The best needlepoint tools you can buy

  • Needlepoint projects can be time-consuming and expensive, so you need the right tools for a successful finished piece.
  • Start by securing the needlepoint canvas in an American Dream Products Adjustable Oak Lap Frame for a timeless keepsake. Then, add four other must-have tools and supplies to your kit.

I discovered needlepoint while in college fine-arts class. The professor handed us a piece of needlepoint canvas, wool yarn, a blunt needle, and an instruction book of stitches and said, "Create." I soon discovered that needlepoint is much more than just medieval tapestries. With different yarns and stitches, you can "paint" any type of image you want. The mesh canvas backing makes the piece durable enough to be a rug, pillow, or tote bag, or delicate enough to be framed as art.

With that first piece, I made plenty of mistakes but was also hooked. It's not just your grandmother's needlepoint of delicate flowers in soft pinks and blues: Since needlepoint is worked by stitching in one direction, the canvas can become misshapen very quickly. My first attempts were not very good because I did not use a frame and because I tugged the threads too tightly, the piece turned from a square to a parallelogram. Even after blocking, I never got it completely square again.

That's when I learned about stitching frames and how they help keep the canvas from pulling and stretching. Through years of trial and error, I've refined my needlepoint supplies to the ones that are most functional and essential to my creations. (I have since created everything from Christmas stockings and pillows to upholstery and toys.) I do have other supplies that I pull out occasionally that are equally great such as a tote bag to hold work while on the go, a case for extra needles, and compression gloves to support sore hand muscles. I am always looking for the most effective, easiest to use, and the best value in products for myself and to recommend to others.

Here are the best needlepoint tools and supplies you can buy:

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The best needlepoint stitching frames

The best needlepoint stitching frames
An American Dream Products Adjustable Oak Lap Frame is lightweight enough to be portable but sturdy enough to keep your needlepoint in its original shape and size.

When you decide that you are serious about needlepoint, it's time to find a stitching frame. A frame is not essential but it will keep the canvas from becoming distorted and when your piece is complete, there is very little blocking necessary before you can showcase your needlepoint.

There are different types of frames, from large embroidery hoops that adjust with a thumbscrew to frames like the American Dream Products Adjustable Oak Lap Frame. I've used them all but I keep coming back to the American Dream Lap Frame.

Made from solid oak, the frame straddles your lap while you work or it can sit on a tabletop. All of the adjustments are done with finished oak knobs that don't snag or tear your yarn. The scroll rods that hold the canvas are 20 inches and the frame base can accommodate additional larger sized scroll bars that can be purchased separately for larger pieces of work. The side-bars or extenders are 12-inches but can be adjusted to make them shorter.

The frame allows 360-degree adjustments so you can see and work on the back of the canvas as needed. Just turn the knobs and then retighten.

Pros: Solid oak, lightweight, adjustable extenders, additional scroll bar sizes available, made in the USA

Cons: Does not collapse flat for travel

The best needlepoint thread organizer

The best needlepoint thread organizer
The D&D Floss Organizer will help keep yarn colors in order and prevent mistakes during stitching.

Since creating the design on a needlepoint canvas often involves stitching the image with subtle shades of different yarns, keeping all those colors in order is essential to success. For a summer sky, there may be ten or more different hues of blue and the fur of an animal can have dozens of shades of brown and grey. Without the D&D Floss Organizer, you're sure to get confused.

This organizer is perfect whether you are working on a kit that includes specific directions for yarn colors or freelancing an original piece. The organizer has 30 flexible foam positions to separate yarns topped with a small hook to keep them tangle-free. There is also a spot above each color to hold pre-threaded needles.

The organizer comes with four double-sided cards that slide into the center slot to mark colors or codes for the individual windows over each yarn hook. These cards are easy to photocopy so you will have plenty for years to come.

Tip: I use two of these organizers loaded with yarn that I keep with different projects.

Pros: Lightweight plastic and foam with no rough edges to snag yarn, holds up to 30 different colors of yarn, easy-to-use code cards for identification, available in three colors

Cons: Sorting slots are not large enough to hold excessive thread counts of a single color

The best needlepoint needle threader

The best needlepoint needle threader
Threading a needle with thick needlepoint yarns can be exasperating unless you have the DMC Aluminum Needle Threader.

While most needlepoint kits include heavier yarn and a large-eye blunt needle, petit point uses thin threads and tiny needles. But if you have the DMC Aluminum Needle Threader, you can thread any needle in a snap. This handy tool is three threaders in one with separate hooks for heavyweight and medium-weight yarns and a wire threader for fine threads.

This little gadget looks like a novelty tool but when you have tried every trick in the book to thread a needle, you'll be glad you have it. I might make one stab at threading a needle by pinching the yarn tightly to push it through the needle eye, but I usually grab the DMC threader first to save myself the eye strain and frustration.

The threader has a plastic base but the hooks and wires are sturdy aluminum. I have had two of these threaders for several years and keep one with my needlepoint supplies and one in my regular sewing kit. I've even used it to thread the needle of a sewing machine.

The one downside is that the hooks do not close or fold into the center support. I keep mine in a small envelope in my crafting and sewing kits to prevent accidental snagging of threads and fabric.

Pros: Multiple hooks to accommodate different yarn and thread weights, works for handcrafting needles or machine sewing needles

Cons: Hooks do not close and can snag items in a tote bag

The best needlepoint yarn snips

The best needlepoint yarn snips
Why work with bulky scissors when Fiskars Crafts Premier Ultra-Sharp Thread Snips are perfect for your needlepoint projects?

At several points in your work, even after you weave in the ends, you'll need to cut some yarn. You can hunt down scissors or make life easy by keeping Fiskars Crafts Premier Ultra-Sharp Thread Snips at hand.

I am in love with these snips and have three pairs. I keep one with my needlepoint supplies, one stays in the bedroom to snip loose threads on clothes, and one stays with my sewing supplies. The stainless steel blades on the snips are razor-sharp and perfect for making exact cuts on yarn.

At only 5 inches long, this cutter is small enough to slip into craft project bags. The built-in blade guard helps prevent accidents and there's no protective cap to get lost. The handles are coated with a molded plastic that helps them conform to your hand giving you a good grip when snipping.

Buyers on Amazon gave the Fiskars Snips 4.6 stars. In addition to needlepoint yarn, shoppers are using them from everything from jewelry making to snipping succulents and bonsai pruning.

Pros: Sharp, stainless steel blades, built-in safety guard, easy to use, money-back guarantee

Cons: Only comes in white, tips can break if dropped with the safety guard disengaged

The best lighting and magnification

The best lighting and magnification
The Brightech Lightview Pro XL Magnifying Glass offers a combination of magnification and lighting enhancement that will help you never miss a stitch.

Even the youngest eyes with perfect vision can grow tired and make mistakes when creating masterpieces in dim light. The Brightech Lightview Pro XL Magnifying Glass will provide enhancement of tiny work along with cool white illumination with daylight accuracy.

When you want to check colors and see details clearly, you need a bright light that is not affected by the color misrepresentation of incandescent or fluorescent bulbs. This lamp provides that white light and a 6-inch by 4.5-inch, 2.25x magnification lens made of scratch and heat-resistant glass. The lamp can be used as a free-standing (just add the included pole between the base and the flex arm) or as a tabletop model. The lighted magnification head is fully adjustable. The light can be used as an over-the-shoulder source without having to use the magnifying glass. A less expensive clip-on model for work tables is also available.

I love mine because, at around 30 pounds, the lamp is sturdy with a wide base that prevents tipping. The LED lights have a built-in dimmer, don't generate heat and are guaranteed to last for 100,000 hours. I've had mine for quite some time and it is still going strong. I use it for needlepoint, reading, and all types of crafting. The lamp is so much easier to find than hunting down reading glasses.

With more than 200 reviews on Amazon and a rating of 4.6 stars, others use it for soldering circuit boards, beading, and model painting.

Pros: Solidly built, adjustable height, true white light, 2.5x magnification, money-back guarantee

Cons: Only comes in white, the lens can cause distortion for some users

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