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Needlepoint Thread and Yarn

Kreinik needlepoint silk threadThere are many different types of needlepoint thread and yarn and it can sometimes be confusing what to use on a particular canvas. We give you a basic list of the different types of needlepoint thread and yarns and when/how to use them.

Here is a link to a PDF file if you want to print off this information.

Name Properties Canvas Common Brands
Persian 3 plies twisted together. Can split to use 1-3 plies, or can be added to for 3+ plies. It is very strong and resilient and so does not fray easily. Can be used on many canvas sizes, depending upon number of plies used. E.g. All 3 plies work well on 10 and 12 mesh canvas. This flexibility makes Persian yarn extremely popular for needlepoint.


Crewel A fine, single ply yarn. It is pure wool and is strong. You can easily mix different colors of crewel yarn in your needle for shading. 14-18 mesh. Appleton
Tapestry A 4-ply yarn that cannot be divided into its individual plies which limits its use to the larger mesh canvases. However because the plies are tightly twisted it is an easy yarn to stitch with to get an even tension. 10-12 mesh.



Perle Cotton A high-luster, 2-ply cotton that is tightly twisted and so cannot be split. For this reason it comes in several sizes to suit different mesh sizes. Available in solid colors and overdyed.

Size 3  (thickest) – 13-14 mesh

Size 5 – 18 mesh

There are thinner perle cottons but they are not used for traditional needlepoint stitches.



Embroidery Cotton A 6-ply thread where the individual plies can be easily separated – this makes it popular for embroidery.  It is a strong and versatile thread and the different color plies can easily be mixed in the needle for shading.

All 6 plies – 12-13 mesh

3 plies – 18 mesh

However it is best to figure out how many plies to use by stitching a test area.



Silk There are many different brands and types of silk thread available. Some are single ply with a high luster (e.g. Kreinik Silk Serica) and some are multi-ply (e.g.Kreinik Silk Mori). Silk is very popular to stitch with because it has a sheen (luster) and is strong. It is more expensive than cotton. Depends upon the brand. Check with the manufacturer.


Silk & Ivory

Planet Earth


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