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What is Needlepoint Yarn?

By Misty Amber Brighton
Updated May 17, 2024
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Needlepoint yarn is a type of yarn that is constructed of multiple strands, or plies, that are woven together. It is usually made from wool, but might also contain cotton or silk. There are four different types of it, so crafters can create a number of different projects with it. The yarn comes in a variety of colors and is usually purchased in small skeins. It is normally used with a large-eyed needle and plastic needlepoint canvas.

One of the more common types of needlepoint yarn is crewel wool. It normally comes in four strands, but can be separated into fewer plies, if a person is using small-meshed canvas. It normally has a very fine texture.

Tapestry wool is a variety that is typically only a single strand. This type of needlepoint yarn normally has a medium texture. It can be a good choice for projects like wall hangings, coasters, or placemats.

Rug yarn is normally the thickest of all types of needlepoint yarn. It is commonly only a single strand of heavy wool. It is also a durable material, which can make it a good choice for making rugs.

Persian wool is generally the finest of all needlepoint thread. It usually consists of three strands of thread, which can easily be divided. This product may have a slightly silky texture to it as well.

The varieties of this yarn are much thicker than other types of threads that might be used in sewing or embroidery. Even so, they are generally thinner and less coarse than yarns used for crafts like knitting or crocheting. For these reasons, it can be important to purchase a particular type of needlepoint yarn, rather than using a product designed for other purposes.

Many people find that cutting a piece of needlepoint yarn to a length of 18 to 20 inches (45.72 to 50.8 cm) helps keep this thread from fraying or breaking while stitching. It can also help prevent knots and tangling in the yarn itself. Many times, a worker might tie a knot in the end of this thread to keep it from being pulled all the way through the canvas.

Needlepoint thread can often be purchased in a wide variety of colors, so it can be easy to complete a number of different projects. It is usually an easy material to work with, even for beginning needle-workers. Using this type of yarn can give a person's finished product an appearance that is both smooth and soft to the touch.

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Discussion Comments

By KaBoom — On Feb 01, 2012

I've done a few cross stitch patterns, but I had no idea that silk embroidery yarn was available! I love silk because it's so smooth and shiny and holds color so well. I would love to do an embroidery project with silk needlepoint yarn.

I don't think I've ever seen silk needlepoint yarn at the craft store, but maybe I haven't been looking hard enough. Either way I'm going to look next time I go to the store. If I don't find any, then I'm going to look online and see if I can find something like this. Wish me luck!

By ceilingcat — On Jan 31, 2012

@JessicaLynn - Wow, it must be hard to be a crafter and be allergic to wool. I buy needlepoint pillow kits all the time and I almost never check the fiber content of the yarn! I just buy based on the design.

Interestingly enough though, I've never seen any wool needlepoint yarn for sale at craft stores individually. In kits, yes. But most craft stores seem to have a huge selection of cotton embroidery floss and no wool needlepoint yarn to speak of. I guess maybe you have to order it online or go to a specialty store or something?

By JessicaLynn — On Jan 31, 2012

I'm allergic to wool needlepoint yarn, so normally I use cotton. I generally buy DMC embroidery floss for most of my needlepoint projects.

I love the embroidery floss because it comes in tons and tons of colors. Also, you can easily separate the plies, so if you need yarn of varying thickness for your project, you don't have to buy a bunch of different kinds.

The only problem I have with this is that sometimes needlepoint kits come with wool yarn instead of cotton. I solve this problem by carefully checking the label to see what the fiber content of the yarn is.

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