As a seed beader, Needles and Thread are the foundation of my work. I use the needles to weave the thread through the beads to form an intricate fabric of glass and thread. So for me, my needles and thread are my main tools for my beadwork, and I like to use the best quality tools and I like to find them for a good price.
When I first started beading, I chose a variety of needles to try out...John James, Lance, Beadsmith, Pony and even some Big Eye needles all in various sizes and lengths.
After working with all of them, my favorites are Pony Beading Needles in size 12. They come in a pack of 25 for less than $2...which is by far the best value out of those I sampled.
I found that the Pony needles are easier to thread than the others, they bend at about the same rate as the others, and I have never broken one whereas the Lance needles broke on me several times. So they work slightly better than John James, but for less than half the price and they are much better than Lance which are about the same price.
I stock up on them whenever I find a good sale, so I have quite a stash of size 12 Pony needles as well as a few packs of size 10, 11, 13 and 15 plus some Sharps in size 12.
I have found that size 12 needles are ideal for working with size 11/0 and 15/0 seed beads, which is what I use for almost everything...plus the occasional size 8/0.
However, as with all the size 12 needles that I tried, because they are thin enough to fit through a size 15/0 seed bead numerous times, they do get bent out of shape with light use. So I tend to use several needles to finish one project...and if it's a big project, this could easily be close to 10 needles!
I always like to start a new project with a perfectly new, straight needle. But I do keep an empty seed bead tube full of used and bent needles, but I have no idea how many I have gone through since I began beading! And because of this, I have no idea whether this great price is really cost effective or not.
Below is a photo of a few tubes of needles...then two size 12 Pony needles after using them for one project...then two size 11 Tulip needles after using them for many projects over the last few months.
I had been hearing so much hype about the Japanese Tulip Beading Needles and I wanted to try them out, but at nearly $5 for 4 needles I just couldn't bring myself to buy them...even knowing how many Pony needles I have used up and tossed out!
Then a few months ago I won a gift certificate to the Hole Bead Shoppe, a wonderful Bead Store (both Brick & Mortar and Online) that specializes in Lucite beads, but they also stock quite a variety of Seed Beads, Glass, Swarovski Crystal and Basic Beading Supplies. So I decided to try out a package of the Tulip Beading Needles in size 11 since you can't really find a better price than free!
Of course I was very skeptical at first...how could anyone create a needle that would hold it's shape no matter how many times I used it? And I remained skeptical even after using the very same needle for an entire month of serious beading!
I don't know what I was waiting for before I could admit that this was an excellent tool for my beadwork...one needle, for an entire month of beading every day! And that needle is still straight!
I have finally admitted that I love the Tulip Beading Needles...they have some great qualities:
-they really are flexible and strong enough to get into tight spots
-they bend and curve where most needles would just break
-they go right back to being straight, where most needles stay bent
-it's like using a new needle throughout an entire project
-they are very easy to thread
-the point is rounded to avoid splitting the thread as you stitch
-the length is perfect, right around 2 inches
-they are comfortable to hold and lessen hand fatigue while beading
A few not so great qualities:
-the gold plating wears off...not really a big deal in my opinion
-the metal plating (nickel?) starts to feel a little rough after heavy usage
-they don't come in size 12
This last point is really the only major complaint that I have...they need to make these needles in size 12. They do offer them in a size 13, but they cost $14 for 2 needles! While I understand why they cost that much (they have to hand drill and gold plate the eyes of every single size 13 needle rather than have the automated machine do it), I just can't do it...yet!
Besides, in my opinion, the size 11 is a just little too thick and the size 13 is a little too thin...I want a size 12 Tulip beading needle, the perfect size for my beadwork! So while I have since purchased another package of the size 11 Tulip needles (I love to have a back up supply of everything!), I look forward to the day that they realize there is a serious demand for a size 12 Tulip needle...that doesn't cost a fortune!
Here are a few places that carry the Tulip Beading Needles:
The Hole Bead Shoppe
That's all for now...later I plan to discuss my favorite and least favorite Threads!