Choosing the best weaving needles is easy if you keep in mind that, in the weaving world, there is no such thing as “one size fits all.” The best weaving needles are the ones that have been designed specifically for a particular weaving project, and your choice should be based on size, structure and material. The best needle choice for a tapestry weaving might be the wrong choice for a bead weaving, for a basketry project or for a child or a senior citizen who is working on a potholder loom.
All weaving needles have three parts: the shaft, the eye and the point. The shaft is the main body of the needle, and its length and thickness are what manufacturers use to indicate its size. For sewers and knitters, smaller size numbers indicate longer and thicker needles, but weaving needles generally are classified only according to length and shape. The eye of the needle — the hole at the top of the shaft through which the yarn, bead or raffia is placed — typically is flat, oval and designed to accommodate either a thin or a thick fiber. The point of the needle is either dull or sharp, and the best choice again depends on its use for a particular kind of project.
Weaving needles usually are sold as tapestry needles and are made from either metal or plastic. Tapestry needles have large eyes to accommodate medium to thick yarns and a blunt, slightly bent point that prevents it from tearing the weaving. A weaving needle that is 5 inches (12.7 cm) in length will work for most weaving projects performed on a traditional tapestry or a simple frame loom. A plastic needle that is 6 inches (15.2 cm) in length would work well for a large weaving project such as a pillow, a place mat or a scarf. When working with extremely thick and heavy gauge yarns, you might consider using a trapunto quilting needle, because they are easy to thread.
The best weaving needles for beadwork and baskets are different from those that you might choose for fabric weaving. A bead-weaving needle has a sharper point, a smaller eye and a longer shaft that allows it to fit through the hole of a small bead and hold several tiny spheres during the production process. The best weaving needle for a basket would be any large-eye craft needle that will accommodate a strand of raffia.
Quality weaving needles, either in assortments or bulk, can be found in the accessories departments of most fabric, yarn and craft supply stores as well as online from art and weaving companies that sell looms and bead-weaving or basket-making supplies. A metal weaving needle will last longer than a plastic weaving needle, but plastic needles are the most economical and the safest choice when working with children or elderly adults in a recreational environment. The options are limited and clearly designated, making the best weaving needle choice often the easiest choice.