot. I bought different sizes, tried different times thinking it was me and something I was doing, but to be honest. Nope, same thing happens over time, eyes that are not clean and/or break easily. Therefore I do not recommend John James needles. 
I know many people use them exclusively. I know many people like them. 
But I do not like John James needles. I do not want them on a train, I do not want them on a plane, I do not want them in my chair, I do not like them anywhere! 


So there you have it...
The type of needles I use. I'm a Piecemakers and Bohin needle girl. They are available anywhere at any Local Needlework Shop and/or Online Needlework shop AND of course they're on Amazon. 
Bohin does have a nice "sampler" pack of needles in sizes 22/24/26/28 I get those frequently. But honestly needles are cheap enough to get multiple sizes in multiple packages and it won't break the bank. 

Remember....this is our craft, our art...therefore spending a little money to get what suits you is important. We are creating heirlooms. Tomorrow tune in and find out about something else in my stitching basket.

That does it for Day #6...
until next time: 

I'll be keeping my hands to work..
my heart to God..
while treating my neighbor with kindness and respect, 
and trying to be the best me I can be.
It's hard, isn't it?
I may stumble and I may fall, but I pick myself up and I remember:
To thine own self be true...
I want to BE the change I want to SEE.
Join me!

Merry Christmas,
Vonna xxxx


  1. The ornaments are so cute. Pretty finishing. Her tree is nice. Merry Christmas vonna.

  2. I have been printing Brooke's Advent Animals off. I am going to make them up on dotted fabric for grandchildren some day. Since not one of the three kids are dating.... it may be a while. ;)
    I am going to check out piecemakers. Thanks!

  3. Glad the boys had a wonderful birthday bash! Pizza and cake sounds fabulous. I enjoyed reading your thoughts on needles and you are right, Vonna. It is an individual preference. I have used all the ones you have mentioned along with the Mary Arden ones. I don't like the John James or the Mary Arden needles. The Bohins seem to last longer for me than the Piecemakers as my body chemistry wears off the coating, so a Bohin needle may last 3-4 weeks and a Piecemakers needle may last 2-3 weeks.

    Have a most enjoyable weekend!

  4. I stitched the hedgehog from Brooke for one of my daughters this year. You are right, they are so cute in person! Thanks for the needle tips. Great info.

  5. Ornaments are just adorable & I love her tree for display how perfect! I agree with your needle choice thanks for sharing....blessings

  6. I discovered the Bohin needles about three years ago and love them. I tend to use needles until I lose them and have a pincushion full, so don't need to buy them often.

  7. I learned a lot about needles this morning, thanks to your blog, Vonna! I've been stitching almost 40 years, and tend to use a needle until I lose it. I do like a longer needle though. Do you have a special recommendation for stitching on perforated paper? And would you please kindly ask your client where she found her fabulous red tree? I'd like a red one for Christmas and a white one for Easter! This was a great Day 5!

  8. Thank you for needle info, I am never sure what to use.

  9. Anonymous11:44 AM

    I have tried the Bohin. The owner of an LNS put me on to them. But my absolute favorite is "My Favorite Needle". I had three of them and I'm pretty sure they don't make them anymore. I lost one somewhere in the back of my dear departed SUV. I'm guarding the last two with my life. LOL

    Your ornament finishing is absolutely beautiful and they are so cute on that special tree.

  10. Love those ornaments on the snowy fabric with your cute finishing. What an adorable set.

    Agree with you on most everything you say about the needles. I really like Piecemakers. I think Bohins are better for French/Colonial knots due to the narrower barrel (did you coin that term?). I never liked the DMC ones much because they seemed too hard to thread. But they are the only ones I can get locally. So I stock up on my favorites from 123 Stitch whenever I place an order.

  11. The ornaments are gorgeous,your client must have been soooo happy when she got them back,finished off.
    Very interesting write up about needles Vonna.I use needles that feel right for the fabric I am using.I have not heard of Peacemaker or Bohin needles..must do some research:) Your posts are keeping me busy!!!

  12. Well, I've used JJ needles and agree completely. And I'm now off to find some Piecemakers! Thanks for the tip.

    Your baby boys are officially 16 and your car insurance has gone through the roof. Five drivers and three teens. Ouch. Wouldn't trade them in a minute.

    Merry Christmas Vonna. Thank you for taking the time to do your 25 days. I look forward to each and every post.

  13. Glad you hear you all had a great time on the boys birthday. Love the finishing on the ornaments.

  14. Another use - use 24's on Congress cloth, 20, 22 on canvas. Still make sure they are tapestry needles. For the larger ones (20 and up), I actually prefer DMC. Anything lower, I like piecemakers.
    Have a good week-end.


  15. That's a very interesting review of needles thank you. Like you, I use what feels right. I get used to a certain needle size, and keep them in my needle book. I can't even remember what size they are! They just work for me. I appreciate that you provided the background to your choices. Thank you.

  16. Hi Vonna - thx for doing this review. Gosh I never thought about them. I always use the John James because that's all I ever see. I'm gonna give those Piecemakers a whirl! Glad you had a great time with your Boys! And love the finishes - they are lovely (love her tree, too).

  17. Those ornaments are super cute and I love the tree she uses. What a treasure for years to come.

  18. Your needle info was interesting. I normally use a 26, but I have no idea what brand I buy. Haha, guess it works for me.

  19. Hi Vonna, I enjoyed your needle review. I use Piecemakers and Bohin and can actually get them here in N.Z. No. 26 tapestry is my usual for crosstitch, I enjoy fine needlework. Next would be 24's if needed. Thank you for your journey towards Christmas. Your finishing is really beautiful and it is so nice to see finished projects. I will refer to your finishing techniques when I need a particular finish that I haven't done before and all have turned out lovely. Once again thank you for your giving and best wishes for you and your family for Christmas and the New Year.

  20. Needles are important. I tend to use 28s mostly but sometimes I need 26s. Love the daily information

  21. I found this really interesting. I have never heard of Piecemakers but I like Bohin though I find they aren't easy to hold for long due to being thin.
    I love how you finished those Advent animals - and I REALLY love that red ornament tree!

  22. She'd shared your wonderful finishing (& her stitching) over at the BB's FB page too & I was in awe. My finishing is always so haphazardly sloppy looking. *blush*

  23. Beautiful finishing! I LOVE this polished, classic look. :)

    I was very interested by your needle info. After trying many things, I decided that the way threads lay on stiff, stiff Wichelf was addictive like a drug so I just eschew anything else. I did favor high-count 1/2 stitching, but now...

    So my statement/question: to suit (imo) 32 wichelt, I settled on 28; Mary Arden Petite. They are not great needles. They tarnish. The eyes are not JJ bad, but they are not as good as PM or Bohin. I loved Bohin when I tried it, but I need my shorter needle!

    Do you have any tips or leads on a better needle in the petite length?

  24. The ornaments you finished are so cute. That was a lot of info on needles and fabric counts. My go to is a size 26 petite. I only stitch on Aida or linen aida. I use then on 14, 16 and 18 count. My favorited brand is your least favorite. I use John James Gold and don't have problems with them. I have only had them break on me once and it was the non gold ones. Maybe next time I order needles I give on of the other brands a try.

  25. Oh......what pretty ornaments. You did a beautiful finish on them. And I love the red ornament tree. It's always fun to see how others decorate.
    Great needle tips. Funny as I had to go look at my needle size and brand, ha !! I've used Piecemakers for years and love them.
    Thanks again for sharing your Days of Christmas with us.

  26. Wow, I never gave a thought to the needles I use - just go with what came in a kit and generally use them until they break or I lose them...I think I might have to try a few different needles after reading your post - thanks! I am loving your 25 days of notion tips!

  27. Love the ornaments and the finishing. I stopped using John James needles for the very same reasons. Thanks for the 25 days I am learning much. Theresa

  28. Sounds like a wonderful festive birthday night! You do a beautiful job finishing. I am really enjoying reading all your tips!

  29. I've used John James needles for years and liked them. Until recently, that is. Not only have the eyes of these needles been rough, but I've had the eyes bend and/or break after a short amount of time. As part of an exchange this year I received my first Bohn needles. So much better. These will be my needles of choice from now on. Thank you for these 25 days of tips and suggestions.

  30. I've always used John James needles as they were the only ones readily available to me - and they tarnish easily. I wonder if it has something to do with humidity too? My go to is size 28 but if I notice it's not working for me I'll change over to what 'feels' right. I bought some in bulk a few years back, only 10c a needle! I don't think I'll need to buy needles ever again!

  31. I did the pig ornament for a co worker that raises pigs. I personalized it with the initials from her farm and a tiny ribbon that I found out how to do on Pinterest. I should send you the photo of it. It's one of the finished I'm pretty proud of and thank you for showing me how to do it! I'm gong to have to try some other needles. I've been using JJ because I thought they were good. But they do break on me. I'm going to a new LNS next Saturday and if they have any of these, I'll be trying them out. Thanks for the tips!

  32. Hi Vonna, My first time commenting on your blog . Thank you for educating us about these gadgets you use. Its really helpful for new stitchers like me who are still figuring which needle to use ha ha...Needless to say your work is gorgeous.

  33. Thanks so much for the low down on needles, Vonna! It is so helpful to me to learn what others use (particularly others whose work I so admire!) I'm always on the hunt for the perfect needles for me for different uses and I will be referring to this posted again and again, I'm sure! Those ornaments are just lovely too!

  34. Your finishes came out beautifully!!!

  35. Nice post Vonna! I totally agree with you regarding needles. I hate it when they are thin and actually break. I also love Piecemakers needles and do use Bohin off and on. I am hard on needles for some reason....and getting the correct size makes a difference. I change even in the middle of a project if stitches do not lay right.

    Hope you are enjoying the holiday season so your posts show that December is a busy month for you and your family! Fun tho! Thanks for spending time with us each day. Love ya.....

  36. I<3 Piecemakers also and have all sizes. I prefer the 26 and 28 just because of the way they feel in my hands.

  37. Yesterday while stitching I grabbed a JJ non gold needle. I am doing small mason jar lids for gifts and wouldn't you know it the eye broke in the middle of the first jar lid lid. Seems to have no strength. The JJ golds are much better. My true go to is Bohin. Great needle info. Thanks for sharing.

  38. Ever since I tried Piecemakers needles many years ago, I have not used anything else. I love them!

  39. What a great advent series and wonderful finishing job. Read all your needle insights with great interest. I have a package of Bohin Needles - I need to open it and try them out.

  40. Beautiful finishing on those ornaments! She must have been so happy to receive them. And I agree - I've used John James and they drive me nuts, they're constantly breaking! Thanks for your recommendations :D

  41. Thanks for sharing the pictures of the ornaments. They are stitched and finished wonderful.
    Always enjoy your tips.

  42. Dear Vonna - thanks for sharing your Christmas countdown. I always love seeing your finishing, and seeing your lovely family. I use the JJ 28 Petite, and haven't really had any problems with the eye breaking. Although, I am using needles for a stock I bought almost 10 years ago, and it is possible the newer ones are different. For some reason I have a hard time threading the Bohins. I can thread any other needle, but they always stump me. I think its just a "me" thing, because no one else complains of it. I need to buy needles soon, so I will buy some Piecemeakers. I like that they are made in the U S Happy holidays!

  43. Great to read that the boys were having a fantastic birthday party with their friends and family.
    I loved reading about your thoughts on needles. I only stitch with size 28 needles and don't even know why, I'm just happy using them. And I even don't know the brand of my needles. I once received a package with 50 needles size 28 and have been using these ever since. And as they seem to be unbreakable I still have most of them. But it was very interesting to read about what needles your use and about which brand you love. And I decided to order some new needles just to try them out.
    I love these advent animals very much and still have to print them out. They might be a lot of fun for my little grandson one day.

  44. After reading today's post, I realized you said you had discussed needles, and I did not remember reading about that topic. I went back and discovered I had missed reading this post. ? Anyway, thank you for your run down on needles. I think I have tried them all, and agree with your opinions. I have found "my" needle--The Perfect Needle(that's the name of them). It is the length of other petite needles, but is a little thicker and has a slightly bigger eye. I like using a petite needle because I am miserly with the floss, and probably a little lazy when it comes to having to end stitching with a length and rethreading another length. Anyway, if you would like to experiment and try out another needle brand/type, let me know and I would be happy to send you one.

  45. Totally agree with your assessment on the needles. I love the Bohin for higher counts but find them more difficult to thread, especially the 28's. Years ago I had a class with Eileen Bennett at Spirit of Cross Stitch festival (maybe around 1992?) She said she only ever used a 24 regardless of fabric. She said using a larger needle on higher count fabric opened the whole and caused less wear on the thread. It has stayed with me all these years and I do use a 24 for most of my stitching.

    BTW - just spend my lunch hour downloading all those animals. They make me smile. Thanks for sharing them. I have a lot of stitching to do now.

  46. I may go look at Brooke's animals... the penguin was kinda cute! I used Mary Arden petites for a while, then John James... Because I use a needle threader, I think I wear the eyes out prematurely. They always end up breaking off or flying away! But... the alternative of licking my thread is not feasible to me! I shall hunt down Bohin and give them a try next. I appreciate you sharing your favorite things with us this Advent! Hugs!

  47. You know, I never thought about using a larger/stronger needle for frogging but that makes perfect sense! My favorites are the Bohins and the only needle I've used where the eye broke was a JJs. I thought it very odd at the time because that has never happened to me.

    GORGEOUS finishing Vonna! Your work is always stunning!

  48. Great analysis of needles! Your 25 Days of Christmas are such fun!

  49. Thanks for the information on needles. I've always wondered why some of the needle eyes break or the thread gets hung up in the eye. I've been using the wrong brand of needle! I just ordered some Piecemaker needles and hope that will solve these problems. Thank you for all your comments and suggestions. Anything that I have read on here has always been very helpful to me.

    I'm always surprised when I see your comments about people who get hostile when your opinion doesn't agree with theirs. Your opinion is just as valuable as anyone else's. If someone doesn't agree, then move on to the next blog and don't leave any nasty comments behind.


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