Persian yarn, also called Persian W=wool, is the most popular type of yarn used in needlepoint. It consists of 3 plies of 100% fine wool yarn loosely twisted together that can easily be separated or combined to reduce or increase the thickness of the thread as needed for working on different size needlepoint canvas (see figure B).
Persian yarn comes in over 400 colors (see figure A), and was originally designed for use in repairing Persian carpets.
Its tough 3-ply strands are ideal for patching up loose carpet threads and making them hard-wearing and better than new.
This durability is what makes Persian wool yarn ideal for working embroidery on canvas—especially when making needlepoint fashion accessories and home decorating items like pillows and other upholstered pieces.
If you look closely at a 3-ply strand of Persian wool, you will see that it is made up of 6 individual threads (2 threads per ply). These threads have been loosely woven together (see figure C) to make the ply strong and long-lasting. They are not meant to be separated or used individually for stitching, as this will diminish their durability.
How to Use Persian Yarn in Needlepoint
Persian wool can be used for everything you stitch in needlepoint—from petit point to quickpoint. All you need to do is vary the number of strands or plies to get the best coverage for the type of canvas you are using.
Here are some guidelines:
|Canvas Mesh Size||Number of Plies of Persian Yarn|
|#24 to #18-Mesh||1 Ply|
|#14 to #12-Mesh||2 Plies|
|#10-Mesh||3 Plies (a full strand of Persian Yarn)|
|#7 to #3-Mesh (Quickpoint)||7 to 9 Plies|
When working with dark colored Persian yarn on light colored needlepoint canvas, you may need to add another ply to make sure the canvas does not show through after stitching is done.
If you don't like the added thread thickness, then either paint the canvas before stitching or purchase dark-colored canvas to complete the needlepoint project.
Use Persian yarn for blending and shading to achieve great decorative effects. With its closely graded colors, you can choose a variety of monochromatic and complementary color schemes that will make your needlepoint designs pop!
Stitching with Persian Wool
Persian yarn has a nap with both a smooth and rough texture, depending on the direction you use when threading a tapestry needle. Always use the direction that will give you the smooth texture. In this direction, the stitches will lie flat on the canvas as you work.
- The Lip Test - One way to tell if you have the right direction is to run a strand of yarn gently across your upper lip to check for smoothness or roughness (make sure to remove lip gloss and colored lipstick). You will be able to feel the difference— even though it may be slight.
- The Finger Test - Another way to determine the proper direction is: after separating the plies for putting back together in the needle for stitching. Simply run each ply through your fingers, first in one direction and then in the other. Once you've figured it out, repeat this test for all strands you plan to use and then thread the tapestry needle to start stitching.
Whichever method you decide to use, you will have to do this every time you use a new length of yarn.
Where to Buy Persian Yarn
Persian yarn can be both economical and expensive, depending on the size and complexity of the needlepoint project you are making. You can purchase it online at discount shops that sell needlepoint supplies in 8.8 yard skeins or at your local needlepoint shop in as little as one strand (about 33 inches) or by the pound (about 800 strands).